bleh after all that (qualified) praise I had for To Find Her… JDR pulls her worst choice yet on this page.
cw: white supremacy, nazism, antiblackness, genocide, colonisation
Some context: Unicorn Jelly is driven by the existential threat of the ‘stormfall’, a universe-spanning collapse initiated by the detonation of a worldplate using a “Trato-Yauronic device”, originally presented as the Tryslmaistan equivalent a nuclear weapon.
The worldplate destroyed, called Myrmil or Myrmidon, was the first worldplate in Tryslmaistan to be ruled by humans. In Unicorn Jelly, the story presented was that a conflict between the two heavily armed factions of Alchemists and Witches, who differed on epistemological and spiritual grounds, escalated to the point that the Trato-Yauronic Bomb was used.
In Tryslmaistan there is a native species, the Jellies. Unicorn Jelly says that the Jellies were in each case wiped out by humans on every worldplate they landed on after the destruction of Myrmil, according to a doctrine established shortly after the scape. It’s a pretty obvious metaphor for genocidal settler colonialism of the kind practiced particularly in the current USA but also e.g. Australia.
Unicorn Jelly is resolved with Chou breaking from the humans and forcibly converting the Jellies on her continent into subservient Kays using pieces of the special Jelly KaiWai (who’s the only trans woman in the narrative, and is used in various metaphors for transmisogyny).
Parallel to this, we have the story of the universe of Pastel in Pastel Defender Heliotrope. It is revealed over the course of the story that a Dr. Godan, working on an artificial island floating near Myrmil, brought about the entrance of humans and Jellies into Pastel shortly before the detonation of the Trato-Yauronic device.
The Jellies were not as compatible with the new universe’s physics as the humans, and the result was that the humans enslaved them, while building a new religion venerating “Godan” (and hiding the fact that Godan was merely a scientist). The Jellies were eventually able to stage a rebellion and escape human rule.
So in all cases, human/Jelly interactions have functioned as a clunky but very obvious metaphor for white supremacy, with the humans taking on the metaphorical role of white people. The Godan religion is likewise a straightforward metaphor for oppressive institutionalised forms of Christianity, complete with extreme religious homophobia and misogyny. It’s not a particularly well-done dystopia, but, y’know.
In the last few pages of Pastel Defender Heliotrope shortly before the above-linked page, it’s revealed that Dr. Godan was not a human as hinted before, but a Jelly: the implication being that on Myrmil, humans and Jellies had been able to live together, and Jellies worked as scientists without question. The church had been keeping secret that Dr. Godan was just some scientist, but they hadn’t realised that Godan was a Jelly.
So more recently… the humans have been attempting to wipe out the remaining rebel Jellies, but found the Jellies were much better armed than they were expecting and losing badly (this being part of a ploy by the Religion minister to dispose of the Science minister). The leader of the Jellies is Fetchenevets, previously introduced as having been the once-slave of an imprisoned mathematician called Probos Bister. Fetchenevets is explicitly named after Stepin Fetchet, a character played by early Black actor Lincoln Perry who JDR describes:
Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry is the full name of the first black actor to become a millionaire.His horrifically submissive, ingratiating style of comedy unfortunately became a stereotype for black actors in the early years of cinema. Although loathed and attacked for many years for his creation of such a sterotype, he eventually received appriciation in later years for his part in opening doors for black actors. He was awarded the Special Image Award by the NAACP, and later was elected into the Black Filmmaker’s Hall of Fame in 1978. His impact on cinema was vast, and he broke the color barrier for stardom in movies. He is seldom appriciated simply…as a comedian.
The name of the character he played in countless movies and television productions was “Stepin Fetchet”
So let’s be clear: Fetchet is very explicitly presented as, per metaphor, an escaped Black slave.
Fetchenevets boards the human gunship, kills the guards, and rescues Probos Bister. So far, sympathetic enough. Like it’s kind of grimdark with the whole ‘Jelly warriors taking bones from humans for nutrition and internal structure’ thing but you know, I’m clearly on the Jellies’ side.
It’s then revealed that Fetchenevets is Dr. Godan… and then on the very next page, revealed that Dr. Godan created the Trato-Yauronic device to get the colonising humans out of Tryslmaistan, and that - and yes this is completely fucking horrible and absurd - this was inspired by a copy of Mein Kampf.
Yes, really, Mein Kampf.
So to be clear: a Jelly, an escaped slave - and Jellies have at every point been symbolic of oppressed people - is explicitly being compared to Hitler. Decolonisation is presented as equivalent to Nazism.
JDR writes in the comments:
Yes, the book that has inspired Godan to create wormholes to send the humans back to ‘Earthenland’ was indeed a heavily distorted version of 'Mein Kampf’. Mis-translated, altered by centuries of hand re-copying by the monks of Tinturn Abbey during the early centuries following the arrival of humans in Tryslmaistan, kept primarily because it was part of their lost world, their lost universe, the Mein Kampf that drove Godan still carried enough malice and insanity to act as motivation.
The real goal of the Trato-Yauronic device was not to help humans to learn about their origins…it was to send them back, and thus clean the universe of Tryslmaistan of the scourge of Mankind. To Godan, humanity was an invasion of barbarians that erased native culture, and conquered without mercy.
And it is arguable that this is indeed what Mankind did in Tryslmaistan.
So it is revealed that the real reason the dangerous tratonic device was used was because Godan would not listen when warned, by 'inferior’ human scientists, that it just might not work as expected.
The fall of Myrmidon, what came to be known as 'Myrmil’ wasn’t a war between some pre-fall version of Wiccans and Alchemists as imagined, nor was it an unfortunate side effect of a grand cooperation; it was the unilateral act of a desperate racist who could not accept that unity, acceptance, tolerance and equality were valid and worthwhile things.
To be conquered is a terrible thing. To never forgive is perhaps even worse.
This is not the first time PDH has portrayed someone turning to violence after experiencing extreme oppression. The previous time, a girl suffering misogyny, parental abuse, CSA, homelessness, and extremely unpleasant factory work, resulted in her picking up a powerful weapon and going on a rampage that ended with her defeated by the childlike superheroine figure Heliotrope through being forcibly age-regressed through time shenanigans and abandoned naked before an angry mob. Yeah. Seriously, deeply fucked up already - I’m not sure why I continued.
Now, we have a rebel slave being compared to Hitler, and a parable for forgiving people who colonise, enslave and exterminate you.
What alternative does JDR offer to violent resistance? The magic of love, basically. If you try to love your oppressors, like a child, they will stop being evil or something. That’s the best I’ve got.
I was coming round to forgiving JDR of a bit because To Save Her seemed to be acknowledging the horror of Chou cutting up KaiWai and enslaving the Jellies. I thought perhaps JDR was developing in a good way.
But if what PDH is, fundamentally all about, is that the oppressed must accept their suffering… that to resist is to earn permanent, horrible condemnation… that Black rebellion against slavery and colonisation is considered indistinguishable from Nazism.
Forget becoming a fan of JDR’s works. This is gross.