…The world is literally burning. Anti-maskers are a thing during a pandemic. And for many of us, Jehovah’s Witnesses knocking on the door are the most exciting visitors we’ve had in months. It’s a year where those of us who are still sane have concerns about our physical health, but getting lost in that is the concern for our own mental health.
Bullying and ugliness are running more rampant than ever. The world is tough and getting tougher, and there are so many of us who are having a hard time feeling good about ourselves. But this isn’t the time to beat yourself up and let the ugliness of the world win. A lesson we can all take from The Babysitter films.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE BABYSITTER AND THE BABYSITTER: KILLER QUEEN
Some of you hated The Babysitter (2017), either because you don’t like fun, gore, or the phenomenal Samara Weaving (I’m kidding, relax. It’s cool if you don’t have a soul, I don’t judge), but I’ve been a diehard fan since it released. Partially because Weaving is indeed a horror goddess and might even be the second coming of Jamie Lee Curtis, but mostly because of Cole (Judah Lewis). See, I was—no, I am—Cole, and he was a character that spoke to me. I got hit in the head with volleyballs during gym class. I was called “pussy”, amongst an assortment of other things, by mouth-breathing jocks. I had bullies. Just switch out the space sheets for Goosebumps sheets, and I was Cole in every way.
Only I didn't have a Bee to help me see it was okay.
Cole’s babysitter and confidant, Bee (Weaving) starts the film protecting Cole by scaring away his bullies. “Get out of here, you little pap smears,” she says defiantly, and when Cole says he’s wearing special glasses to make his left eye strong, she replies, “you look pretty strong to me.” The most important reassurance Bee gives Cole though, the moment that changes everything for him and resonates through both the original film and its sequel? Just before all Hell breaks loose, Cole sobs in bed as he tells Bee, “I just want to feel normal, but I feel weird most of the time,” and she responds with, “Well I like weird, all of the time.”
Being weird is what makes you, you. Our differences are what make us stand out. They make us special. And it’s the main message of these movies: It’s okay to be you, and be gone, Satan, to what the rest of the world thinks.
The brilliance of The Babysitter is that it flipped the stereotypical slasher victims and made them the villains, ultimately turning Cole into a heroic version of the “masked killer” as he picks off Bee and co. one by one, put in the role of the disfigured, scarred monsters killing teens in films. The world sees Cole as different, and he sees himself that way, the monster. But he shouldn’t. Nor should you.
The funny thing about the message in The Babysitter is that it isn’t about becoming stronger. You would think so, with Bee and his parents trying to lift Cole up, and never-not-shirtless Max (Robbie Amell) trying to get Cole to stand up for himself. But you see, Cole was always strong. He just needed Bee and her satanic cult of hot teens to try to make a Cole smoothie out of him to realize there was never anything wrong with him in the first place. We see it in Cole from the beginning, when he acts brave for the school nurse (Carl McDowell) just before getting a flu shot. He faces down his bully Jeremy (Miles J. Harvey) before getting his ass kicked. And he immediately calls Bee’s friends a bunch of “assholes” after waking up tied to a chair, a moment that would have me blubbering out my social security code and offering all the money in my piggy bank.
Cole was always brave.
But Cole isn’t only fine when it comes to his strength, he’s also just fine when it comes to his personality. Cole spends a good chunk of the first act of The Babysitter wanting to be “normal”, as we learn that Cole still plays with toys and rockets, has a nerdy love for aerodynamics that no one else understands, and a disgust/fear towards alcohol…and all of those things end up saving him! Not taking the bait with Bee’s drugged drink keeps him awake to fight. His toys combined with a +10 push score send John (Andrew Bachelor) to his doom. Cole’s rocket blows up in Sonya’s face—heh—his aerodynamics knowledge allows him to crash a car on Bee, and just being his loveable self convinces Bee to take out Allison (Bella Thorne) just for him.
By the end of the film, Cole has kissed cute neighbor girl Melanie (Emily Alyn Lind) and declares he doesn’t need a babysitter anymore, all after realizing he had the strength in him the whole time.
Which is why The Babysitter: Killer Queen is an extremely disappointing experience at first, because everything that was so important for Cole to learn, appears erased from memory.
Killer Queen opens with Cole a few years older (and once again played by Lewis), but everything is the same for him. He’s not dating Melanie. He’s still getting hit in the face in gym and called a “pussy”. And he still has the exact same space-themed bedroom as before. I wanted to scream the first time seeing it. What the hell, Cole? Did you learn nothing?
And then it hit me. Cole didn’t need to learn anything. Because there was still nothing wrong with Cole.
A line that keeps getting repeated all through Killer Queen is “it’s through adversity that we find our strength”. Well, sometimes that adversity is created by us, in not thinking we’re good enough. But movies like The Babysitter films teach us that most of the time, just being you is good enough, even if it can be hard to accept that, as it is for Cole.
The second time around, Cole isn’t fighting to be braver. He already did that. If anything, he’s fighting to prove he’s realized he’s fine as he is, and just needs those who don’t believe his story to accept him. The truth of it is, the only thing that ever needed to change for Cole was accepting who he is. He didn’t need to get the girl, he didn’t need to become the tough guy, and he sure as hell didn’t need to get rid of those space sheets, because space is cool and growing up is for suckers. So, while Killer Queen can be upsetting at first, because we had hoped for “better” for Cole, the reality is that he didn’t need to change. He just needed to like himself.
For a lot of us, there is this pressure that we somehow have to be better now. That we always have to be working towards some ideal self. That we can’t let the depression over the state of the world get to us, or that we can’t feel unmotivated. But that’s all wrong. It’s okay for you to feel that way right now. And if anyone is making you feel otherwise, don’t listen. Your life isn’t about what other people think. What they think doesn’t matter. All that matters is you realizing that you are who you are and you feel what you feel, and unless there is something you personally want to change about yourself, screw what anyone else thinks.
Cole was able to take down a group of Satanists—twice—all because he was different. Be proud being different. Be proud being you.
And if people still bug you for being you? Take a lesson from Bee and “kick ‘em in the dick.”
(Both 'The Babysitter' and 'The Babysitter: Killer Queen' are available on Netflix)
By Matt Konopka