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If it's Friday, it must be rec day

Well, lately every day is SPN rec day here, so why should Friday be any different? A few more bigbang recs, including one potentially controversial one.

Edited to add: Spoilers for most of these stories in the comments, so if you're avoiding spoilers don't read the comments!

So apparently the controversial story of the summer (or at least of this week) is mediaville's Lost and Found (Jared/Jensen). Here is the author's summary: "Jensen Ackles is a shy, overweight songwriter whose body issues have prevented him from forming any real personal connections, and at thirty, he’s still unsure of his sexuality, and still a virgin. But when he signs up for an experimental obesity research program, he meets Jared Padalecki, a stunningly sexy fitness guru who slowly but surely changes Jensen’s life."

So you can probably see the potential controversy, and several people on my flist have posted that they found it triggery. So keep that in mind. I went in thinking I would either really hate it or really love it, and personally I really loved it--it was perfect emo-porn for me, watching Jensen deal with his self-hatred issues with the help of Jared. Did I find lots of it unrealistic? Of course. Did it reflect some of the social attitudes suggesting weight loss is just a matter of willpower, and that it's morally superior to be thin than fat? To a certain extent, but I think it was actually a lot more complicated than that. I don't watch the type of TV shows that may or may not have inspired this fic (e.g. The Biggest Loser), so I don't know how much of an influence they might have been. As a fat person myself, I didn't feel like the story was judging me, though it did inspire me to workout more yesterday than I have in a while, so take that as you will. (If you haven't seen any of the critiques of the story on your flist, try here and here.) As a story about a relationship between Jared and Jensen, and a shy Jensen overcoming his fears, though, I loved it.


A Devil To Help Me Get Things Right by doodle_writes (Jared/Jensen) is another story of Jensen having to overcome his past, though in this case it's a lot more difficult. Jared and Jensen had the perfect relationship when they were 19; Jensen can remember that clearly. When he wakes up in the hospital at the age of 30 with no memory of the last 10 years, he can't understand why Jared is no longer with him. As he tries to get back on his feet with the help of his friends Chris Kane and Danneel Harris, he realizes that he's spent the last ten years being a major dick to almost everyone he knows, and he has to find a new way of being in the world. And it doesn't look likely that he can ever make up to Jared for his past behavior, but he has to try. In a summer full of great Danneel-as-supporting-character roles, I have to say this is my favorite version of her so far, and I also really loved Jensen's slow attempts to remake himself.

The Accompanist by gretazeta. (Dean/OMC, but that relationship isn't really the focus of the story, so honestly it reads more like gen to me, though YMMV, since there is a little bit of romance and some sex). Ok, to read this story requires one initially HUGE suspension of disbelief, since you have to accept that Mary managed to teach Dean enough piano at the age of 4 that he would (a) develop a huge love for it which (b) he then conceals from his Dad and Sam for years. If you can accept that, though, this is an amazing story. In a small town where they've settled to let Dean finish high school, Dean encounters an elderly musician who agrees to give him lessons in return for car repairs. He soon forms a relationship with the musician's nephew, who is also a musical prodigy. But these relationships are threatened by a supernatural monster who is connected to the musician's past.

This story was terrific on a number of levels--it's a great story about music and the unlikely friendships formed through music; it's a fantastic casefile; and it's a heartbreaking but beautiful characterization of Dean, and how Roman Steinberg helps teach him about finding reasons to go on living even when it seems that you've lost everything. And oh, god, the ending absolutely broke my heart, but it was also completely perfect.

Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
myownghost
Jun. 19th, 2009 10:37 am (UTC)
the word 'controversial' caught my eye, so i read the two posts about that first story and the threads following them. i can see that reaction to the story varies widely (if not wildly). body image as it relates to weight and size is something i've struggled with my whole life. i'm glad there are people talking back to the societal norm, but me, i just keep struggling. (if i hadn't gone on that first diet at age 17, i'd probably be comfortably chunky now instead of way too heavy for my health. the yo-yo thing has eaten my life!)

thanks for linking to those posts. they gave me furiously to think, if i may quote hercule poirot. :)
norwich36
Jun. 19th, 2009 11:23 am (UTC)
If you found those posts interesting, you might also check out the actual comments on the story, because I think a lot of people who read it found that Jensen's self-hatred and body image issues resonated a lot with their own experiences. (I haven't gone back to check and see if any discussion of the broader issues has broken out in those comments or not, but if it hasn't yet I bet it will).

Weight is such a huge issue, to pardon the pun. I know for example in my own family genetics and hormones play a big role, but so does overeating and general lack of exercise. (For example, when my sister's commute turned, by necessity, from walking to driving, she put on a lot of weight, whereas for me the biggest recent weight gain was due to overstress at work and no time to work out, coupled I think with sleep issues). But I've been fortunate enough to have a mom who really had very few body image issues of her own, so it's not as emotionally fraught for me as it is for some people.
myownghost
Jun. 19th, 2009 01:05 pm (UTC)
>you might also check out the actual comments on the story

i'll do that. it seems to me that the hostile reactions in the two threads i did read spring from defensiveness, which i'm intimately familiar with. when something really hits my buttons, i can get very angry, and that's what i was seeing there.

it IS a huge issue, and very complicated. i have PCOS, which is a factor, along with genetics and stress. oh, and i prefer sitting to moving! (that's a vicious downward spiral -- the less i move, the heavier i get, which makes movement even more difficult.) a lot of my self-image problem comes from my parents, who disapproved of a fat little girl but tried to hide it. kids can tell. i'm glad your mother didn't work that kind of mojo on you.

btw, i think it's important to note that some fat people are in good health, without complications from the extra weight. i'm not, and my doctors are pressing me to lose for my health's sake. it's so easy for people to judge one another, but we're all unique and all have different factors and motivations. that's probably another source of the kind of dust-up that's occurring over this story.

thanks again. i'm always glad to think about these issues. it's helpful.
norwich36
Jun. 19th, 2009 02:45 pm (UTC)
Oh, we are often too quick to judge, aren't we? And the way we have medicalized obesity recently is very annoying. But like you, I am someone who does have health complications from fat (as well as health complications that cause weight loss to be challenging), so while I'm well aware there are healthy fat people I'm generally thinking of my own situation when I think about this issue. (But that's probably true of many of us)
roxymissrose
Jun. 19th, 2009 04:23 pm (UTC)
I really love Dean/OMC stories and they're so rare--but the premise kind of put me off on The Accompanist because it was such an odd idea (i know, i got a nerve, right?) but I'll give it a shot. You haven't steered me wrong in, like, ever. :)
norwich36
Jun. 19th, 2009 04:29 pm (UTC)
It is an odd idea, but trust me, you won't regret reading this.
roxymissrose
Jun. 20th, 2009 07:41 am (UTC)
The Accompanist

I just finished it and I'm struggling not to cry my eyes out. You didn't warn me. Omg, that was really worth staying up way past my bedtime. From the Golem bit and on, it just tore me up.
norwich36
Jun. 20th, 2009 06:32 pm (UTC)
Sorry--I guess I should always specify that "broke my heart" means "made me bawl like a little baby."

But he can play again now! And there should totally be a sequel where he plays and Sam finds out.
allzugern
Jun. 20th, 2009 11:32 am (UTC)
I absolutely loved 'Lost and Found'.

I didn't feel like the story was judging me, though it did inspire me to workout more yesterday than I have in a while

OMG! I felt like such an emo sucker, because I read it last night and this morning at the gym I was totally inspired to new heights. Glad to see I'm not alone :-))
allzugern
Jun. 20th, 2009 05:51 pm (UTC)
And after reading that first link (feel free to screen this comment if you feel it's out of place), I have to wonder if the OP is so confident and secure in her weight and who she is (and YAY! for that when it's true, because you should be able to say fuck everyone, I love myself as is), then why does that fic make her feel so condemned and the need to justify herself? I feel she read an AWFUL lot of her own issues into that fic that weren't there.
norwich36
Jun. 20th, 2009 06:30 pm (UTC)
No, I don't think it's out of place. I have mixed feelings, though. I mean, obviously we all read our own issues into stories; that's how we connect emotionally with them, and I gathered from the comments she only made it partly through the story before it upset her too much to continue. And I do think the first part of the story is a lot less nuanced; it does sound, at the beginning (especially I think Jensen's conversation with the doctor) like they're just outright blaming Jensen (and I guess, by association, fat people) for his condition. It's not until later in the story that we get acknowledgement that being thinner doesn't mean your life is perfect.

And I do think even if you have a certain level of security in yourself, being constantly bombarded with messages that being fat means you're lazy, self-hating, unloveable, etc. gets hard to take. So if that's the message she took from the story, I can see where she's coming from. (I don't think that *is* the message of the story--but since I've bailed from stories over issues that are far less emotionally weighted, I certainly don't blame her for not finishing a story that triggered her).
allzugern
Jun. 20th, 2009 08:08 pm (UTC)
I mean, obviously we all read our own issues into stories; that's how we connect emotionally with them

Oh definitely. There are fics I steer far, far away from because of the trigger factor - non-con, violence, and a few others - but I don't trash the fic, I accept that I have issues that make reading something like that unpleasant for me. It doesn't mean there is anything wrong with the fic, or how the author wrote it. I think her crit is extremely harsh considering, as you say, she didn't read it all. She just made an over-all judgment based on her perception - tainted by her issues - that really wasn't fair, imho.

And I do think even if you have a certain level of security in yourself, being constantly bombarded with messages that being fat means you're lazy, self-hating, unloveable, etc. gets hard to take.

Yes, it does, as well as the disgusting belief that thin is always good, which it often isn't. But that isn't what this fic was about, as you say, and I don't have a problem with anyone bailing on a fic because it triggers them - but to rant about it in that fasion - idk. It just seemed very OTT.

norwich36
Jun. 20th, 2009 06:22 pm (UTC)
I just keep picturing Jared as my personal trainer and it's actually really helping me stay motivated. :D
ciaan
Jun. 22nd, 2009 07:35 pm (UTC)
I do sometimes imagine Jared and Jensen when I am working out. Just because Jared could bench press three of me doesn't mean I wouldn't like to do some rounds with them.
norwich36
Jun. 23rd, 2009 12:17 am (UTC)
Hee! Honestly I think if I were really working out with Jared and Jensen, my body image issues would make Jensen's in "Lost and Found" look tiny.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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