We Need To Talk About Eddie Munson

While another Stranger Things season has come and gone, the break-out character has been Eddie Munson. Eddie played remarkably well by British actor Joseph Quinn at first seems like the stereotypical bad boy. He’s in his second year as a senior at Hawkins High School. He deals pot, which isn’t too bad, but very bad for 1986 in the minds of many. He is the leader of the Hellfire Club, a role-playing games club that focuses on Dungeons and Dragons.

But Eddie isn’t really that bad. He’s a skilled musician and guitarist. He actually likes regular protagonists Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo), who he has a closeness with and Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) as friends. He’s considered a person of interest in the death of Chrissy Cunningham (Grace Van Dien) whose boyfriend, Jason Carver (Mason Dye) leads a vigilante mob against him. Jason is part of the basketball team and an honest portrayal of the true bullies in America’s public schools.

The people of Hawkins, Ind., don’t like Eddie because he listens to heavy metal, has long hair and plays D&D. When the cops show up at the abandoned restaurant where athletes hold parties, they don’t seem to focus on many underage people hanging out in an abandoned building as well as drinking underage. This shows how many towns will turn a blind eye to matters that might get others in trouble with the powers that be. Just about every high school in America has the clique of people who are known to have wild parties that may or may not result in alcohol poisoning or sexual assaults. The problem is when most of the people attending these parties are star athletes or have daddy’s money, law enforcement gets short-term memory.

After the massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. in 1999, it seemed that everyone was focusing on people like Eddie because Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the killers, were thought of as the “Trenchcoat Mafia.” People began to blame Marilyn Manson, even though it was later reported neither liked his music. People turned to violent movies and violence video games as the inspiration for the massacre. They did like heavy metal music and Columbine was known for its “jock culture” in which student athletes and more importantly, people whose parents have a lot of money, were given special treatment.

But they’re the exception, not the norm. As a former crime reporter myself, I can tell you that the jocks and the preppies often are the perpetrators not the victims. In 2012, I handled a case in which two student athletes were accused of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman. And the coaching staff was mad at me for saying they were members of the football team. Later that year, the Chamber of Commerce were going to recognize the team, which won the state championship in 2011, as the “Hereos of the Year.” But there were concerns with these two athletes being at the dinner. They didn’t attend. But still the coaching staff reached out to the community to donate money so they could buy rings for the players, including those accused of the sexual assaults.

A month or so after I left my last newspaper job in 2014, there was a “Senior Prank” at Wagoner High School in Wagoner, Okla., that got out of hand at the school resulting in assaults and violence. This was the school’s responsiblity for allowing these pranks to happen. I’ve often praised this school for allowing students to have some fun at their graduation ceremonies with spraying Silly String and throwing beach balls around. I’ve been to some graduation ceremonies where a parent or a group applauding while hearing a name will have the administrators scream at the audience. But this school was already getting out of control when students are accused of sexual assault.

While coaches and administrators can’t be around students 24/7, this “jock culture” in many schools leads some youth to feel they are invincible. It was also in May of 2014 when my alma matter, Calhoun High School in Calhoun, Ga., came under international scrutiny as three student athletes were charged with drugging and sexually assaulting a woman at a post-prom party in another county. Almost immediately, people tried to make it an issue about underage drinking until people put their foot down. Now, this was a few years before MeToo. But unfortunately, this rape case is in limbo after more than eight years and there’s a likelihood, it’ll never get resolved. It’s torn the town apart as some people are willing to give the accused the benefit of the doubt. I just know the only thing allowing them to do this is that the accused were former athletes and they are from prominent families.

This has always been a problem. Look at the 1997 death of Amarillo, Texas teen Brian Deneke, 19, a punk musician killed in a hit-and-run by Dustin Camp, a football player for the Tascosa High School. Tensions were high between the jocks and the punk community resulting in a Dec. 6, 1997 confrontation outside an International House of Pancakes, where they were known to hang out, in which some people say Camp allegedly tried to run people down with his car.

On Dec. 12, 1997, Camp was heavily drinking when he ran over Deneke when another fight broke out in the IHOP parking lot. Camp was charged with first-degree murder and his defense tried to make it appear Camp was attempting to get Deneke off someone else. But the prosecution shot this down saying running over Deneke would also hurt the other person. A passenger in Camp’s car testified he called himself a “Ninja in a Caddy” at trial. Unfortunately, Camp was only found guilty of voluntary manslaughter and received a 10-year suspended sentence.

However, in June 2001, he was spotted at a party drinking underage in violation of his sentence. His own father intentionally lied to police to cover for him. Camp was sentenced to prison until 2006 and had to spend the next three years on probation. Camp intentionally killed someone who was reported as running away. Just because he was a football player, he was given leniency. This happens too often. Brock Turner only served three months of a six-month sentence for sexually assaulting a young woman who was intoxicated and unconscious. Why? He was a student and a lacrosse player at Stanford University.

Too often in America, we look at the way people dress and the money they make as a decision on whether they should have a Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free Card. And our public education system is failing a lot of these young people. This is where a lot of the bigotry and prejudice starts in America. A woman I went to school with said she had never been treated the way she was until her family moved to Calhoun and got some of the “good Southern hospitality.” Because she was cute and pretty, she was considered a threat to the other young girls her age. This was the same case with my late girlfriend, Kerry. Her father was the local pastor of the Methodist Church. And she wasn’t like by many people because she was seen as a threat.

And let me tell you, some women at the school thought having sex with many young men was a way to become popular. So, you weren’t liked unless you put out. And many of the young women there peaked in middle school yet they walked around like they owned the school. And I wasn’t well liked by the school officials. My parents didn’t make enough money to be prestigous. I wasn’t involved in athletics. But I made good grades and I was on the High Q team that was aired on one of the Atlanta stations. Still, it angered some of the administrators that I could do so well at academics and the arts (as I was involved in band, drama and journalism) because I had limited funds.

The sexual assault case I covered at Wagoner, Okla. occured before the infamous Stubenville, Ohio case and the one involving the Calhoun High School athletes occured after. All three cases had different outcomes, but three rape cases involving three different high school students in such a short time is an epidemic. It happens too often at many schools still. In Stubenville, there was a huge cover-up involving school officials. If school officials are willing to cover up sexual assault cases (and many have and still do), they’re willing to do a lot of other things.

I’m not saying it’s just the schools’ faults, but they are a representation of the community. And in communities, we are more willing to blame the Eddie Munsions when problems happen than the Jason Carvers. While Jason got what he deserved and it was gruesome but enjoyable as he’s bascially severed in half by molten lava during a massive earthquake, he was kind of a psychopath. The sad part is if he had successfully killed Lucas Sinclair (Caleb McLaughlin) which would’ve led to the death of Max Mayfield (Saddie Sink), he probably would’ve had things covered up by the police. He also went after Lucas’ younger sister, Erica (Priah Ferguson) as well. And I’m sure the people of Hawkins wouldn’t have worried too much about two black teenagers killed “in defense of a white girl killed during a Satanic ritual.”

The irony that Eddie is killed in the Upside Down and still considered a murderer in the real world shows how American society will forever judge people based on stereotypes we put on people. We need to change. We need the Eddie Munsons of the world to feel they are more liked. We can’t love Eddie on Stranger Things then turn around and cringe when we see someone like him in real life minding his own business and not bothering us.

What do you think? Please comment.

Published by bobbyzane420

I'm an award winning journalist and photographer who covered dozens of homicides and even interviewed President Jimmy Carter on multiple occasions. A back injury in 2011 and other family medical emergencies sidelined my journalism career. But now, I'm doing my own thing, focusing on movies (one of my favorite topics), current events and politics (another favorite topic) and just anything I feel needs to be posted. Thank you for reading.

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