How 'Homestuck' Defined What It Means to Be a Fan Online

#1

In April of 2016, an era ended. Homestuck, the webcomic which captivated 600,000 readers a day at its peak, and which had carried me from my undergraduate studies in 2009 to the final years of my PhD in 2016, was over.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/zmp3ze/how-homestuck-defined-what-it-means-to-be-a-fan-online
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#2

Reading this article gave made me very aware that there is a timeline where we got a Homestuck Lore Reasons.

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#3

I’m not convinced that timeline isn’t necessarily own.

#4

This is why Natalie left, she knew that the only logical conclusion to lore reasons was Homestuck

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#5

Oh yeah, that actully happens in the second epilogue ending.

(jk of course)

#6

this is literally the first time in human history that a homestuck fan has ever plainly described homestuck

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#7

“The epilogues suggest, in different ways, that the true villain of Homestuck was never an individual character, but rather certain structures of power and feelings of entitlement that worm their way into our consciousness and proceed to repeat themselves across time and space.”

Lines like this make me wish I had read Homestuck. I was always aware it existed, but passed me by somehow.
Great article!

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#8

While I appreciate the article and the spirit in which it was written I do believe it does gloss over some of the many issues with the epilogues. This personally to me feels like a very forgiving rose-tinted view of a complex addition to the story that was upsetting for several reasons.

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#9

I’ve never read Homestuck, but have been aware of it for years (as many are).

So I was curious and googled “Homestuck clown” and boy what a weird series of results I received.

#10

What was so upsetting about the epilogues in your opinion? I read a bunch of homestuck once, but only a small chunk of it (I basically stopped once the trolls got introduced). I’m curious

#11

I read Homestuck from the start, then the focus became almost entirely upon the Trolls, who were both unpleasant and almost entirely unreadable. I gave up. Never really interacted with the fanbase at any point though.

#12

Ooof that’s a… big question. I recognize that some people are finding genuine depth from the Epilogues, but I genuinely don’t. There is something of a lack of good faith to be had for the team behind writing them.

Some context: At the start of 2019, there was another official release of content through a site called SkaiaNet Systems. It was a little ARG-y in that if you looked through the index of the site you could find some extensive histories of the characters from the Beta Universe (long story, Homestuck is big on alternate timelines). Some of it was funny historical stuff, but it veered sharply into deeply antisemetic shit, including alternate history stuff about Hitler and Einstein. The blowback was bad enough that Hussie issued a public apology and like… because he’d garnered so much goodwill and clout over the years, he was largely forgiven for the incident and it was kind of swept aside as old, immature writing.

Then, the Epilogues dropped and… I am unsure how to explain to someone who is not a HS fan how deeply vicious and cruel the writing was. There’s a laundry list of grimace-worthy events and a lot of backhanded monkey’s paw “this is what you wanted, right” stuff directed at the fans.

The worst example, in my opinion, but by no means the only example was we got trans representation! A character came out as trans!

But, around that event that should have been pretty cool, they took a beloved queer character and made him transphobic out of nowhere (which doesn’t make any goddamn sense given character’s background). And another character suddenly has a dog dick and makes jokes about how if she had any kids, she’d be the “father.” Which… is not. Great.

Suddenly someone is a fascist who puts another species in cages (bit on the fucking nose there, Hussie) and date rapes another character. Suddenly there are incel “jokes” that amount to “oh these characters call people ■■■■■ and beta bottoms now.”

Instead of being satirical, it’s just repeating the “jokes” of the alt-right as if that’s progressive. No thanks.

(ALSO This is a new version of earth with an entirely new origin and timeline, so the presence of these groups needs justification, but the story never bothers and just makes the setting into It’s Our Earth.)

There’s gross things like the breast milk thing and there’s a lot of ■■■■ humor. The canon lesbian couple who got married in the big finale are broken up by a newly evil character, and one of them ends the Epilogues ironing a man’s clothes for him. Another character is mind controlled and abused by his friends and viciously slutshamed. The narrative mocks readers who were hoping to get a canon confirmation of a queer couple. A character who had struggled with self-worth and suicidal tenancies hangs himself graphically in an lengthy scene.

There’s more and like a lot of it is hard to even explain without the proper context, but while I respect the article, my personal take-away is that… the Epilogues were poorly written and extremely incendiary in a way that felt like a final “screw you” to the audience. And the team around the Epilogues have responded to criticism mostly with complaints that “people only want happy stories.” But that’s not it. People love dark fiction, look at the success of GoT and the horror movie boom. What I take umbrage at is bad writing, and a story that is willing to throw all previous characterization and themes out with the bathwater to be edgy. And in a petty way, I’m real pissed that Hussie chose to revive Homestuck to take potshots at fans, especially given the massively queer fanbase.

That is my take. At this point, I’m at peace with Homestuck ending, back in 2016. I don’t consider the Epilogues canon and I will not be following any future content from the Homestuck team. Frankly, there are creators out there who I believe are more deserving of my support.

For anyone familiar with the Epilogues who liked them or thought they were really deep: good for you. I respectfully disagree.

ETA: Wow some of the language used in the epilogues is literally censored on these forums. OOF. OOOOOOF.

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#13

Thanks for typing all this out. I don’t know lots about homestuck, but I know a bit about spiteful authors, and that sounds like the worst. Like you said, when stuff has to get picked up by the censor, that’s a big yikes. Glad to see that you’ve made your peace with it though, and yeah describing how the author of this piece is looking at the epilogue “rosily” seems to be an understatement haha.

#14

GOD HERE IS THE THING, me too! Like, I have been in fandoms helmed by spiteful authors who take shots at their fans. I’ve been there. In my opinion, MGS4 existed as a prolonged author tantrum that I found incredibly childish and now look back on fondly for how terrible it is.

This felt different. This felt like a tremendous amount of effort, almost 200K words of content… for a final “fuck you.” I’m a little embarrassed to say it took me some time and reflection to get over it.

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#15

Is Homestuck isekai? Asking for a friend.

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#16

I mean there isn’t anything to be embarassed by if was something that meant quite a bit to you. If it meant something, it meant something.

#17

This is… part of the issue and why I do not have any good faith for the Epilogues. Like, I got into Homestuck rather late (I started the day it ended in 2016) and I was deeply moved by it and I would credit it with helping me through a significant trauma I went through in the same year. But what’s remarkable about Homestuck is that it’s a story about identity and queerness and coming into yourself. It was in fact one of the only readily accessible pieces of media that dealt with queerness openly, repeatedly, and in a positive way. A lot of people read it through high school and it helped them with their identity. I know trans people who go by “Dave” because a specific character helped them navigate that part of themselves with his journey. It’s like a common unifying thread that makes people love Homestuck and it’s part of why Homestucks are so goddamn obsessive and dying to Tell You About Homestuck.

And the people who wrote the Epilogues knew all that. They know what it means to people.

On some level, the specific way the Epilogues twisted the characters and themes, it was set up to upset the people who cared the most. And while I respect creators’ right to make whatever incendiary media they want… I still look at Team Homestuck and go “man. yikes. this was completely unnecessary and mean-spirited.” And because Homestuck was one of the only positive, life-affirming pieces of fiction for queer people, it leaves a rotten taste in my mouth.

#18

The comparison of Homestuck with the internet is really interesting, especially in the ways the epilogue failed and upset people. Like a lot of the internet, it approached content warnings in a jokey fashion, and thus failed to properly warn about things like, Graphic Depiction Of Suicide, which meant that a lot of people got very hurt by the Graphic Depiction Of Suicide. It has a very weird relationship to male gayness, making both the end for it’s only gay male character terrible, and treating a relationship between two bi men in a creepy manner. ArcturusOne covers most of it, and the paralells to the internet and how it fails people continue in the things mentioned, so i’ll focus on a part that struck me in particular.
The Epilogues fail to actually commit to trans representation. It attempts to make a point about different experiences and circumstances in different timelines resulting in different things for trans people including one timeline in which the character is presented as cis. And while it could make a good point, it also makes one character, who is presented as the “ultimate” (has access to all versions) version of that character, definitely unquestionably cis. There’s no “ultimately” trans character (who isn’t also a magical fusion of 2 other characters) as a counterweight to the Ultimately Cis one. And in this, it kind of presents transness as fickle, or conditional, or a deviation, while it presents cisness as unconditional, default, and immutable. Additionally, a lot of the decisions made in the epilogue put twists on and problematise the most prominent trans headcanons in the fandom. They decided that it’d be a great idea to make 6+ main characters cis. And they decided that it’d be perfectly fine to make Jade be cis and dyadic, while also making it so that she magically has a dog dick. There are still no trans women in Homestuck or Hiveswap. Hussie & Co wasted so many opportunities and gave in to the cis default.

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#19

I can back this up. The day the Epilogues dropped, people started reading them en masse and it didn’t take long for people to hit the graphic suicide scene. I was personally on multiple Discord with people who hit That Scene and were completely blindsided. Many readers have either not read or only partially read the Epilogues because the content was so intensely and intentionally triggery they had to stopped. I literally stopped multiple people who would have been messed up by that bullshit.

And wow uh I have been really angry about the handling of Roxy and the “trans rep” of the Epilogues, but I didn’t even realize the stupidity of the Ultimate Self concept extended like that, but you are right. Not only did it not make any damn sense for Dirk “I grew up in the post-apocalypse and studied human history including gender and sexuality” Strider to suddenly turn into a misgendering transphobe, but by the very conceit of the Epilogues being “just another fanfic/possibility” and the Ultimate Self (and how Dirk was heavily headcanoned as trans himself) him being Cis and an asshole was just another tacked on way to make him a villain.

Wow. It’s been like 4 weeks of analyzing these horrible Epilogues and they continue to become worse and worse with further examination.

ETA: Often I wonder if the purposeful framing of the Epilogues as fanfic and non-canon was an ass-covering measure more than anything. You can’t get made at our nonsensical writing and character assassinations and vicious jabs, it’s all non-canon.

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#20

That sounds incredibly shitty. I knew that homestuck is a pretty big piece of Queer media. So it’s a really shitty pill to try to swallow, like there is a fuck you to the audience, and then there is intentionally saying fuck you to your very apparent marginalized audience. Ugh, I feel really bad for you guys.

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