Sunday, March 25, 2012

"Are You Now or Have You Ever Been" a belabored metaphor? (Angel 2.2)

I tease Angel because I love Angel. And there's nothing I enjoy more than vamps going retro (see my overwhelming affection for Being Human and The Vampire Diaries, which rock Back to the Future vampire hair almost every week). So we're gonna go back in tiiiime for the Angel guide to metaphorizing a witch hunt.

DO put Angel in a wife-beater. This is applicable in any situation.

I know "wife-beater" is an offensive term. I also know that Angel looks smokin' in one.

DO engage in thick description. As my intrepid co-watcher Jenn points out, this episode establishes its time-frame (the 1950s) through focusing on the Americans who were marginalized. An African American family is denied service at the hotel where Angel is hiding out and brooding, and a gay couple has to hide in the hallway. However, some Golden Age Hollywood glam is also included, by way of this building.

Griffith Observatory. Gorgeous.
You might know it from here.

A little film called Rebel Without a Cause,

to which Angel's red jacket alludes.
Also, if you're of a certain age (mine and Jenn's), this video.

You're welcome for the 90s-era Keanu Reeves. Oh, and there's also a beatnik.

Don't tell me you haven't fantasized about doing this to a beatnik.

DON'T become governor of Clever-Clever Land. And here is where this episode goes a bit wrong for me. The context of the McCarthy hearings is echoed in the show through a "Paranoia Demon" who infects the inhabitants of the hotel. The plot finds Angel helping a black woman posing as white, but she is also possessed and eventually turns on him, provoking the rest of the residents to hang him in a pretty chilling lynching.

Didn't take. Vampire.

Now, I get that the Communist witch-hunts were a function of paranoia, and I get that, as Jenn puts it, "A lynch mob---how appropriate for the 1950s." But I feel it cheapens the actual victims of both national embarrassments to suggest, even through proximity, that the sources of these outrages were demonic rather than emblematic of the historical and social fractures in American culture at the time. That lets everyone off too easy.

Would have been better if he made all of them smoke weed and then knocked on the door pretending to be the cops.

DO climb down off your high horse, Bealer. Having said that, the episode does get Angel et. al. ensconced in the hotel, and fills in some gaps in Angel's history, which is always fun. The script also includes the line "Don't you dare use alliteration with me," which is undeniably hilarious, and now that I think about it, quite possibly the inspiration for this moment:

That one's for you, Alisa.

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