Supernatural: Manic Pixie God Girl Part 2 – Dean Gives God A Bad Name

Supernatural: Manic Pixie God Girl Part 2 – Dean Gives God A Bad Name

Miss part one?  It’s here https://atomicfeminist.com/2017/10/31/supernatural-manic-pixie-god-girl-part-1-dean-does-dead/
Sam began drawing the summoning circle.  Castiel waited nearby, silent and staring.  Sam had the distinct impression that Cas didn’t approve of this latest resurrection.  He warned Sam that it was theoretically possible to bring someone back too many times and that Dean simply had to be approaching that threshold, if not over it already.  But Sam blew him off because this wasn’t Pet Sematery, ok, it wasn’t a freaking Stephen King book they were living.  Dean had been fine all the other times he’d been brought back and he’d be fine this time too.  So Castiel had no choice but to go along with it.  

As he continued the circle, Sam ran through dozens of scenarios in his mind.  He had no idea what he could possibly offer the crossroads demon in exchange for his brother’s life this time, I mean seriously what more did they even have to offer up at this point, but he figured he’d play it by ear.  Demons always wanted something, they were predictable that way.

But before he could start the ritual, Crowley appeared, in full British tizz.  He kicked the circle away.  “You shouldn’t do that, Sam, all willy-nilly like that.  There’s no guarantee it will be me who shows up.”  Sam didn’t respond, just waited expectantly for Crowley to suggest his deal.  Because there would be a deal.  Sam just knew in his gut that somehow, some way, Crowley could fix everything.  “I’m a busy man, you know, can’t just drop everything whenever you Winchesters do something stupid!  Because that would be a full time job!”  Crowley would know what to do.  He always had an ace in his sleeve, a terrible bargain to offer.  Something.  He always did.  Sam didn’t totally get the thing between Dean and Crowley, the friendship if you could really call it that, but he knew that for some bizarre and inexplicable reason, Crowley would move mountains for Dean’s sake.  But Crowley had no mountains to move.  He turned his wrath on Castiel instead.  “You were really going to let him go through with this…this…insanity?”

“I didn’t know what else to do.  What else could I do?”

“You are the sorriest excuse for an angel I’ve ever known.  Did they neuter you somewhere along the way, or were you always this pitiful?”  Castiel blinked slowly in response.  Castiel was not what one would call comfy with verbal sparring.  Castiel was not exactly glib.

Sam intervened.  “It’s my choice if I want to make a deal, Crowley.  Now let’s do it.”

“I can’t help you.  I’ve been trying, already.  He’s…he’s gone!”

“What do you mean, he’s gone?”

“I can’t sense his presence.  He’s been…erased.  I felt him at first, a displaced soul, and I could have worked with that.  But then he just vanished!  Poof, totally off my radar!”

Castiel seemed puzzled by what Crowley was saying.    “A soul cannot…vanish?”  Sam agreed.  The whole concept was ridiculous, against the laws of God and nature.  Souls went places, they left a trail of bread crumbs behind them that you could follow to find them.

“I know that, Castiel, don’t you think I know that?  A soul cannot vanish, but a soul HAS vanished.  He’s gone, I’m telling you!  Gone!  Not heaven, not Hell, not in Purgatory, not in the Veil.  Dean Winchester is gone.  And I mean gone!”

Sam shook his head, trying to piece it together.  “His body disappeared too.  Where could he be?”

“I…don’t know.  This is outside of my experience.”  Crowley looked a little upset about it all.  The Dean and Crowley bromance thing got so weird sometimes.

But then Sam felt a rush of power and a moment of nothingness.  Before he could even panic he found himself in a desert somewhere in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by a sea of sagebrush as far as the eye could see.  Castiel and Crowley had been transported as well and they looked around, disoriented.  Dean and some strange pink-haired woman stood in front of them and they seemed to know each other already.  The woman was confused.  “Why’d you do that for, Dean?”

“Because I can.”  Dean and the woman had a good laugh about that for some reason.  Sam realized that Dean was glowing, emitting some sort of really spectacular light, and in the next heartbeat realized he desperately needed to be on his knees before that light with his face practically planted in the ground.  The weird part was how much he liked it, how badly he wanted to be down on the ground, how it felt so right.  “Heh.  Eat dirt, Sammy!”  Sam heard a nearby thud as Castiel apparently joined him in his prostrate pose.  The woman did, too.  Then nothing.  Sam recovered his self-control enough to turn his head just enough to glance Crowley’s direction.  The demon struggled, tried to fight it, grunted and writhed, but eventually even he too had to assume the position.  “Oh for…” Dean seemed temporarily struck by the weirdness of the situation.  “God’s sake?”  

The woman with Dean replied, her voice muffled because she was speaking into the ground.  She was eating dirt too, apparently and Sam wondered if she liked it as much as he did.  It seemed really wrong to enjoy doing something you didn’t even want to be doing, that you were doing against your own will.  “It gets annoying, doesn’t it. Almost immediately.  Only Lucifer liked it.  That really should have been a red flag.”  Whoever she was, she knew Lucifer, and while Sam was certainly thrilled to see Dean seemingly alive and well, him showing up with someone who had historical dealings with Lucifer seemed like an entirely bad sign.   Dean shut off the glow – boop Sam felt it when it happened – and he found he was able to retake his feet.  “Eventually you’ll learn how to shut it off and keep it off until you want it.”

Castiel and Crowley had climbed to their feet as well.  Crowley was brushing dust off his black suit and muttering to himself about dry cleaning bills.  The woman, whoever she was, remained on her knees, although sitting upright, perching on her heels like a low chair.  Sam sent a glare at the kneeling stranger.  He sensed that she was trouble, just a vibe he was getting, that her appearance was a very bad omen like one single small black cloud on a distant horizon.  “What’s going on, Dean?  Who is that?”

Dean sent a querying look to the woman, as if he really didn’t know how to introduce her.  As if maybe he didn’t even know her name.   “I don’t really have a name, I guess.  There was never anyone to give me one.  I was alone from the very beginning.  What the humans call me, that isn’t really a real name, is it?  It’s like a title.  And it’s hard to spell.”

Crowley made a sound of horrified protest.  He apparently knew who, whoever this was, was.   Sam was relieved to see that Cas still seemed confused, that he wasn’t the only one left clueless.  Crowley made as if to transport himself away to whereever it was Crowley went when he wasn’t around, but found that he was stuck right where he was, which he liked even less than dust all over his black suit.  Sam realized with a start that Crowley could have easily just demon-dry-cleaned his suit and if he couldn’t do that and couldn’t disapparate, whoever this stranger was had enough power to shut down Crowley.  In other words, a LOT.  Dean scrubbed his eyebrow with the back of his thumb and looked sheepish.  “Are you asking me?”  

“I am.  If you don’t mind.”

“Seems like a huge responsibility, naming someone forever, and you’re making me do it in a split second in front of a crowd?”

“You brought us here, not me.  I would have stayed in the meadow a little longer.  I need a name.”

“What if you hate it?”

“I won’t.”

“What if they laugh?”

The woman eyed Sam, Castiel, and Crowley.  “Don’t laugh, guys.”  Who was this person?  A person who didn’t have a name?  But had a title?  What did that even mean?

“I promise nothing.”  Crowley.   The woman laughed.

“This is, uh…”   Dean had a moment of frantic mental fumbling.  Then he grinned and Sam figured he’d stumbled his way onto a name that he liked.  “Jovi.”  Gawd.   Seriously.  GAWD.  SERIOUSLY!

The newly named Jovi laughed and extended her arms in a “ta-da” gesture.   She liked it.  She liked the idiotic terrible classic rock name that Dean had pulled out of his ass.  Sam decided that he wanted answers, right away.  “No. Dean.  Seriously.  Who IS that?”

“Sammy, I’m uh,  I’ve been.  Huh.  It’s too weird to say out loud.  But it looks like I’m moving on here.  Getting kicked upstairs.  Way upstairs.  She, uh, changed me into something…not human.”

“There’s gotta be a way.”  Sam was undeterred.  “There’s always been a way.”

“Only because she let there be.”  Dean glanced at the woman and Sam was dismayed to realize that his brother didn’t look unhappy.  “There’s no going back, is there?”  

The person/creature Dean was calling Jovi shook her head.  “I don’t know how to change you back, Dean.  It would probably kill you to try it, and I would have to go away again, to rest.  I’ve been gone too long as it is.”

Dean tried to elaborate for Sam’s benefit.  “I don’t think I belong in this world, anymore.”

“Not in your traditional capacity, anyway.”   As Jovi spoke, Castiel began to stare at her with awe.  He had figured it out too, who it was they were dealing with, and what exactly had happened to Dean.  Sam wracked his brain trying to put it all together.  

Sam stepped forward and gestured with his head.  He needed to talk to Dean privately.  Dean agreed and they stepped a few paces away.  “Can’t we stop her?  A spell, or?”

“Not this time.”  

“You sound like you don’t exactly want to.”

“Not this time.  Sammy, listen.  Not. this. Time.”

Castiel overheard and chimed in.  “Not this time.”

Crowley concurred.  “Not this time. Bloody hell.  Two of them, now.  And one of them’s HIM. Gah!”  Crowley often made that noise.  Must be British or something.  

“What do you all mean?  Not this time?”

Dean shook his head.  “Just figure it out, already, dude, everyone else has.”

“Sorry, I’m dense.  It…it…Dean, it seems like you’re giving up on me here.”

“Look, here’s the thing.  I’m exhausted, Sam.”   

“Then…then go to Tahiti for a couple weeks!”

“And if I did, I’m sure while I was there, there would be some Tahitian demon running amok and I’d have to spend the whole trip learning to say rock salt in Tahiti-talk.”  Dean paused and Sam detected a vibe, angry, frustrated, burned out; Sam could relate to the feeling, they’d both gone through it a hundred times before.  It went away eventually if you ignored it hard enough, it always went away.  Eventually.  “Sammy, listen, I don’t want to do this any more!”

“You live to do this!”  It was temporary, that was the thing.  If you didn’t quit, if you didn’t let yourself wallow in it, the feeling would go away, it would get better.  It always did.

“Yeah, but it’s not….much of a life, Sam.  Is it?  Do I look happy to you?  I’m turning into one of those old hunters that gets people killed.  Just a drunk, bitter, burned out shell of a person with a sawed off shotgun in one hand and a flask in the other.  And I don’t want to get you killed.”

“Dean, you won’t.  We’ve come this far together, don’t be giving up on me now.”

“It’s not giving up, it’s moving on.”

Sam stepped away, throwing up an arm in frustration.  Dean couldn’t quit.  It was ridiculous.  It was a totally insane concept for Dean to quit.  How many times had they tried to quit between the two of them and it never worked, maybe for a week or a month, but quitting never stuck.  He turned away, trying to think of the magic words to undo whatever it was that was happening, only to wind up face to face with the Jovi person…no, being.  It was obviously some kind of being, not a person.  Sam needed to remember that and not think of it as a person.  She smiled brightly.  “Sam Winchester, my faithful servant, I won’t leave you here alone.  Your brother can be replaced.”  Her faithful servant?  I think NOT.

“You can’t…replace, my brother!”

“I know that, I’m not stupid.  But I won’t leave you alone, either.  I think you would make…a lot of trouble…if I did that.”  She blinked and stared off into space for a moment.  “At first I thought a woman, but I’m not sure that would be enough.  You’re kind of an odd duck?”  Whatever it was, being, person, whatever, Jovi turned to Crowley.  “Crowley, you seem to be about two pages ahead in the script here, why don’t you go and do what you already know I’m going to tell you to do.  I’ve given you the ability.”

Crowley looked down, surprised to find he was holding an unusually large key in his hand.  It had a rainbow of ribbons attached to the handle.  Whatever lock it opened, Crowley was less than pleased by the task he had been assigned.  “Because they will kill me if I do?”

Jovi smiled and for some reason Sam suddenly felt exceedingly nervous.  “I am the resurrection and the life, Crowley.  If they kill you, I’ll just bring you back.  It’ll only hurt for a minute.”

Crowley sucked air in through his teeth.  “Bollocks.”  He prepared to leave with a bitter expression, then hesitated with a curious look on his florid face.  

Jovi was slightly perturbed that Crowley had not left to do her bidding.  “Question?”

Crowley gestured Dean’s direction.  “Did you make me like him?  Care about him?”

“No, Crowley, I did not make you like him.”  Crowley responded to this news with annoyance; he would have much rather have been forced to like Dean against his own will.  “But I did make you, and Castiel, protect him.  At all costs to yourself.  Kind of explains a lot, now doesn’t it?   Sometimes deus ex machina really is deus ex machina.”  Crowley and Castiel reacted to this news with different flavors of surprise.  Sam, who felt suddenly like he might have connected the dots, sent a confused, questioning look first to Castiel, who replied with an awed expression, then to Dean, who confirmed the truth with an embarrassed shrug.  Sam felt stunned as the pieces fell into place.   It was…she was….but then that meant that Dean was…and that simply could not be.  “But you liked him all on your own.  I don’t make beings like each other, Crowley.  That’s not really my thing.”  Crowley accepted the explanation, even though he didn’t much like it, and vanished.

As the pieces of the truth fell into place, Sam felt a hot surge of rage and tore into Dean, who was now…but no.  That couldn’t be.  But it seemed to be.  Yet it couldn’t be.  It went against everything that Sam had thought they were fighting for, if…And Dean was…happy?  “How can you be so accepting of this?  After everything? Everything she…THAT…put us through?  It’s obviously done something to your…mind.  Or your soul.  To make you…want this.  Or think you want it.”

Jovi intervened, feeling obligated to explain herself.   “I…um.  Well.  Naturally I did something to him, Sam, I had to, to make him able to contain…himself.  Otherwise he would have exploded!  It’s a lot of energy for an earthly vessel on the best day, and his was coming apart at the seams.  And I did do it against his will but only because I already knew he would say yes eventually and I wanted to skip all the blah, blah, blah.”

“I wasn’t talking to you.”  Sam was just about fed up with the interruptions.  He just wanted to talk to his brother for a minute.

Jovi squelched a laugh.  “Sorry, that was cute.  Someone needs to look up the word smite in the dictionary.”

Dean took Sam’s arm, pulled him away, trying to distract him.  “I can’t explain it, Sam…but it feels, inevitable?  Like every moment has been leading up to this.”  He turned back to Jovi.  “It was, wasn’t it?  Inevitable?”

Jovi nodded.  “I’ve been working for this moment for a hundred generations.  You were literally born to do this, Dean.  But it’s more than that.  You earned it.  You did everything right and passed every test.  You followed the rules when you were supposed to and broke them when it was necessary.  So few people really understand the importance of that.”  She paused for a moment, girlish and coy.  “And…you’re SO good looking.  I know I’m not supposed to care about stuff like that, but.  It’s the vessel talking.  Mostly.”

Dean missed a beat before continuing.  “I’m tired, Sam.  I’m tired of this…of weapons and warfare and blood…being all there ever is to me.  Sammy, you’ve always been more than just this.  I want to be more, too.”  Dean paused for a moment.   “Of course you would try and ruin this for me.  It figures.  It just freaking figures.”

“What?”

“Geez, I win the lottery here and you’re still trying to save me.  You hear that tone in my voice, Sam?  You know what that is?  That, my friend, is rue.  I am rueful.  I am officially full of rue.  I barely even knew what rue was before an hour ago, but Sam, I assure you, that in this moment, I know, that I am chock full of the stuff!”

Sam ignored Dean’s vocabulary breakthrough to focus instead on a flaw he’d seen in Jovi’s argument.  “Wait a minute, wait just a minute here.  You said he passed every test.  What does that mean?  A test?  Was this all just a test?  Our mother, was a TEST?”

This notion had not occurred to Dean.  “Is that true, Jovi?”

“Is what true?”  Playing dumb.

Dean, of course, totally fell for it.  “That I was being tested?”     

Jovi started to explain, and then stopped, and Sam caught the faintest whiff of fear coming off of her.  Good.  “Dean, you have to understand I just had to be really sure this time…I HAD to test you so I would know if you could handle it.  I can’t give this power to just anybody.  But a lot of the things…most things…that happened were totally out of my control.  I didn’t make the demons.  Lucifer did.  Have I used them at times, yes.  But what happened to your mother was NOT because of me, and I hated it.  It made it harder for me to get here, not easier.  And I didn’t make anybody drink demon blood…as just a random example with absolutely no value judgements attached.  Free will can be a real bitch sometimes.”

Sam felt color rise in his cheeks.  It felt like a cheap shot, manipulative, like she was turning her sins around on him to distract everyone from the real issue at hand, which was, of course, her sins.  But before he could raise a protest, Dean sensed something.  It was kind of like watching Superman hear someone call for help off in the distance somewhere, he cocked his head and his brow furrowed and he ground his teeth.  Someone was in trouble.  Someone needed him.  Jovi apparently felt it too.  They spoke simultaneously.  “Crowley.”

Dean hesitated, apparently expecting Jovi to act first.  But she didn’t.  “Shotgun.  If you don’t want to save him, it’s your call, Dean.”  Typical.  How entirely typical that was.  She had sent Crowley on a mission for her, all but forced him into it, assured him that she’d help him, resurrect him if needed, yet she would have turned her back on him when the rubber hit the road, if Dean had asked her to. Completely and totally typical.  Sam had no love for Crowley but it just seemed both totally harsh and yet so unsurprising given who they were dealing with.   

God toyed with people, used them for his-now-her own purposes.  And Sam was onto her.

Part 3 is here:  https://atomicfeminist.com/2017/11/01/supernatural-manic-pixie-god-girl-part-3-free-range-lucifer/

 

Supernatural: Manic Pixie God Girl Part 1 – Dean Does Dead Again

Supernatural: Manic Pixie God Girl Part 1 – Dean Does Dead Again

Hi, and Happy Halloween!  I’m going to take a slight departure from my normal blog activities to post this cheesy and unbelievably sacrilegious Supernatural fan fiction I wrote (you can read about this experience here on Ordinary Times http://ordinary-gentlemen.com/2017/10/25/you-know-what-i-did-last-summer/)  It is massively long, for which I do apologize.  I am a very fast writer and when I’m having fun I write a lot. 

This takes place at the start of Season 10, at which point I stopped watching the show because I was fed up with these great scenarios that never went anywhere.  I wanted to know how the show ended so I wrote my own ending using the following criteria: 

1) No one dies  2)Everything has to actually change/end/be unambiguous – no Sopranos or Angel-type endings 3)Characters who died that I liked needed to come back to life if possible 4)End had to be neither too happy nor too sad and needed to be thought-provoking, even disturbing 5) had to involve both the return of God, and have Lucifer as the main villain 6)had to set up that potential Supernatural spinoff they keep talking about (only starring Jason Dohring, Timothy Omundson, Richard Speight Jr., and Mark Pellegrino – seriously people, please let me create this spinoff, it would be SO good) 7) and last but not least, had to involve a female character that everyone is always complaining Supernatural lacks. 

So now with no further ado, here is Supernatural: Manic Pixie God Girl.

Dean Winchester was dead again, but what he really cared about was his car.

It didn’t really matter how he had died.  Or where, or when.  The why was always the same, good vs. evil.  Same crap, different day.  If anything, death was a nice change of pace.  A relief.  A lull in the battle, a moment to pause, catch his breath, take stock.  To Dean, death felt like sliding into a warm bubble bath, if he’d been the kind of guy who took warm bubble baths.  He barely showered any more, there hardly seemed to be a point.  He just got dirty again.  Cleanliness is next to Godliness, and most days Dean felt very, very far from God.

But the freakin car, man.  Baby.  That hurt.

Whatever had happened – and again, it didn’t matter, all we are is dust in the wind – it had destroyed Baby.  Baby had once been a 1967 Impala but now she was scrap metal. It looked as if she had been rolled, crushed, barbeque-ed, chewed up and spit out.  Baby had been hurt before, hurt bad, but this was the kind of damage there ain’t no coming back from.  Baby was toast.

Dean wanted to cry but then he remembered that he was totally dead.

It started to dawn on Dean all of a sudden that he was having an awful lot of thoughts for a dead man.   Too many thoughts, really.  So he took stock of the situation.  The site of a tremendous battle, maybe an explosion, some kind of blow from above, a meteor strike, possibly?  He could see his body or what was left of it, in the center of an impact crater.  He was actually dead.  For reals.  That had not been a misconception on his part.

He could see his body.

He knew then.  He didn’t want to believe it, but he knew.  “Damn it, I’m a ghost,” he would have said, if he could speak, which he couldn’t.  Of course he was.  Dean Winchester had been just about everything else in his life – hunter, vampire, demon, occasionally even a man when he could squeeze it into his schedule- so it figured that this would be the final act.  A ghost.  A vengeful spirit that belonged nowhere, doomed to slow insanity.  Sigh.  He must have turned down his reaper.  But he didn’t remember a reaper coming for him, that was the funny thing.  He kind of thought he might have gone with a reaper this time, if given the choice between another year of world endings and scraped knuckles and skull-splitting headaches and horrible sacrifices, and eternal heavenly peace (he hoped so, anyway, he sure hoped heaven was where he was heading) he might have chosen the latter.  But he didn’t remember a reaper.

He had to find Sam.  Sam could fix this.  He could summon a reaper to take Dean to heaven (hopefully), or maybe cram him back into his body somehow, as unappealing as that sounded given the appearance of his body.  Sammy could fix things like this, he was smart that way.  Dumb about a lot of other things, but smart like that.  

Walking was easier when you were a ghost.  Took a lot less effort.  Didn’t even have to really watch your step, you just sort of floated along.  Hovering, like a, like a, uh, a hovercraft, or something.  No need to worry about twisting your ankle or tripping or nothing.  He didn’t seem to be tied to his body or the place he died, which was a convenient surprise.  Ghosts usually were.  Dean had learned long ago not to look too closely at convenient surprises, they happened so rarely.  So he didn’t bother wondering why.  He just kept moving away from whatever had happened, towards someplace where he hoped Sam would be, trying to remember why it was that he had turned down the reaper, imagining what heaven (hopefully) would be like and worrying about how long it would take him to lose his mind.  He even started to think being a ghost might be kind of fun for a while, before the insanity set in.  He could scare people, jump out and say Boo.  He could rob a bank.  Being a ghost might not be so bad, at least not at first, and by that time Sam would have fixed it.

Even though they hadn’t been able to fix Bobby.

Dean ignored his doubts, focusing instead on the sound of an engine in the distance.  It was getting closer, so he stopped walking and turned to wait.  He figured it would be Sam, or Cas, or even Crowley coming to find him, to take him back to the bunker and work some magic trick on him and fix this latest setback.  He expected to be sitting inside a chalk circle within an hour.  Or, or hovering.  Whatever it was ghosts do, he would do it if it got him to heaven (hopefully).

The car came up over the last hill.  It was Baby.  Sam.  Then he remembered with a twist in his guts that it couldn’t possibly be Baby, Baby was dead.  Unless Sam had managed to somehow resurrect Baby, or maybe he turned back time somehow, that was a thing, right?  Seemed like something Sammy would come up with.  But then why was he still a ghost, why was he still standing on the side of the road like some kind of a transparent bitch?

Before Dean could puzzle it all out, the car came to a stop beside him.  It was definitely Baby, no doubt about it, Dean knew Baby like she was a part of him and he’dve recognized her anywhere.  Every dent, every scratch.  It was Baby, for sure.  But Sam wasn’t driving.  It was a girl.  No, a woman.  She was really tiny…what do they call that…petite? so he’d thought it was a little girl at first, a child, no doubt evil like Lilith had been, but nope, she was all grown up.  She had pink hair and giant sunglasses that took up half her face.  She was wearing camouflage pants and flip flops and a dirty, possibly gray tank top.  But it may have been white and it was just really dirty.  No bra.  Nice.  

Alllll grown up.  Definitely.  She looked like a good time.  Not evil, or if she was evil, she was evil in all the right places.

There were purple and black bruises up and down her bare arm, Dean noticed as she leaned across the seat with said arm outstretched to roll down the window.   The arm was spotted with some sores that he recognized faintly in some dim corner of his mind as the results of methamphetamine abuse.  Whoever this chick was, she had issues, that was for sure.  He found himself leaning in through the window to chat, as if nothing was out of the ordinary.  “And who, pray tell, are you?”  He was pleased to find his capacity for speech had returned.

“I’m the girl who’s driving your car.”  She had a great big ol’ black eye under the sunglasses and she could see him despite his ghostly state.  Ok, step in the right direction.

Dean’s patience suddenly evaporated.  “This is not the day, lady.  Who are you?”

“You know who.  I am.”  She said it funny like that.  You know who.  And then a pause, and then an I AM at the end, like she was making a declaration of her very existence.  But Dean didn’t know who it was, he really didn’t.  He was at a total loss. He wondered if this was one of the things he was supposed to know but couldn’t remember, like how he had died and what he had said to the reaper.  Oh yeah, the reaper.  Of course that’s who it was.

“You’re the reaper, right?”  She sighed and looked annoyed and Dean had the distinct impression that under the dark glassy lenses of the giant sunglasses, she had rolled her eyes.  Dean was wrong.  Ok.  Not the reaper.  The reaper must have really come and gone already and he just couldn’t remember.   He wondered if this was how it started for ghosts.  First you forget things you’re supposed to remember like where the reaper was and then next thing you know you’re foaming-at-the-mouth-insane, attacking everybody who just so happens along.  This person was…someone else, apparently.  You Know Who, Dean decided to call her.

Then this You Know Who made a very small movement, barely perceptible, and she started to glow.  Just a little, and only for a moment.  It was shiny and silver and rainbow, like mother of pearl or opals.  There was a goodness in it.  A purity.  Dean had seen a lot of demons and angels and monsters and magic implements emitting various mystical glows in a thousand hues, but he had never seen anything like it.  It was beautiful and it smelled clean and sweet like Love’s Baby Soft only fruitier and it made him fall to his knees, but not in a bad way.  It made him fall to his knees because he wanted to.  He pressed his face and palms against the side of Baby and felt a wave of love and adoration that he could only just place as reverence.  

“Why do you people never just recognize me?”  She pouted.  “Stupid humans.”  And then she must have stopped doing whatever it was she was doing, since Dean found himself snapping out of it.  He thought he might just know who You Know Who was, after all.  He sat back on his heels for a moment, trying to accept the magnitude of who, scratch that, what he was dealing with.  Because this, now this…this was big.  The door to the car opened, and Dean winced, preparing to be smacked in the face by it.  But due to his ghostly nature, it just passed right on through him.  “Aren’t you going to get in?”

“Lady, I got a few choice words for you.”   

“Seriously, get in.  We have nothing but time, you and me.”  Despite being skeptical to say the least, Dean couldn’t quite shake a slightly starstruck air.  Because, WOW.  He looked her over again, still trying to take it all in.  She was a very unimposing person, skinny, scrawny, puny, chronically malnourished and probably sickly as a child.  Or she had been, since it was clear now that the pink-haired chick was only just a vessel for…for…

He found it bizarre that so much power could be contained in such a small package.  He wondered how such a thing could even be done as he got into the car.  When he tried to shut the passenger door, his ghost hand passed right through it.  Annoying.  “How come ghosts can like, sit on stuff and walk, but then doors pass right through us?”

“A mystery for the ages.”  She made a small gesture with her finger, a “come here” wiggle, and the door slammed shut.

“I usually drive, you know.”

“Oh, do ya?”  She smiled.   “I’m kind of used to being in control, so.”  She pulled a U-ie and headed back the way they came.  Baby fishtailed as she accelerated.  “We need your body back.”

“I don’t think it’s going anywhere any more.”

“Your body is some of my best work, Dean.  I’m not giving up on that one without a fight.”  She paused and Dean started working up the nerve to ask some questions.  It must have been obvious what was on his mind, because she saw right through him.  “Go on…”

“You’re not uh, an old man with a long white beard?”

“Not my favorite form.  Only use that one when I’m dealing with other old men with long white beards.  Nowadays men don’t grow long white beards that much anymore.  And the ones that do, are generally people I’d rather not be dealing with.”

“I just…I wasn’t expecting a lady God, I guess is what I’m saying.”

“Uh.  Yeah.  I guess.  People are always surprised.   I haven’t, um, gone girl for quite some time, but I got so sick of wearing Chuck.  Kinda put me off dudes.”

“You were wearing Chuck?”

“I have a heck of a time finding vessels that fit.  He was the best I could do.  Don’t worry, I don’t burn up my vessels like the angels.  He’s living it up in Singapore right now with nothing but good memories.  This body, no one was using it any more, poor thing, and it looked like it still had some miles left in it.”  She held up her arms to inspect them, and seemed happy with what she saw.  Baby continued to drive herself as if You Know Who’s hands – pink nail polish, by the way, chipped at the tips but still sparkly – had never left the wheel.  Dean liked pink nail polish.  “It’s a new ride though so you’ll have to forgive me if I’m a little bit of a spaz.  Vessels are never totally natural to me.  It’s a lot of energy to cram into one meat puppet.  And this one is high as a kite!”

She extended her arms out wide, as if testing the limits of her new vessel, while the car continued to steer itself.  A skunk waddled by in the road ahead and the car veered; she didn’t even look up.  As she stretched, Dean noticed a massive gunshot wound in the chest of the body.   Whatever had happened to that meatsuit she was wearing, it had been thorough.  “Are you all right, there?”

“Hurts like a momma, but I can’t be destroyed.  I’ve tried, believe me.  You know that movie Groundhog Day, kind of like that.”  

“Really?”

“Yeah.  Only it went on for eons.”

“Really?”  That didn’t seem right.

“This isn’t always, like, the most funnest job ever.”

Dean pondered that as they returned back to the scene of whatever it was that had just transpired.  Sam, diligent as ever, was collecting what remained of Dean – which, as it turned out, was not much.   Chunks.  “He’s going to do something stupid.”

“Oh, he thinks he is.”  You Know Who looked intent for a moment and Dean’s body disappeared from the crater.  He wondered where it had gone to, imagining it floating overhead like tiny pieces of Mike Teevee.  Out the car window he could see poor befuddled Sammy recoiling, looking around, his eyes scanning for someone, or something, nearby.  Sam looked right at the car and Dean even felt that they locked eyes a moment, but apparently Sam could see nothing – it was as if the Impala was invisible or maybe veiled somehow.  A noise came then; a loud, pain-filled inhalation, barely even human.  Dean realized with a shock that it had come from his own lips.  He was back inside his body again, back inside…the…the chunks.  He tried to speak but could only gasp and grunt desperately at the strange woman.  “You’re still dead, Dean.  You don’t need to breathe.”  Calmly, she turned the car around and drove the other direction, away from Sam again, pointedly ignoring Dean’s agony.  

Dean writhed in the kind of pain he’d only ever felt before in Hell.  It was a pain he associated with being dismembered, sliced into bloody hunks of meat, and he figured out how he must have died.  Blown apart, or chopped up, or something.  He gulped, or tried to; something moved inside his neck, at any rate.  Felt like he swallowed a huge chunk of gristle, maybe.  He recovered his voice, a rasp he barely recognized.  “It hurts!  Make it stop!”

You Know Who averted her eyes as she spoke.  “I know it hurts, Dean, I’m so sorry.  I’m going to fix it.  I just wanted to give you a taste, to remind you of what it means to be human.  Pain.”  She paused and pressed her lips together and Dean heard a whimper escape his lips despite his best efforts to be stoic.  He held up his hand before his eyes and realized it was missing.  “Don’t you think it’s time to get off this merry go round, Dean?  Aren’t you just, getting tired of all this?”

Reluctantly, Dean nodded.   He did want it all to be over, finally over.  He wanted to go wherever his hand had gone.  “Please.”

“If you want me to, I can make it stop.  The pain will be gone.  All of it.  Even the things you don’t tell anybody that keep you awake half the night and living on pain pills.”  Dean looked at her in desperation, convinced he couldn’t bear the pain another second.  But then a second ticked by, and then another.  He could feel them ticking by in his shattered bones and each one seemed to last for hours.  Eventually she met his eyes through her ridiculous giant sunglasses.  “It’s not quitting, Dean.  It’s getting a promotion.  And I can make it so Sammy can’t do anything about it.”

Even more reluctantly, Dean nodded again.  It took a lot, knowing that he was letting Sam down, and Cas down, and lots of innocent people would probably die because he didn’t want to fight any more and nobody else was as good of a hunter as him.  But he didn’t.  He hadn’t wanted to for a long time, but for Dean, fighting evil was a hard habit to break.  You Know Who smiled, revealing square white teeth, and Dean found himself in a sunlit meadow full of wildflowers and butterflies and these big fat furry bees buzzing around, the kind of place he sometimes saw at night in his dreams.  She was nearby, he could feel her like a sunbeam on his shoulders.  Deer grazed, a doe and twin spotted fawns.   A wolf jogged out from the trees, tongue lolling, and ran to Dean for a head scrub that he joyfully gave, before lying down nearby the deer with its head on its paws.  He realized he was fully healed and intact and was momentarily stunned by how well he felt.   He was nearly overwhelmed by emotion, by gratitude.  “I feel…incredible.”

“I fixed everything.  That alcoholic liver you were working so hard on, all the old injuries that never healed up quite right.  You had a brain aneurysm that was just about ready to pop.  But you’re still dead, Dean.  I’m not bringing you back this time.  And I’m not going to let anyone else do it, either.  This can’t go on any longer.  I let you guys get away with breaking the rules so many times because it was entertaining to me but I’m starting to feel like I’m pulling wings off a butterfly here.”   She sidled up beside him and he basked in that soft sunbeamy feeling she gave off.

“So…what is it for me, then?  Heaven, or Hell?”  This had to be heaven, it just had to be.

“Here’s the thing…it’s kind of humiliating.  But, um.  Ok.  I’m lonely?  I need an um.  A friend?  I usually hang with an angel but then that just pisses the other ones off.  They are SOOO petty.  I always liked humans much better, but you’re so short lived, it bums me out.  You’re like gerbils.  Everything seems to be going ok and then one morning, boom, dead in a pile of sunflower seeds.  I’ve tried keeping people alive longer but, it never really ends well.  The spark goes out.”

“Um, ok.  A friend.  Sounds harmless.  What does it mean?”

You Know Who clasped her hands in front of her chest and shrugged her shoulders in a burst of female excitement.  “I’m going to change you!”

“Change me? Into an angel?  A demon, again?”

“Ewwww!  As IF!  No, something new.  Everybody get your popcorn!”

Dean was not at all sure he liked the sound of this.   “Wait.  Don’t I have to agree to that or something?”

Before Dean could fully voice his concerns, she grabbed him by the head with a surprising strength for someone so small.  There was a flash of that glorious opalescent light that threw them both back a few paces.  You Know Who stumbled right out of her flip flops.  Dean realized he was glowing with that lovely sweet smelling light and held up his hands before his eyes, inspecting them, still more than a little relieved to see both hands present and accounted for.  You Know Who stumbled back a few more paces, this time from surprise, then regained her footing.  She peered at him over her sunglasses, then unexpectedly and involuntarily stumbled forward again like a sailor on a ship in a stormy sea and dropped to her knees at his feet.  “Oh!”  Her glasses fell off.   

Words forced their way up from Dean’s belly right out his throat.  He tried to keep them contained but he couldn’t.  “Hap-py Birthday!”  As he said it, somewhere in the back of his mind a memory flashed, a memory of being a child lying on a gold shag carpet watching Frosty the Snowman.  “Why…why did I just say that?”

“It was a test.  I had be sure you were still…YOU.  That you didn’t turn into something…icky.”  You Know Who’s eyes…the first time he’d seen them, hazel…gleamed with delight, with hope.

But something was going wrong.  He felt…soggy.  Dean shuddered, looking down at himself with a rising dread.  His hands and arms were dripping with water.  Running with it.  Rivers of water flowed down and out of him.  He looked up in alarm.  “What’s happening to me?”

“Oh, I forgot my part!  “Do you want to build a snowman?”  I’m sorry.  You were starting to melt.”  

“To melt?”

“If I didn’t like how you turned out?  Like, if you were a monster maybe or something?  I fixed it so you’d melt.  If I didn’t say the magic words.  It was a failsafe.”

An idea so crazy that Dean positively hated having to consider it, came to mind.  “Did you, uh, can’t believe I’m asking this, but did you…turn me into a snowman?”

“No.  Duh!  I made you like me.”

The concept was only slightly less disturbing than becoming a snowman.  “What?”

“I didn’t even know if I could do it to a human.”  She stopped talking for a moment and gulped hard, as if she was trying not to cry.  She blinked several times and then her eyes got really wide.  “But I totally think it worked!”      

“Like YOU?”  Dean gulped and blinked a few times himself.  “You mean…”

“Version 2.0.  Better the original!”

Dean pondered the implications of this development.  He was…no.  She had turned him into…no. No freaking way.   “No.  No thank you.  Thank you, but no.  I’m gonna have to take a hard pass?”

“Too late!  It’s done!”

It dawned on Dean that she still on her knees before him.  “Why are you down there, exactly?”  

“Oh, um.  Everybody seemed to enjoy worshiping me so much, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  And let me just say, it’s pretty sweet!”

“You’re worshiping me?”

“Yeah!  And it’s awesome.”

Dean discovered he had negative a million percent interest in being worshiped.  At least, right that minute.  “Knock it off.”  Maybe later after he had had a little time to…sink into the experience.

“I can’t, you have to make me.”

Dean gave her an incredulous look, then without even really meaning to, his mind focused for a moment and a very small part of it that he had never been aware of before gave a little jump.  It felt like a cerebral hiccup.  The glow ceased.  “Well, I knew how to do that for some reason.”

“You know how to do a lot of things now.  May I rise?”

“Now you’re just being ridiculous.”

You Know Who grinned.  Ah, that sunbeam.   She rose tentatively to her feet.  Tentatively, because it was obvious that she was in pain.  “I never liked for people to worship me, either.  It’s…off-putting.  Took me forever to learn how to shut it off.  But you got it right away.  Smartie.”  She paused to breathe a shuddery breath.  He realized she had to be hurting bad from the bruises and gunshot wound and whatever else awful things had happened to that vessel before she claimed it.  “Could you heal my vessel for me?  Please?”  Dean had a moment of doubt he that he could, and then it happened.  Right before his very eyes the wounds faded and then disappeared.  She slid her bare feet back into the flip flops.  “Thanks.  I can’t heal my own vessel, it’s kind of like tickling yourself?”  In spite of his reservations, Dean started to wonder what else there might be to this new ability and it was as if she knew exactly what he was thinking.   “Go ahead, take it for a spin.”  

He did.  And what a spin it was.  He could feel everything, everyone, every star in the sky, every cell in every living thing in all of creation, every mitochondria in every cell.  Mitochondria.  What were they?  Why were they?  He went in for a closer look.  He learned…well, more like he absorbed, really….what mitochondria were and what they did and he was surprised to find they were sentient in their own tiny way.  He had an irresistible urge to connect with it all, to know it all, to take it all in.  But when he tried, he became overwhelmed and started to gray out.   He stutterstepped to the side, trying not to succumb to the rising dots of blackness before his eyes.  

You Know Who caught him, steadied him.  “You have to pace yourself, Dean.  You can’t connect with everything all at once.”

“It’s a little bit…overwhelming.”  Even as he said it, Dean realized it was so much more than overwhelming, he didn’t even have the words to say.  But she already knew, of course.

“Yeah, a little bit.”  She laughed at how much of an understatement it was.  Then she turned serious.   “It’s the burden of creation, Dean.  It’s good, so good, we’re a part of everything that IS, has been, and will be,  but you can’t tap into it for very long.  That’s why I always have to go away and rest.  It takes it out of you.  Especially if you’re in a vessel.  You have to hold yourself back, even though it’s so tempting not to.”

“Are you…”

“We.”

Dean sighed, still struggling with disbelief.  “…really all knowing and all powerful?”

You Know Who focused for a moment and then suddenly they were on the surface of a rocky dead planet.  Dean took it all in, it was awesome, in the truest sense of the word.  “You can do it too, you know.  We can go anywhere and do anything, anything you ever dreamed of.” She explained before Dean could even think of the question.  “It’s Mars.  There’s hardly any life here so it’s not so…draining like Earth is.  I come here sometimes when I need to chill.  I thought this could be our first project, but if you have something else in mind…please, I’m all ears…”

“Hey, I like the idea, and the enthusiasm, but you gotta give me a minute to catch up here.  This is…kind of a big development for me.”

An expression crossed her face, a combination of pleasure and fear.  Dean realized then that she was nearly desperate to win his approval, which seemed…weird.  Surprising.  Being who and what she was, the idea that she might be insecure, needy, was unnerving, to say the least.  Yet he found on some level that he liked it.  He liked the idea.  He didn’t normally like desperate chicks, like, at all, but for some reason there was something endearing about it coming from her.  “Ok.  Of course.  I’m sorry.  I was born this way, or formed I guess, so I don’t know what it must be, to be something different and get it all of a sudden like that.”

“So you’re not all knowing?”

“Nope.  Not even.  I’ve been around a long time, and seen a lot of fudged up stuff.  And, um, that gives me the insight to understand things others don’t, sometimes?  I can make predictions that a lot of the times, come true.  Eventually.  But it’s just experience, not being that smart.  I’m really not that smart.  Not at all.  Metatron said one time, I’m like the Bridget Jones of deities.”  Dean couldn’t help but respond to the mention of Metatron with a dry expression.  She noticed.   “I know he killed you that one time, but.  He was sometimes kind of insightful.”

“I can kind of tell that…you don’t know what you’re doing.  No offense.”

“None taken.  Earth is a mess, I agree.  Wouldn’t call that a success.  It was my first try at creating an intricate system of life, so.  I kind of consider Earth to be my mulligan?”  Dean looked away, distracted for a moment by a peculiar surge of creative energy, and at his will, an unusual looking mountain range rose in the distance.  He looked at it, satisfied.  It was good.  Just like it said in the book. You Know Who took note with a pleased smile.  “Some nerd looking through a telescope just like, totally creamed his jeans.  Front and back.”  Dean snorted a laugh.  At least she was funny, this new…friend…of his.  After a decade stuck with Sam and Cas, he was beyond ready for a laugh or two.  “We are practically all powerful, though.  There are a few things I just can’t seem to manage, like destroying myself.  But I made you stronger than me, maybe you could?”

“I could destroy you?”

“I don’t know.  Do you want to?”

“No.”

“Oh, good, you scared me for a minute there.  Of all the times I would have loved to be destroyed, this isn’t one of them.  Things are just getting interesting.”

A thought tickled the back of Dean’s mind.  “Why did you make me stronger than you?”

This question was apparently not something that You Know Who had wanted to get into on a first date.  It took her a long moment and much fidgeting before she was able to piece together a response.  “Um, ok, well, I guess you’ll find out soon enough.  Sigh.  I tried this once before.  Only, I still wanted to be in the driver’s seat then, so I made him less powerful than me?  And the worship thing was still kind of a one way street then?”

“You made an almost omnipotent being that still had to worship you??”

“When you say it that way, no wonder it blew up in my face!  Plus it was an angel, and the angels were like an experiment that really didn’t…pan out.”  After a long, embarrassed pause, she forged on.  “It’s embarrassing, because you sort of know him?”  She sent a shy look at Dean from the edges of her eyelashes. Dean realized with great chagrin the angel in question.

“Lucifer.”

“Yeah, and then everybody’s all like, well why don’t you just destroy him?  Um, ok because I don’t know if I even CAN, and it would totally wipe me out for a million years to even try it.  I was tired for one century and you guys did, like, the 20th.”  She exhaled, thinking about how badly it had all gone.  “The whole Lucifer thing was kind of a disaster.  Sigh.  I had to think about it a long time before I realized what I did wrong.  I didn’t pick the right being, and the imbalance of power was too great.  It, uh, made for some hard feelings.”

Dean burst into glow again just to see what would happen, to be sure that it wasn’t all a trick somehow.  You Know Who fell to her knees, overcome.  He shut it off and extended a hand, helping her to her feet.  She weighed about as much as a baby bird.  “Just checking.”

She didn’t let go of his hand right away.  Those pink fingernails.  “You can still worship me, too, you know.  I just can’t make you.”  After a slightly nervous pause, she continued. “I never had to earn anyone’s love before, I thought it might be a fun challenge.”  Dean sensed that she had some reservations about her ability to do this and suddenly understood that feeling of insecurity he had sensed before.  “Awkward!!”  She laughed, nervous.  Then she quickly let go of Dean’s hand and took a step back.  “I’ve always been the man with the plan.  I think that’s the key?  I can’t be in charge, I’m obviously just terrible at it.  I just want to ride shotgun.”  Dean thought for a split second about riding shotgun and suddenly they were back on Earth again, back in Baby.  Dean, of course, was in the driver’s seat this time.  You Know Who seemed very pleased by this turn of events.  “Oh, a surprise!”  She clapped her hands, childishly excited.  “I know!  We’re going to stop your idiot brother from making a deal with a crossroads demon, aren’t we?”

“Yeah.”

“Ok.  You’re the boss.”  She was nearly overcome with joy.  “You’re the boss!  YOU are the boss!  You don’t even know how good it feels to say that.”  After a moment, a realization.  “You know we don’t actually have to drive there, right?’

Duh.  “Oh, yeah.”

 

 

hit the road, Joad

hit the road, Joad

Why do poor people stay in economically depressed areas?  Why don’t they move where the jobs are?  It’s a question that’s been asked repeatedly since the Batshit Crazy Election of 2016 (patent pending), from both liberals and conservatives alike, usually with an implied sneer.  Those frickin Trumpers, those Rust Belt idiots, why don’t they just move to where the jobs are?

It seems so easy, so obvious.  This poor family in Gary, Indiana or Mobile, Alabama or St. Louis or Detroit and all the dying rural areas all across our glorious nation should just toss their grapes of wrath into the family jalopy like the Joads did and go to California where the jobs are plentiful and high paying, hanging off the trees like oranges ready to be picked.  Aren’t they?  Oh, bummer.  Ok.  Maybe they should move to Boston where there are empty textile factories just waiting for a flood of unskilled employees…oh, wait, I suppose that was 1817, not 2017.

To say this a different way, what jobs?  Where are these magic jobs to which you are referring?

(Most) Liberals seem to think that cities – the great big ginormous trendy awesome ones, that is, not measly puny lame pathologically uncool ones like Omaha or Spokane –  are the answer to everything.  Because culture.  And diversity, maybe, but liberals all too often seem unable to fathom the shocking concept that a whole lot of people who live in rural and/or economically depressed areas ARE minorities.   http://dailycaller.com/2017/01/08/tech-company-founder-middle-america-is-a-shthole-filled-with-stupid-people/  

helpful hint: not everyone in a poor and/or depressed area is a white person who voted for Trump but when you insult one of us for living where and how we do, you insult us all.  Think about that while my husband drags his poor non-Trump-voting Native American ass to work at the county dump to take care of your recyclables for you.

(Many) Conservatives seem to think that poor people of every hue are poor by virtue of stupidity, squandering meager resources on shiny booping gewgaws and fantasy football leagues and the Demon Rum, only in beer form.  And even though it’s set into their DNA to have a shiftless, lazy nature they need to get off their obese soda-swilling asses and pull themselves up by their bootstraps.  Instead of giving them money to continue struggling to survive we need to bribe them to move somewhere different and struggle to survive there.   http://www.nationalreview.com/article/444841/help-poor-relocate-find-better-jobs-opportunity

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/452910/white-working-class-populism-underclass-anti-elitism-acting-white-incompatible-conservativism  (And they may even be right a little bit.  Certainly a much closer hit than the liberals, at any rate.  U sunk my Battleship.)

Reality is, there are no jobs.  They don’t exist.  They certainly don’t exist in the kind of numbers that it would take to employ a mass exodus of Joads like me.  Here’s a chilling thought – we could drive our third-hand 1987 Winnebagos into a vacant lot in a charming neighborhood near YOU and start hanging out our laundry and deep frying turkeys and shooting guns into the air in celebration.  What would you do with us all, if you had us?  Love us?  Bring us plates of cookies and a Welcome Wagon basket?  Of course you wouldn’t.  You would march right down to City Hall and demand that something be DONE about these squatters.  Forcible removal, if necessary.  You know you would.

But even if the Joads were greeted with open arms, should this voyage occur it would cause a cultural upheaval on a scale not seen for generations and certainly never in Modern America where cultural upheaval tends to make people feel rather uncomfortable.  It would cause problems, real problems, huge and massive problems.  Havoc and chaos and borderline insanity would ensue as the Jobless Joad Hordes invaded.  There would be tent cities and social unrest and thieving and and carnage and possibly, probably violence.  People, up to and including Very Adorable Children, could easily end up starving and riddled with disease and even dying in the streets as cities struggled to contain them.  This unprecedented migration would have ripple effects that would disrupt the entire nation in ways we can’t even imagine.   

You want this to happen?  Really?  I very seriously doubt it.  But you don’t live in the real world, do you, you clever, clever person.  You don’t live in the real world where actions have consequences and millions of people pulling up stakes and traveling across the country to whatever the hot city of the moment is in search of work that doesn’t exist (see: New Orleans https://www.bestofneworleans.com/gambit/is-new-orleans-worth-it/Content?oid=5898412) all of them homeless and growing poorer by the day, actually affects your day to day life.   Those things could never touch you because you are afloat in the clouds, far removed from the struggles of we mere mortals down here on Earth.  You are an Educated Person.  A member of the elite.  Don’t blush, you know it’s true.   You’re better than us.  We know you think it already, may as well admit it right out loud.   We won’t judge.  We Joads aren’t a judgy folk.

It’s very easy for super geniuses such as yourself to sit behind a computer screen and theorize, convinced that you are, in fact, a Superior Being, imagining moving folks around like pieces in a game of Risk.  Speculating about how, if there were just LESS troglodytes here, and fewer bumpkins there, and a small reduction in hoodlums overall, everything would be better, fairer, and would function so much more smoothly.  But you’re a dreamer if you believe that, a pipe dreamer, and what is worse is, you’re a stupid, uninformed pipe dreamer who wants to set social policy based on your naive fantasies and not reality.  (Ok I may have possibly judged).

The fact of the matter is, most Joads are best off staying right where they are.  You know why?  Let me tell you.  It is because there are resources BEYOND money.  WHAT?!?  Let me repeat.  In a stunning development, it has been recently discovered by exceedingly large-brained economists that not all resources come in the form of cold hard cash.  There are resources – other, non-financial resources – that help one and one’s offspring to survive, and even thrive, even without much money.   People who have always had money don’t understand this, because, well, they’ve always had money.  If they have to move, they hire a moving company, they don’t ask a buddy with a pickup.  If they need a car repair, they go to the shop and not to their cousin who’s good with cars.  If their house needs paint or repairs, they call a contractor and take bids instead of making their teenagers do it over summer vacation.   Some of these non-financial resources, not entirely unlike money, take a lifetime to accrue and if you squander them, piss them away, they’re gone forever.

When you don’t have money, you develop these other resources, bigly.  Social currency in the form of family and friends and work contacts (people get a LOT of jobs via friends and work contacts, too, by the way) is invaluable.  

Predictability of environment is a major resource and anyone who’s never had to live without it takes it for granted – imagine how functional YOU would be if someone dropped you in a whole new city where you didn’t know a soul and you had to find a job and a place to live and a decent doctor and and a non-crooked mechanic and a dentist who took payments and a school for your kids and a grocery store – all with no money.  

Stability for yourself and especially, especially your children?  Priceless.   

Even your stuff itself, those belongings like socks and toothpaste and cleaning supplies and Christmas decorations that you have accumulated slowly over time and would have to leave at least some of behind or sell for a pittance and replace slowly over time at full price if you moved, are a huge resource.  

Just the sheer amount of work and money expended to move is substantial – the price of moving itself is actually something that is beyond the ability of many families to afford.  Here’s an essay about it. http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/37889-why-don-t-you-just-move  That’s right, not blowing the money you do have on moving is a resource in and of itself.

Poor people stay where they are because they have done the math and it isn’t worth losing their non-financial resources to go to a place where there probably aren’t going to be any better jobs for people like them anyway.  Imagine, to go where you’re not wanted, to live among people who despise you, look down upon you, who don’t share your culture and your values, and with whom you have nothing in common?  To leave your family and friends, your social safety net and all your connections, to trade love and companionship for loneliness and isolation?  To give up a home that you may own or can rent cheaply at least, to live in an apartment in a strange city with a rent at least 5 times as high in a food desert without a grocery store?  To sell off most of your belongings and burn through much of your spare cash (if not using credit, because it’s most likely that this adventure will be funded by a credit card) to finance a move that even under ideal circumstances is a huge gamble and since circumstances are very rarely ideal, is likely to end up with you in worse straits than you were to begin with?  Why would you?  The Joads would be fools to do it.  And believe it or not, we aren’t fools.  

It doesn’t. Make any. Sense. For most. Of us. To move.  

QUIT SAYING IT before desperate people start believing you and you wake up to a homeless horde of hungry Joads camping in your city park and saying “We came, did you build it?”

Because nobody’s going to build it.  We know nobody’s going to build it.  We may as well stay the eff at home and conserve the substantial non-financial resources we do have.  Just quit bitching us out for staying put when we both know you thank God every day that we do.

In many ways, we’re richer than you anyway.  There is an irony in city dwellers clucking their tongues and telling anybody to move anyplace.  Because there is, and always has been, a right flood of cityfolk who hate living in the urban jungle and work awfully hard to get out of the situation.  That is why Connecticut exists and why Washington State is spilling over with Californians.  Plenty of people despise the big city rat race they’re running and want desperately to have what many po’ folk already have – more leisure time, more freedom, more community, a more authentic life.  We are blessed, bitches. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/bnpqym/what-is-life-actually-like-when-you-move-to-the-countryside-as-a-young-person    And plenty of you want what WE have.

So again, another non-financial resource that the “u idjits should move” advocates fail take into account.  We Joads may very well like where we live.  It may very well be better than where you live, jobs or no.  People dream of living in the country and exchange money and job security for the privilege all the time.  And it ain’t just the country, either.  Many Rust Belt neighborhoods are vibrant communities full of happy people who may not always be flush with cash but who enjoy each other and enjoy life and love their neighborhood and their home and look out for one another in a way that Manhattanites can only dream of.  They may not WANT to be gentrified, they may not WANT Amazon to come to town.  They may just want clean drinking water.  https://www.citylab.com/equity/2017/10/filmmaker-shows-unlivable-pittsburgh/542901/?utm_source=atlfb  Flyover Country is chock full of fine people in good places even if said places don’t have as many vegan restaurants as Brooklyn does.  Your priorities are not our priorities.  Deal with it.

And besides that, besides any of that.  Set all that I just said aside.  Stick a pin in it and put it on the cork board.  None of it matters anyway, because you NEED us.  You need us Joads out here.  Because every day, city folks, we are doing stuff for you. You don’t see it, so intent ye be on the myth that the hoity-toitiest of cities are the true driving force behind the economy and ruminating upon how important your Very Important Academic Career is in the Grand Scheme of Everything, but we are.  The biggest, richest, most liberal cities may be the brains of the nation (dubious snort, I’ll give it to you tho) but the rest of us are the heart and the guts.  I know the “we grow ur food” angle is obvious and the card has been played to death, but we actually kinda do.  At least till y’all get that plan going to turn the tops of buildings into hydroponic gardens going like you always say you’re going to someday.  #goforit  #imwaiting #whatstheholduphere 

But wait, there’s more.  There are layers upon layers of economic activity out here in the boondocks that maybe you, Smartypants McSnootyface, have never even stopped to consider.  Because it’s not just this picturesque gang of self-reliant straw-chewing taciturn farmers dotted evenly across the open plains, you see.  There are all the people who run the small cities and towns that support those farmers.  There are gas stations and grocery stores and tire shops and tractor dealerships and autoparts stores and all people who work in them.  We Joads waitress in restaurants where the farmers eat and we teach the farmer’s kids in the local schools and we drive the school bus that gets those kiddies to school.  There are Joad lawyers and Joad doctors and dentists and chiropractors and barbers and dog groomers.  Joads fix the streets and train tracks and like my intrepid husband, they dump everybody’s garbage.  My people are everywhere, we are legion. They’re shockingly living even in cities without an abundance of farmers like Flint, Michigan and Jersey City because this ISN’T ABOUT FARMING and they matter, and they vote, and their votes and lives count just as much as yours do, Internet Warriors of Social Engineering Justice.  

We haven’t even talked about logging.  Or mining.  Or manufacturing, which is still going on in all those Rust Belt locales and lots of little unimpressive cities all over the US, whether you know it or not.  Or recreation (hey, don’t u love the state and national park system – people actually work at those!  MINDFUCK!).  All of these things that we goddamn annoying Joads do for you and provide for the sacred residents of Panem every freaking day and you citiots don’t even know that they’re happening.  It’s like you think your belongings fell from the sky where the heavenly scientists live into the nearest Urban Outfitters and that the whole entire universe was created just 4 u.  You’re like a pampered princess who has had a poor maid dress and undress her every day since birth and then throws a fit and demands the maid’s head on a platter the first time her gown is the least bit uncomfortable.  Your discomfort is-eth not mine problem, Princess.  I didst not make thine dress nor select it for-est thou.  I just worketh here.  

Ya take the results of our labor for granted and tell us to move because you don’t like how an election came out while you lie to our faces and claim it’s cause you don’t like having to pay a slightly higher percentage per capita of tax dollars to support all the things that WE ARE CONSTANTLY DOING FOR YOUR STUPID USELESS ASSES but really it’s cause you don’t like how an election came out.

Babies.

And while you may take solace from your belief that all of us Joads out here in Nowheresville USA are disposable opioid-addicted losers who should blindly accept your stern-yet-loving hand steering the till of our country to a brave and glorious future in which there are men in every woman’s bathroom that currently lacks them, the fact is most of us are fully functional, normal, responsible people who are perfectly capable of directing our own lives and know a hell of a lot about the needs of our families and the requirements of our own freaking communities than you do.  I don’t care how long you sat your dumb ass in college looking at a textbook that purports to tell you what people like us think feel and need, you know-nothing know-it-alls.  You have no clue.

You would literally die in a week if not for us.  And that’s not a threat, it’s a promise.

We maintain your power supply.  We maintain your roads, all of them, across the whole US of A not only so you can drive upon these roads with your beautiful new cars, but also so we, the trusty and reliable Joad clan, can drive tractor-trailers (that is a fancy word for trucks) full of goods and materials upon them.  We carry these goods from the people who actually MAKE AND GROW THINGS into the city where the whole lot of you seem to manage to somehow live by writing Very Important Tweets on computers and phones.  Computers and phones that only exist because awful men like my husband Joad-y dismantle the old ones to recycle the expensive metallurgical components within, that other awful awful men like Joadward and Joadixander originally extracted from the Earth’s crust decades ago with their bare fucking hands (while possibly wearing gloves).  

We Joads drill your oil and turn it into gas and then we drive that gas to the gas station in these super big dangerous tanker trucks while you get in our way because you’re wandering all over the road whilst texting on your iPhone 8.  We dig the coal from the ground and while coal’s heyday may be over, the power contained within silly old coal, that useless useless stuff built the fucking cities in which you now live and your beloved urban lifestyle that you presently enjoy wouldn’t exist without it.  

YOU’RE WELCOME.  

We keep the shit from backing up in your toilet and overflowing all over your Italian tile floor constructed from clay that some asshole Joad dug up from the ground and held together with mortar made from minerals that some dumbfuck Joad also dug up from the ground.   And you know why we are able to do this??  Because we live HERE where minerals exist and not in a city where everything is covered by cement or asphalt, you fucking twats.

So you’ll forgive me if I don’t apologize and beg your forgiveness that rural America receives a slightly disproportionate percentage of tax money per capita than urban America does.  It’s because we are doing things out here that YOU NEED to survive.   And you’ll forgive me if I don’t apologize for Trump, either.  I didn’t vote for Trump but I understand 110% why so many people did and your fucking ridick childish meltdown tantrum in the year since has only galvanized my belief that you are a dangerous pack of spoiled fascist lunatics who are fully in control of the press and Hollywood.  Yet you have no sway over my opinions.  You people have done nothing but spit into our faces for 30+ years and it is ending now.  We’re fed up, we’re pushing back.  Quite a few of us are ready to blow it up rather than service your needs any more, while patiently hoping you maybe throw us a scrap from your table, which we built for you lovingly out of wood we cut down in an expedition that killed a man and oh yeah we also provided all the food for your banquet.  I know, I know, it needed salt.  We’ll try harder next time. https://medium.com/@Chris_arnade/trump-politics-and-option-pricing-or-why-trump-voters-are-not-idiots-1e364a4ed940

Actually, we won’t.  We’re done playing nice.  Because it hasn’t gotten us shit.  You dishonor us, you mock us, you tell us to shut up and fuck off when we try to explain to you what reality is on things we know way more about than you, like about our own goddamn lives and what our communities are like and the thoughts in our misshapen belumped opiate-addled Joad heads.  You are NOT our betters, you’re actually our worsers.  And it ain’t Fox News doing this, honeychildren, it’s you, because you’re just that odious that we literally cannot hold our noses and choke it down to keep the peace another second.  We tried but you wouldn’t meet us even a fraction of the way.  You are the reason Fox News exists, because you’re so shallow, so repulsive, so mean and arrogant and rude, that some of us will turn to anything that isn’t YOU and you control every other fucking thing on the whole goddamn planet and it still isn’t enough for you.

They say the universe is pretty much empty space.  But America is the opposite of that.  It isn’t just empty space.  It has all this STUFF in it, important stuff, in the places that some people like to pretend is nothing but empty space.  This stuff is people and these people matter.  They are of value and they have culture and art and beauty too even if it’s different than yours and they have a fucking right to exist.  IN THEIR OWN HOMES.  Without being told by rich elitists who have benefited hugely off of the system (which at least half of them admit is fundamentally unfair and stacked against the poor to begin with but somehow manage to conveniently forget that while Joad-bashing) to “just move”.   You want to help us move?  How’s about we skip a step and you help us NOW and we don’t have to do the whole moving and then us begging you for spare change on a street corner part?

It is just about entirely bizarre in a nation that manages to scrape together $35 billion in foreign aid and $134 billion in welfare to illegal immigrants and even $1.5 billion straight to movie studios that no one has a single solitary suggestion for revitalizing this vast and critically necessary swath of our own freaking country other than “just move, dumbasses”.  Anyone with half a brain could maybe say “hmm how about some nice juicy tax incentives, Bill Gates, I’m looking at you here” or “let’s build some affordable housing in small towns instead of big cities perchance” or “maybe let’s not make people in counties with less than 10,000 people pay property taxes” or any number of things – and these aren’t even good suggestions, they’re just the first things I came up with off the top of my head.  

And I’m sure they do stuff like that but it IS NOT ENOUGH obviously DUH.  We don’t want to move.  We just want jobs that pay enough to cover our fucking health insurance and have a little bit left over at the end of the month to pay our deductibles with.  I know you’ll try to lean in and hiss “the jobs are gone, learn to code” into my ear but the jobs are gone in no small part because you elite mofos in all your great wisdom have screwed with the economy so much over the last 50 years that things are malfunctioning.  Bad.  Yet you want us all to squeeze our eyes shut and stick our fingers into our ears and say “yes this economy is entirely normal”.  It isn’t.  And I’m a hardcore libertarian and I don’t even like things like subsidies and tax breaks at all, not at all, but ffs, if you’re gonna be handing out dough left and right, how about shooting a little more of it to the Heartland?  Because if the heart dies, the brain will quickly follow.  It’s Biology, people!  

But no.  (Most) Liberals and (many) conservatives love to hand out cash to any special interest group that comes to them begging with puppydog eyes.  Yet somehow the people who actually do the hard and dirty work of making America run are just this big pain in everyone’s ass and they should just shut up and fucking move to where the nonexistent imaginary jobs are.  

helpful hint: if everyone learns to code, pretty soon there will be a hell of a lot of unemployed coders joining the ranks of the Joads.  Welcome, brothers and sisters.

The idea that poor people could own land, could aspire to own their own home is something very uniquely American.   You may say that this development came through oppression and on the backs of human beings and you’d be entirely correct, but still, on balance, it is a step in the right direction.  A step towards equality, true equality.  The poor can own land here.  Isn’t that fucking incredible?  It’s special and extraordinary because historically it has never been that way.  Before America, land was owned mostly by wealthy nobility – the landed gentry – and if you weren’t wealthy and you weren’t nobility you had to be serf or a servant, an employee.  Forever.  In perpetuity, because your children would be as well.  You had little hope of ever getting ahead, of rising in social standing, becoming a rich man or even simply a comfortable one.   

I sometimes think that’s what the elitists really want.  A return to the good old days.  A Dickensian world in which the poor are forced into the cities where they can be kept tucked away out of sight so no one has to see or deal with them.  Sequestered in tenements, the Joads could finally be good little cogs and work menial jobs for slave wages to pay off their overwhelming student loans.  And even though they fervently hope that their landlord doesn’t raise their rent again (they hope, because prayer has been outlawed, it only puts ideas into people’s heads) eventually the landlord will raise their rent, after all, landlords have expenses too.   The landlord has a lot of money to pay to the elites because it is owed it to them, for society needs their valuable and highly educated opinions on things.  

Incarcerated in their small apartments, the Joads could then be monitored and controlled – for their own good, of course.  They could be forced to exercise and brush their teeth 3 times a day and given only appropriately healthy foods to eat.  None of them could ever smoke or drink or take drugs and that way no one’s health insurance premium would ever go up even just a little due to another person’s bad choices.  And then no one really needs to worry if they can’t afford their copays and deductibles on the insurance that they are forced to buy out of whatever is left after their landlord gets his/her share.  If they eat properly and exercise, they won’t get diseases anyway, right?  Isn’t that what science says?   Diseases only occur because of bad choices.

And since the elites aren’t ogres, of course the Joads would still be allowed their amusements.  They would be allowed to watch politically correct feminist-approved pornography and non-CTE-inducing sporting events and reruns of How I Met Your Mother on tv in their off time.  The little people would finally learn their place and would no longer even imagine rising above their station, never daring to even formulate the thought that things could be different and that they might actually know more than their wise and educated rulers do.  Because they most certainly DON’T.

And in the meanwhile the countryside could be parcelled out into manors and estates ruled over by Gentle Farmers who could exercise thorough control over the nearest small town full of serfs like the dukes and lords of old only it would be called country democracy because the people still have nostalgia for that word.  There would be scenic fields with placid, happy Joads handpicking insects off of the crops so everything would always be totally organic.  There could be banquets and balls and picnics during which everyone would wave at the self-driving trucks passing by and yell “huzzah!”  Except for the Joads of course since they’d be too busy picking bugs off the quinoa.

And as for our elitists, why they’d be in charge of everything as is their birthright, flitting back and forth from city to country like they’re living out a plot from a Jane Austen novel, only with more Tinder Swiping.  “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good phone must be in want of a fuck buddy.”

But it wouldn’t be like Austen, not really, because while our landed gentry forebears did have systemic inequality they also had a sense of responsibility to go along with it.  Any fan of Austen will recall the titular character Emma mocking and insulting a poor spinster, Miss Bates, at a picnic.  The older, wiser Mr. Knightley takes her to task for it, not because it was mean per se, not because it was “offensive”, but because Emma was rich and Miss Bates was poor.  Being a wealthy person in the Regency Era may have had privileges, but carried with it a responsibility to be considerate to the less fortunate.  Those familiar with the story will recall that Emma, sweet, spoiled Emma, often visited the sick and dying.  Voluntarily.  She took them food and gifts and was kind to them.  When was the last time any of our elitists were ever kind to a Joad?

helpful hint: writing a tweet about a universal basic income is not kindness.

Our modern day elites seem to think they get to have all the fun, have all the privileges of rank, being, as as Austen described Emma – “handsome, clever, and rich” – and yet at the same time sit in judgement of, or even be downright cruel to, those who are on the rungs of the ladder below.  That isn’t how it works.  That isn’t how any of this works.  You don’t get to have it both ways.  You don’t get to rule and then at the same time act common.  If you truly want to be accepted as elites, behave accordingly.  Act like people worthy of respect, of admiration.  Show kindness and compassion and benevolence even to those who you believe are beneath you.  Listen to us, don’t roll your eyes, don’t tell us to shut up.  Try to understand where we’re coming from because it may not be where you think.  Convince us that you have our interests even the least little bit at heart and then maybe we might take your opinions into consideration.

But when every word out of your mouth is dipped in venom, seething with hate, demanding that we bend our knee to obey you when it is so, so very obvious you despise us, you’re going to get the time-honored Joad answer that has been spoken in thousands of languages since the dawn of time, because Joads have always been and will always be.

Go fuck yourselves.

The most political show on television

The most political show on television

I wrote this piece a couple months ago after binging on the second season of Supergirl. Sharing it now since the 3rd season is premiering this week. 

Previously, on Supergirl:  We find our hero Kara Danvers, better known as Supergirl, living and working on a planet called Earth-38, in alternate universe not too different from our own.  An alien diaspora has occurred and many alien refugees have found…well, refuge…upon Earth-38.  

Most of these aliens are decent folk, a few, not so much.  Perhaps predictably, some humans are not exactly down with their new alien neighbors and reaction runs the gamut, from distrust to disgust to anti-alien terrorism.  Supergirl works for a government agency, the DEO – Department of Extranormal Operations – tasked with keeping the bad aliens in line while protecting the good aliens from the machinations of bad aliens and bad humans alike.

CW + iconic superheroine and it’s a fairly good setup for a show.  It’s kinda like Men in Black only with more hair product.  But then the creators of the show took it a step farther and framed Supergirl as a thinly veiled political parable for the times in which we live.

Yay.

Supergirl has been repeatedly lauded as  “the most political show on television”. Sayings like “nasty woman”, “stronger together”, and “nevertheless, she persisted” are frequently tossed around.  There’s a pro-alien female president played by Lynda Carter (yep, Wonder Woman herself), a character introduced in a cringeworthy episode that first aired just before the election of 2016, who is obviously meant to represent a successfully elected Hillary. 

The aliens, intended as stand-ins for immigrants, are mostly good and harmless and have suffered horribly on their homeworlds.  It is self-evident that the human thing to do is to welcome them to Earth-38 with open arms and learn to live together in peace and harmony.  And even though a few bad kumquats have sneaked through alongside the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, only a heartless ogre would want to send them all back to planets where slavery and genocide are rampant (apparently on virtually all other planets in this universe, slavery and genocide are rampant.) Luckily we have the diligent and effective DEO to protect us from that teensiest smidge of aliens who actually mean us harm, and also to protect the innocent aliens from shady human terrorist organizations like Project Cadmus, a sinister humans-first paramilitary organization led by Lex Luthor’s mom.

So far, so good.  Supergirl follows a pretty standard superhero script – xenophobia bad, tolerance good, ya can’t judge a whole group of people based on the actions of one, trust the good and noble heroes of law enforcement to protect us against the bad guys instead of taking the law into your own hands (usually) – but then Mon-El showed up.

If you haven’t watched the show, Mon-El is a refugee from a planet called Daxam, which is Krypton’s next door neighbor and was sadly pummelled with debris and destroyed, or at least presumed to be, when Krypton exploded.   The two dearly departed worlds despised each other and had warred incessantly throughout their histories.  The Daxamites, according to Kryptonians, were self-indulgent and spoiled, anti-intellectual, caring about no higher principles beyond drinking, partying, and having a good time.  The Kryptonians were smarter, better, nobler, more educated, and just generally more evolved in general.  Additionally, the Daxamites flew the Confederate Flag, watched Nascar, ate pork rinds, and abused opioids while the Kryptonians listened to NPR and discussed intersectionality while delicately chewing kale salad with their carefully flossed teeth  (ok, I possibly made that last part up).

Even Supergirl herself is not immune to anti-Daxamite prejudice, which at first I believed a clever plot device designed to further demonstrate how xenophobia is bad and tolerance is good and ya can’t judge a whole group of people based on the actions of one.  Luckily for all of us, Mon-El happened to be a superduperly cute boy (srsly, that guy is hot, I don’t know how it came to pass that dude was born in the year I graduated from high school, but I demand a recount) and so Supergirl’s instinctive hatred for Daxamites was soon overcome by her instincts for other things.

That was when things started to get weird for me.

Because the whole thing where I thought all this Kryptonian prejudice towards Daxam was just gonna be a plot device where Supergirl learns that prejudice was like, so totally bad, you know, and everything, and grows as a person and stuff?  Didn’t happen.  Her suspicions about Daxamites were proven correct when Mon-El turned out to be incapable of holding down a job and keeping his fly zipped.  And while he did eventually get himself somewhat more together, it was not because he had any innately positive Daxamite qualities to begin with, but because Supergirl INSPIRED him “to be a better man”.   Apparently the cure for Daxaminianism, is Kryptonianity.  Supergirl never really gets over the whole pesky “prejudice” thing either, tossing it back into Mon-El’s pretty, pretty face on numerous occasions that Daxamites actually suck, like, litchrally, and are totes ma goats inferior to Kryptonians in basically every single way.  He invariably agrees, sheepishly, promising to try harder to not act so damn Daxam-y the next time.

And then, when more Daxamites eventually show up, led by Teri Hatcher and Kevin Sorbo as Mon-El’s mom and dad,  Queen Rhea and King I-didn’t-quite-catch-his-name, it is revealed that Supergirl’s prejudice was fully justified, cuz the Daxamites are really really really irredeemably terrible through and through.  The adorable Mon-El is apparently the only exception to the people of Daxam’s universal terribleness (that is, when he’s not going all Daxamic and requiring Supergirl to give him a quick yank of correction on his choke chain) and they want to invade Earth and take it over and turn it into New Daxam and get rid of or maybe just enslave all the humans, they weren’t too clear on that part of the plan.  

Oh and somewhere along the way, the head of the DEO and our magnificent Madame President Not-Hillary are also revealed to be shapeshifting aliens disguised as humans, I forgot to mention that part, so while even though they seem nice and all, their “let’s humans and aliens all be besties” motives are actually kind of suspect.  The DEO itself is revealed to be inept, incompetent, and borderline corrupt.  They disobey orders – even direct orders from the President herself, hold US citizens captive without due process when convenient, and pretty much every episode, one or the other of their agents lets criminals out of prison for their own personal reasons.  No one is ever held accountable for any of it.  And in the end, Supergirl and her gang of pals have to actually team up with the alien-hating Project Cadmus people (ya know, the xenophobic pro-human terrorist organization) to get rid of the invaders, thereby completely proving Cadmus’ point about aliens being a potential threat to the safety of Earth.

WTAF.

Do the writers of Supergirl not realize the greater implications of this plotline?  The message of xenophobia is bad, tolerance is good, not all members of a group are in lockstep, treat everyone as individuals and not as members of a collective ethnic/cultural group, we have nothing to fear from living side by side with those who are different from us, is kind of shot down in flames if an entire race of aliens actually ARE all bad and actually are trying to invade Earth and take over and enslave us all.  Remember, Supergirl was already prejudiced against the Daxamites.  She never really did forswear her prejudice towards any Daxamite other than Mon-El (who as you may recall, is a super cute boy, Lord have mercy is he ever) and even with him, she kept bringing up what a Daxamass he was all the time.  So not only was she prejudiced, not only did she not ever really get over her prejudice or even have it challenged in any appreciable way, but then in the end she was proved 100% right.  And only by giving up his backwards, primitive, savage alien ways and embracing assimilation with both arms and possibly a leg or two, was Mon-El able to keep his green card and remain on Supergirl’s soil, meaning in her apartment.  

Anddd in addition we’re supposed to blindly trust a shady, unaccountable, utterly inept government organization that exists entirely outside the law, headed by probable hostile double agents, to keep us safe from these tricky alien invaders that not even Supergirl trusts and likes?

Um, ok?  

Does this not imply that being prejudiced against certain groups is occasionally justified??  If they’re actually not nice, if they actually are from a people of strangely colored boorish pussygrabbing boobs, for example, and you are from a superior culture of highly evolved, well educated, lily white intellectuals, is it ok to dislike, even hate an entire culture?  Even when your people destroyed their entire planet, like Krypton did to Daxam, or maybe like the US and Europe did to like practically all the other countries in the whole wide world back here on good ole Earth-1, it’s still ok?  Unless they’re unusually attractive and charming individuals, that is?  Then it is ok to forgive them for their irrepressible Daxamite-ishness but continue lording your Kryptoni-awesome superiority over them until the older women in the audience can’t help but think “If Mon-El had landed here, I wouldn’t kick his space pod out of my backyard.”  

But I digress.  

Anyways, it was all very subtexty and weird, all things considered.  I mean, if they’re trying to be political, if they’re claiming it’s a political parable or at least not arguing against the idea, that means that takeaway must be intentional.  Doesn’t it?  I mean, the show has a rep for being the most political show on television, so it’s only fair for me to look at the show through that lens, and hold it up to more intense scrutiny than I do Iron Fist or whatever, right?  If it is political by design, if they aren’t holding up their hands and saying “no we’re just havin’ some fun here peeps” then I cannot write the show’s plot off as just silly comic book superhero tropes.  Supergirl has a larger political point to make, they admit that it does, thus the glaringly obvious message “While USUALLY we should all try to get along and coexist, there are some people with whom you simply cannot live, so it’s ok to hate them and even not feel terribly guilty about destroying their entire planet” cannot be accidental.  

Right up until the last episode I was half-convinced it was all some sort of meta, Bizzaroworld conservative plotline some undercover Kekistani spy was sneaking in thru the back door.   I amassed a dossier containing over a page of hard-hitting, undeniable evidence that I cut from this essay because it made me sound like Louise Mensch or something.

For in the end, as I saw a lesbian couple, a couple of cool black guys, a metrosexual totally non-sexually-threatening computer geek dude, a hopeful young millennial woman, Ally McBeal, Hillary Clinton/Wonder Woman, and inexplicably, an evil terrorist organization, teaming up to stop the Daxamite invasion it dawned on me.  Nope.  There is no bigger message here.  It really is all accidental.  This isn’t anything other than the work of a committee (and ya know what they say about committees) who learned everything they know about plotting, characterization, and worldbuilding from mediocre television and terrible movies directed by Joss Whedon, Zach Snyder, and McG.  A brigade of idiots strung together some familiar tropes and cherry-picked comic book canon into a subtext disaster of epic proportions.  No larger meaning, no grand plan, it was just some really dumb and uncreative people who have so little understanding of the debate over immigration that at no point did it dawn on them that they were actually just putting on a pageant enacting the Right’s entire case against mass immigration and even landing some punches seemingly in support some of the alt-Right’s case as well.

And this is the “most political show on television.”

How could no one have caught any of this?  If you’re trying to be political, isn’t the first priority that you don’t, you know, make the other guy’s case for him/her?  

My theory is, it’s because no one who works on the show really even knows what the dealio is.  They don’t understand the issues at hand.  They may think they do, they may think they’re all megainformed and cutting edge and politically savvy, but they aren’t and they don’t.  Because believe it or not, for the vast majority of people opposed to mass immigration, it is not because they are huge racist meanies who hate people with brown skin.  (This is why you can find millions of minorities and a good-sized chunk of legal immigrants who absolutely despise illegal immigration).  But that’s what an entire generation of people, the kind of folks who on occasion end up writing CW series, have been taught.  That’s the extent of the insight the writers of Supergirl bring to the situation.  Big fat racist fascist meanies.  

But the real case against unlimited immigration is more nuanced than that.  Conservatives (and it isn’t just conservatives either BTW) feel – rightfully or wrongfully – that their culture, their planet, if you will, is being invaded and overrun by people like the Daxamites who want to defeat them, who want to at best consume their resources and at worst, possibly impose a different way of life onto them and their children and grandchildren.  They fear that their way of life will be eradicated.  Just like the Daxamites planned to do to the people of Earth with their scheme to create New Daxam here, obliterating the whole “Earth Culture” thing.  

People are willing to fight for things like that.  We understand it instinctively when we see it played out upon a screen but sometimes we forget when we see it in real life.   We may watch a show or a movie and instinctively understand, yeah, if Daxamites took over Earth and turned it into New Daxam, that would be a bad thing.  Even if the Daxamites were better at running our planet than we are (and some days I think alien overlords couldn’t possibly be worse) we wouldn’t want that to happen, we’d fight against it tooth and nail even when there are things we actively despise about our culture.  Defending one’s way of life is a drive so strong we’d end up laying down our lives to save the fricking Kardashians.   

Now, you and I, enlightened Kryptonian-types that we are, may disagree that that is what immigrants want, when they come here.  To take over, to recreate their homeland here and instead of becoming more like us, to force us to become more like them.  But it doesn’t matter what we believe.  The people who oppose immigration believe it.  As a compassionate and highly evolved people, surely we can see that their fears are legitimate if they believe that to be true.  If they are legitimately afraid their way of life will be eradicated – economically, culturally, and even legally, with laws being passed to outlaw cultural talismans that matter to them.  If they are afraid (and not entirely without reason) that like the DEO on Earth-38, heads of government organizations and possibly even presidents are at best inept and corrupt, and at worst are working actively with the invaders to eradicate their way of life.  Surely anyone with half a heart can understand that if they believe these things, that this is scary, whether you agree with their conclusions or not, and even if their motives are not always totally pure.  

Right or wrong, this fear should be worthy of at least a droplet or two of our sympathy.  But if we, like the writers of Supergirl, don’t even understand why immigration opponents hold the positions they do, if we only see a big fat racist meanie when really there is a terrified person with possibly some bad information upon which they are basing some misguided opinions, then are we really any different from Supergirl, with her knee-jerk anti-Daxamite prejudice?  Are we not, like the Kryptonians, guilty of seeing ourselves as better, superior, more evolved; entitled to sit in judgement of an entire group of people, writing them all off as deplorable, even while congratulating ourselves for our tolerance, even while taking pride in our ability to look at people as individuals instead of judging them on their externals?

In the real world there are no Daxamites.  There are no groups of people who really truly are irredeemably bad and if “the most political show on TV” has the literal symbol of the American Way saying that there are, that means something.  If the moral of Supergirl really is “While USUALLY we should all try to get along and coexist, there are some people with whom you simply cannot live, so it’s ok to hate them and even not feel terribly guilty about destroying their entire planet aka way of life” (and I very well suspect it may be, if only subconsciously) – that means something that should chill all of us to our very bones.  Unfortunately, I think this truly the belief of many, not only writers of silly CW shows but also a great many Americans right now, some of whom are in charge of some pretty important stuff.   The people who it’s ok to hate right now varies depending on what team you’re playing for, but whether it’s immigrants or rednecks, the net result is the same.  Making it ok to hate people if the people you hate are bad enough.

But here’s the thing.  No one ever went out on a pogrom in the middle of the night thinking that they were the bad guys and they were going out to wrongfully, unfairly harm innocent people.  They went out feeling fully justified that what they were doing was absolutely right and completely necessary because they were attacking their borderline inhuman enemies who totally had it coming.  It’s not an attitude to cultivate on cutesy TV shows made to appeal to children who don’t know any different.  Xenophobia, bad.  Tolerance, good.  It’s a powerful message, an important message.  Can’t we just leave it at that?  The message that it’s sometimes ok to hate others under certain circumstances is toxic.  If the last 2 centuries have taught us nothing, can’t we please just finally learn that lesson?     

Tolerating people you like is not a challenge.  Understanding people who are exactly like you is not difficult either.  Tolerating people you hate and striving to understand those who are different is a noble goal worthy of a superhero.   That is a message worthy of Supergirl.     

 

you can’t sexually harass the willing

you can’t sexually harass the willing

Or, do women have a right to sleep their way to the top?

Everyone’s heard about the Harvey Weinstein scandal by now.  He pressured women who wanted to get ahead in Hollywood, not only actresses but assistants, writers, producers, even reporters, to provide sexual favors for him, or to watch him perform sexual favors for himself.  This was ostensibly in exchange for help with their careers in some way or just because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I’ll skip the gory details, I think most of us have heard or read about it by now.  It’s seamy, seedy, skeevy, sleazy, sordid.  The kind of thing you read and your eyeballs long for tiny shower stalls they can huddle in for a while afterwards.  

We’ve heard from some of the victims now, and we’ve all clucked our collective tongues and expressed the proper sentiments regarding how terrible it all is.  But I find myself not particularly interested in the victims that have come forward, the ones who said no and fled as quickly as they could.  I find myself more intrigued by the women who did it.  Because if this was happening, if Weinstein was letting his freak flag fly as proudly as it sounds like, I suspect that a not-small group of women went for it.  It’s a risk-benefit analysis; pretty big risk for the guy to take over and over if it never paid off for him.  It had to have paid off for him at least sometimes.

I have read a few sentiments expressed along the lines of “If these women got their Hollywood success that way, they should have to give back their money and awards just like Lance Armstrong”.  And you know what, fuck off.  Lance Armstrong was breaking the rules of his sport and possibly the law (I don’t care about it enough to Google it) whereas these women were playing by the rules of Hollywood.  Do you doubt that??  I don’t.  Silently tolerating sexual harassment and even assault IS one of the rules of Hollywood.  Come on, we know the score, we know all about the casting couch, and these women played by the rules of the game.  They made a choice, and maybe it was a choice they would have preferred not to make in an ideal world, but they made it, and maybe they secretly stand by it.  Maybe they’re at peace with it.  Maybe they’re even happy that they made it.  Maybe that choice was not the choice others made, and maybe it’s not what you personally would have done, but it was their choice to make.

I’m gonna make a confession here.  If the only thing standing between me and getting my scripts produced was watching Harvey Weinstein take a shower and rub one out, I’m not totally sure I’d walk out.  In fact, I’m all but totally sure I wouldn’t.   Hell, last week my dentist told me that I need a $1300 crown and if he had made me an offer I’m not even sure I would have turned that down. There were a couple of potted plants in the room and I was in a good mood that day.    Who knows?

A lot of people like to get on their high horse and forget what being poor is like.  What wanting something really, really badly is like.  Take it from someone who has had to chisel frozen dog crap out of the snow for years, plural, to accomplish a goal that I desperately wanted to achieve, it’s easy to say all the things you would never, ever do in a million years when you’re happy and successful already.  But until you’ve been hungry and/or desperate, you don’t know what you’d do to get out of that and to make your dream come true.

Now, Ashley Judd, I completely believe that something awful happened to her 20 years ago just like she says, and that it took a lot of gumption for her to walk out of there.  Good for her.  But her family was already rich, remember?  She already had connections.  She was also 29 years old, give or take, she’d been working in Hollywood for some time, and was not a young ingenue the way she’s being painted.  My complaint is, people applauding her bravery – as they should, bravo, Ashley – while simultaneously whispering things under their breath about the women who may have gone another way.  Many of these women were not in the position of relative strength that Ashley Judd was.  Some were undoubtedly desperate and struggling and wanted to realize their dreams and they felt that they needed Weinstein’s help to get ahead.  These women deserve NO censure.  They are as brave as those who have come forward.   Perhaps braver.

Weinstein may be a vile person, in fact I can state definitively that he is.  Hollywood may be a cesspool that needs to be razed and rebuilt  (I have a bulldozer, if anyone wants to borrow it).  But it is NOT a woman’s fault when she tries to take control of her own destiny in a terrible situation not of her creation, even it when it means she may have to make some compromises with her own personal sense of integrity.  Ever.  It doesn’t make her a coward or weak.  It is gross and wrong to raise a judgmental brow at the women who went for it and all too easy to sit at your computer 2000 miles away and declare that you’d never do the same.  

Whether you like it or not, women’s bodies are a commodity.  Especially in Hollywood.  Seriously, the whole damn place is about commodifying the human body.  I have an inkling that most of the women who go to Hollywood know this going in and have already made their peace with that.  If a woman chooses to trade on her body, or if she feels or felt at any time in the past that she had to, to get ahead, I refuse to slut shame her.  Her body is hers to use as she sees fit.  I refuse to paint her as “less brave” than someone who made a different decision in the same shitty set of circumstances.  It doesn’t make what happened consensual or right, either.  It means a woman was put into a situation that she never should have been put into because a man acted badly, because there was a system in place that enabled a man to act badly with no consequences, and she made the best she could out of that.  I respect her choices.    

So I wonder, as I look at the celebrities that are talking and those that are staying silent, is this really complicity??  Are these women who aren’t jumping on the bandwagon (now that it’s socially acceptable to do so, that is) and flaunting how virtuous they are (now that they’re free from repercussions), is it really because they are necessarily defending Weinstein?  Maybe they were in a similar situation themselves and they feel all kinds of ways about it.  Maybe they’re STILL in that situation – because if you think this stops at Weinstein, I have a lovely piece of waterfront property in Palm Springs to sell you.  The women who felt they had to grant sexual favors to powerful men to succeed in the industry are STILL victims, even if they went along with it, even if they didn’t kick the dude in the balls and dial 911.  The women who feel they have to stay silent or risk losing their livelihood and all their friends are still victims.  They’re still victims even if they’ve capitalized on it along the way.  Even if they’re victims that pulled victory from the jaws of defeat, people who turned a sow’s ear into a silk purse, paired it with a Gucci dress and rocked the ensemble at the Golden Globes.

Women have been doing that since women were invented.  Anyone with even the barest knowledge of history has to acknowledge that women have had to make lots of deals with lots of devils over the last few millennia.  They mostly made these deals for things like food and shelter and to keep their children alive, not fame and fortune and a star embedded into a sidewalk but we women know how to cut a deal when we need to.  Men may be big and strong and run the world and all that, but we gals have our resources too.  Sexuality is definitely one of them.  I think we have a right to trade on that if we wanna.

It is clearly a huge, serious problem when there is a serial abuser like Weinstein who is fed unwitting victims as if he’s some kind of sexual Sarlacc pit.  It is clearly a problem when an entire industry covers for this practice.  But look at how easily it has become about the women.  Some of them actually DID it!  Some of them actually did.  Who the eff even cares?  It is not my business or your business any more than it’s my business or your business when a man negotiates a kick-ass golden parachute package or a football player becomes a free agent.     

It’s funny how cultural mores ostensibly meant to protect women so easily devolve into a sneaky form of anti-feminism.  Many sentiments – from both left and right – come prepacked with a backhanded compliment, a vote of no confidence.  The call to “protect” women carries with an implication that society needs to save us from ourselves, because we are too fragile and weak and hysterical to manage it.  A woman can’t make some mental calculations and decide, “yeah, I’m gonna trade X for Y here” because if she does it’s obvious that she’s a gold digger, an opportunist, a whore, or so brainwashed by the patriarchy that she agreed to icky, icky sex, ew, gross, yuk, because it is known that women in their natural, unmolested states are all virginal saints who would never have sex if we weren’t forced into it by hairy scary males in one way or the other.

That ain’t freedom, baby.

I mean, what are we really saying here – are we saying that all women need to give up trading sex for privileges forever in perpetuity because some dudes can’t control themselves and are forcing it on women who don’t want to make a deal?  Because personally – even though my ability to sleep my way anyplace has sagged down around my knees at this point, I would like to keep that card in reserve.  An ace in the hole, so to speak, to be played at such time as I so choose.  I, me.  No one else.  And not because I’m brainwashed either; it’s because I can recognize a resource when I see one.

Oh, and if anyone knows a really horny dentist, DM me.