Monday, May 8, 2017

Biblical, Shakespearean, and Other Themes in "Heathers"

Let's celebrate my half birthday by sharing my first analytical blog essay in months! :D

For the past few weeks, I have been on a "Heathers" kick. Heathers was a teen movie in 1988 starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater and it was remade as an Off-Broadway musical in 2014. I watched this YouTube video one Sunday morning, heard "Dead Girl Walking", liked it, looked it up along with the rest of the musical, and the rest was history.

I had heard about the musical when it came out, but still didn't really think that much about it. Although, I will give its Twitter account credit for being the one Broadway musical account to follow me. ;)

I never really knew what "Heathers" was about, hence my current interest to now delve more into it. All I knew was that it is about a clique of girls all with the name Heather and that this teenage bad boy tries to kill everybody. I always sensed the dark tone, but now I have more of an understanding of the story in general.

For example, I never knew that Ryder's character wasn't named Heather. I always thought that she was the fourth Heather or something. However, high school senior Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder in the movie, Barrett Wilbert Weed in the musical) is a teenage nobody who longs for life in elementary school when all of her classmates got along with each other. She hooks up with the awful popular girls, the Heathers (Heather Chandler, the Queen Bee, Heather Duke, the bitchy second-in-command, and Heather McNamara, the one that tags along and has some deep issues of her own), in order to avoid being targeted by the bullies. She becomes attracted to new kid Jason "J.D." Dean (Christian Slater in the movie, Ryan McCartan in the musical) when he is the only one strong enough to stand up to the bullies and wishes for him to protect her. The two develop a sort of flirtation and end up accidentally-on-purpose murdering the mean kids for revenge and framing the homicides as suicides to alleviate the blame, thus launching a whole teen suicide awareness campaign at their Westerburg High School. From this, Veronica's life starts to spiral out of control as J.D.'s true dark colors are revealed and he gets more and more determined to purge the bullies in order to sanctify society.

There are some themes in this plot that I believe are worth noticing, so let's dive right in! :) Incidentally, although I will be talking about both the film and the musical, I'll be going by the musical more. They made some changes from the film for the stage version and I feel more familiar with the latter.

Beware of spoilers and adult language!!!