1/31/13

We need to talk about Gabriel Ohn

Before I do another chapter of, well...anything...we need to talk.

When I first started this blog, one of the things I tried to stress was that this is just a fanfiction blog and folks need to not take it too seriously.  It's fun.  It's fluff even.  I'm having fun writing because I've adopted a style of having no direction; I just sit back and let things occur to me as I go.  I title these chapters about 5 seconds before I actually start writing them, and when I start writing them, I have No Clue what I'm about to write.

Some of the actors "cast" here were done so to give that actor a bit more attention.  Namely, I wanted to call attention to the wonderful, the gifted, the brilliant, and highly observant actor Edward Hong (Gabriel Ohn), whom I've been privileged to interview, and who converses with me via email occasionally.  He's a great guy, makes the girls go ga-ga on the Narrative, and I personally adore him.  When I first started Gaya's Astronomy, I sent him links to let him know what I was up to.

And when I started Gaya's Astronomy, my main theme was humanoid error, or humanoid flaw.  Everyone is flawed.  As a (former) clinical professional, one of my biggest challenges was getting people to admit their flaws because humans have a way of villifying flaws in others.  But at the end of the day, everyone is flawed, and everyone needs to confront their own flaws and learn to overcome them.

Everyone in GA is flawed, but I noticed that guys like Gabriel - and Damian - get some serious shade for their flaws.  Meanwhile, folks who are equally or much more flawed aren't getting the same scrutiny.

Rindy

Rindy was never meant to last beyond a few chapters, but she did.  *shrug*  Go figure.  This is what happens when you "plan" stuff.  Rindy's biggest flaw is 1) she tries to separate who she is now entirely from who she was - no one can do that.  Like it or not, who you were before influenced who you became today.

2) Rindy's in love with Isi.  I'll expand on that more when we get to Isi.

Melinda the Borg Queen

Her Heinous Royal Majesty is an angry one.  I believe the phrase was one-blood-vessel-away-from-a-stroke angry.  This is neither normal nor healthy.  One of the reasons I wanted to explore a character like Desantos is his soothing, laid-back nature.  He brings her calm and stillness, while everyone else basically let her madness run free.  Even Calandra never thought to soothe the anger; Damian thought it was adorable, Pranay just avoided arguing with her, Eora ignored it, and her Ensigns feared it.  But finally, she's met someone who inspires her to let it go.

Mylanti

Mylanti is basically dead inside.  She is cold, metal perfection.  I was going to start exploring the idea of the "perfect" operative and what makes such a person.  If there is such a perfect, Mylanti would be it.  She's not going to fall in love with a target or an unwitting accomplice the way Rindy did.  She doesn't care enough to.  Mylanti's biggest concerns on a mission are good food, a (hopefully) clean freighter, and a hot shower afterwards.  She really doesn't care who gets shot, who gets kidnapped, where they've gotta go, or who's going to interrogate them or how.  It's all the same to her.  It's the job.  Her goal's simply to do the job, get home in one piece, put her feet up, and sip on some Begosian 2309.

Damian

I think I know why folks zeroed in Damian when his deepest flaw was revealed.  We've all met a dude like Damian, a.k.a. the Guy Who Waits Too Long.  This is the guy who knows you'd be a good fit.  He knows he's not going to find better, not anytime soon.  But he drags his heels anyway, and it's annoying as hell.

Damian is one of the worst case scenarios; I suddenly realized that he has known Melinda for possibly a decade; he's a Lt. Commander, and they attended the Academy together - that's a long damn time.  So he's had years and years to be with the admitted woman of his dreams and yet he did nothing.  He always figured they'd have tomorrow, and the day after, and the week after...until years passed and the woman of his dreams ran into the man of her dreams.

Isi

Isi Soyinka is a terribly flawed woman, perhaps the most flawed character...yet I've noticed that of all the characters, she gets away with it the most.  Of all the potentially "perfect" operatives, Isi is the most dangerous, because unlike Rindy and Mylanti, she's not damaged.  She didn't have a troubled childhood.

Let us remember that this woman started rumors about herself at the Academy in order to con everyone into thinking she was a loose, airheaded bimbo who did nothing but party.  By getting everyone to underestimate her, it facilitated overachieving.

Isi keeps playing the "dumb virgin" card, but she's neither dumb nor a virgin.  The way she treats Rindy is ruthless and cruel, downright abusive at times.  She yells at her, throws her out, and even threatens to kill Rindy when she doesn't get her way.  She helped assassinate a Romulan, but his death never really fazed her.  All she cared about was how it would affect her life.

Isi has always known Rindy was damaged in some way and has exploited that by treating her harshly, knowing that a damaged person won't react to abuse the same way a well-adjusted person does.  Remember: Isi is the queen of getting people to underestimate her.  All she has to do is cry and play the Dumb Virgin Card, and folks back off or cave into her demands.  *shakes head*  Diabolical.

Gabriel

Gabriel's main flaw is that he's young and untested - that's it.  He means well.  He tries hard.  And though he may have abysmal taste in women, he actually is brilliant.  I adored this character because when Ratana Dao's mercernaries came for him, Gabriel went with her willingly to prevent any harm from coming to his crewmates.  He had No Clue where he was going or what would happen to him, but he still went.  He was willing to sacrifice himself without hesitation, which will make him an exceptional candidate for transfer to a Klingon ship.  Gabriel was held hostage for days on end, never sure when he would be freed or killed, and he was coerced into basically being Miranda's engineering slave when he was duped into thinking yet more lives depending upon his cooperation.

And for the record, Gabriel's not responsible for Miranda Willoughby's death.  Sito Apraxa pulled the trigger, and she'd been waiting a looooooong time for the tiniest excuse to do so.  Apraxa is a trigger-happy terrorist wanted across several star systems.  Shooting enemies in the head is sort of her raison d'etre.

Back to Gabriel.  When he returned from being a hostage, he experienced PTSD.  Fashion tip: folks experiencing PTSD need compassion, not criticism.  I was a bit surprised how no one seemed to pick up on that, even when I had Ethima point it out.  The truth is, none of us really knows how we'll react to a situation until it's happening to us and we have to deal with the consequences.

I noticed that folks have been calling him a bitch, "little boy", "little man", etc. and I'll be honest, I've been disturbed, especially when his presence was minimal and he was still getting put on blast.  That Gabriel was singled out for that level of shade not only bugged me, but how it was expressed.  It's very emasculating and demeaning.  It reminded me of all the stereotypes actors like Edward Hong have had to - and still have to overcome.

This is fanfiction, guys.  Calm down.  Enjoy the actor, make suggestions on what to do with him next.  I'm a huge fan of Edward Hong and I plan to keep it that way for a long time, and Gabriel will not be vanishing from this blog.  He may not be on GA forever, but but he won't be leaving the blog.  *shrug* Read that like you need to.

15 comments:

  1. I was very ignorant of the depth of psychological issues with these characters, reading this post makes quite a difference to my perceptions of each of them. A lesson applicable to real life too.

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  2. Okay so let me go ahead and say this and I’m speaking only for me here.

    I’ve enjoyed reading GA and I’ve had fun getting invested in these characters. Whether I’m cheering them on, snarking like only I do, or casting some serious shade, it’s all in good fun and personally whether I’m cheering or booing a character, that’s a testament to your writing.

    For writing, the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s apathy. If you’re getting a rise out of me with your characters and I’m still coming back to find out what happens next, you’ve done your job. If you have me pissed off and gnashing teeth but I’m spending my Friday night reading because OOH GIRL, I GOTS TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT, you’ve done your job. It’s when I stop reading or don’t care about the characters is when you should be worried.

    It should also go without saying, that my opinion of the characters does not in any way shape or form reflect my opinions of any of the actors. I’ve got mad love and respect for Edward Hong and when I put Gabriel on blast, it’s in the same spirit that I put Spike on blast from Buffy. I love James Marsters as an actor and think he’s hella talented but don’t think I didn’t call him and his mama every other name in the book during seasons 6 & 7 of Buffy.

    I get that the characters are all flawed and that’s what’s been fascinating and messy and complicated about the characters. My like and dislike of the characters has pretty much been dictated by the story.

    Not gonna lie, Isi was originally my least favorite character for the reasons you cited and I thought I was going to hate her with the same fury that I hold for her Grey’s Anatomy counterpart. However, she got saved from that fate when she finally owned her issues with her mother and then when Rindy entered the story. I’ll get to why I love Team Risi in a sec.

    Pranay, I was not feeling. To me he didn’t bring much to the table at all. I like him in regards to cameos because he does enrich the universe when he pops up but I was fine to see him leave.

    N’Garen, I love her. She has a presence. We haven’t seen much of her but she intrigued me from the jump.

    I didn’t think I was going to like Gaya, but I adore the fact that she went from average student with secrets to a promising agent with purpose.

    I like Preacher Boy. For as a much snark as I give (and yes I’m still convinced he’s bi), he’s been a great character and his sister is an excellent foil.

    Rindy was a breath of fresh air because it was nice to see a queer relationship done right. More than that, we knew Rindy was trouble the second she showed up. We didn’t know if she was villain or anti-heroine and the cat & mouse game with Isi was hot, messy, fun, and exciting. And I agree with Rindy that it’s nice that she’s putting Isi in check for a change rather than the other way around.

    Now let’s get to the other two characters, Damian and Gabriel.

    Here’s why Damian gets on my damn nerves and here’s why he can go to hell. I actually am glad that you decided to have him shift gears and start a relationship with Mel instead of Gaya like I thought the story was initially going to go. Damian and Mel have better chemistry. My problem with him however is he acts like he’s entitled to Mel. All that swagger, all that game and the first time he comes up against some competition, he starts acting like a punk. It would be one thing if he was about to share his feelings for her right as things heated up between Mel and Desantos but the second someone else shows up, he wants to marry her and acts like she owes him a damn thing.

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  3. As a man, I’ve got no respect for dudes who do females like that. If he was disappointed and bowed out with some class in the sense of “I loved her but I waited too long so I hope she’s happy regardless,” I could respect him. But the problem is that he’s doing Mel just like many of other dudes have done women, particularly black women: treat them like the Plan B Chick. I’ll fuck everything in the world and keep chasing a fantasy because I know she’ll be waiting in the wings, until she’s not anymore and then I’m throwing a hissy fit. So no, we don’t have time for his bullshit, especially when he’s being juxtaposed against Preacher Boy whose showing REAL confidence and security in his manhood and bisexuality (and no I’m not letting it go. LOL!!!!)

    Desantos knows what he wants and he’s secure in himself and his relationship with Mel. He and Damian couldn’t be two more textbook examples of manhood done right and manhood done wrong.

    Then there’s Gabriel.

    BRB.

    *grabs the Jack Daniels*

    This is gonna be a minute. Remember, you did ask us for commentary. The problem with Gabriel he has been portrayed like a glass menagerie that must be handled with care because he’s the “cute one.” But the fact is Gabriel has not only been portrayed as weak but also a douchebag.

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  4. The problem with the whole PSTD issue with Gabriel is that the focus has been on his stress when in fact it can be argued that he had the least amount of harm done to him. Gaya got shot and left for dead. Alejandro was damn near killed in the shuttle crash. You have those two incidents being juxtaposed with Gabriel who by all intents and purpose gave himself over to his girlfriend who he was confident (as was I as the audience) that she wasn’t going to lift a finger against him or let any harm come to him. So for him to be spending so many chapters crying about his feelings when Alejandro and Gaya have both moved on and they had far more traumatic events happen to them, it makes Gabriel look weak to me as the viewer.

    And okay I’ll grant you that yes Gaya and Alejandro are more battle hardened than Gabriel so that’s why they can bounce back while he’s still dealing but at the same time, Alejandro made the best point that has earned him a complimentary blow job from yours truly. Starfleet is the military. This is the life they signed up for. I’m not saying Gabriel needs to be Worf but damn, give me at least Geordi LaForge.

    The other problem I have is how Gabriel became as an ass to other people. For instance, the Dabo Girl, he straight up dogged out. As a man I got a problem with guys who treat women like used condoms the morning after, when they’re done with him. I don’t care if she’s a sex worker or not, it was disgusting watching him dog her out like that. And as a man, I got no respect for dudes who do females like that.

    And then there was the whole masturbating in Isi’s room.
    WHAT....THE....EVER.....LIVING......FUCK? AT that point, Gabriel just became a creep to me. He became the perv that I warn my younger sisters about. That’s the reason why I can’t fux with Gabriel.

    He’s become “the nice guy.” PSTD or not, he’s acting like a little boy. Little boys treat women like crap because they have unresolved issues. Little boys jerk off and act like creeps in a woman’s home because they don’t have the common sense to get a hollowsuite or hell a bathroom.

    I’m sorry but in many respects he’s acting more villainous than some of the villains.

    And for Gabriel to turn around and say he wants to join a Klingon ship. They will kill him. I’m thinking about that ass whooping Alexander (Worf’s son) took. Imagine what they’d do to Gabriel.

    Now let me be clear, I don’t want you to kill off Gabriel or write him off or what have you. Or any other character. Part of the fun of snarking is having the character there and seeing what happens next. Use the characters as you see fit or as your muse dictates. Hell, having Gabriel join a Klingon ship might be exactly what he needs (assuming he survives).

    But I do hope at least this explains why some of us might have issues with some of the characters because I know all too well, what is produced and what you intend or envisioned can often be two different things.

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  5. ^ What neo-prodigy said. I personally don't have a problem with Gabriel--I spend much more of my time running smack on Silent River acting like a pouty bitch (even though I know Ankh knows for a fact how incredibly fucking HAWT I think Nathaniel Arcand is--he certainly was the only redeeming factor of Ginger Snaps Back).

    The problem is like neo said--Gabe's kind of all over the place. He had no problem boning Rindy and throwing her out when she was just a Dabo girl, but now he's brain wanking thinking about her and Isi, which is kinda skeevy. He now apparently has feelings for Isi, but he's shown interest in practically every other girl in the clique first (Mylanti, Miranda, Rindy, tons of other random girls during his healing period, etc.). It's hard to find a root-worthy space for him when he's changing his story every twenty minutes.

    I know he has PTSD. But compare that to Nog's PTSD withdrawal in DS9; Nog was very unlikable to his family and friends during that time, but when we as the audience saw him talking earnestly and honestly with Vic Fontaine, we understood him.

    Since Gabe's been going to therapy sessions, we haven't really seen a closure per se with this whole Miranda/kidnapping thing. If he's going to the Klingon ship, could he maybe find a kindred spirit--a male buddy on the ship who he confides these things to and ultimately learns to deal with (I say a male buddy because female buddy always has the implications that they could start dating, and right now I really just want to see him get over this without trying to put his dick in anything).

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  6. Here are my points concerning

    1) Gabriel is neither "villainous" nor a creep; he's a young guy who does dumb young guy stuff. I knew guys like these college; that's what inspired some of the writing. While the women have graduated from the Academy and are thinking seriously about careers, the guys still think Starfleet is just an extension of college.

    2) He's not a coward. Remember: we tend to know a little more stuff than the characters do at times. He had No Clue who Ratana Dao was, where she was taking him or what would happen to him, yet he went along willingly to save the life of his crew. Finding out about Miranda's involvement didn't help; he didn't want to see her, didn't trust her, and didn't feel safe just because she was in charge. In fact, he was probably sure he was gonna get killed.

    3) The Dabo girl whom he kicked out of his room wasn't Rindy. She was a random chick, and I tend to side with him in this. After a ONS, you need to get the hell out. I don't owe you anything; you get to luxuriate in my bed and waste my time. No one held a gun to your head and made you come home with me; that's not a Dabo girl's job. She spins a wheel and wears fabulous clothes.

    4) The incident with Gabriel on Isi's couch (he was in the living room), doesn't bother, offend, or disgust Isi. It's Isi. She just files that sort of thing away as a possible exploitable weakness for later on.

    5) Gabriel fucks up...and feels remorse. And shame. And embarrassment. This is the pinnacle of human virtue - he has a conscience and is willing to admit fault. Which other characters will willingly lower themselves to apologize to himself? Isi? Mylanti? Melinda?

    His therapy sessions with Ethima - which he ended after the pep talk from Alejandro - where a window to his inner struggle. Different folks struggle different ways; we can't be judges of that. Mylanti shuts down and closes herself in the face of turmoil. Rindy assumes that if someone slaps her, she's earned in some way or it's somehow okay. Damian drinks and possibly bangs an Ensign. Alejandro sleeps with anything with a pulse. Melinda programs a holosuite. And so on...and so forth.

    Humanoid error, remember?

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    1. *you don'tget to luxuriate
      *willingly lower themselves to apologize to someone else

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  7. I spent some time thinking about how best to respond to this after I read the post and the preceding chapters. I agree with a lot of what Neo & Dabo Queen said. I don't know Edward Hong from a can of paint; Gabriel is a character in your story. So let's remove Edward from the equation.

    Gabriel's main flaw is that he's young and untested - that's it. It shows. Fair enough.

    I adored this character because when Ratana Dao's mercernaries came for him, Gabriel went with her willingly to prevent any harm from coming to his crewmates.

    I respect that you adore his character. That's great. But I know you're not writing this with the expectation that your readers will adore him as well. You know him in a way we don't, and for all intents and purposes, you're seeing him in a way that you haven't effectively conveyed to me. I don't dislike Gabe. I simply don't find him very interesting. He's like Pranay to me.

    The reason I feel like Isi should be with Rindy and not Gabriel is because Isi & Rindy have real chemistry; there's a heat between them that's completely nonexistent between her and Gabriel. I believe there were intimations of a crush (too lazy to double check), but it just seemed so infantile after the very adult exchanges Risi had up to that point.

    I agree that people suffering from PTSD need compassion, but it's hard to manifest that when the character in question is one you don't really care about.

    I can relate to Mel, to Rindy, to Isi, even to Damian to a certain extent. Mylanti annoyed me at first, but she's developed into a character I've come to respect and appreciate. I can't 100% identify with her, but I like who she's become. She, like Mel, Risi, & Damian, is real to me. I don't feel that way about Gabe.


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    1. I feel pretty much the same about Alejandro, in spite of the amusing bits of information you drop about him & N'Garen. The real story, for me, revolves around Mylanti, Mel, Damian, Isi & Rindy's interactions.

      Desantos, who I adore--we all know--has pretty much served his purpose, and unless you've got something up your sleeve, I doubt we see much more of him and I'm fine with that. I got what I wanted.

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    2. Co-signing on what Amaya said.

      I get that you see Gabriel in a certain light and you agree with his actions and that's great. People's mileage may vary and for different and equally valid reasons.

      But anytime you have to explain to your readers why we are supposed to like him, that's evidence that there's a disconnect in the narrative.

      We grew to adore Gaya, Rindy and Isi because they grew and evolved. Gabriel, I don't think has connected with many in the audience on that level yet (key word, yet). Maybe this is an opportunity to go back and see how to make the audience see the same character you envision and showcase that through the narrative.

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    3. But anytime you have to explain to your readers why we are supposed to like him

      Not like him, because as you say, people's mileage may vary. I need people to remember certain facts - not opinions - about the man, facts which were deliberately shared in sequence.

      So if folks are gonna dislike the guy, and explain why, that's cool. But remember what was actually written about the dude (pet peeve of mine). Folks are remembering (and even imagining) certain bad decisions he made, but are completely oblivious to whatever good decisions he made, decisions which impacted entire storylines, even though he's not the star. Why the double standard?

      I get the impression that the men are being held to much stricter, more realistic standards than the women. Gabriel's PTSD makes him a villain. Isi's selfishness makes her intriguing. Damian's commitment-phobia makes him an asshole. Mylanti's cold nature makes her BAMF. Gabriel touching himself is a problem. Melinda getting into a three-way with a superior officer and a Bajoran Vedek is not. Gabriel going to therapy to work through his issues and be a better person is annoying/boring/pointless, etc. Rindy, Isi, and Mylanti refusing to change a damn thing about their very flawed selves is not.

      GA practically began with Mylanti having a ONS and kicking Damian out the next morning. That was all good. Gabriel had a ONS with a Dabo girl and kicked her out the next morning. That was a problem.

      I'm OCD, y'all; I could go on and on. But hopefully by now, folks are seeing the point I'm trying to make.

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  8. Everyone in GA is flawed, but I noticed that guys like Gabriel - and Damian - get some serious shade for their flaws. Meanwhile, folks who are equally or much more flawed aren't getting the same scrutiny.

    My original point...just FYI.

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