Thursday, October 27, 2016

Jason Voorhees Isn't Boring

So, earlier I saw an article on a very big site that I will avoid naming that was calling out Jason as being a boring character. Now personally, I found this to be incredibly out of line because I will always be a major fanboy for Jason. In a lot of ways I feel like he represents what it's like to be a big awkward guy who has difficulty connecting with people.

Granted, he's a bit more stabby than I am, but nobody is perfect.

But the idea of him being seen as boring is really kind of shocking to me, even when I look at it from an objective viewpoint. Why? Because Jason Voorhees is, quite honestly, one of the most complex and interesting horror icons to ever exist. I say that based on who he is as a character and based on his backstory that often gets overlooked. The problem I find is that people like the writer of said article that inspired this one are simply taking him at face value. They're only seeing a guy in a hockey mask killing horny teenagers. Now, over the course of this article, I am going to illustrate why that's a bad way to look at him and why he's a compelling character.

You can't tell it, but he's smiling.
First, let's go with the obvious fact regarding his "death" at camp. Born disfigured, Jason was not well liked by most people, especially kids who happened to be attending the camp where his mom worked. He was constantly bullied, beaten, and picked on because of something he could not control. Ultimately, while the camp counselors were too busy with one another (i.e. bumping uglies) a group of kids forced Jason into Crystal Lake where he very nearly drowned. It was a horribly traumatic experience that clearly stuck with him throughout his life. But, despite living, he ended up lost and separated from everyone else, leading to everyone assuming he was dead.

But we all know that didn't happen until he met Corey Feldman.
The news of his apparent death drove his mother into a grief so deep that she started killing people as a means of keeping the camp closed, so as to protect other children from suffering a similar fate. Jason himself though grew up fairly alone out in the woods, having to scavenge and learn to survive. When he finally got to see his mother again, it wasn't a tearful or happy reunion. No, it was him watching from afar as a teenager chopped her head off. So, here we have a traumatized disabled child who has now grown to adulthood without any sort of guidance and then he witnesses his mother being murdered. Couple this with the neglect the teenage counselors showed towards him as a child and his whole killing teenagers thing makes a lot more sense.

The hating water thing too. Trust me, nearly dying in water can really turn you off the stuff.
If you really look at the series as a whole, it is largely Jason trying to make sense of his own anger and lashing out at the people who failed him: teenagers more interested in fucking than in looking after the kids they're in charge of looking after. This is why he really is such an interesting character, especially when compared to other famous slasher characters because Jason is the one who is the easiest to sympathize with. He didn't ask for this life, it was forced upon him by tragic circumstance. An entire life of torture, loneliness, and confusion that only left him feeling angry.

And there's no amount of anger management that will soothe what he's got boiling inside of him.
Throughout the films...well, most of the films...we see him lashing out repeatedly at the things he recognizes as being bad based on what he's experienced. Teenagers, sex, authority, and trespassers. Truthfully, he mostly seems content to leave most people alone, so long as they stay the fuck out of his woods. Much like someone with PTSD, it can be argued that Jason isn't completely responsible for what he does when triggered by those around him. He's mentally ill and because no one besides his mother gave a shit, now he's everyone's walking stabbing reminder that there's a price to ignoring problems. His physical deformity may have led to his childhood pain, but the mental scars are what made him a killer.

Which is a shame because he'd probably be great in construction.
Why does mean he's not boring though? Well, when I think of boring things, I think of things that have no depth to them. I think of Michael Bay films, 12 year olds talking shit while killing one another in Call of Duty, the Movie series (Date, Epic, Scary, etc.), and E.L. James novels. Those things are boring. People bitching in comment sections about remakes is boring. Seeing Fox and Marvel keep up their slap fight in boring. But watching movies about a man who suffers from deep-rooted trauma related to abuse and the death of his mother killing pretty much anyone who gets in his way? Yeah, that's not boring. That's interesting. Seeing his reaction to different people, to different situations that he ends up in...seeing him vulnerable when faced with his own childhood trauma...seeing him being brought back to life after dying in a purely accidental fashion...all of those things are incredibly interesting.

He doesn't even open doors in a boring way.
The idea that a man like Jason who has suffered his whole life is boring is, quite frankly, dumb to me. It feels like something someone who prefers Cabin Fever to Cabin in the Woods might say, which is depressing. I feel reminded that not everyone will give these characters like Jason any sort of thought beyond what they see them do. We live in a world with a very short attention span, which leads to shits like Michael Bay getting rich while more talented directors struggle. Jason Voorhees isn't boring and I will never ever believe that he is. He came from an era where he was one of many different slashers and stood out because he had something special. He was the killer you felt for. The victim who had victims of his own. Jason didn't delight in killing like Freddy or do it seemingly without any real point like Michael. And maybe I am just a fanboy trying to defend something I love, but that still doesn't make me wrong. Later days, bleeders.

Now if you'll excuse us, we have some anger we need to get out.

No comments:

Post a Comment