This is gonna be a tough one, Grinding Down readers.
Mass Effect‘s Joker, real name Jeff Moreau, suffers from brittle bone disease, which is more scientifically called osteogenesis imperfecta. It’s the sort of disease that steers your life, causing extreme brittleness in the bones. Ultimately, Joker was born with severe fractures to his legs, and, as an adult now, he can barely walk. That didn’t stop him from excelling at flight school though and becoming a pilot. The Normandy‘s bridge is his home, his heart.
I don’t suffer from osteogenesis imperfecta. I do, however, have a bad left knee prone to popping out of place, and I walked on my tippy-toes for the longest time as a young child, but other than that, Joker and I are far from physically alike. Save for the beard. We both have sexy beards. I’m not gonna be a beardhole and claim that mine is the better. You can make that call yourself. But yeah, we’re total beard buds.
So, Joker and I are not alike physically. Wherein our sameness sits is in how we interact with people. Seth Green voices Joker, and 97.6% of Green’s acting work has been in comedy. He’s got a funny voice, a funny way of replying, good snark, all that. It’s natural then that Joker is, like Firefly‘s Wash, a funny pilot, often cracking jokes and commenting light-heartedly about Commander Shepard’s actions outside of the spaceship. He’s both comic relief and a rock that keeps everybody soaring safely through the galaxy. Depending on how you play Mass Effect, that’s all he could be, too. Paul Shepard, however, was a good guy, an everyman, and took the time to talk to Joker, to listen to the sad story of his upbringing, to understand where the bitterness lining his jokes came from. And he kept coming back after every mission, to include him, to hear his thoughts…to make sure he was doing a-okay.
I can be sarcastic; I can make nearly anyone laugh; I can bottle everything up and do my job–because it’s my job–and resent things I have absolutely no control over, and I can dance around topics with the swiftest feet this side of the Atlantic Ocean. We both wield humor as armor and wear it well, fully, careful to show no gaps. Unfortunately, we don’t need to wear it all the time, but lack the strength to undress ourselves, to show our companions and comrades who we are, to sit quiet and still, in the buff, brittle and scared, ripe for the reaping. With his weakened legs, he can only go so far; with my damaged heart, so can I.