Saturday, October 1, 2016

“You’re in the Babysitters Club with Darth Vader.” BSC #130: Stacey’s Movie (1999)

The latest (and, probably, last) short takes class is happening. Stacey is excited for her class, which is on film making. She’s placed in a group with Pete, Emily and Erica, and they decide to make a documentary on middle school students. In the course of their interviews, they speak with various BSC members. When Mary Anne is interviewed, she makes some comments that she wishes she hadn’t said. Stacey’s sympathetic, but it’s not until she says some things she regrets during her own interview that she really pushes to get MA's comments revoked. In the end, both Mary Anne and Stacey are allowed to record a second interview, explaining what they said the first time. And all is well.
In the B plot, Kristy is stepping on Alan’s toes by not letting him direct their movie. She makes several other people—Jackie R, Mary Anne, and Abby, to name a few—annoyed with her antics as well.
Interesting Tidbits
Is that Pete on the cover? He looks even more excited than Stacey does.

Attack of the Giant Idiot: The Alan Gray Story. Is it a comedy? Sci-fi? Horror? You decide.
Did it ever occur to anyone else that Stacey actually helps Claudia in some ways? For example, in this book, Claudia goes downstairs to get some carrot sticks for Stacey to eat during the meeting. Since Claud’s hiding the junk food in her room, Mrs. Kishi probably thinks the whole BSC is eating the carrots…meaning that she thinks Claudia’s eating them, too.
Mary Anne is taking an Egyptology class, which leads to Abby making an Egypt pun that is so bad, even I don’t want to repeat it.
The filmmaking teacher, who is a documentarian in her real life, asks the groups to assign the roles of cinematographer, director, producer and screenwriter. Then, when everyone agrees, she shuffles the roles, to take people out of their comfort zone. For the record, Emily wanted to be screenwriter but ends up producing; Pete wanted to produce but winds up cinematographer, Erica wanted to be cinematographer by winds up directing. Stacey, who wanted to direct, is the screenwriter.
Kristy’s group (which includes Anna, Logan and Alan) is making a Kids Say/Do the Darnedest Things type movie, and they start by filming the Rodowskys while Mary Anne is sitting. Kristy keeps trying to get Jackie to do something entertaining, but Jackie tells MA that she’s making fun of him. It’s actually quite sad. Even after he specifically says he doesn’t want to be in the movie, Kristy keeps filming him anyway.
We learn all kinds of fun things during assorted interviews, which Stacey and Emily take turns doing:

  • Pete says that he hates the feeling of ‘being stuck’. He comments on not being allowed to drive, despite knowing how, and not being able to get a real job (despite the fact that Logan has worked as a busboy for quite a while now…) It made me chuckle, because Mallory is always saying how she thinks that once she turns thirteen, her life will be perfect. And here are the thirteen year olds, all wishing they were sixteen. You know that once they’re sixteen, they’ll want to be eighteen…or twenty-one….
  • Abby comments on how overbooked her mother is, and how she doesn’t want to be like her. But then Emily points out that Abby said she’s always tired, and says maybe she too is overbooked. I didn’t really notice this the first time I read the book. But think about it now: it’s only two books from now that Abby drops out of the BSC to focus on soccer. Think that this interview had something to do with that?
  • Jessi makes it very plain that, although she likes her friends in the BSC, she’s more at ease with her friends from Dance NY. It’s not just a race thing (although Stacey gets stuck on that), but also because they have a lot more in common besides babysitting. And as I said during that book, Jessi was almost a different person in front of those friends, a ham and a leader. She makes a comment about the BSC members—now that Mal is gone—all being older than she is, and that making it difficult. At first I called bull on that, but then I remembered way back in book #75 when Jessi was the same way during Sixth Grade Follies.
  • Cokie suggests that Stacey has what it takes to hang out with her and her friends, but that the BSC is just as snobby as they consider Cokie’s group to be. YES! That’s what BSC fans have been saying for YEARS! She follows it up by saying that even geeks hang out with other geeks because they consider them superior to others. It’s very true, in a middle school way of thinking. By the time kids finish high school, a lot of those clique lines have blurred, because someone can be a cheerleader and class valedictorian, or be a jock and a stoner. Labels like that become less important than having good friends.
  • Mary Anne blurts out that she’s angry at her mother for dying. The comment is doubly harsh, because she says she’s angry with her mother, and when Stacey says, “Sharon?”, MA basically says, “No, my real mother!” Later, she explains that she and Sharon had gotten into a fight right before school that day, explaining everything. Honestly, I’d say her comment is completely, utterly normal. Anger at a dead parent? Normal. Not always considering a stepparent to be a parent? Normal. But at the same time, I understand Mary Anne not wanting her interview to air as is, because those emotions aren’t how she normally feels.
  • Alan says the title quote at the start of his interview, and yes, he’s referring to Kristy. But then he gets deadly serious and says he doesn’t always want to be the class clown, but he feels locked into the role. Even when he tries to be not a goofball, no one takes him seriously. He says he ruined the t-shirt Claudia was going to decorate because he wanted to talk to her and she just ignored him. Not only do I bet a lot of class clowns feel that way, but this sets up the whole Alan/Claudia pairing from the FF series.

Maybe it’s a bad idea to allow Kristy to work on her film during her own sitting jobs, especially with the Pike family. She’s encouraging the kids to behave badly in the process of performing, without thinking of their safety. Abby becomes (rightfully) pissed at her after she has to rescue Claire from a concussion and the four Pike boys nearly destroy the whole living room.
Alan, meanwhile, is annoyed because he’s the director of the movie, and Kristy—the cinematographer—keeps taking over his role, deciding what to film, and telling the kids not to listen to Alan. Logan even spoke up on Alan’s side. After Alan’s interview with Stacey, she encourages Kristy to actually give him a chance. She does…and discovers that Alan’s got more talent than she expected.
In the end, Stacey films Mary Anne talking about how words are imprecise and we don’t always express ourselves clearly, but once something’s on film (or, Teeki adds, been heard by others) we can’t take it back.
Over all, this was actually pretty awesome as far as BSC books go. Lots of character development, and in some cases, just reaffirmation of what we already knew. Which is really nice, too.
Claudia: tie-dyed t-shirt, overall shorts with a painted rain forest scene
Next: #131


  1. I always wished we could have really gotten to know Jessi better in the series. I sort of feel like of all the regular sitters, she got the short end of the stick.

    In her earlier books, she's given a few personality traits - she's funny, she's good at learning languages, and she's good at taking charge - that are really downplayed as the series goes on, if not completely ignored.

    I think she just got lumped in with Mallory because they were the youngest and BFF's. I would have liked to see more of Jessi post-Mallory, especially since I did see them growing apart.

  2. I wish we'd gotten more interviews in the book. I agree that some had good foreshadowing.