Monday, September 26, 2011

To be a hybrid or not to be?

That is a question.  It's one that comes up often in SL, particularly in RP, though sometimes in non-RP areas as well.  It's kind of a mixed bag, regardless of whether you RP or not.  Though I would say that there is more room to move about as a hybrid in general SL than RP.

Why is it harder to RP as a hybrid character?  It's both a mixture of IC and OOC issues.  ICly, if you play it right, a hybrid is somewhat like a second class citizen in RP.  I tend to consider it much like African Americans from Civil War times on up to the Civil Rights.  I'm not saying a Hybrid has to be African American, nor originate out of Africa, though Ioh does happen to derive from North Africa in the area around where St. Augustine of Hippo came from.  There's many reasons for that choice beyond some connection to a 'out of Africa theme.  And those choices are personal and intimate to Ioh's character.  But this I think is not so uncommon for most mature RPers.  If you want a 'real' character, one that comes 'alive', you have to put that sort of depth and history into a given character you choose to create.  I could have just as easily made him some African tribesman, or Hungarian Viking, and all this would still apply.  Whether black, white, furry leopard hide with spots.  There has to be some sort of realism/verisimilitude to the character for someone to buy in to their authenticity.

This by no means implies 'acceptance'.  At the very least, I am not asking for a favorable reception of my character from all other characters he comes across.  And, honestly, I never did find that ever to be the case in places like Midian, where there was the UAC actively persecuting hybrids, and Human's First that was a political activist movement against hybrids.  These may, or may not have been OOC realities of the persons behind the characters in these given groups, but they were very real reactions within the IC.  They were things that Ioh had to interact with, and chose how to respond.  And I was fine with that, as it was all part of the story.  It was part of how the RP worked.

But, it's not just on the human side of things that hybrids have difficulties.  There are also the characters that are under a mask or stay hidden in the shadows.  Is it fair to have lycans always hiding their beast-like appearances when a hybrid can run about with ears and tails?  Why can't a vampire always show their fangs and be all vampirey all the time?  Or what about fae and glamour?

These are all good questions, and on the surface, it may seem like a hybrid gets favorable treatment to be able to have their ears, tail and fur shown to everyone.  But if that's the case, then why is it that hybrids have to be limited to a second class citizen and constantly being questioned about whether they are more animal or beast - whether they have a soul and can have equality with humans.  Consider then, that the non-human races that can more easily disguise themselves have it better off.  They can hide what they are and not have to deal with the constant questioning out in the open.  Sure, they may have ideas that humans would not accept them, but hybrids know for a fact that they are not accepted.  They are confronted with it.  The discrimination is right out in the open as much as their particular features are there to be examined and disapproved by a human oriented society.  All the other non-human races that can hide themselves get a pass from such open hostilities, for as long as they can keep their existence hidden.

Of course, the other races may question, "Why hide?"  If they are indeed so superior to humans, then why hide?  This is always a curious question.  The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs explores this concept pretty well.  At the beginning of the series, the fae wind up having to come out.  It started with a case where a fae was put on trial for murder.  It wasn't known at the time that the person suspected of being the murderer was fae.  He was a gardner for some rich person, and this person got murdered by use of gardening shears.  The only way to prove the gardener's innocence was for him to drop his glamour to show what he is.  For, as a fae, he could not use items made of metal, so he couldn't possibly have used the shears without them harming him.

The story goes on to talk of how the werewolves decided they had to come out.  And yes, there was conflict there, even among the wolves as some of them did not want the wolves to be outed to the public.  Part of this was from watching the treatment of the fae, how in many places, humans sought to harm them due to fears and prejudices.  Of course, the not so great history of the fae and their encounters with humans don't help much either.  Yet the Gray Lords deemed that lesser fae, such as brownies and whatnot out themselves.  Eventually, for 'security reasons' the fae were placed in reservations, and, while outed, they generally keep to themselves.  The wolves against werewolves being outed did not want to go through such things.  Yet, there were wolves in certain professions of law and medicine that were realizing that the abilities of modern technology were starting to make it harder for them to stay secret for much longer.

And so the Marok, the head wolf of the North American Werewolves selectively had certain wolves come out to act as representatives of  the werewolf population.  They put on the front that wolves are protectors - they are among your cops, your military, your firefighters - and are all out to serve and protect as outstanding heroes in your community.  Of course, wolves have many dark elements underneath that front.  But that is how the Marok chose to portray the wolves in hopes of trying to gain acceptance for the existence of werewolves among human society.  Yet, there were opposing groups that looked to find instances of werewolf attacks, and other ways to discredit the werewolf image.  More so, laws were being pushed to consider that werewolves are more animal, or at least not human enough to be regarded as citizens or to have equal rights to humans.

Vampires in the Mercy Thompson world did not want to be outed at all.  After all, it becomes harder to feed off humans when they become aware of what you are.  And despite their greater strength, it just wouldn't benefit them to wipe out their food.  So they came to prefer the shadows over coming to the light.  The obvious reason about light and all is because most vampires are not able to go out by day, unless they want to die - er, no longer exist to be animated undead.

For me, you cant spotlight just one race, such as hybrids, and say because they can do something another race can't (such as have ears and tails showing) , and call it unfair or preferential treatment.  In the long run, and looking at each particular race from its own individual traits and unique aspects, you can't say that is being treated with more or less preference.  They each have their own abilities, their own reasons to do things, their own motive and individual characters and depth of play.

If there's anything I would ask of a human, or non-human, but also non-hybrid character to consider is that it's quite alright to have IC reasons to hold prejudice against hybrids.  It's another thing to hold them in OOC.  If you would like to have hybrids as part of the general reality of your RP, then by all means.  I may even enjoy RPing there.  But, don't measure the quality of a hybrid, or any character by the personal perceptions that come from a singular experience or stereotype.  Be true to your character's genuine reactions, but don't let that flow into OOC.  Assuming we all want to make good stories, we have to step away from the first person or our character and take a look at the big picture as well.

However, I will admit that I have my particulars.  They almost have become personal rules.  If I find a place doesn't fit how I would like to RP, then I move on.  It's a hard road to travel on, and it often can leave me with times when I can't find places to RP.  But, I figure it's a quality measure.  If I can find a place with the right balance for my character and can enjoy the RP there, then isn't it worth the wait?  It's a discerning, not a discriminating, to be able to know when a place fits for your character or not.  It's similar when it comes to creating a place as well.  You;re choosing, you're discerning what is going to be the reality of the place you're trying to create.  Granted, it gets frustrating as a seeker who's found so many places that look nice, but don't fit, or seem to not want me to fit.  It's also hard on the other end when you try to fit as many as possible, but still try to figure out how to maintain the integrity of the RP.  And let's face it, RPers can be very picky.

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