Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Unmasking a Middle Child

A Halloween Special Investigation
     When you’re raised in the backwoods of Texas by a family of abusive, cannibalistic, serial killers, your chances of turning out anything close to normal are slim. So Leatherface, the central character of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” film franchise, never really stood a chance. But was the deck stacked even more against him? Was one of the first and most influential killers of the slasher genre also... a Middle Child? It’s a horrifying thought, but one worth looking into. 
     Leatherface was part of a large family, best known for abducting, torturing, murdering, and ultimately eating stranded motorists. Leatherface helped feed his family by using his trademark chainsaw to “prepare” meals. When this crew said they were having company for dinner, they really meant it. But before literally serving their guest, Leatherface worked up quite an appetite skinning the face off his victim and sewing the pieces together to create his macabre mask. And now, we eat! 
     Over the course of his 50+ year fictional life, spanning eight movies, four different comic book series, and even a few video games, Leatherface’s family has morphed into multiple variations. First, they were the Sawyers in “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974), “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” (1986), and “Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III” (1990). Then they were the Slaughters in “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: the Next Generation” (1994). In the reboot of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (2003) and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning” (2006), they were the Hewitts. Finally, they were the Sawyers again in “Texas Chainsaw 3D” (2013) and “Leatherface” (2017). Each iteration added new characters, made changes to existing ones, and often had conflicting timelines -- as if this group wasn’t enough of a horror show to start with. To make matters worse, they even dabbled in a little inbreeding, which not only makes it difficult to determine birth order, but even whether they were siblings or offspring -- or both! Leatherface himself had at least four name changes: "Bubba" Sawyer, Thomas Brown Hewitt, Jedidiah "Jed" Sawyer, and Junior Slaughter. Like I said, all this makes determining birth order really hard, but here’s what we do know.
     Leatherface had a a lot of brothers. (There was even a sister, who might possibly also be his mother.) Drayton Sawyer (“The Cook”), Nubbins Sawyer (“The Hitchhiker”), “Chop Top” Sawyer, Edward “Tex” Sawyer, Tinker “Tink” Sawyer, Alfredo Sawyer, “The Butcher,” “The Cook,” and Charlie Hewitt Jr. (a.k.a. Sheriff Hoyt -- don’t ask), have all been identified as older brothers. But on the other end of the spectrum, Jedidiah Hewitt (not to be confused with Jedidiah Sawyer a.k.a. Leatherface) has been described as “the youngest and most sane member of the murderous Hewitt family.” There’s also a description of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation” on Prime Video that reads, “Again young people meet up with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre villain Leatherface. This time they also meet his demented younger brother.”
     I know this is a lot to digest, but it does appear that in addition to his already many issues, Leatherface is also a Middle Child. Just when you think things couldn’t get any worse. I suppose none of this should really come as a great surprise to anyone. Middle Children do have a reputation for acting out with attention seeking behavior. Granted, the chainsaw and hand-sewn human skin mask thing may be a bit over the top, but I guess it takes a little more to get noticed when your entire family are murdering cannibals. 
     And so I leave you with this useful piece of advice: Never piss off someone who’s wearing a mask made from someone else’s face and brandishing a chainsaw. Especially if they’re a Middle Child. 
     Happy Halloween! 

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Middle Children need to be heard!