The Missing, Dysphoria, & Death | joyce-stick


I am horny for death. I’m also fucking terrified of death, for
all the reasons you might expect me to be terrified, but I’ve spent so much time wallowing
in the idea of dying, and all the various ways in which I could die, that I’ve come
to think of death as… still terrifying, but so strangely cozy. I’m not suicidal. I’m in no rush to die. My survival instincts seem to be in order,
just not calibrated for capitalism. I don’t think any reasonable living creature
knows how the fuck to survive under capitalism. Given how capitalism is uhh, killing all of
the animals. Including humans. Except pigeons, I guess. And roaches. They seem to know how to survive under capitalism. Good on them. The thing is that, it’s more like, I’ve
come to expect that I’ll die, and that I’ll quite possibly die rather soon. I don’t want to, but I don’t feel like
I’ve got that much of a choice. So I think. Well, if I’m likely gonna die an early death
anyway… what’s the sexiest way to go out? Oh, dear. I know I need a therapist, probably, most
likely, most definitely, but we all know I can’t afford that. What is this, a world where people can have,
uh, the things that they need to be mentally stable and physically healthy? AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHHHHHHHH
I’m so fucking dead. Anyway, here’s a video about The Missing. The Missing is a video game that came out
last year. It was directed by SWERY, some
guy who you might have heard of. I’d heard of him, but I’d never played
a game of his before. This was a good video game, so I should probably
go have a look at that, uhh, other game. People say that’s a good game too. In this game, you play as the only video game
protagonist who is not straight, Jackie Jameson Macfield, or, J.J. for short. J.J. and her girlfriend, Emily, are running
away together to get married on a secret island, but Emily disappears in the dead of night. This pleasingly simple meet-cute gives way
to a nightmare world as JJ goes searching for Emily and FUCKING DIES
Anyway, it keeps going, because thanks to this, uh, moose doctor, JJ has been given
the power to regenerate her body. Knowing absolutely nothing about what would
happen in the game, I wondered, what the hell is that for. I’ve played Limbo and Inside, and while
I prefer Inside, I didn’t particularly care for either, in part because… they’re not
really challenging in ways that I find interesting. You get all the gruesome death animations
and etc, but that feels pretty cheap to me, because there’s not really much consequence
to it. You respawn on the nearest platform, and it
doesn’t really serve the gameplay, just the game’s aesthetic, which, y’know, is
good. I don’t hate either game, I just don’t
love them. They’re fine. So I thought this regeneration mechanic to
be… interesting, but a bit, eh? Like. Okay. So you’re just handing me a faster respawn
button? I pressed on, because people said this game
was great, and I can’t pass up the opportunity to play as the only not straight video game
character. Then I arrived at this puzzle. JJ’s body weighs too much to crawl across
this ramp and under the spiky wire. There’s no way to get through, because the
spikes can’t be avoided. Well. Right. So I set about killing myself, as you do,
or at least as I do when I can’t solve a video game puzzle, and watched JJ flop to
the ground in pieces. Oh, dear. I got, really, really fucking excited at this. So, um, The Missing is a psychological horror
game about a suicidal trans lesbian teenager struggling with a queerphobic family and school
life. Excitement is probably not the reaction that
it wanted from me, whatsoever. But that is, nevertheless, the reaction that
this puzzle elicited from my confused brain. I was excited, and impressed. My past experiences playing puzzle platformers
had taught me: spikes bad. Do not touch! And if you touch, well, you didn’t mean
to do that, we’ll just put you back here. What this puzzle quite elegantly taught me,
as JJ’s blood and limbs spilt all about the environment, was that I’d best forget
that lesson. Brutal dismemberment of JJ’s body is either
required to progress or incidentally almost unavoidable, and the only instance in which
you’ll see a traditional respawn is if JJ is destroyed as a head, or if you fail certain
scripted events. A similar level of gore in Limbo and Inside
had only proven to mildly irk me as I witnessed the same death animations and retried over
and over. But in The Missing, watching JJ die, over
and over, and regenerate, repeatedly, was… certainly disturbing, yet remarkably mesmerizing. Because here, these gruesome animations weren’t
to signal I’d done something wrong. They were to signal I was doing something
right. And… I can’t lie. They’re hot. If I could do that, without, y’know, dying. I mean. That’d be pretty hot. I’m really sorry. Y’all are probably now scared of me. Look, I’m fine. I’m okay! I’m not dangerous or creepy or uhhh— just,
don’t unsubscribe, please. Just, the video. There’s however much time left in it. Okay. There are a lot of incidental elements in
a lot of the media I consume that I find to be really rather hot, but they’re not generally
presented as such, and so in most cases I find myself able to set aside my personal
feelings of arousal for the sake of feeling whatever feelings that I imagine the creator
wanted me to. I went into The Missing completely blind,
and though I was pretty sure that this gruesomeness was not intended to be read from a horny perspective,
I wasn’t completely sure. I knew this game was a queer game, and I knew
it was a 2D puzzle-platformer, but I was otherwise going into it completely and totally unaware
of the plot and the tone it was really getting at. As I progressed further, it became quite clear
that this was a psychological horror game about a suicidal trans lesbian teenager struggling
with a queerphobic family and school life, and as such, I very swiftly stopped seeing
the evocation of death and injury as exciting, and more… well, still exciting, but in a
wholly different light than I had initially. An existential light. In The Missing, dying is required to progress. Isn’t that just… life? And now, for an utterly uncontroversial statement:
CAPITALISM IS KILLING US. And yet, we depend on its systems, and the
products it has created. This terrible, hostile, disgusting world is
killing us, it is choking us, it is pureeing us, and at the same time, it is forwarding
us. Not to an end we actually want, not to a life
we’ll actually enjoy, but it is forwarding us nonetheless. This world is killing us, and yet we live
in it. And a bunch of weirdos like to cut out the
first half of that sentence a whole lot so as to argue that we should just ignore everything
wrong with the world and go die, I guess. I didn’t understand this my whole life,
but I have known it my whole life. I have felt it my whole life. I have been acutely aware that many of the
systems and tools I rely on to do, like, anything, are killing me, either directly or indirectly,
at the same time as they are helping me. Like, cars, for instance. Cars are killing everyone with that new carbon
smell. But I still rode in one to move halfway across
the country a couple months ago, and that move uh, went well, and I’ll probably have
to move again, in another car, because there’s no other way to leave this place, without
putting oneself in danger of dying to another car. I have made Good Life Decisions. It’s for that reason that The Missing’s
gameplay in particular resonated with me so much. JJ has to kill herself, again, and again,
and again, and AGAIN, and one last time just to make sure! to progress. Yep. I found that, for lack of a better word, validating. Of course, I find the game validating for
more reasons than that, because I’m a lesbian, and, as you can almost certainly tell from
my voice and the pretty colors, I’m trans. You’re probably looking at this thinking
I’ll go deep into an explanation of my own experiences with transphobia and how they
reflect the emotions JJ shows in the game, but… well, this is awkward. I can’t really tell that story, because
I haven’t really had that experience. I only realized I was trans, like, at the
beginning of this year, so I’m still figuring a lot of this shit out, and in the meantime
I’ve dealt with only a mild amount of transphobia because I have no social life and live in
an imaginary SJW hugbox. I told my mom I was trans, and she said, “That’s
amazing! Now, instead of taking accountability for
being a bitch and ceasing to complain about the exorbitant amount of money I spent on
the therapists that were supposed to fix your brain with magic, I can blame everything that
went wrong with your life on your gender dysphoria!” I fucking hate my mom, by the way. But at least her reaction was way better than
the reaction of JJ’s mom, who said something more like, “I love you so much! Let’s pay a therapist to fix your brain
with magic!” To which JJ says, “OK Boomer—” uhhhh… I mean, writes a suicide note. As a result of never talking to people, and
my parents being only mildly progressive liberal democrats, at least as far as I can tell,
the only tangible transphobia I’ve faced is some slurs and a few transphobic comments
on my YouTube videos online, some misgendering offline, by people who I don’t know, have
nothing to do with my life, and can kindly fuck off. I have, however, felt the intangible transphobia
of our current capitalist disorder, because if I hadn’t, I’d already be a good chunk
of the way to having boobs by now. My YouTube friend Soft and Hollow, who, disclosure,
is a Patron of mine and also a very friendly girl who did a voice in a video that I made,
thank you very much, made a video about The Missing wherein she highlighted how the dismemberment
is evocative of trans dysphoria, and in a separate video about the game Anatomy, spoke
at some length about her own dysphoric experience. I found her commentary intriguing, because
my trans experience is more… social dysphoria, than the sorts of physical dysphoria that
she highlighted. I mean, my body is important to me, and I
do have dysphoria, but I’m very acutely aware that it’s linked to me wanting to
be treated as the gender that I prefer, rather than the gender that I was assigned. For much of my life, I’ve never really particularly
cared how I look. Most people I’ve met have complimented me,
commenting on how I’m such a “pretty boy” or whatever, and I hate that, and I’ve deliberately
put very little effort into having any distinctive identifying features, but I’ve never held
that much active disdain for my appearance so much as how I’ve been treated for looking
how I do. I suppose that may be making a big deal and
saying a pile of words just to split a hair or two here and there. There’s a fair bit about my body that I
really don’t like, for a lot of reasons both internal, and external, but it’s…
it’s complicated. The point is, I think that if the oppressive
social institutions of cisheteronormativity that we live with, didn’t exist, I might
really not give that much of a fuck about my body, and I’m keenly aware of this, because
I already don’t give that much of a fuck about my body. I give a fuck about what people think of my
body, and how they treat me as a result of it, but that’s not the same thing. It’s, y’know, it’s different. Because I’ve not been aware of my transness
for very long, and have never had to directly confront transphobic individuals or ignorant
cis people, my dysphoria, and my understanding of it, is very different from what is described
by Soft, and by JJ in the game, and… well, I don’t yet intimately know all of the ways
in which it is different. Just that it is. And I’m sure that, given time, my understanding
will change. Maybe in a year or two I’ll look back at
this video and be like, wow, that sure did not stick. We’ll see. The Missing’s preoccupation with death and
mortal injury persists through its story, and especially its ending, as JJ’s dream
continues. She hangs herself, unable to overcome her
distress, and we witness this utterly baffling, mind rending cutscene… and the startling
declaration, of “100 Years Later.” JJ’s personal anguish is contrasted against
a century of time’s passage, a montage of the skies churning, the world burning and
returning, those same uncouth skies that roared above all through the game’s environments,
and I am reminded of my own wretched thoughts of an insignificant, unseen death in the blind
eyes of the universe, both the fear I have of that, and the perverted solace I seek within
that idea. The world will end without JJ. The world will end without me. That’s terrifying… but so strangely comforting. That we will die, and that we will, statistically,
ultimately not be remembered and nothing we do will matter much to anyone or anywhere,
is a notion that, very naturally, very humanly, most of us are not typically willing to confront. For me, though, I feel reassured by that idea. If it doesn’t matter one way or the other,
then surely there’s no reason not to try. We have the rest of our lives to see, and,
besides, maybe death is okay. None of us have any authority to speak on
what the meaning of our existence is. If we were born to have sex, if our death
is permanent, if our lives do have meaning. What I just said, just now? That statistically we won’t matter or be
remembered? Did you like it when I said that? Maybe you didn’t. And you can say, screw that bitch. It’s fine. I’m okay with it. You’re allowed to decide what your life
and your death means to you, as long as you’re not taking anyone else’s meaning away. This, by the way, this screen that I’ve
been hovering on, these copy pasted frames, is not how the Missing ends. Its proper ending is a great deal more optimistic. I won’t recap the ending, because I want
people to actually play the game, because it’s really good. If you really want a YouTube human to tell
you all about it, just watch Soft’s video. But, suffice it to say, JJ gets the chance
to choose her life’s meaning, and, get married, in her dream anyway. And I’m sure, eventually, in her real life
as well. I don’t know if this video, that I wrote,
made any sense, but I hope it did. If you liked it, please consider clicking
the YouTube buttons, watching my other videos, and supporting me on Patreon. If you’re not weirded out by my death tangent. I swear, I don’t usually do those. Thank you for watching.

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