Fandom, Passion and Supernatural: A Chat With Misha Collins


“For me, discovering this fandom was pretty much like getting kidnapped by a dragon. I didn’t expect being inducted into this world to be anywhere near as strange, wonderful or overwhelming as it has been.” – Misha Collins, in Fan Phenomena: Supernatural

We sat down for a chat with Misha Collins at the recent VegasCon. Misha wrote a chapter for our new book, Fan Phenomena: Supernatural, in which he talks about his experience joining the SPN Family and the way it changed his life, just as it has changed the lives of so many fans.

Misha had just directed his first episode, so that was foremost on our minds.

Lynn: So, directing….You’ve directed a film, you’ve directed an episode of Supernatural [which, in our humble opinions, was awesome] – do you have the bug now?

Misha: (smiling rather adorably) Yes. Yeah, I do, I enjoy it a lot. It’s challenging, it works all aspects of your brain, you have to be attentive and with it every moment of every day, which is not the case – (at this point, he leans over and dramatically stage whispers) This is a secret – is not the case with acting.

Kathy and Lynn: (laughing)

Lynn: I’ve been on enough sets to know that.

Misha: Yeah, you can dick around all day – so yes. I think it’s a measure of success for me that I did not want to crawl into a cave and never come out when we were done with production. I felt like, I would like to do that again. I had a couple of days that were really challenging…

Kathy: Like your coworkers throwing pies in your face…

Directing is fun...
Directing is fun…

Misha: (laughing) And I had a hard time sleeping a couple of nights, but in the end, on balance, I liked it.

Lynn: I had a feeling you would.

Misha: Yeah, it was fun.

Lynn: And you’re a published author again – our new book comes out in April, with the chapter you wrote in it. Congrats!

Misha: (beams)

Kathy: You wrote about harnessing the power of fandom with Random Acts in that chapter. What’s going on with RA? The new education initiative is exciting. Everything good?

“It became apparent fairly quickly that there was tremendous creative potential in Supernatural fandom. It was astonishing to me how talented and hard working people were….I started Random Acts with the ambition of harnessing those resources to playful, productive and compassionate ends.” – Misha Collins, in Fan Phenomena: Supernatural

Misha: Yeah, I think it’s finding its feet, you know? We had to go through a year and a half of reorganizing and sort of building it on a corporate foundational level but now we’re sort of figuring out what works and what doesn’t, how we can do things better, and we feel — for what we want to accomplish — well funded, and it’s kinda cool.

Kathy: Is the new education thing only K – 12?

Misha: Yes, it’s exclusive of higher education. Why we arbitrarily cut off the college campus, I don’t know…

Kathy and Lynn: [who are both university professors] Eh, we’re not important…

Misha: (laughing)

Our interviews are well known for veering off the beaten path, and Misha is known for that too (if you’ve read our interviews with Misha in Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls, you know just how true that statement is!). So it’s not surprising that we talked a bit about what is often the elephant in the room at conventions or interviews. While Supernatural’s own Dean and Castiel just won Zimbio’s 2014 TV Couples March Madness, and half of Tumblr on any given day seems devoted to that particular pairing (known as Destiel), nevertheless there remains a taboo around talking about it.

misha destiel2

Of course, we’ve written several books devoted to talking about things people outside fandom don’t think we should be talking about – or even doing! (Passion for something as “silly” as a television show called Supernatural; daring to be real in the supportive community that is fandom; celebrating the creativity of fanfiction, fanvids, fanart; spending our hard-earned cash on conventions and photo-ops; openly appreciating Misha’s blue eyes or Jared’s amazing hair or Jensen’s biceps….)

We wrote Fangasm because we didn’t want to be ashamed of being fans – we wanted to celebrate it! And we didn’t want anyone else to be ashamed either. Our new book, Fan Phenomena: Supernatural celebrates the Show and the fandom, in all its wonderful diversity, from multiple perspectives – including Misha’s.

“People like to imagine that I’m like the character I play on TV, or that I’m secretly screwing Jensen in my trailer…” – Misha Collins, in Fan Phenomena: Supernatural

SPN Vegas 2014 Misha 01 (Lynn)

Last weekend the Organization for Transformative Works hosted an online conversation about the “Future of Fanworks.” Guests included Sleepy Hollow star and self-professed ‘fangirl’ Orlando Jones. (He’s also a fan of Supernatural and a bit of a fandom scholar himself – in fact, we’d love to send him some of our books. And who doesn’t want the fictional but oh-so-wonderful collaboration with Robbie Thompson, spinoff “SuperSleepy”, to come true?) Orlando, like Misha, tends to talk about lots of things that aren’t usually talked about. He responded to a question posted in the chat room, saying “I admit to some confusion about the whole Destiel thing in terms of why it upsets some people. As an occasional fan of the show the potential that Dean and Cas share a deep bond (romantic or otherwise) seems cool to me. I am mindful of my own biases but it never occurred to me that this is even a problem and it confuses me when people take offense.”

Some of that offense that Jones mentioned is from non-shipping corners of fandom, or from corners with different ships. Some is around accusations of ‘queer baiting’ about innuendo not followed up in canon. In this season, which has been so emotionally draining for fans, emotions have run high about where we all desperately want the Show to go. We’ve written a great deal about ‘wank’ in fandom – with great passion also comes an intense desire to see the things that are most important to us, as fans, play out on our television screens. Of course, that’s different for each of us! And that can lead to some pretty passionate disagreements. Considering that our books are all about challenging fan shame, including the shame fans feel about fanworks and shipping and slash — and are all about validating fandom in all its glorious diversity — we touched on the subject too.

Lynn: You’re the only one who’s been comfortable getting onstage and talking about Destiel. It seemed to mean a lot to many fans, just that you were willing to talk about it.

Misha: Is that true? Really, other people don’t talk about it?

Kathy: They don’t. And when you did talk about it last fall at a convention, there were some people behind us who were very vocal that they didn’t want you to.

Lynn: Which I’m sure you know. It’s sort of like the thing that dare not speak its name (which has been the case with slash of any kind, at least until recently). Are you still feeling comfortable?

Misha: Well, I don’t feel entirely comfortable talking about it – it’s not something I feel like I can get up onstage and just sort of ruminate about, because virtually everything you say for some reason in this particular field seems to offend some faction or another.

Lynn: Well, because they sometimes seem mutually exclusive…

Misha: So when you say comfortable, no is the answer, because I feel like I have to parse my words very carefully on the subject so as not to be inflammatory or dismissive or whatever. So for me that is the discomfort, it’s not stemming from my personal reaction to the phenomenon or the material, it’s a matter of me wanting to tread lightly.

Lynn: It’s tough because it’s so polarizing and yet at the same time, so important to many fans. And if you make a misstep and say something that sounds dismissive or shaming…

Misha: Right, right. I actually mis-used the term lip service when talking about the writers and I didn’t mean that (but I said it). I meant they pay homage, they reference it, but for some reason I said pay lip service, which is not what I meant, and I got bashed — maybe rightly so — for that. But I don’t like the characterization of teasing around Destiel or around any kind of homoerotic subtext that might appear around the brothers or whatever as queer baiting. I think that that’s really unfair. Because I don’t think that – well, first of all that’s sort of a new and strange term to me, but I don’t think that’s what’s going on. I also don’t think that same kind of aspersion would be cast toward someone who is teasing a heterosexual relationship, like the tension that builds between two male and female series regular characters on any given show that’s never consummated. I understand where they’re coming from, but I don’t think it’s a fair characterization either.

Lynn: I think it’s confusing on Supernatural, because there have always been sort of nudge-nudge-wink-winks about Wincest, but there was never any possibility that the CW was going to toss the brothers into bed.

Misha: (laughing) Right.

Lynn: But the same nudge-nudge-wink-wink formula for Destiel didn’t work in the same way, because that could be a canon possibility. I don’t think anyone thought about that consciously when they were teasing that same dynamic.

Misha: I don’t think so either. I don’t think they thought about it. And frankly, I don’t think they talk about it that much either, it’s a thing that operates almost unconsciously for everybody involved in the process — writers, actors, everybody. It’s a very subtly – it’s a nuanced dynamic.

Kathy and Lynn: (are nodding)

Misha. And of course when you’re saying Wincest versus Destiel, I think that it probably makes it a little more compelling of a storyline if it’s something that one can imagine IS imaginable whereas it’s something that we know is just a fantasy. Wincest fans had to know that that was just a fantasy.

Lynn and Kathy: (are nodding)

Misha: Like, this is just our fantasy, it’s not something that’s ever going to happen.

Kathy: Yes, it made for a very different dynamic, because Wincest was just for fanworks, whereas this is canon possibility technically.

Misha: Right. But yeah, it’s interesting. So then people like me addressing it gives it a little more gravitas or makes it feel more possibly accessible and then that …. (throws up hands and looks distressed) That probably makes me an even bigger queer baiter than ever…

Lynn: But having no discussion isn’t good either. It’s what we wrote Fangasm about – challenging that sense of shame that comes with being a fan sometimes, for all kinds of reasons, and isn’t good for anyone.

“We have all absorbed these cultural norms for behavior, and there’s an interesting kind of discomfort when you don’t do what you’re “supposed to do” in a given situation.” – Misha Collins, Fan Phenomena: Supernatural

SPN Vegas 2014 Misha 02 (Lynn)

We brought some copies of Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls for Misha to sign for a charity donation, which he generously did.

Lynn: It’s for a vampire ball that benefits Random Acts.

Misha: Oh, cool.

We’ve been honored to donate copies of Fangasm to a variety of charities (and actually have it bring in some decent donations). Misha was very sweet about it.

Misha: That’s awesome.

He even listened to our interview about Supernatural and Fangasm on NPR, which sort of totally made our day.

Misha: Yeah, I did. Congratulations.

Kathy and Lynn: Thank you! And thanks for the chapter you wrote for the new book.

Misha: Of course!

Kathy: That one comes out in April, so we’ll keep you posted.

Misha: (laughing) Wow! You’re bangin’ ‘em out!

Hey, what can we say? This Show inspires us!

We hope you’re looking forward to Fan Phenomena: Supernatural too – we wanted it to be a book celebrating Supernatural, from multiple perspectives. Fans wrote chapters about how much the Show means to them. Actors wrote about what the Show has meant to them too — Misha wrote about discovering the power of fandom. Richard Speight wrote about his journey from con virgin to convention king of karaoke. Cinematographer Serge Ladouceur took us behind the camera to share the secrets to making Supernatural look like a feature film. Jules Wilkinson, admin of the SuperWiki, wrote about the online love affair of Supernatural and fandom. Fan vidder Ash48 wrote about the motivation behind her incredible vids and helped us celebrate the creativity of fandom. Academics wrote chapters about their love for the Show and dissected its meaning. And we wrote about what Supernatural has meant to us, over the course of our eight years of researching the Show and being happily immersed in its fandom. We hope you enjoy hearing the diverse viewpoints and perspectives, as well as the passion for the Show that shines through in every single chapter. When it comes right down to it, we’re all SPNFamily.

“And I think, in a nutshell, that feeling of community is what makes fandom so powerful.” – Misha Collins, in Fan Phenomena: Supernatural

We think so too.

misha vegascon14

You can order Fangasm and Fan Phenomena: Supernatural from the links at the top of the page.

And here’s the link for the Eternal Nights Vampire Ball benefitting Random Acts –

Stay tuned for more from VegasCon, including our chat with ghosthunter Chad Lindberg (which maybe scared Lynn a little, because….GHOSTS! Where are the Winchesters??)

51 thoughts on “Fandom, Passion and Supernatural: A Chat With Misha Collins

  • Interesting interview. Glad to hear he had such a good time directing (be it somewhat stressful and dessert filled experience). I like that he has the guts to engage in conversation that people feel is “hush-hush,” although, I really think the writers should leave Destiel as a teaser. I have two reasons for that; one, I really don’t think the actors would be too terribly comfortable with whatever scene the writers concocted (which would probably be felt by the viewers), and two, you’d end up pissing off some fans (no matter which way you go). The tension between the two characters is more than enough for the creative imagination. My two cents.

  • I very much enjoyed this thoughtful sitdown with Misha. I’m glad he had such a rewarding experience directing, because the episode was a lot of fun to watch. There was a good script and talented actors, but I also think the episode benefited from being directed by someone who is deeply familiar with the show and these characters. Hope he gets to do it again next season.

    As a queer fan I also appreciate Misha’s willingness to talk openly about the idea of Dean x Cas as a romantic pairing, and the fact that he feels he has to walk a tightrope when the topic comes up to avoid upsetting some segments of fandom. I hate that it’s that way, and it shouldn’t be that way, but it really does mean a lot to know that any hesitation he feels or discomfort he has with talking about it is not because of the same sex nature of the pairing, but because of the politics of this fandom and the warring factions within. I would love to hear his unfettered thoughts on the matter, frankly, but I suspect this is the closest we’ll ever get while the show is still on the air. But man alive are convention panels with Misha Collins gonna be interesting 10 years from now.

    Great interview; look forward to picking up the book!

  • Oh, Misha. I love you, and I do see what you’re saying… but I don’t think you understand quite what we mean by queerbaiting. Straightbaiting, if we can say there is such a thing, is not offensive like queerbaiting because a) we get hetero romances all the time and we’re not starved for those, like we are for queer romances (and queer representation), and b) straightbaiting does usually lead up to canon, but queerbaiting doesn’t.

    I think, Misha, you’re wanting to say that it’s not queerbaiting because it’s not intentional. No one set out to be cruel. That may be true, but it happened anyway. Maybe SPN did really just accidentally paint itself into a corner. Maybe all of you – writers, actors, directors, producers, everybody who contributed to the Destiel vibe – really just wanted to give us more of the subtext that we seemed to enjoy. It was always more or less there anyway – homoerotic subtext is a good ol’ staple in American TV shows. In a homophobic, man-worshipping society, homoerotic subtext is a powerful storytelling tool, and it gets used a lot. Maybe SPN just wanted to be nice and offer us a slightly thicker slice of it. And then we went and misunderstood that whole thing and started expecting canon Destiel!

    I can sort of sympathise if that makes you (everybody on the show) feel like “…whoa, we never promised THAT, and… what, now you’re mad at us??” I can certainly understand if you, Misha, hate feeling like you’re being accused of queerbaiting, considering that you are at the very least a really wonderful ally. But maybe this is an opportunity for all of you on SPN to educate yourselves about what queerbaiting really is. Because it needs to stop happening in your business. And it can’t stop happening until people in the business understand what it is.

  • Misha is correct, IMHO, about ship-baiting in general. It happens. Lots of shows tease chemistry and some fans like the pairing involved and some don’t. Whether they don’t like it because they prefer a DIFFERENT pairing or because they don’t want romance effing up their cop show or whatever is significant and interesting to me, but the result is the same. It has to be difficult to walk that line. People do appreciate that Misha “gets” that the ship exists and that he’s sensitive to fans’ feelings and concerns. It’s no less valid for a show like Supernatural to put shipper butts in seats as well as people who watch for the monster plots.

    I’m generally in the “oh, the show would probably only screw it up/do it wrong” camp for any given television series anyway (Bones. *cough*) so I prefer a metric ton of subtext I can interpret any way I like. That seems to make a lot of fans very happy, whether any sort of canon acknowledgement ever occurs.

  • This article is amazing, this interview is perfect. Misha is the man.
    I’m very excited and reading this just now is also torture because I’m supposed to get my copy of “Fan phenomena” like literaly tomorrow or the day after (COME ON AMAZON!) and I still remember this feeling of gratitude and love and happiness and self appreciation I had after reading Fangasm (or all of your articles, reviews or interviews really). I just can’t wait to read it!

  • While I really respect you ladies, I’m not sure about the all the Destiel inquiries to Misha.

    Yes, there are SPN fans who ship, eat, drink & sleep Destiel. We all know this as they are incredibly vocal & passionate about their ship. And they have every right to be. Even though I do not ship, it does not bother me that some fans do. Everyone enjoys SPN in a different way & that I think that is cool. I think that if a fan wants to photoshop photos of Dean & Cas & blog them all over Tumblr or write fanfiction out the wazoo, good for them! Fandom is incredibly creative place & I think that should be embraced.

    However, I get frustrated by the amount of wank Destiel causes. I feel like any convo re: Destiel results in wank because fans feel strongly about both sides. Misha is 100% right. It is a hard, thin line to walk because no matter what he says, he will receive backlash. Which is why I think he should remain mostly mum. Nothing he says will ever satisfy *all* SPN fans. It is a no-win situation for him.

    It is not about shame, and it bothers me that you are equating it to be. To me, it is about respect. Respect for the actors, the writers, the characters & other fans. Just because you ship something, doesn’t mean the actor who portrays a character or the writer who pens the character, or every fan who watches (or even the majority) does.

    I think Misha is a rarity. In fandoms other than SPN, actors have been confronted with questions about fictional ships & have responded in a very uncomfortable manner & I can’t say I blame them. To be 1/2 of a fandom ship & to know that NSFW manips of them are floating around on the internet has got to be weird.

    I hate the judgements Destiel has created lately too. Me not wanting to see Dean & Cas as a romantic couple on SPN has NOTHING to do with being not supporting the LGBT community or representation on mainstream TV. And I hate to see that accusation throw again & again.

    I personally don’t want to see Destiel because I have never seen anything other than friendship between the two. In my opinion, a romantic relationship between the two would come out of nowhere & would go against 9 years of characterization for Dean & 5 years for Cas. I think it would also change the entire tone of SPN. SPN is not about romance. It never has been. It about the love between family. And I think that is really special.

    Shipping is what it is. EVERYONE is aware of it, but for the sanity of all & for fandom peace, what is so wrong with keeping a fandom ship IN fandom?

    • I agree. Misha seems to walk that fine line very well, but he really shouldn’t even be put in a position to do so. He’s paid to do a job, which is act as his character as he’s written in the script while bringing his own interpretation of how Castiel would react to the situations he’s being put in. Asking him to comment on a fanon ship all the time seems pretty disrespectful of his work to me. People should appreciate him for the work he’s done and not for the potential romantic entanglements his character may be involved with. He’s a trooper about it though, and he does seem as if he’s very mindful of the fact that any response that he gives could potentially be harmful to someone’s feelings.

      I too am a non shipper, but I don’t have any problems with anyone who does ship. It’s all a part of fandom, and there’s no right or wrong way to do fandom. People are free to enjoy Wincest, Destiel or any other fanon ship that they please, but when it gets to a point to where they start to feel entitled to having their ship become canon, that’s where it starts to bother me. It’s like Misha says here in this interview – the Wincest shippers know that their ship will never be canon, and they’re fine with it. Some Destiel shippers on the other hand really believe that if they’re persistent enough the possibility of it becoming canon exists. Which is more than a little strange considering we now have 9+ years of Dean Winchester’s characterization as being heterosexual. Expecting the writers to undo that overnight to accommodate a fanon ship is ludicrous. It’s also pretty distracting from the overall story the writers are trying to tell when we have this one loud faction of the fandom demanding something that has nothing at all to do with what is happening on our screens every week. More than once I’ve had someone outside of the fandom asking me about the one brother and his boyfriend, the angel. People outside of the fandom think that’s what this show is really about now, and that’s false advertisement.

      My plea to shippers is this – By all means, ship who you want to ship, write your fanfiction and make your fanart, but let the writers do their jobs and let the rest of us who may not share the same passions as you do enjoy the show in peace. Be respectful of the actors and their performances as these wonderful characters we’ve all grown to love when you go to see them at conventions. Asking them to comment on a fanon ship all the time takes away from all the hard work they’ve put in to playing these characters for us. They deserve better than that.

      • “Asking him to comment on a fanon ship all the time seems pretty disrespectful of his work to me.”

        someday i’m going to high five you. i will invent a way to do it through the internet if need be. yep.

    • I would like to respectively reply to some of your points. Please don’t take any of it as confrontational, just trying to shed light on some issues you mentioned. I think it’s unfair to say ‘Destiel causes wank’. Most of the wank is caused by ‘anti-Destiel’ fans who are confusing fandom with show themes. If you notice in the interview, when it was brought up at a convention, Misha was fine with answering, it was the fans sitting behind her who were being vocal about their annoyance of the topic. And that is quite simply shaming. It’s upsetting to see that a viable topic about themes on the show should be looked at as taboo. Misha, himself, said he’s fascinated by the phenomenon and is not uncomfortable to talk about it, and many fans can actually bring up Destiel points in a very respectful manner. What makes him uncomfortable is the fact that it’s so polarizing, and he doesn’t want to offend anyone. Offense shouldn’t even be an issue here. You mentioned that “nothing he says will satisfy *all* SPN fans.” NOTHING anyone says will satisfy all the fans, but that’s not a reason to avoid the topics.

      Are they offended if we talk about Dean letting Gadreel posses Sam to save his life? It’s a very polarizing topic of the show, but it’s still being discussed. Well, Castiel and Dean have an actual relationship on the show too. It’s very real. Some may not see it as romantic, but it’s a relationship nonetheless. Just like Dean and Bobby had a relationship. And Sam and Crowley have a relationship. If two people relate to each other over many years, they are in a relationship of sorts. When this relationship has many layers and grey area, it should be open fodder for discussion. How many times has Cas betrayed Dean’s trust? How man times has Dean prayed to Cas for help? How many times has Cas saved Dean’s life? How many times has Cas turned his back on Heaven to side with the brothers? These are all viable topics that are a part of the Destiel relationship that should be allowed to be discussed–respectfully–in interviews, with the actors, at conventions. It’s not taboo.

      What you are referring to is the fandom: the sexy fanfics, the artwork, the NSFW! That’s a whole separate issue and I completely understand your point with keeping that away from the actors (unless you’re insane like Orlando Jones). I also don’t think it would be appropriate, for instance, to show Jared pictures and fanfic about Sam & Amelia, so it’s not simply that it’s a homosexual relationship. That is fandom and should remain in fandom. But the Destiel dynamic on the actual show should be permitted as topics of discussion. I hope you can see the difference I’m trying to make here.

      Wincest is something that will never happen on the show. But that is something for fandom to enjoy. However, a viable topic for discussion could be the brothers co-dependency on each other through the years. That is an approved topic. So discussing Cas & Dean’s relationship should not cause ‘wank’ or ‘controversy’ either. And it certainly shouldn’t polarize the audience at a convention. It’s wrong to treat it that way, and to make Misha uncomfortable to discuss the dynamics of his own scenes.

      If you don’t see Dean & Cas’ relationship as romantic, than that’s your right. I’m not arguing your opinion. You say the show isn’t about romance, and you are right there too. Barring all the mindless hook-ups Dean’s had early on the in show to set up his lifestyle, there have been many, many, many ‘couplings’ on the show, and they’ve handled it fine. Dean & Lisa, Dean & Anna, Sam & Jess, Sam & Amelia, etc. None of them have been lovey-dovey. I don’t understand why people insist that Dean & Cas would suddenly have to hold hands and start talking in baby-talk. They would be exactly what they are now but a declared couple. They are constantly fighting a war. There is no time for movie dates or long walks on the beach. But being able to put your head on someone’s shoulder at the end of the day; having someone hug you after a particularly difficult kill; even just having someone there to give you a beer when you need it. That’s all about love. I don’t see anything anti-Supernatural in those scenes. They’ve already put their lives on the line for each other, saved each other, proven how far they’d go for the other. It’s not a far leap to see that they love each other.

      • SnapeGirl, Can I hug you?

        LOVE every single thing you say here and wish I could have said it all as eloquently as you have. Thank you.

      • “Most of the wank is caused by ‘anti-Destiel’ fans who are confusing fandom with show themes”
        I’m sorry but most of the wank (in general not just in cons) is caused by Destiel fans who can’t accept the fact that their ship is not canon (see the attacks to Chad Kennedy or Guy Bee) when they dared say that Destiel don’t exist.
        I am an anti-Destiel fan, an anti-Wincest fan, an anti-ship fan simply because I don’t watch the show to see Sam and Dean’s love life. Shipping has never been the theme of the show and yes, fans who demand for the core of the show to change simply because they are obsessed with a certain ship annoy me very very much. And if destiel shippers have the right to complain about a ship they think should make the show better, I have every right to complain because I think something like that would ruin my favourite show.
        So please don’t put the blame for the fan wars only on ‘anti-Destiel’ fans. If nothing else, both sides have their extreme fans that are guilty of causing wank.

      • Perhaps it’s just myself, but when I see ‘Destiel’, that term is specifically referring to a romantic relationship between Dean and Castiel, and this interpretation of the nature of their relationship has become so pervasive that, regardless of the intent of the question, it tends to come across as asking about the possible romantic nature any time it concerns those two characters. It comes across as people reaching for fodder for their ship rather than an honest inquiry into the dynamics between two characters on a television show, and that IS exasperating for those fans that espy nothing verging on the romantic between Dean and Castiel.

        Comparing asking questions about the relationship between Sam and Crowley, or between Bobby and Dean, to asking about that between Dean and Castiel is comparing apples to oranges, and that’s because a small, but very vocal, portion of the fandom has put such effort into attempting to shift Destiel from a purely fanon phenomenon to one that is played out on-screen.

        I’m all for exploring the relationship between Dean and Castiel, but I also contend that it’s silly to pretend for one minute that any inquiry toward the general nature of it isn’t tainted with the spectre of those who interpret that relationship as being romantic and how ardent some can be about it.

      • Couldn’t have said it better. These are people, like one who commented on what you said and declared themselves “anti-Destiel” actually believe the ENTIRE show would change because Dean has affection for someone, and that It would no longer be about fighting monsters. What are you smoking, commenter, and where can I get some? That’s foolish on its face. Nothing changed whatsoever when he lived with Lisa and Ben. The show was still about brothers, (Castiel still watched over him every Thursday) and it was still about monsters. If you actually think two men holding hands or saying, “I love you” would change that drastically I think you’re looking at it from a very frightened standpoint.

      • Okay, let me say this up front.
        I am a Destiel fan. I read the fanfiction, am involved in the tumblrs, and draw some art work, and do YouTube videos.
        But I am also a fan of the show. I’ve been watching the show since the first season and I know some of the fans can cause problems but so do the anti_Destiel fans.
        I think everyone is entitled to their opinion and if you watch the Show because you love the Winchester brothers, that’s fine. If you watch the show because you ship a couple, that’s fine too. Because as long as you’re watching and enjoying that’s all that matters.
        Yes, it’s wrong to put the actors in an uncomfortable position by asking about Destiel but if you never ask then you never know.
        It’s the same as asking Jarred if Sam cared more about Amelia than Jessica or Asking Jensen if he thinks Ben was really Dean’s son.
        Non_Destiel questions that could start a war in a second. I have seen two boys argue for an hour over the Jessica/Sam/Amelia thing. And I think Misha Collins is doing the right thing not tipping to far on either side. Because even if some people think Destiel fans make things more difficult that’s your opinion.
        I know Destiel probably won’t be Canon but until the last episode I’m going to watch the show. Even if Dean and Castiel get new love interest because what made me want them to be a couple was the love (and not the romantic kind) they showed for each other and there friendship.
        And honestly, the main reason I watch the show isn’t for Destiel or the Winchester brothers. I watch the show because I think Dean is an interesting, complex character and I love him.
        I had more points but I’m not going to go there.

  • Thank you, Kathy and Lynn, for an amazing interview with my favorite actor.

    I also really loved the quote you had from Orlando about the relationship between Dean and Cas. It was Orlando’s love for fandom and openness to talking about all aspects of fandom and seeing nothing wrong with any part of it that first endeared him to me and turned me into an Orlando Jones fan, as well as a Sleepy Hollow fan.

    As usual, Misha made me cry with the depth of his love and concern for fans, as did the two of you. As a passionate Destiel fan myself, I really appreciate that both he and you guys are open to discussing it like you are. It breaks my heart that he has become hesitant to openly discuss it because he gets accused of queerbaiting when he does or because some people show disdain for him just for talking about it. For this and many other reasons, Misha is truly a hero to me.

    I often feel shamed and like shipping Destiel isn’t something that I should talk about… in fact, I’m actually a bit afraid to wear anything at my first convention later this year or be openly vocal about my love for the pairing and that I support it becoming canon..or at the very least the show ending in such a way that leaves it very open to interpretation and imagination.

    Destiel becoming canon would be a wonderful step in the right direction as far as LGBT relationships in media is concerned and I know that it is so important to many in the LGBT community. For me, personally, I am passionate about Destiel because I see the potential for an amazing love story and I’d like to see it realized in some way on a show that I have come to love. I’m passionate about Destiel in the same way that I was passionate about the relationship between Buffy and Spike on BTVS.

    And I realize that I’m rambling right now and I’m going to stop. But I have to say that I can not claim to speak for all Destiel fans, but please know that this one Destiel fan is touched to her very core by how you wonderful ladies are fighting back against the shaming of fans, including the slash shipping fans, and broaching topics that a lot of people refuse to talk about because of the sensitive nature of the topics.

  • I really really loved the episode that Misha directed. He honestly did an amazing job. As for Destiel, I think some people can be extremely hurtful when the topic comes up. I saw a video of a girl at a convention who was super sweet and she asked Jensen something about if he thought Dean might be bisexual and people actually booed her and Jensen refused to comment on the topic and I heard that she actually left the panel because she was so hurt and upset. That’s not ok. I understand that a lot of people don’t ship Destiel, I happen to be one of them, but no one can deny that the writers of this show have written so many scenes where it makes it look like Dean and Cas have a relationship that could likely have romantic feelings. Jensen said himself that he rewrote the scene when Dean gives Cas his trench coat back because they basically wrote it like they were lovers. I couldn’t care less whether someone ships it or not, but no one in this fandom should ever be made to feel like their less of a person or beneath anyone else for where they want these amazing characters to end up.

  • Once again, when Misha chooses to be serious and thoughtful, he gives amazing interviews. I have a feeling what he’s actually saying here is going to be completely ignored by the fans that most need to hear it, but I think he did a nice job of addressing the issues with fan bases going too far (i.e. the Chad Kennedy thing). I hope people see that his remarks are *not* just directed at only one part of this fandom.

    The point he does miss, though, along with the interviewers, and Orlando Jones, AND William Shatner, and any other celebrities who are not in our fandom but choose to comment on it, is that it HAS NEVER been a canon possibility for Destiel to exist. That’s the underlying cause of ALL the tension. That’s WHY it never gets talked about on set. Because people who know these characters, and understand the story being told, know that Destiel would literally, in a million years, never happen. And that inability to leave it in a fantasy place, the way Wincest is, is why this fandom will never be united.

    I have never shamed someone for shipping Destiel. (Argued vociferously against the logic of it? Yes). I have, however, been told I’m a disgusting person for shipping Wincest. Nobody should be shamed for shipping. But shipping should also REMAIN IN FANDOM. I feel like Misha understands that, but has to, as he said, parse his words to avoid backlash.

    And his point on queerbaiting should not be ignored. We don’t cry foul every time the chemistry between a male & female actor is not acted on and turned into story, so it’s a bit disingenuous to do so just because the characters involved are both male. It’s a way of trying to guilt and manipulate TPTB into telling the story you want, out of fear. Which is, you know, not cool.

    All in all, a very enjoyable interview:)

  • I’m so excited about the new book. Sounds like it throws new perspective on the phenomenon. I felt like telling you how I ended up here myself, late to the party but no less dedicated. I love that you have done this for all of us. Fans and creative talent alike needed this to begin to understand how we all interrelate. Thank you for all of your hard work.

  • Well, this is awesome. Thanks for the interview! As Misha points out, fans really shouldn’t be calling Destiel “queer-baiting” as it has yet to be determined whether it will be canon or not. It’s really jumping the gun to do so. Like he says, we wouldn’t be accusing showrunners of baiting a male/female pairing before we saw it all the way through. Why should we come to this conclusion so early with Destiel? In my mind, that was his way of saying, “just be patient and wait and see!” Which…is also what Adam Glass told us to do. So, we Destiel shippers definitely need to learn a little patience.

    Also, I appreciate the two of you AND Misha acknowledging that there is real possibility that Destiel could be canon. That’s very refreshing to me, however, I really don’t think the idea of it is as hush-hush or taboo as you might think. Destiel shippers have been quite outspoken about it, and they’ve learned to sort of come out of their shell, if you will. Much to the annoyance of others in the fandom, I’m sure. It’s our bluntness and our no-shame policy that rubs others the wrong way, unfortunately. We’ve learned to stop being shy and ask for what it is we really we want. Destiel doesn’t NEED to remain in fantasy! And I don’t think that we’re asking for the moon, here. Now, other cast/crew? Definitely more hush-hush on the topic. But I like to believe that has more to do with being unable to reveal plotlines/spoilers, so it’s better to just keep quiet. That, and it is a point of contention of course.

    I’m very interested to see how Dean/Cas progresses. I don’t think any of the information given in this has helped or hurt Destiel in the canon sense…it seems that it’s still very much up in the air at this point, and I get the feeling that Misha truly has no clue what the future holds for it. I hope he touches on it a bit more in the book. Again, thanks for the article!

    • I enjoy this man immensely, but he’s still doing the very thing he’s mentioned makes him nervous; he’s choosing his words carefully. There is a difference between heterosexual tension between characters in a television show (or film) verses homosexuality because heterosexuality has had many years to be on top and privileged. Hundreds and hundreds of shows with heterosexual couples, only a handful, literally, a handful of shows with gay or bisexual lead roles to represent anything significant to the LGBT community. You want to sit there and say that’s the same? With a straight face?
      The other problem is how people expect a “ship” to suddenly mean it’s an EXPLOSION of Queer As Folk and confetti and sex and – who said that was what would happen? A held hand, an “I love you” at least ONCE in the show, and that would be enough, but the heterosexual fandom is so afraid, so ignorant to expect that, they actually are convincing themselves that that would change the entire dynamic of the show from brothers fighting monsters (and their own self-loathing). Did they complain about it with Lisa and Ben? What about any female character the writers kill off because oh my, can’t have living female roles? No? Oh okay, that must have just been because they were straight.

      • Umm….I don’t know about you, but YES, all I heard was bitching about Lisa and Ben, and even half of my favorite mother-daughter duo Jo (pre-heroic death). People only got nice about love interests after they ended. Sam hasn’t had a relationship people were in favor of either, except for Jess, but she died in the first episode, so she doesn’t count.

      • @ AKBearmace All you did was snippit the last bit I said. So there is no comment to be made in relevance to the rest.

  • Interesting interview, but I’m a little uncomfortable about how forced the questions about shipping in general and destiel in particular seemed to be. There’s so much more than that to Supernatural. But since it was brought up…

    I appreciate what Misha had to say about wincest shippers–that we know it will never be canon, that we accept that, and appreciate what we’re given in terms of fanservice. It’s really nice to have that acknowledged. The show certainly doesn’t have to ‘play’ with us, and I (and many other wincest shippers) enjoy it when they do.

    I also found Misha’s comments on queerbaiting to be interesting, because I think it’s true–there is far less objection when sexual tension is teased between a man and a woman.

    However, I have to disagree with what Misha, Orlando and even you as the interviewers had to say about destiel. It is not particularly canon-possible, simply because there is more to a sexual relationship than two human (or in Castiel’s case human appearing) people being near each other. To say that destiel is canon-possible ignores 9 years of consistent characterization for Dean, and five years for Castiel and Jimmy. There is simply no evidence that any of the three people involved here would be interested in a same sex relationship, and that in and of itself removes destiel from the realm of canon-possible.

    This is not an attempt to shame anyone–I have no issues with destiel being shipped in fandom even tho I don’t personally care for it. But I do object strongly to the idea that it is somehow acceptable to try and force it into canon. As I said before, doing so ignores all previous characterization for Dean, Castiel and Jimmy, and in addition would force a drastic change to the show’s format in order to accommodate an in show romance.

    Supernatural is not a show about romance; it never has been and never should be. Pulling a relationship like that front and center fundamentally changes the focus of the show, moving it away from the central relationship of Sam and Dean and turning Supernatural into something that holds little appeal for many fans.

    Shipping is fun. It’s a part of fandom that I enjoy very much, and of course my wincest ship is near and dear to my heart. But it should remain for fans, by fans, in fandom.

    • Kelios, I love you. I will NEVER understand why some people thought destiel was canon possible because there were absolutely no set up of any kind and one would have to blatantly ignore several years of characterization for Dean, poor Jimmy Novak, and Cas. This is why I’m convinced the pro-canon!destiel never actually watched the show, at least not the first 3 seasons, and just rely on fanfictions and/or tumblr gifs, which most were stolen from Sam/Dean scenes.

      • I’m going to start by saying that I’m a destiel shipper. HOWEVER, if it never becomes canon, then so be it. I still have my imagination.

        I think, for many destiel shippers, however, the main point of contention is that it’s not unrealistic for destiel when you look at the characters, and not the bodies. I’m not being particularly eloquent, but consider this: if Cas had chosen a female meatsuit, there almost certainly would have been at least a kiss at this point-while leaving all other dialog the same.

        Basically, what I’m saying is swap Misha (*sob*) for a lady, and a moment of extended eye contact for a smooch, and BAM! Destiel is canon, however briefly.

        Some people will never perceive Dean as anything other than hetero, based on what they’ve seen. And some people will always perceive Dean as, to some degree, queer. Always remember that our interpretations are based on, in part, our own life experiences.

        I could go on for HOURS as to why I believe that Dean is a closeted bi, and Cas honestly has no preference either way. But I won’t, because at the end of the day, it’s just, like, my opinion, man.

    • Supernatural is not a show about romance, it’s about fighting creatures, and yet Lisa and Ben were with Dean for some time and no one complained. And you’re actually going to say that a homosexual relationship, or any relationship, evolves around sex, and that, buddy, is foolish. There is this thing, it’s amazing, I dunno if you’ve heard of it, but it’s love without sex. You want to say that Castiel would have had sex with Dean had the actor been an actress? No, but that’s okay, Dean can have random useless sex with Anna because she had a vagina and said a few sweet words, right…right. You’re one of those that believe the entire show would change if Dean said “I love you”, which is actually something that was scripted, then taken out.
      If you’re actually going to say that if every single solitary line had been said by a woman there would have been no ship, no sex, no romance, I don’t think you’re even watching the same television show. There is plenty of evidence set up for something of romantic or loving intent surpassing platonic. It’s not the television show’s fault, it’s ours as a society that we’re so afraid that we think a show of such quality would change because two people of the same sex would love one another, as though it couldn’t happen casually and only be a side dish to a plot of more importance. Just as McGeek said, there are HOURS of evidence that Dean Winchester is a closeted bisexual, and Castiel has even said, “canon” that sexual preference means nothing. The damn characters have more gumption than those who watch it.

  • Fascinating article! I’m so pleased with the questions asked, and happy that we’re starting to agree that Destiel CAN, in theory, go canon. There’s really nothing stopping it on the show. I’m sure there will be those pointing out that Dean is strictly hetero, but of course, there’s also some possible evidence to the contrary. People can argue about that fact until they’re blue in the face, but the fact is that until we see the series finale, we won’t know the definitive answer to that question. Some people go through life thinking they’re straight, only to realize later on that that isn’t so much the case. People are complex that way, and fictional characters should be complex too. Plus, hey…there’s always that fun little tidbit that Dean’s character is based off of a canonically bisexual character. There’s been enough subtext that if the writers wanted to take that route, they could do so with ease. And I think it’s been set up so that the option is there for them, if desired. They are currently in a very grey area with Dean/Cas, but I have a feeling we’ll get some clearer answers soon. Even Mulder and Scully couldn’t stay subtextual forever. 😉

  • Great interview as always Lynn and Kathy!! I appreciate that you guys ask questions not everyone wants to hear :)) Misha was so great as a director for 9×17 and I could listen to him talk about that process all day! I totally agree that Destiel irks some people specifically because of its potential for becoming canon and stepping out of the realm of fanon. I don’t want to pressure the writers into doing anything they don’t want to do, but I also don’t feel that canon destiel is that far of a stretch. For a tv show that many feel isn’t a ‘romance’ there have been plenty of romances for all three characters now!! Why would one between two men/angel be so outside the realm of possibility at this point? I really look forward to reading the rest his chapter and the book!

  • Thank you for this! Misha (and Cas) are dear to my heart and I really appreciate that you treat *all* of the actors on the show with respect, unlike some of the fans here in comments. I also appreciate the even-handed way you treat the shipping question, and Misha’s thoughtful answers.

  • Desiel is only a canon possibility in that they are both two characters who aren’t related that could theoretically be in a relationship, but you could say that about Dean and Garth. However the fact remains that the characters themselves have been shown time and time again to be heterosexual. It’s just how it is.

  • Great questions! Even better answers! Quite fitting that I read a blog about ‘ships’ yesterday and the parts about Destiel here are like the final chapter to that blog. I’m not a Destiel fan but still feel very comfortable around the idea – so I’m a bit sad that it was Arrow showing one of their female leads kissing a girl and not Supernatural going there first!

    • @risenshine, Supernatural DID go there first with Charlie Bradbury and Gilda in LARP and the Real Girl (nominated for a GLAAD award) more than a year before Arrow did with Black Canary, and I think people sometimes forget that Charlie is a great recurring character with a backstory and no tragic ending because of her orientation. Which is pretty awesome. I love Dean and Castiel and want them interacting with each other on my TV all the time, but Supernatural isn’t bad at representation just because they’re not holding hands.

      I don’t think it’s fair, either, to blame Misha Collins because he has fun engaging with a portion of the fanbase, when actors on series like Agents of SHIELD do the same thing with M/F non-canon couples, complete with portmanteau usage and sharing fanart. In fact, Clark Gregg’s also had fun engaging about Clint/Coulson (two male characters). Actors don’t control what happens with the plot and can’t be blamed for this, either. It’s perfectly okay to engage with fans about shipping if they’re comfortable with it, IMO; they’re allowed to be fans, too!

  • if i were asked a question that i knew that without fail i would get bs no matter what or how i answered. I wouldnt want to take about it either. shipping just isnt something that wont upset one fraction or another. and just because theres subtext doesnt make it queer bating and just because the people are starved for shame sex couples represent on tv in a real light doesnt mean the writers have to make their characters gay. its really, in my humble writing experience, up to the character. if the fandom didnt get so upset every time someone said something either which way, we’d probs be able to talk about this like adults.

    also lets remember firefly, straight bating if ever it existed.

    But yes great great stuff, fun, insightful, real. Love it.

  • Thank you very much for this interview with Misha. I’m so happy he enjoyed directing 9×17. I loved it and I’m still amazed with all hidden talents that man has. I’d like to thank you too, because not talking about the obvious, as you say, big elephant in the room only makes it weirder. Destiel is the relationship between Dean and Castiel. Romantic or platonic, it’s there. And curiously, it’s the only relationship in the show that is not discussed openly. So, yeah. Thank you for talking about it with someone who’s not comfortable to do it but will make an effort to contribute to the discussion. It means a lot to me (even though I already knew it) that Misha says he’s not uncomfortable because of the nature of the relationship because it’s between two adult males. What makes him uncomfortable is how fans see this subject. Now, I understand why Misha discussing this issue will make some people uncomfortable because they don’t want their favorite character admitting having romantic feelings for an angel in a male vessel. Ok. What I don’t understand is why Misha thinks it’s unfair to say Supernatural is queerbaiting by not following through with Destiel or by not saying they will never go there. For me, a bisexual young woman, subtext between straight characters it’s not as problematic as subtext between two same sex characters. I’m sorry but it’s just not the same thing. How many tv shows actually follow through with the homoerotic subtext they DELIBERATELY put there? I’m not sure if Misha is saying SPN is still writing Destiel subtext unintentionally because that is not the case. Not after season 8. Not after TV Guide’s article having 90% of people voting for Destiel to become text (the voting was per IP address and there were over 35K votes). How is it that after 9×03 reaction with Chad Kennedy and Guy Norman Bee, TPTB is still not aware of what they’re creating?
    How do they expect people to feel after Destiel never going canon? Like they were baited. They were led to believe there was room and potential for something that wasn’t ever going to happen. In my book that is not nice, to say the least. I’d feel sad and let down by Carver for making me dream about something I was never meant to have. And still, after all this they keep quiet on the matter even knowing a huge part of their fanbase is waiting patiently. Misha, can you honestly look me in the eye and say that’s ok?

  • “Misha understands that, but has to, as he said, parse his words to avoid backlash”

    He certainly does have to parse his words to avoid backlash from the very person who posted this comment and her fellow Cas/Misha haters, including Kelios (below). They engage in that backlash 24/7 on their twitters, and help to fan it at Convention panels.

  • Great article!

    As for Dean and Castiel…I’ve always been of the opinion that it is possible until definitively stated/proven otherwise. To go around boasting that Destiel would never, and could never, happen is ill-informed and quite premature in my eyes. So, THANK YOU for your level-headedness on the matter, as two Wincest shippers. You are clearly scholarly, intelligent ladies who don’t let personal prejudices/bias get in the way of facts and truths.

    //applauds you//

    Good day!

  • I’m really fascinated by the insistence here in the comments section (and throughout the fandom) that because Dean has appeared as hetero for 9 years, he must be 100% straight, and couldn’t possibly have feelings for another man. People just aren’t always like that. Female sexuality tends to be more fluid, while male sexuality tends to be more fixed, but closets exist, bisexuality exists, gradients of sexuality exist. “He can’t be gay because he sleeps with women” dismisses all of the people who came out after months, years, decades in hetero relationships, or those who are 90% straight, or “straight except for this one person” – it’s a bigger portion of society than people seem to realize.

    All of these comments of course ignore the lovely interview Misha did. I appreciate that he takes the time to address the very real feelings of the fans, whether he finds them any degree of uncomfortable or not. It speaks volumes about how much he cares for the fandom.

  • Despite my love for all things Destiel, I feel it would be better as a fanon than canon. It would upset a huge portion of people who either 1) don’t want it to be canon, or 2) aren’t satisfied with how it was made canon (imo it would only be forced and awkward fan service at this point). If it’s NOT made canon by the end, though, people are going to be upset about queerbaiting. However, unless a plethora of people had high hopes, the CW is going to continue like it always has on the subject and continue with the subtext, because once SPN’s over, people can’t exactly boycott the show.
    I feel a good middle ground would be to announce Dean as a bisexual character. There’s more evidence than just the questionable Cas/Dean subtext that Dean is bisexual, some evidence even dating way back to season one. It can be short and sweet and satisfy the majority of fans without putting Dean and Cas in a relationship—a relationship that would be forced, and take away from the show’s main focus, which is the bond between the brothers. Revealing Dean as bi can also work to break down some stereotypes (that gay/bi men can’t be “macho”, for example) and give fans positive representation without the “token gay.”
    Anyway, Misha’s response was mature and thoughtful, which is great on a touchy subject like this.

  • Well, I personally am a hardcore shipper, but I do agree that there is tons of tension building up on the subject. I feel that the writers never did intend for this to happen, same as the actors, but now they might incorporate it into the story-line. Maybe since they heard about the concept, they began to build it up for the fans, and even if it’s an extremely low chance, they could add it into the story when they feel the time is right. Even if it never becomes canon, their bromance should stay borderline to romance, just to keep the shippers and non-shippers content. I do not think they would ever be totally into a relationship, not focusing on it but still having it. Maybe they would add it in and have it as a low-tone relationship just to have tiny scenes here and there. At the end of the season they incorporate it, maybe they’d add a kiss and Tumblr would explode, then they break up for the sake of a good story-line. Although I want it to be canon more than anything in the world, I would be 100% content if they left it with just a little more than what they do now, as they could go either way, whether it’s brotherly love or romance.

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