The contents of this essay are purely my own opinion and not meant to offend anyone. If you don’t feel like reading, or are offended by it, you made the choice to click the Read More.
I was thinking the other day about why I don’t ship Rose/Kanaya, and why I don’t seriously ship Kanaya with anyone, and after much thought and contemplation of scenarios I came to a conclusion.
I don’t ship her, because she isn’t her own person yet. Because everything about her is devoted to the well being and desire for love of someone else. It was Vriska, before, and now it’s Rose, and it’s not healthy.
The important thing to understand about the trolls, and many of the characters, is that they are more than just characters. They are also representations of certain aspects of people, especially on the internet.
UU, for example, is specifically stated to be the representation of the fandom, writing her fanfiction and drawing fanart. She can be silly and obsessive but also kind and cheery, representing the different aspects of fandom life.
So what is Kanaya, then?
Pretend, for a moment, that she’s not a troll. Pretend you have an ordinary girl, whose main defining features are a love for clothing, liking vampires, and trying to change their bad boy/girl significant other.
What have I just described?
Your average (crazy) Twilight/vampire fangirl. The ones who when they write their fanfiction, describe every article of clothing with immense purple prose, who desire to be vampires and will even try drinking blood, and who will get themselves into dangerous relationships because they think they can change them. She is written as a self-insert would be, the exception to rules that an usual troll would deal with.
Yes, I know, you’re probably trying to stone me to death for insinuating that your beloved classy lesbian represents the vampire fangirl of the average person’s nightmares.
Here is the text of her introduction page, bolded where my point is made for emphasis:
Your name is KANAYA MARYAM.
You are one of the few of your kind who can withstand the BLISTERING ALTERNIAN SUN, and perhaps the only who enjoys the feel of its rays. As such, you are one of the few of your kind who has taken a shining to LANDSCAPING. You have cultivated a lush oasis around your hive, and in particular, you have honed your craft through the art of TOPIARY, sculpting your trees to match the PUFFY ORACLES from your dreams. You have embraced the tool of this trade, which conveniently is the weapon of choice for those who would hunt the HEINOUS BROODS OF THE UNDEAD which crawl from the sand at sunrise to feast on the light and the living.
It would be convenient if you actually hunted them, but it is of course far too dangerous, every bit as suicidal as attempting to poach the terrible MUSCLEBEASTS who roam at night. So you indulge in your bright fascination with the grim through literature. Just before the sun goes down and you join your flora in rest, you immerse yourself in tales of RAINBOW DRINKERS and SHADOW DROPPERS and FORBIDDEN PASSION.
You are one of the few of your kind with JADE GREEN BLOOD. As such you are one of the few who could be selected and raised by a VIRGIN MOTHER GRUB, an event so rare as to elude documented precedent. She would defend you from desert threats, and though her life would be short, in time you would assure her of progeny.
You are one of the few of your kind whose affection for the aesthetic strongly overpowers instinctive regard for the utilitarian. As such, you are one of the few of your kind who has developed a zeal for FASHION and DESIGN and LIVELY COLORFUL PATTERNS. You decorate your hive with FLORA and FABRIC, as delicately or aggressively as inspiration demands. You are a SEAMSTRESS or a RAGRIPPER or a TREETRIMMER or a LUMBERJACK, whichever you care to be, and your unique hive is equipped with a great supply of advanced technology to accommodate your interests. The technology and indeed the hive itself were all recovered from the ruins nearby when you were very young. The seed of your hive was deployed on the volcanic rocks beneath the sand with the assistance of your lusus and her remarkable burrowing skills, and you have lived there happily together since.
You know the ruins and the hive and everything here that is not sand and rock originated from the world of your dreams. You also know that one day you will visit this world while you are awake. That day is today.
How many times did is specify that she is one of the ‘few’ or only of her kind? Six times mentioned ‘Few of her kind’. One mention of ‘the only one’ and a mention of something so rare as to be undocumented.
How many times have you come across a character like this in fanfiction and been immediately turned off by the special little snowflake?
She wears bright colours in a world where people wear black. She walks in the sunlight when the rest of the world cannot. She is the troll equivalent of the stereotype of a goth. (Before anyone gets offended, remember, there are all kinds of people who fit into all kinds of categories. To represent all of them at once would be impossible, hence the stereotype.)
And she likes Vampires. She finds them alluring and enjoys tales of “FORBIDDEN PASSION”.
So, yes. She is the equivalent of the Twilight fangirl self-insert.
But don’t worry: The good news is, she’s not going to stay like that.
Homestuck is a story about coming of age, first and foremost. The ascension to God Tier is partially a symbol of “You’re almost there. You’ve almost found yourself, and all that’s left is to win”. Does that mean that they are finished developing? Not all the time! Vriska certainly hadn’t completed her growing up. But her ascension did LEAD to further development. If she hadn’t god tiered, she would never have done anything with Jack, which involved her meeting John and learning that she did care for her friends.
Of course that came much too late.
The trolls who are on the meteor, are there because they still have growing up left to do.
For Karkat, it’s coming to accept who he is. Accepting his blood colour, his abilities as a leader, and the kind of person he is.
For Terezi, it seems to be understanding her role and the choices she makes, and realizing the limits and possibilities of herself, and coming to terms with killing Vriska.
Who even knows for Gamzee.
And for Kanaya, it is becoming an individual.
Despite all the things that establish her as ‘unique’, all they do is prove her circumstances as different, not herself as a person.
So far we have seen the majority of her interaction centred on Vriska and Rose. She is a meddler. She does not have her own identity yet. She is obsessed with mediating and with the well being of the others, with changing them for the better.
Wanting that is not what is the problem. The problem is that it is at the sacrifice of her own individuality. She is entirely dependent on having a relationship in the quadrants.
If you go through her pesterlogs, her only interactions with anyone that are not to Rose or Vriska, about Rose or Vriska, or later on her hatred of Gamzee, or concerning game information and the repopulation of trolls are short and awkward, which you can see on the meteor. There are no times where it does not come back to those things. She never speaks of her own interests besides liking the sun and occasionally clothes. Her goals all revolve around other people.
Wanting to help people is a good thing, but sacrificing your own identity is not, and that is what I think she has to learn. She has to learn who she really is, what there is to her life besides vampires and fashion and romance. She has to learn not to be a doormat.
Punching Vriska, kicking Gamzee, and killing Eridan doesn’t really count, as much as it’s a step in the right direction. She did these after actually becoming a rainbow drinker, something that was done to her as a result of Doc Scratch’s planning and not even through her own initiative.
The means to her development are likely to come through her role. As Aranea said: “AG: There’s more to the realization of our roles than gaining flashy powers.”
The role comes in two parts, of course. Slyph, and Space. Let’s look at the Slyph first.
We’ve seen a fully realized Slyph.
Aranea was a healer. One who thought about others and helped them to see the light, sometimes literally. But she was also a person. She herself admitted that she was prone to bringing the topic back to herself, and prone to talking too much. Essentially, she was selfish in some ways.
Therefore it’s not an unreasonable assumption that goal of the Slyph is to find a balance between themselves and helping others. For Aranea, it was likely to try to put others ahead of herself on occasion, while still keeping the core of who she was.
For Kanaya, it is going to be to put herself ahead of others sometimes. To learn to draw the line. That her needs are important too. She can’t be the healer she is meant to be if she does not focus on her own individuality. She clearly has not realized herself as the Slyph, because when Jade asked about it, she awkwardly described it as like a witch, but more magical.
She really has no idea what being a Slyph means.
Now for Space.
At the beginning, Jade was content to go along with things. To leave things up to fate. Why not? She’d seen the future. She knew how it was going down. That’s why initially, she let the trolls pass on messages from her future self.
But then over time, she stopped. She started to decide to take initiative and work it out all on her own. To stop relying on the assurances of the future and do it on her own. Her path was to stop letting her dreams run away with her and to focus on creating her reality through her own power.
When she ascended to god tier, the first thing she did was take everything into her hands, literally. She took the planets with her, fulfilling a seemingly impossible promise. She enlarged the fourth wall and orchestrated their escape from the soon to be scratched session.
That is what Kanaya needs to do as the space player. Her path of realization means she has to take the initiative. She has to stop looking for help from others all the time, and take what she wants and needs on her own. She has to fight her own battles.
As previously mentioned, she’s doing that more now as a Rainbow Drinker, but that doesn’t feel like true development. It is a temporary, imposed ‘development’. It seems like a result of becoming a Rainbow Drinker and not as a result of her own motivation.
It is the equivalent of the self-insert vampire fangirl becoming a vampire and gaining good looks and abilities. I was trying to steer the topic away from Twilight, but the best example of the copout of becoming a vampire really is there, at the end when ‘shy’, plain Bella becomes a vampire and suddenly becomes supermodel gorgeous, singlehandedly ending the conflict with one swish of her newly beautiful hair and confidence, lacking the very few negative aspects that were mentioned.
Hussie has admitted that UU was desined as a fandom representation, and I think he’s admitted that Vriska represents the mary sue fanfic writer. Therefore I’m equally certain that Kanaya is designed as the romance obsessed vampire fangirl.
And that he intends to make her mature past that.
In conclusion, when Kanaya stops focusing her entire life on finding a girlfriend, I think I might be able to ship her with someone. Maybe even Rose. Picturing it now, with Kanaya as a confident, developed person, I can definitely get behind that.
But right now? That would just prevent her from coming into her own and objectify them both.