I was watching Heathers for the umpteenth time today, but this time, rather than just amusing/thrilling me, it made me really quite sad.
Before reading on be aware there are spoilers, and if you haven’t seen Heathers then I highly recommend it, because it’s fantastic!
Okay, so anyways.
I was watching Heathers, and it got to the scene where JD blows himself up, and I felt overwhelmingly sad. It was like that scene in The Hunger Games, when it’s the final showdown with Cato, Katniss and Peeta, and Cato/the audience realises that Cato is not the true evil, and that the system fucked him. With JD, he is how he is because he lost his mother when he was very young. He has felt unloved for so long, and he seems to realise that he is beyond a point of loving. Which is sort of heartbreaking.
I think it must be because I recently finished watching 13 Reasons Why, and it’s made me want to hug/protect everyone from all the bad stuff. I just wanted to make it all okay for him. Make him feel like life isn’t a war and that he can love and be loved. I feel like in the musical his internal conflict is better represented (the musical is the best musical I’ve ever seen, I love it), and the audience gets a deeper view into what a sad character he is. The song from his death scene in the musical is called “I Am Damaged”, which just sums him up.
But he still does evil things.
In fact, Heathers does not really have a true protagonist or antagonist.
The Heathers are all pretty bitchy in the beginning. Heather Duke is fearful and anxious because of Heather Chandler, so becomes briefly happy/normal after her death, until she is encouraged to become the new queen bee. Heather MacNamara is kind of bitchy, but then, after the deaths, she is shown to be vulnerable and sort of sweet. Heather Chandler isn’t really as deeply explored because she dies so early, but it’s obvious early on that she doesn’t enjoy all the aspects of being queen bee (like when she is forced to give a blowjob at a party). As well as that, she is killed off, and if she was the true villain of the film you’d expect her to last a lot longer. Veronica is the “protagonist”, but again, she is involved in the killings and JD’s madness, so she is still evil. To be honest, a lot of the film seems to be her saying “I hate so and so”, and this doesn’t really change to the last third. JD obviously does bad stuff- he kills 3 people (including himself), and does all sorts of other crazy shit. But it’s a result of his upbringing, and being damaged by his mother’s suicide.
I can’t remember what film/show it’s in, but someone mentions Heathcliffe and Cathy’s (from Wuthering Heights) love being their only redeeming quality, and in a way this is sort of true for JD and Veronica. The only good thing about JD is his complete and true love of Veronica (even though he later becomes manipulative, the only truly good part about him is the intensity of his love for her). Veronica it could be argued has other redeeming qualities- she seems to have some sort of moral compass (unlike every other character), but apart from that, it is her love for JD that makes her a compelling/exciting character.
All the characters in the film are pretty morally ambiguous to be honest- no one is completely evil or good.
The whole of JD’s story arc is extremely sad really: he loses his mother, moves house constantly so never really makes any friends, his Dad is an arsehole, he finally finds something good in his life (Veronica), but because he’s so fucked up already and is clinging to the one good thing he loses her as well, and then he ends up killing himself. It’s really quite sad. And in a strange way, I relate to him more and more. I don’t know what that says about me.