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ST3: Hopper - The Phantom Librarian — LiveJournal
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
ST3: Hopper
Okay, so the Stranger Things posts are possibly not the best attention getters, but you know... I've been waiting two years. I'll give myself a week to obsess. :D


Okay, so on my list of favorite ST characters, Hopper isn't really in the top tier. I mean, I like him. I like everyone everyone in the show, including the ones I like to dislike. But in a pinch, if forced to choose a favorite, I'd most likely go with Dustin. Or Steve. Or Mike. Or El... okay, I'm not good at this forced to pick a favorite thing, but Hopper would be pretty far down in a free association list. I like the nerds first, and those discovering their inner nerd-dom.

But.

I have to address this "OMG, Hopper is so toxic!!!!" thing that's going around, based on his gruff handling of Mike and Eleven, his jealousy and temper issues regarding Joyce, and... well, pretty much those two.

First, yes--his temper can be a problem, but the show plays it as such in his personal relationships. Some people have tempers that are problems. And when he turns it on the bad guys... honestly, they mostly deserve it.

Second: Is he being too controlling with Mike and Eleven? Maybe. But like every other character on the screen not named Mike or Eleven (or maybe Max), by episode 1, he's hit his Mileven limit. Will is hurt, Dustin is infuriated, and even Lucas, who has a girlfriend of his own, has gotten to the point of finding them seriously annoying. Because they are, God bless them, seriously annoying. The annoying-ness mostly takes place in Hopper's vicinity, so he's at the end of his rope with them. One of the things about learning to date is learning to balance it with everything else, and Mike and Eleven are terrible at this part (like most fourteen-year-olds). He snaps. Is it a perfect response? No. But it's totally understandable.

Maybe the bigger problem is El's lack of outside horizons. She's clearly got more freedom than she did last season, but she's also obviously not going to school, and has rules about going out where there are too many people. Which, to be fair, was the instruction that Owens gave from the lab--that he'd advise having her keep her head down for at least a year (and, despite the real world time lapse, it's only been a little over six months in-story--the Snow Ball was in December '84 and ST3 takes place at the beginning of July '85). She isn't in a normal situation.

There's also a strong theme this season of performing gender roles, and Hop is doing that with the "gruff dad" trope.

And then there's the scene where he puts the fear of God into Mike. Yes, it's over-the-top. But you know... it wasn't actually about control. That was about the fact that Mike and El (but primarily Mike) had disrespected him to his face, and yeah, that needed addressing, and Mike had shown no signs of being willing to listen to anything short of having the shit scared out of him. I mean, I love Mike for any number of reasons, but talking to an adult the way he did? That would have been a wash-the-mouth-out-with-soap thing.

There's also the side-point that he's right, though for the wrong reasons (hence me not leading with this). Mike and Eleven are spending too much time together and utterly focused on each other. As Max points out, there's more to life than this. When El's able to spend more time with Max and working on the mystery (and buying new clothes... with money that, in good 80s movies tradition, materializes out of nowhere), she's able to grow exponentially, and to get to know herself. And when Mike started focusing on the bigger picture--mostly when Will rode away in the rain and he had a moment of realizing what a shit he'd been--he also grew, and, contrary to teenage obsession-think, became a better boyfriend as well. Because balanced humans are better humans, and better humans are better boyfriends/girlfriends.

That said, I wish they'd taken a little time to let him be some other way with her. Just for the sake of emotional impact further down the season.

Third: Jealousy. Hop is jealous when he finds out Joyce missed their dinner date to go work on the magnet thing with Scott Clark.

Sigh. Yes, jealousy in a long-standing relationship, or really an established relationship, can be toxic, and wild jealousy is a huge red flag. But like every human emotion, jealousy has a job to do. Its job is telling the person what he really wants. So yes, in a non-established relationship, jealousy is often the first sign of, "Hey, wait a minute. This could actually be a real feeling that I'm having..."

I just recently got around to watching Inside Out (not bad, but I felt like I was watching a Psych 101 lecture made by a super gifted animator), and the whole point--accepted by pretty much everyone--is that even the emotions that feel bad have a place and are legitimate. Except, apparently, for those emotions currently frowned upon. Accept tears! Cry! Don't bottle up your anger! Fear is totally reasonable sometimes! But jealousy, no that's outside the realm of the acceptable. Suppress it! Banish it! Sorry. Part of normal human emotional make-up. You just have to learn to address it in a healthier way.

Fourth: The endless fury.

Every season, the characters are all in different genres. Joyce and Hopper spend most of this season somewhere between a romantic comedy and a buddy cop show... and much closer to the latter, with the constant bickering and disagreeing on methods that are common to the genre. This is complicated by the fact that most of the season takes place the day after she utterly forgets about him and leaves him drinking alone in a fancy and expensive restaurant, and honestly, he has a right to be angry, and Joyce not even apologizing for missing dinner puts her in the wrong as well. I don't care whether or not it's a date; it's a really shitty feeling to be forgotten about, sitting there waiting for something you've been looking forward to--something that has been agreed to and set up--and realize that it's not happening. Hop does not deal well with his emotions (this is well-established as a character trait), and it turns into a kind of day-long temper tantrum. Would it have chilled out the next day? Probably--by the end of this day, they've set up another date, and he's offered her a job, and they've mostly started rolling their eyes at themselves. I think that the format of the show shoots itself in the foot here--when most of the season takes place over a single day, it leaves a sense of that day as the only thing that exists. So what feels like endless fury is really... one tense day after being hurt, during which things boil over. It's unfortunate that this is all he gets for the year. But I'd need a lot more of an overview to make a general judgment.

Eh. I have to go get ready for work, but I'd had these thoughts in my head. So of course, I had to write them down.
5 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
may_child From: may_child Date: July 20th, 2019 09:23 pm (UTC) (Link)

Trailers

Do you have any thoughts on the "Doctor Sleep" trailer and the "It: Chapter Two" trailer?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 21st, 2019 03:05 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Trailers

I was only lukewarm on chapter 1 of "It," so I hadn't jumped on the trailer. I didn't even know about "Doctor Sleep"...oo. And I just remembered. Someone asked about the "Crow Daddy" book (meaning the current best seller involving the word "crawdad") and I kept thinking, "I have read something with someone named Crow Daddy"... It's Dr. Sleep!

ETA: Watching it, it seems more like a sequel to the movie than the book, which is a shame.

Edited at 2019-07-21 03:09 am (UTC)
may_child From: may_child Date: July 21st, 2019 04:28 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Trailers

Yes, I didn't like that it pays so much attention to Kubrick's movie, especially since the filmmakers admitted they know how much King loathes it. But I like the casting, and sometimes a movie adaptation of a not-really-that-great book can improve the story.

I enjoyed "Doctor Sleep," but I didn't think it was that worthy a follow-up to "The Shining," which is a terrific book. It seemed like a piece of fan service, something King wrote (being rather careless with continuity -- what happened to Wendy's plans to move to Maryland and start a job that Al Shockley had offered her, that she refers to when talking to Hallorann the end of "The Shining"? What, for that matter, happened to the insurance money Jack left, likewise referred to?) so fans would stop asking him about Danny Torrance and his life after the Overlook.

I'd like to find out about Charlie McGee and what happened to her after she fled the Manders farm too, but I doubt he'll write a follow-up to "Firestarter."

For the record, the only "flashback" scene taken directly from Kubrick's movie is the blood pouring out of the elevator. The other scenes, like Danny riding his Big Wheel and Mrs. Massey in the bathtub, are recreations.

Edited at 2019-07-21 04:30 am (UTC)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 21st, 2019 05:07 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Trailers

I'm wondering if the Overlook that Danny visits is the one in his mind, or the one that, in Kubrick, was left standing.

I tend to agree about Doctor Sleep not being quite worthy of its predecessor. I also wondered obvious things like "Uncle Al" and the money, and was sort of annoyed with the Danny-the-alcoholic plotline, and the weird back story of Hallorann (who got a much better one in It... also skipped in adaptation). The psychic vampires weren't an awful idea, but they weren't all that interesting, and I'm not sure why Danny's talent with the Shining would translate to helping people pass into death.

It felt like fumbling around a lot toward the beginning and middle... but, in an odd move for SK, he nailed the landing even when the flight wasn't steady. The showdown at the ruins of the Overlook was pretty amazing. (And, if the movie is going to go with the undestroyed Overlook, it will lose something there.)

The book had some nice moments. The giddiness of discovering the shared talent was good, the story of the "baseball boy" was a nice side trip, and Danny accepting his Shine again after going through so much wasn't bad at all. Jack's ghost appearing at the final scene was good, though I'd have liked to see more of the conflict that led there, like Danny knowing that Jack hadn't passed easily and realizing that eventually, he'd have to confront it. (Maybe that could have played into the hospice plot.)

And a Danny-Charlie team up would have been AWESOME.

Edited at 2019-07-21 05:08 am (UTC)
may_child From: may_child Date: July 21st, 2019 05:56 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Trailers

I rather liked the True Knot, but as villains they were considerably less scary than the Overlook. Speaking of the Overlook, I too thought the final showdown on the site where the Overlook had been was terrific.

I wasn't crazy about Danny being an alcoholic screwup in the beginning. It just seemed like an excuse to add drama and to put in a redemptive thread -- perhaps an echo of King's own struggles with substance abuse, as he is a thrifty man when it comes to real-life occurrences, particularly the darker ones. (The scene in "The Shining" where Jack breaks Danny's arm was inspired by a real-life occurrence where King was absolutely furious with his own then-small son Joe -- he didn't react as Jack did, but at the time he certainly wanted to.) The supporting characters were good; King tends to write about all his characters, including the villains, with affection. I liked Casey and Billy, the Stones, and Momo.

Yeah, Danny/Charlie would be a great team up, and so would Charlie/Abra. In the "Firestarter" book, it said that Charlie's psi powers went beyond pyrokinesis: she also had some of her father's "mental dominance" and her mother's telekinesis.
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