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19 April 2006 @ 12:01 pm
Supernatural Mini-Meta  
We got off on a discussion in someone else’s journal, namely the issue of how people see PapaJohn (Devoted! Heartless! Misguided! Evil! Well-Intentioned-But-Flawed!), and whether it is primarily SamGirls or DeanGirls who are defenders of PapaJohn.

That led to this mini-meta on the characters. First and foremost, let me say that I am a DeanGirl more than a SamGirl. And yet, I do not believe PapaJohn is unwaveringly correct despite what Dean might often tend to think.


Keep in mind that these are my opinions, and that I know many of you have strongly different feelings on (mainly) Sam and John. It doesn’t mean we can’t still be friends, and that I won’t read your fics. In fact… I have only occasionally written Sam as I see him here. I try to be more level in how I present him, and I don’t necessarily disagree with his choices.

On with the fanwanking~~~~~

Dean is both a great warrior and a very lonely person. His true loves are his father and his brother and his mission, but the mission is the only one of those he can count on not to leave. Dean makes some of his own pain by pushing away his brother's love and any moments of Sam's generosity, when Dean would never hesitate to offer both of them himself if they were _needed_. He downplays Sam's wants, but never his needs. And he feels, for whatever reason, that what he himself needs (not wants) is valueless, and should be squashed down. He lives for his father's love, and the fluctuating dynamic of being his father’s soldier/son shows that this love is doled out unevenly (i.e., unpredictably).

John believes that what he is doing is necessary, as if he has been called to it. Even if he found what killed his wife, it still wouldn't end what he does (much like Dean). He has also exposed his children to any number of things they should not have been aware of at certain stages in their lives, exposed them to danger and the ugly side of life, and made it impossible for them to attach emotionally to anyone outside of the family without leaving. (because the lifestyle prevents it). He has asked much of them (too much) in his Quest... and has not balanced it with the dependable love that needs to go with it. John has one child that can't fit into his dynamic and needs to run (because John allows no compromise). His other child can't leave, and will never have a family or children of his own-- doesn't even see that as an option—because he’s been shaped to forfeit basic human wants and needs. For me, the character of Dean in particular shows that as a parent, John has done a lot that is wrong.

Sam IS selfish and self-centered. At the same time, that is also somewhat who he was raised to be. Dean doted on him, caved into him, put his own needs behind for Sam. That is pretty much the formula for raising a self-centered person. Add to that Sam's being the youngest child in the family (which can prompt much of that behavior on its own), and... who else could they expect him to be? He is not always and entirely selfish, but within his own family Sam usually thinks of himself first. The part of him that is NOT selfish is the desire to not live his life bound to the darkness and destruction that his father and Dean embrace. Yes, the world needs heroes. Yes, what they do is important and necessary. BUT... that is a choice a person has to make or reject on his own. The warrior life carries a heavy price-- the destruction of self. Sam has every right not to want that. It doesn't make him wrong (even though Dean and his father see it that way, and you can't blame them-- THEY believe it's a necessary sacrifice). It makes him human.

Well, that was a long fan-wank rant. But not black-and-white, and I don't think it's overly forgiving or condemning of any of the characters.

Back to your regularly scheduled discussion on Hot Boyz Of The Open Highway (I swear I will use that as a p0rn title someday).
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The Good, The Bad and The Lanathelana on April 19th, 2006 07:58 pm (UTC)
I tend to think that on a Sam vs. Dean division (not that such a thing is necessary), I'd probably fall more on the Sam side. Not because I think he is better or more heroic (just he opposite). But rather because between Sam and Dean, Sam strikes me as slightly less batshit insane. Don't get me wrong, I personally find his "Rrraw, rrrraw, avenge Jess" thing rather distasteful, but that's because I have never been much of a revenge person. I still find his motives and reactions a lot more natural.

Again, no doubt in my mind that Dean is probably the better person. Which makes it odd that I'm not more drawn to him since I have much less problems getting Michael and I'm the biggest Superman over Batman fangirl who always scoffs at people who say that Superman is too heroic and not relatable.

Might just be that I have an anti-authorative streak and that plays into things. Plus another aspect is that I often find it hard to sympathize with people when I feel like their suffering is too much of their own making. Another thing is also how much you buy into the world and its main conflict. Like if you don't buy into the conspiracy on Prison Break it might ruin one's abbility to relate to some of the conflicts going on there, if you don't buy into the validity of "OMG, can't tell anybody I'm an alien" on Smallville then a lot of the show loses its power.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Diner Deanhalfshellvenus on April 19th, 2006 10:48 pm (UTC)
Sam strikes me as slightly less batshit insane.
Sam has perspective, which John has lost and Dean never had a chance to acquired.

Which makes it odd that I'm not more drawn to him
The thing is, as a person I feel for Dean. I think his environment and lack of nurture has destroyed him-- and that it's unlikely he'll ever recover from it. That hurts me but good. As a woman... although he's gorgeous as all get-out, his treatment of women and his manSlut behavior is extremely unattractive to me. Of the two, Sam is more romantically relateable to me. But as a character, Dean's pain moves me more.

Plus another aspect is that I often find it hard to sympathize with people when I feel like their suffering is too much of their own making.
I agree with you there, but again, those traits I mentioned of Dean's are not ones that he's aware of. That's part of what's so painful. If he knew he was doing it, and persisted in suffering for it, that would annoy me no end. But that he increases his pain without realizing how... is tragic.
The Good, The Bad and The Lana: broken nick ljthelana on April 19th, 2006 11:01 pm (UTC)
But that he increases his pain without realizing how... is tragic.

Or really, really stupid ;D

Not that Dean is stupid, it's just that it is hard for me to truly get into the characters if they lack this kind of self awareness. How much of it really is Dean not having a chance for a perspective, he has Sam's perspective, he had various girlfriends and there is always tv. Did Sam have it harder? Without a doubt. But it's not like he was completely optionless.

I'm not sure I understand why John thought that that was the only way to go. Maybe I missed the relevant episode. Like why he didn't turn into something closer to a Mulder-like conspiracy nut who tries to proove the existance of the Supernatural to the public and get support for his problem. At least then Sam&Dean would have been marginally safer.
(no subject) - thelana on April 19th, 2006 11:02 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on April 19th, 2006 11:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)
ezgal on April 19th, 2006 08:34 pm (UTC)
This is so insightful and psychologically sound.

Yes, what they do is important and necessary. BUT... that is a choice a person has to make or reject on his own. The warrior life carries a heavy price-- the destruction of self. Sam has every right not to want that.

Very true. Preserving the freedom of others means nothing, if you don't give your own children the freedom to choose their own lives. I think John understands that; but I think he was very understandably hurt that Sam chose to leave, and his "stay gone," was only a selfish and angry heat-of-the-moment response to that pain.

I had some other stuff to say about Dean and John.. but I decided not to bore you with it. :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on April 19th, 2006 10:53 pm (UTC)
This is so insightful and psychologically sound.
Thank you, Olivia. I'm glad you found it so. :)

but I think he was very understandably hurt that Sam chose to leave, and his "stay gone," was only a selfish and angry heat-of-the-moment response to that pain.
Oh, I completely agree. We were having that talk in thelana's journal. Apparently some people are on a "John hates Sam" bandwagon, and I don't get that at all.

I think he misunderstands that you (as a parent) ultimately want a child who doesn't cling to your coattails-- but his lack of seeing that is extremely common in authoritarian parents. And his reaction to Sam's leaving? Immature and unfortunate, but very understandable. The mistake is in thinking that he really meant that permanently. Although I do believe it's one of John's flaws that he didn't try to set that aright, and that he made Sam come to him when it was time. maygra nailed that on a post-"Shadows" discussion.

Sam comes by that stubbornness honestly. :(
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on April 20th, 2006 12:31 am (UTC)
I had some other stuff to say about Dean and John.. but I decided not to bore you with it. :)
That hasn't really slowed anyone else down. ;) Pile on in!
ezgal on April 20th, 2006 02:30 am (UTC)
What that really means, is that I too much identify with Dean to make any honest judgements about anyone's character. I'm afraid I'm not equal to the discussion -- my understanding of people is entirely intuitive, and doesn't lend itself to intelligent exploration.

"I decided not to bore you with it," = "I am stupid." ^__^'
Ice-T: an actor, also a refreshing beverage: SPN Daddyfiddleyoumust on April 19th, 2006 10:03 pm (UTC)
You know it's funny, because I'm definately a Dean girl. :D But, I actually don't like John. I think he needed to put his children's happiness first. I can understand that he needed answers, but does he really believe the life he gave his children is the life their mother would have wanted for them? He's fucked them both up to a point where they are irrepairable.

Dean will never think he is worth more than the mission. Every time he fails to save someone, fails to slay the demon, he's going to see himself as a failure. He doesn't think he should be loved for who he is, only what he does. If he's a hero, a warrior, then maybe there is something in him that is worthwhile.

Sam on the other hand will forever be looking over his shoulder. Whatever happiness he finds in life will be tainted by guilt. I don't think he'll ever be able to truely live his life happily knowing what's out there waiting around the corner.

It's just really shitty, and while I can sympathize with John, and understand why he did what he did, it doesn't mean I have to like it, or him.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on April 19th, 2006 10:56 pm (UTC)
Dean will never think he is worth more than the mission. Every time he fails to save someone, fails to slay the demon, he's going to see himself as a failure. He doesn't think he should be loved for who he is, only what he does. If he's a hero, a warrior, then maybe there is something in him that is worthwhile.
Big WORD to this. You and I are united in how we see Dean. This was a great explanation of why lasting happiness will always elude him-- no matter what he does.

But, I actually don't like John. I think he needed to put his children's happiness first.
I agree with you there. As a parent, that's what he should have done. But as a man, he was also shaped by his past, his temperament. Do I think he did the wrong thing as a parent? Absolutely. (although without that, there would be no show :0). Do I understand how, as a man, he might never have seen beyond that choice and the consequences for his children? Absolutely.

I don't approve of his choice. But I DO understand it.
The Good, The Bad and The Lana: brothers jail crawfishthelana on April 19th, 2006 11:10 pm (UTC)
Darn! *fangirls your insight*

I think my problem is that to some extent I get what John is getting out of it, and what Sam is getting out of it (or not getting out of it), but I'm not sure I get what Dean gets out of it. Hedonism (being cool, adventure life, women)? Masochism?
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Diner Deanhalfshellvenus on April 19th, 2006 11:28 pm (UTC)
but I'm not sure I get what Dean gets out of it.
Dean believes that fighting Evil and saving lives is its own reward. He enjoys the lifestyle, enjoys the hunting, the adventure, the thrill-- all of it.

But he believes he's fighting the good fight, and that's what matters to him.

He doesn't see that he has a right to want more out of life than that. That he deserves companionship, stability, love, a family even... and the right to see 40, if at all possible.
(no subject) - thelana on April 19th, 2006 11:44 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on April 19th, 2006 11:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thelana on April 20th, 2006 12:04 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on April 20th, 2006 12:33 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - andromakhe001 on April 24th, 2006 03:39 am (UTC) (Expand)
More thoughts - thelana on April 19th, 2006 11:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: More thoughts - thelana on April 20th, 2006 12:07 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: More thoughts - halfshellvenus on April 20th, 2006 12:34 am (UTC) (Expand)
Ice-T: an actor, also a refreshing beveragefiddleyoumust on April 20th, 2006 12:58 am (UTC)
but I'm not sure I get what Dean gets out of it. Hedonism (being cool, adventure life, women)? Masochism?

I actually think that cocky, cool, ladies man Dean is a facade. That's the person he projects to keep everyone at arms length. Love em and leave em, but only because deep down he thinks he's unworthy of love. I think it's different for the older child because they remember a different History.

My parents divorced when I was 2, my brother was 4, and he sees both my parents completely different than I do because he has a before divorce memory to compare them to. I just have the after... I don't remember a time when they were happy together, or a time when we were a family. Because I don't, I can love them both for who they are now. All my brother tends to see is the failure of their marraige. All he sees is that they failed him. I think Dean sort of feels the same way.

Before Mom died they were this happy family. After Mom they're this band of warriors. To Dean it must almost seem like both he and Sam didn't matter to their father at all. It was all about avenging their mother's death. That has to give him great feelings of inadequacy. They weren't enough to keep their Dad going. He needed something more. In that sense, Dean also sees the mission as his something more. I mean if your own parent doesn't see you as a valid reason to go on, why should you see any worth in yourself? So for Dean, it's the mission. If he can help people, then he's good, important, worthwhile. The whole suave, lady killer thing is just a front to keep people away. Because part of being a hero is that people are drawn to you, grateful to you, and those feelings make Dean uncomforatable because he doesn't understand why anyone would feel that way about him.

Pretty boy... no self esteem. And... wow I need a life. :)
(no subject) - thelana on April 20th, 2006 06:28 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on April 20th, 2006 07:07 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thelana on April 20th, 2006 07:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on April 20th, 2006 07:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thelana on April 20th, 2006 07:33 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thelana on April 20th, 2006 06:42 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on April 20th, 2006 07:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thelana on April 20th, 2006 07:26 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on April 20th, 2006 07:41 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thelana on April 20th, 2006 07:44 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on April 20th, 2006 07:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thelana on April 20th, 2006 07:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on April 20th, 2006 08:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thelana on April 20th, 2006 08:04 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on April 20th, 2006 07:04 pm (UTC) (Expand)
zora_sourit: wincestzora_sourit on April 20th, 2006 02:31 pm (UTC)
I´ve only heard of this fan-wank yesterday, I must admit. Thankfully, I´m not around in this fandom enough to notice such things. I think that is one of the most unnecessary, yet typical things in fandom. The more I appreciate your take on it. I basically give you a heartfelt thumbs-up with everything you say, I can always identify with your way of reasoning.

And he feels, for whatever reason, that what he himself needs (not wants) is valueless, and should be squashed down. He lives for his father's love
I was wondering: is the hunt the only thing that gives Dean his father´s approval? sure seems like it.

it still wouldn't end what he does (much like Dean)
I don´t know about that. I could imagine that scenario as well as him retreating somewhere lonely (now talk about drama, lol). We´ll see.

Dean doted on him, caved into him, put his own needs behind for Sam. That is pretty much the formula for raising a self-centered person. Yes, absolutely. If I´m right with the approval-thing I mentioned earlier, Sam is basically the only person that loved Dean unconditionally, looking up to his big brother. And Sam is also the only person Dean could love without coming off as weak. The more it must´ve hurt when Sam started to grow up and estrangening himself from mainly his father.
With Sam being selfish... I think spoiled as you said is the better word for it. The fact that he went off to college was the most natural thing to do, I think.

In the end, Dean is the loneliest of the three, he is fighting a war that is not his. Yes, he watched his mother die, but I´m sure if John had tried to lead a normal life with his boys, Dean would have been able to lead a normal life without a grudge towards some demon he has never even seen.

The difference between him and Sam is that Sam does not feel this responsibility towards his father, because he never saw his immediate pain and he never felt the actual loss of a mother and with it a normal family.

The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Diner Deanhalfshellvenus on April 20th, 2006 07:16 pm (UTC)
I´ve only heard of this fan-wank yesterday, I must admit. Thankfully, I´m not around in this fandom enough to notice such things. I think that is one of the most unnecessary, yet typical things in fandom.
Discussing how you feel about the characters, and agreeing to disagree (or finding other viewpoints valid, but not necessarily wanting to write them) can be a lot of fun. Screeching and calling down demon curses on those who disagree... not so much fun. :( I stay out of things that get that ugly.

I was wondering: is the hunt the only thing that gives Dean his father´s approval? sure seems like it.
I'm going to vote yes on this one, same as you.

Sam is basically the only person that loved Dean unconditionally, looking up to his big brother. And Sam is also the only person Dean could love without coming off as weak.
Exactly. Dean had unconditional love once, very briefly, from his mother. And he had it from Sam when Sam was little, but began to lose the feeling of it as Sam got older.

Now, Sam may still love Dean unconditionally under all their style differences and carping. But when you abandon someone for 4 years and don't want to keep in touch-- act as if they don't exist-- and come back behaving as if they are ridiculous and stupid, well... that's not going to feel like unconditional love to Dean.

Dean is by far the loneliest and most tragic of the three. His lifestyle choice (!) has been made for him, and he wants to support it despite its loneliness. He has actual memories of things that were good, which he knows he will never have again. And he's not aggravated enough with all of it to walk away-- even though his brother desperately wants to, which in turn will leave Dean behind.
tyrical: SPN_togethertyrical on November 1st, 2006 07:47 pm (UTC)
I echo your thoughts and I'll just add that I think (this is based on not seeing S2) That John truly believes that the end of this hunt will be his death. If he manages not to get killed then he would most likely continue in this line of work. It would be interesting to see if he has the same dedication to the hunt or if he'd even try to go legit.