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05 April 2009 @ 08:18 pm
"In the Hunt: Unauthorized Essays on Supernatural"  
A collection of essays about Supernatural that went to press before the debut of Season 3; therefore there's some Jossing.

Like meganbmoore, I think this essay would've been greatly improved by a better variety in the content. There was a lot of 'and we all know Supernatural is awesome, right?' attitude in the book, which made it feel far less like a collection of critical/thoughtful essays and more like Amateur Hour. (Her review is here.

Which is not to say there weren't some good things in there! I especially liked Avril Hannah-Jones' essay about the nature of morality in the SPN-verse; it's been tossed a bit by current canon but also shows how much the show lost when the Real Life Angels showed up. Mary Borsellino’s contrast of the Buffy- and SPN-verses is a must-read, especially for those disturbed by the show's treatment of gender. I also really enjoyed the essays that talked about the folk legends used in the show, and "Ghouls in Cyberspace," about online fandom and urban legends, was a fun read.

And then there were a few that just made me want to punch things. (This is what the Age of Babysitting question was about.



Tanya Huff, who has the first essay in the collection, won the Punching Shit award for the book. Possibly for my year. She offers a spirited defense of John Winchester, and honestly, John Winchester could use some defending, what with all the noncon incest people write about him.

This is not the defending of John Winchester I was waiting for. This is a woman who writes "Okay, it's hard to put a positive spin on that beyond the fact he's not the only father who's missed Christmas in the midst of fighting a war."

But of course, that's not what John Winchester did, is it. He left his kids alone in a motel room for at least two days on Christmas, at an age at which it was at best borderline for them to be left alone at all. And that's pretty much the tone of the whole thing. And then she suggests that John wasn't that bad, really, and one of the proofs is that the boys aren't sociopaths.

...do I really, really need to explain on how many levels this offends me? Not all kids with rotten parents grow up to be assholes; there's the top level. The one written in red.

I mean, there are other levels too, like not realizing that neglect is also child abuse, but that one was the big one.

Okay, deep breaths, other essays. The Impala essays were mostly missed potential; meganbmoore found Jacob Clifton's essay on the women of Supernatural offensive, but frankly for me the whole thing was so damn incoherent I couldn't bother to be offended. Robert T. Jeschonek wrote what he clearly thought was a clever essay about the difficulties of watching the show from the point of view of a demon, but Carol Poole did a better job talking about the difficulties of watching the show from the point of view of a woman, and that rang a lot truer than the made-up demon stuff. There's also a fairly terrible fiction piece by Heather Swain.



The credit says "Edited by supernatural.tv," but "compiled" would be a much better word, because better editing would've improved the thing. Jacob Clifton's and that one with all the damn parentheses come to mind.

TL;DR: a couple of good essays but they're outweighed by the Meh.

ryuutchi, go ahead and send me your address if you'd like the book next.
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(Deleted comment)
Good grief, it's a running gag: ASSUME DEFENSIVE POSTURE (FMA)lady_ganesh on April 6th, 2009 12:38 am (UTC)
YES EXACTLY THAT I was like foaming at the mouth for large sections of that essay.

On the upside, I will never read one of her books now and be disappointed by her shitty characterization! (I am not sure all her characterization is shitty but you get the idea.)
(Deleted comment)
Good grief, it's a running gag: I HEARD THATlady_ganesh on April 6th, 2009 12:47 am (UTC)
And sometimes people can be remarkably clueless about other people or things they like, so.
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Good grief, it's a running gag: jar (Angel)lady_ganesh on April 6th, 2009 12:57 am (UTC)
Exactly.
Megan: jo is better than youmeganbmoore on April 6th, 2009 06:01 am (UTC)
I always rather liked John and thought that he did the best he could having two boys with him, given his mental state and his lifestyle.

I also think he was an absolutely horrible father and that if he was going to spend his life hunting demons, then he should have found somewhere safe for his sons instead of dragging them around with him and essentially forcing one son to raise the other while he regularly abandoned them for days on end to hunt demons, leaving other demons free to go "oh yeah hey, that Winchester guy's kids ARE ALL ALONE."
(no subject) - lady_ganesh on April 6th, 2009 11:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
Megan: jo is better than youmeganbmoore on April 6th, 2009 12:51 am (UTC)
EVIL WOMEN PERVERT THE PURE NATURE OF SAM AND DEAN'S MANLY AND PURE BOND, AND THAT PROVES THE SHOW IS STRONGLY FEMALE! HE REALLY SAID THE WORDS PERVERTS!!!

*salts and burns the essay*

I'd managed to foget the terrible "Supernatural helped us find twoo wuv and the cool guy got the uppity cold woman out of her shell with it!" one.
Good grief, it's a running gag: jensen (SPN)lady_ganesh on April 6th, 2009 12:57 am (UTC)
UGH. On both counts. There was like ten pages of that shitty fanfic.
Dragon: A new shirt would be niceryuutchi on April 6th, 2009 09:58 am (UTC)
... I'm going to cry when I read this book. Or possibly laugh.
Megan: jo is better than youmeganbmoore on April 6th, 2009 02:14 pm (UTC)
(Oh Ruby. The part where you spent a couple minutes literally beating the *hem* out of Dean was the BEST PART of season 3.)

I think I did both.
Dragon: Belaryuutchi on April 6th, 2009 06:28 pm (UTC)
(Oh my, yes. Although I'm a fan of all episodes Bela appears in except for the last.)

D: Dear god, what have I let myself in for?
Megan: jo is better than youmeganbmoore on April 7th, 2009 01:08 am (UTC)
(I loved them both, though neighter quite as much as Jo, but the way Dean treated Ruby made me angrier than anything else in the series.)

Pain. Lots of pain.
Good grief, it's a running gag: you can't be serious (SPN)lady_ganesh on April 7th, 2009 12:00 am (UTC)
Yeah, my guess is a little of both. Stopping and/or skimming when you find something you hate will help too.
octopedingenue on April 6th, 2009 12:59 am (UTC)
Yay reviews! Thanks a lot for covering this one.
Good grief, it's a running gag: i should read morelady_ganesh on April 6th, 2009 01:00 am (UTC)
Thanks for passing it along! I really did enjoy a few of the essays....
octopedingenue on April 6th, 2009 01:48 am (UTC)
I'm glad people who actually watched the show get a crack at it! Too bad I didn't notice the Borsellino essay; I like a lot of her Batman and LOTR meta.
Good grief, it's a running gag: Chloe grin (smallville)lady_ganesh on April 6th, 2009 01:49 am (UTC)
It really is the best thing about the book. I can have ryuutchi send it to you when she's done, if she still wants to read it?
octopedingenue on April 6th, 2009 01:52 am (UTC)
No thanks! I'm sure I can grab that article through the library or EBSCO at some point, and I have no interest in reading the rest of the book. Feel free to keep passing the book along (or to keep it, whatever!)
Good grief, it's a running gag: jar (Angel)lady_ganesh on April 7th, 2009 12:02 am (UTC)
ryuuchi, who's also had lots to say about gender and race in SPN, gets it next. :D
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Meganmeganbmoore on April 6th, 2009 06:03 am (UTC)
Women's work was my response (in a post, not making it) to Clifton's claim that evil women who "pervert" (HE ACTUALLY USED THAT WORD) the relationship between men equates to a strong and supposedly positive representation of feminine influence.
Good grief, it's a running gag: Chloe grin (smallville)lady_ganesh on April 7th, 2009 12:05 am (UTC)
If you want in, you can probably get it after ryuutchi's through-- that's how I got my copy in the firstplace, as octopedingenue had a copy and both Megan and I asked for it!
Classier than Elvis on Velvet: weapon of choiceranalore on April 8th, 2009 10:05 pm (UTC)
This is a woman who writes "Okay, it's hard to put a positive spin on that beyond the fact he's not the only father who's missed Christmas in the midst of fighting a war."

...Umm, wow. Okay, as someone who filled out the poll about ages and skewed them young and then mentioned the military aspect, I feel it behooves me to clarify my experiences, and why what John Winchester did with his kids was not okay. Recognizing that I only know what he did with his kids via fannish osmosis, so I may have details wrong.

When I said my parents left me to watch my younger sisters overnight when I was in my early teens, what I meant was that they would leave about mid-evening, I would get my sisters and myself to bed, and my parents would be back by the time we woke up the next morning. I meant that they did not do this more than three to four times a year until I left home at twenty, and that they did not do this until we had been in a dwelling for at least three months. They did not do this unless they had verified they had working numbers for people I knew and trusted that I could contact in case of an emergency, people who would be at the house within fifteen minutes.

It would never have occured to my parents to leave my sisters or I alone in an unfamiliar motel room for longer than a half an hour. We moved when I was seventeen, and I was the only one of the children allowed to stay in the room by myself for more than fifteen minutes. And my parents didn't believe that every stranger might house a demon. Had we been staying in a single room for a few weeks, and had my family made good friends with the couple who ran the motel and the lady who owned the diner where we had breakfast every morning, then I could see my parents leaving my sisters or I alone in a room for a few hours if we were over sixteen and there was no other option, and then they would have had said couple checking in on us every half hour, and the lady at the diner giving us a call every hour.

It is, in fact, the responsibility of parents to be physically present for their children. If a parent cannot be physically present, the onus is on them to find a suitable substitute, preferrably someone the child/ren also trust and like. In John Winchester's case, this means he should have been dropping his children off with Bobby or Pastor Jim whenever he was going to have to be away from them overnight, until and unless his eldest was at least seventeen and he was leaving them with sufficient provisions in a dwelling with which they had at least a few months' familiarity. And you better believe I mean that "should." Child abuse of every kind is not uncommon in military families, but neglect has a clear lead, and the results are not pretty.

Also, seriously? I'm trying to remain calm about her phrasing, but it is so fucking offensive. My father missed Christmas in the midst of fighting a war. He had no choice about being away, which is frankly not the impression I get about John Winchester. My father didn't leave us alone in a motel room for several days with no or insufficient provisions and no acknowledgement of the holiday. We were at home with our mother, with full access to transportation in a familiar city, with as much food as our budget would allow, with all basic necessities at hand. Our father wasn't there to put up the tree or hand out presents, but his paycheck provided the tree and the presents, and he made sure to send us each a letter for the holiday. Are there military fathers who do less? Absolutely, and you better believe the military has an entire disciplinary system in place for when their abuse of their children comes to light.
Good grief, it's a running gag: you can't be serious (SPN)lady_ganesh on April 8th, 2009 11:01 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it was clear your experience was not Dean and Sam's experience, I just didn't want to tip my hand too much.

And yeah, it's...it's so insulting on so many levels, isn't it? Your personal button is the military thing-- for obvious reasons-- my personal button is the YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME THAT ABUSED CHILDREN ARE HORRIBLE, THEREFORE DEAN AND SAM WERE PARENTED WELL ENOUGH (::kicks things::) and...I just. I cannot believe this woman is for real!
Classier than Elvis on Velvet: weapon of choiceranalore on April 9th, 2009 03:49 pm (UTC)
my personal button is the YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME THAT ABUSED CHILDREN ARE HORRIBLE

Oh, man. YES. Because survivors of abuse don't have enough shit to deal with, please let us determine that if you're not a horrible person, you weren't really abused.
Good grief, it's a running gag: not that kind of phone line (TMNT)lady_ganesh on April 11th, 2009 12:21 am (UTC)
I once euphemistically referred to someone's background as 'a dysfunctional family' and they said 'oh, that phrase is so overused' and I just wanted to say OH FUCK YOU. Maybe it is, and maybe I just don't want to say HIS FAMILY WAS A COMPLETELY HIDEOUS FUCKJOB.
Classier than Elvis on Velvet: weapon of choiceranalore on April 13th, 2009 03:43 pm (UTC)
I once euphemistically referred to someone's background as 'a dysfunctional family' and they said 'oh, that phrase is so overused'

Because outright saying somebody's family was abusive tends to make idjits like the person you were talking to fucking uncomfortable. Also, quite possibly, it might just be a sensitive topic, and so the sensitive touch on it lightly and leave any explication to the person whose story it actually is. I swear, the things people think they're entitled to know about other people.
Good grief, it's a running gag: murderlady_ganesh on April 14th, 2009 12:57 am (UTC)
Exactly.