Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: The Gods of Night Vale

Welcome to Night Vale constantly amazes me with how unique it is, especially when it comes to religion. It manages to take real religious ideas and weave something entirely new and different from the thing that originally inspired them. The Smiling God, the beagle puppy, and the angels are inspired by Abrahamic religions, but while it’s clear that Huntokar and the other gods are definitely at least inspired by real deities, the creators of Night Vale have managed to create their own unique pantheon.

Several episodes ago, we learned that the god Huntokar, who has been mentioned in passing throughout the show, is the god of Night Vale and has been protecting the people of Night Vale since the very beginning. However, we came to discover that her protection also nearly doomed Night Vale by causing the multiple versions of the town in different universes to collapse in on themselves. In this episode, Huntokar mentions that she is one of four old gods that include the Glow Cloud (ALL HAIL), the Woman from Italy, and the Distant Prince.

Writers tend to take two different routes when it comes to adding deities to their stories. They either use gods of real religions, or they invent their own. Creating your own deities has the major advantage that you aren’t taking the risk of portraying another religion’s deities in a potentially harmful way. However, we cannot escape the fact that we are affected by what we know about religions and their deities and inevitably the audience may realize that these “fake gods” are inspired by real ones. It’s fine to be inspired by real deities, but it’s important to still develop them in such a way as to make them their own unique god, otherwise the portrayal could still end up seeming problematic. And that is exactly what the creators of Welcome to Night Vale were able to do. Their deities are clearly inspired by different real gods, but are written in such a way that they become their own unique god and are not simply a copy of another deity.

Spoilers for Welcome to Night Vale for up to Episode 113.

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The Women of Night Vale and the Power of Female Leaders of Color

via nymag

via nymag

I’m not going to lie, I struggled with what to write about today. As someone already dealing with depression, this week has been extremely trying as I worry about myself and many of my friends and family. And I will not lie that as a white woman, I am utterly enraged by the actions of my fellow white women this election. While I always knew that all white women (I do not exclude myself from this) have issues with racism, due to our privilege, I guess I never realized how bad it was. So today I want to write about some amazing female characters of color from my favorite podcast Welcome to Night Vale, and some of the amazing women of color who have been elected to office and give us hope.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Finding Solace in #queerselflove

Our community here at Lady Geek Girl and Friends is a tight-knit one, and as a majority queer group, we were shaken to our core by the horrible tragedy that occurred a week ago in Orlando. Our deepest sympathies go out to the victims and their families, and we urge those who can to take an active role in responding to it, whether through blood donation, financial aid, or political activism. In the wake of the shooting, the LGBTQ+ community has responded with vigils, with calls to action, and with affirmations of self-worth. Notably among the latter is the #queerselflove hashtag, started by Welcome to Night Vale actor Dylan Marron on Twitter.

The hashtag quickly took off as the wounded queer community took the time to reflect on what made us special and important. In response to a hate crime, we told the world that if it was not going to love us, we were still going to love ourselves. I contributed my own personal #queerselflove to the tag on Wednesday night, but today I’d like to talk about a few of my favorite happy LGBTQ+ people and pairings in pop culture. We’ve spent so many posts recently condemning the treatment of queer people in fiction and this post isn’t meant to erase or negate those. Indeed, the importance of meaningful queer representation is more important than ever in a time when the gays we’re burying are no longer fictional. Queer people need to be able to look to something and see ourselves being happy.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: Faust, the Devil, & Welcome to Night Vale

Too fragile a portal into another dimension, a dimension which is probably Hell? IDK. I… I’m not a religious studies major, although if I were, I bet I would have graduated by now.

When I listened to this quote from Maureen in the Welcome to Night Vale episode “Things Fall Apart”, I took it as a little bit of a challenge. I am a religious studies major, and I started to look at some of the past episodes, trying to figure out what the latest plotline of Welcome to Night Vale was leading us to. It wasn’t until I listened to the episode “Who’s a Good Boy?” that I managed to finally figure it out.

Mephistopheles as a dogSpoilers for Episodes 85 to 89 of Welcome to Night Vale after the jump.

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The Apache Tracker, Steve Carlsberg, Kevin, & Redemption Arcs in Welcome to Night Vale

NIGHT VALERedemption arcs are very rarely done well and they usually focus simply on a character doing one good deed before dying, which is supposed to make us believe that they have now become a completely better person. This is lazy storytelling at its finest, because you don’t have to do any deep character development or show the character changing in any real way. Furthermore, this storyline is unrealistic when it comes to how others respond to the redeemed character. It always amazes me that one act of kindness is enough for sometimes an entire race of people to forgive someone for a lifetime of atrocities. Everything in this type of storyline just feels very unrealistic. Thankfully, Welcome to Night Vale comes to the rescue. WTNV is pretty revolutionary and creative when it comes to much of its storytelling, but I was especially pleased when I noticed the much more nuanced way that WTNV addressed redemption arcs.

Spoilers for WTNV from Season 1 to Episode 73.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: Welcome to Night Vale & Left-Handed Paths

A long while back I talked about Welcome to Night Vale’s Strex Corp and the Smiling God, and how the Smiling God could potentially be a critique of Christianity, Prosperity Gospel doctrine, and religious colonialism. But now I am venturing into very different territory. Is Night Vale, with all its darker rituals, beliefs, and morality, representative of left-handed paths?

When the Strex Corp storyline started in Welcome to Night Vale, I was struck by what I saw as criticism of Christianity. The Smiling God was seemingly all about light and love, but was actually something powerful that could potentially destroy everyone. On top of this, Strex Corp was using the beliefs of the Smiling God to take over and practically enslave everyone, while claiming that the people of Night Vale would be happy if they just listened to them and fell in line with their beliefs. Night Vale, on the other hand, often seemed to follow a religious path that was darker and would be viewed as taboo in our culture. While Desert Bluffs and Strex Corp emphasized light, Night Vale emphasizes darkness. And I started to wonder if Night Vale could represent left-handed paths.

(Brief disclaimer: I was raised Christian, so my knowledge of left-handed paths largely comes from the research I have done on the topic. If I have said anything that is incorrect, especially if you follow a left-handed path, please let me know. I am always excited to learn new things.)

Spoilers up to Episode 49 of Welcome to Night Vale.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Noodle’s Top 10 Headcanon Bi Characters

I basically live for representation of LGBTQ+ characters. As a bi person, I’m especially starved for good bi representation. Unfortunately, such characters are especially difficult to come by. Then there are wonderful characters who could be great bisexuals, and that’s where headcanons come in. A headcanon is something that is not explicitly stated in the text, but doesn’t contradict it either, and you like to imagine it’s true. It’s not as great as actual representation, but it can be great fun and provide comfort when actual representation isn’t there. So, today I want to share with you my Top 10 characters whom I like to imagine are bisexual and who would make excellent representation if they were made canonically bisexual.

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