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Sunday, May 26, 2013

An English Major-Style Over-Analysis of Heathers Because It's the Actual Best

So, I may or may not have watched Heathers three times in the past two weeks. Not only that, I have roped  unsuspecting Heathers virgins into watching it with me by telling them that it's basically Mean Girls from the 80's with a dark twist. Which is kind of true.

There is even an Africa-themed lunch joke, I'm not even kidding.
Of course, since Heathers came before Mean Girls, it would be more accurate to say that Mean Girls is kind of like Heathers-lite. And Mean Girls is awesome, so clearly Heathers is just as awesome, if not more awesome. What I'm trying to say is that before reading the rest of this post, you need to go watch Heathers.
If Mean Girls or other movies like it aren't appealing to you, well...

I love me some Mean Girls, but one of the things about Heathers that makes it appeal to me a bit more is that there is so much stuff that can be analyzed in an English major-y fashion. There are literary allusions, symbolic colors, and of course lots of dark, satiric goodness.

Let's dive in, shall we?

First off, we have the opening shot with the iconic scrunchie.

There's a lot of red in this shot, isn't there? Red swatch, red nail polish, and, most importantly, red scrunchie. Red symbolizes power, and that's exactly what the scrunchie in Heathers represents. It's passed around a bit during the movie, and whoever has the scrunchie has the power. It doesn't get more 80's than that.

The fact that there's so much red in the shot lets us know right up front what this movie is about. It's about power.

I'm really tempted to quote Buffy right now, but I won't.

Heather Chandler is the All-Powerful Scrunchie Overlord at the beginning of the movie, and she's in charge of the Heathers clique. All of the Heathers are color-coded for your convenience.

Of course, all the colors get shuffled later when shit hits the fan.

The reason that shit hits the fan is this guy.

James Dean - whoops, sorry - JASON Dean (JD) is the film's satirical version of the "bad boy". Unlike most other "bad boys" in fiction, JD is legitimately psychotic. Being the villain of the piece, and black being the color most often used to represent evil, he wears black for the whole movie. You know who else wears black some of the time? The protagonist.

The girl also uses a monocle. For real.
Veronica Sawyer falls for JD's "bad boy" ways and gets swept up in his murder schemes. While she does resist him most of the time, her wardrobe shows us that she's got some darkness in her as well.

JD gets the idea for these make-it-look-like-a-suicide murder schemes when he glances at a copy of The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath in Heather Chandler's room. You may know Sylvia as that brilliant poet who was regrettably cursed with depression and stuck her head in an oven when she was thirty. I don't know much about The Bell Jar itself (though it is on my never-ending must read list) but referencing Sylvia Plath, who was pretty and blonde just like Heather Chandler, is awesome enough for me.

Death by drain cleaner, not oven.
After Heather Chandler kicks the bucket, Heather Duke (Ms. Green with Envy) claims the Power Scrunchie and starts wearing a lot of red. Heather Duke has been holding on to a copy of Moby Dick for most of the movie, and only decides to get rid of it when she rises to power. While I've never read Moby Dick, I know enough about it to guess that she sympathizes with Captain Ahab trying to conquer a power much stronger than himself. She only decides to ditch the book when she becomes the whale herself and starts eating people.

Veronica takes the Scrunchie of Power away from Heather Duke at the end of the movie after she's defeated JD. Something else worthy of note is that Westerburg's school colors are red and black. Power and evil are the forces rubbing up against each other there, so it makes sense.

Veronica became part of the Heathers clique in the first place when she abandoned her best friend, Betty Finn. Their names are doubly symbolic of their destined BFF status. The first names, Betty and Veronica, might remind you of Betty and Veronica from the Archie comics (which I have never read) and the last names, Sawyer and Finn, might remind you of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn from Mark Twain's classic novels (which I once read way back in the eighth grade). With destiny friendship names like those, it's no wonder they reconcile by the end of the movie.

I tried to find a less gay still of these two and could not. Make of that what you will.
I'm sure there are even more things to analyze that I'll notice on subsequent watches, but this is all I've got for now. I hope that you've enjoyed my little self-indulgent English Major post. At the very least, I hope I've convinced you of the awesomeness of Heathers.

Heathers 5ever.

1 comment:

  1. Hey! Nice work! I was thinking of analyzing this bitch myself! Glad I'm not the only one, but I have far more to say about it.