Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What we talk about when we talk about Logan Echolls

Yesterday I saw a post in defense of Piz that started with "I can't believe I even have to write this post." Well, I'm going to have to steal that sentiment, because I genuinely cannot believe I am sitting down to write this post right now. In defense of Logan Echolls.
Not because I can't believe I'm defending him, but because I can't believe the negativity toward and the dismissal of his character that's been surrounding the release of the Veronica Mars movie. Some people really need to watch the show again and remember just what a fantastic character he is.

Yeah, she used to accuse him of a lot
of evil. And she was wrong.
I've been flip-flopping between making this a post about Logan specifically and making it a post about the "bad boy" in general, but I've decided Logan needs me more than the bad boys do. Because he is not one of them. Logan Echolls was originally created as the "obligatory psychotic jackass" of Neptune High-- it would have been fine to dismiss that Logan as the bad boy and continue rooting for whatever other boys (boring as Duncan or unfitting as Piz) were vying for Veronica's heart. 

But the Logan Veronica Mars knows? Is not that Logan. The writers gave him a chance because there was more to him than that-- there's more to anyone than the high school TV show tropes like "bad boy"-- and what we learned was that this boy has deeps.
I'm not talking baggage, or issues, or whatever other negatively-connoted words you're drumming up right now.
I'm talking deeps.
It's not okay to dismiss him anymore, and I won't stand for it. If you like Piz and you're ticked that he and Veronica broke up, fine, whatever, I probably can't help you. But if you're ticked that Veronica ended up with Logan, of all people, then pull up a chair because you need some counseling and I'm here to help.

Here's the thing: Piz and Logan are not polar opposites. They're actually very similar, if you think about it. Sarcastic, witty, kindhearted--
"But! Logan is not kind!"
Sit down and shut up for a second. Yes he is. He really, really is.
Not to defend Psychotic Jackass Logan of Pilot fame, but that was a shell of a character who made fun of Veronica as part of their rapport. Toward the middle of the season we learn some new things about him: he truly loved Lilly Kane, his girlfriend who was murdered, he feels like he's losing his best friend Duncan, and oh! His famous father, who's adored by the public, abuses him and probably his mother behind closed doors. If you can't find sympathy for this boy, how can you find sympathy for Piz, who makes fun of Veronica before he meets her and then magically changes his mind once he sees that she's pretty?  Honestly, that's just gross. And then he goes on to pursue her even though she clearly has a boyfriend and is not interested in her best friend's roommate.
Now, back to the kindness thing. I am so unbelievably tired of this attitude that dictates "Piz is the one who will take care of her and be nice to her" and Logan is some kind of selfish, uncaring beast who's too wrapped up in his own baggage to lend any kindness to anyone else. If people don't stop acting like Logan is just going to drag Veronica down, I'm going to go postal. In case you have forgotten, Logan and Veronica take care of each other. He isn't disrespectful to her friends or her father (he saves Keith's life more than once because he is an HONORABLE DUDE who VALUES HUMAN LIFE and KNOWS THAT KEITH IS IMPORTANT)-- they may not be close, the way Piz is with them, but that is not a requirement for a healthy relationship. Veronica knows she can count on Logan when it really matters, and he shows her 
a side of him that he doesn't show anyone else. I was just reading the "look inside" of the first VM book on Amazon and there are two parts that sum up my point pretty handily (as does this video featuring Jason Dohring, Kristen Bell and Rob Thomas-- though Rob's point is more anecdotal than useful):
The moments they'd spent together before he'd shipped out on his latest naval tour had been the most peaceful she could remember-- even with her anxiety about her dad. It'd been the first time she'd felt complete in a long time. 
Logan had seen through her; that was one of the reasons she loved him. He could tell her things she couldn't bear to tell herself sometimes.
What's that? The most peaceful she could remember? But wait! Piz was supposed to be the one who brought her peace and completion! *eyerolls hard*
She lets herself be vulnerable with him because she knows he's there for her, and vice versa (see: the plot summary of the movie). That's not something she can say for anyone else except Keith. Sure, Logan might throw punches first and ask questions later when it comes to someone hurting Veronica, but as an argument against him? That's just not going to cut it. Veronica can handle it. At this point you're just rooting against him because you'd rather root for the underdog.

Now, what about how he treats anyone else? Surely he has been stereotyped as a bad boy for a reason! He must have done something to earn this rep!
"I don't like him because he doesn't think before he acts and he has no self-preservational skills!"
Please. It's not not-thinking-before-he-acts as much as it is acting on instinct, and his instincts are usually right. The one time they weren't, he apologized and felt plenty of remorse, so don't paint him as some kind of sociopath who's going to end up in jail, regret free.
"But there was that one time he purposely got himself thrown in jail so he could punch people!"
Yeah, and who did that hurt? A rapist and his coconspirator. Now obviously Piz would never have done that, but the difference between Logan and Piz is that one had a traumatic childhood and the other did not. Logan's worldview might be a little skewed; he might have anger issues and a depressive personality, especially as a teenager-- and, wow, a teenager who makes mistakes, that NEVER HAPPENS-- but it's not his fault. And he's not going to completely overcome it at nineteen years old.

"You're not a killer, Veronica."
The fact is that Logan has never, ever been automatically cruel to someone who didn't deserve it*. Cruel is not his default setting. He is sarcastic, yes, and frequently impolite, yes, but neither of those qualities hurt anyone. Even after he sees Beaver (his NAME is CASSIDY!) nearly kill Veronica, and learns that he raped her, he doesn't push him off the roof; in fact, he tells him not to jump. He wants to help him, at least until the very moment he realizes that he can't. Logan Echolls does not give up on people until he is absolutely sure that he's defeated. He didn't give up on his mom, Beaver, Duncan, Dick (whose lasting friendship just proves that Logan gave him more of a chance than anyone else ever did, that Logan saw the good in him when no one else could), Hannah, Parker (who gave up on him), or Carrie, and he certainly never gave up on Veronica.
"But he did give up on her, and then he wallowed in pathetic self-pity for a really long time!"
This is Veronica's "Logan just punched
someone for me and I liked it" face.
He gave up on being with her because he realized that this time, he had done something unforgivable in her eyes. The wallowing in self-pity was his way of punishing himself for that, because Veronica was the one person who had ever shown faith in Logan and stuck around, and now she was throwing in the towel. He was feeling pretty worthless at that point; the only person who wanted him around was Dick Casablancas, whose primary concern was getting Logan back on his feet not because he cared about Logan's feelings, but because he wanted to go surf and pick up girls. This entire Logan-is-brooding-because-he's-sad-Veronica-dumped-him thing lasted for ONE EPISODE. I'm not sure how much shorter it could have been and still expressed everything he was going through emotionally. After he finally left his apartment and became a person again, he continued to be there for Veronica when he thought she needed him. So yeah, he gave up on a relationship with her because he was respecting her wishes and giving her space. But he did not give up on Veronica.

Who did give up on Veronica-- twice? Well.
Now, before you Piz fans get your panties in a bunch, I'm not suggesting that Piz should have kept pursuing Veronica when he realized she clearly wasn't into it enough. But he could have stayed a part of her life. He could have kept being there for her in some way, and he didn't-- he bailed, both times. It was all-or-nothing for him in a way that it never was with Logan, and ultimately proved that they weren't capable of being friends if they weren't also a couple. Even when Logan and Veronica broke up several times, he always stuck around-- when they didn't speak for nine years it was because she went away, and he was still respecting her space (and getting his life together in the meantime).
And not only that, but that's the difference between her relationship with Piz and her relationship with Logan: there was never a time, with Logan, when the problem was that she wasn't into it enough. Their problem was that they worried about each other too much; Veronica wanted Logan to be more stable for her and for himself, and Logan wanted Veronica to stop getting herself into situations that could hurt her. Their problem was that, at the time, neither of them could change who they were. So they needed time apart. I am not denying that they weren't exactly right for each other back then. This is a post about Logan, not their relationship, and Logan always had the potential to be right for Veronica. They both just needed to grow up.

Now, watch the movie and tell me that Logan Echolls has not grown up. (Also, read this post.) Of course, he's still the same half-serious-half-joking person who Veronica fell in love with, but he's proven himself capable of being a stabilizing force in someone's life too. That was literally all she wanted from him. And she's done believing him capable of the horrible things everyone else still accuses him of, because she knows him, and she's matured enough to get past her own trust issues. As for his issues about Veronica putting
Knows better than to accuse him
of evil now. TRUSTS HIM.
herself in danger, it seems he's changed his stance on that, too. He's come to realize that a P.I. is who Veronica is, it's who he fell in love with, and danger comes with the territory. The danger is still not going to be okay, but he wants her to be herself, whatever that entails. (see: when Veronica comes out wearing her real clothes instead of her new!Veronica clothes, and he says, "You should only wear this." He recognizes this Veronica as the right Veronica, and he's telling her to be that.)
Piz, on the other hand, was perfectly happy with a Veronica who was not herself-- and when that version of her went away and was replaced by the real one, he let her go. He had been holding on to an idea of her that was never a reality. The whole point of the movie was to show us that she thought she had changed, she thought she could be this lawyer and that leaving her P.I. life in Neptune was an "escape," but she hasn't changed and it wasn't an escape. It was a cheap replacement for the thing that made her truly happy.
Hence, Veronica's addiction-referencing voiceover that purposely confuses us: is she talking about private investigation, or Logan? The answer, obviously, is both. They're both what makes her happy, and she's spent enough time away with her cheap replacement (sorry, Piz) to recognize the real thing when she goes back. This, the place where she can be the self she wants and needs to be, is where she belongs-- with the person who wants and needs her to be that self too.
And as for the whole Logan-is-trapping-Veronica-in-Neptune argument? Please. See above. You seriously don't get it if you think that is what's happening; this is Veronica's escape. She's unleashing herself. 


*by 'automatically cruel' I mean without prior knowledge of this person or a belief that they have done something wrong

Review: Far From You by Tess Sharpe


This is going to be a short review, because the simple truth is that this might be the perfect book for a lot of people, but it wasn't for me.
The balance of the murder mystery with the relationship drama didn't sit well with me for some reason, in this book. Other books have done it perfectly well, but there was just something about this one that I couldn't wrap my head around. It seemed like the mystery was solved in the first half of the book-- at least in all of the details I cared about, like motive. We knew why Mina was killed, so I didn't really care who did it. Once I knew the motive, continuing with that particular plotline seemed redundant to me, and I couldn't get into it. (True fact: when I found myself halfway done with the book, tired of the repetition of certain discoveries and feelings, I decided to skip to the last 10 pages or so and read the end. I did not feel like I had missed a single thing.)
As far as the relationships, I thought the book did really well with some things and not so well with others. The love triangle was done in a believable way, with realistic doses of bitterness and confusion, and even the way Sophie's parents treated her after Mina's death-- when they thought she had relapsed-- seemed realistic, for two parents who had gone through seeing their daughter endure a life-altering injury and a drug addition. But I didn't feel like there was enough character to every character, if that makes sense. I felt like I had no sense of the small details of Mina that made everyone love her so much, and that vagueness spread to every other character except Sophie, who was the only one I felt like I truly understood.
All of that said, it was not a bad book. Sophie is a character I didn't feel like I had met before, and her story both gritty and tender. This just wasn't my book, in the way that sometimes you can feel like you connect to a character or a story but something keeps you from connecting to the book as a whole.