Friday, July 29, 2011

Tommy Ross, the innocent



I promised in the most recent Scary Song of the Week that I would expound more on my current Stephen King mood. Well here I go.

Right now, the big talk is about "Bag of Bones" beginning production. Pierce Brosnan has been cast as blocked writer Mike Noonan. I'm cool with that. I'm also cool with the casting of Melissa George as Mattie Devore. She impressed me in the remake of "The Amityville Horror." Mick Garris is directing the announced two-part miniseries for A&E, which means I need to get cable soon or I'll miss it. It might sound weird to many King fans, but "Bag of Bones" has become my favorite of his novels. It's the perfect bridge between the over the top King of the 1980s and '90s and the post-accident King of the 21st century.

That's my favorite book, so now is a good time to go back to the beginning and talk about one of my favorite King characters: Tommy Ross in "Carrie."

Poor Tommy Ross. We all know he gets his head bashed in by the bucket that dumps pig's blood all over Carrie, causing her to go ballistic on everyone else at the prom. That's the end of his story and he's often overlooked in favor of his girlfriend Sue Snell or Carrie's religious zealot mother or even that bitch Chris, the one who sets up the bucket of blood and rigs the prom king and queen voting.

Tommy, you deserved better.

He's the only innocent character in the film. Sure, Sue comes around and has the noblest of intentions when she asks Tommy to take Carrie to the prom, but if she hadn't been pelting Carrie with feminine hygiene products at the beginning of the story, she wouldn't have been in the position of having to get Tommy to play his role in the film.

And unlike the rest of his classmates, Tommy gets mad at what happens to Carrie before they all start laughing at her. Even if some of the laughter is imagined by Carrie, if Tommy had lived long enough for Carrie to believe he laughed at her, too, then all sympathy for Carrie vanishes.

But he dies. He's blessedly knocked unconscious before Carrie sets the gym ablaze. The fire likely killed him (in other words, Carrie is still ultimately responsible for his death), but at least he didn't have to watch his new found love go off the deep end.

OK, I realize that life probably would not have worked out for Tommy and Carrie. Carrie's crazy mom probably would have found a way to put a stop to their burgeoning love. But if anyone could have carried Carrie away from the life she knew, it would have been Tommy, the athlete with a poet's soul, the one who realized his own feelings meant more than what everyone thought about him.

Those are some big "what ifs" but one of the biggest, to me, is whether or not Tommy and Carrie legitimately won their crowns as prom king and queen. I like to think that they would have. It gives me hope that not everyone in that high school was either a bully, a bitch or one of the many onlookers who felt powerless to change anything so agreed to everything by their complacency.

Then again, if they had won on their own but everything else happened the same, Carrie would lose that precious audience sympathy that had built up over the course of the story.

In summation, Tommy Ross is the only purely innocent character in Carrie. The only thing he can be blamed for is learning too late that the picked on girl might have been his one true love.

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