SPN Hunters and Poverty
Ok the Original Post* was getting pretty long and I wanted to go off on a tangent so I’ve started a new one here:
So like, the audience is supposed to think it’s uncomfortable and possibly wrong for people whose job it is to save the world to have a certain level of luxury. Which is less than the one the people making the story have.
Honestly, I always knew they were there, but for the first time I’m actually kinda creeped out by the class issues in SPN (ok, I lie- the prices Creation charges creep me the fuck out, but aside from that. I mean in the actual story). Like, Sam and Dean are not truly poor anymore. But they do still live partially as working poor. They’re still economically insecure; depicted as, in some ways, working poor people who go into mostly middle-class and upper-middle-class communities, do a horrifying vital service, and then disappear. And it’s romantic, heroic. But it’s wrong.
Like, it’s actually a moral wrong that they should be poor. They deserve to be at least as economically stable as their creators.
We talk a lot about romanticizing violence, but what does it mean that the whole structure of the show honestly kinda romanticizes the poverty of the working class? Walmart is not romantic; it just sucks. @chiisana-sukima
Yes, American SPN Hunters are portrayed, generally, as working class (Winchesters, Campbells, Bobby) or middle class (Asa Fox, Jody, Donna). I think it is important to keep in mind that one reason full time hunters often seem poor is that the majority of what they are doing is a) considered criminal and b) needs to stay secret. So they have to live under/off the radar. In order to do that, you need to be either VERY, VERY wealthy (and bribe everyone) or you have to commit fraud on a daily basis.
Assuming none of our hunters have endless supplies of cash, being cheap helps with the daily committing fraud process. Here’s why/how:
1) Hunters scam credit cards - because they can’t hold down a real job and hunt, which means they have no means of income (other than technically criminal activity like hustling pool and looting the monster victims). Also, they can’t BE themselves - they cannot afford to be traced - by the authorities OR by the very smart humanoid monsters they hunt. Scammed cards can get detected really fast if you are throwing money around. Also, scammed cards are only as good as their limit (which is likely to be low) - so you want to make them last as long as possible. Lastly, when your card IS caught, skeevy, ethically questionable places are less likely to report it to the police. So Hunters look for cheap, dive places to spend their fake cash. Note: often some of these skeevy places are NOT less expensive than the Holiday In Express - they just ask fewer questions or will rent a room without a credit card or will forget you were there (or are more used to cleaning up blood from sheets).
2) Hunters are con men - they have to pretend to be authority figures/repairmen/teachers/social workers/lost relatives in order to get the information they need. They need to be ‘noticed’ as little as possible and leave almost record of their stay. Using a credit card leaves a trail - so that means using cash in places that won’t notice cash, and eating in places that see (and forget) lots of strangers. They also need to be hard to find when their identity is questioned. Who would look for the FBI in a skeevy hotel? Those two shifty guys in flannel coming out of the dilapidated Inn on rt 20 couldn’t possibly be the nice men we talked to earlier today…[of course the giant black car and hunter’s ridiculously good looks aren’t a problem, but that’s tv land for you].
3) Hunters are rural nomads - Notice that, in general, Hunters try to stay out of cities. While one of the main themes of SPN was supposed to be a focus on ‘heartland America’ - but really, woods monsters hide in rural areas, and (in theory) many human-eating monsters are are nomads, roaming for food. Thus Hunters focus on rural America and move around a lot following the monsters. Rural America is full of very small towns/places with no other option than the 1-2 star hotel (or less). One of my fav personal stories is of staying in the ONE motel in the entire COUNTY in TN - and it was EXACTLY the kind of place a Hunter would stay (right down to the friendly diner next door and the truck stop on the other side). If you were wealthy and wanted to stay in that area - you rented a whole HOUSE/cabin in the nearby picturesque woods - which is likely to get VERY noticed - or you stayed 30-50 inconvenient miles away.
US Hunters Evolving: Donna and Jody are an exception to many of the above statements. But they are a different kind of hunter - one that fans feel is an evolution of the American Hunter - the regional protectors. Jody and Donna, both suburban middle class, use their actual positions of authority to learn about and track monsters and also to cover up the evidence. They keep their own gerenal area ‘clean’ and call in “full time” nomadic hunters to deal with scarier stuff or stuff they hear about outside their territories. Their positions and training also make them capable fighters - brave, good with guns, etc.
US Hunters Best of a Broken System: Lastly, remember that the US did have a system more like that of the BMOL - academic magicians in authority directing local hunters to kill problems. What the US has NOW is what developed as a stop gap when the MoL vanished. Hunters like Dorothy and Mr. Ketch (shudder) trained others to keep the monsters at bay. They were focused on the find and kill part - not the administrative outlook of “Hey, if we are smart and make enough $, we can do this job better, faster and more efficiently.” ‘Cause *I* know I sleep better in nicer hotels and I WORK better if I’m really well rested. Sam and Dean are MACHINES, really, - the stuff they pull off given how crappy they treat their bodies…
In Conclusion: Hell, I’ve lost the thread of where I was really going with this…it has devolved into an examination of WHY the class differences exist between US and British ‘hunter systems’. Not sure I’ve addressed @chiisana-sukima‘s concern about the morality of SPN implying that hunters SHOULD be poor or working class.