Transcript: How Molly uses appearance to assess people, Talks Machina C2 Ep 6 0:20:50

Taliesin chose to play a tiefling because he “wanted a
comfortable outsider.” (TM 2018-01-16 0:34:49) Tieflings are already
visibly, inescapably marked by their infernal heritage. In Western society,
tattoos and piercings (especially lots of them) have long been regarded as outside
polite society. Molly’s body modification signals that he’s leaning into
outsider status and a refusal to conform, nor will he be quiet about it. His ostentatious
clothing, too, serves to amplify the volume of his presence.

This is a very old counter-culture technique (used
especially loudly by punk and goth culture) to see how people react to new
ideas by deliberately trying to trigger the backfire effect (which The Oatmeal
wrote a wonderful comic about). Basically, you’ve built up a worldview where
everything fits together nicely and neatly and makes sense. It’s built of
things like religion, tradition, upbringing, family, peer group, life experience,
and preferences. When new ideas don’t fit our world view and threaten to destabilize
it, we protect that world view by reacting like we’re being attacked by a predator.

A “big demonic face with a bunch of piercings and
tattoos” immediately forces the question “How do you feel about
people who obviously do not conform to ‘polite’ society and don’t want to?”
Molly’s looking for the immediate amygdala threat assessment reaction, not the
secondary conscious effort to be polite. If someone flinches or recoils, he
knows that accepting outsiders is not part of their core beliefs, and they
aren’t to be trusted, even if they then put on a veneer of politeness. If they
don’t flinch, he knows they are at least open to outsiders. He might not immediately
trust them, but they’re worth his time finding out. It’s a quick and passive way
to screen out bullshit he doesn’t want to deal with.

Scene runs: 0:20:50
to 0:22:47

0:20:50 Taliesin:
“He’s still forming opinions of everybody in this group. He’s not come to…
He’s somebody who makes a lot of snap judgements. Which, I’m sure, in a D&D
environment when you have a, you know, big demonic face with a bunch of
piercings and tattoos you can immediately look at someone and immediately make
a character assessment of them.”

“That’s true, yeah.”

0:21:15 Taliesin:
“It’s the joy of playing- It’s the joy of being a character like that. And
I will say, like, I mean like, even the joy of, as a teenager, running around with
a mohawk, and a trench coat, and ridiculousness, and sort of being extravagant in
any way, is that immediately, when people meet you, they usually are polite
enough to immediately tell you exactly who they are. By their reaction and
their- the way that they treat you. There’s just- There’s no attempt at being
subtle, there’s no- there’s just this immediately- ‘I’m laying out the table
all my issues, all of my problems, everything I am as a person, and you can do
whatever you like with that.’ And he’s a big fan of that as a person. That’s
one of the reasons why he is so decked out is because it’s such an easy way of immediately
assessing people.”

Brian: “Oh,
interesting, put it out there.”

0:22:02 Taliesin:
“Yeah. So, it’s like, ‘Yeah; ah okay. This is somebody who, you know, I
can manipulate one way, or someone I can manipulate another way.’ And everybody
so far has been relatively nice. Even the people who are not- don’t like him aren’t vicious.”

“Hostile, necessarily; yeah.”

0:22:20 Taliesin:
“And so he thinks they’re cute
at the- so far. And definitely was meditating upon the notion of taking all
their shit and vanishing in the night. Definitely thought about it. But so far
just wants to see where the chips fall at this point. He’s undecided, and he
wants to see how they handle- deal with pressure and what they… how they treat
other people. Which is kind of the big deal at this point.”



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