Sunday, September 22, 2013

Fangirling Dexter: Should Harry Have Read Dexter Fairy Tales?

Okay. When I decided to fangirl Dexter it felt risky. I've read all the stuff about branding and how authors should create a recognizable image that will help connect readers with their stories.

But Dexter is a show about a serial killer and I write fairy tale/fantasies.
But I love Dexter, its been my guilty pleasure for years.
And it's the LAST SEASON.

Seems (some part of me) was bursting to share my passion for the show. So I threw myself into it, hoping, somehow, somewhere along the way it would all make sense (and I wouldn't have to delete the posts hindsight). Because when I wrote the first post A Sympathetic Serial Killer… Right… (Some part of me) was still asking myself, why are you doing this?

Dexter is your secret.
And although I was really enjoying the season, and really enjoying writing my Dexter posts, it continued to not make much sense to me until about mid-August. When it came to me: Delivered in  a dream… not really (although I do have things delivered in my dreams… DRAGONS!) what my final Fangirling Dexter post was going to be about, I was like, oh yeah.

This is how it all comes together.

Should Harry Have Read Dexter Faiytales?

I've been reading The Uses of Enchantment, The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales (UE) by Bruno Bettelheim since April of this year (according to Goodreads.) It's taking this long to read, not because the book is so long, only 309 pages, but because it's so dense. Each paragraph is an idea to consider, absorb, and test against my own personal reality. Because as I wrote in my blog post about fairy tales, Good and Bad Have Long Tails…, when I was young those enchanted tales held out hope for a future where the truth might be set free, and I might be able to breathe.

Uh-huh. Fairy tales mean something to me. Sometimes its hard to verbalize how deep they go, even though I'm a writer. There are places in me that simply don't want to speak. But those places see and they hear and they act. Those places comprehend the theories of which Bruno Bettelheim writes.

A little bit about Mr. Bettelheim. He was born in Austria in 1903 and was exposed to the psychoanalytic theories of Freud as a teenager. Fascinated, he pursued the study of Freud's works, became acquainted with Anna Freud,  and underwent his own psychoanalysis. However, in March of 1938, Germany invaded Austria and Bettelheim spent the next year in the concentration camps, Dachau and Buchenwald, where he witnessed fellow prisoners being arbitrarily killed. Perhaps due to his training, he developed an analytic awareness of the psychological effects of terror, the terror that was wielded by the SS to, in Bettelheim's words, change the prisoners permanently into passive subjects without any resistance or without any ability to resist the Nazi system.

Bettelheim was released from the camps in 1939 and went to America, where he became the Director of the Orthogenics School for disturbed children in Chicago. Although there is controversy about his work, specifically his theory of the etiology of autism, he seemed to possess an uncanny understanding of children and their interior lives. He always attributed his ability to empathize with disturbed children to his own experience of terror in the concentration camps.

Watching the documentary, "Bruto Bettelheim: A Sense of Surviving," one gets a sense of  just how disturbed the children admitted to the Orthogencis were: homicidal, suicidal, psychotic, severely delinquent, and mute. To be eligible for admission a child had to have sought treatment elsewhere and have had the treatment declared a failure. One of the students, now a functioning adult, describes his state of mind when he entered the school as a child of ten. I had detailed, specific fantasies about murdering and dismembering woman. Very disturbing stuff.

How did Bettelheim's treatment of the most disturbed work? From the introduction to UE, my main task was to restore meaning in their lives. Then he goes on to identify parents and caregivers as having the primary impact on a child's ability to find meaning, with cultural heritage following. Accordingly, he believed that literature carried such information best. However, Bettelheim was not satisfied with much of the literature written and published for children because it fails to stimulate and nurture those resources the child needs most to cope with difficult inner problems.

Bettelheim believed fairy tale symbolism constellated a child's imagination in a way that helped the child make sense of their interior life and imbue it with meaning. Rather than being told what to feel, believe, and think a child could take from the fairy tale the developmental lessons that suited their personality and current circumstances. This could happen in three ways:

1. Justice. Fairy tales acknowledge the dark side of human nature: the wicked witch, the evil stepmother, the corrupt father, the ridiculing elder brothers. The child is given an indirect route to experience his own feelings about being treated wrongly, unjustly, and callously by the world of adults around him. When the children in fairy tales outwit the adults who terrorize innocent children, the child can imagine, one day, justice will triumph in his world as well.

2. Faith. Most fairy tales involve the hero leaving home. Whether they are sent out, pushed out, exiled, or run away, the children in fairy tales must grow up. Identifying with the hero's journey, children learn there is power to be gained by facing adversity, achieving competence, and gaining wisdom.

3. Hope. Because of the Happily Ever After/HEA, the child experiences hope that he too can find his way in the world: To run his own kingdom—his own life—successfully, peacefully and to be happily united with the most desirable partner who will never leave him. And it's the hope that is important, because hope allows us to trust the future and as Bettelheim points out, not trusting the future really means not trusting oneself.

Whew. Back to Dexter.
What would have happened if Harry had read the traumatized Dexter fairy tales? Maybe "Beowulf" for starters. We can imagine feelings of terror and rage flooded the psyche of Laura Moser's traumatized son as he sat in that bloody shipping container—abandoned—for days. As we saw, in Season One, when Dexter does a face plant at the crime scene especially prepared for him by Brian, those memories have been repressed and disconnected from the conscious urges of Dexter's Dark Passenger. Could a symbolic tale of a man slaying a beast devouring an entire town have assuaged the unconscious roots of Dexter's need to kill?

Or was The Code really the only answer?

What about "The Beauty and the Beast"? Could Dexter's psyche have called forth a life-affirming force as compelling as his Dark Passenger? And if it had, would he have needed Hannah?

Interesting questions.  Personally, I believe in the unconscious. I believe in the journey of drawing up as much from our depths as we can manage. And I believe in fairy tales. But I don't think Dexter is a fairy tale, because I don't think there's going to be a Happily Ever After. Sob. However, by externalizing Dexter's struggle with his Dark Passenger, the show has created an incredible entertainment vehicle that allows us to get as weighty as we want with its meaning.

As you can see, I've leaned towards heavy.

Thank you Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, James Remar, David Zayas, C.S. Lee, Lauren Velez, Julie Benz, Erik King, Yvonne Stahovski, Sara Colleton, Scott Buck, the writers, directors and the rest of the cast and crew that have made such an amazing show that I have loved watching for 8 seasons!
(I actually got tears in my eyes when I wrote that! No wonder I'm fangirling!)

And to close it all out… how about that Dexter-themed GIVEAWAY I've been promising!

Enter to win Dexter: The Complete Final Season
Scheduled to be released on November 5th
or a $40 Amazon Gift Card.
WINNER'S CHOICE
Awesome.

Fangirling Dexter Pick of the Week: Dexter Wrap-up Podcast 8.11 Monkey in a Box with writers Wendy West and Tim Schlattmann and actress Yvonne Strahovski.

And in case you missed the rest of the Fangirling Dexter posts:

41 comments:

  1. What a great post, although I have a confession and have fingers crossed that I am not struck off your Twitter list - I've never watched Dexter! I know, I'm sorry - working nights throws a spanner in the works for tv! I've heard some amazing reviews and am jealous I never got to join the party. Maybe I can start on the box sets! Regardless of the fact I have been living under a rock for 8 seasons I thoroughly enjoyed your blog post, thank you and PLEASE don't delete me!!! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Shelley, Thank you and there shall be no deleting from twitter, lol! There are so many reasons that I can understand why people don't watch the show—time definitely being one. Box sets help. I definitely understand living under a rock:) I move in and out of one it! Thank you for stopping by and commenting, Heidi

    ReplyDelete
  3. I missed a few episodes but love that show. Thanks for the awesome giveaway and sucks its over.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shane, just spreading the Dexter love, lol. It does suck that its over:) And tonight we'll see how its over! Thanks for stopping by and commenting

      Delete
  4. I love this post, and I love Dexter! I'm a few episodes behind, so tonight I'm having to block all things Dexter from appearing on my twitter TL, haha!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Deena, Thank you! I love Dexter, too. (Okay, i guess that's obvious, lol.) Oh yeah, you don't want any spoilers! I've been avoiding everything spoiler-ish up to this point, I want to be surprised. Fingers crossed, we'll love the ending! Thank you for stopping by and commenting, Heidi

      Delete
  5. Just finished watching the series finale. Very Bleak. My favorite scenes were the flashbacks with Dexter and Deb and Baby Harrison. It made the end that much more crushing. I did like Hannah and Harrison and Elway on the bus. It's like Sheeeeeeeee's (really) back. The scene with Angel Quinn and Dex watching the vid of Dexter handling Saxon were priceless. And then the whole final Dex and Deb scenes were majestic grounded and a lot to watch. Wow. I kind of loved it. My husband hated it, lol. He left me on the couch, went upstairs and made popcorn. It felt very real, but it was very awful. Can you tell? I'm still in a bit of a daze.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I've been a fan since the beginning. It was only at the beginning that I questioned my affection for a serial-killing hero. Soon, I realized I was a fan because it was an idea well conceived, well written, well acted and something completely different than anything else. Dex jumped the shark for me a couple of seasons back, but it was still a show worth watching and I cared about the characters. This last season was a real carnival ride, it left me at times feeling as rushed as the final season of Oz. But there was such a genuine effort to end the show in a way that was true to the story. As for the finale, my only real complaint is that Deb did not get the hero's farewell to which she was entitled. Oh, by the way, I went out an bought fresh doughnuts to enjoy right before he finale aired :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Cairn, I agree with the "well conceived, well write, well acted and something completely different than anything else." I guess I never really got completely over feeling odd/weird/strange about "I love this show about a serial killer, it is just so frickin awesome," lol. The only season I really didn't like was the third season, not sure why Dex gets a friend didn't work well for me, but every season had stuff i really loved. This one was Debs break down in the beginning and when she finally unloads on him and I just loved Charlotte Rampling as Dr. Vogel. I did like the finale. I think those scenes in the boat are seared in my brain, but I see your point about the hero's farewell. I guess in retrospect I thought the whole finale was an homage to her and her spirit so I kind of loved that. I also agree with the writer's effort to be true to the story and I'm really glad they took risks. Most seasons I watched and was like… am I going to still like this or love it? They'd always came up with something that was unexpected, which I really enjoyed!

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I'm having Dexter withdrawals!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Never watched Dexter, but love Heidi!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I've seen some of the earlier seasons of Dexter, but between work and kids, I fell way behind. It is such an intriguing show. The character of Dexter would not have been as endearing I think if someone else would have played him. I feel empathy toward a serial killer...but, to me, serial killer isn't the biggest part of him, it's just a part of him. There is some correlation between Dexter and fairy tales, in that the dark side of humanity is front and center in the show. But this is one of those shows, that, from the beginning, you know there isn't going to be a happily ever after. It's not possible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally agree with you about Dexter & whether or not he's endearing. Michael C. Hall is what made me fall in love with the character and continue to watch the show. I read a few of the books, but the Dexter character is too dark dark in them for me. I loved how the TV show reworked that. And I totally agree, he's a SK but it was just a part of him. I listen to a lot of the wrap-up podcasts, and although a lot of fans really wanted an HEA, the writers agreed with you: Just not possible! Thank you for stopping by & joining in the discussion.

      Delete
  10. I don't have cable TV, so it is sad to say, I have never seen Dexter. I do love fairy tales! I love it when they are modernized or retold with different twists, too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love fairytales, modernized and retold too! Okay, kind of obvious, lol! Thank you for stopping by & joining in:)

      Delete
  11. I was so excited when I heard about Dexter. I am a big fan of literary horror. I watched the first episode and just couldn't watch any more! It made my stomach turn when they pulled that body from the pool that was cut and wrapped in pieces. I was like "NOPE" I wish I could have stomached it. I can read any kind of horror, but not watch it. Fairy tales (not Disney) put a healthy fear into children way back when. It helped keep them safe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sharon, the graphic parts were pretty awful. I confess I lot of times I close my eyes. I know… apart from that the story is pretty fascinating:) I love your insight into fairytales. Thank you for stopping by and joining in the discussion, Heidi

      Delete
  12. I loved that show. Watched all of the episodes and just knew they were going to mess up the ending. I just knew it. I hated that last episode. I hope they make some sort of spin off in the future where Harrison is grown and is a cop and he's hunting the bad guys and finds someone who he isn't expecting to find..*If you saw the last episode, you know who I mean. lol *

    ReplyDelete
  13. Mary, I loved the show too. I kind of loved the ending—ducking:D One of the few, apparently. I've been over at www.dexterdaily.com discussing it with other fans this week, and like you most thought it was an abomination. It does make me feel kind of down that everyone hated it so much:( But there are some good ideas for whatever comes next… and pretty sure something will;) I like the idea of picking up with an older Harrison on some kind of quest for his roots… and with Deb showing up—replacing Harry—as Dexter's ghost! Thank you for stopping by and joining the discussion!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I have some serious catching up to do with Dexter! Just wrapping up Season 5!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, wow! Ssn 5, was Lumen, right? I really liked her! I loved seasons 6, 7 & 8. I loved all the seasons except 3. Not sure why, I think Dexter gets a friend or tries to have a friend didn't work as well for me. I hope you love the rest of the show too! Thank you for stopping by & commenting!

      Delete
  15. I LOOOOOOOOOOOVE DEXTER!!! The series finale was compelling, if imperfect.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always love to hear when people LOOOOOOOOOOOVE DEXTER, lol!!!! It makes me feel like I've made a secret friend, special handshakes and what not:) COMPELLING! That is such a great word to describe the finale. That final majestic image of Dexter in the boat with Deb is just seared into my brain. I was literally on the edge of my seat! Yes, imperfect. Another great word for the series finale. Very wabi-sabi. AND I LOVE WABI-SABI which is why I must have loved the finale. GEE, THANK YOU for helping me come to this realization. Wabi-Sabi per Wikipedia: a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete".[1]

      So nice to meet you, thank you for stopping by and joining the discussion!

      Delete
  16. Well, I have to admit I never got into watching Dexter and I regret that now since so many people are talking about it. But, I do know that this year I started reading about faeries and such and have gotten the "bug" and now they are my favorite books! I just read books 1-3 in True Loves First Kiss and loved it. Can't wait to read the next one!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Mary, Dexter is kind of hit or miss. The bloody/gory aspects were distasteful to me, but the overarching story allowed me to forgive those scenes (and mostly cover my eyes!) Thank you so much for reading True Love's First Kiss and leaving such a beautiful review on your blog. I can't tell you happy that makes me to hear you loved it. YES! Two more books. I'm working on Half-Mortal now. So nice to hear from you! Heidi

    ReplyDelete
  18. I haven't seen the finale yet so I can't read ANYTHING on this page!! I LOVE Dexter though and I'm so very sad it's over. :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sad its over too. Glad you haven't read the page if you haven't seen the finale! VERY GOOD MOVE! You really don't want any spoilers for this one. I LOVE Dexter too. Whenever you do see the end, you'll have to let me know. I'm still thinking about it:D Thank you for stopping by and commenting! Heidi

      Delete
  19. I haven't seen the finale yet but great giveaway! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you like the giveaway! The end, well, it's something you must watch for yourself! Thank you for stopping by and joining the discussion.

      Delete
  20. I've tried watching Dexter ,but didn't really get into it. I'm more of a CSI girl C:

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The weird thing was, when I started watching it, I would be really shocked whenever I met people who did like it! I definitely get how it's not everyone's cup of tea:) So… your other gift will be coming VERY SOON! if not today, then tomorrow! Thank you for stopping by and joining the discussion!

      Delete
  21. I have not seen yet but fairytails are real cool.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. joe, I agree! Fairy tales Are Really cool:) thank you for stopping by & commenting! heidi

      Delete
  22. I thought the last season of Dexter was AWESOME. Best show on cable!
    dawnmonroe83@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hah! I love you:) I thought it was awesome too! But… apparently we are in the minority! I use to go to the www.dexterdaily.com blog but the assaults on the series finale AND the 8th season, really got me down:( I'm still contemplating that final episode. There was just something so poetic about the whole thing, and moving. I found it very powerful! Thanks for letting me know you thought it was AWESOME too! Heidi

    ReplyDelete
  24. Dexter is one of my favorite favorite shows. I was so saddened to see it end. I bawled in some parts of it. The ending seriously blew me away I couldn't believe how it ended.. But thats what I expected mind blowing :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Verna, OMG! Another Dexter-lover! I love you, too, lol. I bawled too & I think I was just stunned, sitting on the edge of the sofa with my mouth hanging open. Yes, blown A-w-a-y. At first, I was kind of ready for the series to end, even though I love it, and then I heard the rumors about Scott Buck, the show runner signing a two-year contract with Showtime. And i was like, OH NO! They'll ruin it But THEN, after the way they did the finale, I was like, so many possibilities… hmm… now, if they ever do something else, I'll have to watch AND hope they don't ruin, what has also been one of my favorite tv shows (that & Bones) of all time! Thanks for stopping by and joining in the discussion:) Heidi

      Delete
  25. I haven't yet gotten to watch the last couple episodes, but I'm excited to watch. I loved Dexter and am sad to see the show go, but I suppose every show has to end somewhere.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kristin, I ended up feeling very ambivalent about whether I wanted the show to the end. If you've not seen the last couple of episodes, you're in for a wild ride. The majority of fans that I came across on one of the shows most popular blogs, www.dexterdaily.com, uhm… well, they seemed upset! I loved it, because imho, it was so different from anything i've seen done on TV and it was totally unexpected. Let me know what you think, after you watch it! Thank you for stopping by and entering the discussion, Heidi

      Delete
  26. Season 2 is my fav! Bay harbour butcher is the best :')

    ReplyDelete
  27. Ooh, I really liked the Bay Harbor Butcher too, Frank Lundy & all:) Thank so much for stopping by and joining the discussion!

    ReplyDelete