In my post overviewing the epilogues, I abstained from talking about some sensitive topics. But after collecting some thoughts, I feel like I’m ready to talk about one of the epilogues’ most polarizing parts: transgender Roxy. In this post, I will first go over Roxy’s role in both epilogues in much more detail then before, then I’ll explain why I think the transitioning arc was flawed in execution. As before, I’ll refer to Roxy as “she” unless I talk specifically about Meat; I hope you’re OK with that.
Before we begin, I need to make something clear: if you liked Roxy’s transitioning arc in Meat, or felt highly validated by it, that’s completely fine!!! This post is only my own personal opinions. I never intend to offend anyone that connects to or is validated by a character or story arc that I don’t find much good about. It’s something that varies from person to person, like how I sometimes find terrifyingly large amounts of Caliborn in myself. If you’re worried that reading someone’s views on Roxy in the epilogues will offend you, then I don’t recommend you read any further.
Let’s start by talking about Candy Roxy, who I am not going to refer to as Candy!Roxy because only geeks do that.
I’ve always been a fan of Roxy and John’s dynamic and was salty that the credits shafted it in favor of the dull Roxy x Calliope. The candy epilogue brings her and John back together, but their relationship doesn’t work out. What impresses me is that their breakup feels completely natural, unhampered by my enjoyment of their usual flirting. As I said in my prior epilogues post, their breakup is a testament to both John’s issues with canon and Roxy’s issues dealing with harsh situations. Roxy has trouble dealing with Dirk’s suicide, which is first shown when she goes overboard with funerals. While Dirk’s funeral is a legitimately heart-crushing scene, the funeral for teen Jade that appeared out of nowhere is just plain stupid. Roxy soon becomes to John what her pre-scratch self was to Rose: an overly kind lady who lost her old snarky self and now will never disagree with or contest anything her daughter (or in this case, husband) does, leading to a testy relationship. Though I still think Roxy would be a perfect match for John if all those tragedies didn’t “break” her so much, I now think Terezi is a way more perfect match for John.
Roxy’s role in Meat is quite strange. She, or rather he, kind of just tags along and goes through a gender transition arc. I think Homestuck was never good at writing discussions on LGBT topics, with one exception I’ll discuss later. I find those conversations a slog to read and don’t understand why some people herald them as “powerful moments”, again with one exception. Don’t get me wrong, I think Homestuck has plenty of gay relationships worthy of merit and the epilogues have rescinded my issues with Dave x Karkat, a ship that I now actually kind of like despite its initially poor handling. But those lengthy rambles about being gay and stuff still aren’t what I’d call enjoyable or insightful reads.
In the second half of Meat, Dave and Roxy discuss transitioning and homosexuality and this time there’s someone to call out how boring it is—none other than Dirk Strider, the narrator who isn’t into all the romance and poetry both versions of Calliope love so much. Are you ready for a hot take on this topic?
I do not think Dirk’s confusion with Roxy’s transition is an effect of his shift towards more questionable motives.
It takes a fair while for Dirk to get used to referring to Roxy as “they” and then “he”. And it is disingenuous to think Dirk has no reason to be confused or at least taken somewhat aback that this girl of all people, the one who’s loved cute fluffy girly things from the start, is going through such a shift. I am not saying whether or not it is a reasonable development for Roxy to start presenting as male; I don’t think I can answer that question. I am only saying that I don’t think it’s terribly out-of-character that Dirk reacts to Roxy’s transition this way.
Despite lacking much of a role in the meat epilogue, this new male Roxy does have a moment of note when he converses with Dave about these issues and the two come to form a strong bond. Dave agrees to see Roxy as his new father figure, due to the strange things Dirk has been doing to their entire group of friends. Their relationship’s preservation into a new form is kind of heartwarming? I guess? But it mostly comes off to me as a natural consequence of everything falling apart. Crashing and burning, a vastly different kind of falling apart from the slow deterioration Candy is laden with.
This brings me to a new revelation about Meat vs. Candy. As I said in my prior post about the epilogues, Meat came off to me as the bad ending and I at first expected Candy to be the good ending. I presume readers that started with Candy ended up perceiving it not as the bad ending, but as the sad ending (there’s an important difference!) and then expected Meat to be the happy ending. I think Meat is best described as the bad ending and Candy as the sad ending. There’s no good ending to complement Meat and no happy ending to complement Candy, and yet both epilogues complement each other spectacularly.
… Wait, fuck. This post is about Roxy, isn’t it? I’ll get back on track here. Let’s talk about candy Roxy again.
In Candy, Roxy does bring up struggles with gender identity a few times. On this side of things, these struggles end with Roxy finding comfort in living as a woman without necessarily “identifying” as one—I hope I paraphrased her words correctly. As before, this resolution is kind of heartwarming? I guess? But for me, any heartwarming factor is vastly overwhelmed by the unsettling implication that the buddy system took quite a toll on our heroes. This brings me to a take that’s probably not as hot as the last one.
It is plausible that Roxy would not have even slightly questioned her feminine identity had she not spent so much time with Calliope.
Please don’t take from this statement that I necessarily think Roxy’s gender issues are “fake” or anything, or that I think any identity issues or reconsiderations that stem from external factors are automatically “fake”. All I’m saying is that this explanation for Roxy’s identity questioning makes more sense to me than claiming she secretly had such thoughts this whole time. I do not demean anyone who prefers to think Roxy had always struggled with gender identity and we just didn’t know it.
All this talk about the nature of identity brings me back to a point I brought up in my prior review of the epilogues: specifically, Obama’s speech to Dave about identity. Obama’s speech is the exception to my lack of interest in the comic’s discussions on LGBT topics; I would most certainly call it a “powerful moment”. I’ll quote what I said about that speech verbatim:
When Dave confesses that he might be gay and explains troubles in his three-way romance, Obama responds with a truly inspiring speech about identity that raises an excellent point about the differences between the epilogues involving aspects of people that may seem immutable to some. I think Obama’s speech leaves a powerful message I never expected Homestuck of all things to convey so well. I hope readers take that speech’s message into account, though I know many will probably be a bit naive about it.
Roxy’s gender arc is the prime example of differences that may seem immutable to some. That arc ties in well with Obama’s speech and helps give it such a powerful message. It’s too bad that Roxy in Meat doesn’t really do much besides being a boy. He does have a notable role as a void in Dirk’s knowledge, but the quest to stop Dirk and put that ability to use is only about to begin when Meat ends. How awesome would it be if male Roxy immediately started kicking ass, spearheading a major scheme with our remaining heroes to restore all that is good? Pretty fucking awesome if you ask me. But the fundamental flaw with Roxy’s transition is that the transition itself inevitably steals the show. It’s such a big change that it gives the illusion that Roxy was an incredibly significant character to Meat’s plotline, distracting readers from the fact that he wasn’t at all. Maybe that illusion weighed down the epilogue writers too, who knows. Roxy isn’t the only character that suffers from such a situation, but he sticks out for obvious reasons.
So many things about Homestuck are fundamentally flawed, I can’t even list them all. But the comic tends to make good use of those flaws; the epilogues in particular excel in that matter, as I had discussed in cases like Jane and Gamzee. The big question about Roxy’s transitioning arc is: does its impact on the epilogues’ legitimately good identity themes outweigh its fundamental flaws?
My answer to the big question is a stone-cold “no”, but at the same time it’s a bright fiery “yes”. It is also a disgustingly lukewarm “maybe”, as well as an “ah but you see…” that reeks of the highest pretension imaginable. But above all else, I see this arc as just one example of how Homestuck is horrendous and wondrous in tandem.
I hope I conveyed my point well in this post.