There were two characters that inspired me to start this series, one of whom I’ve already written about on Eleven-ThirtyEight, about a minor Star Wars character. Around the same time I was writing that piece, I was asked to respond to the critique of Halo’s Jameson Locke as a “boring” character.
“What do you say to the arguments that Locke is boring because he’s extremely ‘by-the-books’ with no distinguishable opinion of his own, and because he’s so good natured – there’s no weakness of his to develop from and therefore no ground for the audience to attach to him?”
My usual response would be to start quoting canon, pointing out the places that Halo’s storytelling gives him depth. But in the end, my response turned wholly personal, an exploration of what Jameson Locke meant to me.
As such, it only seemed fitting that my first true post in the series Finding Myself in Fiction: The Good, the Ugly, and the Divine would fall to Jameson Locke.
Modern parables do exist. And here is why Halo’s Jameson Locke is one of mine:
There’s this fantastic blog post about how a young girl related moreso to Bagheera in the 1967 Jungle Book than Baloo or Mowgli, because Bagheera was a rule-follower. A voice of reason. Dependable. Sensible. Not the “fun” stress machine that was Baloo who nearly got Mowgli killed a number of times due to his lackadaisical attitude.
I didn’t write that blog post, but I feel it in my bones.
I am a very “by-the-book” sort of person. I don’t let the “book” dictate every inch of my day, but it helps give me guidance. Whether that’s policies at work or the values of my faith and the word of my God, these things help give me perspective on the world and understand what’s happening around me. From that perspective, I can make better decisions, including how I do my duties, how to push my boundaries, where to draw my boundaries, how I treat people. The book gives me a structure on which I can grow to be a better me, like a stake that holds up a sapling.
Due to my “by the book” nature, I’ve had some people treat me as if I don’t have my own opinion, especially when it comes to my faith. As if I’m just following what my parents raised me to follow and repeating what’s told to me on Sunday. As if I’m not critically thinking through what these “rules” or “guidelines” mean.
Yeah, you can go ask a few specific pastors if I was content to just sit and listen. Or go ask that bible study where I dropped multiple f-bombs at due to a heated discussion (it’s a lot less funny with context, so let’s leave it at that). Or heck, even ask the Big Man himself whether or not I have a habit of screaming dramatically at Him on beaches in the dead of night. Wrestling with God and my own limited viewpoint is key to my faith. A big part of why I trust Him is because He lets me argue and question and seek out the answers.
Y’see, when I look at characters like Bagheera, Obi-Wan, and yes, Jameson Locke, I don’t just see blank rule-followers. I see people who have dedicated themselves to a specific code, a specific worldview, and are willing to lay everything on the line for it.
And they’re willing to look critically at it.
Locke especially has this. Throughout Nightfall, we see him defy ONI stereotypes while still working within their system. We see him reject certain mindsets (especially that “UNSC-first” mindset, if you will) while still using the system to work towards what is right. He uses his authority in a corrupt organization to bring justice to a situation. In Halo 5, we learn that he backed down from his original plan to assassinate Thel ‘Vadam, a former genocidal warlord, because he was, again, looking critically at the world around him and noticing changes.
Locke choosing to work within the rules (mostly) and still be a driving force means something to me. It’s a demonstration that I am not hindered by the codes I’ve chosen to define my life. That’s important to me.
And as for the good-natured…
Same thing. That means something to me. A good-natured hero is important to me.
Because I’m not edgy. I’m bad at razzing people, except those who know me really well (and even then sometimes it really takes some doing on my part), because I don’t want to hurt them. Even by accident. I apologize for being “snippy” with coworkers, but apparently I hide my frustrations so good in attempts to not take it out on them that they often look at me, bewildered and confused, because to them, I’m not acting snippy. I want people to know that they’re valued, that they have intrinsic worth.
“Kind” is the greatest compliment I can give someone, including myself. “Unkind” is the harshest criticism.
Good-natured characters are important to me. Characters like Locke are a demonstration that victory can be achieved through respect, through preserving or honoring the dignity of those around you.
So for me, being “by the book” and good-natured is exactly what grounds Locke as a character for me. That’s exactly why I attach to him. I can see myself in him. Moreso than any other Halo character, even Thel ‘Vadam (my favorite fictional character ever) or Olympia Vale (a brown-haired Sangheili fangirl).
That which Locke represents is very personal to me.
And if people think those are bland and boring traits, well then, I guess I am bland and boring too. I’m not too upset by this. After all, I’m in some good company.