BUCKLE DOWN KIDDOS BECAUSE TODAY WENDY’S GONNA TALK ABOUT HOMESTUCK AND HOW IT PERFECTLY TACKLES THE REPRESENTATION I GET MOST FIREY ABOUT.
So for some background on your OP, because it matters, my list of privileges isn’t too long. It could be worse, but it’s whatever. When the world tells you every chance it gets that you’re broken, you’re bound to search for mirrors in a world full of windows. And while I could get attached to gay or trans characters given my circumstances, what gets me going is alcoholics.
Particularly, young ones.
The problem with the modern alcoholic is that it’s painted so wrongly. Broken men looking starkly into a glass of whiskey in an empty living room. Beaten single mothers huddled and sobbing and spilling wine on their down comforters. And while this picture is one I’m sure many can relate to, it is such a small portion of who we really are. We are young, we are real, and we are everywhere. In your schools fighting through hangovers, on your streets clutching our fake IDs in our pockets.
I was the elementary schooler slumped over in the apartment staircase with a cup of jack, the 5th grader drinking PBR at the snow-covered lake in my town, the middle schooler suspended for vodka in a water bottle during state testing. When you’re 15, on a bad relapse, and people tell you you’re making up your problems to be edgy, all you fucking want is someone, even fictional, to validate your existence in this world.
So this brings me to Lalondes. Why I get fucking fired up over Lalondes, why they mean the world to me. And I’m starting off with Princess fuckin’ Roxy.
I get teary eyed sometimes when I think about the mere fact that Roxy exists. She is 16 and an alcoholic—who knows how long she’s been one, raised alone in a house well stocked with booze. What makes an alcoholic is typically that they drink to be rid of a type of negative feeling—be it anxiety, nerves, sadness, depression, or any mixture of them all. Roxy’s canonical reason for drinking is that she saw it as a way to be closer to her mother, who she assumed a drunk. It’s safe to assume, though, that it quickly turned into a coping mechanism and spiraled out of control for her. When placed in particularly stressful situations, Roxy’s first thoughts tend to go toward wanting a drink.
She’s undeniably an alcoholic, but in case you felt like debating that she was just a girl who liked to drink, there you go. She identifies herself as one, as well. More on why that’s such a big fucking deal in a bit.
Another thing that sucks about how media paints the alcoholic is that we’re all sad for some reason? Which on a greater scale makes sense, yes, a lot of us are sad in general. But the thing about alcoholism is that the reason it’s such a problem is because drinking makes you happy. We are not sad, broken people crying into red cups most of the time. We are giggly, and smiley, and grinning while we spill out shots on the floor. Who would get addicted to something that only made them feel worse? When we are drunk, we bring out the person we truly want to be, we grow attached to that projection, and therein lies the spiral. This is so important, because it’s the reason that we’re impossible to fucking deal with.
This is played so straight with Roxy and her friends. Despite how often it’s implied that they see her drunk way too much and way too early, they play it up for laughs and never see it as a problem. It’s just good old Roxy, at her antics again.
When someone appears to be enjoying themselves that much, it provides difficult, even if you know they have a problem, to intervene. Imagine having to pull your friend aside while they’re having the time of their life and straight up tell them what is essentially “Hey, you enjoying yourself is an issue.” No matter how worried you are, there is no easy way to approach this, another fact that is brought up—
(AGGRESSIVE HEARTEYES AT ANDREW HUSSIE)
THIS IS SO REAL. So not only do we have Roxy acting as a mirror for all the young addicts out there, but also her friends acting as mirrors for all the people who are close to them. I won’t romanticize it, while we do deserve love and care, we are hard fucking people to deal with. It is amazing to me how fleshed out these relationships are, even in characters like the alpha kids who aren’t so great at forging particularly healthy bonds.
And from these same conversations we have Roxy acknowledging her issues:
This is so important and it says so much about Roxy as a character and how strong she is. Alcoholism is 70% excuses. Saying things like oh yeah, I drink a lot, but I’m not as bad as that woman I see at the bar sobbing every night. Not as bad as my neighbour who can barely make it through their door on the weekends. Saying stuff like I drink a good deal, but I have a job or a 4.0. I’m a functioning member of society.
Even when the whole world is screaming “YOU HAVE A PROBLEM” at you, a lot of the time an alcoholic will just get defensive and try to justify it. My method of recovery is moderation rather than sobriety, and even I think I’m just making excuses to get my fix, at times. So the fact that Roxy was able to fight through denial and acknowledge what was wrong with her is a marvel in itself, and not only did she recognize it, she fucking quit cold turkey. All alone, with most of her friends enabling her behaviour, she put up a middle finger to her addiction and kicked it to the curb. Now she not only acts as a mirror, but a role model.
I know I keep getting personal, and I’m sorry, but I feel the need to make it known that I had these pages bookmarked for over a year under the name “don’t do it.” and they kept me dead sober for months upon months, kept me going through even my darkest times. Roxy Lalonde kept me from hurting myself. And how many other addicts looked upon her character and drew inspiration and strength? I think about things like that and can feel my heart pounding with both excitement and bittersweetness. All she had to do was exist.
Her relapse is so important too, because relapse is an inevitable part of recovery. Dirk responds to it with frustration for her, because he knows she’s better, and comes to see it as only an oversight, not a setback. Relapse is a patch of broken glass on the road to recovery, and though Roxy is stricken with shame through her first hangover in months, she comes to the important realization that she doesn’t stop being an alcoholic when she stops drinking. This is the suckiest part of relapse, but such an important one, and it drives her forward in acceptance for who she really is. She realizes it’s ok to be “lame + weak” in the face of your addiction, and that you don’t have to be strong all the time.
As the story progresses and Roxy starts to really solidify her void powers, I find myself getting nervous whenever she’s having a bad time. There will come a point when Roxy’s powers are strong enough to create alcohol out of nothing, and whenever I see her on edge I worry it’s going to happen. Every second she goes without that happening, though, is another second she becomes one of the strongest characters in this comic. With all she’s been through, with all she’s going through, with the hellbeast that is addiction on top of it, I am so, so proud of her and will always look to her for inspiration. Roxy represents the recovery story I look to when I need inspiration, and Roxy represents my tiny, tiny demographic.
Rose, on the other hand, is who I look to when I need to cry a little bit.
Rose is the child of an alcoholic and it really shows. Her feelings toward her mother can be a fucking whirlwind at times, but we can pretty safely say now that she loves her mom and only ever wanted to be closer to her. Rose mom was decently neglectful where it mattered and tried to buy her affection with material possessions, but the whiplash left Rose confused and as such she perceived all of this as passive aggressive torment.
Rose tries alcohol at 13 and cringes at the taste, but reveals later on, in a doomed timeline where she is alone and sad, that she indulges fully in the house full of booze left behind. It comes as a shock in comparison to her condescension prior when talking about her mom’s drinking habits, and frankly the only explanation I think we can come to is that it’s one of the only things she had to hold onto after her mom died. Rose takes to drinking because her mom did it and she misses her. Oddly familiar.
Out of nowhere one day Rose alchemizes a shit ton of “space booze” and completely loses any and all sense of discretion because she is nervous about a date. She starts because of the association with her mom and she spirals because of negative emotions she perceives alcohol as a cure to. In her head, she goes from resenting her mom’s drinking habits to rationalizing them in order to rationalize the creeping thought that she is becoming her mom. It’s fine, she tells herself, she was a lonely single mother. I forgive her.
She rationalizes in her head that it’s ok to get drunk if you’re sad. And unlike Roxy, we do get to see her going through the motions of alcoholism that include outright denial.
SOUND FAMILIAR? Again I am making aggressive hearteyes at Hussie as he beautifully conveys both the struggles of alcoholics and the people they’re close to. I feel a lot more for Rose than I do for Roxy at the moment because we got to watch it happen to her, how it started as a mistake one night and escalated so quickly to the point where she spent most of her final months before crashing down in a drunken haze. It’s so real and raw, and things were really mapped out to be hard for Rose from the beginning—she already had self-harming tendencies in the form of experimentation with dark forces and suicide missions, mixed with terrible genetics, mixed with being a Seer and probably having to gaze upon one too many a doomed timeline. I feel bad for Rose, because this descent was inevitable.
And the more we see of it, the more I feel—
But luckily, things seem to be getting better as she starts to open her eyes and realize what’s happening to her.
Here’s what I love most: We have both Roxy, who is the girl who started out with this problem and is overcoming it every day—to represent the young recovered addicts who so desperately need to know they aren’t alone, and Rose—to represent the much less loved demographic of those who are still trying their hardest to work those first few steps on the road to recovery. Both valid parties, both deserving of love and safety and representation in the world around them.
So, the overall point of this post is mostly this: I grew up thinking I was broken, and I know for a fact that I am not the only one. I know because I have met the others, and I know that it took me way too long to do so. Young addicts deserve safe spaces, and we especially deserve mirrors.
At age 14 I realized that every single teenager I saw getting drunk on the TV was just doing ‘what teenagers do.’
At age 15 I realized that there would never be someone below the age of 30 in my media who had a real problem with substance abuse, no one to gaze into and see myself and be comforted.
At age 16, I clicked on my update notifier to see a 16 year old alcoholic standing alone in her bedroom with a smile on her face.
I still remember what the tears felt like as they fell down onto the creases of my smile.
Write Lalondes. Write people like Lalondes.