Becoming Real (Ep. 166 - The Velveteen Rabbit)

This Week's Guest: Wyatt Fenner

My guest this week is actor Wyatt Fenner, who you've seen on Veronica Mars, Bones, and the movie Take the Yuletide Gay. New Yorkers, you can see him right now in the show Transparent Falsehood at Theater 511 on West 54th Street. As an actor, Wyatt's an expert at inhabiting personas and hiding himself behind someone else. But an accidental outing and an attack that could have killed him helped him realize just who it was he was hiding.

By the way, if you're heading to DragCon in LA next month, I hope you'll join me for two panels! On Saturday, I'll be hosting a fun friendly chat about tabletop gaming, featuring a panel of queer and ally gamers sharing recommendations for finding games and people to play with. And on Sunday, I'll be hosting a breakneck game of Dungeons and Dragons played by BenDeLaCreme, Erika Klash, Kitty Powers, and Fraya Love. It's going to be a blast -- hope to see you there.

And no matter where you are in the world, I hope you'll join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat -- it's on Saturday, April 28, at 2pm Pacific with special guest Ray Miller. We want to hear about the book and movies and songs and shows you're obsessed with right now.

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. If you're enjoying the show, click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show.

This Week's Recommendation: The Christmas Toy

We started our conversation this week with The Velveteen Rabbit, and for my recommendation this week, check out a similar project: a mid-80s TV movie called The Christmas Toy, one of the darkest projects produced by The Jim Henson Company.

The story is strangely close to that of Toy Story: children's toys come alive when their owners are away, and the comfortable affection of humans is challenged by the arrival of a new toy that doesn't realize it's a toy. But the stakes are far higher in The Christmas Toy: if one of the toys is caught in a place its owner didn't leave it, the toy becomes frozen and lifeless forever.

Like I said -- it's dark. As with The Velveteen Rabbit, there's a deep melancholy pervading the story -- Rugby the Tiger lives in fear that he'll lose the love of his owner, and the image of lifeless frozen toys absolutely terrified me as a kid.

But the movie's ultimately uplifting, with the toys discovering how important it is to keep the memories of their lost comrades alive. There's a lovely moment near the end where the toys acknowledge their love for each other, which is even more powerful than the love of the humans who will never know the truth of the toys' lives. 

Their performance as objects is what gives the toys purpose. But their honesty with each other gives them life.