Beetlejuice Headcanon #30: Betelgeuse is actually a deep, complex character.
Okay, so this one actually pertains to a point in the movie which I feel says volumes about Betelgeuse’s character and yet… Not many people pick up on it. I think I’ve only ever seen one other person (Yes, Satsuki, I’m a-lookin’ at you) besides myself ever really mention it.
There is a point in the movie— one point exactly-- where Betelgeuse slips up and lets his guard down for a moment.
Watch this scene here.
Okay. Watched it? Did you catch it?!? You ready? Let’s dissect this for a moment.
First of all, Betelgeuse is not an idiot (unlike how they portrayed him in the cartoon… But that’s a whole other discussion). He definitely watches people for cues and uses anything he can against anybody he can. If we go back to the Betel-Snake scene, he first catches a glimpse of Lydia and right away he sort of “latches” onto her because, as he says to Barbara afterward:
((TUMBLR USERNAMEDROP WHUUUUUT))
Betelgeuse must have been overhearing a lot more than what we see in the movie, because it seems like he has a pretty good idea of what Lydia is all about already. Doesn’t that seem a little odd? That he would garner her “gothy” characteristics after having only just seen her and terrorizing her and her family half to death?!?
Anyway, so this scene stems from that one; He’s telling Lydia herself that he thinks she’s someone he can relate to. As a 600+ year old poltergeist, I’m just fathoming a guess that you don’t come across too many women who dress in funerary attire, can see you without a problem, and have such a morbid, “strange, and unusual” view on the world. I mean, am I completely wrong here? So, in a sense, even though he is attempting to gain her sympathy for him, there seems to be a lot more going on underneath the surface.
Betelgeuse, as I’ve come to understand, is more of a chaotic neutral character. If you are familiar with the movie, you’ll realize that he isn’t necessarily a villain. He’s often malicious and a jerkass, but he’s not evil. He doesn’t do things because he wants to intentionally cause chaos, he causes chaos because it just happens to be the best way to get what he wants.
I know, I know, you’re probably sitting here wondering what that has to do with the point I’m trying to make. Well, now we’ve established that Betelgeuse has a clear motive to most of what he does. He thinks things through. He schemes. He’s rather cunning and manipulative. He wants to get what he wants, so he’s going to dance through loopholes and lie his ass off to get it. He’s not going to sit around and be nice and honest, because that isn’t going to get him anywhere.
So there’s Lydia and Betelgeuse. He’s working his usual con, trying to get her to sympathize with him enough to call him and get him out. Lydia sighs and says, “I want to get in.” Now, this catches him completely off guard, and you can tell because you can see his face riddle with confusion and he actually looks off to the side before returning back with, “Why?”
You can tell that wasn’t part of his act though because as soon as Lydia looks like she’s about to answer him, he catches himself and continues to brush it off by saying, “Oh, well, y’know, you’ve probably got your reasons…” But… If you go back and rewatch, that one little, “Why?” is ridiculously telling. It offers a glimpse of humanity in Betelgeuse that we don’t see anywhere else in the film, because nobody else had really caught him off guard besides a suicidal Lydia. Betelgeuse is having a hard time with his afterlife. We can see this because he constantly wants “out” of it. It’s what drives him. When Lydia is admitting that she wants to be dead, Betelgeuse can’t even fathom why she’d want that sort of fate for herself. To him, it’s a damning existence. So he comes back with, “Why?” because, for a moment, he feels some sort of pity or sympathy for her. This is unusual for him and he realizes it, which is why he tries to steer the conversation back to his ego-maniacal little self. He especially doesn’t want her to see he’s capable of those sorts of emotions; even though he had just said that he felt he could relate to her… I think he didn’t realize just how much truth was in that! It is also fairly obvious that he tries to distance himself from his own emotions when he’s trying to be “professional.” (I won’t even get started though on his little hissy fits when things don’t go his way.)
This is the main reason why I feel like Betelgeuse’s character runs a whoooooole lot deeper than most think he does on one watch of the movie. There’s a lot going on in his mind! I think that’s pretty clear. He seems to have his plans together but he slips up and is impatient, so they fall through often and get him in trouble.
So now that I’ve rambled on about just how much that scene just fascinates me and boggles my damn mind, I feel like I can rest knowing that I’ve written it out! I hope it was enjoyable to read, and I wonder how you all feel about it. This is something I try to impart on him when I’m roleplaying him especially.
tagged as: beetlejuice. beetlejuice headcanon. headcanon. headcanons. poesdaughter. long post is long. i'm sorry. I wish my college essays would have come out this badass. I mean jfc.
posted on June 12, 2012