Friday NightLights: A Character to Connect To
In reading the discussion of Brian Chavez, I wonder to what degree we are compelled by Chavez is because he makes sense to us as New York Times readers. Odds are those of us reading and those of us writing are comparatively middle class if not upper middle class. We are educated. We probably have more trouble understanding mojo and high school football than we do understanding it as a means to an end, a means to Harvard, to law school to liberal middle class do gooding. I find the fact that Chavez came back to Odessa with his law degree to be more meaningful than the fact that he got out in the first place.
I agree with Dan Barry, we knew Chavez would be ok. In the book and perhaps even more so in the movie, the character that most captivated me (though I wouldn’t say I could connect with him in the sense of identifying with him) was Mike Winchell. He was the one who was as caught up in mojo and high school football as anyone. He was the quarterback and yet he was the most ambiguous. He probably should have understood his place better than anyone and yet he seemed the most insecure. I suppose in that way I could identify with him. He seemed the most real because to me, high school is all about insecurity. Whether youre an athlete or a brain or a cheerleader what media that centers on teens most communicates to me is that insecurity. In the television show, even Riggins (loosely corresponding to Billingsley) has moments of insecurity. In the movie, one of the most powerful moments was when Boobie Miles gets back in the car with his uncle after cleaning out his locker and starts sobbing.
NYTimes Quad Blog's discussion of Friday Night Lights the book 20 years later