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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

Consider the Following

PBS Ideas Channel Did an Episode on Night Vale So Come Watch it Now

You clicked on the link and are delivered to this page. The video waits. It has always been waiting. Fingers growing numb, you fumble to play it, releasing it from its endless silence. It whispers, “Here’s an idea. Welcome to Night Vale shows us how uncomfortable we are with the unknown.”

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  • Gerald Kirby

    I hadn’t thought about the need to cosplay as a character before. It’s funny, because while at the Montreal Comic Con I got really excited when I saw a couple of girls dressed as Cecil & Carlos (He’s so dreamy!) It was the first Night Vale-related costumes I had seen, and that make us all very happy. They let me take their picture:

  • Anonymous

    I love Night Vale, but its fandom tends to be so angry and extremist when it comes to headcanons that it makes me not want to be a fan. I’ve heard of people receiving “go kill yourself” type messages for imagining Cecil as white. I’ve seen people shamed, ridiculed, attacked, and insulted. For picturing an undescribed character as white. There is, according to the vocal parts of fandom, no good reason for ANYONE to picture Cecil as white. He CANNOT be white. If you picture him as white, you’re a racist. Maybe not INTENTIONALLY. Maybe you’re lazy and unimaginative and just “going with the norm.” So it isn’t really your fault, you poor, brainwashed SOB, but you’re still oppressing minorities and being a giant bag of dicks by daring to imagine the main character as white. I have even heard someone say that it’s “statistically unlikely” for there to be any white people in the Southwest.

    The amount of self-righteous rage that surrounds Cecil is really depressing. It doesn’t matter how many other racial depictions show up among the rest of the cast, having the main character be a white dude is horrendously offensive. And there is NO EXCUSE AT ALL for it. NONE. Whatever explanations you have, no matter how rational or carefully thought-out, it still boils down to you being too lazy to come up with anything better and promoting casual racism.

    I’ve read some of those explanations and they aren’t “a-durrr, well, the dude is white, so durr, I dunno, durr.” It delves into broadcast history. Or cultural dynamics. Or thinking he “sounds white” based off verbal cues. Or, y’know, maybe a white person wants to have an identifiable character the same way that a black/Hispanic/Asian/Martian person does. Except apparently that isn’t allowed.

    So yeah, I love Night Vale and my headcanons for the characters tend to be pretty fluid (not literally), but the fandom is to be avoided. Enjoy the art and the cosplays, but don’t read the comments.

  • Camille Monae

    guess i’ll give Night Vale another shot.

  • Kristen Williams

    I would point out that if the entire fandom was that way, or even if the majority of it was, the White Cecil that you see in this video wouldn’t have become the dominant one, which it is.

    The people you are encountering are abrasive. The way they are alienating people like you is mean and wrong and stupid and ultimately unproductive for the fandom. But that doesn’t mean we’re all like that. In fact, in my neck of the Tumblr woods, the only arguments on headcanons I ever see is “Hey, be nice about everyone’s headcanons!”

    So, while the people you’re talking about are stereotyping you by calling you racist for having a White headcanon Cecil, you’re doing the same right back to the entire fandom based on a few Carlsburgean jerks. And that means you’re going to miss out on all the fun stuff that happens away from all the jerks!

    The long and short of it is, if you want to be part of the fandom, you can find your people. There will always jerks, but by the same coin, there are always rad nice folks too.

  • Jenni

    my aunt recently got a 2013 Subaru only from working off a macbook air… important link


  • Anonymous

    I was trying to explain fanon Cecil to a friend who hasn’t listened to Nightvale but has seen him all over tumblr a while ago and she was kind of confused when I told her that there is literally no description of him in the show. Except that one time he described his furry pants and tunic dating outfit.

    Because the fandom has almost unanimously decided that he has (at least) a third eye and tattoos, whaever they picture his face to be, and when I think about it those are kind of strange attributes to ascribe to a disembodied voice without any prompting.

  • Anonymous

    That’s a good point. It isn’t the entirety of fandom, just the outspoken jerks who’ve appointed themselves as the gatekeepers to Night Vale and trot around on their high horses looking for people to attack. Heck, even the comments on the vid’s youtube page has twice had top comments condemning people for picturing Cecil as white and what a terrible thing it is. Yes, I know, “that’s youtube” but it’s hardly the only place I’ve seen it. I also know one RPer on tumblr who gave up and deleted his account due to all the anon hate he was getting, even after explaining the reasons why he pictured the character white. Although why anyone should be forced to justify their headcanons is beyond me.

    The gatekeepers may not be the majority, but it only takes a few bad apples to shame someone right out of a fandom.

  • Kristen Williams

    That’s absolutely true. It’s hard for all the cool people who just live and let live to overwhelm the bad apples. I think this is a problem with most fandoms, but since the popularity of Night Vale skyrocketed so quickly, and because so many people are involved now, it’s really obvious.

    This is part of why I try to share in the fun parts and ignore the bad parts: if I can make it fun for myself and other people, that helps to offset the mean people at least a little, and maybe that can help someone from missing out. I started listening because of my friends on Tumblr sharing so much cool art and fun ideas. If someone else does the same thing because of what I share and talk about, then that’s a win for the good side, right?

  • Anonymous

    Do. It takes a few episodes to really ‘get it.’ I wasn’t expecting it to be what it is, but I’ve come to love it.

  • Anonymous

    Cecil is a short, mustached man with a backwards cap and a poncho.

  • alk

    Good grief, where are you encountering this? I’ve never seen anything like this at all! I’m not saying it’s not true by any means, but maybe you’re hanging out in the a-hole section of the fandom?

  • alk

    I’m not sure about the tattoos, but I wonder if the third eye was somehow subconsciously inspired by Rob Wilson’s official logo for the show? In combination with the idea of a third eye or ajna chakra in the middle of the forehead, maybe? It’s kind of spread from Hindu tradition as a very compelling image, especially so to an artist. (Those tattooes, though? What you smoking, fandom collective unconscious? <3)

  • Anonymous

    You’ve not heard of the tattoos? The purple tattoos on his arms and back that occasionally move and sometimes glow? Those tattoos?

    I’m gonna go fill up my collective unconsciousness pipe and have a Nightvale sesh…

  • alk

    Nah, I’ve heard of the tattoos, but I have no idea where the fandom got those. It’s kind of awesome, though!

    … I’m actually having a hard time deciding between sleep or Night Vale right now. lol

  • Alexa

    I have never heard of this…But in response to the video I make the case that the unknown is indeed quite the daunting idea, especially when applied to horror movies, in that the less you see the more frightening the object of horror can be. Because the imagination is a very powerful being in of itself. So yes the unknown is quite the unpleasant thing, in that what we fill in the blanks with our minds the more horrific and uncomfortable we become. Because while seeing is believing, imagining can be terrifying.

  • alk

    YMMV, but to me, WtNV is like Firefly or Doctor Who: even the people who take one look and decide that they’re not interested nearly always fall in love with it after giving it a chance. Unless just listening to audio just gets too boring for you, it’s probably worth a try if you’re a geek. :)

  • Anonymous

    Mostly tumblr. Back when Night Vale was starting to come into the spotlight it seemed as if everyone and their gender-neutral sibling was coming out of the woodwork to preach on the evils of White Cecil. I’ve seen long and well thought-out condemnations from people I usually admire. Artists, authors, people who were well-known in certain pockets of various fandoms. And by “well thought-out” I mean they were perfectly able to describe every hidden motivation and vile implication while ignoring or dismissing any non-racist possibilities. One artist I really like went so far as to say that given the ethnic mix in the Southwest having a white person in Night Vale is pretty much impossible.

    Some of the people are just using Night Vale as a soapbox for their anti-white rants. Some of them seem to think Night Vale has to be a paragon of diversity in all ways. I’ve found one RP blog that spends more time trolling around looking for things to be offended about (racism, ableism, straightbending (or whatever you call people who make gay characters straight/bi), etc) than actually roleplaying. There’s an entire blog dedicated to ferreting out people who have the “wrong” headcanon about Carlos so people know whom to flame.

    The funny thing is my original headcanon for Cecil was black, but I’ve started picturing him as white just to spite the thought police. I’ve manage to unfollow or blacklist enough people that I don’t see the griping as much anymore, but then something like this vid comes along or some popular piece of fanart/video comes out and it starts all over again. I probably shouldn’t let myself get so angry about it, but jeez, it’s just headcanons. It isn’t as if the show is obligated to make Cecil white just because it’s a consensus opinion. People tend to draw him with a third eye and tentacles, too, but I don’t see anyone complaining about how “unrealistic” that is. Or insulting to Southwesterners by implying they’re a bunch of freaks. Or offensive to “real” cephalopods. ;)

  • Anonymous

    The Cecil that can be defined is not the true Cecil.
    He’s a perfect example of the generations of radio show hosts that enter homes unseen and unknowable, their faces never seen. As cool as we thought those DJs were, most of the time they were middle-age chain smoking pudgy white guys who thought the stuff they were playing was trash.
    Lionel, former talk show host for WABC, now commentator for WPIX New York, put out an album called “You Don’t Look Like You Sound”, which is what most people say to him when they meet him.

  • Anonymous

    In Night Vale, the Woe will never be gone.

  • Anonymous

    I think my favorite headcanon of Cecil and the one that best fits absolutely everything is that Cecil looks exactly the way you expect. That means everyone sees him differently and no one is wrong. Not even the ones who think he’s a dog. Or a plastic bag. Or a swarm of insects.

  • Ashe

    If it makes you feel better, outside the internet and in mainstream film, television and advertisements, white people vastly outnumber every single other race in terms of representation in America.

    So, basically, no matter how badly people get angry at you, you’ll always have the upper hand in every single aspect of modern media.

    In other words, you win!

    (also, there is no such thing as ‘sounding white’, unless you believe people of certain racial backgrounds are only capable of speaking in certain ways.)

  • Anonymous

    I never said all the reasons were good ones, just that it’s some of what I’ve heard. ;)

    And this isn’t about “winning” anything, it’s about allowing people the freedom to imagine undefined fictional characters any way they want to without condemning them and/or forcing them to justify their mental images.

  • Ashe

    “Or, y’know, maybe a white person wants to have an identifiable character the same way that a black/Hispanic/Asian/Martian person does. Except apparently that isn’t allowed.”

    Your entire post is ignorant and self-centered enough, but this line alone is a perfect demonstration of how much you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Putting aliens side-by-side with people of color? You’re a bad, bad person. To the internet corner with you.

  • Anonymous

    This isn’t arguing that Cecil should be white. This isn’t someone complaining that other people don’t imagine Cecil as white. This is someone being angry about a minor but vocal part of the fandom trying to dictate how people are imagining a disembodied voice.

    How the hell do you justify attacking or insulting someone because a completely ambiguous male voice happens to be a white guy in their own brain? And where do you get off telling the OP they’re a bad person?

  • Anonymous

    LMAO! It was an attempt at injecting a bit of flippancy in an otherwise angry post. Since Martians and aliens in general don’t actually exist, I hardly see why it matters, but to imply that hypothetical aliens would be viewed as being “beneath” Earth’s people of color to the point that grouping them together is offensive is in itself pretty telling. My feeling is that any hypothetical aliens we find (or who find us) would be relegated to the realm of second-class citizens or worse. Alien Nation and District 9 are both good examples of that. Probably others, too. Humans are pretty good at discriminating against anyone they perceive as “different” from them, whether it’s based on skin color, religion, sexual orientation, or birthplace/planet.

    You’ve clearly made up your mind that I’m a horrible and offensive person, though, which is fine by me. I’m happy to clarify a point, but I’m not going to shame and insult you over a difference of opinion and I won’t bother trying to “prove” why you’re wrong. That way lies madness.

    I don’t care what Cecil looks like. There are a few people out there who imagine him as a plastic bag- usually a WHITE plastic bag, rudely enough- and I don’t have a problem with that. I think it’s awesome. I just have a problem with the gatekeepers and thought police who think they have a right to dictate to people what they are and aren’t allowed to think. And who feel justified in attacking people for thinking differently than they do.

    I’m gonna stick with the headcanon that Cecil appears as whatever people imagine him to be: it’s the most inclusive fan theory out there. INclusive, not EXclusive. That’s the right track to take.

  • Ashe

    “Or thinking he sounds ‘white’ based off verbal cues”.

    She supports an argument that makes little sense. I’m taking it and breaking it down. You want to call that attacking? Go ahead. Dismissing is much easier than reading.

    Thinking that people can only sound a certain way because of their race is bizarre. There is no race-gene that dictates you get a mainstream West Coast accent or a Brooklyn accent.

    You want to imagine Cecil as white: never my original point! There are so many problematic statements in her post it’s clear she’s chugging on some Ignorance Nectar. You know, what I have been actively targeting.

    I mean, shit. I even quote what she says. Where do you get off not reading what people say?

  • Ashe

    Aliens. Do. Not. Exist.

    You’re bringing in District 9 in as an example to justify your putting people of color and FICTIONAL CREATURES side-by-side (never mind that movie was basically one giant sci-fi metaphor for apartheid, the oppression of native Africans in their own country)? Get this.

    It’s like when people say that if gay folk get marriage rights, then dogs can marry, too. It’s not mere flippancy: you are indirectly putting them together.

    That’s GROSS.

    Second, not once have I ever told you you couldn’t imagine Cecil as white. Just that your arguments supporting it were nauseatingly ignorant things to read. So, quote me. Where did I say you couldn’t imagine Cecil as whatever you want?

  • Melynda

    This video is pretty much explaining why I keep clear of the Night Vale fandom. Just sit and listen. Why do you have to visually define a voice? And then get so possessive of your own headcanon that anyone who “threatens” it must be defeated. Personally I just picture Cecil as Cecil Baldwin because I stupidly looked up more information on the show and now have that image in my head. People can visualize him however they wish, but they should probably take a deep breath before getting so defensive about it. I still don’t understand the third eye and the moving tattoos though. Seeing as other people’s third (fourth, fifth, or sixth) eyes get reports on the news, then I would imagine they would pretty rare and newsworthy and you never get the impression of Cecil being all-seeing as he constantly mentions people phoning in or that he’s gotten reports from other people. But whatever. Fandoms are terrible things sometimes and, unfortunately, I think Night Vale’s can be pretty terrible so I do the opposite of what I usually do with fandoms – I stay away.

  • Anonymous

    no one’s saying Cecil CAN’T be white.
    they’re just saying a lot of people imagine him/automatically default him to white and they want people to question and wonder about that – why does he usually end up being white? the answer is because for a lot of people, white = normal which is a problem. the problem is assuming white = normal just because it’s the majority and because it’s what’s portrayed all the fucking time in the media

    you’re not a racist asshole for imagining him to be white – he’s in YOUR head, do whatever the fuck you want to him

    but once in a while, it might benefit you to maybe question WHY he’s white