What’s Your Damage, Heather?

I actually finished a book recently, and contrary to the glowing reviews I usually give books, I’d say that this one is not as exciting as I thought it would be. It’s the short but not-so-sweet Heathers, a reflection on the movie, by actor John Ross Bowie.

Note: actual size.

I don’t know what I was expecting from such a teeny little book, but I was thinking that there would at least be some interesting commentary on the movie. There was some of that, but most of the book seemed to be a personal reflection of the author on his high school years and his experience of the movie, with bits of trivia and random facts thrown in, most of which I already knew, being a fan of the movie. Granted, the movie came out when I was about a year old so I can’t claim to be among those who originally followed it, but as it was a box office flop and only really gained traction in the 1990s, it was on my radar as early as 2001 or 2002, when it was mentioned at a meeting of a teen theatre troupe I was a part of. This was in the days before YouTube, and I don’t think my parents would have approved of me renting it, so I ended up finding the script online and reading and rereading it, which is an odd way of going about it. I didn’t see the movie in full until last year, when a bootleg copy surfaced on YouTube (it’s probably still there, somewhere) and was fascinated by every aspect, from the “old soul” nature of the teenage characters to the color palette to the out-of-place music, all of which were discussed in the book.

I guess what I was expecting was more of a retrospective on Heathers rather than a personal reflection. The only person remotely relevant who gets a say in the book is Amy Poehler of Mean Girls fame, who was interviewed by the author. The other two “Snappy Snack Shack” interviews come from two of the author’s high school girlfriends, both named Heather and neither of whom have ever been in my kitchen.

When I say “retrospective,” I mean, like, something akin to a collection of short essays/articles written by different people. When I was in college, I randomly picked up a book called Dear Angela, which was a collection of essays on various facets of My So-Called Life, a short-lived 1990s sitcom that touched a great deal of people with its themes and characters. Even though I have seen maybe one episode in my entire life, the book was a riveting read, and made me want to, at some point in the future, download the episodes from somewhere, since the DVD is expensive (and I don’t have anywhere to play it). Another book that I read that was similar was Will the Vampire People Please Leave the Lobby? which was a short little book on the birth of Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s internet following and the concept of fandom. It was only written from one perspective, but it was entertaining and multi-faceted. I forgot the author’s name, but Bowie could have taken a leaf from that book.

But back to this book, I’d stay that if you’re a hardcore fan of the movie with an hour to spare, give it a skim, and if not, pass on it. Someday, there ought to be an actual, bona-fide book on the impacts of Heathers. Maybe I’ll edit it. I think it could be really good.



Pop Culture Showdown: So How Does That Make You Feel?

I’ve been meaning to post this for a long time, ever since I watched Heathers a few weeks ago. I haven’t had the time, so here’s hoping that this goes as well as it did in my head when it first appeared there.

That’s So Jacob Presents:

Pop Culture Showdown

Episode 3: “So How Does That Make You Feel?”

One role that is seen often in movies and television shows is that of the school guidance counselor. Usually, it’s a middle-aged hippie-dippie chick with glasses on a chain around her neck and a collection of peasant blouses, dashikis, and ombre skirts. She is never the center of attention, but in some cases, plays a pivotal role in a subplot or as a supporting character. She’s usually never even thought about, so here’s her chance to shine.

Arguably the two most famous I’m-not-a-therapist-but-I-play-one-on-screen characters are the loopy Pauline Fleming in Heathers, and bulletproof Sue Snell in Carrie. (One could argue for Tina Fey’s character in Mean Girls, but then again, Mrs. Norbury was a math teacher who only acted as a schoolwide therapist.)

Originally Portrayed By:

Pauline: Penelope Milford. She was 40 years old when she landed the role. She got her start on Broadway at the age of 24, and soon transitioned over to TV and movies. Milford had a breakthrough as Vi Munson in Coming Home, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award (Best Supporting Actress) in 1978. Curiously, she has been off the screen since 1997, when she was in Night Lawyers. She currently lives in Saugerties, New York, and apparently does very little acting.

Sue: Amy Irving. This is a bit of an interesting one, because she didn’t become a guidance counselor until Carrie 2, but acted as Carrie’s understanding friend (and only friend) in the original. She was a 23-year-old high school student in Carrie and one of the few survivors of the town, only to meet her unfortunate and grisly demise in Carrie 2, which was filmed in 1999 when she was 45 years old. Was also nominated for an Academy Award (also Best Supporting Actress) in 1983, for one of her other famous roles, Hadass in Yentl. She’s done a considerable amount of acting, and hosted the Tony Awards with Anthony Hopkins in 1994. She lives in New York City, and is still active, recently appearing on The Good Wife.

Connection with Suicide

Pauline: Warning: Unhealthy Obsession. Uses it as a weapon to get what she wants from the students as a guidance counselor.

Sue: After main character Rachel’s best friend Lisa commits suicide, Rachel goes to Sue for guidance, and in one of their meetings, shatters a glass globe on Sue’s desk, both alarming her and reminding her of Carrie White (honestly, I’m not sure no day went by when she hadn’t thought about Carrie). This leads her to believe that Rachel has telekinetic powers just like Carrie, and might have some sort of other connection to her, and basically launches the whole plot.

Dumbest Soundbite:

Pauline: “Whether to kill yourself or not is the most important decision a teenager can make.” Wait – what? Someone is paying this woman to counsel high school students?

Sue: “I had a traumatic experience in high school. I tried to help someone, and it backfired horribly.” Well, that’s an understatement if I ever heard one.

Best Animated GIF:

Pauline: Not a lot of them; this one’s pretty much it.

Sue: Again, there aren’t a lot of images out there from Carrie 2, or at least not of Sue Snell. This might be the only one, and I’m not even sure it’s from Carrie 2.

Is She Actually Helpful?

Pauline: No.

Sue: Yes, but she dies before she can be that much help.


Although Sue is definitely better at her job, I think Pauline Fleming is just such a funnier character. Call me crazy, but I’m picking her.