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Thursday, August 11, 2011
Thoughts on Season One of Supernatural
In the opening scenes Sam retrieves Dean who is attempting to get into law school and create a different life for himself because John has gone missing. Sam promises to help for one weekend but quickly gets drawn back into the life. They move from town to town hunting and killing predators for no pay.
I know that this show is set in the mid west but it is extremely White with the exception of episode 9 and episode 13. In Home (episode 9) Loretta Devine makes an appearance as a wise cracking psychic. Devine is an extremely talented actress and she is absolutely wasted in this role because she is nothing but a sidekick with sass. To make matters worse the entire episode is spent trying to save a White woman and her children from a spirit living in Sam and Dean's childhood home. Apparently, Devine has spent years watching over that house, while John, Sam and Dean were out kicking immortal ass. She knew the Winchester men would need her help one day. Yeah, I am not impressed by this at all.
In episode 13 Supernatural decided to deal with race. It was enough to make me thankful for the previous erasure. In this episode, Dean was contacted by his girlfriend. Her father died under mysterious circumstances and this concerns him. It seems that there is a racist truck killing Black men in the city. When the ghost tries to kill Dean's girlfriend her mother reveals the awful history of racism in the town and tells everyone that her father killed a White man who was disturbed with their inter racial relationship. To make matters worse the ghost that is killing Black men also burned down a church filled with people before he died. Does anyone else recognize the history? For me it brought up visions of the bombing of the 16th Street Church in Birmingham, Alabama. In fact, I am quite sure that this is where the writers got their inspiration and it is wrong. How dare they appropriate from one of the most heinous civil rights era terrorist acts to tell one of their little ghost stories. To virtually erase Blacks from the story only to have them hunted by a ghost and then saved by two White men is absolutely racist fuckery.
When Supernatural is not busy with its mismanagement of race, it turns women into fawning victims or sexual conquests for Dean. Dean calls it having a little fun but he repeatedly lies to women, taking on various personas in the hope of getting women to grace his bed. We are meant to see Dean as a rakish rogue - a true alpha male while at the same time investing in him and seeing him as a hero. Between his outright lies and sexist mockery almost every time Sam talks to him about anything emotional he comes across more like an immature 12 year old.
Supernatural is a virtually all White world, with women as victims and absolutely no LGBT characters. I know that the midwest is not an LGBT mecca however the idea that none exist at all is directly a result of heterosexism. In fact, the few LGBT references occur when various townspeople mistake Sam and Dean for lovers instead of brothers, and idea that Dean is always quick to correct. In Something Wicked, a young boy sarcastically refers to Dean and Sam as queens. Only bringing up LGBT people to shame them and quickly deny any association is both homophobic and transphobic. I suspect that this is a trend is going to continue in the following seasons.
The sad part about all the fails is that I actually find the story itself very interesting. The world is extremely large, with a new evil appearing each week to be vanquished. The evil dosen't necessarily stay within North American mythology either. One episode, the brothers actually had to fight a tulpa - a being of Tibetan origin created through a belief in its existence. I like the step away from the traditional vampire, werewolf, and fae stories that have recently populated urban fantasy, though I am not necessarily interested in the big demon that they were hunting for the entire season. Perhaps it is because once again, this demon seems to fixate on women that I find it so unappealing.
One season down and 6 more to go.