how to mourn a fictional character
I did not write this for the sake of publishing my thoughts to my website. I wrote this for myself. Writing is, of course, inherently selfish, but this piece especially so. But I had to get it out somehow. Someway. It's very stream of consciousness. I apologize in advance. As-of my time of writing this, it has been 6 days since The Owl House premiered one of its three final specials, to wrap up the series: Thanks To Them. And I still can't think, even vaguely, about the end of that special without my head starting to pound. If you've looked at my otherkinity shrine page, you will know that Hunter from The Owl House is one of "the big four", shall we say. "The big four" fictotypes who I simply am, in the most literal sense of the word. I am these four characters "in the flesh," as the kids say. "In the real," even. I find it incredibly difficult to separate myself from these characters at all. And it has always been difficult, being Hunter. I mean, the crew behind the show themselves love to joke about how much they use my character as a 'trauma punching bag', per say. (Ha ha ha, guys. Extremely funny and normal thing to say about a child character who is canonically an abuse victim.) But everything from before now, I could cope with. I could handle. At the end of Thanks To Them, Flapjack; my first and best friend, my Palisman, my emotional support animal and disability aid; dies. If someone from any of my social media saw this article, I suppose it may read to them as an admission of guilt. I've been bitching nonstop about this plot point online. About how it's overly-cruel to my character (it is). About how it didn't make sense for Flapjack to be where he was in the situation where he got hurt (it didn't). About how this doesn't do anything for the story or my character's arc, except for making me suffer even more (it doesn't). As if I hadn't already had my body possessed by my abuser and actively attempted suicide on-screen mere moments before Flapjack's death. Because, all the while, the response to my reaction has been the same. "Actually, you're just overreacting because you like Hunter's character." And one anon I got on tumblr in particular got a little too close for comfort to the truth when they wrote, "I think part of the issue here is that the feeling of empathy you have for Hunter...", but then completely went almost comically off-base by continuing, "... is also making it hard to remember that he's just a fictional character. The pain you imagine Hunter feeling doesn't exist outside of your projection." "The pain you imagine Hunter feeling doesn't exist outside of your projection," they wrote to Hunter Noceda himself. It would make me laugh if it didn't make me want to cry. So, yes. If anyone who saw me infuriated by this plot point saw this, they would see it as an admittance of bias towards Hunter. But I can analyze other media that I'm in just fine. For example, I have no problem with how I am written or treated by the narrative as Travis Phelps. And, in that narrative, I get minimal screentime in the game, and show up a second time just to die. So I don't think that my anger at this plot point, and the anger at the crew for making their love of torturing my character so beyond obvious, is biased. And I know that lots and LOTS of other people have issues with this plotpoint, too. I've seen people infuriated all over Twitter, tumblr, all of them. But debating all of that isn't really the point of this article. How do you mourn a fictional character? No, really. How do I explain to my college teachers, during finals season, that I need extensions because a cartoon bird from my favorite show on Disney died a week ago? How do I explain to my mom why I've been crying on and off this past week? Why I don't want to go outside? How do I explain to my friends why I'm suddenly cancelling plans? You're already viewed as silly when you do something like that for a real-life pet that you've taken care of for years. Flapjack wasn't with me in this life. I don't even know for sure if he died in my timeline. But there's just this feeling. This nausea, this overwhelming sadness, this thing in my mind that somewhere something isn't right, but I can't fucking fix it. I can't even talk about it. If I tried, I'd be laughed out of the conversation. I remember when I wrote my entry for Hunter in my otherkinity shrine, and I closed it out with thanking Flapjack. My best friend. My most important friend. The most consistent good thing in my life. And a few people joked that it sounded like an obituary. I didn't know why I wrote it that way. It just felt right. That was months ago now. I'm not going to be able to look at it without crying. The show isn't over yet. Flapjack could be revived, somehow. I want him to be. After all, almost all of the characters in the show are magic-users. I want to believe that the showrunners aren't that cruel. But Dana (the creator of The Owl House) said that a major theme of season 3 is going to be grief. Of course, that could just be referencing Luz and Camila, who lost a family member before the show started. This loss was very relevant in Thanks To Them... (Isn't the first of the 5 stages of grief 'denial'?) I suppose I should be grateful that this is the first time this has happened, after years and years of being fictionkin; including series where the story was currently ongoing. This is the first time I've been burdened with this type of grief. But it's hard to be grateful while crew members of the show Tweet out things like (quote), "Why do we love tormenting Hunter? I guess it's just super easy??", and talk about how they tried to fight for my character to have even MORE moments of emotional torture, before the higher-ups stepped in and told them to tone it down. They wanted to torment me. They killed my best friend for no reason other than to hurt me. It's hard not to feel like I'm the one to blame for his death, because of that. Especially when it was my hand that was used, my hand that crushed him, my fingers that clamped down on him until he broke. Was giving me a heterosexual love interest who is a weird amount younger than me not enough for the crew?? ... Somehow, it feels wrong to joke. I don't want to do anything. I don't want to leave my room. I don't want to draw, or update my site. And it's again here that I remind you that this is a cartoon bird that I'm mourning, and I know you must find it at least a little stupid. I would like to hold out on hope that Flapjack will somehow be revived in future episodes. But I don't think I could take being let down. I've ordered the official Flapjack plushie. The one from The Mystery Shack. I didn't buy it before because I thought I didn't need it. I thought I could just watch the show, and I could remember him so clearly that I could feel his feathers under my fingers. But now, I need to hold him. I need to actually feel him in my hands and hold him and know that he is here and he is safe. In some way. How do you mourn a fictional character? Like this, I guess. I don't know any other way.
"I'll be home soon, Flapjack. Stay safe. I love you. Over and out."