A Tribute to Richie Tozier
Let’s be honest—I’ve invested hours upon hours of my life into Criminal Minds, a TV show in which they profile criminals in order to catch them. Profiling is a technique in which a team steps into a person’s mind to try and understand their motives and triggers.
A good author does the same thing.
To date, I’ve read It by Stephen King seven times. People always ask why I do it and I tell them that I find something new in King’s masterpiece every time I read it. The book alternates between two time periods: when the main characters are still pre-teens and then 27 years later, when they are grown up. This allows for amazing character development because the reader grows up with the children in the Losers Club throughout the story. The character of It are everything, and Stephen King knows how to do it.
I first read the novel when I was 12, which was an interesting experience because I was about the age of the kids in the story, and could relate to them even more than I can now. I reread the book almost immediately because I realized how unique the story was, but didn’t understand its impact on me until later. You see, It isn’t a horror story or a thriller, it is a coming-of-age story, and it became thoroughly intertwined in my own coming-of-age experience. Through the characters of the story, I started to understand myself. This was especially done through one character in particular, Richie Tozier.
The comedian of the group, Richie never seems to take anything seriously, but everyone enjoys his company all the same. As a kid, he is the one who people make fun of and bully for his snarky sense of humor and filter-less jokes. As an adult, he is a famous comedian who is involved with Hollywood. There is so much more to Richie, however. Stephen King describes Richie in a way that made me stand back when I first read It and realize that my favorite author understands me.
“As a kid, he had been the goof-off, a sometimes vulgar, sometimes amusing comedian, because it was one way to get along without getting killed by kids like Henry Bowers (the town bully) or going absolutely loony-tunes with boredom and loneliness. He realized now that a lot of the problem had been his own mind, which was usually moving at a speed ten or twenty times that of his classmates. They had thought him strange, weird, or even suicidal, depending on the escapade in question, but maybe it had been a simple case of mental overdrive—if anything about being in a constant mental overdrive is simple.”
Richie is similar to me in many ways, from his immense love of cinema to his voice-impersonations and horrible eyesight, but this passage really gets to the heart of it. See, Richie jokes around and makes sarcastic comments in hopes that it’ll make him look like he has it together, and because he wants to make others feel better because he knows what it’s like to feel sad. He hopes that, by making himself the joke, that people will be attracted to him because he can’t shake the feeling of loneliness in his life. He’s scared of people finding out that he isn’t perfect, so he accentuates the places in his life that are humorously messed up in order to hide the actual brokenness inside. When he smokes cigarettes, it is to show that he is a rebel when he might actually be scared of what is coming. When he makes jokes about other people, it is to distract from the fact that he sees all his little imperfections with a magnifying glass. He thinks that he is weird or strange because of the fact that he can work through things faster than everyone else, and is scared of himself because he gets lost in his own mind. He channels his boredom and hyper-active mind and imagination into sarcasm and wit. However, despite his imperfections, Richie seems to use his disadvantages and mental obstacles to his benefit, achieving his dreams and becoming successful, although all his weaknesses are still apparent 27 years later. For all these reasons, I identify with Richie Tozier.
Basically, I was profiled by Stephen King.
Through this character, I was able to see myself from a different perspective and was able to fix the things in my life that were making it so that I couldn’t live to my fullest potential. Through Richie, I found myself and discovered my weaknesses, and once I found my weaknesses, I could diagnose them. For this, I am forever grateful.