Into every generation is born a Principal. He alone will stand against the slackers, the druggies, and the forces of deadbeats. He is the Snyder.
For those of you who joined our Buffyverse late into its seasons, you’ve probably only heard tall-tales and myths of the legend who at one time went by the name of Principal R. Snyder. You’ve heard how he once roamed the sunny streets of a California town known as Sunnydale, and how he was once the greatest disciplinarian the town had ever known. You’ve no doubt heard the stories, how he stuck by his morals and codes of conduct to create a perfect society, starting at the learning grounds of all civilization…a west-coast high-school located on a hellmouth. You’ve heard all about the man who was later eaten by a giant snake while defending his students bravely in the face of a great ascending danger.
But are these legends true? Well, of course they are. And if you don’t believe me, just buy Seasons One through Three and own them today on DVD. Oh Joss help me, I’m rhyming again. But do yourselves a favor and don’t just buy them from any old store. No, Sir! Or Ma’am, respectfully. Buy them from hellmouthcentral.com. Hellmouth, cause we’re the borderline between hell and earth. Cause it’s a mouth, see. And it opens to hell. Because mouths open and close…cause that’s what they do…and it’s a hellmouth. “Hell” and “mouth.” Yeah…back to the article we go…
It’s true that there was only one man in all of Sunnydale who longed for the days of order and discipline. He was a man with high aspirations and high goals (and please don’t start singing the “high hopes” song, everyone), setting a foreseeable future in line on a path truly meant for destiny. Sure, Principal Snyder wasn’t exactly the poster child of fun, but he did have good taste in music. Who doesn’t like the Bangles, right? And besides, any excuse to put one of the greatest actors of our time (Armin Shimerman, for any idiots out there reading) into a television series…what’s not to love?
Snyder worked hard to provide his students with what they really needed to gain out of a high-school education. And what was that you ask? That just so happened to be a nice dose of reality. That’s right. You won’t get that nice dose of reality by hanging out in the back of Ms. Calendar’s computer class. Nope. Not in science lab learning about potential girlfriends either. Perhaps maybe in the library, but as we’ve seen in the show very few people other than the Scoobies ever actually visited there…save Jonathan Levinson and a few smaller roles in one or two eppies. Point is, Principal Snyder gave these slackers…uh, students…exactly what it was that they needed in life: A backbone.
You see, Snyder understood a few essential things about society. One of those things is that you never get anywhere by being the nice guy. When Snyder spoke, people listened. Despite how many of his students at Sunnydale High disliked him, they all still fell victim to his authority…and they all still gave him respect. Fear instilled that within their short and potentially wasted little lives. Fear, I say! Fear! He could even make Buffy Summers squirm, and that by itself is worthy of deeming honorable. My Joss, the stories I’d love to hear from Snyder if he were only still around.
When this man would look in the direction of corruption on campus, he would spot it like sonar. He could see directly through a student, expose them for the scum of life by which they really were, and immediately drain every ounce of strength from their bodies, leaving them as sad and hopeless train wrecks and vulnerable for the knowledge of life by which he would graciously then provide into their stubborn little craniums. Ah, yes. My Snyder was like a mosquito in that way. He was also short like a mosquito. But even so, it’s a scientific fact that only female mosquitoes suck blood. So maybe he wasn’t like a mosquito. But a blood-sucking insect is the best analogy I can think of, so we’ll go with it regardless. And is it obvious that I’m just filling in space at this point?
Snyder hardened his students, made them ready to face life head-on, and because of this key fact he may have been the greatest contributing factor to the outcome of victory during the Graduation battle…despite his own untimely demise and sacrifice which would come about during the course of events that evening. That’s right. It wasn’t Buffy or Giles or the students themselves who pulled the weight there at the end. It was Snyder toughening them up over the course of a long three years. Had Snyder never been there, these poor souls would have had to rely on Flutie to get them ready. And Flutie’s philosophy of “I’m okay, you’re okay,” just wasn’t going to make it for the final cut of survival. It would have been a dark and cold night over Sunnydale for Graduation. Okay, it was still technically dark and possibly cold regardless. But the Ascension would have gone in the Mayor’s favor had Snyder never been there. Wait a second. That might not have been such a bad thing after all. Buffy would be dead…the Mayor and Faith would inherit the television show….Maybe I should be condemning Snyder.
But no, I’m going to stick by my guns. Our Napolean Bonaparte of Sunnydale may not have been liked by some…or possibly any…but that doesn’t mean that we can’t all still agree to respect this wonderful man for his great contributions to our favorite television series. But before we do, it is important to understand a few essential things about our Snyder first.
To begin, let us try and voyage into the psychological complexities that is Snyder’s mind. Shall we? The best way to do this might be to start at the beginning. That means the very beginning. Or in Snyder’s case, his freshman year of high-school.
In Band Candy we learned a bit about the history of Snyder. It was the only real glimpse we were able and allowed to see from the program. However, this small bit of knowledge gained from this one episode (which is still one of my favorites by the way), is still enough to decipher something about Snyder which should have been extremely obvious upon his induction into the show. What is this small piece of information you ask? Well, to put simply, Snyder’s high-school life was anything but memorable.
I remember his type back in high-school…the short kids with the loud mouths and extremely desperate attempts to make it in with the “in” crowd. Snyder, like so many others, was obviously unsuccessful. His youth stolen from him, Snyder felt the pain of rejection one too many times. And then when it came time to grow up, Snyder had come to a stark realization…and that is that he had already grown up…years ago. Back in high-school even. Far before his peers. And this made him bitter. Bitter for what could have been, for what should have been. For the youth he’d never have again. Damn rhymes creeping up on me once more with feeling.
Okay, so he’d technically have the feeling of youth again in Band Candy, but I’m attempting to be poetic here. To get to a point which I’m desperately pulling out of thin air at this point, as result of all his frustrations, his days of adulthood were employed to steal what little joy and fun those “in” crowd members of the Next Generation would have. See, a made time for a Star Trek joke. Go me! Like a bad cycle, Snyder would eventually have his revenge on high-school life. The best way to do so would be to gain the principal’s chair. And so he did.
Whatever miracle was at play which eventually summoned Snyder to go into Sunnydale, we’ll never know. All we have to go on is what we are given. It’s obvious he was the man for the job though. Flutie’s amazing track record of six episodes is laughable compared to Snyder’s golden two and a half seasons.
Okay, so technically it’s closer to two and a quarter seasons, or less, but then again since Season One was only a half season and therefore only judged as a half season, it’s half is in truth a whole. So, in reality, that half of a half is really half of a whole and therefore Snyder lasted two and a half seasons. Simple enough? Didn’t think so. But I didn’t bring any charts or graphs with me to make it much clearer than that. So just trust me and let’s get on with the big finish.
Snyder. Love him or hate him. He’s the man who more closely resembled a vice-principal in nature than a principal, though in this crazy world we call a Buffyverse anything turns out to be possible. I think we’ve all had a Snyder in our lives…thinking back to high-school life I remember that I had mine. Used to nick-name him Robo-Cop, but that was a long time ago and a completely different story we can get into some other time. Try me when I’m drunk and I’ll tell a great tale of him. But, looking back, and in all honesty, I think I would have preferred to have a Snyder instead.
Keeping order on a hellmouth is no easy affair and definitely no laughing matter. But Snyder was more than able to somehow take his responsibilities seriously and incorporate a steady means of employing a formulative masterminded scheme of upholding a decent agenda during the course of his short-term yet iron-clad-fist-wielding reign. Wow, that sentence had a lot of imagery…and still somehow managed to not make any sense.
So, final thoughts? Snyder was a great man. He was very misunderstood though and I think a part of the reasoning behind that stems from us only having seen him during the course of his working days. It’s hard to build a good impression based on simply how we perform at work. Some of us are decent citizens who wouldn’t harm a fly yet would still go all out in the corporate world to backstab, betray, and manipulate our ways to the top. So who is to say that Snyder was any different? The only time we ever truly saw him off duty was in Band Candy, and he sure seemed to be having a fun and enjoyable time then.
So, anyway, the next time you pop in your favorite season DVD for the Buffy series, make sure you take some time out to reflect on Snyder. He was a man who kept his students in line, and eventually he kept a great number of them alive. He wasn’t really a bad man, just a misunderstood man. It’s not like he had the most stress-free job in the world, you know…having to keep order on a hellmouth and all. And this journalist thinks he did a pretty damn upstanding job for what it’s worth. Here’s cheers to you, Principal Snyder! The man, the myth, and the legend. Forever in our hearts.