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More bark than bite

This is a little interim meta to my outsider`s POV project. It deals with the question of Dean being a smart-aleck.And sometimes people get named for this. *wink wink*


More bark than bite - Dean and Attitude

He doesn`t mind drawing the attention, he has little respect for authority and he snarks with the best of them. But how much of this is genuine? And how much is just smokescreen?

Most obvious explanation would be has a an ego the size of Texas. And that is something I`ve never, ever gotten from the show. Sure, he will be proud of his hunting skills or his good looks and charm but if there is one thing Dean truly has a problem with, it is his evaluation of self, his ego. The guy defines himself through his family and hunting, through how well he can perform at those jobs. In that he has practically NO ego at all. His dreams, his aspirations? We hardly even know what they were. He buried them for his overriding need to keep the family together. Utter co-dependency and a big ego are kinda mutually exclusive IMO.

Yet I don`t mean to imply he doesn`t have fun acting out. Because he totally does. He relishes in breaking the rules, especially when he deems them stupid. He enjoys being a cocky bastard every now and then.
But I think the show has proven to us without a doubt that he is more than a surface guy. He helps people in need, he is fiercely protective of his family, he tends to take on guilt (SW), he reflects on the things he`s done (DT). Hell, in the Pilot he flat-out admitted his want/need for Sam`s help. So the guy has depth.

He`s also proven to be incapable of dealing with chick flick moments directed at him. Sam tried a few times to offer him apologies or comfort but Dean always cuts these moments short. So I think we can safely say Dean doesn`t wanna be treated like a Woobie. Which of course woobiefies him even more for the fans. It`s pretty much like the messiah thing in "The Life of Brian."
So what better way to put a stop to this, before it can even happen, by being as loud and as obnoxious as possible, making people resent you. It`d still be tons better than being coddled.
And bonus point, it keeps people at arms length which means they can`t hurt you so easily. That`s one of the oldest tricks in the books as far as defense mechanisms go.


I always thought his distinct lack of respect for any formal authority, be it man`s law or God`s, is very telling in light of how he jumps to attention for his father. He obeys John without question, which granted changed a little in the time of their separation and Dean`s time with Sam, yet that doesn`t seem to be Dean`s core personality.
He doesn`t have a submissive personality, he is perfectly capable and willing to take the lead in a dangerous situation. And he`s not doing too bad at it, I`d say. Also he seems to relish being a bit of a smart ass, he likes bantering.

Yet in his family life he has taken on the role of obedient, dependable child. Understandable given the responsibilities he had to shoulder from a very young age. And seeing as Sam was the squeaky wheel when they grew up, I can`t see Dean going through much of a teenage rebellion phase. So to the world at large he acts out. He is a smart-aleck to officers of the law in a way he wouldn`t dream of talking to his Dad. Can you say Overcompensation.

He also has a high risk occupation with little benefits to gain from it. His life entails moving around a lot, never making a lasting impression on one place. This is both freeing and a burden. He doesn`t need to worry about people`s opinion of him, seeing as he won`t probably encounter them ever again. Yet he will also in all likelyhood quickly be forgotten.
So he might as well make the most of the time he has. He is very pragmatic in his life, so yes, he likes having fun, blowing off steam. Be it in the form of some hot threesome or mouthing off to some uptight guy who`d probably run screaming if he ever saw a ghost.

And lets not forget his looks. Not only is he the physically smallest of his family (and god that must have stung when Sammy outgrew him *g*), despite all his doubtless manliness there is some feminine aspect to his beauty. How often is he called "pretty" by the fangirls? The word "Pretty" evokes a certain feeling of girlishness. And really, the lashes, the pouty lips, the huge eyes? Some women would kill for that. ;)
Yet he lives in a tough environment, staying in rundown motels, hanging.in seedy bars. Hustling for money. Now he must seem like an open invitation for some drunken rednecks, trying to pick a fight with the "pretty boy." And I imagine if he ever lost at pool or poker or needed something there have been guys offering to take it out in trade.
Yes, he can handle himself in a fight and he has the compact muscular built of a street-fighter but how often has that deterred some drunken hicks, feeling strong in a group?

Also if someone has seen the infamous photos of Jensen from his DOOL-era, the ones that just scream teenage rent-boy, that should give one a good impression of the looks of teenage Dean. The show has shown us some other hunters or at least network people in Elkins, Bobby, Pastor Jim and Caleb. It seems to be a world of gruff manly man (well, Caleb seemed youngish too). Like Dean wouldn`t have to endure massive teasing for his looks, not to mention other a lot more unpleasant things directed his way.

And I imagine both boys got the "white trash" treatment a lot of the times at new towns, new schools. For some reason I can`t see Dean being all aloof about that. He just would deal with the hurt differently than Sam, internalizing the pain and acting out even more to give the rich brats a real reason to be pissed off. Sam otoh would try to make himself invisible to them.

So it`s actually no wonder to me Dean has developed tons of attitude. It`s like saying: "Come on, say it. Just give me a reason." It`s defensive mechanism and preemptive strike in one.
And with Dean it really is a lot more bark than it is bite.

Funnily enough while Dean would be like a little animal that puffs up to appear differently, Sam does the reverse. He is freakishly tall and as Hell House has shown us he is nicely built. Yet he hides his body under layers upon layers, crouches and generally tries to make him smaller and unassuming.
Again and in most aspects they`re quite the pair here. The yin and yang.

Comments

( 29 have dazzled me — Dazzle me )
legoline
Jul. 12th, 2006 10:54 am (UTC)
Okay, so my comment vanished ^^

Basically, I'm possibly posting a longer comment later, am quite busy right now - but mostly, agreed on all acounts and I love to discuss characters with you :p

Also the Life Of Brian reference made me laugh out loud. It's so true :p
astri13
Jul. 12th, 2006 03:27 pm (UTC)
I love to discuss characters with you :p

Likewise. :)

Also the Life Of Brian reference made me laugh out loud. It's so true :p

I can just see it, Dean surrounded by fangirls:

"Listen I`m not a Woobie. Really, truly I`m not."
in awe: "Only a true Woobie denies his Woobiedom."
"What, you gotta give me a chance. Okay, I AM a Woobie."
screeching: "He is one. He is one." *g*

And lets not forget the scene that Brian had the next morning after the Messiah thing. ;) I love that movie.
legoline
Jul. 12th, 2006 04:54 pm (UTC)
And lets not forget the scene that Brian had the next morning after the Messiah thing. ;)

*GASP* Dean for Messiah! Dean for Messiah!!!

astri13
Jul. 12th, 2006 07:18 pm (UTC)
*GASP* Dean for Messiah! Dean for Messiah!!!

That`s the spirit. ;)

Too bad the show is not on cable, like HBO or Showtime. They have honest to god full frontals. *g*
legoline
Jul. 12th, 2006 07:36 pm (UTC)
*sighs* Well - we still have our imagination :p

Or like I said to my friend - if Jensen Ackles was God, I'd start praying again in an instant :p
astri13
Jul. 12th, 2006 07:45 pm (UTC)
Well - we still have our imagination :p

And fanfic. Unbelievable sinful acts of debauchery are done with and to poor Dean in fanfic. *g*

Or like I said to my friend - if Jensen Ackles was God, I'd start praying again in an instant :p

But then he`d be too far away. Actually I`d like him more in a touchy-feely capacity.
legoline
Jul. 12th, 2006 07:57 pm (UTC)
He could be God on earth, you know. Like Alanis Morissette in Dogma :p (I wonder whether he likes mini golfing?)

Unbelievable sinful acts of debauchery are done with and to poor Dean in fanfic. *g*


Poor, poor wooblet :p
astri13
Jul. 12th, 2006 08:01 pm (UTC)
He could be God on earth, you know. Like Alanis Morissette in Dogma :p (I wonder whether he likes mini golfing?)

I can totally see him mini-golf.

Poor, poor wooblet :p

If ever a character was asking to be molested written about, it is him.

legoline
Jul. 12th, 2006 08:04 pm (UTC)
I can totally see him mini-golf.


And Sam being totally annoyed. And Dean all "Dude, did you see that?" *lol*

If ever a character was asking to be written about, it is him.


Definitely. I can't believe how... deep the character is, you know?

astri13
Jul. 12th, 2006 08:08 pm (UTC)
Definitely. I can't believe how... deep the character is, you know?

Tell me about it. Fanfic authors everywhere are just lining up to get...into him or onto him or on top of him. ;)


legoline
Jul. 12th, 2006 08:10 pm (UTC)
Any position would do, really.

We're just trying to torture him make him feel better, you know? :-p
astri13
Jul. 12th, 2006 08:26 pm (UTC)
Any position would do, really.

I`m willing to bet that he heard THAT particular phrase before. *g*

We're just trying to torture him make him feel better, you know? :-p

Well, you know what they say: You only hurt the ones you love. ;)
legoline
Jul. 12th, 2006 08:29 pm (UTC)
I`m willing to bet that he heard THAT particular phrase before. *g*

No way, you THINK? O_O

Well, you know what they say: You only hurt the ones you love. ;)

Well, going by that I love him more than anyone :p
astri13
Jul. 12th, 2006 08:38 pm (UTC)
Well, going by that I love him more than anyone :p

If him being hurt in fanfic-land is any indication he is a most beloved one. ;)

legoline
Jul. 12th, 2006 08:39 pm (UTC)
Someone should tell him that he's loved by someone after all :p

Oh and back to meta-ing...you know what line breaks me every time?

"I know my Dad better than anyone."

"My Dad" - almost sounds like "My daddy", like he's four years old *pats him*
astri13
Jul. 12th, 2006 08:42 pm (UTC)
"I know my Dad better than anyone."

"My Dad" - almost sounds like "My daddy", like he's four years old *pats him*


And when he pleads with him later, it really sounds like: "Daddy please" And you just know he has not given up on this person we saw at the beginning of the Pilot, the awesome Daddy.
No wonder Sam was never so hng up about John, he never knew that guy but Dean did. And he would have done everything to bring him back. *sob*
legoline
Jul. 12th, 2006 08:46 pm (UTC)
And when he pleads with him later, it really sounds like: "Daddy please" And you just know he has not given up on this person we saw at the beginning of the Pilot, the awesome Daddy.


The beginning of the pilot breaks me every time. I mean look at John's interaction with Dean there, it's pure fatherly love and pride.

No wonder Sam was never so hng up about John, he never knew that guy but Dean did.

Never thought about that but of course, you're right. It's probably past Sam why Dean clings to his father so much for that reason - he only knows the marine, but Dean knows their actual father and he remembers he once got love and affection from his Dad, and he misses it.
astri13
Jul. 12th, 2006 08:50 pm (UTC)
The beginning of the pilot breaks me every time. I mean look at John's interaction with Dean there, it's pure fatherly love and pride.

It`s painful knowing what`s coming. That Demon really screwed this poor family left, right and sideways. *kicks him*

legoline
Jul. 12th, 2006 09:00 pm (UTC)
Definitely. And I can't help wondering what Dean would be like if thedemon hadn't killed Mary.
astri13
Jul. 12th, 2006 09:12 pm (UTC)
Wah, that`s like one million plot bunnies. *g*
I think it`s even possible that Dean would be a geek, what with the tinkering with electronics and stuff. Also as the oldest child he`d still be the responsible dependent one and protective of his younger brother. I think it`s a fairly common dynamic.
legoline
Jul. 12th, 2006 09:15 pm (UTC)
He possibly would, only with a little more self-esteem. *lol*

I can see him going to college, and having a not so close relationship to Sam. Friendly possible and less "You ruined my life and I hate you!" like from Sam's side, but definitely not that close. And I can see them not hanging out much together with each having their own circle of friends.

And I think Dean would probably be married at the age of 25 or something :-)
tsuki_no_bara
Jul. 12th, 2006 02:21 pm (UTC)
i don't know how relevant this is, but dean's only the smallest in his family in comparison. jensen's 6'1" - he's not a little guy. get dean away from dad and sam and he can physically intimidate someone just by standing there and glaring. i'd hazard a guess that some of his 'tude might be a reaction to being shorter than his baby brother and (i think a little) shorter than his dad, but not from being the smallest guy in the room in any other circumstance.

...er. you kind of said that already, tho, didn't you.... >.<

also i tend to think teenage!dean was harder-looking than teenage!jensen - i can't imagine he'd have streaked his hair - but i think your point about him being pretty is a valid one. he still would've had the pouty lips, even if he didn't actually use the pout. he was still a pretty boy in an ugly business.
astri13
Jul. 12th, 2006 03:19 pm (UTC)
also i tend to think teenage!dean was harder-looking than teenage!jensen

Oh, I imagine he did everything possible to look tough and manly but like you said he just can`t help the pouty lips and the long lashes and the perfect facial features. *g*
In the hunting world where the average citizen tends to go more towards Pa Bender in appearance he would have stuck out. And if he did start hustling as a teenager, he`d probably have attracted some unwanted company/propositions.

I just see the majority of his attitude coming from that then any feelings of true superiority and general asshatness like people might think when they first meet him.
hinter
Jul. 21st, 2006 12:28 pm (UTC)
Wow, that was a really great analysis of Dean's character—I have a friend who doesn't like him much whom I may be linking here soonish. ;)
astri13
Jul. 21st, 2006 01:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you. *blushes*

Awww, how can you not like Dean? Ts,ts. :) He has a vulnerable core to him, he is fiercely protective of anybody he loves and he has such a great need to help people in danger. And a martyr complex to boot. Out of the Winchesters he fascinates me the most because he internalizes his pain so much while John and Sam voice it a lot more.

I think without Dean Sam would have either walked his fathers path after Jess death, becoming obsessed and dangerous or he would have sunk into despair and guilt. Him finally laughing again in Hell House was such a joy to watch and Dean helped him a great deal to get there.
ellipsisblack
Jul. 30th, 2006 04:09 am (UTC)
This is pretty much the best treatment of Dean I've seen. I agree with all of it, partly a priori and partly because your meta really made me think about Dean better. Linked it in my piece on John, just so you know.
astri13
Jul. 30th, 2006 10:20 pm (UTC)
Wow, thank you. I admit I`m a proud Dean-girl and thus quick to sympathize with him but I don`t really see this overconfident guy who "needs to be put in his place every now and then".
I mean, sure he might come off like this to the people they briefly meet in the show but I think we as the audience have seen how much of that is an act. And he really, really doesn`t suffer from an over-inflated ego. With his abandonment issues and his martyr/guilt/saviour complex there would harldy be any room for that anyway. ;)
ellipsisblack
Jul. 30th, 2006 11:07 pm (UTC)
I don't think Dean has a martyr complex. ;) I think he has an almost non-existent ego, like you said, and has pretty much completely subsumed his Self into the family unit, and I think he's willing to die for the family unit, just like John (nay, John seems DETERMINED to die for the family unit) and Sam.

But unlike John and Sam, he's not determined to seek the kind of danger where they could seriously die, ie hunting down the Demon. He wants the Demon dead, but not if John or Sam are going to go off and get themselves killed for it. Like he says in the middle of DT, John and Sam are so eager to sacrifice themselves for it, but he's going to be the one to bury them (in other words, they're going to die and he's going to survive), and then, he also says that the Demon is not worth getting killed over. John, I think, is actually the one with the saviour complex. Dean takes the colt when they go to retrieve John, because to him, keeping all three of the Winchesters alive is most important; far moreso than preserving the bullets for the Demon. Sam, I don't know about, but I'm pretty sure John only wants two Winchesters alive, and John ain't one of them, which might explain why Dean knew John would "rip him a new one" for taking the gun to retrieve him. John would probably have preferred if the boys gave him up for dead (because, goddamnit, he wants to die fighting this thing, and they keep damned well saving him!!!!~).

Anyway, yes, I think, of the three of them, Dean has the least of the saviour complex. I mean, he'd die for either of them, but he'd really just prefer if they stopped trying to get themselves killed so that he didn't HAVE to die for them, lol.
astri13
Jul. 31st, 2006 12:40 am (UTC)
I meant it more in relation to hunting in general. Dad hunts for vengeance. The Demon has becomes his white whale. It is the big holy grail and I agree, Dad plans on going down with it. In fact I think he`d see that as merciful relief.
Sam too hunts out of vengeance and the more he finds out he is targeted, the more he realizes he HAS to destroy the Demon or normal life is out of the question. Unless he fancies more people going flambé. But after the deed is done, he wants to go back to school etc.

Dean otoh has stated often enough he is in it to help people. And while the Demon is personal for him, he plans on keep up hunting because there are other monsters. He has the natural Help-people-mentality. He chooses a life you don`t get much personal gain from but he`d do it anyway. And it is very high risk, as the rawhead incident showed each hunt is dangerous on its own. Also I`m guessing if he couldn`t hunt anymore he`d still prefer a "helper" job, fireman for example.

Now his family is his overriding concern and of course their saftey means more to him than getting the Demon. He doesn`t have the same burning need that John and Sam have, that makes it different for him. If say, a supernatural being killed Sam, I`d say batten down the hatches, there comes hurricane Dean. :)
But he isn`t as concerned about his own safety than he is about them. He is the Protector, especially to Sam (and Dad when he is around) but to the helpless in general.
Sam is willing and has proven to be able to walk away from that. For Dean it would take a whole of a lot to make that believable.
( 29 have dazzled me — Dazzle me )