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Fed-XCOM, Monoculture Hell, and Textiles: XCOM Worldbuilding and Character Meta

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Today, we’re yelling about human culture, alien monoculture, and questions that need answering.

As always, what we have from the game:

-ADVENT seems to have done its best to create this new world monoculture. Food architecture, iconography, hell, even language. They’re all standardized now, no matter where you’re operating in the globe. They’ve worked to demonize the world that was, with all of its distinctive cultural features, and work to elevate this bland monolith they’ve got going on. Some of this is the nature of game design, I know, but christ.

- They’ve tied themselves (and this manufactured culture) to the “improvements” of life under the Elders. To be fair, some of these improvements are pretty great. If gene therapy has eliminated things like MS, ALS, DIPG, then that’s pretty amazing --- the cost is just so high.

- It goes beyond just secular culture, though. The churches we see feature ADVENT imagery. Concept art shows megachurch like facilities prosthelytizing the Elders. This is ... creepy, to say the least.
- By imposing this monoculture, they’ve created a culture of what they call ‘unity’ --- but might more accurately be labeled conformity.

Now, we jump off a little bit.

Havens are a rejection of the ADVENT ethos. They are small, messy, and ramshackle. They are also likely some of the last vestiges of individual cultures. We see havens with XCOM posters, including the original anti-alien decal from the Skyranger. They are growing their own food. While the writing we see is in English, it is definitely not the writing system we see in the city centers, and one could assume (reasonably) that writing is still localized to the language of the region.
Havens are, to some extent, growing their own food. Crops vary wildly by biome, so havens are also likely a holdout of regional, traditional foods. #locavore

Havens also still, I would wager, have human religions. I flat out refuse to believe that, especially in cases of persecuted religions like Judaism, everyone was collectively Fine And Dandy with their beliefs being supplanted by the weird alien cult. Just, no. Preservation and continued observation of earth’s religions in havens should be A Thing.

I would like to believe that they are also a place where traditional art forms, music and the like are still practiced when feasible. Anything that is productive and demonstrative of the cultures of the area that was? Yeah, I’d like to believe that still goes on.

Now, we get to the questions I can’t answer, the things that are driving me bonkers:

- The fuck happened to earth’s existing media? Have aliens wiped it our or is it allowed to exist for its ability to demonstrate the “mistakes of the Old World?” I’d really like to know, because man, the sci fi fans should have realized something was up. Alien, Soylent Green, and all five seasons of The Twilight Zone exist on DVD and all have some Pointed Thoughts About Shit ADVENT Is Doing. There were WARNINGS.

-Did ADVENT just ... hit the internet quickly? Because even if the mainstream news media was reporting ADVENT as our saviors, I’m pretty sure citizen journalism (even with all of its problems) would have been able to provide some pretty compelling evidence to the contrary. Nobody looks at a video of a chryssalid ripping a person to ribbons and thinks ‘yeah, this seems totally benevolent.’ But, if they knocked out the internet, it’s harder to get word to travel quickly.

-Also, losing the internet would probably be the modern equivalent of the Library at Alexandria burning. There is so much information that is easily accessible there that is much much more difficult to access in other forms, if not impossible for large swaths of the population. If you were trying to warp and control the narrative, though, you’d have to get rid of the easy ways to find information that contradicts your version.

-Hey, speaking of warnings, what happened to books? Actual books. Because, again, we had a sample of Red Flags to draw from. War of the Worlds, 1984 and Brave New World come to mind as works that should have been a good tip off that Hey, Something Is Not Right. But seriously, so many YA dystopias. Did none of them survive? Did ADVENT burn everything? And anyone who knew about these works? What happened here? I have the uncomfortable feeling that, as ADVENT warped history, books went in the burn pile because HOW ELSE DO YOU GASLIGHT THE ENTIRE WORLD.

-This is less pressing, but where are the art museums? Where are the great artworks of the world that was? All we see is ADVENT’s weird abstract paintings and their (admittedly, pretty good) propaganda. We see some stencil graffiti, so apparently that survived but, uh. Where is everything else? Did ADVENT burn Starry Night? Because if ADVENT burned Starry Night, I am Going To Be Unhappy.

-Also, less pressing, but important: What is the state of music? Do we still have rock’n’roll? Is it about things that are not ADVENT and our Benevolent Alien Saviors? Can someone still lay in the dark and blare David Bowie’s Space Oddity? W H A T H A P P E N E D, F I R A X I S?

-Media that HAS survived: what form is it in? I have a terrible feeling paper books would fall prey to kindling during cold winters, but maybe not. Are we looking at dvds? Zip drives? Secret caches on the ADVENT network? How is it accessed? Is it preserved? Who’s preserving it? I need to know. I need to know if Central made Menace team watch a pirated copy of Raiders of the Lost Ark after they were all confused why the Commander lost it at “Vipers. Why did it have to be vipers?” I need to know if the Commander, upon crossing the psionic gateway, informed Central that they had a feeling they were “not in Kansas anymore” and if the rest of the team got the joke.

-Not a question, but more a for your consideration: Havens in living history museums. The buildings are there. They have fireplaces. They are not usually in densely populated areas. They are comparatively resource-rich. They are sometimes really, really cool. Ship-based haven at Mystic Seaport in CT. Cross-time period havens in Strawberry Banke, NH and Greenfield Village in MI. It could be great.