It’s been a while since I’ve done an honorary lady post, but I think it’s time. For those of you new to these posts, this is where we want to highlight and all attention to those who are out there fighting the good fight, highlighting issues, blazing paths, creating, and building community. You get it, yeah? We want to give some love back to Ladies (and some non-ladies) who are doing things we love and want to see more of. There is a lot to be said for positive reinforcement and I feel like these days it’s even more important to acknowledge those who make a positive impact on you and prompt you to learn more about something that you might not be totally familiar with. So my Honorary Lady this time around is Shoshannah Stern!
So, who is she?
Shoshannah Stern is a deaf actor and writer who has most recently been on Supernatural (but has also been on other shows like Lie to Me, Jericho, and the lady-led comedy Another Period). I’m gonna keep this write-up spoiler free about that because really this post is about the actor, not the character. But suffice to say, Shoshannah has made a huge impact on the SPN fandom in her few appearances with her portrayal of Eileen Leahy, a hunter who happens to be deaf. This is an important distinction as deafness is not what defines the character, but rather is merely one aspect of who Eileen is. Not having deafness as the central character driver is a point of representation that Shoshannah feels passionate about. So often when deaf characters are represented in entertainment being deaf is what defines their character and their story is a discussion of struggle or hardship solely around being deaf. Deafness is often seen as something that one must overcome to be successful. It can have an encompassing hold on the character and prevent other aspects of a character from being explored. This type of representation can carry over to how how people see deaf people outside of the media, and that’s not great.
How is she helping representation?
Shoshannah works hard to push back against one dimensional representation of deafness. In her own writing characters are deaf because they are, and that’s because people just are. There isn’t a point to be made about being deaf except to show that while being deaf is a minority experience, within that experience there are many levels of how deafness is part of ones life (and many different levels of deafness itself). Shoshanna has played character with more or less levels of hearing than she herself has and her character on Supernatural can read lips much better than she can. Her most recent work The Chances is a series about deaf characters written by deaf people. The hope is to highlight the intersectionality of the lives of deaf people and move toward portraying them as full 3-dimensional characters rather than ones with only one note. Like all representation this can also help educate those who may not have interaction with deaf people on a regular basis about the different aspects of the deaf experience. But more, and perhaps most importantly it helps to break down stereotypes about deaf people and opens doors to new opportunities and experiences.
A cool thing she did that you should know about.
Shoshannah established the Eileen Leahy Scholarship, named after the character she played on Supernatural. Shirts and mugs were sold and the majority of the proceeds from these items support the scholarship that will help a deaf woman attend Gallaudet University, the premier university for deaf students and Shoshannah’s alma mater.
If it weren’t for my friends and the lovely neighborhood nights we have, I would never have any post ideas, seriously. I’m not sure how we got on the topic, but I do remember that we were sitting around TRM’s table having a “neighborhood night” and we started to discuss favorite fictional vehicles.
Of course there are many, many to choose from, including different versions and variations. For the sake of this list my definition of vehicle is “a thing used for transporting people or goods.” Also, I really wanted to think beyond the first things to jump into your head. Just about everyone likes the Batmobile (pick your version), The Millennium Falcon, or The Enterprise (again, pick your version). So you won’t find any of those my list, which is not to say I didn’t throw some obvious choices out there, obvious to me at least. So here goes, in no particular order, Tiny Doom’s Top 5 Fictional Vehicles.
War Rig (Mad Max: Fury Road)
I’ve written about my love for Fury Road before, so it’s not really a surprise that the vehicle at center of the film would be a fav. What I love about the war rig is that it is clearly an extension of Furiosa herself…unstoppable, reliable, and protective. Furiosa customized it herself, from the skeleton arm painted on the driver’s side door to the kill switches which let no one but Furiosa drive. Most importantly The War Rig represents freedom, literally moving its human cargo along the roads until independence is earned by ramming through and running over authority and patriarchy.
’67 Chevy Impala (Supernatural)
The Impala is Dean’s Baby, his first and only car. She’s black and shiny, and chock full of weapons for hunting monsters. She’s been Sam and Dean’s home when they didn’t have one, which is most of their lives. The Impala is pretty much a character on the show in her own right (check out “Baby”, ep. 4, season 11). Besides the fact that it’s hard to resist a growly beast of a car that can fit a body in the trunk, I think I feel such a kindred spirit here because I too tend toward anthropomorphism (yeah, I talk to my car) and had my own first car (The Turtle) for 20 years before it was time for something new, since I don’t have Dean’s mechanics skills. The new ride is great, but you never forget your first.
Yeah, another Mad Mad vehicle, and probably the most “obvious” one on this list. But I also sort of feel like it’s the progenitor of some of the other iconic vehicles on this list. The interceptor starts its life as Max’s police vehicle and later becomes his home, his weapon for revenge, and the thing that gives him purpose as the world falls down around him. It’s both a symbol of his past, and one could argue, a physical representation of Max’s own mental state.
Iron Man Armor (Iron Man, Marvel movie versions)
It’s red and gold, it’s sleek and shiny, and it makes the wearer strong, fast, and while not nigh indestructible, it can certainly take a lickin’. The first Iron Man movie remains my favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, largely because of how much it surprised me. And seriously, I love the aesthetics of the Iron Man armor. I even love all the clicking and whirring sounds it makes! It’s hard to pick a favorite, maybe the Mark III, again because it was the first that really caught my eye. From a functionality standpoint the “suitcase armor” from Iron Man 2 just delights me. It’s a good idea too, I mean how awkward is it to be caught by a supervillian without your hero pants even on?
Blaine the Mono– (The Waste Lands and Wizard and Glass, Dark Tower Book Series by Stephen King)- I’ve always liked monorails. They seem so futuristic and way better than our current subway system. I rode a monorail in Las Vegas and it was very polite, always reminding you to be sure you have all your belongings and to check that you are getting off at the right stop. This is not Blaine. Blaine the Mono is a sentient monorail who is a pain and goes insane and that’s the truth (yes, my rhyming is intentional here). He tries to kill the main character and his traveling companions, but not before challenging them to a riddling contest. He’s pretty much the exact opposite of my platonic ideal for a monorail or any mode of transportation for that matter, and I can’t wait for self-driving cars! But this is probably what makes Blaine interesting to me.
Eleanor,1967 Shelby Mustang GT500– (Gone in 60 Seconds)
Apparently 1967 was a good years for cars. While this one doesn’t make it on to my list, I know it’s my Dad’s “holy grail.” In fact, I believe there is a verbal contract in play that if I ever win the lottery I have to buy this for him.
Jurassic Park Tour Vehicles– (Jurassic Park)
Look at these things. They are so ugly they spin back around to awesome. Plus, they run on a track, like a monorail. Also, super safe. Lex and Tim still survived even though a T-Rex stomped on it, chewed on it, and eventually dropped it in a tree. If I had one of these, I would strap the Fashion Raptors in and offer to drive it in every parade.
At a recent Comicazi Book Club meeting we were discussing Superman: Secret Identity. Without getting too deep into this book, it’s about Superman, but also not Superman and explores a different characterization of the character. While I thought the book was fine, I couldn’t connect with this version of Superman. He wasn’t the paragon he is usually portrayed as, nor was he enough of a loser to stir up any strong feelings. He just sort of “was” and I didn’t know what he was reaching for. Which brought me to this conclusion…lovable losers are my character jam.
Heroes and villains are easy enough to get. And there is something delightful about characters who are so black and white. It’s hard to beat a villain you love to hate. But what about those characters who try so hard to head to one end of the spectrum, to be the best hero or villain, but keep falling back thanks to their own failings? They rarely catch a break, but keep grinding, and because of this, I love them the most.
It’s my post, so you are going to get my introspection about this and my thoughts on what’s gone into some of my favorite characters. Feel free to (respectfully) disagree.
If you follow any of the Ladies on social media, you’ll notice that we are having our second View and Chew event coming up in a couple of weeks. This event is going to be even more crazy than our last as we prepare to celebrate all things Supernatural. As part of our preparations, we have been making prizes, choosing the perfect plaid clothing items to wear, and having extremely detailed conversations about the best way to paint demon traps on everything from our toilets to our own finger nails. As someone who really likes to theme her nails in line with various Comicazi and Ladies’ events, it seems only natural that I am not only prepping special nails for our event, but have been experimenting with the best way to create theme-appropriate nails for future events as well. And as I suffer from all this trial and error (and acetone fumes), I am going to share with you what I have learned. PS – If you are dying to see the finished product, you should really get your tickets to our event, or follow me on Twitter or Instagram (Krebstar5) if you are not local.
The Goods – Believe it or not, I don’t feel like I have enough nail supplies. As soon as I hit a stride with something, I discover something else that I REALLY want. Also, I never seem to have enough colors and random things to glue to my nails. My last practice session looked like this:
It might be shocking that I haven’t really watched Supernatural (SPN) before, considering it’s pretty much sitting in my sweet spot of horror, comedy, and bromance. I almost started watching it on Netflix many times, but it started feeling a bit overwhelming…10 seasons of source material (now 11, soon to be 12) is a commitment. Luckily, last Halloween The Goog and I decided on our most labor intensive costumes to date (The Hound and Arya Stark), and for me this meant a lot of time sitting on the floor cutting, stitching, shaping and gluing. What better time for a viewing marathon?
So, it took months but I have now seen every episode of Supernatural there is to see, including being up to date on season 11…and yes, it was recently announced there will be a season 12. Yeah, 12 seasons. And the word out there seems to be that as long as ratings hold, and the cast wants to keep doing it, the network seems happy to let it ride. This show is the best kind of popcorn, it’s fun to watch, and has a talented cast. So as I felt myself being pulled into the cyclone of SPN love, I wondered about the secret ingredient. Why does this show continue to inspire such a fanatical following? So I put on my snorkel and mermaid fins and dove into the Supernatural fandom to figure out what makes it so intense.
This cast loves each other, like for reals in real life.
– Spend a little time reading about cast and the thing that comes out fast and strong is that Jared Padalecki (younger brother Sam Winchester) and Jensen Ackles (older brother Dean Winchester) don’t just play co-dependent brothers on the show, they are real life besties. Their families spend holidays and take trips together (which they share on social media)! Throw in other cast members, like Misha Collins (the angel Castiel), and Mark Sheppard (the demon Crowley), and you can find tons of memes, videos, and accounts of how the cast supports, cares for, and pranks each other.
My personal favorite prank story involves Misha Collins (in this case acting as episode Director) getting hit in the face with a whipped cream pie by Jared as he walks on to the set. Fast forward to Misha leaving his trailer after getting cleaned up, only to be hit with another pie by Jensen as he walks across the lot. Clearly there has to be a lot of trust to pull something like that. This extreme level of camaraderie comes though in the show.
This cast loves its fans.
– Supernatural has its own series of conventions. Like all-SPN-all-the-time conventions. And during these conventions the cast engages with fans in a way that few casts do. There are photo ops where they seem to be willing to do any pose requested from wearing crowns and tutus, to fighting over babies, and giving in character hugs, and karaoke costume parties with the cast. It’s clear the cast wants to be there and understand that the fans are the reason they’ve been employed for 12 seasons. This type of gracious behavior always endears a celebrity to me. PS- I tried to get someone to go with me to the most recent Vegas convention at the last minute, you know for research, but it was a no go.
This fandom is rabid and has taken over Tumblr
-OK, speaking of fans…I can fangirl with the best of them, but this fandom, wow. It’s big, and strong, (it puts the super in “superwholock“) and has apparently taken over Tumblr. I don’t have a tumblr (I do not need another internet thing to get lost in), but I do have a Pinterest account and that’s been plenty educating. From starting with the more generic search of “supernatural” and moving to the search term “Meanwhile Misha” (PS: Do this. Misha is a national treasure), there is a mind boggling amount of memes, fan art, and gifs. In fact, this fandom prides itself on “having a gif for everything,” which basically means the fandom responds to every post on tumblr with an SPN based gif. Now that I understand more of the SPN “in” jokes, I kinda feel like I get more of the internet now.
Lots of charitable initiatives have sprung up from the cast and the fandom
-So basically what I’m telling you here is this cast is a bunch of good people who, in addition to their day jobs acting, do a bunch of good works. It would almost be sickening if it wasn’t so great.
- GISHWHES– Also known as The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen. Created by Misha Collins and in partnership with Random Acts , the goal here is to get people out to do good in the world. It’s less a scavenger hunt and more a week long frenzy of public art, displays, and kind acts.
Side note: Some of the Ladies participated GISHWHES this last year and it was a blast (not to mention a great distraction for yours truly who was going through some day job struggles). We met new people, I wore a dress made of construction paper, and helped out some local good causes.
- Always Keep Fighting- Show star Jared Padalecki has been open about his own struggle with anxiety and depression. In March of 2015, Jared started The Always Keep Fighting campaign and donated funds from special t-shirt sales to organizations who help support mental heath issues. Since then #alwayskeepfighting #AKF has become a rallying cry for fans who suffer similar mental health issues and is a reminder that they aren’t alone in their struggles (more in that in a bit).
- Wayward Daughters Academy– As you have probably notice, Supernatural is pretty dude heavy. The largely female fandom has noticed too. Enter Wayward Daughters Academy. Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster both play pretty great lady sheriffs on SPN, and together they launched a fundraising campaign to both support Random Acts, but to also bring more women with substantive roles into the SPN universe.
- You Are Not Alone– This is the newest and probably the most fascinating undertaking. After hearing from so many fans about mental health issues Misha Collins and Jensen Ackles have partnered together to launch the SPN Family Crisis Support Network. This is a fan-based support system where volunteer fans are trained to help other fans deal with issues around depression, self-injury, and addiction. Needless to say I have never heard of anything like this and love the idea of harnessing the power of fandom for something so positive.
OK, so what I’m telling you here is merely a toe-dip into SPN and the fandom. But I like enough of what I’ve seen to keep splashing around, and am looking forward to having another season to watch. So in the words of Netflix, “Are you still watching Supernatural?” Yeah! Yeah I am!
Local People (and people who want to travel)- Due to the success of the Bob’s Burgers View and Chew, the Ladies, partnering with Daddy’s Bonetown Burgers will be hosting another View and Chew on Sunday April 17, at 4:30 at Comicazi in Davis Square.
$20 will get you a burger, fries, drink, and pie to chew while you view. Bring a little extra money to participate in the raffle for SPN crafts lovingly made by Tiny Doom. We are letting you decide what 2 Supernatural episodes we show, so check out the poll below and let us know what you would like to watch!