Sunday, July 25, 2010

Scott Pilgrim: A Retrospective (Part One)

After a great deal of rereading, I have decided Scott Pilgrim is great. That said, I'm going to take the next couple of posts to look closer at the characters, themes, symbols, and all that stuff I hated doing in English class. I'm just going to say this once, so


That is all.

There's a very obvious place to start with such a character-driven story, and that is the titular character: Scott Pilgrim. Scott is 23, plays bass (poorly) in a (terrible-ish) band. He has no job, few possessions, and has a habit of sleeping until noon and playing videogames all day. The story is mostly from Scott's point of view, with a sort of muddle consciousness about it. This is, after all, his story pieced together from his point of view (this is something you should make a note of).

Anyway, Scott Pilgrim has this "Precious Little Life", in which his gay roomate puts him through most of the chores of being a productive member of society and he dates a 17 year old Chinese high-schooler. His life is a strange balance, and while delightfully quirky, is infuriating to pretty much everyone else. As his ex-girlfriend Kim says, "Scott, if your life had a face I would punch it."

In walks Ramona and Scott begins his journey of self-discovery and growth. Unfortunately most of that doesn't happen for a while. A lot of the time I found myself thinking, "Man, what an asshole".

Scott is self-centered, in the sense that he is the protagonist here, and so that anything that is not Scott related is swept away. Scott is so busy in volume 5 that he is completely out of the loop on his friend Stephen coming out. Also, since most of the insight into his romantic past comes from him, we get a one-sided perspective of who he is in a relationship. Scott, in a discussion with another ex-girlfriend argues that he was "totally a paragon" during their relationship, a fact that really isn't true. He doesn't have the best memory for the times he's been a dick.

The point when it becomes obvious that Scott is kind of a self-centered ass is in book two when he breaks up with Knives. This girl is kind of obsessed with him, but in the adorable way. She is 17 and absolutely baffled by this apparent badass. However, Scott is obsessed with Ramona and just sort of ditches Knives. He does not really think about her again.

Scott views himself as this paragon hero who has never done anything wrong and is perfect and awesome and adorable, when in fact he really isn't. Whenever Scott is assaulted by the truth about himself, he fights the "NegaScott" a dark-link style version of himself that represents everything he'd done wrong and buried in his memories. Only when he accepts his past can he move on and face Gideon and become a better person.

In the final showdown, when we finally get some insight into Gideon, there's some pretty obvious symbolism. Scott (who "never drinks") spills booze on his shirt and has to change into one with Gideon's logo on it. Scott and Gideon duel, and it becomes incredibly clear that Scott and Gideon have a lot in common, except for the fact that Scott has the desire to change for Ramona. Once Scott understands his shirt logo changes to the subspace star.

Scott was an asshole. However, he had a reason to be better in Ramona. Once he moved on and got it together could they both move forward without him becoming another evil ex. Scott is a few people's evil ex. He was an asshole and I had good reason to hate him. Once he got a job and some closure did he become sympathetic.

Next up- Secondary Characters and evil exes