Degrassi Junior High “Kiss Me, Steph” (part 3 of 3)
Anyway, we cut to a banner reading “ELECTION RALLY” above the front steps of the school, and Stephanie is standing there, delivering Voula’s dorky speech about family planning and current events. Appropriately, she’s wearing yet another shirt that shows off her midriff, along with a hot pink miniskirt that just barely covers her hooha. And after every single stupid line of the speech, all of the gathered boys cheer wildly.
As she speaks, Steph is looking directly at Voula in the crowd, and Voula is mouthing the speech right along with Stephanie, almost like she’s Ed Wood mouthing every word of his Bride of the Monster screenplay along with his actors.
Steph declares, “A vote for Stephanie Kaye is a vote for an active student council!” I assume she means sexually active. And all of the boys cheer again, although I think she would have gotten exactly the same response if she had performed a dramatic interpretation of the lyrics to “I’m Henry the Eighth, I Am”.
The speech ends, and Voula is beaming. Apparently, she doesn’t realize the response to the speech is somewhat connected to how close Steph came to showing off her cooter.
And then, the next candidate for student body president takes the stairs. Hilariously, he’s got a de rigueur ’80s electric guitar in hand, and he plays generic blues riffs while declaring: “My name is Snake / Make no mistake / To you, I sez / I want to be prez!” So, this is where Clinton got the idea to play the sax on Arsenio, right? And yes, this character does go by “Snake”. Because at Degrassi Junior High, there are an inordinate number of students who think they’re in a biker gang. If you don’t believe me, just ask “Wheels”, “Spike”, and “B.L.T.”
And again, this is another case where a seemingly peripheral character goes on to have a major, major impact on the show. In fact, Snake even ends up getting some screen time on Degrassi: The Next Generation, right alongside Joey Jeremiah, but that’s getting way, way ahead of things.
Joey comes up to Steph, and declares he’s “president of the Stephanie Kaye Fan Club!” No, I think the actual president of the Stephanie Kaye fan club is a forty year old postal service employee living in his mom’s basement. Joey kisses her hand, then works his way up her arm and kisses her all around the neck. And without even knowing it, Snake’s Presidential Blues are providing quite the appropriately sleazy soundtrack to this repulsive moment.
Unbelievably, some other boy yells out, “Hey, I want some of that, too!” Break me off a piece! He shouts, “If I get a kiss, I’ll vote for you, Steph! Promise!” Despite Voula’s harrowing Stare of Death, Stephanie actually acquiesces with, “So long as you promise!” And so she not only lets the guy kiss her on the cheek, but also look down her shirt. (It’s kind of funny, but this boy will eventually become the character of Derek “Wheels” Wheeler, another central figure on DJH. In fact, the Joey-Snake-Wheels triumvirate will come to rival even the legendary alliance of Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus.)
Meanwhile, the devil music continues emanating from Snake’s guitar. The guy we’ll come to know as Shane eagerly says he’ll vote for Steph too, as long as he also gets a shot at kissing her on the cheek. And then, it turns into a free-for-all, as every boy at Degrassi Junior High lines up to get some cheek action from Stephanie. There’s nothing quite like a junior high gangbang, is there?
The dirty blues continue as Arthur shakes his head and lisps to Yick, “Grade 6 was never like this.” Oh yeah! This is the big time, fellas! Welcome to Thunderdome! And right on cue, an unseen bass and drums begin to accompany Snake. Meaning that he is, in fact, the spiritual successor of Arch Hall, Jr.
A random female student, obviously of the intellectually snobby feminist stripe—at least, judging by her beret and metallic lipstick—contemptuously says, “What sexism!” Sorry, but I think sexism is about the least revolting part of what’s going on right now. And with that, it’s over. Wow. Without a doubt, that’s one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen on TV. And there will be many, many more moments like this to come on Degrassi Junior High.
At some unspecified future time, Arthur and Yick are on walkie-talkies to each other, calling each other “Microchip” and “Astrodog” and talking about “Operation: Gorgo”. Apparently, “Gorgo” is their new code name for Joey. Strange that they would equate Joey Jeremiah with a British rip-off of Godzilla. Must be a Canadian thing. At least they didn’t call it “Operation: Torgo”. I’d hate to be the one to break it to them that the Master would not approve of such, uh, modern devices as walkie-talkies.
So I guess this is Yick and Arthur’s grand scheme to get the drop on Joey. Arthur patrols around the school grounds on walkie-talkie, while Yick examines a blueprint of the school, like I have any idea where he got that from. They get correctly laughed at by various fellow students, including those two truly adorable twins with the curly hair. One of whom is not going to be named Stacey for very long.
Eventually, it turns out this walkie-talkie thing is mostly just filler, because it’s dropped after this scene, and nothing ever comes of it. But Arthur, or “Astrodog” as he is calling himself, happens across a group of students in the halls chanting, “All the way with Stephanie Kaye!” Okay, one guess who came up with that particular campaign slogan. Not that it isn’t completely fitting.
Joey is standing in front of the girls’ bathroom, wearing a T shirt that says “100% MUSCLE”. Which is funny, because he doesn’t even look to be 100 pounds here. It seems he’s become Steph’s pimp, because he’s assuring the crowd that she’ll be out soon. Astrodog radios Microchip to say, “Gorgo located.” By the way, there’s a strong chance I might refer to Arthur only as “Astrodog” for all other Degrassi recaps I do.
And now, all the gathered boys are alternating between chants of “All the way with Stephanie Kaye!” and “We want a kiss! We want a kiss!” And you’d really like to think an adult would have caught wind of what’s going on by now, and stepped in to put an end to Steph being pressed into sexual slavery, right there in the school hallways, wouldn’t you?
Inside the Restroom of Ill Repute, Steph is getting her hair all good and teased up. Voula vehemently objects to what’s going on outside. “Kissing’s got nothing to do with the campaign!” And I bet Carville had to tell Bill Clinton that on, like, a daily basis. And that is not even a joke.
But Stephanie says, “It’s just for the election! It’s politics! Give people what they want!” I think she’s caught on as to why gas prices dropped last year.
Steph then explains it all for us. She says all the boys will vote for her: “two or three times, some of them.” Hey, what’s a little ballot stuffing among friends? Or bra stuffing, for that matter.
Voula says the girls don’t like Steph’s “you can feel my boob” platform, but Steph dismisses this. If all the guys vote for her, she explains, and the girls “divide the vote” among all the other candidates, Stephanie will win. Quite a head on those bare, exposed shoulders, after all. She’s got the whole electoral college thing down pat, I think. This is far craftier than even the winning South-South ticket of ’92. (But dialogue lets us know that this is most likely something Joey pumped into her head. I mean, in between blasts of air, anyway.)
Voula is full of white-hot jealousy towards Joey, but Steph works her charm, giving Voula a big “we’re a team” speech. Poor little Voula gets fished in. She’s unbelievably happy, full of childish joy that it will be her and Stephanie, a nerd and a skank to rule them all until the end of time. But you know what I just realized? Take away the slutty makeup from Steph, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder fashions from Voula. All things being equal, Voula is way cuter than Steph. She resembles a young Phoebe Cates, in fact, which is much preferable to Stephanie’s drag queen look.
Anyway, Stephanie goes out to meet and greet her adoring electorate. Standing before them, she promises that if she’s elected, there will be “rock on the PA!” Rock music, I assume, which might sound like a pipe dream, but I’m actually 99% sure Rockin’ Raditch will step up and be a faculty sponsor for that. Meanwhile, we see Snake in the background, looking positively ill about his chances of getting elected.
Also among Steph’s campaign promises is “co-ed swimming in gym”. It’s this comment that draws Saved by the Bell-like WHOOOOOOOs from the crowd, and sends the discourse down into the gutters at lightning speed.
Hank yells, “With the girls in bikinis!” And then Shane yells, “I wanna see Steph in a bikini!” Then he puts on a hilarious white-guy overbite face, and scrunches up his eyes to express his raw desire for Steph. If I told you this guy will have a daughter before he even gets out of junior high, would you be shocked? I didn’t think so.
Wheels adds, “Without a bikini!” And Hank yells out, “Take it off, Steph!” Okay, so I think we at least have some inkling why Hank no longer attended Degrassi after this episode. Joey then implies that if Stephanie wins, she actually might get naked right there in the school. Hey, why not? There was already a make-out orgy on the front steps. Some random girl, who also disappears after this ep, yells, “Talk about pre-feminist!” What does that even mean?
Steph is starting to get grossed out, but there’s this little thing known as making your bed and then lying in it, unfortunately. Regardless, she calls for a break in the foreplay. She wants to “specially thank” someone “who’s been there from the beginning”, and been “such a wonderful friend”. Yeah, I think we all know where this is going, and so we get shots of poor little Voula looking proud and hopeful. And then, just as everybody saw coming a mile away (except Voula), Stephanie thanks Joey Jeremiah instead. Oh, the drama.
The Sluttastic Blues return on the soundtrack as Voula angrily stalks off. Chants of “We want a kiss!” resume, and a girl says, “This is disgusting!” Indeed it is. And I’m loving every minute of it.
The girl who decries the disgustingness of the moment, by the way, she of the white terry-cloth headband, is dear, lovely Caitlin Ryan. But there’s absolutely no reason to get into the whole Caitlin thing just yet. Me and Caitlin, we have this thing going on, but it’s best not to get into it right now, because we’ll be here all day.
Anyway, cut to slips of paper being dropped into ballot boxes, as the Degrassi populace rocks the vote. Doris Bell looks on, and just as I thought, she’s now being played by a different actress. It seems a number of girls are wearing “Vote for Snake” buttons. Nice try, ladies, rallying around a viable alternative. But as much as you try to whip up support for Rob Mariano, you know that ultimately, Rupert’s getting the million. Fait accompli. And no amount of dirty blues guitar can change that.
In Rockin’ Raditch’s classroom, he’s “coincidentally” assigning homework to do with the “democratic process”. Suddenly, Principal Charlie breaks in on the PA with the election results.
Despite Voula’s frankly scary glances of glowering rage, it turns out Stephanie won. The male contingent cheers, and Joey hugs Steph. But Raditch rebukes Joey, telling him to cut it out. Raditch yells, “Save that for the pool room!” What? Honestly, I can’t even guess what that means. Maybe Raditch is pulling for co-ed swimming, too. Anyway, Stephanie is ecstatic, while Voula just looks sullen.
Cut to class dismissed. Except for Joey and Hank, that is. Raditch wants to see them both after class. Oh, those two rabble-rousers! Those scamps! One can only imagine what trouble Joey and Hank will get into for the rest of season. Except for Hank, who later gets shipped off to military school for telling a female student to “take it all off”.
Voula runs away, ignoring Stephanie’s cries. Then Stephanie gets cornered by Susie Rivera, who’s apparently her new VP. And judging by her performance, it looks like the chief qualification for being school vice president is a total inability to make eye contact with the person you’re talking to.
Susie’s eyes are wildly rolling around as she talks about how excited she is about the power she now wields. But it becomes obvious that here, five minutes after the election results were announced, that Stephanie has completely lost interest in being student president. She even tries to blow off the first student council meeting, claiming she already has plans.
Then she has to go see Doris Bell. Doris tells her she’ll have to make a speech next week at the PTA meeting, and good ol’ gun-ho Steph is already bristling at the idea of making a speech. I think she knows the parents won’t be won over if she lets them all kiss her.
On some unspecified future date, those two rapscallions Joey and Hank are at it again. They’ve got Arthur, and Hank’s got him by the armpits and Joey’s got him by the ankles, and they’re carrying him through the halls. Eventually, they stuff him in a locker. Oh, Hank. All the wild, wild adventures you could have had, if only you’d stuck around when the show went to series.
Stephanie comes along and finds them tormenting our man Astrodog. It appears there is some vestigial form of compassion operating within that vacant skull, because she tells them to leave “Arthur” alone. Joey is stunned. “You know this gurp?” And I’m guessing “gurp” is some other piece of invented Degrassi slang. But unlike “broomhead”, this slang term didn’t even catch on in Degrassi-Land, let alone in reality. He could be referring to GURPS, but I seriously doubt it.
Steph just says to leave him alone, then starts talking about how she has to write a speech for the PTA meeting. At this, Joey bows and says, “Joey Jeremiah, speechwriter, at your service!” And, kind of funny, I guess, Hank doesn’t know what to do, so he bows, too. This allows Arthur to make his getaway.
Steph doesn’t believe Joey can write speeches, but he assures her that he knows “lots about talking”, which I find incredibly easy to believe. He says to start with a joke, and then end with a joke, and “it doesn’t matter what you say in between!” Holy crap, he’s a genius. Can I get Joey Jeremiah to write recaps for this site?
Steph blows him off and leaves, and then the legendary comedy duo of Hank and Joey realize Arthur has gone. And then I notice that there’s actually spray-painted graffiti on some of the lockers, which is seriously at odds with what a nice, middle-class school Degrassi is portrayed as for the rest of the series. You don’t really get the impression, after this episode, that there are many taggers going to Degrassi.
So Steph catches up with Voula in the stairwell, and tells her about the PTA speech. And so Voula gets her chance to completely unload on Steph with all the resentment of a jilted lover: “You used me!” She slams her for thanking Joey in her speech instead of Voula. Steph’s heartfelt response is to scrunch up her nose and go, “Oh, that. Sorry, but… you know.” Well, when she puts it like that, how can you not forgive her?
Steph once again pulls out the “Grade 8” card and explains her behavior with, “Boys like that sort of thing!”
Voula yells back, “So do girls!” Whaaaa? Okay, so I guess the lesbian subtext really was there, all along. Actually, I think the dialogue is trying to say that girls like to be thanked in campaign speeches, too, but considering all the pimping and whoring and gangbanging that’s been going on, it’s hard to interpret the line in a non-sexual way. By the way, if you think I’m reading too many lesbian overtones into this show, I’d like to point out that the Very Special Lesbian Episode of Degrassi is not far away.
Anyway, as you knew she would, Voula takes off Steph’s “stupid bracelet” and casts it to the ground, saying she’s not going to be Steph’s friend anymore. She declares, “You’re just a baby. A selfish baby!” But.. but.. her adult teeth are almost grown in, I swear! Voula then gives Steph one of the greatest kiss-off speeches ever. “You’re on your own, Miss President! You and your new image!” I think I’m going to start saying those exact words to anybody who looks at me cockeyed.
Cut to Steph in the bathroom, as she begins the reverse transformation into Mommy’s Little Girl. She lays her big purse down in the sink, combs her hair down, and wipes off the makeup, all the while assuring her reflection that she can write the speech herself, and it will be the greatest speech ever in PTA history. And I have a strong hunch this speech will end with the words “Degrassi Junior High School football rules!“
She’s also confident she’ll be “the best president this school ever had!” I don’t know. Can she really compare to Tits McGee, Class of ’81? Or Hashy McWeedington, Class of ’67? That guy had the best victory parties.
Burqa Stephanie exits the school, and Arthur calls out to her. There’s nobody around, so apparently it’s okay for him to enter Princess Stephanie’s aura. Arthur thanks her for saving him from Joey, but she laughs it off. Then he speaks extemporaneously about how the junior high experience threatens to overwhelm him, but he figures he’s made a new bud, and he knows the school president “at least on weekends”, so it can’t be all that bad.
Steph mentions the speech she has to write, and Astrodog says he was class valedictorian last year, and a teacher said his speech was “perceptive and witty”. But honestly, the bar can’t be set very high on the speechwriting scale when you’re in the sixth grade. Stephanie, again being snotty, reminds him this is junior high, a whole new ball game.
Arthur takes off, but Stephanie stops him. She cries out, “I need you!” Unfortunately, we never find out exactly how she needs him, because the next thing we get is a freeze-frame on her face, and the credits roll.
So, seeing as how every episode of Degrassi is a Very Special Episode, obviously there’s some lesson to be taken away from all this. Now, you’d think the message would be “don’t dress like a slut”, or “don’t offer your body in exchange for popularity”, but that doesn’t seem to be the case at all, because Steph will continue to dress and act this way for weeks to come.
It seems the real moral here is, “don’t piss off friends of the same gender who might have a gay crush on you, because you might want to use them later”. And that’s a lesson we can all take to heart.