[…] Same for Kankri. He’s become my least favourite character in the sense of character I most want to slap, not character I’m most upset is even in the comic.
This is because he embodies a type of person I hate with extravagant passion, viz. the type of person who employs a loose framework of jargon and cant as a substitute for real argument, effectively steamrollering their opponent into submission by using one-size-fits-all faux-technical language that doesn’t mean anything. This, to me, is the really funny thing about Kankri and Porrim. Kankri trims and fills every single type of ‘oppression’ until it fits his big overarching theoretical paradigm. Porrim has one particular peeve she’s determined to link everything back to. The humour isn’t in whether Kankri is a parody of SJ or Porrim is a parody of Men’s Rights or whatever, it’s in their styles: they each represent a skewed way of looking at the world, and their archetypes can be found in basically any argument you read anywhere online. I’ve seen Kankris and Porrims holding forth on everything from feminism to race to party politics to the ending of Mass Effect 3. They are two diametrically opposite and equally flawed rhetorical templates, they’ll never agree on anything, and that’s mostly hilarious because they’re parent and child.
OK, I read this fairly differently –
100% agreement as to Kankri being the embodiment of callout culture and also hilarious, if applied with a trowel. But the reason he is hilarious is his hypocrisy – his painfully sincere “despite being a girl” attempt to praise Latula, his “it’s just not the right time” to Porrim. He’s a self-made expert in the language for talking about every conceivable form of privilege, but he’s completely unable to admit that the one he has is legitimate, and he’s also uninterested in ever addressing the things he calls out except on a purely theoretical level. All he wants to do is write sixty-nine-million-word essays on how enlightened he is, while still totally missing the point. This is what makes him funny to me: not the idea that it’s tiresome to talk about oppression, but his being unable to see the tree for the forest.
Porrim, though! First of all, Porrim isn’t obsessed with the issue she brings up: the first things she talks about are practical advice, meditations on the nature of fate, and the greased revolving doors of her quadrants. Apart from that she has one thing to point out, succinctly, and as far as we can tell from canon, she’s right about it. When there is a form of discrimination that applies to you, you do end up talking about it; it isn’t tracing everything back to one peeve, it is a basic part of your existence. And it apparently needs to be discussed, as Meenah is surprised to think through some of the ramifications. It’s also worth noting that Porrim has no automatic dislike or blame for male trolls. She just wants to point out briefly and accurately that there is a structural problem.
And yeah, you do see this all over the internet: but what you see are the Kankris of the world stepping up to explain the problems of a demographic they are not actually part of. You see men telling women, with infinite wounded patience, how to do feminism. You see “allies” expecting praise for having had a rainbow cake at their heterosexual wedding! And golly gee do you see a ravening horde of white people bearing down on every discussion about racism ever to tell people of color what racism really is and how they need to talk about it. And you see the Porrims of the world – the ones who actually know what’s up, having lived it – putting in their two cents, rolling their eyes, and ollying out.
I would actually agree that their two approaches are parent and child, chronologically. But the parent would be the point at which people start to realize “structure’s fucked up, let’s maybe talk about it”, and the insufferable child is the point where people take over that discussion to showcase their personal saintliness. They are not neatly diametrically opposite, or equally flawed.
What a good analysis, particularly of Porrim.
I don’t think Kankri is that great a satire. Some of his specific lines are hilarious, but he slips through pretty much every Doing It Wrong In Social Justice stereotype, including some that are usually mutually exclusive, and it blunts the point tremendously for me. Some people on my dash have suggested he’s a parody of the transethnic/transablist movement; some have said he’s a parody of toxic callouts; some have said he’s a parody of overacademic, appropriative-and-patronizing-but-not-productive essayists; some have said he’s a parody of single-issue “fuck YOUR oppression, what about MINE?” people who have never heard of collaboration OR intersectionality… and then there are the people who are saying, not without justification, that he’s a parody of all the people who talk about social justice on Tumblr period—I mean, come on, the trigger warning thing isn’t a joke unless the joke is on the existence and use of trigger warnings.
I don’t think any of these are quite right… I think the joke is broader, and uh, lazier than that. It’s just sort of like, TUMBLR! SOME TEENAGERS SAY THINGS! As is the whole flash. Kankri’s not really getting under my skin, but that’s why I also don’t think he’s that funny.
I brace myself for the inevitable “he’s a parody of you, though, and that’s why you don’t think he’s that funny.”
This is all excellent analysis and commentary I wanted to find the words for last night, and couldn’t. And was also hesitant to because everyone and their uncle were posting “It’s so funny if you don’t find it funny it’s because he’s you” lines that were more than a little disheartening.
I can’t say enough how much I love this fandom, and the intelligent discussion that comes from this fandom.
The flash feels lazy, in some ways - not in the amount of effort that went into crafting it, but in the effort that went into the characters as meta references and the humor that just Doesn’t Work for me. And I’m glad I’m not alone in that.
(And to add what Nextian ALSO posted after this: BUT OF COURSE IT’S OKAY IF YOU THINK HE’S FUNNY! because lots of what he says and does IS funny. He’s a great douchebag. I just don’t think he’s a great satire. )
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