Silent but Deadly

Being an outsider within Neptune High’s social hierarchy gives Veronica Mars a perspective that enables her to be a good detective. Because of her position in the social class and the trauma of her unsolved rape case Veronica is in the perfect position to be a great detective. Her gift of being detached from the social hierarchy of Neptune High allows her to drift between groups of people with whom she makes alliances or manipulates into helping her in some way, and allows her to observe without being noticed.

From the opening lines of the pilot episode in which she declares that she is never going to get married it is clear to the audience that Veronica Mars is a has a bleak outlook on relationships, especially intimate ones. The idea of Veronica’s lack of relationships is further promoted when she is shown sitting alone at the lunch table with everyone zooming past. This scene gives the impression that due to her social isolation Veronica is essentially invisible to most of the school, and that no one really ever pays any attention to her, however this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Since Veronica is not attached to any one social group she is easily able to float between them in order to find the perfect ally for any given situation. First, she rescues Wallace from public humiliation, but in doing so gets herself into trouble with agang of bikers. She then uses Wallace and his technological ingenuity to get the bikers on her side, who she then plays in order to get their protection against the “cool” kids of Neptune High. This type of manipulation would not be possible if Veronica was a part of any particular social group because she would not be permitted to talk to or hang out with those of another group. Veronica Mars does not let her social isolation dishearten her. Instead she uses it to her advantage in order to extract revengeon those who have wronged her such as the sheriff and the “cool” kids. Because she flies under the radar Veronica is able to take advantage of many different people at one time and use their combined resources to essentially get whatever she wants. Veronica Mars truly is silent but deadly.


Mars is Alone in the Universe

Being an outsider within Neptune High’s social hierarchy gives Veronica Mars a perspective that enables her to be a good detective. Because of her unsolved rape case Veronica Mars has severed her emotional and social ties to the outside world, enabling her to see situations with an objective lens. This keeps her detective intuitions clear and precise at the expense of her views of everyone around her.

When Veronica awakes alone and confused in bed after the party, she is greeted with the horrifying truth that she has likely been taken advantage of, her underwear carelessly thrown on the floor. This leads her to the realization that she is abandoned by the peers around her, leaving her to face reality in solidarity. With such a brutal betrayal, Veronica now takes on the world in a lone wolf fashion completely un-aided by those she once called friends by re-imagining her physical and emotional appearance. Donning a choppy haircut, shorter and more ragged than her previous well kept style and rebellious attitude unlike the feminine light hearted girl before, Veronica now faces her challenges on her own with a much larger grain of salt.

The change in her external conduct is not only attributed to her peers abandonment, but also that of established authority. When contacting the town sheriff, she is immediately dismissed due to a “lack of evidence” ruining any chance of her unknown perpetrator being held responsible. Veronica is now completely abandoned with no hope of support from either side of society. Further diminishing her level of trust even with those who are regarded as being trustworthy.

Ms. Mars’ inability to trust, due to her desertion regarding her unsolved rape has pushed her away from a normal lifestyle. This new abnormal way of life, that of sociopathic and blunt encounters, has lead to her discovering her true potential as a detective unbound by petty emotions and thoughts. Despite the blurred line between justice and vengeance, Veronica captures the essential traits of a modern “hardboiled” detective.


Veronica Mars, the World Weary Detective

In Veronica Mars, Veronica is a social outcast who spends her time observing the social hierarchy present in Neptune High and the surrounding community. She is ostracized for many reasons, including her financial situation, her unsolved rape, and her tendency to befriend other social outcasts. However, one of the most prominent reasons for her isolation is her family’s disgrace.

Early on in the pilot episode, we learn that Veronica’s father, the ex-sheriff of Neptune, is almost universally disliked because of how poorly he handled the Lilly Kane murder case. Veronica’s mother left the family as a result of this fall from social grace, leaving Veronica alone with her father. From that point on, Veronica became an outsider in the social hierarchy of Neptune High. Her isolation is best depicted in the scene where Veronica is sitting alone at lunch, as the rest of the school passes her in a blur. Here, her feelings of rejection and betrayal are apparent in her facial expression and the way she stabs angrily at her food. She also appears very alone in the scene, since she is the only one in focus while her classmates are out of focus.

Veronica’s bitterness is a defining aspect of her character throughout the pilot episode, and probably follows her throughout the series. In the opening scene of the pilot episode, we see Veronica in a dimly lit car, next to a sketchy motel on “the wrong side of town.” Everything about the scene—Veronica’s narration, the lighting, the music—gives an impression of edginess. From the very beginning, we see Veronica as a strongly cynical character, one that fits well into the hard-boiled detective motif that is common in film noir. Although Veronica is young and female, distinguishing her from traditional noir detectives such as Sam Spade or Jeff Jefferies, she follows in their footsteps in her sense of world-weary cynicism and alienation from society.

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 9.10.40 PMScreen Shot 2013-10-13 at 9.19.03 PM

The Invisibility to Be Control

Being an outsider within Neptune High’s social hierarchy gives Veronica Mars a perspective that enables her to be a good detective. Because of her fall in popularity and trauma as a rape victim, Veronica is able to have the invisibility and freedom that is required of a good detective. Her independence enables her to find an end that “justifies the means”(Burnnett, Townsend) by manipulating people without being noticed.

In the first scene, Wallace Fennel is taped to a flagpole with the words “Snitch” written across his chest. In most situations, the average teenager would consider it to be “social suicide” to assist the bullied. Instead, Veronica Mars breaks the social norm and helps untie Wallace. Due to her father’s job loss and Veronica’s status as an outsider, she does not have anything to lose socially and can easily free Wallace. In addition to this, her actions are of little surprise and significance to the rest of Neptune High’s pupils because she is low on the social hierarchy. Veronica Mars is able to go under the radar. Due to her ability to stand up to the population of Neptune High and save him, Wallace is in debt to Veronica, which gives Veronica more power. She uses his alliance in future scenes.

With the help of Wallace, she is able to obtain evidence of Weevil and another PCH biker stealing alcohol. Again, who would suspect a teenage girl with little social status to have the bravery and intelligence to trick a police station that mocked her when reporting a crime? Veronica would not have been able to pull this off without Wallace’s help with the remote control. Her ability to obtain the evidence tape is key to acquiring the partnership of the PCH biker gang. Again, Veronica Mars uses her intelligence and lack of social status to manipulate people into assisting her when needed.

Veronica Mars is able to uphold a confidence and independence that allows her to manipulate people and to be a good detective. She is able to maintain a lone wolf personality and be a strong individual through her survival of rape, and her ability to be invisible in society. She proves she has what it takes to achieve what she wants although most of society would believe she is incapable due to her social status and victimization. Veronica remains ahead of the game and in control of those who are in debt to her. She is not just another teenage outcast.


Perspective and Popularity

When considering detectives, perspective is key. After all, they are expected to see the things that other people do not. This can only be done with a unique, somewhat isolated perspective. One must be able to separate themselves with whatever they are observing. Being an outsider within Neptune High’s social hierarchy gives Veronica Mars a perspective that enables her to be a good detective. Because of her social status, Veronica Mars is quick to defend herself and others in challenging situations and not driven by popularity and the cliques of high school like so many of her peers.

In the pilot episode of Veronica Mars, one of the very first thing the viewer sees is a young African-American man, Wallace, taped to a flag pole with the word “snich” painted across his chest.


This scene is also narrated by Veronica saying, “This is my school. If you go here your parents are either millionaires or work for millionaires . . ..”  At this point, her classmates are standing and laughing and taking pictures, while Veronica approaches with a knife and cuts him down. Clearly in a school where one can assume there is racial stereotyping, Veronica defies the norm and befriends the outcast. The viewer can only assume and later rationalize that this is because Veronica Mars is an outsider to the social hierarchy of high school herself.

The cause of Veronica Mars’ outsider status is introduced to the viewer later through a flashback: Veronica Mars was raped at a party. The show portrays a typical high school party with Veronica Mars’ friends at the time (these are now the people she’s come to hate). She is drugged and then assaulted and no one steps in to help her. Even when she reports the crime, she is laughed at and receives no help. The case is closed before it is even started. This represents the beginning of Veronica’s solitary search for vengeance. The rejection by the authority makes her quick to defend herself and she realizes that if she wants this crime to be solved she has to depend on herself to do it.

This independence and drive is present throughout the show as Veronica Mars navigates Neptune High. She is quick to defend those who wouldn’t gain support of the “authorities” or popular kids. She is an outcast herself and works with them during investigation. Her opinions are not driven by the popularity and social structure so present in high school making it easy to catch motives and secrets hidden between different social structures and groups. Veronica Mars’ perspective as an outcast makes her quick to defend herself and other outcasts and therefore enables her to be a great teenage detective.

No Pain, No Gain.

After her best friend’s murder, her father’s fall from grace and subsequent desertion by her mother, and the rejection from her boyfriend, Veronica Mars is left with significant trust issues, causing her to emotionally distance herself from nearly everyone around her. Without the multiple incidents of abandonment and perception of being a social outcast at Neptune High, Veronica Mars would not have obtained the separation she needed from society to become a serious detective.

Veronica is guarded in her interactions with anyone she meets because of how people have repeatedly wronged her in the past. The fictitious shield she has invented for herself equips her with the necessary skill of not immediately trusting anyone. Being skeptical is a required skill for all detectives because at any point, anyone involved in a case could be lying. By not trusting anyone instantly, Veronica allows herself time to form opinions about a person before she determines whether or not they can achieve the status of friend or ally. This is not only a way to judge whether or not the person will be able to assist her in cases, but it is also a way to protect herself from getting hurt again. If Veronica does not allow someone into her personal life and thoughts, if they leave, she will not feel any pain.

When she first meets Wallace, she is seen cutting him down from the flagpole he was taped to. Wallace interpreted her behavior as the initiation of a friendship rather than mere sympathy for being a fellow social outcast. His interpretation leads him to joining Veronica at lunch. Veronica’s self-protection is clearly displayed in this interaction when she harshly asks him what he is doing at “her” table instead of greeting him like a more “normal” member of society would. She had not intended to spark a relationship between the two that would last after he was freed from the flagpole, but she let him remain seated at her table once she realized that they were both on the same level of the social pyramid, indicating that he could be of use to her. Instead of trusting Wallace from the start, Veronica waited to determine whether or not he could be of assistance to her.

Preceding this moment by a minute or two, Veronica is seen gazing angrily at the table where her old group of friends were sitting. Although in her mind she is reliving the torment of being discarded, being rejected actually helps her. Being an active participant within social groups of her school would limit Veronica’s ability to do detective work because only when she is on the outside looking in can she observe their true behaviors carefully. Being an outcast gives her an objective view of not only her peers but of everyone else she chooses to study. It is much more effective to be disconnected from the situation when needing to carefully pay attention to the details. This moment also displays that because of her dismissal, she goes unnoticed. Although she used to be friends with the people she is glaring at, they do not pay her any attention. By being socially outcasted, Veronica can take her time observing objectively and surreptitiously, therefore allowing her to be a more effective detective.

Past sticks and stones make Bricks

The original claim I’m revising is example E:

“In the TV series Veronica Mars, Veronica has a series of flashbacks suggesting that she lives too much in the past. (A Generalization)




With Veronica Mars’ flashbacks, the viewer is able to see a troubled past through the lens of a young woman who has used such events to build herself up into a confident and straightforward detective, not burdened with such thoughts but rather embracing them to make her a stronger person within a dangerous world.

Developing Habits of Mind

In class today we joined forces to try and combat what Rosenwasser and Stephen call “Counterproductive Habits of Mind” (See pages 42-71 in Writing Analytically).  These habits do not bolster analytical thinking, but instead they “shut down perception and arrest potential ideas at the cliché stage.”

Rosenwasser and Stephen categorize these problems into four types: a Premature Leap (43), The Judgment Reflex (44), Generalizing (46), or Naturalizing our Assumptions (47).  Since, as a class, we are still struggling with some of these counterproductive habits of mind, I asked you to work on revising some examples of these common mistakes.

I am going to post the statements for revision below.  Instead of writing a full reaction paper for Wed, I simply want you to comment on this post with your revised claim.  Your claim might be a sentence or a few sentences, but please note which statement you worked on in your group.  We’ll take a look at the revised statements together in class on Wednesday.

Statement A:

The character Veronica Mars uses a camera and watches people, so therefore the series must be an adaptation of Rear Window.  (Premature Leap)

Statement B:

The Veronica Mars pilot episode does not get its point across because it is over-dramatic and outdated making it uninteresting to viewers today.   (The Judgment Reflex)

Statement C:

What Veronica Mars all boils down to is bullying and how it is always bad for schools. (Generalizing)

Statement D:

The character Veronica Mars comes from a broken home and just suffered a break up so her interactions with other people are guarded and sometimes mean because she has a broken heart due to these things. (Naturalizing Our Assumptions)

Statement E:

In the TV series Veronica Mars, Veronica has a series of flashbacks suggesting that she lives too much in the past (Generalizing)

Statement F:

Veronica Mars is a TV series a feminist show because it deals with rape and Veronica is a strong woman. (Generalizing/ Naturalizing Our Assumptions)

Who holds the power?

One revision from the Sherlock Holmes original that caught my eye was the fact that Irene Adler knew who Sherlock Holmes was at the same point that he knew who she was. In the book version, Irene Adler didn’t discover who Sherlock was until he was playing sick on her couch. In the movie she had been previously following him for a couple of days. She was ready for his arrival and wanted to make it known that she knew him before hand. While the book puts her ahead of Sherlock later on the movie shows that women have more power in society then expected during this time period. It shows she is a wealthy woman who can fend for herself and does not need a man to support her. It also shows how Sherlock and Irene Adler have the same understanding of each other and are at the same level as equals. The movie switches as to who has the upper hand, having it change between Irene Adler and Sherlock. They both outsmart one another throughout this movie over their desire to be in control of this phone that holds all secrets. The book differs from the movie perspective because by Irene taking the pictures herself puts her at an advantage. Where as Sherlock was handed pictures of her that had been previously consciously been taken. Sherlock was filled in about Irene Adler, while she gathered all the information about him by herself allowing her to get to know him without actually knowing him, keeping him in the dark. I think that they left the scene out where he fakes sick and had her know before hand because it makes her look more powerful and in control. Another thing that puts them as equals is the description of colors used, her make-up as well as his bruise. This scene shows how comfortable she is with her feminine body and how comfortable he is in her house.

Human or Infallible? Does Sherlock Really Hold the Power?

Within the Sherlock Holmes short story “A Scandal in Belgravia” we have seen two different interpretations: the BBC series edition and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Although these two interpretations are derived from the same story, the way they depict the relationship between Irene Adler and Sherlock Holmes is extremely different.

Throughout the Sherlock Holmes book we see Holmes making deductions, carrying out his plans, and everything going in his favor. We, as readers, believe Sherlock is in control throughout the entire story. Despite this preconceived notion of who holds the power, we realized that Ms. Irene Adler has outsmarted Sherlock. This shift in power is not yet known until the closing of the story when Sherlock receives a letter clearly stating Irene’s deductions and reasoning’s.

Contrary to the book Irene Adler, in the BBC series, is in control for most of the story. She figured out Sherlock’s case before he was able to which, proved her dominance over him. She later tricked him into giving away the information about a government plan regarding a terrorist bomb on a British airplane. These situations allow the audience to see, and think, that Adler has bested Sherlock, similarly to in the written interpretation. Despite these situations regarding Irene’s control, Holmes does ultimately outsmart her. He steals her cell phone and figures out her pass code by reading her pulse. When he notices her heart rate increase when they are in close contact, he gained the evidence that she has feelings for him and figures out her password is “SHER”. This strand of events plays into the Sherlock stereotype of him being an infallible genius.

The BBC edition holds more firmly to the ‘typical’ Sherlock Holmes stereotype. Despite being bested in a situation or two, he will always come out the smartest, the winner. The written story gives Holmes more human characteristics; we see that he is capable of failure. By letting Irene Adler be the smarter of the two in the book, shows that Homes is human. He becomes more relatable when he does not always win or come out on top. The BBC edition plays on the stereotype of always being correct which feeds into the perception of Holmes being incredibly reliable. The idea of Holmes having human attributes is only touched on in the BBC edition of Sherlock. These different portrayals further the debate of Sherlock Holmes as a human or infallible character.  Unknownfile://localhost/Users/sarahsackman/Desktop/images-1.jpegfile://localhost/Users/sarahsackman/Desktop/images-3.jpeg