On Kankri as a Product of His Society
katspaw asked: tell me what you think about kankri and beforan society. culling?
If you want my honest opinion, Kankri is a bit of a mockery of the way Tumblr reacted to the initial revelation of Beforan society from Aranea - waaaaay back here:
ARANEA: Yes. 8lue 8loods like myself were higher than most.
ARANEA: The jo8 of each 8lood caste was to serve the needs of all those 8elow it.
ARANEA: We were to use our progressively greater longevity and wisdom to help the lower castes learn and grow. To listen to them and try to provide whatever they were missing. Like a hierarchy of caretakers with increasing social responsi8ility. When the order functioned in harmony our civilization would flourish.
Which of course screams of ‘white man’s burden’ and other SJ issues. Aranea speaks from the point of view of the ‘unenlightened’ and ‘privileged’ here, and we picked up on it immediately and tore it to little bits—
And then here comes Kankri, the least privileged of the privileged, complaining of every SJ issue ever on Tumblr and made-up problems and ones unique to his fictional society to the point of contradicting himself. But while serving as a meta mockery of Tumblr SJ, in-universe he is oppressed. He has no caste. He’s a mutant. Presumably he has no real role in society and all the outcast pain that goes with it. Kankri is dealing with a very real sort of problem within his own world: specifically, the Blue Blood’s Burden, I guess you could call it, which is to save the warmbloods from themselves.
So let’s take a moment to talk about culling? It sounds like it’s a system where the lowest rungs of society are swept up and cared for by the higher rungs. It doesn’t seem as if the warmbloods have a say in this. The entire build of Beforan society, if we are to believe Aranea, is determined by teaching the warmbloods to be more like coldbloods by imparting their ‘wisdom’ gained by living longer.
The analogy to white man’s burden is impossible to ignore, but we also seem to have a monoculture in Beforan - not multiple countries living out multiple cultural backgrounds, but a more insect-like colony of creatures pooped out by a universal mother(grub) with one language and one base set of traditions (which we don’t know because, whoops, Beforus and Alternia aren’t actually that well thought out, whoops.) The fact Befora is built on the tradition of warmbloods being cared for by bluebloods means that if warmbloods were going to form their own societal subcultures and such they haven’t exactly had the chance - and that is probably what Kankri is doing a terrible job of fighting against, of not being able to live his life how he wants to just because he’s a mutant and ‘needs’ help.
Kankri is comparable to a person in an oppressed position in portions of the world where hate crimes are illegal. That is: he’s not in a place where he’s likely to be killed for being a mutant, and if he were the institutions of Beforus would punish the murderers. It doesn’t make his problems any less real, but it does make them less deadly or dangerous to his safety.
We have, in comparison, Alternian society - where Karkat’s life was in real danger for the same reason Kankri was oppressed, and if he was killed for being a mutant the institution would praise the murderer for their favor to the Empire. Karkat is on a different part of the Maslow needs pyramid (which isn’t really how things work, but it’s a useful analogy; Karkat is still trying to ensure his basic safety. Kankri is trying to actualize his self-esteem.) And because we’ve spent the last couple of years sympathizing with Karkat and the Alternians, Befora seems like a dream. But ‘Beforus’ is where many of us live - parts of the world where the problems are real, and not always addressed by society because they’re still unrecognized in the institution, but we probably won’t get killed for talking about them or suffering from those problems.
The trouble with Kankri is, he can’t see past his own world. I think he’s trying, which is why he gets so caught up in trigger warnings and disclaimers that he never gets to the point, but he’s ultimately failing. He’s dismissive of Porrim’s issues, for instance, because they don’t personally effect him (somebody put forth an interesting theory here on tumblr that there are distinctive feminine and masculine roles on Beforan for recognized castes - but Kankri isn’t part of one, so.) He has observed what his post-scratch self suffered (see what i did thar) through and what Karkat has had to deal with, but it’s not very real to him, and since he refuses to listen to what others need from him, he has no idea how offensive he’s being in his effort to be unoffensive.
Vintage-Aerith put it best to me: Kankri is the ultimate ‘no offense, BUT’ guy. I think this is a pretty great summation of the type of person Kankri is! He wields his knowledge like a hammer; he insults in the same breath as an apology for the insult he knowingly inflicted. He’s come by his nickname ‘The Insufferable’ honestly. XD;