'Tell Me Why' Smothers Its Representation in Bubble Wrap

Tell Me Why crashed immediately after the last big binary choice I was asked to make. No matter what I did or how far back I started the final episode. Every single time. To my amusement, it appears to be doing this in an attempt to display a pop-up content warning. The best intentions for player safety, brought low by a conflict buried deep within the system. 

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/y3z4vg/tell-me-why-smothers-its-representation-in-bubble-wrap

Dia is so good at cutting through to the heart of the issue. Thank you for this article.

1 Like

I think this is a great piece. Dia’s work is always must-read, best stuff on the site.

Still… (and cards on the table, not trans) I’m almost encouraged by a well “trans identity is no problem”. Maybe it’s more my reaction to the trans narrative of Last of Us 2, which I found gross, all-around nasty. That’s the kind of story that can only see marginalized people are martyrs, a kind of eternal victim cis people can sympathize with and feel better about themselves for doing so.

I don’t really get to decide what’s a good narrative for marginalized anybody, so if this is good or bad, not my call. Just personally, I’m so exhausted by hate and groups’ identities being defined by hate, not doing that makes this game more interesting to me.

I remember a few years ago thinking to myself “man, Welcome to Nightvale is nonsense, how is there no homophobia in this whole town? It’s just unrealistic.” And then I realized how much I was refusing queerness to exist as anything other than in opposition to straightness, even in a fantasy horror town with angels and killer librarians. Does fear and exclusion always have to be part of it? I don’t know… Maybe the trans identity is so wrapped up in exclusion and pain that it is unavoidable, and that’s really bitterly depressing to me.


Great review. This is something I think about a lot with queer media–why does the “good rep” so often end up feeling flat, or even boring? I think that I’m not looking for trauma in every queer character, but I am looking for something that feels authentically queer, which is exactly the type of thing that play-it-safe rep tends to avoid in case they accidentally do a stereotype.

Welcome to Night Vale is a good example of characters who felt fully realized and interesting and queer to me without experiencing homophobia, but I do think it’s trickier to pull off in a setting that’s closer to the real world. I’m interested in playing the game and seeing which way it hits me.