itsnotmymind (itsnotmymind) wrote,

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"I Put Down a Monster"

I'm trying out the crossposting to Dreamwidth thing.

This is a post about the uses of the word "monster" to describe (SPN) Amy Pond and Benny Lafitte.


I was able to find three times where Amy Pond was called a "monster". The first is when young Sam finds out that Amy is a monster, as a boy. He says simply, "You're a monster." Amy doesn't deny it. She simply, in return, points out what Sam is: "You're a hunter. So... You're supposed to kill me? And I'm supposed to kill you?"

The second time is in The Mentalists, when Dean justifies killing her. In response to Sam saying that Dean had killed "my friend", Dean says, "I put down a monster who killed four people, and if you didn't know her, you'd have done the same thing." The verb "put down" is also dehumanizing - rabid dogs are "put down". In the Girl Next Door, Amy is also referred to as a "freak" by Dean. Dean at this time is discussing teenage Amy, who may never have directly killed anyone.

The last use of the word "monster" to describe Amy is also in The Mentalists, but this time it's Sam. "If she was... just any monster, I'm not sure I could have let her walk away. I don't know. I mean, I'll never know." It's almost a return to the previous time Amy was described as a "monster" by Sam. Amy's a monster. Hunters kill monsters. Sam made an exception because he knew her. This isn't quite what happened, but it is the narrative of the story - perhaps it is how Sam saw it.

Note that it is Sam and Dean, sympathetic characters, calling her a monster. Amy doesn’t deny it when Sam calls her a monster, but she never claims the title for herself. No unsympathetic characters refer to her as a monster.

I've compared Amy Pond to Madison in the past, pointing out how Madison’s monstrosity and humanity are very separate, while Amy’s are inseparable. Amy Pond is a monster. This is a fact. It’s blunt and in your face. No apology. No romanticization.

I can find two examples of Benny being referred to as a "monster". The first is in Blood Brother, and it's Benny himself. It is when he is rejecting Andrea: "What I loved – it ain't here anymore. It was snuffed out a long time ago by monsters like me... like what you've become."

First of all, I've always found Benny's rejection of Andrew to be skeevy. He thinks Andrea is tarnished and unlovable because she has become a vampire. "What I loved - it ain't here anymore." Yet Benny still loves, still expects to be loved, and judging from his affection for his great-granddaughter still feels a connection to his human self. But Andrea is no longer pure, so she is no longer good enough to be his love.

Benny talks about "what" he loved. He’s objectifying her. She’s a thing, she’s not clean anymore, so he doesn’t value her anymore. It’s not the he thinks he’s better than her, exactly. He thinks that men can get down and dirty and still be lovable. Women lose their very essence when they do that, and are too dirty to love. He doesn't love Andrea, because she is now like him. But he had no problem with her loving him before her death.

Benny referring to himself as a "monster" in this context is skeevy on another level. Because Benny isn't describing himself as something evil because of something that he did. He's talking about something evil that was done to him (and Andrea). It's a deeply romanticized portrayal of self-loathing. Benny feels so bad about something that isn't his fault, identifies with the people who wronged him so strongly, that we're supposed to ignore the fact that Benny never once expresses remorse about the actual people he himself hurt. He never expresses any empathy or concern for his victims.

We actually see Amy kill, and one of her victims gets dialogue (sleazy dialogue, but dialogue nonetheless). We don't get even that with Benny. We got no acknowledgement by Benny of the people he killed. He talks about the boats his group attacked, not the people.

The one person he talks about is Andrea, the woman he spared. Here's how Benny describes his redemption: “My life changed when she entered it, Dean. Everything I had been or done up to that point just... seemed to vanish... into what we had become together. I mean... We found it, man. Eventually, we settled in Louisiana.” The only comment that directly says that what he did was wrong is his comment about the ocean swallowing up the “sins” of his nest.

I'm left feeling like Benny talking about “monsters like me” is a way to highlight how NOBLE and SELF-LOATHING he is without having to actually face up to or acknowledge his crimes.

The second time Benny is called a monster is, of course, Martin Creaser.

This is a huge example of the writers wanting to have their cake and eat it, too. Martin’s description of Benny in their confrontation is fairly accurate, and he’s the only character on the show to give a damn about the atrocities Benny perpetuated in the past. But because he says all this while he has a knife to the throat of an innocent woman…yeah, I don’t think most fans are gonna care what he says. It’s a really obnoxious way of handling redemption stories. The writers did something similar with Sam in Free to Be You and Me. It was obnoxious then, too. However, Sam’s mistakes were criticized not just by assholes, and not just by possessed Bobby, but by Dean Winchester. And ultimately, Sam was nowhere near as bad as Benny.

Note who never refers to Benny as a monster: Sam. Dean. Sam hates Benny’s guts and even tries to kill him at one point, but the word “monster” never escapes his lips.

In conclusion: Amy’s monstrousness is a part of her that is shown to be something she owns, and something our heroes bluntly acknowledge. Benny’s monstrousness is brought up by nasty characters, and by Benny himself. Never by Sam and Dean. When Benny brings it up, it is not to highlight his own sins but to show him as nobly comparing himself to the people who have sinned against him.

This entry was originally posted at Please comment either here or there, whichever works best for you.
Tags: spn

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