If you had asked me at the end of Homestuck who my favorite character was, I would have said that it was a toss-up between Vriska and Dave, Dirk being in a close third. However, after the epilogues and the start of HS^2, Dirk has become my favorite. This has surprised even me, as during the epilogues I remember complaining about how his transformation into the Dirk we see during the epilogues scraps his entire arc when you get down to the brass tacks of it. During the main story, Dirk was characterized by his self loathing (something both myself and I'm sure many others relate to) and his arc during the story was about him overcoming said self loathing by distancing himself from his other selves, like Bro and AR. Bro and AR were living proof that Dirk could never be the good guy: That he was too inherently bad to ever really be a hero, and so his journey as a hero is about him overcoming said obstacle, and being the best Dirk he can be without obsessing about the worse facets of his personality. It's inspiring, to see a man overcoming his misconception that he is simply the sum of his parts, and striving to do his best not, not by opposing outside forces, but inside forces.
That's why I think so many people were disappointed to see him relapse to become Ultimate Dirk: The worst Dirk he could be. One who embraces all his flaws in character in an egocentric illusion of who he is. But to be frank, and as contradictory as it sounds, I don't blame him. I have already speculated that Dirk isn't the cause of Dirk becoming his ultimate self, both because of the strange circumstances in which Ultimate Dirk was created and other factors, like his self loathing.
I said it best here:
At least I hope this becomes true. I mean, shit, even if it wasn't what was going to happen I just gave the writers a perfect twist idea. Get on it Aysha.ThePungeonMaster wrote: ↑Sun Nov 24, 2019 11:51 amUltimate Dirk isn't going to end up being the BBEG:
Let me explain.
I've seen a lot of people in the Dirkourse thread saying that Dirk post epilogues ruined his arc, and I'm inclined to agree with that. Dirk's entire struggle was him separating himself from his splinters like Bro, and AR, who he saw as obnoxious, abusive, manipulative, and even evil. And yes, him wanting to attain ultimate self, fully reuniting with all his shitty splinters is a complete 180 from his goal in Homestuck. But it's more interesting to ask why that happened than to simply state that Dirk's arc got thrown out the window. We already know that the change to Dirk's personality wasn't done just to make Dirk a villain, as brain ghost Dirk in candy isn't the massive puppeteering asshole we see in meat, so it's evident the writers have special plans for the particular iteration we see in meat besides just turning him into a villain. It has some storytelling significance for Dirk to embrace his role as a villain.
In fact, I'd say his turn towards villainy is a result of him achieving ultimate self, not that him achieving ultimate self is a result of him suddenly turning into a villain. The fact that Bro, AR, and all other Dirk variations and splinters have been melded into his consciousness is likely what made him think that assuming the role of a hero is impossible: That he's too far gone, and that villainy is the only path, the only way out.
So I believe that Dirk is being manipulated by someone who has stake in keeping the story going, a villain unbeknownst to us but obsessed with relevance nonetheless. We already know that Dirk achieving ultimate self was done under special, unknown, conditions, as he was the only one to keep his human form, the first one to do it, and the only character we don't get to see do it. This paired with the fact that, as discussed earlier, I don't think Dirk would even want to achieve ultimate self willingly.
There's also this fantastic animation that basically summarizes why Dirk in this state appeals to me. The song's not fantastic, but it fits too well:
Dirk's rant at the beginning of HS^2 about him being a 'drop of water in an ocean of himself' or whatever didn't come of to me as the rantings of an egotist, but a pathetic cry for help. He's too scared to admit that this transformation that's become of him has made him worse, has made him abandon his own friends, and doom himself to always be the villain. He doesn't want to be the villain, but he can't see himself any other way.
And that's just fucking heartbreaking.
So yes, I relate to Dirk to some extent, but that is far from the sole reason I like him. I think his style of dry banter is super entertaining. Heck, the Longcat rant alone is probably my favorite piece of Homestuck fan content. But most of all, I like him for one of the same reasons Vriska was at the top of my favorites list for a while. He's controversial. You could discuss and debate endlessly about weather or not what Dirk is doing is good, bad, or anywhere in between. The Dirkcourse thread has more goddamned posts than the Vriscourse thread here on this very forum. You could discuss the morals of Dirk until the end of time, because his persona is just that complex and leveled. He is a superbly written character, to the point where I've gone on rambling for what is probably over 1000 words now. And I love that kind of complexity. It reminds me of another character, from another story, Caesar, from Fallout New Vegas. In case you're not familiar, Caesar is the leader of one of the factions in New Vegas, the Legion. He is the most vilified of almost any of the characters in the game, forcing females to work as slaves, massacring entire villages to prove a point. But you can still side with him, deciding to take over the Mojave Wasteland, the setting of New Vegas, and you won't necessarily be made out as a villain. This is because his philosophy is so well thought out, that it is entirely possible for people to be convinced that siding with Caesar is the best move in the long run: It's best I let the man himself do the talking as to what makes the Legion such a compelling force.
Caesar reminds me of Dirk because no matter how morally flawed you think his vision is, you can still see their underlying philosophy shine through all their actions. They are both extremely compelling heroes and villains because of their complexity, and like the 1000's of words spoken about Dirk's morality, philosophy, sense of right and wrong, good and evil, etc, there are video essays I've watched documenting whether or not Caesar's ideas are both practical to creating an empire, and if they are what is best for the future of the Mojave Wasteland.
So Dirk appeals to me on several layers: How much I relate to him, how touching his story is to me, how enjoyable I find him in dialogue, and how much I enjoy having debates about him and his persona. Dirk is hands-down, one of the most complex characters in Homestuck if not the most complex, and such complexity I find incredibly rewarding as not just a reader, but a community member, and as a person.
EDIT: If I may make an addendum to the post, there was some stuff I wrote about Dirk in the Vriscourse thread that has some bearing here, anything in brackets is stuff I've added to the original post:
ThePungeonMaster wrote: ↑Mon Jan 06, 2020 10:37 pmHell, there are characters that, in my honest opinion, have done worse that get even better treatment in the fandom than Vriska. If I may, let's get a bit tangential and look at Ultimate Dirk. He has done objectively wrong things onto people he considered his friends, overriding their mental autonomy and sense of reality itself. That in my mind is worse than if Vriska killed every God-forsaken troll in Hivebent. Overriding someone's sense of physical autonomy and memory is like burning books to a library. It is the ultimate disrespect. And in fact, now that I think about it, Vriska's ability of mind control isn't much different, but I would say that Dirk's is worse. It isn't simply doing a bad thing yourself using someone else's body, it's making them believe that they instead have done this thing, absolving yourself of the guilt and placing it onto them. And yet, while I don't follow Dirkcourse much, I hear much less bitching about all the things Dirk has done wrong, and I think it's because we have learned to believe Dirk is the Protagonist; or at least an antihero. We know that no matter how perverted his outlook may become, there is a good Dirk out there that we know, and have come to love. Vriska gets no such luxury. And I think providing an outlook in which she learns from her mistakes, or isn't forced to make her mistakes in the first place is the reason why we are shown (Vriska) and Vrissy, to remind us that within Vriska lies a good person. [I've made the opposite point for Dirk, as to why his hero's journey is about him overcoming what within him could make him a bad person, or make him think he is a bad person.]
Vriska has done many bad things, and Dirk has done even worse things. But I still chose to forgive them for what they have done, because I know that while they have done bad things, there is a core desire to do good laying within their souls. All humans are prone to flaws, mistakes; lapses in judgement.
ThePungeonMaster wrote: ↑Tue Jan 07, 2020 4:19 pmIn my post I meant to refer to Dirk as in Homestuck act 7 and prior. Even if Ultimate Dirk is different in many ways from Dirk acts 1-7, he is still, fundamentally the same person. The hero Dirk is still in there, but now he has to share bunks with the villain Dirk. Regardless, we'll likely find out more about Ultimate Dirk's motivations as the story progresses. [To the authors, please just don't make Dirk a clean-cut villain from this point. He's got too much complexity to waste it.]