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Dragon Age: Thoughts on Hawke

For their second question, [personal profile] tklivory asked me to rebut a Dragon Age Confession, or other fanon/popular meta from Tumblr fandom. Not crossposting this one for what I expect are obvious reasons. ;)

I actually unfollowed and blocked all the confession blogs awhile ago, ostensibly because they weren't consistently tagging for DA:I spoilers, but mostly because I was tired of seeing the same half-dozen arguments over and over, and it seemed like the confession blogs were often a catalyst. As a result, my enjoyment of Tumblr went up about one thousand percent; if fandom is getting you down and you haven't done the same, I highly recommend it. Anyway, I'm out of the loop and not sure what the hot confession topics are right now, although I could certainly make some guesses, and it wouldn't be good for my blood pressure to go looking. So instead, I'm going to talk about a common headcanon that I've come to really dislike, and that's the characterization of Hawke as an inappropriate, incompetent, bumbling fool who doesn't care about Kirkwall and who stumbled into a leadership position, rather than as a champion.

Not to say that Hawke is a conventional hero, of course. One of the things I like about Hawke is the ways in which they subvert the trope of the chosen one. Although it's suggested that Flemeth rescued Hawke from the darkspawn in part because she saw their potential to influence events in Kirkwall, it's still mostly a case of Hawke being in the right place at the right time. And it's certainly possible to play Hawke as incompetent, especially a purple Hawke. But purple Hawke is not the only true and correct characterization. It is, in fact, my least favorite characterization choice -- rather than being funny, purple Hawke strikes me as tactless, awkward, and often out-right mean. (In particular, I do not recommend rivalmancing Anders with a purple Hawke. I found the experience thoroughly unpleasant.) But in the three games I've finished so far, I always felt Hawke was trying their best to do the right thing, to help people, and to make Kirkwall a better place, although different Hawkes have different ideas about what those things might be. My red Hawke occasionally got exasperated with people's inability to solve their own problems, but she still stepped up and did what needed to be done. Hawke may not be a chosen one, but they're still a hero, and they should be recognized as such.

I've seen this fanon coming up more often since DA:I, mostly in people's incredulous reactions to Cassandra revealing that she had hoped to recruit Hawke to be the Inquisitor. To which I say: of course Cassandra thought the Champion would make a good Inquisitor, especially after hearing Varric's version of events. Whatever you think of their motives and methods, Hawke drove the Qunari out of Kirkwall and contained the violence after the destruction of the Chantry. They got results, and managed to earn the respect of both mages and templars in the process. No wonder, then, that Cassandra immediately thought of Hawke as a potential leader of the Inquisition. Now, whether or not Hawke would actually make a good Inquisitor probably depends a lot on the Hawke. But it's not at all unreasonable for Cassandra to have the thought.

Like much of the fanon and meta that irks me in DA fandom, my issue with treating bumbling fool Hawke as the one true Hawke comes back to people who don't consider the choices of other players to be valid. There are so many different ways to create the universe of these games, and to mold the characters, especially the player characters, that to nail it down into a one true fanon is impossible. And, in my mind, misses the point of the games entirely. Why play in such a mutable sandbox if you're just going to set everything in concrete?

This entry is also posted at http://owlmoose.dreamwidth.org/728692.html. There are currently comment count unavailable comments on DW.

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