Grotesque Rules of Engagement: The Ethics of the Hunt on Supernatural
To say Supernatural is morally confused might be an understatement. At times itâ€™s difficult, as a viewer, to discern the moral compass of the show beyond the relational, beyond the core relationships. This confusion often comes into relief during times when the main characters, Sam and Dean, face mortal danger. At such times the questions that drive the story, whether it is free will versus destiny or family versus duty, fade into the background and what takes center stage is an almost primal impetus or urge to protect and preserve the status quo, an urge that makes explicit the fiction of an ethical hunt.
For the sake of this essay, Iâ€™d like to focus on a few points of inquiry about the problems of hunter, hunted, and the ethics of hunting in the show. My reading of "Supernaturalâ€™s" ethics attends to three themes and is broken into three parts: the good hunt, the good brotherhood, and the good suffering and good sacrifice. I would argue that the showâ€™s seemingly Judeo-Christian perspective is a faÃ§ade that belies a commentary on contemporary ethical conundrums, especially in the latter seasons of six and seven. Furthermore, the paradigms of human/monster, brother/enemy, and sacrifice/redemption help guide the show toward ethical dilemmas that are particularly American in kind.
Part One: The Good Hunt
The quest for an ethics in "Supernatural" must begin with a simple question: What is â€œgoodâ€ in this world? Is the good a happiness of sorts? Is the good a common good? Is the good truth? What is â€œthe goodâ€ in "Supernatural"? Trying to answer this question may allow us to dissect the ethical boundaries and limitations the show has set up for itself with regards to the main activity, the activity through which the entire landscape of the series is filtered, and that is hunting. What is the â€œgood huntâ€? Can there be one?
Over the course of the series viewers have witnessed several penetrations to the very thin membrane between hunter and hunted in "Supernatural." The show has continuously dealt with the ethical dilemmas of hunting monsters, especially when one has the capacity to be monstrous such as in the case of Samâ€™s demonic powers and Deanâ€™s role as torturer in Hell. The monster, as Jeffery Jerome Cohen presents it, is â€œa double narrative, two living stories: one that describes how the monster came to be and another, its testimony, detailing what cultural use the monster servesâ€ (Monster Theory, p. 13). If we apply Cohenâ€™s frame to Supernatural, we can see that the monstrous tendencies of both Sam and Dean distort their â€œgoodâ€ natures â€“ Samâ€™s faith and kindness disappears in the demonic that must exist in the presence of an angelic; Deanâ€™s humanity and nurturing nature succumbs to the excellence of his torture.
The monstrous, then, can be seen as not the absence of good or the presence of evil in "Supernatural," but rather the corrupted familiar. And the corruption of the familiar works in the mythos of the show since we have been given fairly overt definitions of the demonic as the human made grotesquely human, and if the demonic, the monstrous, is the corrupted familiar, the unfamiliar made visible, then the ethics of hunting becomes even more important, as we must depend on a code of ethics, a creed, to determine what is hunt-able and what is simply hunted.
In the early seasons of "Supernatural" it was easy to discern an ethics â€“ whatever is other is hunted, whatever is monstrous. There was little angst or inquiry surrounding the purpose of hunting. Even in the heartbreaking second season episode â€œHeart,â€ the killing of Madison was never in doubt. Her survival depended on curing her from the werewolf â€œgeneâ€, and when it was clear she was not â€œcured,â€ she had to die. Even Madison recognized such necessity, which speaks to the absolutism of the â€œmonster is huntedâ€ ethic that the show forwards throughout its first two seasons. It is interesting to note that this episode is juxtaposed to the previous episode, â€œRoadkill,â€ which features a woman â€œghostâ€ who must be vanquished along with the male ghost who pursues her. And the final scenes of that episode clearly romanticized the ghost figure, making her sympathetic and human, even as she disappeared into the rising sun.
I would like to insert a side commentary here that has often plagued me when reading "Supernatural." When the show has pushed the envelope of its own ethics, particularly in the first three seasons, it did so through gender. How so, you may ask? If we catalog the episodes that problematized the monster definition such as â€œHeartâ€ and â€œRoadkillâ€, we still can turn to â€œBloody Mary,â€ â€œChildren Shouldnâ€™t Play with Dead Things,â€ and â€œBedtime Storiesâ€ as plots that try to deal with the â€œmonsterâ€ as empathetic figure. When the show does sentimentalize the monstrous, it is often a sentimentalizing of the female monster. Take for example Meg, who is incredibly malevolent, and yet she earns sympathy as a possessed body in â€œDevilâ€™s Trap.â€
Even â€œHouses of the Holy,â€ which had the male priest antagonist, can be seen as a gendered reading, as the priest figure is a culturally desexualized character, a character who must be a man without the common markers of masculinity or masculine sexuality. Such a reading is interesting, as season three mutates that feminine figure from one of sympathy to one of suspicion and doubt, with the introduction of the human maleficence of Bela and the demonic treachery of Ruby. I would also point to this season as the â€œturningâ€ point in the discussion of the monster, as the evolution of the monster shifts from one of episodic study, i.e. the monster of the week, toward the monstrous predispositions of the main characters.
Reading the ethics of hunting monsters through gender is interesting, but it cannot be a total reading. The show, throughout its nearly seven year run, has always kept at the heart of its narrative the question of who deserves to be hunted, and even more subtly, the question: who deserves to be a hunter? The character of Sam Winchester acts as the foundation for this debate. Sam, who we learn at the end of season two was chosen to be demonic, gradually yields to his â€œnature.â€ It is in Sam that we can see the potential cataclysm of a relational ethics. While Dean sold his soul for Samâ€™s life in â€œAll Hell Breaks Loose,â€ Samâ€™s quest to save Dean perfectly coincides with the diminishment of his virtue.
When I invoke virtue here, I cite Aristotleâ€™s notion of virtue as balance in Nicomachean Ethics. Aristotle argued that virtue was the mean point between excess and deficiency, and that virtue is a key component to any system of ethics. Sam Winchesterâ€™s excess of emotion, so brilliantly described by the Trickster in â€œMystery Spot,â€ puts him in mortal, as well as moral, danger. When the Trickster tells Sam, â€œDeanâ€™s your weakness and the bad guys know it too. Heâ€™s gonna be the death of youâ€¦Sometimes you just gotta let people go,â€ he is warning Sam, making him see what he has become â€“ a man who prioritized the kill over the hunt, the end over the means. And thatâ€™s when any hunt goes bad in this world. This episode sets up the dissolution of Samâ€™s ethical center in season four. His willingness to be seduced by Ruby reveals Samâ€™s willful descent into demonism, and also allows us as viewers to be prepared for the ethical resolution about which I will speak of later, sacrifice.
But we must not forget that Samâ€™s justification for his behavior exposes the problems of relativism and relationalism in "Supernatural." Sam lets himself go blind to serve his fear of abandonment. It is appropriate that the demonic in this show is metaphorized through the image of the eyes. The black eyed demons, as depicted in the show, are maliciously human because they subsist on nothing but emotion. Even in the most recent â€œRepo Man,â€ the demon returns to let us know that demons are hunters too. They hunt for the cruel and wicked in us so they can make it visible, make it functional. They hunt not to kill, but to make us blind to our own moral or ethical boundaries, make us transgress against those boundaries.
In the world of "Supernatural," the demonic is not the absence of human but the aggressively human, the human made purely pathos. And Samâ€™s devolution into demonism re-enacts this process. His virtue falls apart as he moves with lightning speed toward that moment where his ability to choose, which is the pinnacle moment of any ethical dilemma, falls prey to his emotion.
The final confrontation scene with Lilith in â€œLucifer Risingâ€ punctuates the ethical fall of Sam. While one might argue that his capitulation to Rubyâ€™s argument for killing the nurse, aka Lilithâ€™s handmaiden, finalizes Samâ€™s fall, I would argue that the show demonstrates his collapse in the final scene during the slow motion sequence when Dean is calling out for Sam and Ruby steps in front of him as he turns towards the door. That scene emphasizes Samâ€™s complete sensory overload. His eyes go black; he experiences both blindness and deafness. His body disappears to his â€œheartâ€ and that disappearance is his complete moral failure. And it is ironic since the icon of his descent was the very voice calling out to him from the dark, Dean.
This evolution toward demonism, which to a certain degree salvages itself in the sacrifice of â€œSwan Song,â€ never quite abandons the narrative of the show. The character of Soulless Sam, who occupies the first half of season 6, nicely juxtaposes a Sam devoid of emotion to the earlier versions of an overly emotional Sam. And returning to the notion of virtue as mean, Soulless Sam demonstrates that a deficiency can also skew or totally eliminate a code of ethics. In this case, then, I would argue that to understand the ethics of hunting in "Supernatural" we must always keep the character of Sam Winchester at the forefront of the discussion. His growth and regressions signal to viewers how to read the monster and the hunted in the world that has been constructed so far. His choices are the choices of the predator as well as the prey, and without him we cannot fathom ethical boundaries or the transgression of those boundaries. And while other characters, such as Castiel, have experienced similar descents into ethical peril, Sam is the centerpiece character for understanding the problems of forming ethical choices in a world that demands total commitment to the cause.
Sam Winchesterâ€™s monstrosity, if we can call it that, is a particular statement about the paradigm of hunter and hunted, a paradigm that becomes dilemma. This dilemma is even more apparent in season 7, which introduces a host of problematic issues that bring to light the psychological and sociological consequences of hunting. From Deanâ€™s killing of Amy to Samâ€™s gradual psychic break to Dick Romanâ€™s slow conquest of the media spotlight, the show has subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) pressed the issue of ethical hunting. But it is the figure of Dean and his continual distancing of himself from the core brotherhood that calls us toward the question of ethics of a different hunt, the hunt for purpose. Where Sam may allow us to see the hunt as process and problem, Deanâ€™s own ethical boundaries and failures give us insight into what happens when virtue is not an Aristotleian mean but rather a martial art.
In part two of this essay, then, I will turn to Dean and his soldierâ€™s code as a way to read the ethical dilemmas inherent in the war against the demonic, especially when that demonic is part and partial of a brother in arms.
Part Two: Brotherhood, Brother Good?
If you tire, give me both burdens, and rest the chuff of your hand on my hip,
And in due time you shall repay the same service to me;
For after we start we never lie by again.
- Walt Whitman, Song of Myself
#1)" When the show does sentimentalize the monstrous, it is often a sentimentalizin g of the female monster."
While it is true that there are fewer examples of sentamentalizin g male monsters in the early seasons, the writers certainly made up for that in later seasons. I'm sure there are more but in just a quick perusal:
Max Miller in "Nightmare"
Andy in "Simon Said"
Trickster in "Tall Tales"
flesh eating husband in "Metamorphosis"
shapeshifter in "Monster Movie"
old magician in "Chris Angel . . ."
ghost in "Afternoon Special"
Gary in "Swap Meat"
Phoenix in "Frontierland
alpha shapeshifter in "Two and a Half Men"
Lucky in "All Dog's Go to Heaven"
Castiel in "The Man Who Would Be King"
#2) " His willingness to be seduced by Ruby reveals Samâ€™s willful descent into demonism"
While I agree that Sam lost sight of how his powers were being manipulated by Ruby, I believe Sam's greatest problem was actually hubris not a "willful descent into demonism".
I too have problems with your characterizatio n of Sam, but I will wait to read the rest of your essay before commenting extensively. However, I didn't see what Sam did as a "willful descent into demonism" in the least. Mostly I saw someone who was an addict responding to his addiction and a brother who saw Dean falling apart while the angels were pressuring him to "save the world" with no real guidance as to how while Sam tried to take the burden off of Dean.
I will address Sam more in the third part. I will return to both Sam and Dean then, but to clarify the willfulness approach, I do think Sam's behavior can be seen as a metaphor for addiction, but I see season 3 and his incredible need to save Dean and his failure to do so, as the set up for the excuse of his behaviors in season 4. That's the reason why "Mystery Spot" is especially interesting to me, in this particular reading anyway. I think the trickster's "lesson" gave Sam a peek into the future and I'm not sure he learned the lesson, but I'm always open to changing my perspective on this angle.
Thanks and I look forward to your comments on parts two and three.
The Trickster was trying to help Sam see the errors of his ways. Gabriel is actively trying to keep the Apocalypse on track in Changing Channels and only changes his mind later in Hammer of the Gods. The Trickster turning out to be Gabriel, and Gabriel's early actions leaves me convinced that MS was intended to break Sam emotionally and move him toward finding a way to "use his curse for good", and to convince him that traditional human only methods were not only ineffective but destructive to Sam and made Sam destructive to the world. When The Trickster turned out to be another angel who was still supporting the Apocalypse plan, MS became more about pushing Sam to give up on Dean's salvation and moving him to a place where he could do good, while using what evil was in him. In MS Sam was going to any lengths to get Dean back. By season four Sam was only trying to do what John and Dean had advocated for years find the thing that killed and damned Dean (Azazel for John and Dean, Lilith for Sam) and kill it, while saving people along the way. If John and Dean weren't being willfully evil, in their quest, I can't say Sam is for following the same path.
And having written this ginormous reply, I realize I will probably comment on each part as they are published. Sorry! I will try and do a complete overview when you are done.
Quote:I think you are right in that the Gabriel/Trickster dynamic changing as soon as we understood the trickster to be an angel and hence aware of the Apocalyptic plan. You see, for me, Mystery Spot acts more as foreshadowing than anything else. I agree that the origin of Sam's demonic fall was in his good intentions; it's one of the core things I love about Sam and I think in season 5 (and somewhat this season as well) the show has done so well in moving Sam towards a introspective review of his emotional state before and during the hunt for Lilith. That's why I cited Aristotle with Sam. To me, Sam's imbalances (so beautifully acted from seasons 3-now) happen when he allows his emotions to guide him. It's the same with all the characters, actually, but in Sam it seems to be the moral lesson for his character.
Quote:I think Sam's addiction is a performance of his excess. The demon blood shows, in my reading, the total abandonment of control. For me, it juxtaposes nicely to Dean's daily excesses - food, women, etc. - Sam is so tightly controlled, both physically and emotionally, that his excess is excess in the extreme. And when I say willful here, I don't mean that he wanted to be evil, but at some point he made the decision to deprioritize certain values in favor of other values without forethought, and forethought and precision is so much a part of Sam's character, which is demonstrated by Mystery Spot, but also in Soulless. He's such a fascinatingly complex character.
Again that's just my reading....Than ks percysowner. I really do enjoy the different perspectives here.
Gabriel was also dead set on allowing Dean to go to Hell. We later learn that one of the requirements for the start of the Apocalypse is for Dean to break in Hell, so again if Gabriel really wanted to stop the Apocalypse, he would have worked to help Sam find a way to SAVE Dean, not allow Dean into Hell.
I do think the original intent of the episode was to dissuade Sam from going too far to save Dean. But that was when the writers planned to have Sam save Dean and go Dark while doing it. Once we discover that The Trickster is really the Archangel Gabriel his insistence that Dean take the first step in becoming the "righteous man" who breaks the first seal and his psychological torture of Sam gets more ambiguous. Because of Gabriel's intervention, Ruby didn't come to a Sam who just lost his brother to Hell. She came to a Sam who had lived with his brother in Hell for six months, got him back and lost him again. She came to a Sam who knew that going it alone led him to being willing to risk killing Bobby to get Dean back. It had a far more emotionally vulnerable Sam than if he had just lost Dean once. In Mystery Spot we see Sam's OCD nature and his incredible need to take and keep control of his life. Due to Gabriel's intervention, Sam was broken and Ruby offered him a way of controlling his life that he pretty obviously didn't get or use the first time around.
I have honestly never been able to decide what Gabriel's motivation was in Mystery Spot, but I tend to land on the side of Gabriel being conflicted and hoping that Sam would learn a different lesson, but ultimately going along with keeping the prophecy intact.
As far as Dean going to hell, I thought Gabriel probably didn't know the exact plan. Because even though he was archangel he been in "witness protection" for a while. That he heard about the vessel part of the plan but maybe not that Dean was supposed to break the first seal. (Especially since it sounded like Dean was the demon's backup plan when John didn't break). In that case he may of thought Dean being in hell was a good thing, because that would mean THE vessel was dead and couldn't be used. Not expecting them to go hell and drag him out.
But I can see how your idea works too.
And the gendered reading is partial, but especially in the first three seasons I see it. Not so much in seasons 4 onward. In fact, I do think Season 3 is the turning point for that particular reading because Sam's storyline and fall takes centerstage.
Thanks for the comments!
Thank you for this further clarification and I can appreciate how Sam's hubris contributed to his "decision to deprioritize certain values". Despite Dean's repeated admonitions, Sam's hubris could in fact be seen as contributing to his "blindness" in not being able to understand the source of Dean's concern.
We see that shift when Sam becomes the monster figure, and I think it's fascinating that you bring Soulless Sam into the discussion here. Sam did worry more about the ends, and not the means, when it came to saving Dean or avenging Dean's death/time in Hell. I think Soulless Sam is the inner kernel of this, the essence brought to the forefront and stripped of any morals.
It seems in the landscape of Supernatural, in reflection to a war zone or desperate situation, the adage of "Kill or be killed" rings true, and we see it time and time again in the exploration of the hunt. At the end of a good hunt, the victims attacked are saved and the enemy vanquished, and yet the question remains if that should be the way things are.
Eve told Dean that she was alright with the set up, that her children would kill/turn a few humans and the humans would then become hunters and kill her children in return in a circle. It is a balance and an order to things, and I think Supernatural has always, ironically against its own title, tried to balance the unnatural and the natural.
I will also point out that initially Sam was the one who questioned if all supernatural creatures were evil. He attempted to get the Rugaru to not give in to his desires and resist his curse. As far as ends vs. means, Dean selling his soul, knowing the crushing guilt and grief that would cause Sam is certainly a huge example of using extremely bad means to achieve an incredibly dubious end. Both boys have been guilty of the same behavior, yet you only want to blame Sam.
I can not and never will lump Sam into the group of creatures that deserve to be destroyed. I also will not concede that Sam is a character that deserves to be dismissed as a monster . I will always see Sam as a human who is living with an condition that was introduced when he was six months old. With the exception of his time of grief and guilt he resisted using his powers with all his will. The only exception was when it was necessary in order to save the world. The price of that was his life, and his sanity, not the actions of a monster. Sam did not choose to come back soulless, so branding him a monster for doing so is unfair, IMHO.
We obviously view Sam differently. I doubt we can have a meeting of the minds here. But I refuse to let the accusation that Sam is a monster stand unchallenged.
By "monster,"I should be more defined here in terms of the show itself. A lot of the monsters were metaphors for Sam and what could become of him if he were to give into the demonic blood that was thrust upon him by Azazel. Madison is a metaphor for Sam. Jack, who becomes the Rugaru, is also a metaphor for Sam---not for what he is or will become, but what he FEARS he COULD become. In that regard, I see Sam's character telling a version of the monster story that is laced throughout the series. It is human and touching because of that humanity, not because he is to become the monster in need of destruction or evil---but because time and time again Sam will overcome it. For all the foreboding metaphor that connects monsters to Sam in their various forms, it is the hope encapsulated in Sam's character that shows his humanity will always overcome that taint placed upon him as an innocent infant.
I love Sam. I think he's a very heroic human being who has sacrificed himself time and time again for victims, for his brother, and for the world at large. He is a beautiful human being that has endured so much, and my heart breaks for him every time I see him sacrifice yet another thing, be it his life or sanity or his chance at a normal life. He is soft spoken, quick to comfort, and gentle with the victims in his care. His heart is almost bigger than he himself is.
I don't blame Sam one moment for what happened to him in season 4, even though it can be argued that he has a share of responsibility. He made the decisions he made with the information he had---all the while those that professed wanting to stop Lilith and the Apocalypse were setting him up to do what he ultimately did in Lucifer Rising. Both Ruby and the Angels KNEW that Lilith was the final seal and that if Sam killed her he would release the Devil---and they did everything in their combined powers to more or less make that happen. In the aftermath, Sam redeemed himself by word and deed, and part of me thinks he really didn't have to. It wasn't his fault that they had twisted him that way and led him to the precipice.
That being said, Sam, in order to save Dean or avenge his time in Hell, gave in partly to the very thing he had feared in seasons 2 and part of 3. He embraced, to a point, the monstrous side placed within him against his consent---all because he loves so deeply and cares so much. He couldn't imagine leaving Dean in Hell, and when Dean returned he had already been so tangled into the Angels and Ruby's game without any chance to truly extract himself. Sam's very human grief had by then turned against him, allowing him to be manipulated and used in a manner he deep down feared as much as ever.
As for Soulless Sam, absolutely, he is that kernel that resides in all human beings. We all have that, and that is why his character is fascinating and gripping. He is Sam, but not Sam. He has the logic, the skill, and the training---all without Sam's greatest asset: his heart and compassion. Soulless Sam stands in as a human monster, and yet he is a mirror to the human condition---the darker side of it, much as Sam whole is the reflection of the best of the human condition.
In the case of Sam, he has the core of humanity that many of the hunted monsters lack, but sometimes, in rare occasions such as with Madison, Amy, Andy, and even Cas, the humanity of the villain represents a moment in the series where we (and Sam and Dean) have to question what it means to hunt and kill a creature that may very well resemble either of them in some fundamental way. I think here especially of Amy, a character the show drew distinct comparisons to Sam with in "The Girl Next Door." I don't think Sam and Dean are monsters, but they do display monstrous qualities and on the mirror side, sometimes the monsters they hunt are very human.
And yes, so many monsters have reflected very human tendencies that make Sam and Dean pause and question what they do as hunters. It is one of the most important messages in this show: question. Always question. Why do you do this? Why that?
Considering the few times that they've encountered a human monster (Benders, Family Remains, Repo Man), it makes the line blur even further. Not all monsters are necessarily supernatural creatures, after all. And yet, I find that both brothers manage to overcome and grow through these experiences, rising to the greater qualities of humanity again and gain.
Its all greek to me! See what i did there? Its called not taking yourself too seriously.
Thank you so much for ripping away the thin vale of "green eyed, gargling, long haired, shallowness of supernatural, and opening my eyes to the wonderful and deep mythological experience of what was once just a frivolous enjoyment. The scales have fallen from my eyes! Perseus has been revealed! Thank you.
Comments of objection are okay. You didn't say anything offense or wrong. However, I've combined this comment with the previous one, since you are obviously the same person using different login names to voice criticisms from the same IP address. We can tell these things you know!
I do admit, sometimes these academic metas aren't for everyone and not everything we publish here are for the masses. I allow them because some people enjoy them and like having debates. It certainly kills a Hellatus! However, you are entitled to find a piece total crap and say so. We don't mind! Just as long as your language is fair, and it was.
I hope I haven't turned you off the commenting here. Your comments are most welcome.
The great thing about a show like Supernatural is that we can all read it in a variety of ways. Some people want to delve into the deep meanings. Kripke himself said that the show was built upon Joseph Campbell's Monomyth. Campbell was a highly influential scholar, a Ph.D., and assuredly an "intellectual." Obviously, Kripke's inspiration came in some part from this realm, therefore, intellectual analysis should be welcome.
I know people who watch the show simply for PRETTY, and indeed our boys are that. What puzzles me is that you felt the need to try and slam the door shut on any commentary style other than your own. Is there a reason that only your "interpretation " is valid? What motivated you to post, then post again under a sock puppet instead of simply hit the "back" button on your browser? I have little doubt these questions will be read as an attack, but I ask because I am genuinely curious.
I assure you, if this were an attack, no doubt about its intent would remain.
If you use someone else's ideas, and don't give them credit, its considered unethical. If the author borrowed Aristotle's ideas of ethics from Nicomachean Ethics, she is required to attribute that to him. "Nichomachean" has five syllables. "Supernatural" has five syllables. As you take the stance that "big words" are bad, do we have cut off at four? Does the show need a new title as the name is too big of a word?
"Pretty" is but one type of enjoyment of the show, and I used it because it is the least engaged in the text and still acceptable. That you would take all of this personally brings us back to the questions I asked that went unanswered.
Given my prediction that my questions would go unanswered proved quite correct, I will list the conclusions we are left to assume: Anti-intellectu alism is a lashing out at those who are deemed "smarter" than the subject individual, by that individual. The individual seeks to diminish the value of the other's perceived advantage, and by doing, prop up the subject's sense of worth and value.
The second alternative, the replies were designed to start conflict.
I'm open to a third suggestion that doesn't fit these two, but that can only come by answered questions.
This site celebrates a great show, and Alice welcomes people with all different perspectives here. You are welcome to comment on this post. BUT, when you come in with insults, calling this article, the hard work of another human being, "crap" because it doesn't appeal to you or you don't understand it, who is being unwelcoming?
If I went into to an article that you enjoyed and commented that it was "stupid garbage that only a third grader could enjoy" how would that have made you feel? More importantly, how would that have made the author feel?
Why couldn't you have said "I don't really understand everything in this article, but I'm glad the Supernatural family has so many different types of people interested in it!"? Why did it have to be an attack? Why did it have to be insulting? Why did it have to be unwelcoming?
These are the big questions I'm asking. I don't have anything whatsoever against you. I am trying to make a point. We are all fans of an amazing show that we all love. And our love for show is unique to every one of us, because we are unique. Why can't everyone be welcomed?
I'm only responding to one thing in the list of accusations that you have lobbed at me. That one comment is this: If you don't like this kind of article, then don't read it. This type of article represents a very small portion of the site and to represent this article as the entire site and its readers is not only incorrect but a blatant attempt to start a fight, not an argument.
No, you will not win an argument based on a false premise. But I have to say I don't think you wanted to win. You wanted to prove a point either about my writing, this type of analysis in general, the site, or whatever, but I think that you had already decided that your point of view is true and everyone's else is false before you posted your first comment. So you've made your point. You were welcome to make your point, but in making your point do not expect for others not to disagree.
I wish you much joy in watching the show whatever way you want to watch it and I would ask you kindly to respect the fact that there are those of us here who may enjoy watching it a different way. There are many other types of articles on this site; different articles are posted almost every day. I'm sure among those you will find something you enjoy. I hope you find that.
About Sam as a "monster": I think the word should not be seen as a moral judgment. In fact, "monster" comes from the latin word "monstrum", that is "thing that has to be indicated, extraordinary or curious or out of common". In fact, it is more close to the meanig of the word "freak". Sam as a monster is in fact the core of the Supernatural world: a world of freaks, the monsters as well as the hunters, the hunt for the "otherness" being yourself an "other" as opposed to the "normal people" (i.e. the ones who happily ignore the supernatural's existence).
About your observation of Sam's ethical falls as due to "unbalance", it dawned on me that like Sam was (in the early seasons) the "moral compass" for Dean, so maybe Dean was the "balance" that helped Sam to not give in to his "excesses"? Oh, and speaking of excesses: I was always fascinated by the way Sam was capable of shutting out all his emotions and feelings when he was feeling too much, like he did in Mistery Spot after the fateful wednesday, and like he did all along season 3 because of his fear for Dean, allwing himself to compromise on his ethics in order to save him. He really is a very complex, very tragic character!
And thank you for mentioning the latin origin of monster. I had not picked up on that, but you're right. If monster is more other than creature, then the whole Sam plot revolves around the monster storyline and Sam as other.
I do think they (Sam and Dean) balance each other out, so when one is gone (mentally or physically), the other is lost in some fundamental way.
Thanks again Brynhild!
It is important to remember that words change in meaning and use over time, and what we think in modern terms of "monsters" is a bit different than monsters in earlier times or countries.
I think, in many ways, that is exactly how Sam (and later Dean when he returns from Hell especially) is presented in the text of the show, and as such, he is both human and a fine example of the best qualities of humanity, but he is also "other" or "monstrum." He has no other choice, given his background with demon blood, Soullessness for a period, vessel for Lucifer, and the like. It doesn't make his character evil or in need of destruction, it is a way of telling about the human condition through the fantastical and how one can overcome the darker tendencies to bring out our best.
I also agree with you assessment that both brothers balance each other out. They are Yin and Yang, Peanut Butter and Jelly, and one is less without the other. I think it is another reason it is impossible to take the AND out between their names. Sam AND Dean, not Sam and Dean or Sam, Dean. They are two sides of the same coin, and yet they reflect so much of each other.
Dean said it best in "The End." "We keep each other human."
I discovered a surfeit of reviews some of which were quite negative in their content and comments. I looked at the chat room function and found a lot of negativity there as well, this seems very strange to me for a site which is supposed to be in celebration the show.
As I usually enjoy Meta articles I found this article and the comments arising from it of particular interest. I did understand it, so please do not try to demean me by insinuating I am not clever enough to do so, but it does read rather like a clinical thesis.
I will not be visiting here again. I love the show, despite the monsters and gore I feel it has, at its core, compassion, warmth and love, virtues which I did not find here. I shall just leave it to the writers and some of the commentators to remain here, congratulating each other on their own intelligence.
In relation to the chat room function, why didnâ€™t you join in or leave a post?? Admittedly we are pretty negative. Discussions about shoes, clothes, swollen feet (not mine), 8 hour lessons teaching some dumbass called Tim the Enchanter how to make motivational posters and, our usual topic of conversation, how to lose weight fast are pretty depressing. We do occasionally talk about the show but to be honest, not often. We (and there are only about four of us....) have been talking about Castiel a bit lately because we (or rather I) are sceptical about his return. That is usually tempered by posting pictures of John though. Most things are tempered by posting pictures of John.
Quote:Where on earth did anyone here do that? You understand what was written? Awesome. You donâ€™t understand what was written? Awesome. You donâ€™t understand it but want to understand it? Awesome. Google is your friend. You donâ€™t understand it and you donâ€™t want to understand it? Awesome, just hit the â€˜Homeâ€™ button and off you go, another couple of hundred articles there waiting for you (and if you canâ€™t find one of those that is to your liking then I give up!)
Quote: And if it does, what of it? This is the way Linda-Bookdal writes. What of it? Doesnâ€™t it show the huge variety, style and quality of writers on here?
Quote: Guess what, Alison M, everyone here loves the show. If they didnâ€™t they wouldnâ€™t bother posting here. Every contributor to this site, whether they be article writer, poster, lurker or c-boxers loves the show. They wouldnâ€™t be wasting their time, energy, ideas and putting what they think out there for analysis and/or criticism if they didnâ€™t.
Thatâ€™s why I admire the writers here so much. Itâ€™s so damn easy to criticise them but there arenâ€™t that many of us that would have the balls to actually do what they do. You feel the site is too negative Alison M, Iâ€™m sure Alice would love an article from you. Or how about contribute positively to a thread?
Quote: Ah well. Bye then.
Quote: I wouldnâ€™t know about intelligence. I had to look up â€˜surfeitâ€™. www.dictionary.com Godsend.
I must admit that at times I feel that the show creators aren't altogether sure of the ethics they are trying to convey and have occasionally created ethical dilemmas for the characters that they (the creators) cannot reconcile. Having someone write articles like the one you have written help me reconcile some of those inconsistencies (for myself). However, I also feel that it is exactly those inconsistencies that help lend credibility and breathe more "real-life" into the characters. Who among us hasn't done / thought /acted other than we thought we might in a given circumstance. As a viewer I tend to assign certain traits to Sam and Dean but they are both equally capable of being the hero and the villian, the monster and the angel, the hunter and the thing that needs hunting. They both have the capacity for great love and great violence. And, in the end, they truly do "keep each other human." To try to assign one role to Sam and another to Dean would not only diminish the characters but also the thematic elements of the story.
I'm sure I have more to say but...... you have given me a lot to ponder. I am very much looking forward to the continuation of your thesis.
I would say that I personally am very street smart,outgoing but also wary. My vocabulary is limited but I can get my point across. I do not feel less intelligent because of it because I am more a Dean person the one who might get you out of trouble, if the need would arise.
Boy I need to get to the point here I love to read and have read all of Joseph Campbells' books and loved them , if I didn't understand something I reread it or asked for help. I have read all the game of thrones books and now those are sometimes hard to follow .
To come to this site and find people who write passionately about this show whether in prose , long essays worthy of a grad school thesis or simply state I Love this show or I LOVE the pretty is an amazing thing. That a simple Tv show (I mean that in a loving way) can garner such emotion and discussion is a wonderful thing I believe that this show as we watch it makes us better people as we examine ourselves and those around us.
I love the analysis that people write big words or little .
Please keep it up.
The only thing that makes me sad is that more people are not aware of this amazing show and it's talented actors and it does not get the credit it deserves.
As Dean says AWESOME. Sorry to be so long winded I am new to this thread and don't post a lot I guess I am queen of the lurkers and sometimes embarrased at being such a fan girl at this age but as the saying goes when an old person looks in a mirror there is a young person saying what the hell happened.
I love this site and if a disagree with something I find someone else will come along who feels like me and states my case better than I can as I don't know all the big words.
I completely agree with you about how sad it is that this amazing show does not get the credit it deserves. Thank heavens for the great fans who never let an opportunity pass to express love for the show and all the people who work so hard on it.
Hoping to see you post again. There are many unabashed "older" fans of Supernatural. We know quality when we see it.