D&D Guest Post pt. 1

D&D Blog Guest Post OR Collaborative Blog Post: You can earn E.C. towards your D&D Blog by having a “guest post” by anyone you’d like to invite to write a post for your blog (or that you interview for your blog) on a topic related to the course theme/focus. This can be someone from THIS CLASS or a family member or your best friend or someone you game with, etc. For the interview option: you can record a conversation (i.e. a video or audio recording) or write a transcript of the conversation. This can be about ANYTHING: a film related to the course, your Research Essay topic, their own (course-related) interests/fears about doubles & Doppelgängers, etc. 

During our Christmas Get-Together, my friends and I decided to talk about topics relating to Doubles and Doppelgangers! They come and go throughout the conversation.

Me: trying to explain doubles + doppelgangers + keep the conversation on topic — says “like” too much.

Ian: literally has a twin (Andrew), likes to get existential.

Andrew: The “double” (Ian’s twin) mentioned who comes in for a few seconds and leaves.

Elle: comes in early, laughs/talks a lot.

Stefano: from Purdue, leaves after a bit.

Mikey: comes in later, takes Stefano’s place, listens more than talks.

Warning: Lots of screaming + profanity from Elle.

D&D Guest Post pt. 2

A part two to the D&D Guest post! This time with Ian and another new friend — Morgan!

During editing, half of the audio got deleted by accident, so it just randomly cuts off at the end.

Devotion + The Uncanny

Similar to Silent Hill and it’s uncanny hallways, we have another no-longer playable horror game with uncanny elements, Devotion. I watched some gameplays of it a couple of years ago, so my memory of it is a little blurry. However, it seems that the true uncanniness is reserved to those who are familiar with Taiwanese/traditional Asian culture. A lot of western players find the game more tame than creepy, but as a Vietnamese person who visits both their rather traditional grandparents’ houses often, I find the game a little personally haunting at times.

The game takes place in a 1980s Taiwanese apartment, centering around a man who seems to be a loving father and husband. However, the player, controlling the father, is then put into many different loops (sound familiar?) of the house — each loop being a different time period. You go through time periods of when they first move in, first have their daughter, and the years after. It’s another “familiar-turned-unfamiliar” effect as each new time period brings a new version of the once-familiar apartment.

What makes this game so personally uncanny is just how familiar I am with the random references to Asian culture. Some of it just looks a little too similar to my grandparents’ houses.

See the source image
http://ppunlimited.blogspot.com/2010/12/kuda-calendar-popular-with-old-folk.htm;

I swear I’ve seen this calendar in one or both of my grandparents’ homes, somewhere in the hallway or in the fridge.

Devotion might be re-released, but not any time soon | Rock Paper Shotgun

The crowd of shoes at the front door is definitely something I’m familiar with. The little Buddhist shrines and incense candles? Those are also familiarities that reminds me of my grandparents’ place. I guess the game is trying to make it feel more and more like home in order to better distort the viewer’s comfort in what should be their safest place — making it uncanny. There is also the dramatic use of the color red in this game. Now, red in Western Culture is often associated with “danger” or “alertness”, but this is different in traditional Asian culture, where the color is actually linked as a “lucky” or “happy” color. That’s why New Years envelopes and a lot of traditional Chinese weddings are decorated in so much red. Since I grew up in America, I’m more used to viewing red as the “danger” color, but I wonder if those who are more traditionally Asian would find the sudden twist in the use of red, uncanny.

See the source image

I think what was most uncanny for me though, was the game’s emphasis on dismissed health issues. In Devotion, the daughter, Mei Shin (I think is her name), becomes sick with some unknown illness, and the doctors are unable to figure out what is wrong with her. Instead of helping his daughter with actual medical treatments, he seeks help from a religious advisor (who turns out to be a scammer) and has his daughter do all these ridiculous rituals. In the end, it’s revealed that he had unintentionally drowned his own daughter after being instructed to bathe her in wine and snake blood — killing her and causing him to be stuck in this supposed limbo.

Some people may find this reveal dumb or unrealistic, but I thought it was a very real thing that Asian people do, as my own parents pretty much do the same. A lot of Asian kids can probably agree that when they are sick, their parents will absolutely refuse to take them to a doctor, and instead give them traditional Asian “treatments”. I guess it’s because they either don’t trust modern medicine or find it overly pricey (and to be fair, hospital bills are stupidly expensive)? But anyways, it’s uncanny to me, because my dad has this really funny little green bottle of some weird oil. He has no idea what it’s called but he keeps buying it, saying that it cures all sicknesses. There’s this weird procedure where you have to pour it on a quarter (like a coin) and then rub someone’s back with it until it burns and is completely red — apparently “sweating” out the sickness is the cure.

See the source image
NO IDEA WHAT THIS IS?

Obviously, I don’t think it really does much (but who knows) but because I recover every time, he believes that it genuinely helps, and it’s weirdly similar to the father in Devotion. The game is like a deranged double of the 1980s Taiwanese family, and it bothers me sometimes, even if I’m not Taiwanese or live in a super traditional Asian household. It’s the familiar turned unfamiliar — and that is what makes it uncanny.

Soma

See the source image
https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1201070868

I sat motionless in the dark wanting to puke for an hour after watching an entire playthrough of this. What makes this game so terrifying is not just the creepy monsters chasing you around, but the awfully chilling and disturbing implications that the game throws at you as you run around as the protagonist. It’s more psychological, existential horror than just random jump scares. You enter the first-perspective view of a man named Simon who wakes up in the year 2104 in some kind of underwater research facility, and of course, he is just as lost as you are. The last time he was conscious, he was living in 2015, but after a car crash, he has woken up almost a hundred years into the future. Apparently, there had been a worldwide extinction from a comet, and the remaining humans are a bunch of scientists who had already been in the facility before it crashed into the earth — except those very scientists are now mysteriously dead too, leaving you almost all alone. As Simon, your only company is the voice of a woman named Catherine who has been copied as a brain scan. The only way out of a dying, withering Earth is to launch the ARK, a spacecraft that copies human brain scans into a virtual, safe haven reality. However, you as the player, have to guide Simon around hostile, biomechanical organisms and make tough decisions regarding morality and the true meaning of humanity.

What makes this game related to the D&D class is the very important element of clones. Cloning/copying consciousness is a big thing in this game — like the final punchline of Soma revolves around copies. Simon will continuously state his disgust of the conscious-cloning throughout the story, and as you reach the end, there’s an awful, haunting thought that wonders how human you are alongside copies of yourself. How much is humanity worth in the grand scheme of things? When we compare ourselves to clones, copied brain scans, and other “non-human” beings, who is really more deserving of life? In what ways do we try to reject validations of life from other beings, especially when their existence threatens the validity of our own?

The real deal starts at 1 : 28. Then the “happy” ending is at 7:25.

So what exactly is it that makes the ending of Soma so existentially horrific? Yes, our Simon has been left behind on earth, all alone, but there’s something much more existentially disturbing here. By the end of the game, Simon has been copied and cloned many, many times — whether through brain scans or body changes. But with each transfer over, Simon becomes less and less human — abandoning real, human bodies in exchange for artificial ones, and eventually, is reduced to almost nothing but a bodiless brain scan in a virtually-made world within a tiny satellite floating aimlessly in space. In their race to desperately preserve the last shards of humanity — humanity, in the end, isn’t even human. This game alone, is enough to unsettle our understanding of what humanity even is, and what it’s even worth. It pokes holes into our blanket of security: “humanity” — what we use to alienate other living beings and justify our actions, making us hesitant towards our own existence and worth.

There are many doubles of humans following the protagonist throughout the game — Catherine, literal copies of Simon, brain scans of various people, robots, the creatures of the WaU, the WaU itself — are all existing with the purpose to be as human as possible. It’s easy to dismiss these all as lifeless beings programmed to simulate emotions, simply because they aren’t human.

W.I.P.

PRELIM 8

This is for my research project! I’d like to argue about the dangers of technology as it is the closest thing to what we can find as a manifested, physical double coming to life. We’re gradually getting closer and closer to what we may label an artificial human, and this invention will of course, be universally groundbreaking. I believe that it will obviously affect how we see ourselves, and possibly redefine what we believe to be “humanity”.  However, I think we’ve already been going through that process of redefining humanity ever since the first double? If that makes sense? From cavemen drawings, to mannequins, to now digital copies of humans, our understanding of ourselves and our experiences have progressed along with each new invented double. 

SOMA (Video Game):

SOMA, PC Version, Frictional Games, 2015.

What makes this game so terrifying is not just the creepy monsters chasing you around, but the awfully chilling and disturbing implications that the game throws at you as you run around as the protagonist. You enter the first-perspective view of a man named Simon who wakes up in the year 2104 in some kind of underwater research facility, and of course, he is just as lost as you are. The only way out of a dying, withering Earth is to launch the ARK, a spacecraft that copies human brain scans into a virtual, safe haven reality. However, you as the player, have to guide Simon through making copies of himself to get past certain levels, and question the morality of it all. I believe that this can be of good use in my research essay. Cloning/copying consciousness is a big thing in this game — like the final punchline of SOMA revolves around copies. Audiences are left existentially haunted when they reach the end credits, lost in thought over the doubles left behind on Earth. How human are we, when alongside our clones? What happens to our value, as the original being? How much is humanity worth in the grand scheme of things? When we compare ourselves to clones, copied brain scans, and other “non-human” beings, who is really more deserving of life? In what ways do we try to reject validations of life from other beings, especially when their doubled existence threatens the validity of our own? It leaves the viewer with this awful reconsideration of what it means to be human alongside other humans, if being human even means anything at all.

Brave New World (novel):

Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. New York, Harper & Row, 1995. 

Marcus, Amit. Telling the Difference: Clones, Doubles and What’s in Between. Vol. 21, 2011, www.connotations.de/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/marcus02123.pdf. Accessed 16 Nov. 2020. 

The novel takes place sometime in the future in an advanced civilization known as the “World State”. It’s supposedly a perfect utopia, where people do not age, starve, cry, or even really want because all their needs are met by the government. Morals and traditions have been erased because they were either inconvenient or caused troubles, so people now use drugs and have orgies like it’s an everyday thing for them. They don’t have art, religion, privacy, an understanding of romantic, non-sexual relationships, families, or have a choice in determining their own careers, but that doesn’t matter to them because they are too busy being happy — and that is what makes this story so disturbing. This relates to the research essay because the citizens of the World State are all artificially made from the same formula, and so in a way, everyone is a clone of each other by biology and conditioning. So now, we have themes asking the audience how lack of individuality affects people, or if individuality is really a human need — why are we so scared of losing that individuality? Does our fear of doppelgangers, doubles, clones, etc. relate to individuality and personal identity? Also, it intrigues me as to how easily we can succumb to technology as it develops more and more to gratify our most selfish, animalistic desires (think of drugs, birth control, video game addiction, machine replacing labor). Will it change how society values personal individuality? What will we lose as a society if we are able to accomplish such a feat?

Blade Runner 2049 (movie):

Parker-Flynn, C., 2017. Joe And The ‘Real’ Girls: Blade Runner 2049. [online] Search.proquest.com. Available at: <https://search.proquest.com/docview/1987343161?pq-origsite=gscholar&fromopenview=true> [Accessed 16 November 2020]. 

Gibson, Rebecca. “Angel Replicants and Solid Holograms: Blade Runner 2049 and Its Impact on Robotics.” Desire in the Age of Robots and AI, 25 Aug. 2019, pp. 75–108, 10.1007/978-3-030-24017-2_4. 

Blade Runner 2049 is the sequel to the original Blade Runner(1982), and takes place in a futuristic, cyberpunk world where replicants, artificially-made humans, serve organic humans. Replicants called “Blade Runners” are used to eliminate older models in order to prevent any possible uprisings, and that is what the main character, K, is. He goes around “retiring” older replicants without a bit of sympathy, as if he had completely no emotions or any human sentience. The plot itself is interesting, as K tries to figure out a case involving the birth of a replicant child (replicants aren’t supposed to be able to reproduce), but what’s arguably more interesting are the human doubles and their existence. There are of course, human women and replicant women, but also AI women. K is literally dating a hologram, Joi, who he genuinely does seem to care for, but when it is revealed that she is simply a product to romantically cater to customers, K is distraught. Finally, K dies to return a father to his child, and the movie ends leaving the audience with many hard questions. What does it mean to be human? Are emotions only a strictly human trait? How can something be fake if the feelings it evokes in us, are real? That last question is mainly pointing at Joi and K’s relationship, as many viewers wonder if what K and Joi had was even to be considered “true” love. If this digitalized emotion between them can be considered real “love”, then what defines “real” for humans and their seemingly “fake” doubles?

Dec. 13th, 2020:

Telotte, J.P. “The Doubles of Fantasy and the Space of Desire.” Film Criticism, vol. 7, no. 1, 1982, pp. 56–68, www.jstor.org/stable/44018719?seq=2#metadata_info_tab_contents. Accessed 16 Nov. 2020. 

Reinventing Humanity (research essay)

“Reinventing Humanity: The Future of Machine-Human – ProQuest.” Search.Proquest.com, search.proquest.com/docview/218573816?pq-origsite=gscholar&fromopenview=true. Accessed 16 Nov. 2020. 

The source talks of a theoretical, futuristic time period called “Singularity” where human and technology will be indistinguishable in society’s eyes. Humanity and their existence will be supposedly “altered” in attempts to merge the biological brain and the computer mind to advance overall society. According to the author, there will be a genetic, nano-mechanical, and robotic technological revolution sometime in the future to lead the earth into this period of Singularity, allowing people to be fused with machines physically and intellectually. “Humanity” will go through a redefinition as more and more of them becomes less natural, and this idea will be useful in my essay, as I find it relates closely to SOMA. As people become more machine than human, what can be said about humanity?

Telling the Difference (research essay)

Marcus, Amit. Telling the Difference: Clones, Doubles and What’s in Between. Vol. 21, 2011, www.connotations.de/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/marcus02123.pdf. Accessed 16 Nov. 2020. 

This essay seems to talk of the reality of doubles and how much of a double they really are. The author mentioned how clones who are genetically copied will still be able to vary in experiences, therefore differentiating their personality and overall mindset. Even with identical biology and genetics, conditioning and environmental factors will keep a double from ever being completely the same as the original copy — so I’m guessing this will be a “outward/manifested” double. An “inward/experiential” double would have to be in sync with the original body’s experiences, so something like The Portrait of Dorian Gray would be identical as both sides go through the same interactions and life. Since I’m working with clones, robots, and AI, I believe I’ll be working with outward doubles, as they’re only physically similarly, but will have their own sentience.

“Human clones, although approximately genetically identical, would resemble each other less than identical twins: unlike identical twins, they would share the majority of their genes, but not all; they would most probably not share the same prenatal environment; they may be raised by different parents in different environments, and possibly even in different eras.” (page 5)

Apocalyptic AI (research essay)

Geraci, Robert M. Apocalyptic AI: Visions of Heaven in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual RealityGoogle Books, Oxford University Press, 29 Nov. 2012, www.google.com/books/edition/_/2u0VDAAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&pg=PR7&dq=virtual+reality+humanity. Accessed 16 Nov. 2020. 

This essay talks about the “Apocalyptic AI” and how religion could possibly be interpreted by artificial life. It doesn’t talk about whether or not this is a moral thing, but just seems to discuss the idea that non-humans can be religious. It says in comparison to the Apocalyptic AI, organic human beings are “bad” and inefficient because they are limited in biology while futuristic programs and artificial life are much more “good” and capable of never-ending improvement. It also talks of how society may abandon the real world in favor of a virtual one, essentially a technological double of our earth. The author then talks of the relationship between science and religion, claiming that the two are intertwined and cannot be separated despite what others may believe. I can understand this, as I just took a Darwinian Revolution class this semester and can grasp what they mean by the two being “intertwined”. Religion has shaped how we view science and vice versa, as many scientific philosophers back in the day were expected to not just find facts, but also come up with theories as why those facts and evidence even exist. There are some interesting keywords I could use here: transhumanists, apocalypticism (the original definition of it).

Higurashi: When They Cry(2007) + The Uncanny + The Sandman

Why does Higurashi: When They Cry (2007) work?

Pin on Higurashi no Naku Koro ni | ひぐらしのなく頃に
https://partsoftheunknown.tumblr.com/post/136570673068

Most horror anime nowadays are most of a gore fest than actual horror, but Higurashi has always managed to balance both horror and gore correctly. The story is basically about one of our protagonists, a boy named Keichi Maebara, who has moved into a rural village and has gotten himself some nice friends. However, he learns of the village’s history, and starts to see the friends around him in a dark and disturbing light. As he finds out more and more, everything unravels into a mystery of paranoia and insanity. I’d like to analyze what it is exactly that makes this series so eerie, as I believe it has to do something with Sigmund Freud’s theory of the uncanny.

How can anime be scary? Especially one with such a goofy looking art-style? — was what I mistakenly thought before clicking play on episode 1. Yes, the art-style is definitely goofy (it’s animated by Studio DEEN after all), but because of the simplistic, childish looking animation, the scenes where character’s faces get weirdly detailed or distorted can be extremely jarring for the viewer, especially when they are accustomed to the cutesy anime look.

Anime A to Z: H – Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (Review) – Umai Yomu Anime Blog
See the source image

However, it’s not just the art-style that gives off uncanny vibes. The soundtrack is awfully creepy and the story itself relies on the familiar-turned-unfamiliar. I think it is pretty similar to that of E.T.A Hoffman’s The Sandman, due to it’s similar narrative of unreliable protagonists falling into paranoia. Nathaniel is told of the Sandman in his childhood, while Keiichi is told of the deaths of the dam site workers and later, the curse of Oyashiro. Both protagonists are told of supernatural legends that rationally cannot be real. However, the more they attempt to rationalize the mysterious events around them, the more they unconsciously/consciously link it to their respective villains, and when they feel that they cannot trust their own friends, they begin to react extremely aggressively. Gradually, both Nathaniel and Keiichi are so engulfed in their paranoia that they attack others before killing themselves. Both protagonists, unable to distinguish reality and their hyperactive imaginations, end up gruesomely dead — Nathaniel throws himself off a building and Keiichi claws at his own throat whilst calling the police. Sigmund Freud would say that this behavior is driven by the mind’s desperation to understand what is real and fantasy. The protagonists are both trying to make sense of the world — as they cannot fathom the idea of a mystical figure being actually real. The uncanny is exactly that: anything that cannot be clearly established as reality or imagination is immediately unfamiliar, and therefore a threat to the rational brain. If reality can have curses and monsters, then reality is a lie, and therefore anything can happen — is possibly what’s going on in our protagonists’ heads. Nathaniel’s perception is so warped that he cannot distinguish between a woman and an automaton, and Keichii’s mind is so paranoid that he begins to hallucinate his own friends plotting against him. As the audience, we can tell something is off with our narrators, but cannot stop them from their own growing insanity.

However, unlike Nathaniel, after five episodes of creepy mysteries and gore, Keiichi and the people he hurt are all alive again. The world has seemingly restarted from the beginning, as if none of the murders happened. This is where the uncanny starts in the writing itself. Every five or six episodes, the world resets back to the beginning, bringing the audience back to a familiar setting with familiar characters who are now supposedly normal. Similar to P.T. (a video game I’ve mentioned in another blog post), we have loops. However, with each new loop, we see the story from another character’s perspective, tiny things in the narrative have been changed, and many new clues are revealed to the overall mystery, making what is supposed to be familiar, unfamiliar. We learn new things about characters that weren’t mentioned before — what they were doing during certain events, what information they know, how they contributed to the overall mystery of the story. Just when we, the audience, think we know the answer, we’re immediately thrown off, and that is what makes the series so uncanny.

P.T. Silent Hill + The Uncanny

The Silent Hill franchise is well known for its horrifying games and scares, but arguably, their greatest game would be P.T. The demo was released in 2014 with highly realistic graphics, only to be cancelled later, but the unfinished game had already left a massive impact on the horror game industry. Many games today like Visage and Resident Evil 7 are inspired by the psychological horror elements used in P.T., showing how absolutely influential it was. You play as a man who looks a lot like Norman Reedus, and find yourself in a house haunted by a past murder, told to you by a nearby radio. The supposed goal of the game was to figure out the mystery behind the killings, but sadly, since the game was cancelled, the clues you are given don’t result to anything.

Silent Hill have always used elements of the uncanny in their games, but with P.T., those horrors have been amped up all the way. I’ll be talking about the games structure and strong points in order to suggest why exactly the uncanny works so well in this game.

Content Warning: Dead babies, murder, children dying, blood, mental illnesses, graphic gore, brief mentions of sexual assault.

Why does P.T. Work?

See the source image
https://www.digitalspy.com/videogames/silent-hills/a591627/is-silent-hills-teaser-pt-the-scariest-game-ever/

I love and hate this game. P.T. starts with you, a first-person player, waking up in a poorly-lit, empty room with a door. You step through the door, and it’s just an L-shaped hallway with another door at the end. You step through that end, walk down some stairs, and open another door — only to find yourself at the beginning of the hallway again — and this is basically what P.T. is, a series of never-ending loops. This may seem like lazy game design at first, but this is actually where The Uncanny starts.

Silent Hill Community • View topic - PT walkthrough, puzzle solutions, and  story
https://www.bing.com/images/blob?bcid=SNYKk5pASwgCLeBfCE0hTzfSBved…..5k

Within the discovery of the first loop, the player is to then realize that they are a small, powerless thing within the confines of the house. They cannot run, fight, or avoid the threat by taking another route — they are stuck in this tight hallway whose hauntings will continue to drag the player through the uncanny experience.

These loops are what makes P.T. so iconic and memorable. The repetitive yellow-tinted hallway is drilled into the player’s brain, conditioning them to become familiar with the path only to distort it into something unfamiliar. Like Sigmund Freud says, once a pattern is picked up by the mind, it will unconsciously/consciously look out for that pattern or changes in that pattern. The player knows that they will always be walking through the same hallway, but will also be aware that there is going to be something just off each time — never giving them a chance to feel comfortable with their environment no matter how many times they run through it — and that is the uncanny at work.

Sigmund Freud also mentions how the uncanny is related to infantile/primal fears, and those too, are elements used often in the game. At the start, a radio tells the player of a family shooting involving a pregnant woman getting shot directly in the stomach. Later, a talking fetus can be found in the sink of the bathroom and even much later a screaming baby is heard inside a hanging refrigerator (this part is awful to listen to). This is again, twisting the familiar into the unfamiliar. I believe that the sink and refrigerator are supposed to represent/parallel the womb, but instead of being warm, wet, and safe, they are cold, dry, and hard — and that is certainly no place for babies to be. Another disturbingly mention of babies is when the ghost, Lisa, attacks the player and forcibly pushes him to the floor. There is an offscreen sound of a zipper and a series of really gross and wet noises, which led many people to believe that Lisa is raping the player in a sick way of thinking to supposedly get her baby back. That’s P.T.

Perfect Blue + Doppelgangers, Alter-Egos and Doubles

So I finally watched Perfect Blue with my roommate, and it was interesting! I had read a quick synopsis about the film before watching, so I knew it would relate to the D&D class in some way — being about idols and fame, but I didn’t think it would connect so closely to the course!

Warning: There are two rape scenes (both a fake one and an attempted real one — either way, they are disturbing), and graphic dead bodies/murders, so if you ever do watch it, be aware of those.

One thing I’d like to mention before diving into the film itself is the front cover. I think it represents the themes of the film beautifully, as it shows the main protagonist, Mima, laying on various objects strongly coated with blue. At first glance, I assumed she had tattoos or drawings on her chest and shoulders, until I realized that those were not markings on her skin, but rather the items resting below her — Mima was transparent. I think this is supposed to show how Mima’s identity is gradually being lost, fading into the pile of random items under her; as her famous persona gets thrown around, her identity becomes an object that people can toss around and control for their own personal gains. You could say that this is a visual representation of her objectification as an idol.

As for the film itself, there is so much double, doppelganger, and alter-ego imagery. These are only a few out of the many memorable shots in this film.

See the source image
https://66.media.tumblr.com/4b3f2a5e78fff31a21ff8e82ffe4e149/tumblr_olrhn1382p1w05w8zo1_500.gif
See the source image
https://gph.is/g/4MWjj0W
Best Perfect Blue Anime GIFs | Gfycat
https://i.pinimg.com/originals/33/28/12/3328126fcc2943bd96075bbf04bda509.gif

Perfect Blue is essentially a horror story of a woman losing her identity to the media as she transitions from a pop idol to an acting career. There are strange murders going on as well as a fan stalking her as she tries to move on from her past life, and that’s basically the plot.

The entire thing reminds me of Leo Braudy’s whole quote of the divided selves and fame, especially with the “mercy of the storytellers” sentence. Mima really is at the mercy of her storytellers here, as they don’t see her as a human being with her own wants and desires, but rather a piece of entertainment that is meant to satisfy them (objectification). Her audience only see Mima as what they want to see, which is idol Mima, not the present one we follow. So even if she wants to start a change in her identity and career, her fans won’t let her, as she really has no power over what the media says about her.

I’m going to talk about the three different identities and alter-egos of Mima: the protagonist, Rumi, and Me-Mania.

We mainly follow the protagonist, the one who is clearly having a hard time while the other two mess with her — they are essentially the same person but also not, and I’ll explain why. Mima’s idol persona is essentially up for grabs when she leaves it behind to start her career as an actress, and this very persona is taken by two people, Rumi and Me-Mania. However, they use it in different ways. Rumi uses it in order to project herself as the star she used to be. So when the protagonist sheds off the idol persona, Rumi “wears” what’s left of it in order to relive the fame and love she once had in her former golden years. Me-Mania is an obsessive, stalker fan of Mima, and so when she drops the cutesy, idol image to pursue a more adult career, he’s enraged. Since he relentlessly stalks her, he is able to act as “Mima” online and pretend to be her, posting her daily work and activities. Essentially, both Rumi and Me-Mania are trying to preserve the abandoned shell of an identity that is idol Mima, but the protagonist‘s new career choices are demolishing that innocent, youthful persona by playing sex roles and doing nude photoshoots. You have two different people fighting over the same idol persona but with different perceptions and uses of that being. The more the main protagonist tries to separate herself from her old career, the less control she has of it.

Mob Psycho 100 + Alter Egos and Sigmund Freud

So as of Sept. 13, 2020, we have been diving into alter-egos in our D&D class. I was actually going to start this blogsite off with the horror game, Soma, but seeing how our current subject is over alter-egos rather than clones/copies, I think Mob Psycho 100 would fit better for now.

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https://anue.tumblr.com/post/175594278219

Unlike the other pieces of media I have planned, Mob Psycho 100 is meant to be more therapeutic than terrifying. It’s classified as a Shonen (a genre of anime that is typically angry young men screaming at each other while avenging their dead families), but doesn’t really fit the category. It’s much more light-hearted and silly, but still carries deep, emotional themes as it tries to reflect modern, everyday real life. The protagonist, Mob, is a young boy that is purposely written to have overpowered psychic abilities. These devastating powers are directly linked to his emotions, so he has to constantly suppress all happiness, sadness, rage, etc. to spare the world around him — at the cost of his mental health and emotional growth. This really unhealthy, especially for a 14 year old middle schooler. The people he interacts with throughout the series will intentionally aggravate him to witness his abilities, and thus, he has to try to restrain himself from lashing out. There’s a lot more to the series but that is one of the main plots. The main themes of the show are the power of empathy, maturity, change and self-love, but is still relevant to the D&D class because the main character’s entire drive to develop as a person stems from his fear of his “other self”. This supposed alter-ego is the product of all of Mob’s suppressed emotions, and is his own biggest villain as it attempts to break out every now and then.

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First, I want to talk about just Mob’s alter-ego, the all feared “???%” — what it means, what it represents, how it relates to alter-egos, and who is really the alter-ego.

So what is “???%” and why is it called that? In the series, it’s more shown then directly explained, and knowing how his powers work can help better understand the alter-ego. Essentially, Mob’s psychic powers are tied to his emotions. Every second of every day, Mob has to actively suppress his emotions, but just like any other human being, they build up gradually, starting from 0% and spilling over at 100%. Anything hitting 100% is openly, consciously expressed — tears, a yell, a simple glare, etc. The audience is shown rage, sadness, gratitude, and many other emotional states, both positive and negative. However, he’s still trying to hold back even at 100%, so this implies that his emotions can go even way further beyond if he stops restricting himself, and that is what ???% is — an emotional value so strong that it is unknown. If Mob were to cease all conscious direction, lose all self-control of himself, ???% would be freed, unleashing years of buried anger, sadness, shame, and many more emotions that would wreck the world. It’s almost like a whole other personality, an other identity, and that’s the antagonist alter-ego for this story.

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So I noticed that in a lot of media, including MP100, alter-egos are usually split in to “bad” and “good” selves. This is usually the case in most alter-ego-driven stories, but I wonder why that is? What are these “selves” made of that always makes them so vile and so unlikeable that we have to hide them from society’s eyes? Looking at ???% (bad), we can describe it to be impulsive, violent, selfish, emotional, and unethical — everything that Mob (good) isn’t.

Mob prefers to use his abilities to defend, block or suppress an attacker because he’s aware of his psychic strength, and doesn’t wish to hurt anyone. ???%, on the other hand, still knowing of its destructiveness, completely lashes out with all its rage and power at whatever provokes it without any rational thought or regards to its surroundings. So engrossed in its emotions, it isn’t able to even listen or speak to those that approach it. It’s assumed that it acts the way it does because of its wish for freedom of expression (which we know it can’t have because of the way Mob’s powers work).

As you can see, this self is quite troublesome, and is the essence of what Mob fears most about himself, thus why he tries so hard to change. In a way, you could argue that Mob himself is the alter-ego. He tries his best to wear the mask of a normal, middle school kid, even if the mask he wears isn’t exactly the character he wishes to be — as long no one gets hurt, even if his own mentality deteriorates it’s enough. An alter-ego was made to not protect the self, but rather to protect everyone else.

However, the emphasis on self-control, especially over impulsivity, reminds me of Sigmund Freud’s iceberg theory for some reason. If many other “true selves” are like ???%, an overemotional, violent being fueled with hormones and animalistic, selfish behavior, then it leads me to believe that whatever alter-egos are trying to hide are related somehow to the unconscious.

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https://www.simplypsychology.org/Sigmund-Freud.html

If you’ve never heard of this, basically, it’s a very popular psychoanalytical theory that claims the human mind is mainly divided into what is conscious (ego) and what is unconscious (id). The conscious is what makes us self-aware, rational, moral, empathetic, and law-abiding in fear of consequences. The unconscious is the source of all our motivations — it’s what makes us emotional, impulsive, violent, hypersexual and disgustingly selfish as human beings. It’s not something to be ashamed of; I think it’s natural, but having a strong conscious is something to definitely exercise.

I think that alter-egos are related to the conscious, as they are masks that we want the world to see and accept, while inner-selves are related to the unconscious, sides that are selfishly-driven — we’re ashamed of them and feel that they would likely be rejected by society.

But this is probably why characters who use alter-egos are seen as a huge threat — especially ???%. The state of ???% seems to be a literal manifestation of Mob’s unconscious, making it the most free, unbridled version of him. It knows of his deepest pains, memories, and resentment, even those that Mob doesn’t consciously admit to or want to remember.

There is a boy who chokes out Mob in the earlier episodes, and after a bunch of other events, the two actually become friends. Mob doesn’t seem to consciously hold any grudges for the fight, but much later, when ???% comes out, it recognizes the boy and begins to strangle him in rage — mirroring their first encounter and expressing Mob’s suppressed resentment towards him.

So again, I ask, are alter-egos really just conscious masks to monitor and hide the unconscious mind? Seeing how one of the show’s main themes is “self-control over privilege” and “taking the hard, empathetic path” to deal with situations, it would make sense that the primal alter-ego be the ultimate villain. Honestly, that’s the vibe I’m getting from MP100 and a bunch of other media, and maybe that’s why the “inner self” is so scary. They’re linked to the most impulsive, animalistic sides we have of ourselves, something we possibly all have as humans beings. And some of us may not even know of that other side, as it may be unconscious.

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