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February 2014

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tl;dr and welcome to my mind off sleep (coherency, what coherency?)

Ok, well, since we're on the topic (no we're not) can I just interject with some meta? Because I love meta...

Canonically, and I mean by sticking as close as fucking possible to canon as apparently everyone is trying to do, I don't think any of them have enough emotional awareness to work anything out, like, between the five of them. I mean, they can hardly manage to figure out what they want in the everyday, much less in someone else. and I think it's a mistake to project onto them any sort of overt emotional awareness, because honestly that takes something away from them as characters who are defined mostly by their emotional immaturity, their lack of common sense, and their apparent idiot savant ability at music.

However, the only way you can make them work as human beings is to make them OOC, which is really saying something for the amount of disbelief Brendan Small is capable of making you suspend, kudos my man, kudos. It’s like he's taken all the random quirks a normal person might have and played them up so that they're the only characteristics his characters have. It’s a cartoon, and his exaggerations are only appropriately cartoonish.

Pickles, rather than being a musician who is a functional alcoholic and drug user, becomes a perpetual drunk whose occasional production of music is overshadowed by his daily production of father-angst which is dwarfed only by his constant production of vomit.

Murderface is a barely socialised, borderline mentally disabled, inferiority complex machine whose very stink could be classified as a WMD rather than an emotionally stunted man who is self-conscious about his second-rate contribution to first-rate musicians and who has some hygiene problems but is largely still a functional human being.

Toki in canon is a murderous man-boy whose mentality and intellect can only be fairly compared to that of an unsocialised child and whose lack of worldly experience renders him a boy in manner, disposition, and attitude.

To de-cartoonify him in order to make him a viable human being, you'd need to downplay everything that has been played up in canon and to flesh out some characterisations that have been only barely implied. We can take his past history as accurate in substance if not detail, and shape him from that.

I think there is a distinct possibility that he's not actively aware that his childhood was abusive; I think his childishness is a product of this lack of awareness and that canonically, the childishness of his character has been exaggerated, but it's not something you can completely discount from his personality even in de-cartoonified Toki.

So the two things we must attempt to explain in any theory we come up with are his hobbies and his childishness. This gives us three ways we can go with this.

Option 1 would mean he's aware of his abuse, but that he's the sort who forgives everything.

Option 2 gives us a Toki who is still not entirely aware that anything that was done to him was entirely wrong.

Option 3 is that he is partially aware that something was wrong, but has largely suppressed it into his consciousness, and that his canon characterisation is part of a defence mechanism, which points to a much more complicated Toki than I’ll have room to discuss in the next 2 paragraphs.

The first possibility is less canonically likely than the other two because it would point to a much more self-aware and psychologically mended Toki than any part of canon implies. What this means sounds kind of complicated, but it really only means this: An unresolved and yet active awareness of his abuse should lend itself to an active bitterness and anger Toki is not shown to embody. Therefore we infer that, because Toki demonstrates a lack of this bitterness/anger, he'd have to have resolved the abuse in his childhood and reconciled it with his current person and situation. This points to an emotional maturity which does not entirely allow for the amount of everyday pettiness Toki is shown as capable of. And while you could handwave his hobbies and stuff away with an explanation that his resolution of his childhood angst also makes him sexually stunted in a way that diverts all that energy into "clean" activities, I would personally discount this theory because this scenario involves a Toki who has overcome his past and who is actively working towards personal growth, which just isn't the case.

The second situation is probably what they're canonically going for; the language Toki uses in his descriptions of his childhood is incredibly mild compared to the imagery that backs it. (Of course you can argue that his language problems contribute to a lack of linguistic complexity in general, but of course then I’ll point towards season 1 Toki and all of his frankly articulate and astute analogies about lollipop factories and his thematic discussions with Skwisgaar, and then we'll not have got anywhere because I’d still be right and you'd still be wrong). In this scenario, Toki would be acting as a psychologically stunted man who still believes himself, in some way, to be a child and who likes the things he does (candy, aeroplanes, teddy bears, sharks, etc.) because he wasn't allowed to like these things before, but no one of authority is actively telling him he can't any more.

The third option is the one I like to think is the most "accurate" despite not being the most canonical. Toki has suppressed his childhood which he -- in only a most rudimentary way -- has acknowledged to himself has damaged him. He functions with an awareness of this fact, but it doesn't drive him in the way it does in option 1 where he has resolved it. This option allows for the most duplicitous Toki; he likes the things he does because they make him feel safe, making his entire personality into a defence mechanism and a persona of sorts. It allows for another Toki hiding behind the Toki we see, and I think that Toki sees, knows and feels a lot more than we typically give him credit for.

This, of course, then brings us up to our favourite OTP and how that relationship ought to come about, which means we have to discuss Skwisgaar on some level first.

Skwisgaar isn't as interesting a character to me. I’m putting that out there right away, because he isn't, but I think we can make him interesting if we extrapolate from the right places. I don't buy the Oedipus complex thing which I know most fans take to be canon or at least pretty solid fanon. I do think he's got OCD though, which is part of his addictive personality and a likely cause to his probable sex addiction. I think his OCD takes up the biggest chunk of his origin-story pie: His epic guitar skillz come from this; he plays and practises as a nervous tic rather than an active desire to improve or remain on top. The fact that he found himself on top is somewhat incidental; once there, he holds it to be part of his identity which, because he's incredibly insecure, is easily threatened.

Canon Skwisgaar is, along with Nathan, I think one of the less well-limned characters in the cast. His motivations are not as easy to understand or speculate upon as say, Toki's or Pickles' (incidentally, this is rather why I like them best I think). What we do get of his backstory and possible motivations are this: his childhood was comfortable if neglectful, he was introduced to sex at not an unreasonable age (I put him 10-12 when he walks in on his mother's orgy), although the manner in which he was introduced to it was probably less than ideal, and he attaches a great amount of shame to his mother and, presumably, female sexuality if not sexuality in general. We’ll discuss this later and the implications of option 1 vs option 2.

His biggest driving factor is probably his lack of identity which in turn drives his enormous flaming insecurity, previously mentioned. Unlike fanon, I don't attach any particular significance to Skwisgaar's mother's behaviour and this insecurity; it might not have helped that his mother sought validation through her looks and, consequently, her relationships with every man in Sweden, but I don't buy into the whole "if you don't pay extra special attention to your kids, they'll grow up with low self-esteem and self-worth". Self-esteem and self-worth aren't really Skwisgaar's problems, in any case (they contribute to his problem, but they're not the crux of it); he's got plenty of self-worth brought on by his "fastest guitarist alive" title. His problem is that "fastest guitarist alive" is his only anchor of identity, which is a tenuous position to be in for anyone.

So he's not looking for self-worth. That’s not one of his motivating factors. If you took his identity away from him, he'd go scrambling for self-worth, but as of the status quo, he's fine on that front. I do think the one thing he did take from his mother is the inability to express him outside of sex. If he doesn't want to fuck something, he's not sure what to do with his emotions.

Skwisgaar, unlike his mother, is not incredibly vain, at least in terms of his looks. Perhaps this is because he's not yet hit the age where his looks start to fade, but the fact that he's the skinniest member of the band and "skinny" isn't exactly a traditional male body type to aspire to, he knows he's good looking and he's fine with how he looks without making any special effort to improve it. Looks in general don't seem to matter a whole lot to Skwisgaar (gmilfs and fat chicks along with jailbait and hot chicks; he'll screw anyone), so you won't get far with him flattering him that way.

(You can make the argument that the fact his only role model growing up was his mother, a woman, and therefore he adopted a female perspective onto body types and looks, and you know what, I’ll let you have that; that's not a bad idea. It contributes to the whole "Skwisgaar is a prissy lady bitch" thing I’ll get into later, but for now, I’ll just counter with how we don't really see Skwisgaar with the sort of body shame that Nathan and Murderface are shown with, even after the universal weight gain arc, meaning he's probably pretty comfortable with his body as it is)

You can flatter his abilities though, which he'd respond smugly superior to. In this case, it's not really flattery; it's affirmation that he's what he believes himself to be.

The fact that he's so attached to numerical ranking like this does point back to his OCD. He likes things cleanly divided, each in its own place (look at his room and the fact his luxury activity is having his hair combed). I say his OCD is a manifestation of his insecurity, a sort of never-ending feedback loop of OCD, identity, insecurity.

So now we finally get to "how the fuck do we get these two together". Well, all right, let's get crackin'. The backstory I’ve invented for them incorporates a number of shippy theories, ripped apart and pastded back together. Skwisgaar got out of Sweden the usual way, that is, he joined small time bands and climbed his way up. His skill is easily marketable; I don't see him taking more than 2-3 years to make it out of Sweden and then maybe just a couple months to make it out of Europe. My very rudimentary research tells me compulsory education in Sweden ends at 16, and he mentions a stint in music school though apparently not enough to teach him to read music, so I put him at about 20 when he's hunted down by Offdensen and joins Dethklok.

(Yeah, I see Offdensen as the driving force behind Dethklok's formation. It doesn't really come off as one of those bands where everyone knew everyone else and thought it'd be a great idea to form a band (like The Libs or Arctic Monkeys); it's more one of those supergroups, like The Police)

Toki's path to Dethklok is a bit more variable. I pin him as a preternaturally quick learner with absolutely no formal training, but who lacks the OCD that made Skwisgaar as fast as he is (pulled from the fact he never practices but is still 2nd fastest guitarist in the world). He did not learn from Skwisgaar teaching him, at least not directly. I would not put it past him to have picked up how to play by watching another guitarist though, and my shippy little heart wants that to be Skwisgaar, however unlikely that is.

In all likely reality though, Toki probably got into metal while trolling that one shop in Lillehammer. I put him at about 15 at this point, and he smuggles home a Walkman and a cassette of fuckin Black Sabbath or something (because Norway is stereotypically more into black metal than death metal). His parents catch him and kick him out of the house for listening to sacrilegious devil music. Having nowhere else to go, he wanders into Lillehammer and probably seeks refuge at a church, because that's what he knows. At some point, the priest/some parishioner/ (or my favourite) some busker camped out in front of the church introduces him to guitar.

In my favourite version, he's running errands for the church when he runs across this busker and he stays and watches him for an entire afternoon, after which the busker is either all kindly or all "dude, give me money or fuck off". Either way, Toki asks the busker to let him play his guitar and the busker is all "suit you" cos it's an old-ass grandpa’s guitar and he's busy counting money. Toki replicates the songs the busker played exactly, leading to a slightly bewildered busker who is all "thought you said you've never played before" and Toki is all "lol I haven't! This is cool!"

I want him to become semi-friends with the busker (who I’ve decided now is definitely Skwisgaar) who is slightly unnerved that this kid keeps showing up every weekday to hear him play old Scandinavian folk songs and the occasional pop ballad but is like "you can stay and watch if you help me get money" so Toki ends up singing or tap-dancing or switching off with the busker when his hands get too cold. Toki eventually asks him why the Black Sabbath guitar sounds different than the one he plays, so he plays the song for him and the busker is like "lol that's an electric guitar. I’m saving up for a new one since my last one got broken in a stage invasion" and Toki is all "yay! I want to save up for one too!" "stops copies me"

Then the busker disappears and Toki is all :'(and starts working in the music store so he gets access to music and guitars and he gets a reputation in Lillehammer as this shop assistant who can play really, really fast. This reputation comes in handy just as Dethklok are passing through and their drummer gets killed in a brutal peanut butter accident or something. (Yes I also subscribe to the idea that Pickles was the original lead guitarist who stepped in for drums and just never ended up leaving; I point to proof of this because the mystery guy isn't wearing boots. Yeah, that's my proof: cos drummers don't wear boots; boots fuck up the ankle). Dethklok are all "oh noez! we need a drummer/rhythm guitarist who can learn the parts really really fast!" and tada~ fuckin' Toki!

Skwisgaar is all "omfg you're that kid!" and Toki is all "Skwisgaar! My busker buddy!" and he joins Dethklok conditionally under Skwisgaar's vouching for him. And of course Toki speaks no fuckin English at this point so the rest of the tour is just him and Skwisgaar gibbering at one another in Swedish/Norwegian. Toki is really puppyishly devoted to Skwisgaar and Skwisgaar is preening under the attention but the rest of the band are all, "guys, stop it!" and get Toki to learn English which he's also really fast at.

Skwisgaar is kind of sad that he's losing his number one fan but also kind of scared because Toki's a lot smarter than he is and he's learning the parts really fast and he looks like he'll be staying on, which he was originally for, but now he doesn't know if he should be for. He starts being meaner to Toki and ridiculing him more (because he's an insecure little bitch) and Toki is all D: because he doesn't understand what he's done wrong because he loves Skwisgaar at this point for being his only friend and his idol. So what was blossoming UST has a spanner thrown in it.

We have to reconcile a bit Toki's lack of interest in music and his desire for musical acclaim. I think you can, if you think of it as this: Toki doesn't want musical acclaim; he wants Skwisgaar's musical acclaim. He wants to be Skwisgaar. Or he wants to have Skwisgaar. The line is fine to the point of being non-existent in canon, not to mention everywhere else where admiration and envy cross over into desire only like all the time. He's not interested in music because he's interested in music, per se; he's interested in music because he's interested in Skwisgaar.

I think this is the point this confusion takes hold, where Toki thinks he's done something wrong and keeps trying harder and harder to impress Skwisgaar and thereby making Skwisgaar more and more insecure. So we get this situation where Toki is trying incredibly hard to get Skwisgaar's attention and Skwisgaar is feeling incredibly threatened by his protégé and only friend.

Tensions of course can only hold for so long, and Skwisgaar is nothing if not an enormous prima donna. I imagine him pitching one of those epic plug-pulling, hair-pulling, screaming bitchfits which Toki wouldn't normally be extraordinarily upset by except he's getting really frustrated with Skwisgaar's whole being a massive bitch to him for no discernible reason thing, so he starts screaming back and of course Skwisgaar's all "you're shit, you're shit, you don't belong in this band" and Toki's all "that's not true and you know it. I’ve totally been getting better" and Skwisgaar's all "insubordination! I’m going to have you kicked out of the band!"

And someone's going to have to be emotionally mature here, because Skwisgaar's too myopic and bitchy to do it and Toki hasn't got that sort of maturity anyway (I put him about 17-18 here) so I pick Pickles! Because I love Pickles, who's all "dood, wtf" and Toki has to try to communicate on a nonsuperficial level with someone who isn't Skwisgaar (who won't talk to him because he's personally sort of horrified someone's got under his skin like this).

So Toki'll be all "I don't know what I’ve done to offend him" only run through a lolcats translator so Pickles is going to have to be all "wait, say that again" and there'll be a lot of awkward gesturing and really slow speaking and Pickles is finally like, "dood, go talk to him, this is fuckin up band dynamics" and so Toki has to go talk to Skwisgaar and they're both really terribly confused as to why Skwisgaar's acting the way he is.

Skwisgaar can't take the uncertainty or the pressure and he doesn't know what to do. He likes Toki, he's flattered by Toki, he likes the influence he has over Toki and how Toki is his and how Toki makes him feel like he has something he should protect.

So he tries sexxing his problem away. Because he can't identify this emotion, but sex usually fixes stuff, right? Toki's not exactly sexually experienced at this point. At all. Religious repression'll do that to a guy, but he really likes Skwisgaar and Skwisgaar's really enthusiastic about this and it's the first time he's been nice to him in a really long time...

Dubcon, I guess.

I don't know how I want to resolve this. Obviously, I can go for drama where Skwisgaar's confusion takes a guilty turn and Toki's convinced that this is the only way he'll get Skwisgaar's approval and the rest of the band is like "w.t.f."

Or I can use this as an awakening for Toki who, once he's had a taste of it, knows what he wants and makes for a really aggressive seme who eventually persuades Skwisgaar his confusion is lurve and there is sexy happily ever after. This one's easier. The other one probably won't end as happy.


I just read that whole thing; I read half of it aloud. I'm really tired so, fucking craptastic comment is gonna be craptastic. ButI'llwriteitanyway.

Dude, I love character psychology. Fucking love it. What you've got up there at the beginning was so deep and dense I had to read through it a couple times, but damn, you've got a pretty good hold on the characters, canon and otherwise. I'm impressed. Really, I don't even.

And why is that stuff about Pickles and Murderface crossed out? That's interesting, too. I'd read more of that if you had it layin' around.

Oh, Toki's speech being "run through a lolcats translator"? Oh god I lol'd. Also at Tokigaar's first ever "stops copies me" moment. Epic win. Fic this.
Haha, the other one I have posted on this journal is here just below this one.

I have some more on my other lj, which is mostly f-locked, and you're free to friend, if you like. I can make a filter for you so you don't get spammed with my other fandom ramblings :)