I have a real treat to share today! Let’s face it, at the Supernatural conventions, there are mostly women there. Hormonally super-charged fan girls that squeal at the mere sight of “their boys.” I’m not criticizing or saying that’s bad, that’s just what it is.
Randal, in his first submission, sent me this fantastic essay on why our favorite show appeals to men too. It’s a cleverly written analysis that makes us wonder how many guy fans actually lurk out there in the shadows. More than we think based on what’s said here. So, for all you lurking guy fans out there, this is for you. It’s alright to love this show. As for women, it never hurts to see the male perspective. After all, men are fans too. Happy reading!
It’s A (Wo)Man’s World
Supernatural is a show for chicks.
Harboring doubts? Check online, ask off.
I’m a dude. So why do I religiously watch?
Have I been emasculated? Have I misinterpreted Jungian readings of a masculine psychological type? Am I merely getting in touch with my feminine side? Does my sometimes-better-half keep me under lock and key? No, but I’m sure she would love to do that to the older Winchester brother as I’ve heard more than once, thanks for the ego slam, dear. My argument, if there is one to be found amidst this incoherent rambling, is that Supernatural is a show not just for women, nor men, but human beings.
Oh relax, I’m not going to plaster your precious screen with touchy-feely new-ageisms or some half-cocked postmodern, post-gender societal post better left propping up ivory towers burned out on the latest deconstructionist permutation; as I type, I’m listening to Reign In Blood which is quite apocalyptic, hint, hint, Kripke. But what I am going to proffer is hard proof (read: anecdotal evidence observed by one man in a sea of millions) that at the show’s core, once you strip away the familiar yet alluring, *very American male* ornamentation of horror, geekdom, rock music and â€˜guy stuff,â€™ lies a purity that can touch anyone with a working circulatory system.
The initial stimulus for this essay was the promo for The Real Ghostbusters that showed Chuck addressing the audience at a Supernatural convention. As we now know, this audience is populated mostly by XY chromosomal types nattily dressed in the threads of their favorite characters. I assume there was at least a modicum of discussion on certain other show forums about fourth walls further tumbling down like it was 1989, feminist interpretations of this, that and the other doodad. Was that bastard Kripke casting aspersions, all with a maniacal laugh, at the majority of his fans by viewing their absurdity through the lens of the opposite sex, known for *their*own special brand of absurdity when it comes to their favorite stuff? This may or may not be a kind of Spanish Inquisition, insert your own Monty Python joke here, but let’s start with the source.
These arenâ€™t the fans youâ€™re looking for
Eric Kripke is in his mid-30s and from a rust belt town in Ohio. I am in my mid-30s and from a rust belt town in Ohio. He enjoys, among other things, spooky tales and classic rock, as do I. My point is that, aside from the minor difference of him being an extroverted and successful producer of the best show on television and me being an introverted and severely underpaid (ahem, bosses) library employee, we presumably have shared much of the same zeitgeist. If Supernatural was nothing but a series of books or comics or graphic novels, I can all but guarantee, even with the occasional scene of crying men â€“ Batman cried when Robin croaked, right? â€“ that it would be, at worst, a cult hit among these same geeks that scarfed up issue after issue of Sandman
Staying in this milieu, forget for a moment Dean’s classic good looks and suave abilities with the fairer sex: he’s one of us. Donâ€™t believe me? Check out easy rapport with Ronald Reznick and that T2 grin, for starters. What about his affinity for Andy Gallagherâ€™s decidedly uncommon aesthetic choices? How often have Star Wars and Star Trek been referenced, politicians from planet Vulcan and looked-for droids? A trip to the Experience, with a side, er, trek, to the Bunny Ranch, was at least in the pre-apocalypse announcement stage. The man is a geek and his brother isnâ€™t far behind. Magic, anyone? Urban legends arenâ€™t the only cultural touchstones to be found in the show, Brockway, Ogdenville and North Haverbrook. â€œWere you sent here by the devil?â€ No, heâ€™s actually here now, Grampa.
Fill that bucket with blood, my good man
Screaming bloody gore is another staple of guydom, and Supernatural has its fair share, from the bleeding eyeballs in Bloody Mary to melted-out ones in Lazarus Rising, hungry ghouls and poor, *really* hungry Jack Montgomery, skin-shedding shapeshifters, chopped up digits, inbred murderers, Samâ€™s magnificently crimson, and quite inventive I might add, decapitation of Gordon Walker (that really was spectacular, wasnâ€™t it?), Azazelâ€™s butchered nuns, so bring on those cataracts of red, I say, with gusto.
But, as with everything else, thereâ€™s more to the blood than gratuitous carnage, as we saw in season four with Samâ€™s dalliance with the diabolical Ruby. Blood is life? Bien sÃ»r, just check out season fiveâ€™s title screen saying it all: what courses in our veins is nothing less than the world: good and evil and everything in between, destiny, fate, wyrd.
Now thatâ€™s bloody brilliant.
Well, turn it up, man!
No one remembers the K-Tel Freedom Rock commercial?
AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Foreigner, Kansas, Ted Nugent, these are radio staples; hell, the FCC levies fines for *not* playing these bands. I’m not a motorhead, but even I can appreciate the extreme coolness of a black 1967 Chevy Impala barreling â€˜round the corner, loud riffs heralding its arrival. Speaking of MotÃ¶rhead, in Curious Case, no Ace of Spades? When you’re born to lose, who wants to live forever? C’mon! On the other hand, watch Freebird the Movie, check out footage of the 1974 California Jam, or simply attend one of the young personâ€™s rock and/or roll concerts in your town. Few things transcend bullshit gender norms like the universal language. Forgetting the classic rock for a moment, Changing Channels provided an interesting case study in the effect of music.
Since Iâ€™m presumably speaking for my entire gender here, I will say that we (are supposed to) hate the blackmailing of our emotions. Few things Iâ€™ve heard have been more maudlin, syrupy and downright manipulative than the background measures in the Dr. Sexy MD segment, which is why I simultaneously laughed and cringed. One of the beautiful things about Supernatural is when a heavy, emotional dialogue is upon us, the music *always* takes a back seat, or, when thereâ€™s verbal silence, compliments the scene, such as the sad, childlike notes layered over dark chords in Something Wicked or Folsom Prison Bluesâ€™ effective fadeout over Alice In Chainsâ€™ Rooster. Iâ€™m not a fan of Styx, but even I can tell you that the end of Nightshifter was pure perfection, unthinkable without that song.
When you have leads as skilled with facial expressions and letting the tears flow all while delivering lines with conviction as Jensen and Jared are, you donâ€™t need Diane Warrenâ€™s Greatest Hits â€˜enhancingâ€™ the moment. Though Kripke, feel free to add some classical, I hear FaurÃ©, being a wee bit dead, can get you his piano quintet in D minor on the cheap. Plus I enjoy having my emotions manipulated.
Guys will be you know what
Iâ€™ve already mentioned the slick wheels, but thereâ€™s plenty of other â€˜guy stuffâ€™ that will be comfortably familiar to most American males. Supernatural is, quite often, an action show. Thank you, Captain Obvious. There are fisticuffs aplenty, Ben Edlundâ€™s oddball humor, John Carpenter-esque yarns like Croatoan and Jus In Bello, ladies to fight (the monsters) over (though Casey the bartender was one fine-looking monster; always good to have drooling revenge on the spouse, muahahaha, etc.) and the fact that the guns fire rock salt means nothing. A trigger is being pulled and something is getting knocked on its ass or vanishing completely. Speaking of vanishing, equilibrium did more than once in Bad Day at Black Rock. Go on, find a guy who doesnâ€™t love physical comedy Ã la The Three Stooges, I dare you. And letâ€™s not forget the sibling antagonism of Hell House (action figures in their original packaging!) and Tall Tales, the numerous porn references, Samâ€™s gross out speech in Time Is On My Side and, yes, the brotherly concern shown in virtually every episode, and seen in flashback more than once. I donâ€™t have a brother, but much of this can apply to my sister, whom I still love despite her being a Republican.
Star Trek, blood nâ€™ guts nâ€™ guns, power chords, joy buzzing your brother and drinking probably-not-German beer while ogling the bar wench, brotherly tit-for-tat, Supernatural has these things in spades, clubs, diamonds and hearts. And at last, we hit on the reason for the telling of my tale.
The crying game
In America, is it not a maxim that the only time grown men are permitted to cry is when their sports teams win a championship (being from Cleveland, I have to take that on faith) and at the end of Brian’s Song or Hoosiers? Because, you know, theyâ€™re sports flicks, and since they are, itâ€™s okay to be â€˜effeminate,â€™ a supposed state of being that Supernatural plays with on not just a literal, visceral level, but a meta one as well.
Bugs, Playthings, A Very Supernatural Christmas and Lazarus Rising all feature the boys being mistaken for, shall we say, intimate companions. On one hand, one could say these scenes were simply done for a cheap laugh, but on the other, I believe itâ€™s also a subtle stab at societyâ€™s expectations of the masculine, the gender opposite of the meta that weâ€™ll be seeing in this weekâ€™s episode, for Dean, being comfortable in his manhood, plays along more than once or nonverbally acknowledges his understanding of why such a viewpoint existed.
The brothers (and, to be fair, Bobby and their father), unlike most male television characters, donâ€™t see emotion as a weakness or something best avoided, regardless of their often traditional male behavior. I understand that that is a blanket generalization and that things have improved in the last few decades as it has for women in traditionally male roles (tell me that Ellen Ripley didnâ€™t kick all kinds of ass and Iâ€™ll ask you what illegal substances youâ€™re on), but the crucial difference here is that emotion rooted in a deep-seated humanity isnâ€™t an affectation, isnâ€™t placed to serve the story, itâ€™s genuine. It is the story.
Shadow isnâ€™t about ancient Persian demons, nefarious plans and ritual slaughter, but family, the ties that bind and that are, no matter what obstacles are thrown in the road, no matter how much may be lost on the journey (sorry for the theft, Mr. Hunter), unbreakable.
All Hell Breaks Loose isnâ€™t about psychic kids and demon armies, magical weapons and gates to the pit, but how far someone will go for their loved ones, what path they will choose, the consequences be damned, and subsequently dealing with them (in this case, yes, damnation.)
Itâ€™s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester isnâ€™t about summoning a Celtic demon and his spellcasting lackeys, angels being righteous dickheads, breaking seals or astronauts. Itâ€™s about those choices again, Sam precariously straddling that line, Deanâ€™s refusal to give in only to wonder if this is the beginning of his brotherâ€™s end, every thread over four years culminating in his very human plea to Castiel in the season finale: â€œif thereâ€™s anything worth dying for, this is it.â€
I could choose from a million further examples, but you know them all and Iâ€™m afraid Iâ€™ve already bored you to tears. Plus, if I start talking about the end of Heart, I might begin manufacturing my own right now and I really have to finish this. Sera Gamble, you are a truly awful person.
So does all of this mean that Supernatural is ostensibly a guy show that girls only watch for the hunky dudes ruining all that blood and guts by blubbering like women, and that guys donâ€™t watch because thereâ€™s a Neanderthal basketball doubleheader on TNT hang on I have to beat my chest crying is for wimps ooga ooga? The human condition ainâ€™t that black and white, my friends. Our favorite program isnâ€™t a show about monsters with the necessary evil of people on the side, but a show about the stuff that really matters to all six billion of us and, just like real life, that stuff isnâ€™t always pretty or about baking us an apple pie. The monsters, and us, female and male, are merely along for the ride.
Guys, youâ€™re missing out.