I can see 18 year old Karen Wheeler, fresh out of high school, probably well off but not rich, dating a 22 year-old Ted Wheeler who was probably a jock at the time. I can see them getting married in a little ceremony at the state house that only family and 1 or 2 friends bother showing up to. I can see her walking down the aisle in her mother’s wedding dress, a forced smile like a mask on her face. She loves Ted, but not in the way that those romance novels describe love. It feels like safety. After all, Ted came from a good family, he had a stable job. He would protect her.
I can see her contemplating whether or not she should go to college or get a job. I can see her pulling out her high school diploma and running her fingers over her name, written in dark black ink. I can see her thinking back to all of the high school English classes she took. About how much she enjoyed learning about the great poets and thinking that she could do that someday. I can see her sitting on the bathroom floor, only a year after she got married to Ted, staring at a stick clutched in her hand and trading away thoughts of writing poetry for thoughts of bottles and diapers and sleepless nights.
I can see her holding Nancy, then Mike in her arms and feeling her heart swell for the first time in a long time, and thinking that maybe the sleepless nights and the casseroles and the soccer games are worth any poetry that she threw away. I can see her trying to convince Ted to have a third child because her children are the only part of her life that she actually enjoys, the only thing that keeps her from wondering what her life would be like if she hadn’t married a man she didn’t love when she was 18. I can picture her realizing that she has lived up to every cliche about a small town girl and not caring because she has her children and being a mom is the only thing that makes her truly happy now. I can picture her worrying that her kids were in trouble but not telling her about it. Her kids are her light, they’re her sun and her stars and now they won’t open up to her. I can picture her utter despair at the realization that they don’t need her anymore. And she doesn’t really know what happened that week, and she doesn’t think Mike or Nancy will ever tell her. But she picks herself up and she takes her kids to school and she makes dinners because that’s all she can do. And every night she hugs Holly a little closer and prays that the day that Holly realizes that she doesn’t need her mom any more will never come.
But she knows that like a train speeding down the tracks, no matter how much you dread it’s arrival, no matter how much you hope and pray that it’ll never come, there’s always a train coming in the end.
And she thinks that’s a kind of poetry in and of itself.
You know what’s wrong with you, Miss Whoever-you-are? You’re chicken, you’ve got no guts. You’re afraid to stick out your chin and say, “Okay, life’s a fact, people do fall in love, people do belong to each other, because that’s the only chance anybody’s got for real happiness.” You call yourself a free spirit, a “wild thing,” and you’re terrified somebody’s gonna stick you in a cage. Well baby, you’re already in that cage. You built it yourself. And it’s not bounded in the west by Tulip, Texas, or in the east by Somali-land. It’s wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
idk if you have seen it yet but could you post that gif where suga is putting his hands on jimin's ones pls
i saw it and let me tell y’all that it made my day. like can we talk about how yoongi lifts up his hand a bit so it is over jimin’s one and not under it?? and how jimin looks up towards yoongi when their hands touch?? or how yoongi’s other hand sneaks on the other side so now his hands are literally engulfing jimin’s tiny hand??? or even how they look fucking engaged?????
You’re sitting here, an empty seat beside you - your hands folded across your chest and legs crossed, waiting impatiently for Holly to arrive. You were supposed to come to this thing together - but somehow work had delayed the two of you to awkward lengths, resulting in you arriving here first, waiting for her. This was rather awkward - given it was her cousin’s wedding. Weddings aren’t your favorite celebration - needless to say. And the whole set up is enervating enough, and with Holly who’s going to be joining you soon, the two of you together here would be a rather interesting scenario.
So what? So plenty! I love you. You belong to me.
No. People don't belong to people.
Of course they do.
I'm not going to let anyone put me in a cage.
I don't want to put you in a cage; I want to love you!
It's the same thing!
No it's not. Holly-
I'm not Holly. I'm not Lula Mae, either. I don't know who I am! I'm like cat here, we're a couple of no-name slobs. We belong to nobody and nobody belongs to us. We don't even belong to each other.
So this past week or so I’ve been having an email exchange with a close friend about Carmilla. And by that, I mean the web series, the character, and how the fandom interacts with both of them. My friend has read the original text before she even started the web series. I have not. So we’ve been coming at this issue from slightly different angles, but I think the conclusion is something we’ve both agreed on, and that is: Carmilla, the character, is problematic–and this fandom often glosses over that fact.
Recently (this past Tuesday, in fact,) my entire dash was having a riot over the fact that Carmilla had finally said Laura’s name. She showed genuine concern for her, and she reached out. I understand why people (and shippers) are excited about the fact that a character who has previously done all she can to distance herself from Laura (and the ginger scoobies) completely dropped that guard and rushed to Laura’s side. I get it. I really do. But the posts that I were seeing about that moment were really bothering me. “ SHE SAID HERNAME” is what everyone was freaking out about, but the thing is? This shouldn’t be shocking. Laura is a person, and surprise, yes, she has a name.
Like I said, I understand Carmilla distancing herself, but for me? A refusal to call someone by their name is more than distancing yourself from them. It’s dehumanizing. Up until this point, it’s been snide comments and condescending nicknames from Carmilla. Calling her cutie and creampuff and sweetheart. But it's notsweet. (And I didn’t even mention spaz, which even google dictionary calls offensive.) In the beginning of this series, Carmilla didn’t support Laura at all. Whether or not she felt different internally is one thing, but from what we, as an audience, saw and from what Carm showed Laura, Laura’s project was a joke to her. She didn’t take Laura seriously. And she constantly spoke down to her. Calling her these names wasn’t meant to be charming. It was meant to shrug her off like a child.
I’m going to drop a truth bomb here, and maybe you agree or maybe you don’t, but I think that I wouldn’t even be writing this post if Carmilla, the character, was a straight, white man. Why not? Because you already would have said these things yourself. If Carmilla was a few hundred year old (male) vampire constantly calling a 19 year old girl “cutie” and “sweetheart” when said 19 year old girl was always talking about how s/he was the actual worst, we wouldn’t think it was cute or charming. It would be problematic, and also gross.
But Carmilla isn’t a man. She identifies as a woman in a series that we love because of its badass lady cast, nonchalant treatment of sexuality, and nonbinary discussion of gender. But that doesn’t mean we should let Carmilla’s behavior slide.
This is where my friend–her name is Natalie and she’s lovely–was able to come up with an explanation that I just wasn’t seeing, and I’ll quote her directly because she said it so well:
“This is the motif we all recognize and have seen a thousand times over and over, the bad girl/guy evolves into an altruist, the spoiled brat evolves into a humanist, the rich white man learns to sympathize with the poor woc, etc. We’ve seen the problematic underdog turn into a good person a few times throughout our tv/movie watching lives, we have come to suspect and in this instance where the source material is readily available, expect it as the plot trajectory. Everyone who loves angst and reformed assholes can spot this literary theme from a hundred miles away.”
That is true.
“So Carmilla is brash and spooky, she must be hiding something, the fandom says. Carmilla is outright mean and dismissive, she must care for Laura’s safety ultimately, they postulate. The fans justify her problematic behavior because they know what’s next, but they shouldn’t accept it or romanticize it. ”
Also true. Our future assumptions should not excuse Carmilla’s current or past bad behavior. Maybe those who have read the text know a good change is coming, but it’s not here yet. So why are we romanticizing this dismissive, condescending, and negative behavior now? I’m not saying that Carmilla can’t change, that she doesn’t, or that she won’t. (Spoiler alert: we all know she will.) But what I am saying is that we need to recognize problematic behavior when we see it.
I’ll let Natalie conclude: “Just because we know the character will change for the better doesn’t mean we should silently observe her problematic actions and prematurely ship her/praise her for reforming. She hasn’t reformed yet. We must point out her bad decisions first in order to show the contrast to her good ones.”