Edward Scissorhands takes place around Christmas, so it’s technically a Christmas movie, right? Not that I need an excuse to watch this old favorite, but that’s what I told myself as I decided what to watch the other night. I’ve loved this movie since I was a kid, seeing a little bit of myself in Edward, forever out of place with the cookie cutter suburbia he inhabited. And I still really enjoy it, from the brilliant acting to the perfect costume designs and spot-on social commentary. Now that I’m older, and know more about writing, I have a new appreciation for the fairytale elements of the film. However, there are two things that really bothered me after my recent rewatch: the romance and the ending.
I’ll start with the romance. It’s no surprise how I feel about amatonormativity. Is there anything wrong with Edward falling in love with Kim? No, of course not. But really, what was the “love” built on? Her beauty? When Edward first sees Kim’s picture, we, the viewers, automatically know he’s fallen in love with her because he can’t tear his eyes away from her image. There’s also the romantic music that accompanies the scene. So what we’re meant to wonder for the rest of the movie is: will this outcast get the girl? Except my question this time around was, why did he get the girl? Kim was never really nice or welcoming to him until after he was caught “breaking into” her boyfriend Jim’s house. That’s the turning point in their relationship, where she starts to be kinder to Edward and sees Jim for the selfish jerk he really is. But they never actually talk much, and when they do they never have an actual conversation. So what does Edward love about Kim? And what does Kim love about Edward? She doesn’t like him at first, asking her mom why he has to live with them. Also, she’s seventeen. I suppose it doesn’t have to be realistic, but the romance didn’t convince me the second time around.
I was much more interested in the relationship between Edward and Peg, and I wish the movie had explored that more. Peg is a housewife in this boring suburban community, but in a way she’s a little bit of an outsider herself. No one wants to buy any of her Avon products, and they either don’t answer the door when she comes calling or straight up tell her to go away. Then we have Edward, whose first words to her are “Don’t go.” She’s the first person he’s come into contact with since his creator died, and she’s the one person who, in my opinion, truly cared about him. No one would have blamed her for running for the hills after encountering Edward in his dark, desolate attic, but instead she gently applied astringent to his face. While the rest of the neighborhood saw him as a shiny new toy, she was always encouraging his happiness and insisting he was special not because of his scissor hands, but because of who he was. When the rest of the neighborhood turned on Edward, Peg stood by him, insisting on having a Christmas party and acting like everything was normal.
What struck me the most, though, was the scene where Peg and Kim are sitting on the couch together, waiting for Peg’s husband Bill to come home with runaway Edward. She says,
“You know, when I brought Edward down here to live with us, I really didn’t think things through. And I didn’t think about what could happen to him, or to us, or to the neighborhood. You know, I think that maybe it might be best if he goes back up there. Because at least there he’s safe, and we’d just go back to normal.”
This scene reveals that, although Peg does care about Edward, she still sees him as an oddity, something that can just go away and be forgotten. Her suggestion that he just go back to his dusty mansion to be alone, so that he can be “safe”, seems really unfair to me. I guess that’s the point of the movie’s theme, that in such a conformist society those that stick out must be punished, but I can’t help but wish for a better ending for Edward. All he wanted was to be loved and accepted. He’s not a bad person. In fact, he’s a better person than the people living below him in the neighborhood. So why does he have to be alone? Because he’s different? Because he has to carve ice sculptures and make it snow for eternity?
I still have a soft spot for this movie, but I don’t know if I can watch it again without feeling confused about its narrative. Edward’s mansion is a constant, looming presence over the neighborhood, so I don’t see how anyone could forget about him just because he went away. Nothing was stopping Kim, or even Peg, from going up there to see him. What do you think? Did Edward deserve a better ending? Or should I just be quiet and accept the fairytale-esque story the movie tried to tell? No matter what, I’ll always be wishing for more Peg/Edward platonic love forever.