someone said summarize season one of teen wolf in 10 words or less so
[text: “but I’m good at computers”, photograph of no you’re not.]
On Scott McCall (and why I wish TW would stop making me hate him)
Okay, see, here’s the inherent flaw with pretty much all modern (and some classic even) heroic narratives: the hero only becomes the hero at the expense of other people. In short: the hero is rewarded for taking action, regardless of what those actions are or the consequences of those actions. All the other characters, even characters cast in roles of support to the hero end up punished for taking actions but especially actions taken in defense of themselves or others. This tendency gets especially problematic when it comes to female characters, whom often experience sexualized narratives, especially sexualized violence, in response to taking action.
Scott continually takes actions — good, dumb, heroic, devious, a mix of all of these — but those actions always have consequences for the people around him. For example, if Derek had succeeded in killing Jackson/the kanima, how many lives might that have saved? So, while arguably fighting to “save” Jackson is the heroic action, Scott’s insistence on doing so directly leads to letting Matt continue to rampage throughout the town. Other people pay the consequences, Scott does not. Scott’s actions with Allison continually paint Allison as the, hrm, not necessarily “bad guy” but often “hysterical,” or “misguided,” or just a “bitch” (fandom’s term following the season 2 ending, not mine). The audience obviously knows a lot more information about what’s going on than Allison ever does throughout the entire show, from when she “stupidly” breaks up with Scott for lying to her and putting her in danger and standing her up and being an all-around creep, or when she hunts and studies dangerous werewolves with the one person who actually tries to tell her stuff that she needs to know about her family, her friends, and her boyfriend, or loses it following the completely unjustified death of her mother caused by one of those very dangerous werewolves… all stuff that could have gone so very differently if, you know, the men in her life — Scott in particular — had just talked to her. Scott’s actions in hiding the various truths from Allison — about himself, about her family — create consequences for Allison, really serious consequences for her mental, physical, and emotional health (not to mention the loss of her mother, the loss of her beloved aunt, the loss of likely any trust she had in her parents or family)… and Scott’s consequences boil down to being sad that he’s not dating Allison anymore and going back to where he started before he was bitten. There’s already a 700-odd something note post that describes my feelings about Scott’s actions regarding Derek so, yeah, we’re not going to go there because this will likely loose coherency and descend into rabid rants about agency narratives and how I kind of want to stab everyone in the TW writers’ room when I actually sit and think about it.
- For extra real-life disturbing, think about how closely this maps to US foreign policy. I keep wondering if US policy is driven by the available hero narratives, or vice versa, or if they both are driven by some underlying dynamic, probably the construction of masculinity.
- I see this process (Hero Intensification by Supporter Suppression, but there’s got to be some jazzier way of phrasing it), which as you say is widespread to the point of being default, as one of the driving forces behind fanfiction. Specifically, I’m thinking about how in many (though not all) of the fanfic-heavy fandoms with which I’m familiar, the TPTB-designated hero is *not* the most popular character in fanfic.
If you, the viewer, don’t identify with the Designated Hero, then you can expect that the character you *do* identify with will be sacrified to him. This creates dissatisfaction, which leads to the writing of fanfic, but it also creates a lot of anger & resentment toward the DH.
I’ve seen it in ST:TOS (where Spock was *always* more popular with fans than Kirk), in Highlander, in The Sentinel, in Smallville, in Stargate SG-1, in Stargate Atlantis, and now in TW. I suspect it operates in Inception fandom, but I know less about that. Fan failure to identify with the DH has not been a big issue for Supernatural, Merlin, BBC Sherlock. I don’t know about what the dynamics are for Doctor Who fandom, and Marvelverse fandom has too many possible heroes for any single hero to suck up all the agency oxygen.
- For Teen Wolf, I think something shifted between S1 and S2 to make this whole process get worse.
The finale of S1 involves *every* teen character cooperating to take down Peter: Allison shoots him, Scott fights him, Stiles and Jackson throw incendiary devices that Lydia made.They *show*, not just tell, that the pack is stronger together.
The finale of S2 involves Scott making decisions alone to successfully take down Gerard. He only involves other people to use them. Things fall apart, but Scott still succeeds. Pack, what pack? He don’t need no stinkin’ pack
I have no idea why Jeff Davis did this, if he meant the ending of S2 to be triumphant or deeply disturbing. I fear the shift from S1 to S2 was caused by sheer laziness and intertia, reverting back to Hollywood-default Designated Heroism. In which case I fear the worst for S3, when his work pace must be much more demanding and he’s spending more time in Hollywood, surrounded by its defaults.
- Might you consider putting this up on Dreamwidth or AO3, for ease of stable reference? Is it OK if I send this tumblr link to metanews?
EXTRAPOLATION, I LIKES IT *evil laugh*
Seriously though, lemme take this stuff out of order, ‘cause that’s the way my brain works.
2. Reading this list honestly made me think of another classic sci-fi tv show: Battlestar Galactica (the ‘78 version, not the reboot). Starbuck, the support character, was the vast favorite over Apollo (not a surprise given than Starbuck was basically Han Solo and Apollo was as bland as could be). This upset the dynamics of the show so much (including Richard Hatch who played Apollo) that the writers literally had to swap the character’s personalities in an attempt to make Apollo likeable (spoiler alert: it failed).
But, funny anecdotes aside, I think it says a lot about our masculinity tropes in terms of how the Hero characters often aren’t fan-favorites or easily embraced (at least within strong narrative-driven plots as opposed to something like Master Chief from Halo which is clearly designed as a self avatar). We reject the Heroic archetype Scott portrays just as we simultaneously crave it (we’ll ignore what we do with female characters whom are lucky enough to be given Hero traits). If you think about it, it’s really no wonder that men are so confused by masculinity if they’re told these two very different cultural narratives. And it’s no wonder women feel disempowered when they aren’t given a positive cultural narrative that doesn’t have to do with available sexuality (which are getting rarer) or beauty.
1 & 3. I have to address these together because, jesus, you don’t want to know how much I’ve written about new!Kirk as a neo-liberal hero versus Spock as a representative of more “modern” masculinity. And that’s sort of the same thing we have going on in TW; the difference is that the neo-liberal hero (Derek) is rejected and the “modern” masculine hero (Scott) is accepted, at least in S1, and I really enjoyed seeing that happen because it’s so counter to the national narrative. S2 reverses that and fits Scott with more neo-liberal characteristics… and he wins. It’s weird! Or maybe not: see the “national narrative” comment. It’s ner-liberal values, ideologies, and narratives that Bush relied on to start a war (both Bushes, actually). Reagan used it for the “war on drugs.” This is (at least) a thirty year “traditional” narrative.
4. …that would require me remembering my DW password. But if you want, go ahead and link!
I just find meta like this insanely fascinating. And it makes me wonder in what ways (if any) parts of this might tie into that popular piece of Supernatural meta about genre that I once related to Scott and Stiles? IDK, I just love taking apart narratives in different ways to try and understand an audience’s varying reactions to it.
In line with the tie-in about the type of hero genres Stiles and Scott occupy, a large part of fandom’s rejection of Scott as the designated hero probably also has to do with the way he is removed from major points and action sequences of the story — oftentimes by his own choices and actions.
Much of this line of meta has been about masculinity of Scott vs. Derek, because textually Derek is Scott’s foil, but metatextually, fandom’s rejection of Scott as the DH is set around its desire for and acceptance of Stiles to be the hero. As related to the heroes of genre meta, not only is Stiles a better fit in the thriller/horror genre itself, but this also has to do with the way Stiles directly inserts himself in major points and action sequences in the story by his own choice.
That is what the audience expects of the DH, a la James Bond. Someone who chooses to Be There, Doing Shit in the Direct Line of Fire even when s/he doesn’t have to be. The fact that many of TW’s major plot events occur with Stiles in the direct line of fire while Scott is playing lacrosse (1x9) or having dinner with Allison’s family (1x4) or both (2x4) makes it even more problematic for Scott’s heroic narrative. That isn’t to say that important things related to the plot don’t happen while Scott is doing what he is doing [by necessity] but the fact that more important and more major plot events are occurring in his absence severely undermines Scott’s heroic designation and reinforces Stiles’. (And that’s not even to mention that Stiles was the instigator of the final climactic push for both 1x12 and 2x12, which is a more DH role).
So if Scott’s textual heroic narrative is problematically built on the suppression of characters who don’t deserve it, Scott’s metatexual heroic narrative is built on Stiles not getting to be the hero. Which wouldn’t even be a problem if 1) they stopped giving so much of the accepted heroic narratives to Stiles in the first place and 2) stopped trying to make it better by having Scott show up last minute and “fix” things. (Am I the only one who was bitter that Stiles held Derek up in a pool for four hours and then Scott was supposed to be the hero because he showed up almost too late and wrung them both out of the water? Okay.)
I do want to like Scott because I think objectively he’s a good guy, but so much of the way Teen Wolf is written is about him being the hero by screwing everyone else over — both textually and metatextually. I recognize that it’s not his fault within the story, but the fact that him being propelled to hero status has to be propped up less by suppressing villainous characters and more by characters we actually like really leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
I like how the hamster’s fear response is to just eat faster like
If I’m going to die, it should be with a full stomach.