Friday 6 March 2020

Friday Fics Fix - With Grace

(Warning: this post discusses domestic and child abuse (physical and mental/emotional) throughout, and touches on issues such as addiction and substance abuse)

'...There are a lot of things in the children’s lives that are sub-optimal. She has to minimize the damage in whatever ways she is able.'

Fics Fix! title image with purple background and white lightning bolt shape

This post is gonna have SPOILERS for series 1 of Umbrella Academy, ok?

V. minor spoilers, but spoilers all the same. The fic itself has more spoilers.

This week's fic is interesting... and also kinda morally dubious, but we'll get to that in a tick. (Please don't use the decisions in this fic as models for your own decisions! Please and thank you.)

The Umbrella Academy. That dysfunctional band of superheroes f**ked up by their dear ol' dad who was essentially training his own army.

...So, given that he bought 7 children, and genetically engineered a chimpanzee to be his butler, the next logical step is to give them a robot for a mother, right?

(...It makes me laugh that the comics are actually even weirder than this.)

Grace - the robo-mom - is a character who warrants a lot more exploration than the show has currently given her.

So what better ground for fanfiction writers to explore?!

Grace Hargreeves in the kitchen, looking like a 1940s Stepford wife: 'of course'
Via Giphy

And that's what this fic does - it brings to the fore the ethical questions surrounding Grace.

She's literally built and programmed by Sir Reginald Hargreeves - physically unable to contradict him and his abuse of the children.

So she tries to minimise the damage.

The way she does this is in this fic is... well, it's pretty sh**ty parenting that involves enabling the addictions of a small child (and yes, I'm talking m'boy Klaus, but this fic is more about Grace than him.)

Does this make her complicit in the abuse? Or is it the only act of compassion her programming allows?

The Umbrella Academy as children, weazring domino masks. A flash flares from a press camera. One of the children (Ben) still has blood on his face from the mission.
Via Giphy

Does her inability to literally make her own decisions make her a victim of Sir Reginald too? 

Or does it not count, because she's a robot?

Does breaking her programming, or protecting the children as best she can using loopholes, counteract that? Or is it just proof of her complicity, or of her inhumanity?

The interesting thing here is that the fic author uses Grace's point of view (POV) a lot.

And Grace considers herself inhuman. She considers her feelings as defects in her programming, and doesn't see the irony when she worries about these 'defects.'

There's just something fascinating about the POV of a robot who is so advanced that she begins to out-human her creator.

'...She was not made to be a mother.

She made herself into one anyways.'

There's also a horror element here which is done so well.

Because the presence of actual dead people is also ample grounds for fanfiction exploration!

Given the subject-matter of this fic, there's a lot of Content Warnings here dearest nerdlets:

- child abuse (physical and mental/emotional)
- domestic abuse (mental/emotional) and controlling behaviour (literally - she was programmed by him, after all)
- child neglect
- alcohol and substance abuse relating to a child
- the enabling of alcohol/substance abuse by a parental figure
- discussion and implementation of intravenous drug use
- implied self-harm of a child
- weapons/violence in the hands of children
- forced detention of children in enclosed spaces
- serious injury to a child
- victim-blaming
- possession and horror elements
- general family issues (b/c Umbrella Academy)

This week's fic then, is:

house of spirits and martyrs by hujwernoo

Do you know of any fanfiction where an aspect of the original is explored more fully? (Yes, the reccer is asking for reccs!)
Do you know of any interesting ethical robots - fanfiction or other media?
Talk to me! 😎💬

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