Anonymous said: Do you /hate/ Dean?
The honest answer is that I don’t. I hate several characters in several media, virulently and with great passion, and I try to avoid talking about them as much as possible. I’m here to unwind and talk about things that interest me, not rant without purpose.
I think Dean is a tremendously well-crafted character. I love to talk about him and his relationships and the things that made him what he is now, and about the things he will continue to shape and change with his behaviour. I’ve written tons of fic from his perspective (which, in my case, is a better gauge of my interest in a character than angry meta). What really irks me is how fandom perceives him: fanon Dean is a different creature from canon Dean. I hate how fandom accepts what he says without critical thought; how nobody seems to consider him the unreliable narrator that he is. I hate that his abusive dynamic with Sam is coddled and romanticised; I find the kind of victim-blaming that his defence engenders to be nauseating. I try to push back against this as much as I can, and in doing this, I may be harsh, or mean, or just plain passive-aggressive, but trust me on this: I want my point to be heard. Dean believes a lot of things about himself that are completely understandable and equally untrue. That’s okay—that’s good characterisation. I just dislike the idea of fandom buying into it just as wholeheartedly.
I’d also like to point out the distinction between ‘criticism’ and ‘hate’ here. Yes, I think Dean was wrong and terrible to have locked his brother in a cage and left him to rot at the end of s4. However, this isn’t an attempt to “vilify” him (like SPN is a show where being a villain means you are unloved or underappreciated). The show continues to make the point over and over again that the SamnDean relationship is toxic and that Dean is an incredibly damaged person who displaces that damage onto Sam in increasingly horrific ways; that what Dean wants as a “little brother” and what Sam actually is are two different things; that Dean appreciates being in charge of a unit where he calls the shots and resents even the smallest change; that horrible patterns tend to repeat themselves, and can’t be fixed by a couple of roadside heart-to-hearts, or big, desperate, bombastic speeches. As the show has become more and more blatant about this (Carver and his anvils, I swear), there are more and more people ready to disregard whole chunks of the narrative because it doesn’t match up to what they think SamnDean is—never mind that s6+ is demonstrably a smooth continuation of the arc that started in s1. This irritates me as well (“the writers suck because I refuse to accept Dean as anything other than a put-upon woobie who loves his ungrateful brother too much!”).
There was a time when I was really disillusioned with the show myself, anon (right around the latter half of s7, I think). I’d spent several years in fandom at that time, and I had a tough time making the connections between the SamnDean I read about and discussed in fandom and the SamnDean I saw on the screen. As the disconnect grew stronger, so did my frustration. I didn’t dare criticise the dynamic itself for the fear of committing some great taboo, of spewing “hate”, so I figured the problem couldn’t possibly be in how we interpreted the writing and must the writing itself. I quit fandom (briefly), closed up shop on LJ. It was only later that I realised that my actual problem isn’t with the show itself—that I realised what a magnificent arc the SamnDean story truly is. It was then that I was able to put out my inchoate “bad feelings” into words that made sense, and I began to enjoy SPN so much more than I ever did.
So, yeah. Tl;dr—Being sceptical of Dean’s actions and refusing to accept everything he says on face-value, i.e., accepting that he’s actually a pretty complicated character in his own right =/= Hate.