Discussion for Episode 5: the Zit

General discussion about the nineteen episodes of "My So-Called Life". Note: Our episode guide can be found here.
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Post by SanDeE* » Feb 13th 2003, 2:46 am

I have a couple of friends that have nicknamed me "Bandcamp" because I have plenty of stories from when I was at band camp (although we called it Summer Music Clinic...). However, I do not play flute. :P
Um, in my room, one seam is a little off and I stare at it constantly. It's, like, destroying me.

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Post by Megs » Feb 13th 2003, 10:26 am

Lindsay wrote:I do love how all the students in the band go crazy and get out as much as they can after the teacher instructs them to "put their instruments away." That always struck me as very realistic.
I always thought that, as well. It reminded me of middle school band (I never played in high school).
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Post by TomSpeed » Feb 13th 2003, 10:52 am

I remember thinking about going out for band in high school. For me, it was kind of those things like trying skydiving. I wanted to do it, but I was too shy. One of my older sisters played the French horn in junior/senior high school. So, I might have had some natural musical abilities.

It's funny that I didn't overcome my crippling shyness until I went to college out of state. The thing that probably helped me the most was taking an acting class. I had an extremely difficult time in the class. It takes a lot work to be successful in an acting class, esp. if you are shy.

Our final exam was to act in two scenes before a public audience. The first scene was a monologue. The 2nd scene involved a partner. I rehearsed my monologue and the 2nd scene with my partner constantly. Needless to say I nailed my monologue and my partner and I nailed the 2nd scene. My roommate and his girl friend were in the audience. I was so pumped.

Additionally, I fell in love with the actress who costarred in the second scene. Unfortunately, it was the end of the year. Nothing came of it. I can see how many actors and actresses fall in love during the making of films. You have to bring so much to a performance to make it good. I kind of regret that I didn't pursue acting after college. Of course, I can get off my butt and join a local acting troupe.

Oh....and about "The Zit"....

When I was in high school, my face alternated from having no zits to having lots of zits. I still get them from time to time even now. I can remember feeling embarrassed about them when I was in school. Having zits can really hurt your self esteem, even if you are a young man. They can really hurt you if you are already shy. I still have a scar or two from my bouts with acne. However, the scars give my face character.
TomSpeed

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 NIGHTJESSI » Feb 13th 2003, 2:33 pm

Although Jordan is not a big part of this episode, I did find his conversation with Brian about Metamorphosis quite telling. It's another sign of Jordan's reading problem. And while he normally doesn't care about homework or attending class, he has managed to get an extension for the paper that was due on the book. Is that because Jordan asked for one, or a teacher actually cut him some slack and tried to give him the benefit of the doubt? In either case, I like how Rickie joins in on the conversation and seems fascinated by Brian's telling of how the family turns because that's how Rickie feels as well. He's not fitting in anywhere and his family has most definitely not done well by him.

While we've seen the logical progression of Angela and Sharon growing apart up to this episode, it's still sad to me to see them in the bathroom cutting each other up. It's one thing to grow apart, but to be so biting with each other is a bit heart-breaking considering how close they must have been. The remembrance of the Girl Scouts motto as well as the reference to both of them participating in previous mother-daughter fashion shows tells us how much they must have been in sync at one time. And every time I think about Camille and Patty's friendship, it makes me think that eventually Sharon and Angela would become close again. Sure, Rayanne is fun and is taking Angela in new directions, but if there is a real crisis, it definitely seems like Sharon would be much more reliable than Rayanne.

I always want to tear up when I see the ending to this episode and hear that Enigma song. Angela's voiceover hits close to home. I think most of us were insecure in high school, especially when it came to looks/popularity, and I can really relate to Angela's stress over her zit and just over her being beautiful in general. High school, with its cliques, can be a tough place to be, but I do think Angela weathers the storm better than some. She might overanalyze things sometimes to the point of death. At the same time, though, she is able to be different from the norm and not conform, which is more than I can say for many people I encountered in high school.
Rayanne, Miss Most Slut Potential -- How much do you think this perception of Rayanne hurts Angela? How much hurt does Angela internalize?
TomSpeed, I definitely think Angela doesn't know how to handle Rayanne's new title, especially since they have been so close. The fact that Angela didn't make the poll at all hurts her even more. Here is Rayanne reveling in her title and the attention it gets her, and that bothers Angela because she is trying to lie low because of the zit as well as the connotation that being friends with Rayanne might now reflect poorly on her. The strange thing is, Angela has been aware of what Rayanne is like so I think it's more an insecurity thing where Angela wishes she could be spirited and carefree like Rayanne instead of hurting inside because of the things that are on her mind.
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Post by likelife » Feb 14th 2003, 5:05 pm

i think that part of wha upset angela about th epoll (other than th eobvious question of whether or not boys find her attractive and noticeable) is this:

the poll is potentially upsetting and insulting, it labels people and judges them. but, it also gives them an identity (i guess i've been thinking about identity because of "the contradiction that we call jordan" thread). if mscl is at least in part about characters searching for their identities, than it's easy to see why this list could upset someone. if you are put on it, i.e. given a title, then someone else has chosen what your identity will be. and if you are left off of it, does it mean that, in terms of high school social life, you HAVE no identity?
thus, rayanne is psychotically HAPPY about the poll because it means that she is noticed. she is an attention junky because she did not get enough of it at home. now, she has proof in writing that she is the "stuff that people notice." she affectively represses the knowledge that being labeled a slut is not really all that great.
sharon is frustrated because she likes attention and wants to be liked by everyone, but she wants to feel that it's for the right reasons. when her breasts make the top forty, she honestly feels as if it's her breasts INSTEAD of her that people are appreciating. we know that sharon has a very strict sense of right and wrong (though whether she follows it, or whether we always agree with her is another matter). to her, the poll is wrong.
angela is crushed by the poll because she feels completely insignificant. she's got a pretty good idea that she does not want to BE patty, sharon, or rayanne, but what does that leave her with? is there any way for people at school to notice her or care about her that does not involve a rumor about "complete sex" that she never actually had? angela does not want to be false, she knows that she wants to be true to herself and to her ideals, but she is, as yet, still forming those ideals. she does not want to parade around in matching dresses with her mother, that's for sure, but is her only other choice to be "that weird girl that rayanne graff is always with"?

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Post by TomSpeed » Feb 14th 2003, 5:32 pm

I definitely think Angela is upset at first that she isn't on the poll. Rickie hits it on the head when he says that Angela "blends in." Angela doesn't want to blend in. She wants to be noticed. This goes back to her craving attention yet dreading getting attention when she gets any that was present in previous episodes. You really aren't anyone in some ways until you make a poll. That's why Patty is disappointed when she hears that Angela did not make it on the poll.

You can see this dichotomy in actors and actresses. They are unknown, then they become famous. They might not want to become famous where they can't go anywhere without being mobbed, but they want to be known for their work. Plus, being famous helps you get good seats in restaurants, etc.
TomSpeed

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 SanDeE* » Feb 14th 2003, 6:43 pm

I think that Angela has the mental disorder called "social anxiety." It's the 3rd most common mental disorder in the US (I think I read that right...). Maybe Angela doesn't have it to a huge degree, but I think it's there a little. You can see it that she wished she had been on the poll, because she gets all offended by it. But TomSpeed and likelife (and everyone else who mentioned it) are right that she gets unnerved by the attention that she gets. You can see that in Guns & Gossip.

Social anxiety is not shyness. It's when you WANT to be socially active and talk comfortably with people and be the center of attention, and you think you can handle it until you are in those positions. Then you "freak out," so to speak. You feel judged and ridiculous, even though you are not. You are rational and tell yourself, "You are being absurd - no one is judging you!" But you just can't handle the attention or being in front of a group that well. I thought that Angela might have this disorder to a certain degree. Anyone else think this fits her character?
Um, in my room, one seam is a little off and I stare at it constantly. It's, like, destroying me.

~~Kristin~~

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Post by TomSpeed » Feb 14th 2003, 10:41 pm

Social anxiety -- that's a good term. You want attention but can't handle it when you get it. I would imagine a person who is afflicted with this malady would want attention, try to get attention, then react negatively to the attention when the attention is given. A shy person does not normally actively seek attention. The term wallflower comes to mind when I think of a shy person. I don't consider Angela a wallflower. She takes action. The actions she takes can have positive or negative results. It's kind of a self-fufilling prophesy. I think social anxiety could be used to describe Angela's personality. I agree with you, Kristin, that Angela isn't crippled by it. However, it could explain what she feels and does to some degree.
TomSpeed

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 Nostradamus » Feb 15th 2003, 10:20 pm

Kristin and Tom: You're both quite right about social anxiety being a genuine psychological disorder, though perhaps I can clear up a few points for you.

As you guessed, Angela's (and Brian's and Rickie's) shyness was realistic, but does not come close to the severity of Social Anxiety Disorder, or Social Phobia as it is more commonly known. Shyness, or mild social anxiety, is quite common throughout the human population and while it is uncomfortable, it rarely causes a serious disruption of the shy person's life.

True Social Phobia is a serious and potentially devastating psychological problem. The fear and discomfort experienced by the subject is often crippling and can prevent him or her from engaging in even the most routine social interactions. Fortunately, this disorder is very treatable with brief cognitive-behavioral therapy and/or the newest pharmaceuticals.

You can read a good description of Social Anxiety Disorder here.
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I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.
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Post by TomSpeed » Feb 15th 2003, 11:01 pm

Thanks, Nostradamus, for the info about social anxiety. I'd have to say Angela, like many of the characters in the show to some degree, is just naturally shy. Of course, she could be a lot more shy. I know that I was a lot more shy than Angela is in the show when I was in high school. Did I suffer from social anxiety? Maybe. Unfortunately, depression and shyness, along with a lot of other disorders, seem normal in high school. However, what seems like growing up pains can mask treatable problems.
TomSpeed

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, 8:20 am

just to make one really quick comment...
Lindsay wrote:I do love how all the students in the band go crazy and get out as much as they can after the teacher instructs them to "put their instruments away." That always struck me as very realistic.
OMG, yes! this moment always got to me cuz it's just one of those tiny little details, but anyone who's been in MS or HS band knows that that's exactly what happens whenever class ends :lol:
I bet you can actually die of embarrassment. I bet it's been medically proven.

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Post by nkatsa » Mar 24th 2003, 3:11 am

Dagger. I'm kind of surprised about the venom of the comment.
it seems horrible to say it, but i wasn't surprised. it's completely true that girls can be unspeakably cruel to each other when they feel jealous and insecure and threatened.

Speaking of which, I absolutely loved the subtle brilliance in that poster of the model slowly being degraded more and more every time you see it, paired with the question "why do girls have to tear each other down?"
it's a little premature to say how much Jordan cares for Angela. Showing him with the Queen of England kind of makes the point that Angela has receded on his radar.
i loved the way they did this scene though... with the voiceover of "the metamorphosis" going with it saying something about how when Gregor woke up he didn't know if he was still dreaming or not, to me it didn't come across like some big revelation of the way Jordan feels (or doesn't feel) about her, it was more like a surreal kind of nightmare sequence for all of them. i mean, look at the way the guys are so obviously staring at Sharon's chest, and rayanne literally surrounded completely with guys, it seems almost like an exaggeration of their worlds according to the way The Poll dictates them. And Angela sees him talking to Girl #1 on The Poll, it just drives the knife in deeper as she self-consciously touches her chin again with this "i knew i was a hideous cow, this confirms it, how could things possibly get any worse, get me out of this nightmare right now" look.

And I agree, this episode always makes me want to cry. The conversations with Patty at the end (i always want to echo Patty and just ask her how she can possibly say that about herself, but it felt so raw and honest, you could see that she really believed it, and that just killed me. *sigh*). And I am just so in love with that quote and that simple thought that "Sometimes it seems like we're all living in a kind of prison, and the crime is how much we hate ourselves. It's good to get dressed up every once and awhile and admit the truth. That people are so strange and so complicated that they're actually... beautiful." And her slightly misty eyes and her absolutely beautiful smile at the end as she says "Possibly even me" is just amazing, it's one of those moments that just makes me pledge my eternal love to this show. :cry:
I bet you can actually die of embarrassment. I bet it's been medically proven.

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Post by Grace » Apr 4th 2003, 6:04 am

likelife wrote:isn't it cute how rickie and patty have that moment about mary kwant?
Please excuse my silly question, but I was always wondering who Mary Kwant is. Could anybody explain it to me?

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Post by Megs » Apr 4th 2003, 10:01 am

Grace wrote:
likelife wrote:isn't it cute how rickie and patty have that moment about mary kwant?
Please excuse my silly question, but I was always wondering who Mary Kwant is. Could anybody explain it to me?
I don't know. I always wondered that myself.
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Post by TomSpeed » Apr 4th 2003, 10:43 am

From Angela's World glossary: KWANT, MARY
Fashion designer of the 1960's. The look Patty was trying to achieve in "The Zit."

I'm trying to find more info on the net.
TomSpeed

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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