31 Topics about Team Fortress 2 - Episode 6
Let’s go break a few blue laws.
If there’s one topic I hear about over and over again, it’s the disappointment amongst “Team Fortress 2” fans about there not being enough fan-made material about the Demoman. Want some numbers on how bad the situation is? Today, I took a count on Fanfiction.net of stories tagged with each team member. Scout had the most tags with 335. In Silver was Spy with 315. Bronze rank was Sniper with 247. To continue, here’s the rest—Medic, 206; Engie, 130; Pyro, 109; Heavy, 86; Soldier, 82; Demoman, 32.
Thirty two. Now, obviously, Fanfiction.net is not the end-all be-all of fan sources. It’s just one that has a very easy counter on it. TF2Chan’s markup would be different, as would Tumblr-tagged posts, DeviantArt drawings, or any other fansite of your choice. This number also doesn’t count the number of stories where the Demoman is the star but hasn’t been tagged. Still, that’s quite an amazing number, isn’t it? That number means that for every ten stories that exist about the Scout, there’s one about the Demoman on Fanfiction.net. Just nuts.
What’s the deal with that? Does the Demoman’s character not stand well on his own? Is he only interesting when he’s with others? What’s going on here?
I’m not innocent in all of this. I write a ton about the Spy, the Engineer, and the Sniper. I do cast ensembles where I can. However, I have written two stories about the Demoman, which is one more than I have written about the Medic or the Scout. (I don’t recall writing a story focused on the Soldier, Heavy, or Pyro’s point of view.) They are by far my least commented-on stories. Granted, both were parodies of British culture, which I think is reason enough for me to get punched in the face by any true Scotsman. Certainly, my experiences are not going to be the standard by any means, but it doesn’t feel like people really read either of those stories. Hell, I haven’t ported one of them to Fanfiction.net. There was that little interest in it on TF2Chan.
Again, I’ve got to ask—what’s the deal?
The Demoman is one of my top three classes in “Team Fortress 2”. (He and the Sniper are currently duking it out. One’s got more max kills, but the other has better average statistics.) If I want to go offensive, I go with the Demoman. Weird, I know. He’s supposed to be defense, right? What makes the Demoman a fantastic character to play is how logical and erratic you have to be simultaneously. You’ve got to be smart enough to know where to lay sticky-bomb traps, but sometimes, you’re just lobbing grenades into an alcove, waiting for people to start screaming in pain. If you get bored with that, sometimes you just strap a shield on and start ramming people to death. And, of course, you’ve got your fine choice in melee weapons. Once you get that Eyelander, you really never go back to the bottle. Even the hit in HP doesn’t deter you. Fucking. Huge. Swords. Awesome.
I think if I should understand how any character operates, it’s the Demoman.
In combat, do you ever see a Demoman coming around a corner and fear him? Me, not so much. I think, “Oh, there’s that goofy bastard!” If I see his sticky bombs, though? I turn tail. (Computers are cheating bastards about knowing where you are in relation to their sticky bombs. Especially when they can’t even see you…) Of course, you never want to get into a melee fight with a properly-equipped Demoman. Nothing like watching two of them charging at each other, though. That’s the stuff of legends!
Doesn’t it seem like his teammates like him, too? I don’t recall ever reading a comic where any teammate looked at the Demoman, said “You’re a lying sack of crap”, and then walked off. Maybe there’s pity and hesitation to be around him when he’s flat-out drunk, but that might be about it. Otherwise, they’re inclusive of the man. He takes good care of his mother, too. Even when she’s a total bitch to him. Hell, even the enemy Soldier respected him and was his buddy. Until that little WAR! Update, of course. Also, he’s fucking loaded, and not just with scrumpy. He might also be a prince. I don’t know. Money + crowns = pools of gold coins. That’s the only thing I know about being rich. (You know, Scrooge McDuck was Scottish, too…you think that Scots naturally know how to dive in pools of gold coins?)
So, what’s the issue here? Well, it’s probably two things—his brokenness, and his aesthetics.
By brokenness, I mean he’s a train wreck. His alcoholism has ceased to be amusing, like a sixth-year college student showing up to class with Everclear in a Sprite bottle. He goes from loud boasts to weeping on the battlefield. He lost his eye to a magic book and a sorcerer. That’s got to be strange to talk about to people. He’s plagued by abandonment issues related to his parents, as well as a little bombing mishap that killed his original (if adopted) family. Damn. When you look wrecked compared to a guy who lives in a van and pees in jars, you’ve got to wonder what went wrong.
Then, there’s his appearance. This is going to be a painful section, so gird your loins. What’s the old trope about fanfic writers? Most (if not all) of them are female. There’s a good chance that most are young (teenaged to young adult). There’s also a good chance that they are, for better or worse, exploring a romantic story between characters of their own true pairing. Which ones do they want to see together? The pretty ones, of course! Notice a trend up above? Scout, Spy, Sniper. Hell, let’s throw in the Medic. They’re all tall, skinny white men. Kind of…well, Bishounen. Bichunen. Biseinen, at any rate.
The Demoman may be many things, but he’s not exactly bishie in the standard sense.
Now, the Demoman does have attractive features to him. He’s got a fantastic chin. His smiles are as cute as buttons. He’s got broad shoulders and a good height. He’s got a dumb moustache, but that’s just my opinion. Despite his missing eye, he has no significant scarring from the incident that claimed it. I bet he’s got a little bit of curly hair under that cap. That would be fun to play with! Often times, these traits get overlooked or ignored, especially when the focus is on his alcoholism or his eyepatch.
There may be concerns about writing him in light of his ethnicity and handicaps. For a perfect author, this should never be an issue. Writing a Black Scottish Cyclops should be like writing any other character—lay down his personality first, create a relatable being, then use his physical appearance like frosting. Dialogue from “Team Fortress 2” mostly focuses on insulting his Scottish heritage or his handicap. His melanin color goes under the radar. Not everyone’s going to pull off a piece of work like “Scrubs” or “Blazing Saddles” and be able to make fun of racial relations in an acceptable manner. Perhaps it’s best that we don’t ever address it, lest we be considered racist. Still, it’s a shame that we don’t appreciate him as a whole being. I doubt anyone would call the Demoman “Chocolate Bear”, though.
There is a ton of potential to the Demoman, as far as writing goes. If there is ever a high fantasy parody, then I hope to God it’s related to the Demoman screwing around in Scotland looking for some shiny MacGuffin. He’d be a perfect fit for any action-adventure scenario, especially given his knack for making luck-shots. Given his heavy drinking, he might be a candidate for one of those awful romance stories where the heroine tries to change her man. You know. “Beauty and the Beast.”“The Flame and the Flower.” That kind of crap. Maybe he’d be good for a surreal adventure brought on by God-knows-what kind of alcohol. Blacksploitation? Scotsploitation? Cyclopsploitation? Not ethical, necessarily, but hey. It’s all available for discussion.
Also, an invitation. Last year, we had a Demoman December on TF2Chan. If you’ve got the guts, I’d like to see you offer an entry for this unofficial event! Who knows? You might make a unique story that is filling a void in our Internet library! Maybe you’ll draw something beautiful! Just give it a shot. It’ll be a great way for you to interact with our community, at any rate.
At least, you know, before you go back to reading that sugoi fanfic about everyone wanting to screw that bishie Scout. Or that one about how the Spy wants to “backstab” the Sniper and “sap” the Engineer. And let’s not forget about what medicine the Medic’s put into his syringe gun today. Hint: it’s an aphrodisiac that’ll turn you into a tentacle monster.
Shit, weren’t they supposed to be fighting a war or something?