Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Ko: The Ballad of Knives Chau

*uses comic and video game pictures despite only discussing the movie
Scott Pilgrim vs The World is about Scott Pilgrim a mild-mannered Canadian bassist who’s just looking for love in this crazy world. It’s also about Ramona Flowers, an American fem fatale with a shrouded past and at least seven evil ex-lovers (and those are just the ones out for blood). It’s about Styles, Kim, Young Neil, Wallace, and a whole cast of colorful characters. But, it’s also about one other person, one that I think we should have been paying a lot more attention too.

Knives KO. (Curse you, Internet, for only letting me underline that once.)

If you’re like me, the first time you watched Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, you were rooting for Scott because he’s adorkable or somethin’. You were also probably rooting for Ramona because she’s cool and mysterious and interesting. As such, you were inevitably rooting against Knives. You found her annoying because at first she seemed kinda dumb, then she started always operating at 110% and was way too enthusiastic about Scott’s cr*ppy band. She was always two steps behind everyone else, she had a habit of always getting in the way of Scott and Ramona with her love, and she seemed to exist only as a means to make Scott feel guilty for leaving her.

That’s how I felt.

But then I watched the movie again recently, and a found way more in it then I did when I was in high school. And I think the thing that struck me the most is that, this time around, I didn’t hate Knives. Worse, I think I liked her more than Scott and Ramona. But…no. That doesn’t make any sense. Clearly Scott is the hero of this story. Just look, he’s on the cover. His name’s in the title. Scott is the star, not Knives.

Like a good, God fearin’ Christian, I tried to keep shipping Scott and Ramona, because that’s what the movie wanted me to do. BUT THEN THE LAST THING KNIVES SAID IN THE MOVIE HIT ME LIKE A TON OF BRICKS. LIKE, WOW. KNIVES CHAU VS SCOTT AND RAMONA, THAT’S THE MOVIE I WANT.

Just. Just watch.
*Excuse the language

Did you catch it? “Ko.” That’s the last thing she says to Scott. That’s her last name. WE’VE BEEN PRONOUNCING IT WRONG THIS ENTIRE TIME GUYS. IT’S KO, NOT CHOW. SHE NEVER CORRECTED US. UNTIL NOW.


Let me walk you through why this is a big deal.

The Movie-From Knives Point of View:
Knives is a 17 year old catholic schoolgirl who recently started dating this Cool Older Bassist(TM) that she met at a bus stop. She’s nervous because she’s never dated anyone before. She’s out of her element. So she’s taking things super slow. No kissing, no holding hands, she’s hesitant to even hug the guy. She wants to get to know him, she wants to wade in. You’d think this would be off-putting to most guys, but Scott’s all for it. Never pressuring her into anything she doesn’t want to do. You know. Because he’s so Cool(TM). 

She gets invited to sit in at band practice. Again, she’s out of her element because she doesn’t typically listen to good music. But she’s willing to try it because things are going so well with Scott. She’s really starting to get into him. After she hears them play, she’s sold. It’s the best thing she’s ever heard, her boyfriend is officially the Coolest(TM)(C). 

So she starts getting braver. She listens to the kind of music he’s into, becomes his band’s number one fan, starts hanging out with his friends. And, because she’s feeling so brave, she starts getting affectionate. She talks to him about what’s going on in her life, hugs him in public (scandalous as it may be), hangs out with him every second she can. Scott, on the other hand, starts getting a bit scatter brained, maybe even a bit distant, but that’s probably because he’s worried about the battle of the bands. There’s a record deal on the line, Knives understands. She’ll support him no matter what.
The more time passes, the more she’s sure of it. She’s in love with Scott. Because he’s just the Coolest Guy(TM)(C) 2018 Sex Bob-Omb All Rights Reserved. So she takes a big, scary step. She invites him over for dinner with her parents.

And then he dumps her.

At first, she doesn’t know what to do. She just lets it happen. All she can say is “oh”.

And then he’s gone.

For a couple of weeks, she’s trying to figure out what happened. Everything was going so good. She and Scott were supposed to last forever. She tries to reach out to him, maybe they just needed to talk things through. But he’s no where to be found. It’s almost like he’s avoiding her.

Then she sees him next to her. Ramona, that blue-hair fat-[CENSORED] hipster.

Automatically Knives knows, this is the one responsible for the way things ended with Scott. Ramona’s stolen Scott from her.

Knives knows she can’t compete. She only just discovered Scott’s world. Ramona was born into it. Everything Knives has to try at comes naturally to her. She’s so effortlessly hip, so perfect for Scott.

So, for a moment, Knives is defeated.
But then she fights.
She sets out to win Scott back.

She changes her look, she tries to make Scott jealous, she calls Ramona out. No matter what she does, though, Scott doesn’t seem to notice. He’s moved on. She hasn’t.

She doesn’t give up.

Flash forward to the last fight between Gideon and Scott. Knives has a plan. She’s going to swoop in and save the day. She’s going to show Scott she’s ten times the woman Ramona could ever be, and she’s going to save him in the process. She’s out to prove herself.

But before she can, Scott stops her and drops a bomb shell. He cheated on her. With Ramona. That’s why things ended.

That moment, right there. That’s where it clicks.

She was used by Scott.
Scott never cared about her the way that she cared about him.
She’s been spending months trying to get back something she never had to begin with.

And how does she respond?

Cause the fight’s still going down, and Gideon that sack of garbage just freaking sucker punched Ramona. RIGHT AWAY Knives empathizes with her, teams up with Scott, and LAYS A SMACK DOWN ON GIDEON. Together, they effortlessly win the fight. Here, she gets a taste of what she used to have with Scott. They make a good team.

After the dust settles, the last scene plays. We get a moment of comparison between Ramona and Knives. When Knives points out that Scott could stand to cut his hair (something she knows is a point of insecurity for him), we see that she genuinely has more insight to his character than Ramona ever did. And for a moment, we see Ramona looking at Knives with the jealously that Knives once held for her.

It seems like she and Scott might hook up again, which was her driving motivation for the majority of the film.

But Knives realizes two more things. One, that Scott doesn’t want her. And, two, she doesn’t want Scott. So she tells him to go after Ramona.

She started out as a mousy naive school girl and ended as the most self-actualized character in the cast, which is what we see when she corrects Scott about her last name. She’s no longer trying to win him over, no longer chasing him. She’s okay of correcting him because she’s no longer scared of losing him, she’s ready to let go.

She’s done trying to get on Scott’s level. She’s past it. It’s exactly like she says. “I’m to cool for you.”

*Me-when I was watching the last scene and all of this clicked for me: 

See, the thing that makes Knives so endearing is she’s the protagonist we originally think Scott is. Scott comes across as an awkward kid that’s trying to be cool enough to date his crush. But the further we get into the movie the more we realize that he’s actually broken a few hearts in the past. He’s not the stranger to relationships that he seems to be. He also seems to be a bit cocky when we get deep into it. We never see him insecure about his talent as a bassist, or even about his lack of a job and the fact that he freeloads off of his roommate. If anything, he has too much confidence.

But Knives, she’s the one who spends the movie out of her depth.

She doesn’t know what to do with herself around Scott. When they’re dating, she changes herself to fit his needs and never expects him to change for her. She never even corrects him about her last name because she doesn’t want to risk upsetting him. And when she loses him, she does everything she can to get him back.

She’s the one with the most character development in the movie, and because of it, she ends up the most mature out of the bunch.

You can also see her desire to be with Scott as her desire to be “cool”, making the end of her arc-her realization that being “cool” is knowing your self-worth, (something that she thought Scott and Ramona had but discover as the movie progresses that they don’t) oh-so-satisfying. Because now she’s just so Cool(TM)(C) 2018 Knives Ko She-Is-Literally-A-Ninja-At-The-End-Of-The-Movie All Rights Reserved.


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