Despite the fact that I usually try to – for the most part – keep my writing for the Vampire Diaries and my own stuff fairly separate, I really wanted to write this, partially in response to feedback on a recap I wrote for the most recent episode, called Bad Moon Rising but also because this is something I really feel is important for me to say.
One of the unfortunate side effects of playing a character that people don’t always particularly like – or whose behaviour people don’t necessarily agree with – is that the negativity does seem to rub off occasionally on the actor who plays them.
There’s been a lot of talk about the Bonnie Bennett of Season 2 versus the Bonnie of season one, especially in the light of her apparently greatly changed actions and attitudes in recent episodes. Sadly however, whilst some of this discussion has been positive, and undertaken with a mind to try to tease apart the many potential plot twists related to her character, other parts of it have turned – in all honesty – extremely petty and, at times, incredibly hurtful, not just towards Bonnie as a character, but much worse, towards Kat who plays her.
Now, good fiction will always get people talking. Turning a much loved character in to one who in recent times has behaved in much less than loveable ways was a really, really big call by the writers of this show.
But the calibre, skill and focus of the writers behind The Vampire Diaries has meant that more than once, our viewer expectations have been well and truly turned on their heads or kicked in the pants, and to great dramatic effect.
The Unknown: it’s the X factor that has made this show more than fodder for scintillating water cooler talk amongst the masses. It’s what’s turned this show into a phenomenon, whose brilliance amazingly has both critics and fans batting for the same team.
Therefore, as a viewing audience, we have no reason not to trust that the writers of this incredible show do not have something in store for the resident witch of Mystic Falls. It’s true – no matter how many ways you redress it, Bonnie has been a pretty awful friend to her friends this season. She’s lied, she’s been manipulative and unkind – not all the time but definitely on a number of occasions. A lot of them have. That’s not an opinion, that’s just plain ol’ astute observation. And I will be the first to admit that I really, really miss the Bonnie of Season 1. I loved how she loved the people in her world so fiercely, how she stuck by Elena and wasn’t scared off when her friend came clean about who and what the Salvatore brothers were. I miss the Bonnie whose actions were fuelled more by love than anything else. I mean…don’t you?
But then few stories are as scintillating and moving as that which is told about a broken, angry and bitter heart finding it’s way back to forgiveness, strength and belief in the power of finding the good in even the worst of people. For all we know, the Bonnie we see now may just be the Bonnie still on the dark side of that journey.
Now, by no means do I have any idea or inside scoops about plots. One, not even the President is that well connected, let alone me, and two, chances are not even the worlds greatest hypnotist with the all the luck of the Irish on their side could weasel that out of the creative team behind this show. Not a chance. But what I am saying is that the absolute joy here is that I don’t know. None of us have a clue what could happen. Which means that anything can happen.
How can I put this a better way…I think maybe it’s about fandom – whilst still being upset towards Bonnie’s actions and attitudes as a character if you choose to, or not: a viewing audience has every right to think what they want – it’s about looking at Bonnie, and choosing not to see the problem with her, but the possibilities for her. For her story, her life.
But there is another reason, I confess for this post, one that I think has been needed to be acted upon for a while now.
Love her or hate her, Bonnie Bennett is a work of fiction.
Mystic Falls and all her inhabitants are fiction.
But Kat Graham, isn’t.
Sadly, the negativity surrounding the change in the character she plays has seen Kat be subjected to some really unhelpful and really unkind behaviour from people who want to make it clear that they’re not batting for Team Bonnie by a long shot.
I mean, put yourself in her shoes for a minute.
She spends day after day, night after night, working her butt off to create a character so multifaceted, heck she’s practically a human gemstone. I think it would take a lot more than just loving acting as a craft to show that level of dedication – by doing it, she shows a care for the people who watch the show. All of them, whether they’re playing for, bagging out or just plain ol’ cheering on Team Bonnie. And that commitment deserves respect. All the actors – it’s not just something they deserve, it’s something they’ve earned.
By respect, I don’t mean like, or agreement. They are different things.
But respect says ‘we appreciate what you as an actor bring to that role, the standard to which you bring it and we’re thankful for that commitment.’
Respect doesn’t, however, mean you are hurtful towards someone – a real person – in a public forum, and saying mean things that have no basis whatsoever in reality. The people who say these things are people who either cannot or will not separate art from life and fact from fiction. Regardless of whether she played a main character on a hit TV show or if her only acting gig was selling toothpaste in a 20 second regional advert for Colgate, Kat Graham is a real person – a beautiful, talented and smart person – with real feelings.
So they don’t respond to a fan letter, or reply to your tweet. So what. That doesn’t mean they don’t need or value the encouragement of their fans any less. She is someone’s friend, someone’s daughter, someone’s granddaughter, someone’s shoulder to cry on, someone’s best mate to laugh with. Put someone you love in her place, and then see how okay you are with watching them being abused in public for something petty and stupid. You’re not. You wouldn’t wish that on your worst enemy.
This post then, I guess in a way is an honest call to the Vampire Diaries fans: to be a fandom that the actors and writers and crew and supporters of this great show can be proud of. And this can only happen if we start with those two most important steps in any relationship: trust, and respect.
Maybe all things considered, encouraging a good actress with a few kind words would be a really good place to start.