“It is okay to want your own happiness. It’s okay to care about yourself the most. You are not obligated to sit there and smile and swallow every bit of shit everyone heaps on you. You are more than furniture, you’re more than window dressing, you’re not their shiny toy. You’re human, and you have the right to say “That was shitty of you”. You have a right to protest your own mistreatment and set boundaries for respectful interactions. The rest of the world doesn’t realize you have this right, and they will act offended and appalled when you exercise it, but it is yours.”—Unknown (via ohteenscanrelate)
[This is the non-color version of Episode 49B, with speakers identified in the text instead of by color. Available in ODT, PDF, EPUB, AZW3, PDB, MOBI, and TXT for offline reading on your computer, tablet, or eBook reader. Cover images and metadata also available. Main download directory here.]
[Fade in, continuing from just before the point where Part A left off – first part of the sentence in brackets is not heard, but included here for context]
Cecil: [And what are we, Night Vale,] without darkness? Without shadows? And without secrets?
The fact that Kevin and Lauren so absolutely and spectacularly resemble and mirror the tone-policing, pseudo-egalitarian bullshit of anti-social justice warriors is really fucking significant. In response to their utter failure to win the confidence and support of Night Vale, they make a textbook non-apology where they cite “caring too much” as their only fault, and tell listeners that they are going to empathize with them in order to “give [them] the room to understand what they need.” They are incredibly patronizing, and their new understanding is the farthest thing possible from actual empathy or respect or decency; it is yet another way in which to undermine the anger and pain and terror and courage of the people they are oppressing. “Sorry you got offended because you didn’t understand what I meant because you’re incapable of doing that.” That’s what it comes down to, and it’s something that every marginalized person hears over and over and over. We are too sensitive. We are misconstruing perfectly harmless things as oppressive. We are wrong, but since we’re getting so upset, they’ll give us a nice, meaningless response, and if we’re still angry at the end? Well then we deserve to be abused and mistreated. We deserve whatever happens to us, be it a hand on our neck or continued systemic oppression.
The whole first section is also textbook imperialism. It is the brutal pursuit of the bottom line justified by an image of Night Vale as incompetent and sad and dark, and in need of the light of StrexCorp and the smiling god, both literal and figurative. Despite their talk about empathy, Lauren and Kevin have no desire to understand Night Vale. We already know that Kevin perceives Night Vale as quaint and amusing—a place to visit, but woefully undeveloped and in need of guidance. Now, we have them both saying this very blatantly; Night Vale has many dystopian characteristics, and many arbitrary rules, but where StrexCorp is significantly worse than the city council or the sheriff’s secret police is in its purported desire to save Night Vale from its flaws, regardless of the consent of its citizens. Like the so-called “first world,” StrexCorp sees its (very ableist, very callous, very assimilationist) system of social governance as inherently superior, and seeks to impose it for the good of those who comprise the “inferior” society.
And then, “violent revolution has never solved anything.” Right. And there we have it. “Don’t fight fire with fire~!” “Hating your oppressor makes you just as bad as them~*!” “If you’re mean to your oppressor they’ll oppress you more and I won’t support you and you deserve everything they’ve done and continue to do!”
Because that is what StrexCorp represents. Capitalism, imperialism, oppression, systemic and institutionalized violence. And Kevin and Lauren are individuals who benefit within that system, and want to perpetuate and extend it. They ask for friendly discussion and advocate progress and minimize the hurt being caused with euphemistic language because their position of privilege depends upon people accepting their terms and conditions. Their position of privilege depends upon people playing nice, and compromising, and backing down, and being obedient and silent and polite.
And that is where “Old Oak Doors Part A” is successful. It shows expertly the interplay between individuals and systems, and how each shapes the other. It depicts the truly insidious nature of statements that dismiss reactions from the oppressed that do not align with the desires of the oppressor. It shows just how much the individual efforts of privileged individuals to control the actions and feelings of the marginalized are a tool for maintaining the status quo.
The point? Anger is valid. Action is valid. The oppressor has no right to dictate the conditions and attributes of the resistance. When our lives, our identities, our right to exist are disputed, we have a right to stand our ground.