Discussion for Episode 3: Guns and Gossip

General discussion about the nineteen episodes of "My So-Called Life". Note: Our episode guide can be found here.
NIGHTJESSI
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Post by NIGHTJESSI » Feb 2nd 2003, 6:25 am

RL was once again murderous, so I've just now had a chance to make it back here and really enjoyed everyone's insight into this episode.
Why hasn't Sharon told Angela before? If she is aware of Brian's feelings for Angela, you'd think she'd have known for years. You'd think that Sharon would have said, "Oh my god Angela, Brian totally loves you. Like, for years." It's pretty obvious that she hasn't said this to Angela. Which is weird, because I don't get the impression that Sharon feels all that close to Brian, like she thinks she should keep it a secret for Brian's sake.
Kristin, I'm guessing that Brian's feelings for Angela weren't as prevalent prior to the deterioration of Angela and Sharon's friendship, so Sharon was never really focusing on how Brian felt about Angela. Once the rift between Angela and Sharon started developing, both girls were off in their own worlds. With Sharon on the outside looking in, it was the perfect time to really examine what was going on around Angela and that was when it really dawned on Sharon how Brian felt. But, by the time she sees how Brian feels, she knows Angela is knee-deep in an obsession for Jordan and therefore she knows that Angela won't care about Brian's obsession.
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Post by IYBT » Feb 2nd 2003, 8:30 am

Thank you everyone for all of the great insights and thoughts on this episodes and those previously discussed.
I really want to respond to this thread, and the previous episode discussions, although I want to be able to read through everything written here in detail, re-watch the epsode again, just to make sure I am perfectly up on everything going on and then think about it.

I just really wanted to thank everyone so far for the thought they have put into their responces.

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Post by likelife » Feb 2nd 2003, 10:27 am

kristin -
i, too, love that scene in the car between rickie and angela. i think it masterfully ties in a lot of the themes of the episode, as well as accurately displaying the beginnings of a more meaningful friendship for those two.
angela and rickie are both dealing with the hurt and the advantages that being the subject of a rumor can present one with. angela is upset that people might be thinking of her differently now that they've heard about the supposed sex that she and jordan had. she does not want to be seen as THAT kind of girl, and she's not sure if she's really ready to come out of her shell and be "the kind of person who people notice." angela also cannot bear the thought that her parents potentially KNOW TOO MUCH (or for that matter anything) about her social life. but, as tomspeed reminds us, there really is a part of angela that is at least excited by this new attention (this is both general attention and attention from jordan), and i'd wager that she's not so sure if she wants to give that up completely. as much as a rumor is not a particularly mature thing to start, the rumor about jordan and angela has thrust her a bit more into the adult world, a one in which she will start to have to seriously consider some important decisions. angela has now realized how close one can come to having sex for all the wrong reasons (we might as well have..), and she's also discovered how other people can have such a damaging affect on your reputation/your life, and that that reputation and life mean something to her -- they are hers.
as for rickie, he has also been thrust into the adult world -- a world of potential violence and pain and suffering. we never learn enough oabout his family life to know, but one can assume that he's caught glimpses of this place for a long time. rickie takes a rumor gone wrong about himself and attempts to use it as protection. he does not want to get in trouble for having a gun or using one, but at the same time, he sees that being "the guy who had the gun" just MIGHT make the bullies at school leave him alone. i'd wager that most people at liberty, if they thought about it, wouldn't really believe that rickie had brought the gun to school in order to use it, but nonetheless, that mystery that surrounds his involvement is something that he does not want to let go of. this episode is a turning pt. for rickie because of his budding friendship with angela, but it's also important because it's the first time that we are(and possibly he is) confronted with rickie's volatile home life and social life. we become at least subconsciously aware that something is going to have to chaneg for rickie.

one last point about this... it's interesting that brian is sort of in control of both rumors. in the case of angela, he just planted a small seed and let people run with it. in terms of the gun and rickie, i think that brian made the right decision in the end and i'm glad that he stood up to foster as he did. but, the fact that brian is still the kind of teenager who starts a rumor about something that he has NO idea about, just because his feelings got hurt, shows that he has a lot of growing to do. i agree that angela hurt brian in the last episode, but i am not sure that we can place too much blame on her for that. sure, she should not have used brian;s house as a jordan catalano meeting place, but not because of brian's crush on her --- she shouldn't have done it because it's not really polite to take advantage of a friend. i do not think we can hold angela accountable for the feelings that brian has for her -- not yet.

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Post by likelife » Feb 2nd 2003, 10:29 am

and about sharon not telling angela about brian's feelings :
if sharon is just now discovering brian's crush, then how can we expect angela to know? consciously, at least?

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Post by TomSpeed » Feb 2nd 2003, 2:42 pm

One thing that makes MSCL appealling to me is it's structure. Angela is the central figure. The other characters radiate outward from her. Yes, it would be easier to have Rickie continue as Rayanne's friend in the series. However, Angela and Rickie's talk in the car brings Rickie into Angela's story. We care about Rickie because Angela cares about Rickie. In many TV series, there is no central focus, no linkage between the actions of characters with each other. The ability of these series to tell a story is hobbled as a result.

MSCL reminds me very much of McCullers's The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. The central figure in the novel is a deaf-mute. The characters in the novel radiate outward from him. We get to know them based largely in part from their interactions with him. Even though he cannot speak, the characters infer from him, and they receive affirmation that the decisions they make are correct and just.

There's a paper topic, lifers in college. Compare and contrast MSCL and Hunter.
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Patty: If Rayanne's not seeing you, and we're not seeing you, who is seeing you?
Graham: And how much of you?
Angela: Dad!
Graham: Oh, I'm sorry! I asked a question about your life, didn't I? Woah, what came over me?
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Thoughts On Foster

Post by IYBT » Feb 2nd 2003, 3:42 pm

Just a few thoughts in regard to Mr. Foster, it seems unanimously agreed that his actions are wrong that the way in which he treats Brian is completely inappropriate. The question that interests me is: why? Why is it that Foster takes the character of a baddy, not only when it seems he doesn’t have to, but also seems as if he lacks the logic of what he is doing; he is fully aware of Brian and his achievements along with how important that is to the school, and therefore himself.

Firstly, in context with actuality and realism in the show: Foster is being verbally attacked by the parents of the school, teachers working there along with governors of the school, his own superiors and maybe even some of the students, whom he is responsible for. That word is significant; he is responsible for the school, and the safety of the students. I can feel a lot of stress and worry in his character, what happens if he cannot find out to whom the responsibility of the action lies – who do you think is going to be the scapegoat if Foster cannot find out the truth or push that crown onto Brian? His streak of nastiness is out of desperation of the situation he is in not a trait of his character in normal circumstance.

Secondly, “school is a battlefield for your heart”; sometimes your heart wins, sometimes your heart loses. The head of such a place has to own the same traits, albeit slightly different. He compliments Brian, he tells him what a great student he is. It seems that at times Brian and Foster could be best of friends. Foster clearly represents a battlefield for Brian, who represents the heart of MSCL; it is he who feels the adult and true emotion of love for Angela. Foster is a deeper epitome of Angela’s (and it seems Brian’s) high school.

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Re: Thoughts On Foster

Post by RyeBlume » Feb 2nd 2003, 4:31 pm

IYBT wrote:Secondly, “school is a battlefield for your heart”; sometimes your heart wins, sometimes your heart loses. The head of such a place has to own the same traits, albeit slightly different. He compliments Brian, he tells him what a great student he is. It seems that at times Brian and Foster could be best of friends. Foster clearly represents a battlefield for Brian, who represents the heart of MSCL; it is he who feels the adult and true emotion of love for Angela. Foster is a deeper epitome of Angela’s (and it seems Brian’s) high school.
Wow. Deep stuff... cool. :D
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Re: Thoughts On Foster

Post by TomSpeed » Feb 2nd 2003, 5:38 pm

IYBT wrote:Just a few thoughts in regard to Mr. Foster, it seems unanimously agreed that his actions are wrong that the way in which he treats Brian is completely inappropriate. The question that interests me is: why? Why is it that Foster takes the character of a baddy, not only when it seems he doesn’t have to, but also seems as if he lacks the logic of what he is doing; he is fully aware of Brian and his achievements along with how important that is to the school, and therefore himself.

Firstly, in context with actuality and realism in the show: Foster is being verbally attacked by the parents of the school, teachers working there along with governors of the school, his own superiors and maybe even some of the students, whom he is responsible for. That word is significant; he is responsible for the school, and the safety of the students. I can feel a lot of stress and worry in his character, what happens if he cannot find out to whom the responsibility of the action lies – who do you think is going to be the scapegoat if Foster cannot find out the truth or push that crown onto Brian? His streak of nastiness is out of desperation of the situation he is in not a trait of his character in normal circumstance.

Secondly, “school is a battlefield for your heart”; sometimes your heart wins, sometimes your heart loses. The head of such a place has to own the same traits, albeit slightly different. He compliments Brian, he tells him what a great student he is. It seems that at times Brian and Foster could be best of friends. Foster clearly represents a battlefield for Brian, who represents the heart of MSCL; it is he who feels the adult and true emotion of love for Angela. Foster is a deeper epitome of Angela’s (and it seems Brian’s) high school.
Mr. Foster, like most principals of a large high school, doesn't know his students at all. How can he? Students come and go. Until he pulled Brian's file (the infamous "permanent record"), Foster doesn't know Brian from Adam. In fact, Foster uses what he learns from Brian's file, Brian's excellent grades, as a tool to obtain information from Brian. He fakes an interest in Brian's talents to seduce Brian into telling him what he wants to know. Brian, who is, sometimes, more than booksmart, sees through Mr. Foster's trap.

I agree that Mr. Foster is under a great deal of pressure to find out what exactly happened with the gun. However, to say he and Brian could be friends is misreading the subtext of what's going on.

Here's a story. I work for a large company. It has several phone centers/offices in the country. I've worked in my phone center for 5 years. It has about 300 employees. The head of our office knows all of his employees. He always smiles and makes small talk. He even calls people by name. I've probably spoken four or five times to him. However, he knows what department I work in and that I haven't missed a day of work in almost four years. How can he know 300 people? The truth is that whenever he meets someone, he picks one or two things about the person that he can associate with each person. I wear glasses. I speak in a deep Southern accent. He "knows" me. Many managers use this association technique. My boss shared this tidbit in meeting with one of my coworkers.

Mr. Foster doesn't seem that likable to me.
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Patty: If Rayanne's not seeing you, and we're not seeing you, who is seeing you?
Graham: And how much of you?
Angela: Dad!
Graham: Oh, I'm sorry! I asked a question about your life, didn't I? Woah, what came over me?
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Clarification - Re: Thoughts On Foster

Post by IYBT » Feb 2nd 2003, 6:02 pm

TomSpeed wrote:I agree that Mr. Foster is under a great deal of pressure to find out what exactly happened with the gun. However, to say he and Brian could be friends is misreading the subtext of what's going on.
Forgive me for my word usage, I certainly didn't mean "best of friends" literally. I was merely meaning that we are seeing Foster in this character for this particular circumstance. Of course if Brian were being interviewed by Foster for a more positive reason, then he would treat Brian in a much more positive way, or as I used the image earlier "best of friends."

I recall my own high school head tutor, I spoke to him four times whilst I was at that school, one of which I was there for negative reasons, he was pretty rough with me. The kind of experience where you just want to be anywhere else, and of course your sat there for what feels like hours (no doubt exactly how Brian felt.) Another time I was there for a positive reason and he treated me as if we were "best of friends" even though, clearly, as in Brian and Foster's case, we were not.

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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Feb 2nd 2003, 6:43 pm

likelife wrote:she's not sure if she's really ready to come out of her shell and be "the kind of person who people notice."
I agree with this statement - now that Angela has had her first taste of being the kind of person who people notice (Rayanne's speciality), she isn't sure that she wants to be like that. Contrast that with her earlier decision to dye her hair Crimson Glow, which assures her that people will "always be able to spot [her] in a crowd." I think Angela was tired of blending in and being like everyone else, but she isn't quite ready to swing to the opposite end of the spectrum and have all eyes on her.
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Re: Clarification - Re: Thoughts On Foster

Post by TomSpeed » Feb 2nd 2003, 8:47 pm

IYBT wrote:
TomSpeed wrote:I agree that Mr. Foster is under a great deal of pressure to find out what exactly happened with the gun. However, to say he and Brian could be friends is misreading the subtext of what's going on.
Forgive me for my word usage, I certainly didn't mean "best of friends" literally. I was merely meaning that we are seeing Foster in this character for this particular circumstance. Of course if Brian were being interviewed by Foster for a more positive reason, then he would treat Brian in a much more positive way, or as I used the image earlier "best of friends."

I recall my own high school head tutor, I spoke to him four times whilst I was at that school, one of which I was there for negative reasons, he was pretty rough with me. The kind of experience where you just want to be anywhere else, and of course your sat there for what feels like hours (no doubt exactly how Brian felt.) Another time I was there for a positive reason and he treated me as if we were "best of friends" even though, clearly, as in Brian and Foster's case, we were not.
Clearly, circumstances leading to conversations can affect the tone of those conversations. Foster clearly starts out as the "good cop." When he is unsuccessful in obtaining the information he desires, he changes to the "bad cop" role. It is to Brian's credit that he doesn't fall for either of Foster's deceptions.

I must, unfortunately, fault the writing in this episode. If a principal calls the police to be present when a student is questioned, he has an obligation to have the student's parents present. There are legal issues involved. Someone could argue that Foster uses this tactic as a form of intimidation, but I find it difficult to believe that a principal would open himself up to the legal jeapordy conducting such an interview might entail. Additionally, what better lever could a principal seeking information from a reluctant student have in his arsenal than a child's parents?
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Patty: If Rayanne's not seeing you, and we're not seeing you, who is seeing you?
Graham: And how much of you?
Angela: Dad!
Graham: Oh, I'm sorry! I asked a question about your life, didn't I? Woah, what came over me?
http://www.last.fm/user/TomSpeed/

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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Feb 3rd 2003, 5:00 am

I meant to mention this in one of my previous posts, but I love the scene where Patty and Graham discuss sending Angela to private school. I know people have mentioned Bess Armstrong's overacting in other instances, but this scene is so realistic and true - the content, the delivery, everything. After all, what wouldn't a parent sacrifice to protect a child?

In this episode, Patty finally begins to let go of Angela a little. Although she is foolish enough to suggest driving Angela to school (an idea that Angela immediately shoots down - no pun intended), she brings up private school only with Graham. Later she moves to touch Angela's hair and forces herself not to (as Angela is telling her that she can't protect her). Just as Angela is beginning to grow up, Patty is reluctantly beginning the process of seeing Angela as a young adult instead of a little girl.
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Post by TomSpeed » Feb 3rd 2003, 11:05 am

This show says so much without words. I agree, Candygirl, Patty's reaching out to almost touch Angela's hair before she leaves for school is important. She wants to protect Angela and hold her close. But, she realizes that Angela is not her little girl anymore. And, she cannot protect Angela from the outside world. This movement is also significant because Patty simply doesn't know how to show her love for her daughter. Should you hug and caress a teenager? Graham faces the same problem, but it is a little different for him. He has to deal with the fact Angela is becoming a woman. Her breasts, as she says in an earlier episode, have come between them.
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Patty: If Rayanne's not seeing you, and we're not seeing you, who is seeing you?
Graham: And how much of you?
Angela: Dad!
Graham: Oh, I'm sorry! I asked a question about your life, didn't I? Woah, what came over me?
http://www.last.fm/user/TomSpeed/

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Post by nkatsa » Mar 22nd 2003, 3:51 pm

It would be great if Brian could have said, "You did damage to me because I love you." However, Brian can't bring himself to say it.
Nah, I loved the heaviness of that silence. It was like daring Brian to say something, and whenever I'm watching it I'm torn between whether he should say it or whether to yell "NO, BRIAN, DON'T!!!!" :lol

Later she moves to touch Angela's hair and forces herself not to (as Angela is telling her that she can't protect her).
Oh wow, yes. this moment just had so much in it, felt so poignant and significant, it already chokes me up. I love that about this show... those subtle little movements that can say so much. it's just amazing.

Also that moment where jordan walks behind her after telling her that they mean nothing to each other, and she's trying to hide how upset she is, and she looks away and for just one short moment you see that famous chin tremble, and then she tries to choke it back and turn to face him. I love that. and speaking of that scene, did anyone else really feel angela's stabbing pain there as well? some of these scenes just really hurt. *sigh*
I bet you can actually die of embarrassment. I bet it's been medically proven.

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Post by TomSpeed » Mar 22nd 2003, 6:32 pm

Yes, the look on Angela face when Jordan tells her he will disavow any interest in her is a classic one. Her disappointment is palpable. MSCL is so much about facial expressions.
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Patty: If Rayanne's not seeing you, and we're not seeing you, who is seeing you?
Graham: And how much of you?
Angela: Dad!
Graham: Oh, I'm sorry! I asked a question about your life, didn't I? Woah, what came over me?
http://www.last.fm/user/TomSpeed/

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