Animal Crossing manga back cover featuring characters and their names.

Should You Be Allowed to Make Your OC Suffer? Twitter Debates a Controversial Tumblr Ask.

Oh, how we suffer ...

This whole scenario is giving me flashbacks to when Animal Crossing players got in a huff over whether or not people “deserved” to have the cat Raymond on their island. Recently, an anonymous Tumblr user sent a message stating the following, and it made a huge splash on Twitter:

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Which, like … okay. Let’s dissect this.

First of all, if you don’t know what an OC is, it stands for Original Character. It’s a term mostly used in fandom spaces, but really, an OC can be any character you create on your own—for instance, my made-up Fire Emblem: Three Houses character is an OC, just like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is technically her monster OC. Don’t @ me, lit snobs, you know I’m right.

Therefore, as a rule, anyone with the power to make an OC (which is everyone) technically “is allowed” to make them suffer. And if it sounds ridiculous that this is even a debate—whether or not creatives “should be allowed” to do what they want with their creations—then you must not be familiar with fandom politicking.

To be fair, I’m not that familiar with it all, either. I’ve only ever watched from a distance to look at fan art. But the gist of it is that people take their favorite things very seriously in Tumblr fandoms. It can get pretty intense, with entire debates circling around the “right way” to engage with a piece of media, and all manner of accusations thrown out there as if their words carried no weight. Some people can even be pretty savvy with their discourse and get others to believe even the most polarizing of takes.

But ultimately, in this case, it comes down to this:

And hey, I don’t want to make fun of this person, because people can get heated about these things for a variety of complicated reasons. But, yeah. Telling someone they aren’t in control of their own creations is a bit like telling your dog they are physically incapable of licking their paws.

Now, when it comes to a big IP like Harry Potter, where the creator’s reputation begins to sully the art … then I can understand this level of intensity. In these cases, it’s pretty reasonable for fans to come for a creator and tell them to knock it off, especially if their depictions of characters are actively harmful to marginalized communities.

But ultimately, just like your feelings about what others do with their characters are yours to have, you can’t really control what creators do with their creations. And when it comes to suffering as a plot device, why shy away from it? Yes, there’s a way to do it tactfully—for instance, I don’t think making Casca from Berserk mentally regress was a very elegant way of portraying her trauma—but suffering is a part of life, and it can be cathartic for viewers to engage with it in a way that doesn’t affect them directly. As for those who don’t vibe with the suffering … well, anyone who creates in any capacity ought to know that they can’t please everyone. All you can hope to do is be as professional and mature with your dark subject material as possible.

So, to all you writers and creators: Of course you’re allowed to do whatever you want with your OC. And of course you’re allowed to keep Raymond on your island. Who’s gonna stop you? Anon from Tumblr.com?

(featured image: ViZ Media)


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Author
Madeline Carpou
Madeline (she/her) is a staff writer with a focus on AANHPI and mixed-race representation. She enjoys covering a wide variety of topics, but her primary beats are music and gaming. Her journey into digital media began in college, primarily regarding audio: in 2018, she started producing her own music, which helped her secure a radio show and co-produce a local history podcast through 2019 and 2020. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz summa cum laude, her focus shifted to digital writing, where she's happy to say her History degree has certainly come in handy! When she's not working, she enjoys taking long walks, playing the guitar, and writing her own little stories (which may or may not ever see the light of day).