A Matter of Trust: The Case for Bonnie Bennett

Bonnie BennettDespite 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.


7 responses to “A Matter of Trust: The Case for Bonnie Bennett

  1. I like this post, although I one thing to say:

    Kat Graham has to realize that when people are mad at her character, they’re mad at this character and not at her. That’s in the same vein of people being mad only at the character, not at Kat. I’m not sure if anyone’s spoken out against Kat, but fans do have a right to dislike a character. I’m certainly unhappy with Bonnie right now.

  2. I see what you mean.
    I mean, I totally hate Bonnie, but like you said, Kat Graham is totally separate from that.
    If she makes you hate the character, then she’s damn well doing her job.
    She’s evoking emotions from the audience, only she is made to evoke mistrust, hate & bitterness as Bonnie, whereas people like Ian Somerhalder are being made to evoke swoons, laughter and empathy as Damon.
    She can play both sides of Bonnie though;
    just from the fact that she made us all love her in Season 1 proves that it’s only the character we’ve grown to reject, NOT Kat Graham. I, for one, think she’s an amazing actress.

    I agree completely with you in that we shouldn’t be trash-talking Kat.
    I hope people can see the reason in this and instead appreciate what a talented cast this show has.


  3. I just translated this text to portuguese to be posted on http://vampirediariesbrasil.com/
    I simply cannot believe that people was (or worst, still is) really saying bad things about Katerina Graham because of Bonnie’s behaviour.
    That is so vile, so repulsive, so… absurd! It’s revolting, it’s petty, it’s awful. Really, it’s hard to believe that people cannot separate reality from fiction. That’s lame.
    I really hope these bullies and trolls to read this text and think about this. Because, really, that made me sick.
    I’m glad I didn’t see it happening, ’cause I don’t know how I would react to this kind of actions.

  4. Pingback: Vampire Diaries Brasil • Diários do Vampiro • Sua Fonte #1 Sobre Vampire Diaries no Brasil, L.J. Smith,Nina Dobrev ,Paul Wesley e Ian Somerhalder! » Blog Archive » UM CASO DE CONFIANÇA: O CASO DE BONNIE BENNETT

  5. I’m happy to see this addressed. Part of the reason I’m so annoyed with Bonnie this season is that I *want* to like her, because I like Kat Graham so much. She has definitely earned my respect.

  6. You’re absolutely right, Erin. I really can’t believe anyone could take it on Kat like that. She’s not Bonnie, she receives a script with lines written for her character and she does a hell of a job in delivering them.

    True, I don’t like how Bonnie’s been behaving lately, but even though she’s a witch, she’s still human, and no single human being in this planet is perfect, we all have our flaws. And Bonnie has experienced some things and she’s acting like that because of them. Maybe she’s blowing things way out of proportion, but I’m sure a lot of people reacts like that. And sometimes is from making mistakes and acting not so good that we see the error of our ways and we learn something. I’m sure Bonnie has a lot of changes still in store. She’s just confused. But in my opinion, the Bonnie we all love is still there. I caught a glimpse of her in the season 2 premiere, when she started crying in Caroline’s room at the hospital. And I have no doubt she went through hell that night she discovered Caroline was a vampire and had killed someone, trying to come to terms with it all. That said, I don’t agree with how she treated Caroline in the last episode, but hey, I’m sure we all have taken it on a friend when experiencing some hard times. So, who’s to say she won’t regret it and say sorry in the future? And who are we not to forgive her if she does? Wouldn’t we all like to be forgiven when we sincerely apologize to someone? I find it harder to forgive Damon for killing Jeremy… And I’m a Damon girl. So if Damon can be forgiven for everything he’s done, so can Bonnie.

    Anyway, sorry for the long comment, I’ll stop now. :)

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