so i have some criticisms of berdly
ok so i wanna get my thoughts on berdly out in public because the way people have started talking about him after chapter 2 is making me very uncomfortable. apologies for the length of this!
a lot of people have warmed to berdly after chapter 2, but personally i have nothing but criticism for his writing. from his introduction he's been coded like a baby misogynist dudebro. every part of how he talks echoes that subculture. i can't even call it parody because that's literally how these people are.
i've seen people say it's wrong to call him a misogynist or transphobe because he doesn't overtly speak that way in the text, but i seriously object to that. he's a fictional character; toby fox doesn't write microaggressions. he's artificially sanitised because he's not real while otherwise word-for-word echoing the sentiments of real bigots. a man who, let's be honest with ourselves, was likely intended by the author to be cis calling himself superior to everyone is kind of inherently going to fall into misogyny and transphobia. yes, berdly is a child, but so are the people around him and around real people like that who are hurt by his beliefs and actions.
being a child, berdly is of course capable of growth, but he isn't even given the opportunity to do that. he's the butt of every joke and humiliated a bunch, but noelle never gets a chance to properly stand up to him. yeah, she chokes him out for saying he has a crush on susie, but she doesn't get to confront him for how cruel he's been to her or to others in the same way she gets to confront the queen as a standin for her mother.
berdly is right back to his old self once the chapter ends with minimal growth because he spent the chapter learning almost nothing. not even queen tells him off, we just get the running gag (which is hilarious, don't get me wrong) of her avoiding him. of course there's still the opportunity for growth in future chapters, but i think that's extremely poor pacing on toby's part when he's introduced an actual bigot into his story.
berdly is far from the only example of toby poorly representing real-world harm in this chapter. just look at him bending over backwards to defend hometown's police and defang king spades with a "haha, he wasn't THAT bad see everyone? he's funny and he was totally bluffing! queen likes him she's cool!" and, of course, acting like being imprisoned has made king spades way better. these are all completely unnecessary narrative decisions.
because that's the thing about berdly - he didn't HAVE to be like this. his narrative role of being a bit of a jerk who's tied up in noelle's backstory could easily be filled without touching on that. you can be a stuck up prick without echoing real bigoted sentiments.
a character can be a bad person while still being a good character, but i absolutely object to the idea that berdly can be counted as that. he's just unpleasant. quite frankly, i find the fact that so many people like him suddenly because he's kind of sort of trying a bit and might possibly try more in the future disturbingly similar to how people treat real bigoted men when they show the slightest sign of any kind of improvement, too. remember that post that went around about that incel who started healing from depression after learning to take care of shrimp, who called his uncle a homophobic slur in the post and never mentioned no longer viewing women as inferior...?
i guess my point is that sometimes you have to look outside a text to understand a character. or, really, all the time. characters exist in the context of how they reflect the real world. writers you like a lot can do things poorly. #ReplaceBerdlyWithAnOC20k21