lb_lee: A short-haired person flexing their muscles and declaring, "Queer trans multi proud!" (pride)
[personal profile] lb_lee
A while back, I talked about how, as children, we honest-to-god-no-kidding believed Lex Luthor to be biracial. Now I move on to another animated DC supervillain voiced by Clancy Brown: Harvey Dent, AKA Two-Face.

a picture of Two-Face, holding their signature coin.

I'm only going to be talking about the 'Batman: the Animated Series' version because that's the only one we're familiar with.

Poor ol' Harvey. You know, I rant about multi representation in the media fairly often (offline, anyway), but these guys, I mostly just feel sorry for. You've got Harvey Dent, who doesn't become multiple due to the usual abuse horror show. Instead, his system's origin is much more humble and understandable: Harvey is so frightened by his own anger that he dissociates from it, creating Big Bad Harv.  It's all downhill from there.

I personally never read Big Bad Harv as evil. He cares about Harvey's fiancee, and never lashes out at her; he abdicates the front instead. Really, Big Bad Harv's problem is that he has wretched anger management. It doesn't help that Harvey Dent is constantly pushing him off front and suppressing him. So Big Bad Harv just gets angrier, which leads Harvey to suppress him, which gets Big Bad Harv even ANGRIER...

This is a pretty common dynamic in systems. One member, usually one expressing 'forbidden' urges, becomes the system scapegoat, causing a vicious cycle of explosion, suppression, and escalation. It's not unique to the Dent system; our system did the same thing with me.

Their therapist doesn't help matters. Instead of trying to find ways to defuse Big Bad Harv's rage, which could serve a better, nonviolent purpose, she decides that Big Bad Harv has to go, that treatment will end once he disappears.

This is essentially telling Big Bad Harv that not only is he not allowed to be seen or heard, he doesn't even have the right to live. And since the only way Big Bad Harv knows how to behave is with rage and violence, he responds accordingly. Even so, though he threatens and menaces her with a chair, he doesn't end up hurting her; Harvey steps in. Is it also possible Big Bad Harv doesn't really WANT to commit murder, so lets Harvey stop him? It's never stated.

Of course, that's the beginning of the end. Blackmail gets involved, the Dents are disfigured in a horrible accident, and when they lose their fiancee, they tumble down the supervillain rabbit hole. Oddly, here they seem to integrate, in the worst possible way. They don't speak to each other or refer to each other, and they speak in the first person, but they're unable to maintain a cohesive personality and have to rely on random chance to decide anything.

This is a system that obviously has a lot of problems, and on the surface, they appear to be just another Jekyll/Hyde system, but like I said, I mostly feel sorry for them. They are stuck in toxic patterns, with no education, resources, or support, and in desperation, they end up resorting to random chance to ensure fairness. The whole time I saw them, I wanted to sit them down and go, "Guys, guys, you can have a system government that's both fair AND premeditated. This doesn't have to ruin you."

I like to imagine what the Dents COULD have been, given better odds. Maybe Big Bad Harv could've calmed down and the Dents could've had a two-front system, where both of them could speak and act. Harvey desperately wanted to clean up Gotham's streets; imagine what he could've done with Big Bad Harv's passion behind him. Harvey was running for public office; imagine what they could've done to help the Gotham mental health system! They could've made Arkham Asylum actually competent, which alone would've kept a lot of crime out of Gotham. They were being blackmailed for their multiplicity; imagine how cool it would've been for them to defuse the blackmail by just coming out. By all accounts, Harvey was great at his job, and loved by the public; imagine how cool it would be if they'd been allowed to just keep doing it!

Furthermore, if they did become a mental health overhauler, what would that do to the crime rate in Gotham?  How would that affect Batman?  Remember, Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent were best friends.  Imagine what could've happened if the two had been able to confess their hidden wounds to each other.  Imagine what they could've achieved together, between Wayne's money and the Dents' position.

But no. Instead, the Dents were so petrified of being outed that they attempted to attack their blackmailers, leading to the accident that turned them into just another supervillain.  Batman angsts about failing to save another person he cares about, and the world goes on in the same way.  What a sad story.

Generally, I don't do fanfiction. But like with biracial!Lex Luthor, it's times like this I wish I DID.

--Rogan

Yes...

Date: 2013-06-13 03:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Instead, his system's origin is much more humble and understandable: Harvey is so frightened by his own anger that he dissociates from it, creating Big Bad Harv. <<

That's much the way I interpreted it in the movie, although that version was more traumatic; it just screamed dissociation. Harvey is one of those sweet-hearted good guys who has a hard time understanding that everyone has some dark feelings inside.

>> Really, Big Bad Harv's problem is that he has wretched anger management. <<

I'd call it a problem with expression and agency, really. It's not like Big Bad Harv is upset over nothing. Things go wrong. He's got to be catching all of Harvey's frustration and righteous anger over the injustice in Gotham City, among more personal issues. But Harvey doesn't want to let Big Bad Harv deal with the problems that make them angry, and Big Bad Harv doesn't seem to understand much about constructive application of anger, he just lashes out. They would both need to learn how to use anger to accomplish goals, and Harvey would need to acknowledge that this is Big Bad Harv's job and get the heck out of the way.

>>Their therapist doesn't help matters. Instead of trying to find ways to defuse Big Bad Harv's rage, which could serve a better, nonviolent purpose, she decides that Big Bad Harv has to go, that treatment will end once he disappears.<<

That's something that really bothers me in therapy aimed at multiples. I'm barely okay with a system deciding to unmake one of its members, but well, it's their head. Someone else deciding that what amounts to murder, dismemberment/cannibalism, or eviction (depending on context) is okay ... yikes, no. Especially if what brought the system to a therapist is one member being suicidal, and then the therapist says, the only way to become healthy is to get rid of everybody but one. 0_o I just don't see that ending well.

>>Oddly, here they seem to integrate, in the worst possible way. They don't speak to each other or refer to each other, and they speak in the first person, but they're unable to maintain a cohesive personality and have to rely on random chance to decide anything.<<

That's collapse to a lower level of stability. It's weirdly appropriate in the Dents, because one of the places it appears most vividly is not with individuals but with nations, like the way the Roman Empire imploded. It's not exactly healthy but it can maintain some functions by sacrificing others.

>> Generally, I don't do fanfiction. But like with biracial!Lex Luthor, it's times like this I wish I DID. <<

I wish that too.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2013-06-13 04:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lb-lee.livejournal.com
That's much the way I interpreted it in the movie, although that version was more traumatic; it just screamed dissociation.

I haven't seen the Nolan movie in a long time, and don't remember interpreting that Dent as multi. I have the Rifftrax around here somewhere; I shall have to rewatch!

They would both need to learn how to use anger to accomplish goals, and Harvey would need to acknowledge that this is Big Bad Harv's job and get the heck out of the way.

Back in my Day Care for Loonies days, they would talk about 'emotional regulation,' which was using feelings in constructive ways, rather than being controlled and overwhelmed by them. I feel the Dents would've benefited a lot from that.

I'm barely okay with a system deciding to unmake one of its members, but well, it's their head.

Every system is different, but in our case, when someone new pops up, it's always a solemn, mournful occasion, because it means that a chunk of someone's soul has been hacked off, and that getting it back might mean ending someone else's existence (which might be one of suffering). It's an awful decision to have to make, and no one is allowed to make it outside of our system.

It's not exactly healthy but it can maintain some functions by sacrificing others.

Ugh, we've had to do that. It's pretty much been our operating state for the past year, and no telling when/if it'll end.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2013-06-14 07:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>>I haven't seen the Nolan movie in a long time, and don't remember interpreting that Dent as multi.<<

I don't think Dent was multi before his life blew up in his face. He obviously was not coping with that, though, and he was very one-dimensional until then. Such a good guy, he didn't have any other resources when that abruptly quit working for him. And then Joker laid into him, and wow. I think Dent was more cut apart than broken apart, and it made his presentation kind of weird. But he didn't act like a person with a single perspective anymore. Like, hm, he'd get stuck stuttering between fronts and couldn't pick one or the other. Sometimes one would come clear for a while, sometimes not. Hence the coin.

Two-Face, like Joker, is a character who is rendered very differently across the canon materials. He's not always multi, but often, and it shows in different ways.

>>Back in my Day Care for Loonies days, they would talk about 'emotional regulation,' which was using feelings in constructive ways, rather than being controlled and overwhelmed by them. I feel the Dents would've benefited a lot from that.<<

Yes, emotional regulation is a vital skill. Do not put a sealed pot on a hot stove.

>>Every system is different, but in our case, when someone new pops up, it's always a solemn, mournful occasion, because it means that a chunk of someone's soul has been hacked off, and that getting it back might mean ending someone else's existence (which might be one of suffering).<<

O_O Wow. Some systems, new alters may appear by division but also sometimes discovery or they coalesce out of unpersonified energy. Only getting them by division, yeah, that would be traumatic.

>> It's an awful decision to have to make, and no one is allowed to make it outside of our system. <<

That is awful, but at least you're free to make your own decisions.

>>Ugh, we've had to do that. It's pretty much been our operating state for the past year, and no telling when/if it'll end.<<

*hugs* I hope things get better for you-all soon.

Date: 2013-06-13 03:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] silvercat17.livejournal.com
Have you seen the episode with the Judge? He totally could have ended up being a mediator between Harvey and Big Bad Harv.

And it would make sense in a comic/cartoon world for plurality to be recognized as a normal thing. If people will accept flying dudes and truth lassos, then multiple people in one body shouldn't be that big a deal.

I want the Dents and the Ventriloquist / Scarface to sit down and have a nice rant.
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