Impressions

Question and answers, musings and thoughts...

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Maclurv
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Impressions

Post by Maclurv »

I'm musing here, speculating as I go.

I'm trying to re-imagine my first time watching. This show spoke to me initially for the romance. So I happily plugged in to Catherine's character and lived the romance vicariously through her. So when I hear words, especially for the first time, when Vincent suggest forgetting him in the pilot, and saying 'goodbye' (where Catherine adds, 'for now'), and we keep hearing about 'the love that can never be' and Father's warnings, etc. Perhaps this all goes to creating a feeling that Catherine is fighting for it more strongly, and I think there is perhaps an initial impression that Vincent doesn't see himself acceptable in a relationship, so from this feeing, it is easy to hear dialogue as suggesting he is not suitable (or worthy, or whatever word first springs to mind in the viewer) and so is trying to spare Catherine from tying herself to him, and a feeling of pushing away. Once a strong emotional reaction has been established, it is hard to adjust the beliefs that stem from that. How often have we, in relationships of our own, heard and felt incorrectly, yet found it hard to adjust to the clearer understanding (if we indeed ever get there)?

One of the themes that can elicit strong emotions from me is where one love mistakenly views the other in some way causing that love to let go of the other; the other then feels unjustly rejected and hurt that their love can view them in that light at all, and eventually wending their way to reunite and clear up the misunderstanding. It's the separation and coming back together. (Admitting this probably means I need years of psychotherapy, but there it is.) I felt that push-pull I think when I first watched the show. I saw more doubt in Vincent initially; I saw Father's caution reinforcing that doubt initially; I so wanted a happy ending. Alas on that, but oh well.

Then fast-forward to present day. Fondly remembering the romance, I bought the DVDs when I discovered them. A solid 35 or so years later, and I'm in a different place in my head now than I was then. I see more layers to this show than I did then. And I also admit that Ron P's performances, while rich, are often very subtle, and can be missed entirely if not watching with care. So looking at acting, staging, etc, reading what others think, discussing, all adds to it for me and open new possibilities.

But emotional impressions are very strong and very hard to let go. And that's if you are even considering letting go. If you don't see a need there is no consideration, and perhaps these are fans who react so strongly to characterizations that are different from theirs.

Don't know if any of this makes sense or not. Just some musings.

Pat
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Extra sympathy for Catherine?

Post by 222333 »

Pat:
I'm trying to re-imagine my first time watching. This show spoke to me initially for the romance. So I happily plugged in to Catherine's character and lived the romance vicariously through her.

*
Same here. And “here” is especially “here”, inasmuch I watched the show in Italy, absolutely unaware of what it was about and all the rumours, and one episode a day, like a long story, eagerly waiting for the next installment the next day. Enough to digest and dream, not enough to be distracted and forget. I lived two solid months of bliss, and one half month of nightmare.

Now, “the love that can never be” is as much from Catherine as from Vincent, even more. I have just posted – and re-read before posting – the transcript of A Happy Life. She is adamant about this: their love is impossible. And she is right. While watching the show, that first time, I kept looking at my balcony, exactly the same as Catherine’s, only at the first floor, and wondering how I would react if a Vincent appeared there in the night. My life, my friends, my job, my beliefs...
Does Vincent consider himself not acceptable in a relationship? With a Topsider socialite? Absolutely! And he is right as well. But he dares dream the impossible.
Because my point is that their love is *really* impossible, and they BOTH are fully aware of it. Something that there has never been. The third character I love, in this series, besides Vincent and Catherine, is New York City, the real life of real people, facing the magic. The magic of love, not the magic of a magic wand making things easy. “Every moment we share is a gift, and a miracle”.

Now, the imprinting, for me, that came from my first watching, is of a couple that had terrible obstacles to overcome, BOTH of them. I understand Vincent, when he is assaulted by doubts and uncertainty. And I understand Catherine, when she tries to “live in New York and be happy”. My imprinting is of a slow development, while they both move towards love, helping each other.

When, years after, I found fandom, I obsessively looked for SND stories – I had deep wounds to heal. When I read other stories, I found this strange whining Vincent and strong willed Catherine. But I found also something else, which unfortunately I have no means to verify. I have the impression that the early stories, written *before* the Dark Turn, when the show was still being broadcasted, are different. I could read some of them and identify their date, where the flavor is much more similar to the one I tasted. I have no evidence to exhibit, unfortunately, as my B&B archive died one year and a half ago. Just the memory.

So, I wonder if, besides what you said, Pat, there might be also an accumulation of sympathy for Catherine from the fans due to the hardships of her tragic outcome, and the ugly conflicts of the 3s, and the menace of the new Beauty.

S
Maclurv
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Impressions

Post by Maclurv »

I have the impression that the early stories, written *before* the Dark Turn, when the show was still being broadcasted, are different. I could read some of them and identify their date, where the flavor is much more similar to the one I tasted.


How interesting! I wonder if Vicky's database has dates associated with the stories? That would be an interesting analysis.

Because my point is that their love is *really* impossible, and they BOTH are fully aware of it.


So are you saying, Sobi, that this is true throughout the show, or only up to A Happy Life? Because I think TPTB even changed on this, beginning with the love than can never be (they won't) to the anything is possible (looking at how to develop the storyline to make it happen). In interviews over time, I see a shift.

For me, I wanted to believe it was possible (not saying easy, just possible) because that gives the most hope to me in the storyline.

there might be also an accumulation of sympathy for Catherine from the fans due to the hardships of her tragic outcome, and the ugly conflicts of the 3s, and the menace of the new Beauty.


Another intriguing thought!

Pat
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Impressions

Post by Zara »

S wrote:Now, “the love that can never be” is as much from Catherine as from Vincent, even more. I have just posted – and re-read before posting – the transcript of A Happy Life. She is adamant about this: their love is impossible. And she is right. While watching the show, that first time, I kept looking at my balcony, exactly the same as Catherine’s, only at the first floor, and wondering how I would react if a Vincent appeared there in the night. My life, my friends, my job, my beliefs...Does Vincent consider himself not acceptable in a relationship? With a Topsider socialite? Absolutely! And he is right as well. But he dares dream the impossible. Because my point is that their love is *really* impossible, and they BOTH are fully aware of it. Something that there has never been. The third character I love, in this series, besides Vincent and Catherine, is New York City, the real life of real people, facing the magic. The magic of love, not the magic of a magic wand making things easy. "Every moment we share is a gift, and a miracle".


Thank you for this.

S wrote:So, I wonder if, besides what you said, Pat, there might be also an accumulation of sympathy for Catherine from the fans due to the hardships of her tragic outcome, and the ugly conflicts of the 3s, and the menace of the new Beauty.


I have wondered about that too.

I have also wondered whether the weight of history with the story has solidified into a fanon which is now of greater importance to fans than the original material.

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Impressions

Post by 222333 »

Maclurv wrote:
I have the impression that the early stories, written *before* the Dark Turn, when the show was still being broadcasted, are different. I could read some of them and identify their date, where the flavor is much more similar to the one I tasted.


How interesting! I wonder if Vicky's database has dates associated with the stories? That would be an interesting analysis.

*
No dates in the database. It was just the different approach that, in some stories, made me go and research the date it was written. Some times I managed to find it out, and realized that it was early in the show.

Maclurv wrote:
]Because my point is that their love is *really* impossible, and they BOTH are fully aware of it.


So are you saying, Sobi, that this is true throughout the show, or only up to A Happy Life? Because I think TPTB even changed on this, beginning with the love than can never be (they won't) to the anything is possible (looking at how to develop the storyline to make it happen). In interviews over time, I see a shift.

For me, I wanted to believe it was possible (not saying easy, just possible) because that gives the most hope to me in the storyline.

*
Oh, sorry! Of course I believe, with V & C, that "with love, everything is possible". So, I do believe that their impossible love will find a happy ending. I am just saying that the premises are really, really, REALLY difficult. And in my opinion, this is often forgotten, and things considered much easier than what they are. Everything is against them, inside them and outside them. And I'm saying that they were fully *aware* of this, they did not approach their attraction lightly, they "resisted" and tried to do the sensible thing. And the evidences of such difficult way to be a couple are scattered continually along their path and continually pop up. For me, there is only one sure thing: they are in love. But how to be a couple without denying their own nature and identity is a terrible problem. Because they love each other exactly for what they are, they do NOT want to change the other. For Catherine, what Vincent is has never been a problem. She loves him because of what he is, not despite. He may be a freak for others, never for Catherine, and while she has plenty of other flaws both as person and as lover, this is never among them. And Vincent wants Catherine Above, Free, Independent, carrying his light. The impossibility of making of all this a real couple ("will we ever be together? truly together?") is what they have to fight. But they do want to fight for their love. “We are something that has never been. And our journey is one that none have ever taken. We are just now setting out.” Only, their fight is harder than any others’. They have all the problems of Romeo and Juliet plus all the problems of Navarre and Ladyhawke.

S
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Post by 222333 »

Zara:
I have also wondered whether the weight of history with the story has solidified into a fanon which is now of greater importance to fans than the original material.

*
Oh, for me this is evident.

S
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Post by Maclurv »

Zara:
I have also wondered whether the weight of history with the story has solidified into a fanon which is now of greater importance to fans than the original material.

*
Oh, for me this is evident.


Given how easy I found it to fuse the line between remembering what something came from, stories or the show, I'd say this is inevitable.

Maybe we each see in the characters what we want them to be. For example, for those who see Vincent as more needy, insecure in himself, they see themselves as the nuturer who can help him; those who see Vincent as the more animalistic see a man who can dominate and control them, etc. Maybe that's how we get so many interpretations.

Pat

PS Who are
Navarre and Ladyhawke.
?
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Post by Zara »

Navarre and Isabeau/Ladyhawke. Devoted lovers from the fabulous fantasy film Ladyhawke. Ignore the wonky 1980s soundtrack. The story is beautiful. It even includes a plucky lad nicknamed Mouse.

;)

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Post by Maclurv »

Thanks! Have not seen that one, but remember seeing about it.

Zara, in my re-readings of late, I was trying to find when you had discussed the mythology of B&B, and found some. You mentioned not all stories had a transformation, where upon the love given was rewarded by changing into a prince or some sort. I've been thinking about this. If the moral of the story is to see behind, to accept people for who they are, doesn't the transforming fairy tale/story make light of that if it transforms the Beast? Doesn't that make our version of the story all the stronger because there is no outward transformation possible?

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Post by Zara »

Pat wrote: If the moral of the story is to see behind, to accept people for who they are, doesn't the transforming fairy tale/story make light of that if it transforms the Beast? Doesn't that make our version of the story all the stronger because there is no outward transformation possible?


It all depends on the purpose of the story.

In the case of "Beauty and the Beast" type tales in general, the focus is not meant to linger on the Beast's transformation. Cocteau's seminal film set the standard for 20th century renderings of the fairy tale by giving so much new and unique attention to the Beast's side of the story, depicting Beauty's civilizing influence upon the monster. Disney later took this new emphasis to its most obnoxious extreme, so that in Disney's version, Beauty makes no personal transformation at all while Beast does all the work of changing himself in order to be worthy of her. Disney definitely made light of the central lesson of the tale, and so ends up telling us a totally different story. In most of the literature, it is Beauty's journey and transformation that is rewarded in the end by gaining a partner she truly loves, in a form she can permissibly love him, according to the current dictates of her surrounding society. The pattern of Beauty's journey determines the nature of the Beast's transformation during the tale.

Examples.

B&B tales that follow the "Cupid and Psyche" pattern contain an enchanted/animal bride/groom who instructs the Beauty to abide by some arbitrary rule of privacy, which Beauty invariably breaks in some way, only to learn that the rule was meant to help the bride/groom break the imprisoning enchantment. By failing to trust the beloved, and also failing respect the rules of conduct for the relationship, Beauty has prolonged the enchantment and initiated Beauty's own journey to become the one who can break the spell without the Beast's overt assistance. (I used "Beauty" in a gender-neutral way here because Beauty does not have to be female). The theme to see behind/within and to accept people for who they are is there, but wrapped in a further lesson about the value of trust and perseverance. In these stories, Beauty is working to right a wrong she has committed against her Beast.

Tales that follow the Selkie/Sealskin pattern contain an enchanted lover (often female in this case) who is trapped in the relationship by the theft of a magic object which permits the Selkie to change shape at will. The ordinary lover gains a temporary partner who is always searching for the means to return to the enchanted land, but who in the meantime bestows wisdom, good fortune, beautiful children, and devoted partnership. This mortal lover's journey involves accepting the true nature of the beloved while also learning to accept the enchanted one's need for freedom. In the end, the enchanted lover recovers the sealskin (or other magic artifact) and then is free to make a choice between enchanted life and ordinary life. Most traditional Selkies return to the sea, but there are those who return to the lover or create an in-between kind of life.

The French B&B kernel with which we are most familiar today was originally written for young women during an era of arranged marriages that were used to transfer power and property between men, using brides as tokens of value and bonds of kinship. Beauties of the day hoped for princes but easily ended up with brutes. This is why the original tale begins with a transaction between Beauty's father and the Beast, and why it is supposed to be such a HUGE surprise when the Beast welcomes Beauty to his domain and treats her with the utmost courtesy, granting her every freedom and privilege imaginable, *including the freedom to say NO to his multiple marriage proposals!* We modern readers miss out on that surprise part because our own context is so vastly different today. In the old story, the lesson of looking beneath/accepting the Beast is augmented by the accompanying lesson for Beauty: to become an independent person in her own right, one who exercises the human freedom to make her own decisions. In that light, it is necessary for Beast to become fully human so that he can reflect Beauty's process of becoming fully human in a culture that did not honor the full humanity of women. Being equally matched at last when the story ends is the true happily-ever-after for Beast and Beauty.

Then we come to Koslow's retelling. Our society (as is made obvious simply by the fanfiction problems we've been pondering) is fixated upon the value of conformity to standardized ideals of normality. I am personally coming to believe that this is a deep-seated side effect of racism, which groups various "Others" into "races" separate from the established powers that be, but let's leave those roots for another day. Koslow, by offering a Beast who does not transform into a Man at the end of the story, has made an essential statement regarding the neglected value of both acceptance and creative resistance. His story portrays the courage required to break away from the tyranny of the Normal materialistic world to pursue a relationship with an economically impoverished Beast who embodies true beauty. This Beast needs a fresh opportunity to express his beautiful self despite mainstream values of power and identity which deny him that freedom. Our Beauty's task is to transform from a woman who screams at the sight of the Beast, flinging a mirror at his inhuman face, staring in paralyzed horror...into the woman who runs into his arms exclaiming, "What we have is all that matters!" and embracing her beloved with all her heart. The message is, "You don't fix the Beast to make him more normal and therefore lovable. You change yourself into someone who is genuinely loving." The lack of Beast's physical transformation is strongest, yes, speaking to our needs in our era of history. In another time and place, however, a different emphasis might be more necessary, and produce the stronger message.

Of use?

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Re: Impressions

Post by 222333 »

Zara: in Disney's version, Beauty makes no personal transformation at all while Beast does all the work of changing himself in order to be worthy of her.

*
That’s a “wow” moment for me.
This is SO true.

Disney’s version premiered in November 1991, when the newly born fandom was trying to exist all the same, orphaned of the show whose last episode had been aired one year before.

I don’t dare to draw parallels, nor to imagine any influence, but it’s a fact that a very popular way of depicting Catherine in fanfiction is that she is perfect, ready, willing, even impatient, practically from the fist moment, while the Beast is the one who has go towards love, overcoming his fears and unfounded doubts.

No, I don’t dare to imagine a direct influence of Disney over our show, but probably it’s true that a certain culture – and especially entertainment culture, which is getting more and more AND MORE invasive and heavily affecting patterns of thoughts and behavior – prefers to depict things in black and white and to oversimplify things. And in the fairy tale department (more frequented by women than by men? surely it’s so in our show audience), probably it’s easier to enjoy the representation of a “perfect” female character. (Along this path, it's meaningful that the last Disney "princess", Merida of "Brave", does not need a prince.)

Now, both Catherine and any fairytale Beauty of course have to face dramatic changes and challenges. Their main virtues, though, are courage and strength, particularly in fanfiction. Catherine is always “right”, as if the shades of gray of which any human beings are made are rather Vincent’s lot. I am pretty sure that it is a satisfying way of imagining/writing her for a lot of female fans, a fulfilling projection. But this is unbalanced and, especially, untrue in the episodes. For me, also unispiring. I dearly, dearly love Catherine, precisely because she's "strong and weak… A human being." But then, I did not like "Brave"... :P

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Re: Impressions

Post by Zara »

S wrote:Now, both Catherine and any fairytale Beauty of course have to face dramatic changes and challenges. Their main virtues, though, are courage and strength, particularly in fanfiction.


I would add to Beauty's virtues, for the fairy-tale/Koslow-series side of things, at least, compassion. The art of truly feeling with, even suffering with, another. For this virtue is supported by the other two you have named, and forms the core motivation of her inmost character, even as she grows and changes over time. In Koslow's telling, Beauty definitely experiences her long arc of learning moments, expanding her inner kernels of compassion, courage, and strength (among other valuable qualities) over time. But as you say, she is by no means a polished product at the beginning of the story. She tells Vincent more than once about how hard it is for her to learn to be strong. I'm going to risk pointing out a related theme of Catherine's representation in fanfiction. The perfect-from-the-first-moment-Catherine is usually portrayed as charitable, someone of ample material and emotional means who bestows her bounty upon those lesser endowed (including her rather Disney-esque/American-encultured Beast). But her Lady Bountiful charity too often supersedes, or even at times excludes, genuine compassion. I think this presentation shifts the story away from the heart and soul of our show just as much as does placing the full burden of character growth upon Vincent.

And don't get me started on Brave. :wink: I did not like that movie either.

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Re: Impressions

Post by 222333 »

*
Well, yes, if we focus on the Beauty’s incarnation that is Catherine, definitely compassion and generosity, along with strength and courage, are her core virtues. In fact, “her beauty, her warmth, her courage” are what captured Vincent’s heart, as he says in the intros.

Personally, there’s something more that I love, which is also her peculiar feature. It seems to me that she accepts Vincent completely. She may curse the circumstances and long for a more free way to enjoy their relationship, but I never see her wishing that Vincent was different, from the very moment she removes his hood and looks at him, taking him into herself, in that *beautiful* scene in the Pilot, where their two faces are mirror to each other, after the “real/fake” mirror had caused hurt and misunderstanding.

I’ll even dare say that also in their relationship, she relies on him to set their pace, because she trusts him. Probably she knows herself well enough to understand that her warmth and generosity need direction. I pointed out many times that she does not tolerate control, and we see her dumping Stephen and Tom for this, and dueling with Elliot. But Vincent... is different. It's not about control, is it?

About Lady Bountiful, I agree. I regret that that beautiful opening of the Suicide Hotline of GBTC is so seldom explored in fanfiction. Rather than giving money, the canon shows that Catherine chooses to give herself, her time and compassion. And, in line with her characteristic unruly generosity, she gives *more* than is requested and appropriate, blatantly ignoring that “No Personal Involvement” sign. That episode tells so much of Catherine!

Um… that makes me think that I’d better go catching up with the Episode Discussion group talks.

S
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Re: Impressions

Post by Maclurv »

Sobi,

I like your summary of Catherine's strengths. And I like that she gives of herself, rather than just money. However, if I may anticipate Zara a bit, she may say that her ignoring the rules is an example of her poor risk assessment, although with Lena, it did turn out okay.

Perhaps these few responses re Catherine should be moved to the Catherine thread?

Pat
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Re: Impressions

Post by 222333 »

if I may anticipate Zara a bit, she may say that her ignoring the rules is an example of her poor risk assessment,

*
... and, anticipating what I'd reply in my turn, :mrgreen: I'd say that this carefree side of her character may be fascinating for someone, like Vincent, for whom instead a careful risk assessment is vital, although he shares this desire of breaking the rules. They may be solemn and mythical, but they are first of all two young people in love with each other, and pour cause.

S
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