Thursday, February 28, 2008

It's Only a Paper Moon

Messing with the mind can be so dangerous.

—Tiffany Blum-Deckler, “Quinn the Brain”

This alter ego from the MTV website catches my interest each time I see it. In the early part of the last century, carnivals and fairs used to have photo booths set up in which people could have their pictures taken while seated on a large crescent moon prop, as Tiffany is doing here. I have the feeling that her costume and telescope were meant to be one of those in-joke references to a long-forgotten theater production, but I have no idea which. It doesn't seem to be related to the 1973 movie called Paper Moon. In any event, this is one of Tiffany's cuter shots.

Someone (I'm pretty sure it was Cincgreen) once said that fanfic authors sometimes gift Tiffany Blum-Deckler with fantastic powers in their stories because they cannot make her interesting in any other way. She is a hard nut to crack. You can take her just as she is for a comedy story, but if you are attempting something serious, you've got your work cut out for you making her believable and realistic. Whatever explanation must be cooked up to account for her obtuseness, narcissism, and superficiality must border on science-fiction territory. An excellent recent story, "Reclamation" by Roentgen/Cincgreen, portrays Tiffany as the victim of a high-tech brainwashing. Once as smart and cynical as Daria, she can barely put two thoughts together until Daria stirs up her mental mix. In my own fics, Tiffany has been a robot, a closet superhero, a reality manipulator (per The Matrix), and I forget what else. Authors have cast her as a pothead or pill-popper to explain her slow speech, which she didn't have early in the series. She's been portrayed as mentally unbalanced or even as faking stupidity for her own reasons, being extremely devious underneath her clueless facade.

The well of possibilities for Tiffany has not run dry. That alter ego of her from Is It College Yet? in which she is a professional psychic with her own hot line (see here) sparked an idea for a story about her talent with tarot cards, something the rest of the Fashion Club wasn't entirely aware of. I had part of a Halloween story written with this in mind ("With a Wicked Pack of Cards," from a line by T.S. Eliot), but it faded out on me. Too much research into reading tarot was required. If anyone wants the idea, it is yours for the taking. The title can be used, too, if you want it.

The paper moon idea still nags at me, though. There was a 1933 song called "It's Only a Paper Moon," from which the movie got its name. The lyrics are very interesting in a fanfic-inspiring sense, almost eerie in a reality-twisting way. See what you think. Maybe someone will have more luck with this idea than I did. Party on.


E. A. Smith said...

I've heard "It's Only a Paper Moon", but only because DS9 used it very well.

The Angst Guy said...

A few minutes ago I read something about that on Wikipedia. The entry on the song title says that song's been recorded dozens of times and has appeared in all sorts of movies and TV shows. I can't recall a single one of them!

Anonymous said...

Tiffany's brainwashing in Reclamation was courtesy of her estranged mother.

The Angst Guy said...

Well, see, that's what happens when I try typing while I'm thinking. It just doesn't work. Um, I'll, uh, maybe go fix that in a little bit. [wince, look pained]

eRIC said...

Great idea for a fanfic. Maybe one day I'll take a crack at making Tiffany more than she seems.

Anonymous said...

BG here. To me, Tiffany is by far the most difficult 'Daria'character to work with, so much so that I've seriously considered either killing her off outright (in the PERMANENT way that you see in DC Comics - and especially the Legion of Super-Heroes... nobody comes back from Shanghalla), or just putting her on a bus (I've seriously considered leaving her at USAES). The way she is in canon - monotonic, backstabbing, inherently vicious (breaking the artist's fingers, remember?), not exactly bright and reasonably attractive - the only thing that makes her stand out from the crowd is her Asian background and Jewish last name. For me, she's only been interesting once (in the EDV) and even Mr. O'Neill is easier and more fun to work with.

The one thing that I've found that works for Tiffany is that she is the character I use to say things that REALLY need to get out there - because if she says it, it has to be a bad situation.