How do you balance a hero’s personality? You give them a mix of positive and negative traits, and you reveal them through their behavior. Rainbow tried that with Nex, but they failed. How?
Well, let me ask you this: Do you remember when he sabotaged Roy’s run on Aisha’s obstacle course in “Bloomix Power” (Winx season 6, episode 4)? I bet you do. From that moment on, a lot of Winx fans harbored a grudge against Nex.
But do you remember whenhe rushed in front of a basilisk to protect Roy and Aisha, but got turned to stone? You probably don’t. Yet it happened at the end of the same episode.
Why did the obstacle course scene stick with the fandom, while the petrification scene vanished from their minds? Because the obstacle course scene was longer and felt more emotional. The petrification scene was brief (a few seconds) and didn’t have as much weight. So even though Rainbow wrote it to redeem and balance Nex, it didn’t feel like enough to make up for what he did earlier. (Who cares if he could have died?)
This happened to him a lot. His negative moments felt more serious than the positive moments written to cancel them out. As a result, the scale seemed tipped towards the negative, and Nex became a mean, unlikable guy in the Winx fandom’s eyes. Worse, they thought Rainbow wanted us to hate him. (That may be how the “secretly a villain” idea got started.)
The Misleading Love Triangle
Because of the love triangle, Nex’s introduction had to pull triple duty. It had to:
Make us like him, especially since he’d be Aisha’s boyfriend
Convince us he’d be a good boyfriend for her
Show us why he was better for her than Roy, who we thought was already her boyfriend
Mission #1 failed. After that, the Winx fandom rejected him and focused on Aisha and Roy. It didn’t help that Rainbow showed more of Roy’s reactions and emotions than Nex’s, which made it seem like we were supposed to root for Roy. Nex, Mr. “Unlikable”, looked like the obstacle he had to overcome.
So when Aisha ended up with Nex instead, a lot of fans felt confused. Wasn’t Aisha/Roy the obvious outcome? When did she and Nex grow closer? How could she possibly love a guy like him?
A popular belief was that she did choose Roy, but Rainbow changed their minds after season six ended and paired her with Nex in season seven. But the season six episode “Legendary Duel” (ep. 24) and the season six comic “La Prova di Nex” (Nex’s Test) both crush that theory. Not to mention, Roy disappeared after “Legendary Duel” because he’d served his purpose.
“A Riven Rip-off”
I don’t know when the “Nex is a copy of Riven” idea started spreading, but it complicated Nex’s introduction even more. From then on, everything he did was because he’s “like Riven” or “Riven’s replacement”. For example:
Nex joined the group in Winx season six because Rainbow planned to write Riven out that season.
Nex teased Brandon in “The First Color of the Universe” (Winx season 7, episode 4) because Riven teased people, too.
Nex raced Sky on surfboards in “Back in Paradise Bay” (Winx season 7, episode 16) because he’s Sky’s new rival.
Also, anything Nex had in common with Riven (or seemed to) became a big deal, even if it wasn’t.
Now we know why the fandom turned Nex into NEXX!. But why hasn’t Nex been able to redeem himself, even after three seasons? Rainbow has tried to repair his image, but the fandom ignores his moral behavior, thinks he’s putting on a “good guy” act, or thinks Rainbow is pretending he’s a nice person.
Why is this happening? Because of the horn effect (or devil effect). I’ve mentioned it before, but I didn’t explain all the dimensions of it. Here are the best definitions I’ve found:
DecisionWise: “Both the halo and the horn effect are cognitive biases that influence our perceptions of others based on our overall or first impression of them. We tend to freely grant other good or bad attributes to a person based on this overall impression…”
MBASkool: “If our first impression about a person is negative, we tend to ignore his positive characteristics and concentrate only on the negative ones.”
So after someone leaves a bad first impression on you, you focus only on their flaws and assign other flaws to them with no evidence. It’s like you give the person devil horns. They’re pure evil, and nothing will convince you otherwise.
If we do this to real people, why wouldn’t we do it to fictional characters, too?
It’s exactly what the Winx fandom did to Nex. For example, in his first episode (“The Flying School”), Nex said a couple flirty lines to the Winx — nothing major. But when the horn effect kicked in, the fandom decided those lines meant he’s a womanizer. That’s why a lot of fanfics portray him that way, even though there’s zero evidence of it in Winx Club.
How about whenever the Winx fandom projects Riven’s flaws or behavior onto Nex? Nex’s Italian Winx Wiki page is made of this. Remember the line I quoted earlier? Supposedly, he “trains constantly, because of a strong desire to perfect himself more and more”.
Since when? We’ve only seen him train with the other guys, and it didn’t seem like an obsession for him. But you know who was addicted to training in Winx season six to where he ignored his girlfriend and wanted to skip missions to stay at the gym? Riven!
A Musa/Riven subplot doesn’t belong on Nex’s page, yet it’s been there for years.
The biggest problem with the horn effect is it condemns a person forever. They can never escape their negative perception, no matter what good they do. But to quote one of my research sources:
Don’t let your first impressions of people influence the way you see them further on….Every person deserves a second chance, even the ones with horns.
Winx season six premiered five or six years ago. When Nex does or says something nice now, why shouldn’t that matter? When he risks his life for someone, why shouldn’t that matter? When he treats his friends and Aisha right, why shouldn’t that matter?
Nex doesn’t deserve to be hated forever. Besides, by now, the fandom should know that NEXX! doesn’t exist. Besides how absurd and far-fetched he is for a show like Winx Club, there’s another important reason Nex isn’t and would never be like him.
What is that reason? I’ll talk about it next time.