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29 April 2012 @ 05:24 am
The Vampire Diaries: Metanarratives and the Effects of Framing in the Process of Interpretation  

This arose from a discussion that wheatear, cranmers, and ishi_chan had on the previous 3x20 (non) reaction post, and also many other discussions on the same topic, that I just found fascinating and wanted to contribute to, and then it just turned into this horrifying thing and I cannot even with my life anymore. /fml (But then again, I’m doing a paper on text and the audience, so it might help me gain some clarity for that /official excuse). Also, the title is cooler than the actual written part and actually just written like that to make it sound cooler #things you know about me.

Every text, whether an article, book or show, constructs a model audience. This is not the actual audience, as it would be impossible to predict the reactions of all the people who’re interpreting the text. For instance, the model audience constructed by the show would never dislike the show, but the real audience ofc can. So, in the process of interpretation, we usually try and also determine what the text is presenting to us; how it wants us to feel about what it’s presenting to us, rather than how we actually feel about it. Judging a text by the audience-response to it is extremely hard because every single person may have a different reaction. Therefore, especially in the medium of television, we tend to study various techniques of presentation within the show, of which narrative framing is an important part, as it's an externally employed device, and therefore functions more as a comment on the text, rather than as a part of it.

Take Rose’s speech for example. Technically, and in my very right personal opinion, it’s stupid. It may be the stupidest thing in the history of the world, and mostly just an example of trashy writing. But would it be possible to say the show wants you to see it like that? Ofc not, because then why would that scene exist in the first place? So, if you’re reading Rose’s speech through the show, instead of via your own discretion and filtration, how you’re supposed to take that scene is (as wheatear mentioned in the previous post) as a sort of ‘shipper manifesto’. It’s the show telling you why it, THE SHOW, thinks D/E is ~epic. It’s the show saying what it feels about how this relationship that it’s developing, and why they think it works. And that was the last word of the scene, which means the text validated it, because it shut Jeremy up, and didn’t allow him to voice his legitimate concerns. It didn’t allow him the space to state that he couldn’t give a damn about how much Damon ~challenges Elena, because this is the same guy who once killed him and has continuously hurt his sister in multiple ways.


Contrast this with the S2 episode, where Damon force feeds Elena his blood. The presentational base of the scene is violent in the extreme; where one second Damon and Elena are having this tender moment about how Damon feels about the possibility of her dying, and the next moment he’s shoved his wrist in her mouth. Everything in the atmosphere changes instantly, the mood, the sounds, even Damon’s vampire face coming to the fore— it all stresses how harsh and brutal the scene is. Because it’s presented as such. And later, in one of the most important frames, you have Stefan telling Elena that Damon did it only because he “loves” her, and then Elena says that it means Damon "doesn’t know what love is". Damon’s action, no matter how much the shippers might go on about Stefan's willingness to let her die and Damon heroism at the cost of Elena's favor, and that he loves her the best etc, is invalidated by the show.


Consider for a moment how changing the frame would change what the show is saying to us; If Elena had had her say first; something like “why would he do that? How could he do that to me?” and then Stefan had done his part; looked down as if her were afraid of her reaction and told her that it was because Damon loved her, and that had been the last word of the scene, then Damon’s action would have been legitimized. Then it would have been the show saying ‘yes, what he did was abusive, but he only did it because he loves her and can’t stand the thought of losing her’.  But instead, you have Elena as the last voice of that particular discussion, stressing that she doesn’t believe that the action connotes ‘love’ as she understands it; which means, the action gets stripped of all its romantiziced aspects and intellectual justifications, and is presented in its physical, visceral sense of how horrifying it actually is. The interpretations dealing with Damon-as-the-hero are interpretations based on psychological readings of the character, which the show in its narrative framing of the scene does not particularly cater to.

This is why the Stefan/Elena scenes in Do Not Go Gentle are problematic. Not because scenes of emotional manipulation or apologia or abuse shouldn’t exist at all (that would be militant and unnecessary); but because the narrative itself shows no particular sign that it recognizes the scene as being just that. The music, the dialogues, the reactions of other characters are all used to heighten the ~romance and ~tragedy of the scene. The fact that it is indeed abusive is coming from the watching audience, who, as previously stated, are not the model audience that the show constructs. Because there is nothing within the text, no musical cues or character-reactions, that suggests that these scenes are supposed to be viewed in any other way than how they are explicitly presented. The audience's alternate interpretation, is therefore not contingent upon or deriving from the show's interpretation of itself.  The scenes could have been kept in their entirety, and gained a whole new dimension if someone had voiced their concern. If Caroline, for instance, had come in and said to Elena ‘let’s make this a girl’s only dance. You need to stay away from the Salvatores. Stefan may be a million and one times better than Damon, but he’s still unstable right now', then that understanding would have a strong basis. Because then, even if the rest of the episode had gone just the same way, you would have had an in-text voice stressing that there is an alternative discourse operating within the text. That Stefan’s, admittedly valiant, attempts at gaining control don't automatically negate everything that he previously did. And if Elena had then decided to still go with Stefan, it would’ve highlighted her inability to let go of that which had provided her stability since so long.

Instead, the stress is on the magnanimity of Stefan’s actions; validated by a character who doesn't actually have a personal stake in the matter. Caroline, acting as the author-insert, focuses the audience's attention on how good it was for Stefan to allow Elena to explore her feelings towards Damon, to let her go on the trip (a viewpoint that Elena herself later legitimizes when she asks Stefan why he's so good to her or something). And even worse is the fact that Elena listens, except then her actions are presented as a result of Caroline’s interference, which seems to absolve her of all the responsibility of herself choosing to accept the guy who had, just a few weeks earlier, threatened to throw her off the bridge her parents died falling over. Caroline’s use in this narrative (presumably as counterpoint to Rose’s Damon/Elena agenda) is highly problematic (as I mentioned over at cranmers's post). Because what the narrative essentially does through her dialogue is that it trivializes her own experiences of abuse. The show never bothered to expand upon that angle; so here it's just nicely making use of her experiences to further its ~shipping agenda. There is no mention of WHY Caroline should react so strongly to either brother, no mention of how she's still scarred from her Damon-experiences, that her automatic siding with Stefan, even after all he's done, to the point of irrationality is because of all she’s faced. There is a way of framing that scene as well, to make the audience understand that Caroline’s unfounded, continuing support of Stefan, despite his actions throughout the season, is because Caroline herself is unable to impartially separate herself from the man who saved her life and taught her control as a vampire. However, even though the highlight here should be on Caroline and her issues, it is instead on Stefan, which changes the reading of the scene entirely, and it seems to suggest that (even after Elena’s amusement over Caroline’s ‘bias’) that Stefan is being viewed objectively, not through her gaze, because he's done 'objective' nice things, not specifically concerned with Caroline.


Consider another framed arc within the previous episode; the issue of Abby's death. Within the narrative, it seemed as if the show knew that the coin-toss which precipitated the tragedy was callous in the extreme (I mean, it was a coin toss, for god's sake), but that Damon and Stefan could not be held entirely responsible because there was no alternative left, they did what they unfortunately had to. However, in this episode when Damon tries to justify his actions through this model of interpretation, stressing that Bonnie's anger, while legitimate, conceals the fact that she may have done the same if faced with the situation, the masterframe steps in and changes the view of the scene. Bonnie gets the last word, dismissing the pre-deterministic aspect that Damon invokes, highlighting the fact that the action, regardless of what he sees as extenuating circumstances, was a choice; that the Salvatores didn't do what they had to, they did what they wanted to, that they are morally responsible for their actions. And Bonnie is validated by the text through the placement of her dialogue. Contrast this with a scene in which Bonnie had had her say first and Damon came in later, emphasizing that Bonnie would have done the same, and managing to silence her as she understood the truth in his statement. This would have changed the tone of the scene because the underlying focus would then would have been on the fact that the actions of the Salvatores are justifiable because it's the same thing that 'any one of them would have done in the situation'. However, the frame denies this legitimacy, and instead forces the arc to the previous conclusion.

This sort of framing is exactly what was horrifying about Damon/Andie. Because their very last scene together involves Andie telling Damon to “get his own drink”, which he proceeds to do, much to his own amusement. The arc framing in this instance almost negates all the abuse that has come before. While earlier scenes has highlighted the violence itself, here, the show seems to suggest that Andie is not ‘fully compelled’ or that Damon ‘isn’t so bad’ because ‘hey look, he went to get his own drink’, which caters to the reading that Andie may still be with Damon of her own free will. And considering that this scene is the culmination of the relationship, it glosses over the reality of this relationship, instead framing it as one between equals. And this is the show’s last word on the arc.


When you accept the premise of a show like The Vampire Diaries, you’ve already accepted another mythology and system of ethical judgment. Certain forms of abuse are inherent within the premise itself, derived from the traditional mythology of vampires; therefore faulting the show on that would just mean you should probably be watching some other show. However, here too, reactions are always dependent on the perspective that the viewer adopts while entering a scene. Compulsion viewed from a vampire’s POV is everyday and mundane and raises no questions, and if the viewer is ascribing to that construct then it is unproblematic. However, if the same scene is perceived from the viewpoint of the victim, then the entire interpretation changes as then the loss of free will is terrifying in the extreme, regardless of what system of morality the vampire operates through. The understanding of the show’s POV has to depend upon whose POV it is catering to at a given moment, and thus what POV the framing of the scene is contingent upon; in Caroline and Damon’s first morning after, the viewpoint is Caroline’s, her fear and horror, which places the focus on Damon’s monstrosity. However, the scene with Andie in the bathtub—while still highlighting the violence—is catering to Damon, stressing Damon’s desperation and need for a ‘distraction’. Therefore, changing the frame can entirely change what the show is saying, even if the scene itself remains the same.


Every show, even if based on a supernatural premise, has to conform to a certain narrative credibility. Which is why, although it can challenge realism without losing any believability, it cannot, however, go back on its own established storyline. In the same vein, although it seems that it’s the text that develops character and therefore, everything that happens within it is canon, it is still possible to call a character OOC even within the text itself, if the narrative development of the character does not conform to what has previously been established about that character. However, here the problem isn't that Elena's characterization is OOC, it is not. Her reactions are very much in-character. The problem is the framing which caters to her point-of-view, instead of presenting it as mostly delusional. Framing is therefore, the show’s metanarrative, that exists beyond the conventional in text narrative, and establishes the show's understanding of itself. Of course, a structural analysis is only helpful to a certain extent. It can be argued that it doesn’t particularly matter what the show thinks or what it’s trying to say, because not only does the text construct the audience, but every member of the audience constructs the text, therefore, every single interpretation is equally valid; ie if you think Stefan’s actions in the previous episode are manipulative then that is what the show is saying, regardless of the show’s own intentionality.


/shrug. My two cents. Hopefully it makes some sense. And if you read all that:


(Now I’m thinking I should just give this in as my paper, since I seem to have spent an hour on it DD: Oh you know what, I'll just change the paper to 'Mirrors, Mirroring, and Framing in The Vampire Diaries'. Heh.)

 
 
 
Pied: carolinewheatear on April 29th, 2012 12:45 pm (UTC)
/APPLAUSE

Yes. Spot-on. Thank you for this post; it is a thing of beauty.

This sort of framing is exactly what was horrifying about Damon/Andie.

Except oh god, did you have to remind me of this. I HAD BLEACHED IT FROM MY MIND.

The understanding of the show’s POV has to depend upon whose POV it is catering to at a given moment, and thus what POV the framing of the scene is contingent upon; in Caroline and Damon’s first morning after, the viewpoint is Caroline’s, her fear and horror, which places the focus on Damon’s monstrosity. However, the scene with Andie in the bathtub—while still highlighting the violence—is catering to Damon, stressing Damon’s desperation and need for a ‘distraction’. Therefore, changing the frame can entirely change what the show is saying, even if the scene itself remains the same.

But yes - well said. The more the show has gotten sympathetic towards Damon, the more focus there is on his man pain as opposed to the suffering of his victims.
youcallitwinter: tvd - caroline - smileyoucallitwinter on April 29th, 2012 04:25 pm (UTC)
Except oh god, did you have to remind me of this. I HAD BLEACHED IT FROM MY MIND.

I KNOW I WOULD LIKE TO AS WELL. But every time I think of wrongly handled arcs, that's top priority with a bullet, heh.

But yes - well said. The more the show has gotten sympathetic towards Damon, the more focus there is on his man pain as opposed to the suffering of his victims.

I don't even remember who said this, but there's some quote that says that understanding is the first step to acceptance? (OKAY, LOL, GOOGLE SAYS JKR SAID IT). Which, I suppose makes sense; villains are usually created premised on the sympathy you bear for the people they're victimizing and an understanding of psychological motives tends to breed empathy; I mean, by this time, even Klaus isn't villainous as much as he's, well, pathetic. And Damon is a character who might have an alienating effect for the in-text audience, but the show often comes over it and says 'yes, he did this, BUT...'.

THANK YOU, O queen of metas :D
(no subject) - cranmers on April 29th, 2012 04:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - youcallitwinter on April 29th, 2012 04:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cranmers on April 29th, 2012 05:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - youcallitwinter on April 29th, 2012 05:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - wheatear on April 29th, 2012 05:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - youcallitwinter on April 29th, 2012 05:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - wheatear on April 29th, 2012 06:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - youcallitwinter on April 29th, 2012 06:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - wheatear on April 29th, 2012 06:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - goldenusagi on April 29th, 2012 09:01 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - wheatear on April 29th, 2012 09:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - goldenusagi on April 29th, 2012 08:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - wheatear on April 29th, 2012 05:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - youcallitwinter on April 29th, 2012 05:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - wheatear on April 29th, 2012 05:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - youcallitwinter on April 29th, 2012 06:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - wheatear on April 29th, 2012 06:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - youcallitwinter on April 29th, 2012 06:23 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - wheatear on April 29th, 2012 06:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Pied: carolinewheatear on April 29th, 2012 12:57 pm (UTC)
If Elena had had her say first; something like “why would he do that? How could he do that to me?” and then Stefan had done his part; looked down as if her were afraid of her reaction and told her that it was because Damon loved her, and that had been the last word of the scene, then Damon’s action would have been legitimized.

I have to add - fantastic point. It hadn't occurred to me before just how important a character getting the last word is. Your examples here are brilliant - amazing how switching the order of just two lines of dialogue can completely change the meaning of a scene.

This is why the moments where one character silences the other have such an effect - why the writers chose to put Jeremy in a position where he literally could not say anything while Rose gave him her D/E speech, and why Caroline interrupts Elena to give her S/E speech.
youcallitwinter: btvs - b/d - sistersyoucallitwinter on April 29th, 2012 04:32 pm (UTC)
t hadn't occurred to me before just how important a character getting the last word is.

(Actually it totally hadn't occurred to me either, all my arguments are usually formed IN the process of writing, heh). I really do think that structural placement is extremely important, which is why I'm much more a Doylist than a Watsonian, and far too interested in structure :s

This is why the moments where one character silences the other have such an effect - why the writers chose to put Jeremy in a position where he literally could not say anything while Rose gave him her D/E speech, and why Caroline interrupts Elena to give her S/E speech.

That's an excellent point! Because literally silencing someone just completely removes all those alternate discourses that otherwise exists wherever there are multiple characters. And if Elena or Jeremy had gotten the chance to make their objections afterwards, it would've totally undermined the Shipping Manifestos. Alas D:
(no subject) - wheatear on April 29th, 2012 05:50 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - youcallitwinter on April 29th, 2012 06:32 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - wheatear on April 29th, 2012 06:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - upupa_epops on April 30th, 2012 03:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
goldenusagigoldenusagi on April 29th, 2012 01:42 pm (UTC)
the problem isn't that Elena's characertization is OOC, it is not. It is very much in-character. The problem is the framing which caters to her point-of-view, instead of presenting it as delusional

Yes, exactly. I actually don't have that much of a problem with Elena going back to Stefan even after the stuff he did (because, logically, getting with Damon isn't any better), but the way the show is presenting it as epic and true and always-has-been is annoying me to death.

Also, Caroline: nothing bothers me more when characters become shippers. And even if Stefan HADN'T been dangerously unhinged for half the season, it would annoy me that Caroline is pushing Stefan at Elena. Like, if your friend says she doesn't want to see someone, maybe you should help her figure out why, or just talk, or accept her feelings. Not push her at the guy because of *Stefan's* feelings, saying she owes it to Stefan, that it's his turn now. And the fact that Stefan has been unhinged all seasons makes it about 100 times worse. But then, I've been complaining for a while that eveyone this season is overly invested in Elena's love life, and have been making weird comments.
youcallitwinter: we pass just close enough to touchyoucallitwinter on April 29th, 2012 04:47 pm (UTC)
Yes, exactly. I actually don't have that much of a problem with Elena going back to Stefan even after the stuff he did (because, logically, getting with Damon isn't any better), but the way the show is presenting it as epic and true and always-has-been is annoying me to death.

Precisely! I absolutely don't have a problem with that either; I'd LOVED to see the exploration of this sort of denial and relationship. I'm kind of hoping that they'll retract it and present it as just severely messed up, but I'm not holding my breath. What I absolutely can't understand is why the show is presenting it as if Stefan and Damon are Absolutely the Only Alternatives Left in The World. I mean, Caroline's speech to Matt, the oddest thing ever, seemed to suggest that Elena is never going to ever look at another guy again; which is the show kind of closing the net on its ships; because it needs to create drama for its season finale and Elena's Big Choice (I'd be everything she 'chooses' Damon, lol, this show). And maybe simultaneously pave the way for some Rebekah/Matt. But all it did was make Caroline look like a bad friend, which they obviously didn't mean for.

ike, if your friend says she doesn't want to see someone, maybe you should help her figure out why, or just talk, or accept her feelings. Not push her at the guy because of *Stefan's* feelings, saying she owes it to Stefan, that it's his turn now.

A++++++++++ THIS IS EXACTLY WHY IT'S PROBLEMATIC. Who thinks it's Stefan's turn-- obv the show, to carry on their ~triangle of doom. And they're making Caroline their mouthpiece, which just annoys the hell out of me.

But then, I've been complaining for a while that eveyone this season is overly invested in Elena's love life, and have been making weird comments.

TRUE, THIS. Again with the show's heavy-handed approach to it, where every single person within the universe of the show is somehow concerned, which, you know, WHY? They need to lay off the world ending angst for a bit.
gemma: Overanalysing TVDcranmers on April 29th, 2012 03:55 pm (UTC)
Yourself and wheatear should probably collab on a book called 'Framing for Dummies' ;)</p>

This will be a short comment (I'm currently being very leisurely on a cross trainer) that will be followed by a longer one when I have access to an actual computer with an actual keyboard later on this evening!

Suffice to say this post is a gift and I loved the simple step by step explanation. #stupid person is stupid. I'm somewhere in the region of 99% convinced by the argument here (and you said that that we would never be on the same page!!! :P).

Although it kind of seems like your reneging on the OOC/'character assassination'/'they've ruined Caroline's character on the altar of S/E' points? Because I still disagree with all of that. ;)

youcallitwinter: btvs - spike - centerfold babyyoucallitwinter on April 29th, 2012 05:00 pm (UTC)
Hahaha, shuuuup, you know you totally got it even before, you were just coming at it from a different angle, which is obviously just as valid.

LJ refuses to work on my blackberry, it's the actual worst and takes the longest to load, which makes commenting from anywhere apart from the laptop such a pain DD:

99% CONVINCED? /bows. I was just kidding earlier, we are often enough on the same page, and when we aren't, it's just breeding ground for awesome discussions, and that is pretty much epic. But also, thank you :D

Although it kind of seems like your reneging on the OOC/'character assassination'/'they've ruined Caroline's character on the altar of S/E' points? Because I still disagree with all of that. ;)

I totally get your argument there, and I completely agree from a Caroline-POV; like I know she will always, always choose Stefan over Damon, and there is no way in hell anyone can fault her for that. But I still don't think that stretches to Elena/Salvatores. Like goldenusagi said above: Like, if your friend says she doesn't want to see someone, maybe you should help her figure out why, or just talk, or accept her feelings. Not push her at the guy because of *Stefan's* feelings, saying she owes it to Stefan, that it's his turn now. And the fact that Stefan has been unhinged all seasons makes it about 100 times worse..

And the thing is, it's not so much the character saying this, as it is the show. It's the show fixing the narrative between the binaries of Damon and Stefan, and using Caroline to suggest there can never be an alternative to either through the Matt scene, WHICH, you know, isn't objectively true.

BUT WE CAN AGREE TO DISAGREE OFC, because

(no subject) - cranmers on April 29th, 2012 05:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - youcallitwinter on April 29th, 2012 06:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cranmers on April 29th, 2012 06:23 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - youcallitwinter on April 29th, 2012 06:26 pm (UTC) (Expand)
LET'S ROCK'N'ROLL PART ONE - cranmers on April 29th, 2012 08:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
in which i word vomit at you (1/2) - wheatear on April 30th, 2012 05:41 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: in which i word vomit at you (1/2) - cranmers on April 30th, 2012 07:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - wheatear on April 30th, 2012 08:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cranmers on April 30th, 2012 08:38 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - wheatear on May 2nd, 2012 08:20 pm (UTC) (Expand)
2/2 - wheatear on April 30th, 2012 05:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: 2/2 - cranmers on April 30th, 2012 08:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - wheatear on April 30th, 2012 08:20 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cranmers on April 30th, 2012 08:44 pm (UTC) (Expand)
LET'S ROCK'N'ROLL PART TWO - cranmers on April 29th, 2012 08:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
LET'S ROCK'N'ROLL PART THREE - cranmers on April 29th, 2012 08:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
bellonablack on April 29th, 2012 04:37 pm (UTC)
My reaction was just the...I think there are all sorts of framing issues in all of it. I'd even say there are some people who think Damon was made legit by the show when he shoved his wrist in Elena's mouth but I think they are reaching. But I know the Jeremy thing was framed badly but not as BADLY as this was. At least someone said they thought they were a bad person during it.

I didn't even think about what Stefan had been doing because the problem with the show is the lack of emotional continuity. IMO. Someone could start your house on fire and try to kill you in the buring house and you survive and you're best friends with them the next episode, without much mention to any burning down house. And that--is ....interesting. I never got that. It's that vibe of puzzle pieces. One scene is neglected in the emotional dealings. And lately it's gotten horrible about it, I mean, floating puzzle pieces everywhere of scenes that didn't originate from any clear point.

Or if you do react, it isn't very much. I don't know, it's hard to explain.

So to me, the Stefan and Elena scene was one of those floating puzzle pieces. I also think both characters thought it was legitmately a good action and I'm not really speaking about Elena as an abused figure (which in reality, yes) but as someone who really thought it was good. Which is...I wasn't even pinged by Stefan's history. We've lost the continuity on that a while back. But how he just came into the scene and the actions within of her being unable to really speak were VERY UPSETTING to me in the extreme. I do think it was a triggery scene.

Yet I don't think anyone really...in the show...thinks it's wrong. Which is framing but also about how unrealistic people are behaving in this show right now. It is not realistic, grounded people in a supernatural setting, it's....unrealistic, not natural people, reacting where not many people would react that way. I don't mean Elena. I mean--the whole. cast of characters.

I can't get a grip on where anything is coming from anymore or why someone reacted this way. I don't even think it was Elena's trademark forgiveness, either, so I'm not even counting that as her motivation. I don't know her motivation right now. I just don't know.

I think before someone smoothed the puzzle pieces and gave great connectivity, hence the great moments that made some journey sense, but now I just see pieces, unrelated to each other. And I say, that sucks.

Maybe it will make sense in the next episode but I...doubt it. I don't think they know what they are writing right now. Which is what you mean. but I also think the characters are behaving in an unrealistic way.
youcallitwinter: beauty in the breakdownyoucallitwinter on April 29th, 2012 05:23 pm (UTC)
I'd even say there are some people who think Damon was made legit by the show when he shoved his wrist in Elena's mouth

Oh god, that's totally true! Although I'd suggest that was more their interpretation than that the show actually catered to it. Although what it DID later cater to was the Damon-as-a-hero angle in the scene where he tells Stefan that he'll be the one to keep Elena safe, even if she hates him for it, which was used to validate his actions. :s

And I think you're ABSOLUTELY RIGHT with your analysis. That is precisely what I've been feeling all season as well. And while there have been a couple of brilliant episodes, there've also been a whole lot more of really annoying, pointless episodes.

Someone could start your house on fire and try to kill you in the buring house and you survive and you're best friends with them the next episode, without much mention to any burning down house. And that--is ....interesting. I never got that. It's that vibe of puzzle pieces. One scene is neglected in the emotional dealings.

TA WITH ALL OF IT. That's a good way of describing it. That's exactly how I felt, esp re: Caroline/Klaus, where Caroline almost died and Klaus was the one to save her life, and...it was apparently so insignificant that it was never mentioned again by anyone except these two characters? Also odd is how no one is worried that Klaus has taken an interest in Caroline? Considering he's their Big Bad who they're trying so hard to kill, shouldn't someone be worried that he can possibly take away her free will to get what he wants (LIKE, HE DID WITH, Y'KNOW, STEFAN).

Or if you do react, it isn't very much. I don't know, it's hard to explain.

No, you explained perfectly! I know what you mean; they're kind of going for shock value over and over, without dealing with the emotional fall out of the same.

I also think both characters thought it was legitmately a good action and I'm not really speaking about Elena as an abused figure (which in reality, yes) but as someone who really thought it was good. Which is...I wasn't even pinged by Stefan's history. We've lost the continuity on that a while back.

I think it's totally possibile to appreciate that scene; like, if the show just said-- this is messed up, but these two need each other because they've sort of gotten used to that false sense of stability, I'd be all over it. It's the romanticization that bothers me D: And honestly, through your reading, I think it's totally okay to like the scenes individually (I actually enjoyed their dance, if not their conversation)-- like, if the show isn't willing to maintain narrative integrity, so I don't think we need to particularly be banging our heads about all that happens. If an issue's kept on the backburner for long enough, it just...ceases to matter. That is kind of happened to Damon/Caroline as well.

Which is framing but also about how unrealistic people are behaving in this show right now. It is not realistic, grounded people in a supernatural setting, it's....unrealistic, not natural people, reacting where not many people would react that way. I don't mean Elena. I mean--the whole. cast of characters

AMEN. Exactly how I feel. Like, Caroline's dad dies and she's at a ball the next episode? SHOW, what is wrong with you? But then again, I enjoyed that episode thoroughly once I'd forgotten about that other aspect, so I agree totally with what you were saying earlier!

Maybe it will make sense in the next episode but I...doubt it. I don't think they know what they are writing right now. Which is what you mean. but I also think the characters are behaving in an unrealistic way.

Also, added to that, I just couldn't care less about the season arc of killing Klaus. It seems so useless D: And also, the fact is, I just CANNOT understand why the Salvatores are even alive by this time. It's so highly unrealistic. They're actively trying to KILL the Originals, and the Originals kindly let them live with the occasional torture scene? SERIOUSLY? I mean, fine, Elena has a reason for Klaus, but Stefan and Damon-- there really is no reason why they should logically be alive right now.
Annie Wilkes says it best...lol - bellonablack on April 29th, 2012 07:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - goldenusagi on April 29th, 2012 09:06 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - waltzmatildah on April 30th, 2012 05:54 am (UTC) (Expand)
sillyforwordssillyforwords on April 29th, 2012 05:14 pm (UTC)
Excellent meta! I will come back and comment in more detail when I have the time. I just wanted to say one thing quickly. While the role they had Rose play in pushing the Damon/Elena side of the triangle was totally stupid, I found the Caroline part even more problematic. Because Rose was speaking to Jeremy alone and as such to us, the viewers. Almost like a Greek Chorus. She had no influence on the actions of Elena herself. So while it was heavy handed writing it is slightly forgivable. What they had Caroline do is worse because she is influencing Elena's choices here, and imposing her own view point on her. She is not just a bystander commenting on the status of her friend's relationship woes. And the decisions she is forcing on her friend are not coming organically from who she is, or her own experiences but just thrown in to serve the plot point of the day, which is why the episode was so jarring for me.
youcallitwinter: ats - cordelia - so hey laylayoucallitwinter on April 29th, 2012 05:49 pm (UTC)
Haha, take all the time you want; I'm terrible at commenting on long metas because of all the time constraints!

Your point is v. interesting, I wasn't thinking of that particular angle! Both scenes are definitely problematic, and I can see why people would feel that Caroline's part was more so. But that is something that truly annoyed me about the show; that it's sort of placing the set-backs of its self-insertion onto Caroline. I mean, technically, there is no REASON why Elena shouldn't counter or why Caroline pushing for Stefan should make Elena go for Stefan. It sort of makes Elena sound like someone who can't think for herself or something; like 'hey, Caroline's asking me to get back with the guy who threatened to throw me off a bridge, so let me do it'. As much as I disliked Caroline's part in the whole thing, I'm placing the blame for that decision squarely on Elena. Or rather, not on Elena so much, as the writers ofc. They're totally writing all these arbitrary scenes to validate their own storyline and simultaneously character assassinating. What even D:

nd the decisions she is forcing on her friend are not coming organically from who she is, or her own experiences but just thrown in to serve the plot point of the day, which is why the episode was so jarring for me.

AMEN TO THAT.
(no subject) - waltzmatildah on April 30th, 2012 05:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sillyforwords on May 1st, 2012 12:41 am (UTC) (Expand)
Florencia: DE (Never Let Me Go)florencia7 on April 29th, 2012 05:49 pm (UTC)
That was so amazing to read. You have the most brilliant mind ♥

Now I'm frightened. I didn't think the writing of the show was that ominous lol All of your examples are so convincing. My only hope is that perhaps there are some factors in there that may be influencing the strength of/distorting the intended message this way or another?

a) There are two dozens of writers & directors involved with the show & while they obviously meticulously discuss & execute everything each of them is doing, there is no way they all have the same view of the show & the characters. I remember some of the writers claiming they didn't even see the final cut of a particular episode. Julie herself has recently commented on a scene she had written adding that she didn't even know if it ended up being a part of the episode. So I wonder to what extent we can hold every single word accountable for its actual, final, ultimate placement.

b) Not only the characters can be flawed but their understanding, opinions, judgment as well & perhaps sometimes it is intentional to present their POV as "objective" & "right". Let's take the DE force-feeding scene for example. The fact that it was presented as violent doesn't really invade the audience's interpretational space. Depending on everyone's already pretty much established attitude toward Damon or DE, you can see it as either aggressive OR heartbreakingly terrifying. All the show is doing is showing a vampire with lots of universally known issues doing something controversial. This scene could not possibly be not violent. As for the SE conversation that follows. I actually don't think that it invalidates a positive understanding of Damon's actions. I think it's meant to show us that for Elena, at this moment of history, it was wrong & negative & not in sync with what she thinks love is/wants love to be. If the scene was cut after Stefan's words, we would have been left with the impression that he successfully enlightened Elena & that she just might start reconsidering what had happened, while the truth is that - again, at that point - Elena was adamant to believe that it could not possibly be (the right kind of) love.

c) The show may be inclined to favor a certain type of logic, however, it is aware of the fact that no matter how much it wants to tell story X, it will inevitably comes across as story Y or Z or KYHAJZ, depending on a particular viewer, so instead of providing us with a dizzying amount of possible readings & hinting to the existence of said readings, it focuses & deliberately fixes itself on that one story, knowing very well that the real story can never be written ahead of being constructed by the audience.

This may be my most rambly comment yet lol Sorry about that ^^

I will now go back to dreaming about you writing an entire book about TVD ♥ I'd absolutely LOVE to read it.
youcallitwinter: d/e - in flagranteyoucallitwinter on April 30th, 2012 07:02 am (UTC)
LISTEN, YOU ARE TOO SMART FOR YOUR OWN GOOD AND I BOW DOWN TO YOU.

No, seriously, I think you explored the alternate angle extremely well, and countered the stuff I said and totally convinced me of your argument. I mean, my interpretation is also just that ofc-- an interpretation. Not even close to the final word.

Now I'm frightened. I didn't think the writing of the show was that ominous lol All of your examples are so convincing. My only hope is that perhaps there are some factors in there that may be influencing the strength of/distorting the intended message this way or another?

HAHAHA, don't beeee! My analysis, though contingent upon TVD is just a general analysis of a topic that I find fascinating.

a. THAT IS AN EXCELLENT POINT. That literally never struck me. And you're absolutely right, there are bound to be discrepancies because of the number of people exploring the same characters (all of whom might have their own interpretations) just like in the Sweet Valley series or the Nancy Drew series, the structure of character remains the same, while the characterization itself might change. The only other argument I can offer is that I expect the show to be better than this; like they should be able to maintain a certain plot and character unity, which they sometimes don't. I mean like in that Plec statement, I would see it as their responsibility to know what their own show is doing!

b. he fact that it was presented as violent doesn't really invade the audience's interpretational space.

No, absolutely, that is definitely true! It's only because I was favoring a certain reading that I looked at it in a particular way; like in the end, I did say that if you don't look at things like structure or intentionality then all interpretations are still equally valid; it's only because I wasn't exploring it from that angle, that I didn't mention it. Which is why your point is totally valid, because it's offering the alternate explanation from that angle!

I think your explanations re: Damon/force-feeding are v. interesting. What I mostly feel about that scene isn't that there isn't a sympathetic interpretation of the scene; it's that the show isn't catering to it by romanticizing the scene itself (which I respect the show for). Because it's Elena's POV, the focus is the violence, which lends itself to a certain reading; if the same scene had been Damon's POV, then the focus would have been the heartbreak and desperation. Both explanations are equally valid ofc, because one of the most interesting things in any interpretation is to explore that which the text does not.

As for the SE conversation that follows. I actually don't think that it invalidates a positive understanding of Damon's actions. I think it's meant to show us that for Elena, at this moment of history, it was wrong & negative & not in sync with what she thinks love is/wants love to be. If the scene was cut after Stefan's words, we would have been left with the impression that he successfully enlightened Elena & that she just might start reconsidering what had happened, while the truth is that - again, at that point - Elena was adamant to believe that it could not possibly be (the right kind of) love.

A+++++++++++++++++++++ SIR. I love your reading here; because I think we're essentially saying the same thing; that Elena's POV requires that the framing also be according to her understanding; and at that moment that is NOT her understanding. Which, later she might completely understand when faced with the death of someone SHE loves. Like sending Jeremy away, and analogously impinging upon his free will; it's problematic, but that is a moment where Elena might cater to Damon's viewpoint of that blood-feeding scene.

c. AGAIN, AMAZING ARGUMENT. I personally have a problem with texts that try to fix readings because I feel like it's not their job to do so; there should always be room left for innumerable interpretations. That's definitely the problem that I had with the epilogue of the Harry Potter series D:

This may be my most rambly comment yet lol Sorry about that ^^

ARE YOU KIDDING ME, YOU SHOULD BE WRITING ALL THE META.
semi-titled: bonnie bennett defies gravitypocochina on April 30th, 2012 05:01 am (UTC)
OOOOH, thank you for this. It's really helpful to help me pick through my feelings. Because this:

especially in the medium of television, we tend to study various techniques of presentation within the show, of which narrative framing is an important part, as it's an externally exloyed device, and therefore functions more as a comment on the text, rather than as a part of it.

is a tough concept for me. I love narratives about fucked-up things, and sometimes bad shit happens and everyone lets it fly. And then I do totally project my judgment onto the text - like, I assumed Damon's victimization of Andie was supposed to be horrible? So I don't...know, quite, where I need there to be some textual commentary and when I don't. But particularly this season, subtlety is not a big priority for TVD, so it's a lot clearer-cut for me to expect.

The scenes could have been kept in their entirety, and gained a whole new dimension if someone had voiced their concern.

Oh, click, this.

Because what the narrative essentially does through her dialogue is that it trivializes her own experiences of abuse. The show never bothered to expand upon that angle; so here it's just nicely making use of her experiences to further its ~shipping agenda.

Yeah, I think that's why it bothers me even more than the Rose thing. I think I'm most disturbed by this particular narrative of abuse? That it's only abuse if it's a Bad Guy doing it. If he's really trying, and it was totes the drugs and the rotten friends, and he's such a good guy, and everyone just looks at them and sees the perfect couple - then this is exactly what happens, this whole silencing thing. It's so insidious and needs underlining.
ever_neutral: tvd; bonnie ~ self-madeever_neutral on April 30th, 2012 09:52 am (UTC)
I think I'm most disturbed by this particular narrative of abuse? That it's only abuse if it's a Bad Guy doing it.

This. "Insidious" is my favourite word of the week. The text is endorsing the (objectively false) good!brother/bad!brother dichotomy through its framing of the characters. Hence, it's endorsing the idea that the trauma of victims isn't valid if the perpetrator of abuse is a Nice Guy (see: Stefan and Elena).

Kill this narrative with fire.
(no subject) - upupa_epops on April 30th, 2012 03:44 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - pocochina on April 30th, 2012 08:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
ever_neutral: tvd; elena ~ this is your faultever_neutral on April 30th, 2012 09:54 am (UTC)
T H A N K Y O U

Amen to everything. You win all the literacy awards tbqh.

I just don't understand why this is even a debate. Take a literary class. Take a fucking film class. A TV show is a constructed text. It's constructed by fallible humans. The last TVD episode objectively contained zero visual/audio cues IN THE CONSTRUCTED TEXT to suggest that we were supposed to find the Stefan/Elena scenes offensive. Not in the music, acting, direction, diegetic sound, editing, props, script, dialogue, etc. etc. etc. The implied author is telling the implied audience to view the Stefan/Elena business as sweet/romantic/tragic/moving/whatever-the-fuck, and the fact that a large portion found it offensive and horrifying means that the authors have failed.

And no, you can't say "my mileage varies" because in this particular case, no ambiguity was intended by the author in question. It was presented unambiguously. This is not a matter of subjectivity.

It's also not a ~moral~ issue. It's a solely technical one. And it depends on your ability to tell the difference between the implied author/viewer and the real viewer. It has nothing to do with your subjective opinion on the story itself. Learn the difference.

All your examples (Damon force-feeding Elena, Damon killing Abby, the Damon/Andie clusterfuck) are perfect and I agree with everything.

It can be argued that it doesn’t particularly matter what the show thinks or what it’s trying to say, because not only does the text construct the audience, but every member of the audience constructs the text, therefore, every single interpretation is equally valid; ie if you think Stefan’s actions in the previous episode are manipulative then that is what the show is saying, regardless of the show’s own intentionality.

Agreed. But the significant thing is, there's still a difference. Just because one personally finds Stefan's actions manipulative (because of his behaviour WITHIN THE STORY) doesn't mean the AUTHOR wants you to read him that way AS A CHARACTER.

Okay. That's all I have to say. I'm not sure this comment is even coherent, but know that this post is magnificent and haters should stay very pressed.

Edited at 2012-04-30 09:55 am (UTC)
Pied: katherine piercewheatear on April 30th, 2012 05:51 pm (UTC)
Your rage is a thing of beauty tbh.
(no subject) - ever_neutral on April 30th, 2012 10:23 pm (UTC) (Expand)
upupa_epops: [misc] teen vampire showsupupa_epops on April 30th, 2012 03:06 pm (UTC)
I kind of want to marry this post.
brightstarmarabrightstarmara on April 30th, 2012 03:59 pm (UTC)
You just have a wonderfull mind! Can I borrow it so I can respond in a smart way in stead going AYAYAYAYAYAYYAY. I WANT TO DATE THE SHIT OUT OF THIS ENTIRE POST.

I love learning new ways to try and get a grip on this show. One of the things I struggle with about TVD is that I feel like the show me one thing and then tell me another. And, that I feel like they are trying to tell me a story, but I'm watching something completely different! how it wants us to feel about what it’s presenting to us, rather than how we actually feel about it. THIS. About pretty much every character. Even the triangle (basicly a character by itself). The show is telling me that it is a thing of romance. When what I see is a highschool girl in love with a pair of murderers. Where the show tells me it is poetic and beautiful that Stefan saved her life, I'm seeing stalker dude to the resque.

Pretty much, this whole post {{{{hugs it}}}}
sassy, classy, and a bit smart-assy: Do Not Wantbadboy_fangirl on April 30th, 2012 08:47 pm (UTC)
First of all, I do think you're about the single most intelligent person I've ever met in fandom--and I've met a lot of smart, articulate, thoughtful people. But this post, just, GUH. It gives me such strong feelings, that I've been chewing on it for more than 24 hours to even decide if/how I should comment on it.

Instead of dissecting by points as you so clearly (and so organizedly!) do, I'll just say this: I truly believed all along that there was going to be some redress on Stefan's story. While the first season does romanticize the stalkery aspect of his relationship with Elena, and even all the manipulative crap he pulls by not ever telling her the whole truth, and even coming to believe that Stefan doesn't intend to be this way, in that he's accidentally manipulative instead of in-your-face about it like his brother--all of that aside, I honestly believed at some point this season, with this storyline that it would come to that. There would be a full accounting. That was, to my mind, what would really make him and Damon equally awful as suitors, and if Elena chooses either of them, then she knows what she's getting into, and that's her choice.

But as you've said, all of the framing negates it, and tells me it shouldn't bother me, when it bothers me so much I simply can't ignore it anymore. It is very disheartening, on so many levels. Sad, sad, sad. :*(
illuminanted: Damon Salvatore ♥illuminanted on May 2nd, 2012 04:02 pm (UTC)
This is one of the most spot-on and brilliantly constructed texts that I've read in a while.

Your thoughts on framing (and your examples for that matter) are absolutely accurate.

I think the problem of TVD is that while they are trying to heighten the romance factor and write all these beautiful romantic scenes for various characters, they seem to forget to follow the emotional path, they have themselves created previously. For instance, (I will just use the first thing that pops in my head because it is late and I am too lazy to think of something that you haven't mentioned...) if Elena were to follow that emotional path, she wouldn't have gone with Stefan that night, despite Caroline's "justification" of the matter but rather would have asked Caroline to follow through with their original plan - the girls night out (without Bonnie since she already had a date by the time the conversation occurred).

Moreover, I completely agree with what you said about Caroline's view of the "right" one being based on her personal experience and relationship with both brothers rather than a clear, impartial opinion. In addition, I think that you're right that the scene itself should have been more about Caroline's problematic past with both brothers, especially Damon opposed to it highlighting all the "kind" and "wonderful" things Stefan has done, leaving out everything else that he had put Elena through this season. Had the scene been presented like that, the clarity factor would have been quite more vivid and the characters would have been viewed for what they are rather than for what Caroline (and apparently the writers at least during that scene) see them as.

However, here too, reactions are always dependent on the perspective that the viewer adopts while entering a scene. Compulsion viewed from a vampire’s POV is everyday and mundane and raises no questions, and if the viewer is ascribing to that construct then it is unproblematic. However, if the same scene is perceived from the viewpoint of the victim, then the entire interpretation changes as then the loss of free will is terrifying in the extreme, regardless of what system of morality the vampire operates through.
I couldn't have framed this better. I agree that the problematic nature of compulsion and its interpretation comes solely from the fact that this is a show focused on vampires, therefore the framing usually caters to them opposed to their victims, and the human, real, grounded point of view is rarely highlighted. Of course, if that is a big problem for someone, they can just stop watching the show and pick another one that is not set in a supernatural world.
Crystal: tvd ⟷ elena; superimposedpetitebelette on May 3rd, 2012 02:29 pm (UTC)
And this right here is where everything about The Vampire Diaries falls apart: it decides how to frame everything in order to "quick-fix" and change perspective about certain characters/support for certain relationships, and everyone and everything else is sacrificed on their altar of shoddy narrative. Stop telling me what to think, show. IT CANNOT MAKE UP ITS MIND PLEASING EVERYONE AND/OR THE WRITERS' OWN CONVOLUTED PREFERENCES.

Or something. I can barely give reason to these writing/framing choices.

This was so good asldkjg. And eye-opening. I never gave much thought to framing, but yeaaaah, it's an issue. I'd now argue the issue. This post is perfect and someone should send it to Julie Plec, js.
Sarpaceisthetrick on May 9th, 2012 03:43 pm (UTC)
Totally just pimped you out on Twitter. I love you, my smart, smart friend. <3