The Gripe Speech That Started It All

2:21 PM

Hey everyone!!

I'm really REALLY sorry for disappearing into my cave again. You'd think that with all this quarantine going on that I would actually be writing.

Well, truth is, I am writing....on Wattpad. Which, I guess because it's Camp NaNo right now, is where I should be writing....

But I have suddenly realized that I've been holding out on you guys. For years now, I've promised, and promised, AND PROMISED YET AGAIN, that I was going to publish the gripe speech that fathered the idea of Shattered Chandlier in the first place.

For all my old readers - yes, this is the gripe speech in which I defend my Raoul shipper status.

And yes TODAY IS THE DAY which I will finally reveal it. Seems to be a good time, since things have been progressing in that particular story, LOL.

Oh wait, before I jump in, I should really explain what was behind this speech.

Back in 2017 (told you this poor baby was old), I was a senior in college taking a public speaking course. Not that I really needed the credits per se, but I needed the skills (always take a public speaking class when you can, guys. They are lifesavers.)
The second assignment of that class was called a gripe speech. Basically, it's a speech in which you outline a particular gripe and try to sway the audience to your point of view.
Now, Lia had introduced me to the Phantom of the Opera somewhat close to this time. (I think we've established the fact that I have lived under a rock for quite some time, nevertheless, it took me some convincing to watch this one). And let's just say I had some FEELINGS on the subject of Raoul vs. Phantom.

You see....well, maybe I'll just let the speech speak for itself. Enjoy!

What is a successful love story without a knight in shining armor? What is a good love story without at least 2 lovers competing for the same girl? What girl doesn't swoon for…..


Hello, my name is (Catherine Hawthorn) and I will be speaking to you about the dangers of fandoms and of the worshiping of villains instead of heroes, using the fandom surrounding the Phantom of the Opera as an example.

What is it with girls that adore the bad guys? When offered a good, albeit a somewhat sappy, boring guy with unwavering adoration, they look over him. But when a mysterious man shows up in the mirror, the first thing that they think of is to go through it to a dark lair, without any thought of the consequences! I don't know about any other girl in this room, but I don't think I want my boyfriend to say to me “Your chains are still mine! You belong to me!” Nor would I or any girl like it if we were forced to stay in a dark, cold cellar surrounded by a lake 24/7. And come to think of it, I would like my boyfriend to have a complete face, if you don't mind.

Then why do most girls in their right mind, when given a choice, go for a disfigured, cold-hearted, cruel murderer such as the Phantom of the Opera???

I mean, if I got a handsome guy such as Raoul, who's loved me since childhood such as Raoul, is able to calm me down after being totally terrified such as Raoul(and believe me, that is not easy!), who offers himself as a rock to cling to in the storm of fear and darkness such as Raoul, who fights for me when I am weak such as Raoul…...I'm going to go to him in a heartbeat!

I've been in Christine's shoes. I know what it's like to come against a spirit of darkness and be under his spell. I completely understand the measures that she took to escape from the darkness. Most girls, however, get caught up in the romance of the story and don't stop to think about what they might be imagining themselves into. Do these hordes of girls understand what is behind the mask entirely?  

The Phantom's relationship with Christine is the very definition of an abusive relationship. While there is no question that the Phantom loves Christine (maybe too much) his actions reveal his tortured mind and soul. He exploits her talents to further his own music career, seducing her at the same time. He terrorizes Christine, making her live in fear of him (as proven by half of the lyrics of the reprises). He jealously guards her, attacking any person that even dares to lift his eyes to Christine. Their relationship even started on a deception, her believing that he was the spirit of her father. If that is not totally creepy, I don't know what is…..

The least of what this psychopath does, in this society, would have landed him in jail or at least a restraining order. Sure, if you know his story, you would know that Erik (oh yes, he does have a name, it's just not well known) he deserves compassion. He's suffered a lot in his life. But a lot of his actions (including but not limited to, murder, assault, and kidnapping) are inexcusable, and his temperament is bent towards hatred and cruelty. Would Christine's love fixed that? I don't think entirely. And I don't think any other girl would be any more successful either.

Then why are hordes of girls still in love with this middle-aged creep?

I asked my fellow Phan, Cecilia, for some illumination on the subject. She told me that “We all feel that Erik is misunderstood. All he wants is someone to spend the rest of his life with. So I guess we all want to love Erik cause we all love him for what he is. I have nothing against Raoul! Erik has no one, so we love a little more.”

As maddening as it sounds, her comments get to the meat of the problem: feminine nature itself.

A spirit of adventure does not only belong to the male sex. We females just have a different sense of adventure. We seek to conquer hearts, against all odds. We love nothing better to love the unloved, and to convert the heart from hate. We are very persistent and sacrificial creatures, giving everything to see our work through.

There's just one itsy bitsy snag…..we tend to go over our heads. We get caught up in the romance of the situation, deciding on emotion and feeling. Hence, when dealing with our hearts, we make very illogical decisions. But when those scales of reality do fall, they fall hard, and we take it hard. And woe to the woman who cannot change her situation and is faced with a lifetime of misery because of the foolish choice she made as a girl.

Here's another problem: a lot of girls are dreamers. Building castles in the air is a favorite pastime of ours. Fictional characters are often the subject of intense adoration. Hence the formation of fandoms. Fandoms can become especially dangerous when the person in said fandom lets it skew or worse rule their entire life and their mindset. I'm fairly sure, judging from what I know of my friend Cecilia, that in reality, she would not go through the mirror into the Phantom's arms. However, the abundance of memes that seem to downplay Raoul and glorify the Phantom is a bit alarming to me.

So what can we take from this twisted tale that I have just wrought for you?

For one thing, don't let a fandom skew your thought process. Use your head when your heart is getting out of control.

Men, go higher not lower. Nothing is worth more to a woman than her security. Be a hero, no matter what you are up against. In my book, heroes get much more respect in the long run.

Ladies, look hard at the priorities in which you seek a man and the risks that you take before entering into any sort of dealing with a man – especially a troubled one.

And ladies...set limits on your heart. Believe me, a lifetime of abuse is not something that I would recommend as the first choice. While womanly influence is certainly one of the most powerful weapons on the earth, it does have it's limits.  Yes, the rewards are great if you do change his heart, but are you willing to pay a heavy price?

As I'm reading this over again and remembering what I was feeling and why....I've suddenly remembered things that put some of this into context.

Two summers previous to this, I was a 4-H staff member for Penn State Extension. I'm not normally this specific, but in this case I need to. After a really notorious sex abuse scandal by the Penn State football coach Jeff Sandusky, Penn State made a huge restrictive crackdown on youth programs. Besides the extensive background checks and restrictions on volunteers, staff had to go through extensive training on recognizing signs of physical, verbal and sexual abuse. It was NOT pretty stuff.
Because of this training....I saw how abusive the Phantom's treatment of Christine really was from the get-go. Lia couldn't understand it at the time, and to be fair, I couldn't explain my position to her. I just KNEW it was wrong, and I couldn't get behind it.

It was at this time too that I was discovering the hidden meanings behind double language and recognizing impure ideas in songs. It was like a tearing of a veil - I couldn't un-see the images and pretend that they weren't there. That's why I can't listen to "Music of the Night" and "Past the Point of No Return" anymore.

Watching a *legal* copy of POTO's 25th on YouTube because of COVID-19, I've realized that I am a *little* more sympathetic to the Phantom. I can understand his pain, which is more than what I felt when I wrote this. I will also admit that I understand Christine's moral dilemma too, and wonder if I would also be in the same boat if I was in her place.
*sees reference and facepalms*

But even so, every word that I wrote in that speech, I still believe. Whole-heartily. At best, Phantom of the Opera is a cautionary tale.

And that's what I hope to show in Shattered Chandelier.

Phew, that was a mouthful. What are your thoughts on Phantom vs. Raoul? What personal fictional gripes do you have? Chat with me in the comments! 

Scribbingly yours,


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  1. AMEN. *claps* I watched the free POTO showing on YouTube as well. It was my first real exposure to the show (besides an *cough* incident ten years ago which we won’t discuss XD), and I was AMAZED at the amount of double meanings in the lyrics.

    And I really don’t understand the Phantom x Christine ship. Where in the musical is it EVER shown to be a good relationship?? Even in the end, it rubbed me the wrong way. Raoul is so underrated, yet he’s actually a decent guy.

    Ahem. Sorry about all that. Anyways, great post!!! (and excuse me while I go reread The Shattered Chandelier on Wattpad now that I understand POTO. XD)

  2. I agree. I've always loved Raoul more than the Phantom and don't think he deserved to be treated the way he was by Christine. But it is a good story and a griping one, and if we can learn something from it, even better, right?

  3. I've actually never read/watched/listened to POTO. Your gripe speech was still interesting though. Public speaking is something I think we should all get used to doing, because one never knows when it will come in handy.

  4. This was so interesting to read! The first time I watched POTO I was...confused. Warning, don't watch movies that you haven't seen before absolutely positive that you know what is going to happen. Someone had told me that POTO was a Beauty and the Beast retelling (which it kind of is. The story with lots of twists and a different ending.) But I took it literally. When I saw Raoul I thought, "You can't fool me, I know that you're the Gaston character and are going to do something bad at the end." I thought that the Phantom and Christine were going to get together in the end, so the whole time through I was making excuses for him, thinking that he would somehow be redeemed. With the songs I was very disturbed. When it finished I was so surprised I didn't even know what to think! It wasn't until a few months later that I watched with my sister that I enjoyed it because I liked Raoul from the beginning. He's such a sweetheart! <3 My sister loved it because she didn't have any previous ideas. I really pity the Phantom, though. The story's message is one of my favorites: No one becomes a monster based on how they look, people can become monsters by how they are treated. Don't make any creature a monster.
    Sorry for such a long comment! What I'm getting at is that I agree with your point! Looking forward to finishing Shattered Chandelier!

  5. Wait? People actually like the Phantom? Like-like him? *is confused*
    I thought it was just in a "what an complex villain way" or in a "he's very dramatic and I enjoy the drama" way

    1. Bold of you to assume that she hasn't forced to me watch one before :P

  6. Amen sister. Not that I can really speak to anything Phantom-related, since I've never actually, like, seen it? Am vaguely familiar with the musical, and watched the old film with Claude Rains. But from what little I know, I've always much preferred Raoul. The claim that the Phantom deserves Christine has never made much sense to me.

  7. ACK that was SO GOOD, Catherine!!! -wild applause-

  8. This is one of those debates that will never grow old! And I agree with you. I have deep compassion for the Phantom, but it is a man lole Raoul is who I'd love (aside from the fact he's too wimpy to be my type, so I suppose at the end of the day Id have neither man.)


    1. Hadley Fraser's Rauol is 100% better than movie Raoul

  9. i had no idea that you actually mentioned me in your speech *shuffles feet awkwardly* hehe.

    i probably wouldn't follow him into the mirror. But idk, i like to be spontaneous. ;p

    also. "i asked my fellow Phan Cecilia for some illumination on the subject" HOW MANY POTO REFERENCES DID YOU MAKE LOL

  10. This was literally the most I've ever read about Phantom of the Opera. I've never had any clue what it's about. xD But this was SO GOOD and without even having experienced POTO firsthand, I can say that I agree with you! GOOD, CARING guys are so much better than dark, troubled guys. I mean, yeah, I love a dark backstory/character arc, but when it comes down to it those usually aren't the characters who appeal to me.

    And it was really interesting how you could recognize the harmful characteristics of the relationship from the training you had!

  11. *claps* Wow! That was an amazing speech. I am one of those Phantom lovers, but I do think he was abusive and that Raoul was the better option. (Especially in the stage production. I like Raoul a lot more in that one.)


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