Thursday, May 26, 2016

Thursentary: Yay! Bad Things Happen Here!

In what was probably a predictable turn of events, Supernatural went right ahead and stole my heart. Sure, I've only seen two seasons. And also one episode of probably season four that I watched at the gym yesterday. It is my show, mortals.

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There's a lot to say about Supernatural, like how Dean is my favorite character and I am so excited to find out what happens next and I think that one time when Sam didn't say "jerk" back was a downright tragedy, but there's something beyond the emotional manipulation that really attracts me to the show.

It is the road trip.

Specifically, it is the road trip across the western U.S., throughout which the Winchester brothers handle each and every challenge that comes to them. Mostly. At any rate, I am enamored with the setting they chose.

Specifically, I love that two of the episodes have taken place in my home state:

"Wendigo," S1xE2: There are campers in Colorado and they get killed and eaten! Yay! (Although it is pronounced CU Boulder, dur.)
"Dead Man's Blood," S1xE20: There are people in Colorado and vampires find them and kill them and eat them! Yay!

PEOPLE LIVE WHERE I LIVE AND BAD THINGS HAPPEN! ISN'T THAT GREAT?

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I mean, maybe that doesn't seem like a big deal. And if it is a deal at all, then perhaps the prudent thing would be to express concern that my home state houses mythical creatures who like to murder human beings and devour them. I mean, I don't really want to get eaten.

At the same time, I like it because it is my experience. My experience is not that of what feels like most American movies—I do not live in New York or Los Angeles or the east coast or Vegas or any of the other places that basically sum up America. (Which isn't an entirely fair assessment; I'm sure there are a lot of people who live in those cities who still feel like it's a poor representation of what life is like in the city either because it isn't that romantic or because not everybody is a white straight rich person. The point is, movie settings alienate us sometimes.)

But I get Supernatural. I have memories of the dinky motels and the mini-fridges, memories of cabins in the woods, of camping. I know that my state is just the backdrop—the general area where I've vacationed is just the backdrop—but I live in it, and I like to recognize it.

It's nice, you know? To have the place where significant battles are fought be a couple hours' drive from your house. Places like New York and Chicago are important because a lot of people live there and everyone knows about them. There's a lot of wealth. A lot of everything. And that isn't to say Sam and Dean never go there, because they do. But at the same time, they have plenty of valid reasons to be on the backroads of the west, fighting against evil simply because it is what they do.

Setting, like so many other things, isn't just a superficial piece of the story. Attempting to write racially diverse characters without considering their cultural and historical backgrounds would prove hollow. A plot lacking nuance is what makes us drop our stars. Likewise, a setting doesn't work unless it means something to both the characters and the audience.

To the characters, the west is an untamed land. The small-town vibe, community. The need to own up to one another. Sacrifice. Riding an Impala into the sunset. It's almost like Sam and Dean are cowboys, in some ways, righteous gunslingers who fight off the villains with all they have.

And to me, I just like it because it's the America I know. Talk to me about mini-fridges, car maintenance, the hot sun. It's just nice. And it's just different.

Thank God bad things happen here.

Do you feel any special affection for stories that take place in your area?

12 comments :

  1. Oh my gosh, I LOVE Supernatural. I first started watching it after going through a long bout of watching nothing but BBC shows, and it was so refreshing to watch something that takes place in America--especially more rural, small-town America. Sadly, they've yet to do an episode set in my home state, but they're so many bits of the setting--the motels, the old neighborhoods--that feel familiar to me.
    I live in the WV Panhandle, which is a tricky area: many people don't consider it to be "real" West Virginia, and it's made up of mostly Virginia transplants and workers who commute to DC. I've read a couple books set in West Virginia, and never one set in the Panhandle.

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    1. *hives* YAY! Fellow fan! And yes, I enjoy the BBC too, but England can get old after a while. XD I know what you mean about the familiar setting pieces, though. Not only do I live here, but I've vacationed in these places, too, and so those are definitely recognizable in my own experience.

      Huh, I didn't realize that was a common sentiment regarding the panhandle! It's a bummer you haven't read any books set in the Panhandle—I hope one sneaks up on you sometime.

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  2. The Fifth Wave was set in my birth state of Ohio. They got it totally wrong--most of the state in the area they covered is farmland, not forest and far less hilly. So far, we're 0-1 for handling states I've lived in. I think it'd be cool to see more "out-of-the way" states portrayed (correctly) in stories.

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    1. Ugh, that's a bummer—do you know if they made the same mistake in the movie, too? And I agree, I have long been an advocate for stories set in places other than San Francisco, Los Angeles, and NYC. XD

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  3. I'd love to see something set in Canada/Australia that doesn't make a big deal out of being set in Canada/Australia. Usually it's, oh, look, we're in Canada/Australia now so cue the Inuits/Aboriginals and the being one with nature thing and the snow/Outback or [insert stereotype here]. And I don't mind some stereotypes, but they seem to shove them all in at once. If a story is set in Canada/Australia, it's usually an historical, too. I dunno, does modern Canada/Australia not exist? *rant over*

    I've never actually seen Supernatural, and I'm a bit hesitant to start because it'll probably take over my life. But everything I've heard about it is good, so there's that.

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    1. Oh, I haven't run into that before, but dang. That sounds weird. The only book I've read set in Australia that I can remember right now was called The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks, and I thought it was pretty good. It was set mostly in the city, I think, but they did go out to at least a more rural area because that was where the werewolves were being kept. If you haven't read it, I'd be curious to see how you think it measures up!

      Anyway, it is too bad that the books you read don't accurately talk about your homelands. :/

      Oh, darling, it doesn't take over your life. IT BECOMES YOUR LIFE.

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  4. This is so hard for me, because most of what I read is YA (mostly written by Americans) and what I watch is documentaries and films, mostly produced in the US. I am like you-- I love to recognise places I know in the media I consume. But even when I read books set in India, it's usually the big cities-- mumbai dehli kolkata bangalore chennai. Still, I love it when I know a setting. I watched a climbing movie called Meru and then went to the Meru area (though I didn't climb it) recently) and that was awesome. I also visited Melbourne a few months ago, which made reading Cloudwish way more fun. Thanks for the post! And we need setting representation as much as all the other kinds.

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    1. :/ Ah, that's too bad. I can definitely understand how the books would be difficult to come by. It's really cool that you've found a couple works lately with places you recognize, but I can imagine it would be very disappointing to feel the lack most of the time. :/

      And yes. Setting representation is also a thing. *nods*

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  5. That's so awesome to watch a show set where you're from! I guess I like to assume that all of the US is the same and everyone who reads/watches stuff set in the US 'gets' all of it because it's all home. But it's not, especially since your country is so so large and diverse.
    Like Shanti said, we don't get many books set where we're from, not New Zealand or rural-ish india. But it's an interesting thing to think about- that diversity is in the setting as well as the characters.

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    1. That is a very astute observation, because, yeah. We really are a diverse country, and even if there are pieces of our culture that spans our entire nation, not everything does. Personally, I feel like some of this simply falls to geography—skiing and hiking is a huge part of my state culture that people in Florida just don't experience every day, and so it is those little things that I feel like make the difference.

      But yeah, again, it's sad that you can't find as many books set in the places you're familiar with. :/ I definitely think it is important for those stories to take their place in the sun, too.

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  6. SUUPPPEEERNAAATURAAALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm on season 5, and I am still so fantastically in love <3 Those Winchesters, though. And ALL THE EMOTIONS </3

    To actually comment about your post, though, that's cool, I remember those episodes! And there is something just... I don't know. Really neat about finding stories placed in or near your hometown. I've experienced it a few times, and there just seems to be an immediate sort of relatability to to the characters and setting.

    Also, Sam and Dean did kill the things that were killing around your hometown. So. You should be good. ;)


    Alexa
    thessalexa.blogspot.com
    verbosityreviews.com

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    1. ALL OF THE EMOTIONS YES YES YES. !!! I have only just finished season 2 and am STILL waiting for season 3 from the library, so I am behind you. Alas.

      And yes! When they get it right, I feel like they provide an extra nod to the place you love and make you feel like you can be personally included in the story. :)

      Well, yeah. There's that. BUT MAYBE THEY'LL COME BACK. Just saying.

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