dave lister

Red Dwarf and that concept of radical kindness everyone keeps going on about

Okay so obviously I am deep in fandom hell when it comes to Red Dwarf now, there’s headcanons, there’s fanfiction, there’s everything! But naturally when that happens I start thinking something along the lines of “why do I like this thing?” And I think I know why I like Red Dwarf so much, beyond the jokes, I mean. It’s because almost all the time it’s constantly extolling kindness as a virtue.

No really.

Much of it revolves around Lister. Lister is that rarity of a sitcom character who’s a really geniunely good person. You wouldn’t expect him to be, considering his situation, but he is.

(alright, there’s the odd 80s-era sexist joke in there, in fact there’s the odd 80s-era sexist joke in there even now, but we’re going to ignore that.)

It’s Lister’s act of kindness in saving an innocent cat that kickstarts the whole plot of Red Dwarf and creates a whole new species in the world. (The Promised Land even points this out, I think.) It’s also Lister’s kindness which turns Kryten into more than a mechanoid and Cat into slightly less of uh, a cat. But most important of all I think is Lister’s relationship with Rimmer.

Lister has absolutely no reason to like Rimmer and he doesn’t. But, especially once he learns why Rimmer is the way he is, he does treat him like a person. Whether or not Lister likes Rimmer is completely irrelevant to whether or not he’s going to talk him out of suicide. And that strikes me as something really quite big and important, that just happens to be wrapped up in a big wacky-space-comedy bow.

Rimmer himself is another matter. There’s an extent to which he’ll always remain an arrogant little shit, because that’s where the comedy comes from, but we’ve seen him learn and grow over the years and the show indicates that a lot of that is Lister’s influence.

RIMMER: The Anubis stone? You can’t use that on him! I need it! It’s the only way for me to remain diamond-light! If I don’t recharge I’ll lose all my superpowers!

LISTER: [putting his hand on Rimmer’s shoulder] Mighty… We’re gonna have to. All great superheroes put the needs of other people before themselves.

RIMMER: Not all superheroes. What about the Fickle Four, who save only those wearing designer clothes? Or Doctor Dodgy, who saves people but first asks them to step behind a curtain and remove their underwear? [Heavy sigh] I knew this was too good to last. [Gesturing to the Anubis Stone] What do I do?

The Promised Land

Red Dwarf is a big ol’ daft sitcom with continuity leaking out all over the place, but its beating heart has always been “SEE? SEE? PEOPLE CAN MAKE EACH OTHER BETTER!” You know… life has thrown you some curveballs, you’re trapped in deep space and everyone you ever knew is dead. Why not be kind?

Why not give some sunlight to someone who you don’t like, but has none?

Moonlight of the Red Dwarf variety

Going back over old Red Dwarf posts and man, I forgot how much…the actual show sort-of-but-not-quite shipped Rimmer/Lister. Or kind of? (I mean, there was a kiss, fake though it was.)

Honestly, of all the situations I expected to find myself in this month, “suddenly hardcore shipping the two main characters of a comedy TV show you’ve loved for ages but never considered that way (while the world is in the middle of one of the worst crisises in decades)” is… not one of them. Ah well. What I do really miss is being In Fandom, I guess. Having a sort of fandom central hub (LiveJournal and then Tumblr used to serve this function) where you could just run in and shout “I LOVE THIS THING” and get a chorus back of “WE ALSO LOVE THIS THING.” I suppose Twitter is sort of the fandom central hub now but Twitter just doesn’t work as a platfom for me because you can’t have long conversations.

Anyway, it also so happens that Red Dwarf continuity looks like this:

except even more nonsensical, so I’d be really bad at being a Proper Fan of it. (I still haven’t actually watched Back to Earth since… heck, probably since it first came out. What the smeg was that?)

Throw into that the fact that I guess I’m sort of too old for Shipping now anyway, and… well, I’ll just be here on the sidelines, reblogging all the lovely Promised Land meta and fanart and jazz to secret side social media accounts and so forth.

But, man Promised Land told such a beautiful story. I’m an absolute sucker for “characters who are two halves of the same whole whether they like it or not” relationships, and I never realised there was one right under my nose for going on a decade. Whaddya know.

I think when Rimmer says to Lister at the end, “There’s a moon here, Listy, that wouldn’t mind some sunlight,” what he’s really saying is “We’re about to die. Please be with me,” and ouch, my heart.

I really do love this thing.

Red Dwarf: The Promised Land

I’ve been bingewatching some of the earlier Red Dwarfs in preparation for this one, so once it got started I kept thinking “Oh man, the cast look so old now” but that works! We’ve followed these characters on a lifelong journey and it shows on their faces.

Oh hey and now the showrunners have a budget! Red Dwarf with truly impressive CGI was almost jarring to see, but I got used to it pretty quick and it didn’t have any effect on my enjoyment of the story as a whole.

The jokes were great! The clear effort that went into everything was great! But my favourite thing of all was how all the characters got moments where they demonstrated who they really were as people. (“I am home,” oh my gosh) This movie might have cemented Lister as one of my favourite fictional characters ever. He’s just got such an innate goodness to him, and he absolutely deserved to be Space Cat Jesus for a bit. And oh Rimmer. Thought you were diamond light and ended up being moonlight. What a scene that was. WHAT A MOVIE THIS WAS.

An absolute rollercoaster ride of first laughs and then tears. Some people are saying this might be the last ever real Red Dwarf outing and I’d be happy with that since it’d be going out on a high. I think I am emotionally compromised. (Don’t give me that Star Trek crap, it’s too early in the morning.)


i was talking to @aj-force earlier about lister’s cartoon shirt –

this one – and how absolutely extraordinarily wholesome i find the fact that is exists.

he must have made it himself, which means that one day he sat down with a black shirt and a pot of fabric paint and went “i am going to draw my shitty space family on this shirt and i am going to wear it all the time”

i mean damn,, get yourself a friend who loves you enough to wear your face on his body every day