Aug 23, 2013

Homestuck: 8/13/13 – 8/19/13

By Ian Cory

Like a lot of people, I approached Homestuck with a lot of skepticism initially. I had heard a lot about how slow the first Act was, so I was ready for that, but otherwise all I knew was a single line* and that the fans were among the most rabid I’ve ever seen. Because of this, my love of the story came in steps. It started with some internal chuckles during John’s inventory shenanigans, growing to audible chuckles at Rose’s YOUTH ROLL, and then exploding into full gut laughter when Dave was unceremoniously tossed down a flight of stairs by Bro, and subsequently scolded by a floating Hella Jeff for not heading his warning about said stairs. This was also the first indication of how sprawling and ambitious Andrew Hussie’s metafiction experiments were going to get. While reading all of Sweet Bro And Hella Jeff isn’t exactly essential to following the plot of Homestuck, an awareness of its jokes and general style helps add color to the characters in the early arcs of the story. The same goes for the rest of the MSPA catalog, of which I have only read Problem Sleuth; it deepens your appreciation for the humor but rarely has much relevance to the thematic underbelly of Hussie’s more dramatic material. Except when it does, like this week.

Simply put, there’s a good chance that if you aren’t fluent in MSPA, a large chunk of this week’s updates did not make much sense. The two John’s are transported into a nebulous white background, recognizably outside of the comic’s walls. From here, we zoom out to see a representation of the average MSPA reader facing their computer. They briefly imagine the two John’s passionately making out, before remarking that “it keeps happening” and how they’re sick of it before taking a gun out and steeling their resolve. Then the comic returns to “normal.” There’s a lot to unpack in that short sequence. First, the generic MSPA reader taking out a gun and reacting poorly to a particularly outlandish event in the comic is reminiscent of a similar sequence near the end of Problem Sleuth. The daydream of a character making out with themselves is a reference to Karkat doing the same with Jade during Act 5 Act 2. And most importantly to the conversation at hand, the line ‘It Keeps Happening’ is a line from the first Sweet Bro And Hella Jeff comic.

That line has appeared all over Homestuck for a variety of reasons, and here its suggesting that the viewer has become tired of the constant abuse of the fourth wall and plans on ending it. The irony of this sentiment occurring within a segment that breaks the fourth wall is no doubt intentional, and only serves to prove the mantra true: IT KEEPS HAPPENING. Despite being used for humor, this meme actually describes the exact central conflict that I’ve been describing in Homestuck since I started this analysis series. Everything keeps happening because it was determined to happen, because paradox space, or Lord English, or Hussie himself willed it to happen. It’s not only the reader that needs to take action and stop the cycle, but the characters themselves. This is something I’ve been harping on for months, mostly because as we get closer to the end of the story, the thematic concerns are coming more and more to the forefront.

Serious concerns aside, the use of SBAHJ as a meme generator within the Homestuck universe has always struck me as one of the most humanizing elements of the comic. Whether or not you were familiar with the jokes, seeing the kids bounce lines back and forth helps establish their closeness, as well as their similarity to real teenagers on the Internet. And if you are acquainted with SBAHJ then you’re in on the joke, which puts all of the eventual drama much closer to home. Given the absurdity of some of the situations our characters find themselves in (like the second half of this week’s updates) any connection that we can establish with them shouldn’t be taken for granted.

*I joined tumblr during the later half of Act 5 Act 2, and stumbled across the line “I GAVE YOUR UNIVERSE CANCER.” That’s the kind of shit that sticks with you, even out of context.


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