Complicated to Explain

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by Lycoris, Feb 25, 2015.

  1. Lycoris

    Lycoris Ghost Child

    Uh, to preface this, this isn't anything personal or particularly important, but it's been bouncing around in my head for a little while.
    So there's this anime called Parasyte that came out in the last year or so. I'm not really up to date with it and I don't know much about the author or Japanese culture so I don't really know all the context around it? But this isn't about the series specifically, it's about how I reacted to a certain scene compared to how some other people watching reacted.
    So spoiler warning! This is talking about a specific scene. I don't remember what episode but it was at least episode seven I think, so significantly into the series.
    Warnings for, creepy parasites whose hosts are humans, animal death, blood, and uh, people death and people being eaten. But that won't be shown graphically in this post!
    To summarize Parasyte, there are these parasites that have recently shown up that basically eat people's heads and use their body to move around. They can change their shape to pretty much everything (excluding size restraints) and use this to blend in with humans and eat them. We don't know much about them, but they are sentient.
    The protagonist is someone who is partially infected by a parasite: through circumstance, the parasite failed eating the brain and ended up eating the right arm instead. So, with their brain intact, the main character and this parasite have to learn to live with each other and avoid the dangers of other parasites. The series deals a lot with what it means to be human, but again the intent is not the discussion here.
    The scene I want to talk about is later in the series: the protagonist is going through a personality shift, probably as an effect of sharing a body with the parasite. The protagonist comes across a puppy that's been hit by a car. I'm gonna put some screenshots & summarizing the scene under a spoiler.
    Discovering the puppy
    He takes the puppy and comforts it for its last moments
    The protagonist's friend/love interest, who's unsettled by how the protagonist has been changing recently, comes upon them and sits with them. They express how what they are doing is very kind.
    The puppy dies, then:
    When this happened, I was like "Oh shit" because from a storytelling perspective and what I knew of the other character I knew this would end badly. But I was not unsettled by any of this behavior? In fact, I was getting fuzzy feelings because he had comforted the puppy and been kind and even worried about the janitor, and he was still doing fine and staying calm. Which I thought was admirable. I understood when the people watching it with me were unsettled. That was fine. But then we talked about it later, I was explaining how I felt about the scene to them, and how it made me sad that the friend was treating the protagonist differently now when he hadn't really done anything wrong. And they started? Treating me really weirdly? I kind of thought that, revulsion to that was like, a shallow societal expectation. And that even if they still felt unsettled about it once they got over the shock value and heard what I had to say about it they would be like "I don't really feel that way, but I understand where you're coming from."
    But it wasn't that way? And I guess I was just wondering, is that sort of experience relatable? I have been looking into being autistic as well, and is something like this situation common? I don't feel like I am fully communicating what I mean right here, but I think I'm gonna leave it and see what other people have to say. I hope you have a nice day!
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2015
  2. rorleuaisen

    rorleuaisen Frozen Dreamer

    Yeah, it's common enough. I'm not particularly bothered by that scene at all personally. But the things your friends are doing(hope I'm explaining this well) is they are shocked by your lack of empathy to death, especially an animal death(which tends to make people more emotional than human deaths). This anime talks a lot about how having empathy and emotions is a "human" thing. By treating the animal as a carcass without a life, as opposed to a living thing that died, protaganist(suddenly can't remember his name!) shows a lack of empathy/"human"ness. And by you being equally not bothered by the death as he was, you show similiar not "human"ness. And people are afraid of things that aren't "human". The type of people associated with being not "human" are serial killers, sociopaths, rapists ect. You know, "bad" people. So! You demonstrate not "human" characteristic and they associate it with "bad" people, so they become wary of you because... What if you become a "bad" person!?

    Btw, you are not a bad person. It's just the way a lot of people's brains are programmed.
  3. Lycoris

    Lycoris Ghost Child

    Hmm. I guess there is just, a disconnect? I felt sad that the puppy was in pain, and then that it died, but. What is important is the puppy's feelings, right?

    I guess I think this way about a lot of things. I was really grief stricken when my dog died. I thought about how I could have been so much more engaged with him and made him have happier last few weeks. I thought about how I wouldn't be able to pet him anymore, and he wouldn't come to greet me after school, and how like, if only I had had more spoons and could have kept him company. But when we buried him I didn't feel any need to like, say any last words to him, because he couldn't hear me and it didn't matter. Because what was important was how he felt and he wasn't feeling anything anymore. I've tried to think about my own funeral and stuff too and frankly I don't really care? I don't think people I care about would mock me or anything but I wouldn't really care if they did. If they treated me well and genuinely cared about me in life, then them playing "Mm Whatcha Say" while I'm lowered into the ground, or if they arrange my fingers into peace signs, or if the cremate me or send my body out to sea- it doesn't matter, though I'd like for it to give them happiness and comfort.

    I don't know if that's weird or not.
    • Like x 2
  4. Lycoris

    Lycoris Ghost Child

    Maybe I just don't have the empathy to relate to things that are unlike myself.
  5. rorleuaisen

    rorleuaisen Frozen Dreamer

    It's not weird, but it's also not typical. Like, that's sorta how I feel? I don't have much of an emotional reaction to death. Like, one of the cats I grew up with died last fall. He got hit by a car. I heard it happen, and I picked him up and carried him home. We dug a hole and buried him. I didn't cry. I didn't even feel sad per se. More like "Oh. He died. I won't see him anymore." Then I drove home contemplating why I felt no sadness. Uh... xD guess I'm more like the protagonist actually!

    But I've seen people mourn a death for years, even decades after a loss. I've seen people get sad(real sad, not just a polite condolence) at the thought that someone they never met is dying. It's expected(?) to be sad and to be hurt when death happens. Some people are, some people aren't.

    I actually have a hard time being around people who are mourning because I feel like I'm supposed to feel something, but I just don't.
  6. Lycoris

    Lycoris Ghost Child

    I definitely relate to this. Sometimes I am personally affected and that is when it is easiest to have empathy and comfort others. But that is a rare occasion.
  7. Re Allyssa

    Re Allyssa Sylph of Heart

    It's more of the lack of reaction to the protag just throwing the puppy in the trash. A more traditional thing would be an attempt to bury it. People have this Thing about Respect For The Dead. Like just because it's dead now, doesn't mean you should give it any less respect than when it was alive. And that's why the friend character freaked out too.

    Everything up to that point seemed fairly okay. Maybe a little weird, if he was being distant and calm about it, but I think you were "right"* to get fuzzy feelings from it, because it was sweet to stay with it in it's final moments.

    But yeah, this scene is probably supposed to show how the parasite thing is messing with his head? Because he went from all sweet and caring to seemingly cold and callous, and then back to sweet again. And he obviously didn't see what was "wrong" about it. Like the jump to "okay it's dead, it's just an item now," while technically true, is not how most people feel about that kind of thing, and he seems completely oblivious to that. I don't know the series though and whether he was always like that.

    I probably would've been like "NO PUPPY!!! D= D=" But then like, eh, not much of a big deal. (Movies in which you get to love the dog and then it dies, though? Not Okay. :P) And I'm not even particularly freaked out about the trash thing, I'm more interested in what it means for his character. But I the weird looks/treatments you were getting might've been for not recognizing that part. I think.

    *Note: "right" and "wrong" are pretty much meaning less here. All your feelings are valid, etc. I guess I mean right and wrong from an allistic/greater social stand point.
    • Like x 1
  8. seebs

    seebs Benevolent Dictator

    I have a friend who is a pretty cool and friendly guy, pretty sure he's allistic, very emotional about stuff, who doesn't do anything for dead cats because they're dead and don't care now. YMMV. Burying the dead is done more for the living, I think.
  9. Aya

    Aya words words words

    I'd be pretty upset if an animal died in my arms, but I'll be honest, a lot of that upset would be the fact that I would suddenly be holding a dead animal. Even though I know it's not how things actually work, in my head, the moment an animal goes from living to dead it becomes a ball of various murderous pathogens that will wreck your body in a matter of minutes if you don't get yourself clean really fast. (This makes cooking meat really unpleasant.)

    On that note... is it safe to put the dead puppy in the garbage? Not for the puppy, I mean yeah, it's dead, but for, say, the janitor? If it's a few days before the janitor gets to that trash can, that puppy's going to be in really bad shape. Then again, the trash can looks like it's outside of a bathroom, so maybe that will make it a little more equipped for biohazards???
  10. Morven

    Morven In darkness be the sound and light

    I know in most cities they want you to call Animal Control to dispose of dead animals, instead of the trash. Or your veterinarian if it's a personal pet, especially if you want cremation or burial rather than just getting rid of waste.
  11. sicknastyspades

    sicknastyspades Most Rad.

    Hm. This is pretty funny to me, because it actually took me a while to figure out that what he'd done that people could complain about. I mean, what else are you supposed to do with a corpse? Just leave it lying around? That doesn't seem very sanitary. And then I was like, oh right some people have this weird thing about treating corpses like people even though dead shit is, by virtue of being dead, incapable of caring about what's done to it.

    Umm, it's late and I'm bad at focusing when I'm even slightly tired. I think what I'm trying to say is that I share your general sentiments on this topic. I like the main character because he comforts the puppy when it's alive to be comforted, and because when his friend goes "whoa dude what the fuck" he instantly thinks about the janitor (who is a person with feelings) rather than the corpse (which is a lump of meat). I think those are good behaviours! What a nice person.
    ...I'm actually kind of weirded out by people who do the respect-for-the-dead thing. Like, I can sort of understand the "it's for the living" side of it, but the whole concept of caring-about-corpses in general is so bizarre to me that I get the sense other people are running on a completely different logic syste .
    • Like x 3
  12. Aya

    Aya words words words

    I don't know about Every Belief System Ever, but I know that in some systems, it's thought that at the end of the world, people will literally come back from the dead into their old bodies. For example, if you keep poking about in traditional Christian doctrine, you'll find that many sects believe that this will happen to believers at the end of the world. (This is one reason why cremation never really caught on in the Western world. You didn't want to spend eternity as a pile of ashes, even if you did get to do that in Heaven.) Many modern Christians now take bodily resurrection as a metaphor, but even now some still think of it literally, and either way it's had a deep influence on Western cultural behaviors surrounding death. You want to treat the body well because someone's going to be using that again someday.

    In other religious traditions that have some concept of an afterlife, there's often an assumption that the way that a person's remains are treated affects their post-mortem happiness: that person is still out there somewhere and can see what you are doing. In that sense, treating someone's corpse with respect (whatever culture dictates that "respect" entails) is a way of demonstrating respect for that person. Treating a corpse poorly doesn't have a direct effect, but I can see the logic there. I get upset when other people mess up my things. My body belongs to me. So I can imagine being upset if I was dead, but could still watch people, and people were doing things I didn't like with my body. I'd probably eventually remind myself that I don't need that anymore because I'm dead, but my first reaction would definitely be anger.

    Even if you don't believe that there's some kind of lingering soul when a person dies, I can still kind of see a logic for it, especially if you're immersed in a culture that does work that way. That corpse may not have Uncle Roger in it anymore, but the brain cells and hormones and nerves and everything else that made him able to exist are in there (well, the ones that haven't decayed yet) and that thing looks a whole lot like him, at least for the first few hours after death (but much longer if, as is the usual practice in America at least, the corpse is preserved in some fashion). You could argue all day over whether Uncle Roger is more "present" as a corpse or in people's memories or the aftereffects of his actions or what have you, but it's much easier to conceptualize things in terms of something concrete. When my parents explained to me what happens when a person dies when I was little, they told me that person goes and lays in the ground and doesn't get up, and that we won't get to see them anymore. That's a much easier set of concepts to take in than something like people not existing anymore because something something consciousness death something how do we even define whether a person exists in the first place nope. But if we're using that kind of thinking, then the corpse isn't just rotting meat, it's Uncle Roger, and so the tendency would be to treat the corpse with the respect you feel is due to him (ie, give him an expensive burial if he was a good person, piss on his corpse if he was mean, etc).
    • Like x 2
  13. Deresto

    Deresto Foolish Mortal

    i'm a bit tired so i can't read everything everyone just posted rn, but first reaction i had was just relief they kept it almost panel for panel from the original comic. i'm still just as unfazed as when i was 13 reading the manga for the first time and thinking he was being pretty reasonable. it feels kinda nice that that wasn't just a phase or a societal viewpoint that could have changed in 8 years, but maybe a deeper "how my brain processes stuff" thing. i might actually have something useful to add tomorrow; the discussion that was spurred seems really interesting from what i got skimming.
  14. TwoBrokenMirrors

    TwoBrokenMirrors Merely a whitebait in the mayo of life

    It kind of made me snigger tbh but that's mostly because I like humour where someone does the opposite of what's expected (like going 'oh no what about the janitor' rather than 'oh no i just put a dead puppy in the rubbish') and it read as intentionally humorous to me (no idea if it actually is, I haven't watched it, not my kind of thing).
    No idea really how I'd react if I was in that situation but I'd probably be upset. I don't like things being in pain and there being no way to fix that. And once it died I'd probably just get in a tizzy about what I was supposed to/allowed to do with it.
    Last week me and the boyfriend were house-sitting for a neighbour of mine, and before she'd left she'd told me that the hamster was really old, and I'd promptly joked that it'd be okay then if it died. She seemed mildly taken aback at first by the remark, but then joined in the joke. Well, the hamster did indeed die, discovered by putting a hand into its bed and prodding it a bit, and we had to text her to ask what to do with it, and she told us to bury it. And we did, and we wrote something on the box that we buried it in, and I gave something of a eulogy, but both of them were jokes- we didn't know this hamster, it wasn't our pet, so neither of us were actually upset about it being dead. I was worried when we discovered it was, but mostly I was worrying that my neighbour would in fact be angry at us for its death, even though it died of natural causes by being super old. And she wasn't, and as soon as I knew she wasn't it became an issue of 'we should bury it soon in case it starts to smell'.
    Thing is, I have no idea whether that's a normal response or not. I think it possibly was, simply because neither of us had an emotional attachment to said hamster. We'd not even been able to pet him before he died, since he died on like our second day there.
  15. albedo

    albedo metasperg

    I think it may also be read as disturbing because the character isn't performing grief in the socially normative way. Death rituals aren't just respect for the dead; they're the way we as a culture say 'it's sad that this death happened'. So when people don't perform ritual, it implies not just that they think the corpse is a piece of meat that doesn't feel anything, but that they aren't sad about the actual person's death, because they aren't showing their sadness in the "normal" way. Like how if you don't make eye contact, some allistic folks will think you're lying, even if it makes no logical sense. *shrugs*
    • Like x 5
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