Fandom and Cullen-as-the-Abuser

In looking for a walkthrough on how not to get cooked in Therinfall I ran across some of the usual Templar/Cullen hate. I was a mage last time and kept using the shield to get through Therinfall. I’m a rogue this time around and I’m doing something wrong because … SPLAT!) Anyway, I never ran into discussions about Cullen asking Leliana about Amell/Surana. I’ve only loaded one Leliana romance, and that was with a city elf from Origins. I haven’t seen this personally but I plan on trying it next time I set up the Keep to hear it for myself. Some people say it’s creepy some people say it’s cute.

Supposedly this is from his creator on the subject.

I can’t objectively see Cullen as a rapist except in the crazy-Cullen-end-slide-murderer of Origins. I’ve listened to all of the banter in the Circle for DAO and how some of the templars watch the mages bathe. That’s very creepy, hell yes. I never got the impression Kinloch Hold was as bad Kirkwall, however.

So fans like to knock around the angle that Cullen was her jailer. Okay, I’ll go for that because sure, he basically was like a prison warden from a certain point of view. That’s how the templar/Circle system worked. I’m not saying it was a good system. There were also mages who were content there (and please don’t fall back on “Stockholm syndrome.” You meet a number of them from different Circles along with Viv and others who were fine in a Circle for various reasons. It’s not all Stockholm syndrome.) If he would have actually done something problematical, I’d give this more credence. He didn’t make a grab for her. He didn’t get into her personal space. He didn’t threaten her verbally or physically. He didn’t bully her. He doesn’t even speak to her unless you initiate the conversation. Everything which happens in that conversation is something she initiates. She may not 100% like what she hears, but she’s the one who asks.

Of course, I don’t know if that comment is taken out of context or what the rest of it pertained to. That is the name of Cullen’s writer so I’ll assume these are her words. However, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Gaider’s words clipped and taken out of context. It’s beyond counting at this point.  The devs can say stupid things and enflaming things but they also get their words mangled. Such is the nature of the internet.

The fact it’s dated 2010 makes me very suspicious. Inquisition came out in 2014 and DA2 was released in 2011. These words were shared before DA2 existed. That leaves me with the Cullen who went insane and murdered mages in the ending slide of Origins if you pick mages for your end game allies. Basically was some nobody quest giver who hadn’t been developed more than a paragraph and went dark. His “good” ending slide made him the Knight-Commander of Kinloch Hold who ruled it vindictively with an iron fist.

If the quote pertained to crazy-killer-end-slide-Cullen after Origins, it makes more sense. Otherwise, I just didn’t see it. You can offer to bang Cullen as an Amell/Surana and he literally runs away. That doesn’t seem like the aggressive rapist behavior described in that quote. He’s bumbling, bashful and I took away that it was exactly what it was described as in Inquisition – a stupid and childish crush. He reminded me a lot of Alistair until torture turned him into something darker, hateful and traumatized. We saw more of that in DA2 where he says “mages aren’t people” … to a party of mages if Hawke is a mage and traveling with Anders and Merrill. NPCs and Questgivers aren’t always too bright.

Then there’s the Harrowing. They blame him for being willing to kill the failed initiates. Okay, here’s a question. Let’s say you’ve failed. That’s when the templars drop the ax. So you’re a mage and you flunked the test – now there’s a demon in your body. You’re no longer you. There’s a thing using your skin, bones, voice and eyes like a meat puppet. It will devour your memories like fine dining and rip you apart from the inside like Sophia Dryden. You don’t even have to be living at the end of it and it will use your corpse for it’s own whims. And… people are upset because a templar (ANY templar) ends this? I don’t get the problem with that part, personally. The part I have a problem with is the test itself and putting the mage in that position but that’s got nothing to do with Cullen. At that point we’re talking about the system. This is the same system which made Cullen know that a relationship with a mage was inappropriate. He mentions it in both Origins and Inquisition. That didn’t stop mage/templar lovers from happening (as seen in places through novels and all the games) but it wasn’t something which was supposed to. Still not seeing the whole violent rapey act to get it out of his system part…?

I’ve romanced Cullen with a mage. I didn’t find the dynamic “creepy” at all. My Inquisitor was a grown, mature woman who would hand him his ass if he tried to do anything to hurt her. He might have templar abilities but in general A.) Not a good idea to be involved romantically with someone you can’t trust. In real life if s/he is abusive you need to get out of there before it gets serious. There’s too many people in too many bad situations who haven’t. B.) This is a fantasy game and you’re the Inquisitor. You kill dragons – which are an apex predator. You come up to its knee. I can’t even begin to explain how that works, but you can take down up to 13 of them counting DLCs and the horcrux. If you play the DLCs you’re a slayer of a god. She can handle Cullen. If he gets out of line he’s going to regret it. He obviously doesn’t.

I don’t mind that people hate Cullen. For one, he’s fictional. He’s also not sterling and definitely has his dark spots over 3 games. I don’t give him a free pass because he grew as a character and worked toward redemption. He did shitty things. Do I like him? Sure, but he still did shitty things. Anders murdered a lot of people and still has fans. Most of the Bioware characters are problematical. Thedas is a rough world.

What I’m baffled by is things like the outrage that he would have beheaded an abomination that used to be a mage or that he yelled at the Warden after being tortured. The man had his mind ripped apart and suffered every bit as much abuse as the mages at that point. Had he been calm and everything was okay it wouldn’t have been realistic. He later states that he deeply regrets what he said if you talk to him in DAI. Pining creepily for her? Oh please. He’s an adult now. Most adults don’t moon over a crush they had around High School/early college age when they’re in their 30′s. They might still regret being venomously hateful to someone who rescued their sorry butt, though.