Stitch @ Teen Vogue: On Woobification and Why Infantilizing Villains Can Harm Useful Discourse

If you’re going into a piece of media determined to empathize with the villain above the heroes of the piece, you’re not getting the same story as everyone else. As a result, these fans take their own headcanons as fact and harshly punish or harass other fans that have a different point of view. Point out that Kylo Ren and Hux are purposeful fascist allegories with the rise of the First Order tying back to Nazis? Expect to have people repeat the manufactured sob story about Kylo’s childhood (which literally wasn’t even that bad) as an excuse to spend the rest of their lives on the internet harassing you. (I know this because it’s happened to me and many others.) Try talking about how Loki’s initial entry into the MCU has him try to do a genocide and later try to take over the world as Thanos’ messenger. When you do, expect people to bring up how he’s a transracial adoptee suffering from abandonment issues and child abuse. We are literally not allowed to talk negatively/critically about the bad things villains do — even when we say explicitly that we like the characters we’re talking about — because he’s their blorbo or little meow meow now and fandom has decided to make that position sacred.


Think Your Fave Fictional Villain Is the Real Hero? Think Again.
Feel free to head on to the Teen Vogue social media post and check out incredible examples of the very behavior I’m talking about from villain stans who think the mildest criticism of their faves — including calling them villains or pointing out when they’re fascists — is violence that should be met with violence in kind. Share the link and report the assholes in the comments and quotes!

I think the funniest thing about the response to this article is the number of people who didn’t read it or read it in bad faith insisting this is “fake journalism” out to oppress villain fuckers because I hate villains. I know I don’t really like Kylo Ren, Hux, or their fans who’ve been harassing me for most of a decade of this point with no sign of stoping (and every sign of escalating), but the last thing I am is a “villain anti” or whatever the Terminally Online are calling it these days.

Last year, I wrote about how we like villains and which villains get the hype. That I think is the sort of piece the haters decided this one was. Sight unseen, fueled solely by Kylo in the header and my reputation in fandom, Rey/Kylo shippers and an army of villain stans once again descended in order to tear what they thought was my argument to shreds and accuse me of… shaming the youth for loving villains.

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When White Villains Get Woobiefied: Kylo Ren Is Just A Monster In A Mask

Notes: The following post will mention childhood abuse (and who gets to have that kind of trauma respected/made up for them to give them weight and validate their actions) and spoilers from the film and novelization versions of The Last Jedi as well as mild spoilers for Last Shot. Images come from StarWarsScreenCaps.Com.


More care has gone into fabricating a sobbing wreck of a backstory for Kylo Ren where he’s been dealing with childhood abuse (that is supposed to explain why he’s somehow the most interesting/compelling character of the sequel trilogy) than has gone into showing any empathy or interest in analyzing the one character in the sequel trilogy who does have that backstory, but gets none of the empathy: Finn.

Today in “that’s literally not canon”, I’m going to be picking apart an article from The Mary Sue about how Kylo Ren’s story is about childhood abuse; one that says things like:

“Rey and Kylo relate to one another about their childhoods, which included parental abandonment and neglect, and abuse, as well as their Force abilities.”

First off:

As far as I know, there’s nothing that shows that Ben’s childhood included parental abandonment and neglect. Nothing. Nothing across two movies. Leia sending her Force Sensitive son (who was in late teens/early adulthood) to train with her Force Sensitive brother is not neglect.

We currently have ZERO canon that shows what his childhood was like, but we know that the whole point of the Ben-to-Kylo Ren transformation was that it came out of nowhere and that nothing in Leia’s relationship with her son prepared her for his full leap not just to the dark side, but to full on fascism.

The most we can say with confidence about Ben before he was Kylo, is that he was radicalized by Snoke who preyed on his insecurities at some point most likely when he was a teenager.

But we don’t know anything about what Snoke did – that presence probing Leia’s uterus back in that Chuck Wendig book does not count — but I suspect we never will considering his abrupt death in The Last Jedi.Read More »