A Negative Charge, by Tyler Smith

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3 Responses

  1. Anthony says:

    I decided to read this article having listened to the BP podcast about unintended themes. Sounds like this movie is a great example of it. Is the screenwriter-producer-actor holding himself up for martyrdom or vilifying such a character? I have not seen the movie, but what most intrigues me is how common this kind of snarky, self-obsessed, holier-than-thou character is in today’s TV and cinema. Now I don’t mind a story with an a**hole for a character (for example, both leads in Notes on a Scandal; Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench), but is there a problem when this is the majority – or a sizeable proportion – of entertainment?

  2. Ryan says:

    I feel like you’re being pretty harsh, here. I didn’t love the movie myself, but I don’t think the message is what you think it is. SPOILERS

    Late in the film, the blackmailed kids call out Carson to his face and let him know what a dick he was being and he seems to take that in. He also, you know, dies. I think that’s Colfer judging the character Carson and saying “you think you’re better than this town so now you’re never going to leave it”. And much like Kevin Spacey in American Beauty, Carson has a post-death epiphany through movie magic, and seems to be humbled by it in the end.
    I do agree that the character was probably less lovable than Colfer envisioned. This might be because he himself just recently left a small town high school where he was apparently bullied for being gay (he’s given interviews saying as much) and so he still has some residual anger there. Unfortunately, the Carson character wasn’t really bullied, just politely ignored for the most part, so his anger seemed too much.

    • Battleship Pretension says:

      Oh, I’m sure he didn’t intend for a “Bullying is okay if it’s towards the right people” message, but that’s definitely what came across, and it is precisely because we’re not really sure exactly what the various stereotypical kids actually did to deserve his hatred. They seemed to mostly leave him alone. And while ignoring somebody completely can be its own form of cruelty, here it seemed mostly to be a way of dealing with somebody that not merely refuses to be ignored, but insists that he’s the best person you know.
      I do remember the scene in which the kids tell him off, along with another scene in which the head cheerleader asks him to back off because this may very well be the best time of her life. I was very excited by those scenes because it looked like they might be the initial spark that cause Carson to start to change. Unfortunately, this is not the case. One scene has no emotional consequences and Carson ultimately seems unaffected by it, and the other ends with Carson lecturing the cheerleader about following her dreams. So, in a scene where he could have seen her for the first time as a real person, he instead sees the opportunity to once again assert his moral and intellectual superiority, ending the scene with a quiet, “There has to be somebody other than me who realizes this.”
      And as for him dying, and the accompanying epiphany. The random death seems to be fairly neutral, until we see that the other kids finally responding to Carson in his death and decide they should try to be more like him. And the epiphany actually seems to have less to do with how he treats others and more to do with not needing the approval and acceptance of others. His epiphany actually moves more towards self-righteousness, not less.

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