life between the pages

“I spent my life folded between the pages of books.
In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.”
Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me

Sunday, February 10, 2008

the revelation, himself

i haven't checked the entire flist, but in case anyone hasn't seen this, jensen taped a show in aussie-land today, and apparently it went well, according to a fan who was there for the whole thing.

i'm so glad. i just loved reading that.

also. i haven't really noticed or read very much, but at the edges of my eyelashes have discerned a bit of disappointment-laced discussion about how john was portrayed in epi 3.10. i guess some people thought the show was handling john's parenting skills a bit roughly, and i think one person described herself as "bristling," at the thought of john being at fault for dean's self-immolation exercise. as if the show was pointing the finger at john and saying, Bad, Wrong. You Sucked as a Parent, and It's All YOUR Fault, John Winchester.

and i just thought, as an oldest child and a mother, i might add a thought or observation or two to that.

you know? i saw dean's outburst as very late adolescent rebellion, that was suppressed and withheld because of what they did for a living, what their life was like. out of honest respect for his father. because their situation was wholly desperate at times, and when dean thought about and weighed that with his inner thoughts and feelings, they always came up short, so he pushed them back down again. repeatedly. honestly. when his dad was alive, dean never once questioned him. he *was* the good little soldier. and in his own eyes, his own words, look where that got him.

do try to remember: dean is speaking from a backlog of frustration and denial. what comes out under those circumstances usually is the result of bottling up, twisting and churning. it is almost always WORSE than it started out to be, or that the impetus initially may have warranted.

dean has been carrying questions about his mother's death that he never, ever asked --since he was four years old. remember, he described john to sam in 3.08 as "a superhero." dean firmly believed that, for way longer than he should have, i think.

in light of all this, i understood his anger at his father completely. it wasn't rational, it was quite irrational, and emotional, and honest. from his POV. imho, john did an awesome job as a parent under the craziest of circumstances and with the same puny arsenal of knowledge about parenting that most ex-Marine males of his age and experience would have. yes, he was obsessed. but he was first and foremost a soldier, who went after the enemy just like he did in the Marines. he saw it as protecting his family, and he truly felt they would never be safe if he didn't "go after that thing." parents are programmed to protect their offspring, it was a matter of honor and doing the right thing from his POV. John had failed in this in being unable to save Mary, and his desperation and obsession with hunting was also a message to Dean not to do the same thing (let your loved one die), because it equalled cowardice and failure as a person. he had no idea what little children needed, other than the one thing he couldn't give them: their Mother. still. look at what he and Mary turned out: SAM and DEAN. what we aren't shown are the quality times he spent with them when he WAS around. we only get to see and know about the fact that often he WASN'T.

think for a minute the parallels between john's years and years of inner self-loathing because he "couldn't save Mary," and so he eventually quite willingly sacrifices his life for his son's; and that of that son not only because his father was gone, but also because "he couldn't save Sam."

the sins of the father are visited upon the sons, and imho it was honest of show to give us this in 3.10.

dean should never have idolized his father the way he did for as long as he did. he should have rebelled a long time ago - and gotten over it. but he didn't. and this is what happens. i think this is another way that Sam was more "normal" than Dean - he rebelled and left. Dean never did, and by staying he was honoring his father and his mother, but he was killing himself inside in several ways that eventually were going to come out, and so much more so after the eternal sacrifices that he felt compelled to make, in order to both continue to carry on the family business and save the life of his brother.

there are so many layers here - i need another post at some other time to go into the "Sam is the only thing you've got" angle. let me rest that for now, and continue on my original train of thought, which was: why did Show give us this "John-hate" scene from Dean?

it wasn't "John-hate," actually. it was subverted honest frustration, fear, and silence, that started when dean was FOUR YEARS OLD. an age when emotions and fears are high in any child, much less one who experienced the horrors that 4-year old Dean Winchester did.

i for one was glad to see dean get it out finally. and it's not unusual, actually, for people at the edge of thirty to finally do this. i remember being told by a therapist that the most common ages for people to experience severe depression and anxiety is 28-29. it's like, this is it, baby. if you didn't do it now, once you put another zero in the ones spot? you're history. you're a mature adult, or supposed to be. and it freaks people right the fuck out.

'cause the truth is: we are never any different, if we are completely honest with ourselves, than we were at age 14, 15, 16. and the issues we build up over the years eventually come to a head and explode, more or less, in our late 20s. we realize, not kids anymore, phooey. time to grow up FUCK THAT. and then we get over it, and go on. that is, those of us who fall in the range of normal do.

those of us --which would include dean --who do not address these feelings of anger and frustration and childish feelings of betrayal that come from recognizing that your parent(s) is/are fallible and human (which is a source of adolescent rebellion) --run the very real risk of doing exactly what dean did: bottling it up into feelings of worthlessness, rebelling physically by being promiscuous and taking a higher level of risks, and feeling themselves becoming cold, dead, empty inside.

surely you all know this. i can't be saying anything new, not to alot of you. those of us who climbed over that age-30 hill have surely experienced some of this parent-shunning, recognizing-they-didn't-know-everything, separation-of-self-image-from-parent stuff. it's worse if we didn't do it as teenagers, but it is very, very necessary for us to discover who we are inside.

don't forget that dean was fighting himself. and that the image a son gets of himself often comes from his father, or adult who served that role on some level. it must be rejected in order for him to find out who he really is.

dean is, essentially, a late bloomer on the adolescent emotional stage.

seriously. tell me you didn't stand up and cheer (at least on the inside) with tears raining down your face when he screamed, 'I DON'T DESERVE TO GO TO HELL!' yeah, sylvia, i was right there with you. (link to sylvia bond's recap at pinkraygun.com)

btw, jensen's acting deserves its own post. this one is for DEAN.

3 comments:

sylvia-bond said...

Dear Susannah,

I wanted to say thank you, because I was flattered that you
would want to link your insightful comments to my fannsih, squee-filled review.

I also liked what you had to say in response to some fan's negative
reaction to the whole John is an obsessive bastard speech of Dean's.
And, I think you are right. It had more to do with how Dean felt than
with what John did as a parent.

Parenting is hard work, no two ways
about it. John was not perfect, but he did love his son.

Sylvia

susannah eanes said...

hey! thanks so much. and your review was great. i love it when Show blows me away like that. nothing much does that for me nowadays except Sam and Dean!

susannah eanes said...

here's another supportive review of last night's show - fyi:

http://thefactswerethese.blogspot.com/2008/02/why-doesnt-jensen-ackles-have-emmy-yet.html

i've requested permission to link directly from the blog owner - if i get it i'll add it to the story above.