The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

How To Talk to a Demona Revisionist (If You Must)

Author's Note: I haven't watched much in the way of movies or TV lately, and haven't much to blog about. This entry is definitely filler. But I wanted to post something, and this is a topic near and dear to me.


Myth: Demona is a well intentioned extremist. She has very good reasons to want to destroy humanity!

Fact: Demona is not trying to destroy humanity just because she wants to save her kind. That's the cover story and what she's convinced herself. But really, humanity is her scapegoat. She knows, deep inside, she fucked up. But she won't ever admit it.

"What have I... what have they done to you."

Myth: Demona isn't power hungry!

Fact: Actually, she is. We have seen this played out a few times. For one thing, even back in 984, she was encouraging Goliath to take control of the clan from Hudson (very Lady Macbeth). She also learned sorcery because it was a key to power.

And, of course, what she said to her younger self in "Vows" "Rule the gargoyles, rule the world." and in "Hunter's Moon:" "I will take my rightful place."

Make no mistake, when humanity is gone, she wants to be on top of the pecking order.

Myth: But what about Angela? That's proof Demona is a loving teddy bear!

Fact: Yes, she does love Angela. But does she respect Angela? I think the answer is definitely no. If anything, Angela's existence is going to be Demona's new justification for all her actions. Her new excuse. Remember, the next time they saw each other in "Hunter's Moon," she was going to commit mass genocide and she cited Angela as one of her motivations.

"The spell will protect me, my daughter and my kind from the plague."

Notice how she still put herself first.

Myth: She lives in a beautiful home called Destine Manor.

Fact: There is no Destine Manor. I don't know where that name came from, but it crops up a lot, and it's definitely not canon. And it's most definitely not a manor. It's a townhouse in Gramercy Park. Not an estate!

Myth: Demona's pissed off because she's horny.

Fact: This justification is beyond brain dead.

Myth: You're just locked into a two-dimensional view of things? Why can't a hug from Angela, or interacting with humans change her?

Fact: Re-read all of the above. She is a very three dimensional character, and that's why I love her. But her shade of gray is very, very dark.

Myth: But she is an anti-villain! Maybe even an anti-hero, not a true villain!

Fact: Demona is actually not an example of the anti-villain trope, but a big point is made about how she thinks she's a clear-cut well-intentioned extremist, when she isn't. It's like we've got this rather juvenile concept, that just because a character doesn't sit atop a throne of skulls or occasionally shows genuine human emotion now and then they can't be "really bad." The truth of the matter is that Hitler really did love kids.

32 comments:

  1. As I've said before, Demona is not Magneto. Magneto is what Demona thinks she is.

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    1. She is not Magneto with boobs. Hell, she's not even Mystique!

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  2. "Fact: Demona is not trying to destroy humanity just because she wants to save her kind. That's the cover story and what she's convinced herself. But really, humanity is her scapegoat. She knows, deep inside, she fucked up. But she won't ever admit it."

    To back this up, she willingly endangered the entire gargoyle race, and her daughter to cover her escape in Hunter's Moon, Part 3.

    Maybe she knew Goliath would catch the vial, but it was a big gamble nonetheless.

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    1. You can't ever "know" these things.

      I think that on one level, Demona was fairly confident that Goliath (or one of the gargs) would catch it. But I also think on some level, Demona's action was nihilistic. If the vial broke, so be it.

      http://www.s8.org/gargoyles/askgreg/search.php?qid=1766

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  3. Blast my soul...shouldn't her actions be excused since she lived a 1,000 years and saw every injustice? It's easy for Goliath to take the high moral ground. He didn't have to live through a 1,000 years of loneliness.

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  4. ANON> I can sum up my counter-argument in one word: Macbeth. He suffered just as much as Demona, saw his family and friend's wiped out by another's treachery, endured a thousand years of loneliness and probably saw as much injustice and in humanity.

    And while Macbeth has done some darn morally dubious things during the course of the series, he never sank the sheer depths of depravity Demona has. Contrast his refusal to attack the Gargoyles while they slept with Demona's gleefully slaughtering petrified humans in "City of Stone",

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    1. And Macbeth was not a social outcast that would be regarded as a monster by almost everyone on site. Nor is another species actively going around trying to wipe out humanity his entire life and almost driving them to extinction (like what Demona has experienced). Your comparison is not apt in the least.

      None of the explanations *excuse* Demona's actions at all, there is a very clear difference between figuring out why someone is the way they are, and saying everything they do is a-ok because the "why". The reasons why people have turned out the way that they have should not just be written off or ignored, that's just as bad as using backstory to try to excuse poor behavior.

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    2. EVAN PIERCE> You will find no one who dives into why Demona turned out the way she did than I. But it still boils down to her being at fault for her own suffering. Even Greg Weisman has said as much.

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    3. I don't know if I'd blame it *all* on her own fault, personally, but an awful darn lot of it is definitely self-inflicted pain further exasperated and enflamed by refusing to own up to her own hand in the Wyvern Clan's massacre.

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  5. Algernon> At least Macbeth was able to engage humanity and have companionship. He hasn't had sexual frustration like Demona did.

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  6. ANON> So it's okay for Catholic priests to molest kids? They're full of sexual frustration since they are not allowed to marry or engage in "sins of the flesh."

    A horny teenager who isn't getting laid is allowed to shoot up his High School prom?

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  7. But have they (the priests)gone through it for 1,000 years? No. There's no one else in the show who has been subjected to what Demona has. Macbeth was at least able to engage with humanity. And the sexual frustration excuse came from Greg Weisman.

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  8. That wasn't an "excuse," that was one of many reasons for her disposition. And it certainly wasn't a justification.

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  9. Interesting analysis. I have never seen something like this broken down in such a way.

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  10. Would Demona fit the definition of "criminally insane?"

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  11. "Demona's pissed off because she's horny."

    I think this is true. She does what she does for more than one reason, and the horniness surely isn't one of the bigger reasons. But I'm sure it still contributes. I doubt very many Demona apologists or Demona revisionists or whatever you want to call them chalk up ALL of her evil to sexual frustration, even if it is something that they mention as a contributing factor.

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  12. RICHARD> Not at all. Why? Because while she is messed up, deep inside she knows what she is doing is wrong.

    ANON> Yeah, it is true. But like you said, that's only one contributing factor. Even Weisman said so... but it's one factor of many. I was addressing the people who use it as a justification, not a factor.

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  13. You should do a blog post about how to talk to Griffith revisionists next, heh.

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  14. There are Griffith revisionists? Oy, I think I'm going to be sick...

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  15. What is there to be revisionist about D.W. Griffith?

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  16. RICHARD> Who said we're talking about D.W. Griffith?

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  17. ANON> I'll take a shot.
    .
    .
    .

    How To Talk To a Griffith Revisionist (If you must).

    WHAT THE **** IS WRONG WITH YOU!?!

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  18. Oh, Griffith is an anime character. My bad.

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  19. ANON> Demona's past makes her sympathetic to a degree, but doesn't/shouldn't absolve her of the actions committed by her.

    Especially since she suggested the plan that lead to the Wyvern Massacre, and her unwillingness to take responsibility was the beginning of a series of event that lead to her 1,000 years of suffering.

    So yeah, at times a good portion of suffering was self inflicted.

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  20. I think isolation, more than "sexual frustration" specifically, is a significant factor as well. We've seen what isolation does to humans (it's a form of torture) and we can gather that gargoyles are possibly even more social creatures than humans - In the Bad Guy's comic, Robyn points out to Yama that aside from one exception - Demona - gargoyles never choose to live alone, and banishment is the worst form of punishment. But Demona, partly thru events she caused, and partly just because humans actually have been slaying gargoyles clans all on their own - has spent probably a huge chunk of her existence alone. No wonder she's so farked up. Even her desperate attempts to create new clans for herself are farked up, but the loneliness, IMO, is a huge contributing factor for her state.

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    1. No doubt. Being lonely was is a huge contributing factor. Don't get me wrong, I understand Demona, I sympathize with Demona, I even empathize with her. But I cannot and will not justify her.

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    2. You're not the only one who empathizes with, sympathizes with, and understands Demona. I'm also like her because I've been mistreated for being who I am by those who are unable to accept the differences in others. And that makes me resentful for our species at times. Heck, I'll never forget the times that I got bullied. Therefore, a=bad things that happened and/or happen to my oppressors bring a smile to my face.

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    3. But you never got your loved ones killed and refused to take responsibility for it... at least I hope not. I also hope you're not engaging in racism and attempted genocide.

      I think there is a galaxy between your experiences and Demona's actions.

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  21. The biggest problem with this entry (and other entries about Demona, and sometimes just Gargoyles in general) is a fairly biased slant...I've noticed you tend to fall into a very black-and-white view of this subject. Often simplifying things to illogical extremes and ignoring the complexities. A lot of the things on this list here are just too simple and ignoring many of the nuances to the character and things like motive.

    1. Like your first point for instance. It's not one or the other with this, it *is* both. Both what you described about Demona, and the point you are trying to refute, are correct. She is a well-intentioned extremist, but also blame-shifting away from herself. Demona has her own faults in the destruction of many Gargoyles and her own blame that she refuses to own up to, but she also perfectly right to place blame on humans for the near-destruction of her species. Being a well-intentioned extremist does not make someone a hero or a good guy at all, as Demona clearly shows. Her ultimate goal of protecting the Gargoyles from humans/trying to ensure the survival of their species is a *good* thing....the way she wants to go about it, exterminating all humans and then placing herself in supreme control over all the remaining Gargoyles, is *not*. You can't get much closer to the definition of a well-intentioned extremist than this.

    2. Never seen this crop up anywhere, so I have nothing to say about this. And this is something that I agree on, she does have a desire for power and control, though I personally don't think it's one of her forefront goals, it *is* one of her goals nonetheless, but I think it's one that's much more secondary to wiping out humans and trying to save the other living Gargoyles.

    3. I'm going to have to disagree an awful lot with this one. You can't really love someone without having at least a modicum of respect for them. Actually loving someone (which I think it'd be pretty hard to deny or refute about Demona, she *does* love Angela) can't happen without a whole ton of other things following along with it, amongst them at least a tiny amount of respect. Using someone or something as an excuse does not automatically mean disrespect or anything like that at all.

    4. Heh, don't really have anything to say about fans calling Demona's place "Destine Manor" as that is silly...mainly I just don't see what this has to do with Demona or mis-characterizing her I guess. It feels a bit like a non-sequitor *shrug*

    Going to break this in two parts.

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    1. Part Two:

      5. Considering Greg Weissman himself used sexual-frustration/horniness as *an* explanation for some of Demona's character, I think it silly to just write it off. I've never seen this brought up before, but I don't imagine that it would be the *only* reason people bring up for trying to defend Demona or explain her actions, mainly because it's just a flimsy reason on its own and rather ridiculous. I think it far more likely that it would be used as only one explanation out of many to explain why Demona acts or thinks like she does.

      6. This is something I'd have to agree with at least in part. You do kind of have the tendency to really over-simplify this and view it through a fairly narrow perspective. No one but the incredibly stupid or naive would claim that just meeting Angela once would instantly redeem Demona, that's not how something as big as redemption works, it's a *process*. To just ignore the impact that Angela has on Demona and what further interaction between them (had the series gone on) might have sparked or started is a big mistake. To act as if some people are beyond redemption or outright discard the idea of redemption for characters like Demona is, in my opinion, just wrong. I don't think anyone should be viewed as being beyond redemption or reform, no matter how bad they are, everyone always deserves the chance. Some characters (or people in real-life) would be much harder to redeem or find atonement than others....but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be given the chance or the option just not entertained.

      7. Go to TV Tropes and read the definition for Anti-Villain and the scale they fall along, because Demona is *definitely* an Anti-Villain as well as a well-intentioned extremist. Demona's want/desire for the Gargoyles to be protected and not have to live in constant fear for their lives is a very good thing...what she feels she needs to do in order to accomplish this (kill off all humans) is not. Demona is listed on TV Tropes list of Anti-Villains for a reason, specifically a Type II on their scale of Anti-Villains. It doesn't make her a good guy, and I don't think anyone rational would say that, but the trope exists for a reason, because the villains or antagonists that fall into the category are *very* different from those who are actually evil through and through. Compare Demona to the likes of Sevarius, Thailog, Jackal and Heyena, Proteus, the Archmage, or Wolf.

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    2. ****The biggest problem with this entry (and other entries about Demona, and sometimes just Gargoyles in general) is a fairly biased slant...I've noticed you tend to fall into a very black-and-white view of this subject. Often simplifying things to illogical extremes and ignoring the complexities. A lot of the things on this list here are just too simple and ignoring many of the nuances to the character and things like motive.****

      Biased? Towards what? I admit to being a Canon Naza and proud of it, is that what you're talking about? She is my favorite character in the realm of fiction. I have spent a lot of time thinking about her over the past nineteen years, more time than I should admit. I think I have a firm grasp on who she is.

      Here is a Greg Weisman quote from the 2005 Gathering. "THE MASSACRE WAS YOUR FAULT, YOU STUPID BITCH!" I guess he's biased, too?

      1. There is no such thing as being a well-intentioned extremist when genocide is your goal. And it is her goal. Make no mistake. She wants to protect gargoyles so much, she has tried to murder her former clan. Her intentions in 994 were good, I do not dispute this. But 994 Demona and Modern Demona are different. She made her choices there motivated by love and fear. Modern Demona is motivated by hate and vengeance.

      2. I would put it in this order. A. Exterminate humanity. B. Rule the gargoyles. C. Save the other living gargoyles... which means so much to her, she tries to kill other gargoyles. In "Temptation" it went from "Goliath, restrain him!" to "Goliath, destroy him!" pretty quickly when she could have easily chained Brooklyn up somewhere "for his own good" until she had accomplished her goals.

      Oh, how about in Reawakening? "At least I can finish you three!" to the trio... she wanted to kill them there.

      3. She certainly doesn't respect Angela's judgement, and trying to kill Goliath... her father whom she loves... doesn't speak to any kind of respect to me.

      5. I used the word "justification" not "explanation". I didn't write anything there off. But as a justification, it is beyond brain dead.

      6. There are some really bad fics out there about Demona being redeemed by Angela very easily. The biggest offender being "The Gargoyles Saga." Besides, we know that when "Gargoyles 2198" opens, she is still plotting against humanity... so, obviously Angela doesn't succeed.

      I guess that's my silly bias towards Weisman's plans at work again.

      7. ***Demona's want/desire for the Gargoyles to be protected and not have to live in constant fear for their lives is a very good thing...what she feels she needs to do in order to accomplish this (kill off all humans) is not.***

      ......

      It's all about her revenge! She just tells herself it's about protecting her kind so.... ugh.

      Yeah, you're one of those people who doesn't pay attention to the self delusion. Seriously...

      "What have I... what have THEY done to you?!"

      Here is a Greg Weisman quote from the 2005 Gathering: "THE MASSACRE WAS YOUR FAULT, YOU STUPID BITCH!"

      And she was the one who betrayed Macbeth, who had been nothing but good and noble to her.

      ***Compare Demona to the likes of Sevarius, Thailog, Jackal and Heyena, Proteus, the Archmage, or Wolf.***

      Out of the people you listed, only Jackal tried to commit genocide. They're all really bad, but come on.

      Or, as my friend Algernon likes to say "She is not Magneto with boobs!"

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    3. Complexity is a wonderful thing. We all love Demona because she is a complex character, whose backstory and motivations are fully developed and whose emotions are powerful.

      But ultimately, there's a point where you have to ask, "Is this character justified? Are their actions excused by what they have endured?"

      Demona's actions are not. As Greg and Greg have already said, Demona's genocide is disproportionate to what humanity has committed against her kind, and is equally corrupt and bloody-minded. She is everything she hates, and that's not a laudable state for a character to be in.

      Especially when she can't take an honest look at herself, and is also extremely self-serving.

      It's not overly simplistic to view characters as responsible for their problems. Demona needs to own up. She's done no good for the gargoyle species, and needs to be understood as a great character, but not a good person.

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