In the second of our articles about the Friday the 13th Franchise, we tackle part 3 like a rabid ice hockey goon & discover that one man’s corpse shrine of his Mother, is another man’s wallet photo of his.
Ah, ice hockey. With its majestic play, slick puck being kissed by the truncheon of a stick, and the divine splashing of blood erupting out between one player’s fist and another’s face, it’s truly the King’s game. By this point in pop culture iconography, nobody really gives a good goddamn how Jason Voorhees got his hockey mask, or why Jason wears a hockey mask, or whether he gets really fucking sweaty under that thing while brutalising teenagers. All that anyone knows is moralistic mass murder wouldn’t be the same without it, and neither would our motherloving boy.
But the hockey mask Is crucial to Jason’s identity far beyond it simply giving him his trademark look. And in Friday the 13th Part 3, the movie that Jason gets his hockey mask and officially finds himself in an Eat Pray Love kind of manner, it’s also kind of obvious as to why. And it has to do with a character called Shelly.
In Friday the 13th Part 3, which incidentally was screened in 3D upon release, Shelly is kind of a cringe-worthy piece of shit, wearing the mask of a kind, self-conscious human boy upon the soul of a toxic, entitled misogynist. Chris, the movie’s Final Girl, has inexplicably invited a gaggle of her least friendly friends to come for a fun-filled trip to Crystal Lake, and the Shell-Meister happens to be one of them. Presumably because he appears to be friends with Andy, the resident horndog, who happens to be dating one of Chris’ pregnant friends. Proving once and for all that ‘extended’ friendship groups always inevitably lead to a clash of personalities.
Within just a few minutes of being introduced to the audience, we learn the two apparently defining characteristics of Shelly’s personality: He carries a large bag of pranks around with him (OK…), and is also woefully self-conscious, pointing out that girls don’t exactly go wild for a man of his looks or build. Which, as anyone who’s ever fucked a guy of his particular look or build can attest, aren’t really the sorts of things that most women give a steaming shit about when finding someone to love, or to love. What certainly would raise alarm bells is a guy WHO CARRIES A BAG OF PRANKS AROUND WITH HIM. But especially one who does so while on a date, for fucksake.
Which is exactly what Shelly does, since the lucky lad has been set up on a blind date with Vera for the trip, who quite rightfully doesn’t judge him on his looks, but does give a painful side eye to that damn bag of pranks of his. It’s worth mentioning at this point that Vera isn’t exactly a World class charmer, either, and conveniently realises she doesn’t have any money with her when she wants to buy munchies at Crystal Lake’s premium snack stop. Shelley, being a total hero and understanding that money can sometimes lead to sex, heroically steps in and gives her his wallet. And like, whatever, they’re all going to die soon anyway, right? At least they got to enjoy this one hugely problematic transaction together.
It’s later in the movie, when everyone has officially paired off to have swinging hammock sex, or long, laborious conversations about feelings, that Shelly’s character becomes truly defined. Leaving him and Vera alone to enjoy a nice romantic fire together, he makes a move on her (a polite one, too. So points for that), only to be rejected. It’s pretty clear that Vera might not be DTF, but that she does actually like him. Which is an achievement in itself considering the ‘japes’ he’s pulled thus far in the movie (who doesn’t love a man who elaborately stages his own fake murder? What a dreamboat). When she decides to leave the room, presumably so she doesn’t have to coddle a sulking man-child, he automatically calls her a “bitch.”
Shelly is that dude who plays nice at a bar, who buys you a drink without asking if you even want one, and then starts hurling verbal abuse at you the second you don’t reciprocate his advances for whatever reason. He’s that guy who always seemed content with being “just friends” with you, right up until the moment that he wants more, can’t have it, and stops hanging around with you because why bother, it won’t lead to anything.
Which is why, in their next scene together in which Vera is quietly sat by the lake, it speaks volumes when Shelly inexplicably leaps out of it with a damn hockey mask on his face and a harpoon in his hand. Like most sane people, Vera doesn’t appreciate the ‘joke’, and Shelly ends up even more hurt than before. But his act is total bro-retribution, offering punishment to his date for not succumbing to his advances. And doesn’t that sound kind of like someone else we know? (It’s Jason. I’m comparing him to Jason).
While Jason might not be slaying ladies for rebuffing his sexual advances, he is seeking a form of vengeance for Momma Voorhees getting decapitated AF, and mostly targets young people based on a moralistic code. Just as Shelly instantly wanted to punish his date for not putting out and refusing to have some fun with him, Jason punishes people en masse for putting out and having any sort of fun whatsoever. They’re like mirror images of the same broski.
In Part 3 alone, Andy gets skewered while doing a post-coital handstand (feeling champion-sexy, eh? That’s a stabbing), his girlfriend gets stabbed (in the tit, no less) after accepting his offer of a post-coital beer (drinking while pregnant? That’s a stabbing). Two separate guys get killed by him after just trying to enjoy going for a shit (this is no exaggeration either. What Jason has against bowel movements, and why he’s lurking around toilets is beyond me, but nonetheless it seems to amount to a stabbing). And poor Vera gets a harpoon (yeah, the one Shelly left there) shot through her eye after dropping Shelly’s wallet in the lake (irresponsible handling of someone else’s property? That’s a stabbing).
Shelly might not be hurting people on this level, but he’s just as bitter. A fact that we, as the audience, are made to mediate on when Vera finds his wallet and discovers a cute photo of him and his Mom together in there. Because clearly, a man who loves his Mother can’t be so bad, right? Except Jason really loves his Mother too. If he had a wallet, you can bet he’d have a nice picture of him and Mrs Voorhees together. Possibly at one of his more pleasant birthdays when she didn’t go and slaughter a bunch of kids in his name. But instead, Jason merely has a shrine to his Mom in his ramshackle home, featuring her withered, decapitated head, and her fave jumper.
Sometimes I stop and think, “Poor Jason. He’s clearly misunderstood, and these murders are all just a call for help. He just misses his Mother, and wants to be left alone, but all these horny teenagers keep making sex noises in his woods…” and then I wake up, and someone’s calling me a feminazi online for believing that tampon tax shouldn’t be a thing. And then I think, “fuck you, Jason. If you weren’t a killer then you’d deffo be trolling me on Twitter.”
The fact that Jason finds Shelly’s hockey mask and decides to start wearing it, forever and ever, is a glorious declaration of a bro-bond. Like Shelly, Jason also has self-esteem issues, and doesn’t quite know how to engage with women without being utterly hostile about it, and just wants to do right by his Momma. And that hockey mask, so representative of a sport that can get utterly brutal, and totally violent when the gameplay gets out of hand, has the perfect not-quite-human-but-almost look to it that defines Jason. But it also defines trolls like Shelly, perpetually hiding behind some kind of a mask, and losing their sense of humanity the second a woman dares to reject their sense of entitlement.
In an alternate dimension somewhere, Shelly and Jason are probably BFFs. They probably play beer pong, and boop each others noses when either one of them confesses to being insecure deep down, despite the bravado. They probably belong to a fraternity, and do things that they regret, but get high fives about anyway. And both of them probably receive care packages from their Mothers full of homemade Rice Crispie cakes, and cookies with happy faces iced onto them, on a weekly basis. Most importantly, neither of them would probably play hockey, but both of them would definitely annoy the shit out of women.
Because Mums are the best. But bros are absolutely the worst. And that’s kind of what Friday the 13th is all about.
Amy Roberts (a.k.a Alabama Roxanne) is a writer and musician based in Liverpool, UK. She’s published internationally, in print and online, and has had work published with Bustle, Kinkly,The Independent Online, Hello Giggles and Queen Of The Track. She has featured on a panel of David Lynch experts at a Northern Film & Media event, and is the bassist for D-Beat punk band Aüralskit. Her blog ‘I Never Knew You Were Such A Monster‘, fiction and non-fiction about the horrors of everyday life, was shortlisted in the Blog North Awards two years running. She is very fond of Timothy Olyphant and is totally Team Catalano.