Fierce is a comic book about standing up when people face harassment. About helping those being victimized and pushing their harassers into changing their behavior. It’s a comic that looks at the culture or harassment we’ve allowed to grow, the consequences it brings, the motivations of those who fight it and the motivations of those who perpetrate it.
Help the Target, Address the Cause
A secondary priority, however, should be to aid the harasser in developing skills that will change their behavior. Engaging in harassment is abhorrent behavior, but it is behavior we as a society should work to change. just to emphasize, the target of their harassment is, and always should be, or first priority, but we can’t ignore the actions of the harasser. If we don’t confront them, and make them confront their own behavior, then we can’t expect them to change their behavior.
We have to not only offer support to those being harassed, but find ways in which those who engage in harassing behavior can find healthier ways to deal with their anger and fear. Rehabilitation of those who perpetrate harassment should be something we work toward, and it’s one of the central themes of Fierce. As much as it aims to help those being targeted, this comic book is a means of reaching out to people who are subjecting others to harassment (or are at risk of doing so) and showing them their behavior is something they can change.
There is No One Bad Day
One of the techniques of narrative is to simplify a complex situation and represent it through a single action, event or character. To use an example from comic books, The Joker describes (in The Killing Joke) his theory of how ‘one bad day’ was the thing that separated both he and Batman from everybody else. How single events created each of their personalities.
In reality, we are capable of experiencing traumatic events and, while they have an impact on us, they do not fundamentally define who we are. Our personalities are defined by thousands of interactions throughout our life. If we react to events by making mostly bad choices, and fall into a pattern of responding to events through making more bad choices, the the totality of these events and our learnt responses to them form our personality.
Another person can be confronted with similar events and react to them by making mostly good choices. This leads them to be more inclined to react to future events by making more good choices.
It’s the divide between these two choices that is the focus of Fierce. What leads some people to make good choices, to become a person who helps others? What leads another person to make bad choices and, ultimately, become someone who causes harm to themselves and others?
The story opens with an instance of harassment at a con and how people come to help. Over the five issues of the first arc, the story explores what drives some people to help and what drives others to victimize.
Fierce is about the wrong choices we make that can lead us down a bad path, and how we can help ourselves, and help others, to begin to make right choices. Racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia and all of the other prejudices that cause harm are learnt behavior, so how can we help people unlearn them?
There’s a line of dialogue in issue 4: “She may never forgive me for the things I’ve done, but that doesn’t mean I have to go on being a man who does those things.” The character speaking these words has, through the intervention of others, come to realize his behavior has caused harm to others as well as to himself. People do not have to be stuck being the person they’ve created. We are, each of us, comprised of the best version of ourselves and the worst. We can, every day, push the needle a little closer to our best selves. And we can reach out to someone and help them do the same.
Choose to Help and Accept Help
Fierce is a comic book about reaching out to help. Help both those who are hurting and desperate for help and those who are hurting and either don’t realize or won’t accept that they need help.