A Family Affair – SPN Family At HousCon

j2 close

houston con 2015 2 198

I wrote this post a few days ago and then was too sick to actually post it. In the interim, there’s been some discussion about ‘SPNFamily’ and whether that term is appropriate for us when there sometimes seems like so much infighting. I hate the infighting and love the sense of community – it’s why we wrote Fangasm and why there are entire chapters on wank and the reasons for it in Fandom At The Crossroads. I hate seeing other fans hurting, whether that hurt comes from inside or outside the fandom. I guess, when you get right down to it, I hate seeing people hurting. That’s what I do for a living, after all.

So I understand why some are questioning the term ‘SPNFamily’ – who wants to believe that someone within your family could deliberately hurt you? There are people in any group who try to cope with whatever it is they’re dealing with by attacking others, or are afraid of losing something important to them and are willing to use whatever means they can find to keep that from happening. That sort of anger-based, fear-based behavior is tough to watch and even worse to be on the receiving end of. And it’s not okay. This ‘family’ we’re in is not perfect. Bobby Singer’s warning that family is there to make you miserable isn’t always off the mark. That’s true of every family I’ve ever known, blood or no blood.

At the same time, I don’t want to lose sight of the many powerful and important ways that this gigantic diverse squabbling infuriating supportive creative amazing group of people is a family. I’ve been collecting stories for a new project about how Supernatural and SPN fandom have changed people’s lives. In some cases, saved people’s lives. Fans, cast, crew – we’ve all been changed by our participation in this widespread, dynamic group. I’ve heard stories of fans going out of their way – above and beyond – to help other fans. I’ve seen it and experienced it myself, in big dramatic gestures and in small moments at cons when someone lost their photo op ticket. That feeling of belonging and acceptance that we wrote about in Fangasm is still there, and still has a strong impact on fans who discover the community of fandom. Like all large families, we have our factions and our alliances and our family feuds, and some people get along better and are happier if they just don’t talk to ‘that branch of the family’ anymore. (Of course, you may still see them at Cousin Martha’s big bash of a wedding…or run across them in the comments on a fandom blog…)

I have no doubt that TPTB are ecstatic that we coined the phrase SPNFamily to define ourselves, and they’ve been happy to co-opt it for their own purposes at times, but I remember its beginnings and I think it came from a place of genuine emotion and affection. The actors use the term inclusively, and their affection and appreciation for fandom seems genuine to me as well.

Jared says goodbye with a kiss
Jared says goodbye with a kiss
Jensen does the same
Jensen does the same
A bow to the fans
A bow to the fans
Jensen thanks fans
Jensen thanks fans
Jared high fives fans on his way offstage
Jared high fives fans on his way offstage
A J2 hug for the last question fan
A J2 hug for the last question fan

I realize I can’t cling to an unrealistic utopian view of fandom (though I did wear my fannish rose colored glasses for the first few chapters of Fangasm, much to Kathy’s dismay…) But I don’t want to do a 180 and end up at the other extreme, dismissing the positive things about fandom — and SPN Fandom in particular — and its potential to be a force for good and for individual change. To me, it still feels like family.

Feel free to skip Cousin Martha’s wedding , though – find the way in which the community works for you!

Anyway, that was a long-winded introduction to this post about HousCon that was all about family.

It’s always fun when the boys come to Texas, Jared and Jensen’s home state. Their families sometimes come by the con and everyone seems a little bit more laid back. I swear Misha starts to speak with a bit of a Texas twang too.

houston con 2015 2 059

My son and his girlfriend joined me at the convention, which was a rather momentous occasion. When I introduced him to Jensen and Jared, I think he said something along the lines of “Oh, so you’re the guys my mom has been writing about ever since I can remember!” I think J2 had a moment of “uh oh” before he shook their hands.

Jared smiled and said “Your family is here and so is ours,” which made me inexplicably choked up. I always feel like I’m immersed in the SPN Family at cons, and having my own there, and Jared and Jensen’s too, was unexpectedly emotional. Mrs. Ackles said hello with “oh yes, the books, and your last name starts with a Z, right?” thereby impressing me greatly with her memory. I have trouble remembering my students’ names after three weeks of classes! No wonder Jensen can memorize pages of dialogue so easily – it clearly runs in the family. She introduced me to Jared’s mom and dad, who are every bit as warm and lovely as their son.

The weekend was a blur of fangirl time and family time and me smiling so much it was eventually painful. Selling the books is always crazy hectic as I try to run back and forth between the vendor’s room and the ballroom to live tweet, but it’s always wonderful because I get to meet people who have read Fangasm and Fan Phenomena and are kind enough to tell me their thoughts. I love hearing that someone read Fangasm and realized “OMG it’s not just me!” or that someone loved the essay in Fan Phenomena about making fanvids or the show’s cinematography (or Misha Collins’ sense of humor). I also got to have some delicious seafood at Cap’n Benny’s with family, and some delicious late night breakfast at Cracker Barrel with a great group of fangirls. Grits, gravy and good conversation!

Btw, this post is photo heavy – many from Houston and a few from the previous con in San Fran that I never got a chance to post. But hey, they’re pretty.

And then there was the con itself. There are always too many highlights to list (so go watch the con vids fandom always shares), but one of my favorite things was fans thronging to the stage to bring feminine hygiene products to Misha. You might think this is just an example of Mr. Collins being…well, Mr. Collins…but in fact, it was to meet a real need for those supplies, and they were all donated to organizations that will distribute them appropriately. In the meantime, it was just plain fun. Especially when Misha invited two young fangirls onstage and they constructed an architectural wonder out of them – and decorated Misha with the bows some fans had put on their gift packages. As if he wasn’t already adorable enough!

houston con 2015 2 203

Yes, he is pondering a tampon...
Yes, he is pondering a tampon…

houston con 2015 2 206

houston con 2015 2 207

misha maxipadtower

Misha also turned the tables, as he is so apt to do, by starting his Q & A at the back of the (very long) line, and borrowing a fan’s camera to take some photos.

misha 5

misha 2

I’m still very enamored of Misha’s jacket at the San Fran con, so here are a few more shots of that one. Actually I was enamored of that entire outfit. Damn, looking good, Mr. Collins.

That jacket! Yum
That jacket! Yum
Also, those shoes!
Also, those shoes!

houston con 2015 2 062

And those thighs...err...pants
And those thighs…err…pants
Did I forget to mention those blue eyes?
Did I forget to mention those blue eyes?
Okay, it's everything. Richard agrees.
Okay, it’s everything. Richard agrees.

Kim Rhodes gave us one of the most emotional moments of the con, when a fan stepped up the mike to tell her how much Kim has been an inspiration, and Kim struggled to allow herself to take in the positive message. She shared a bit about her own struggle and her six months sobriety, and we all shared some tears. To someone reading this from outside the fandom, I can imagine you might think this isn’t genuine, or that it’s somehow cheesy, but as implausible as this might be, it’s not. Far from it.

houston con 2015 2 156

Gil McKinney made hearts melt every time he sang, and shared that the confidence he’s gained from the support of SPN fans has made him determined to give New York theater a try. He also confided that he thinks that Henry did have a crush on Josie. Who wouldn’t?

gil 5

houston con 2015 2 153

houston con 2015 2 021

And this is his imitation of the screen shot that Jared showed him one day in the middle of shooting. Sam turned his laptop around to show Henry something case related, and there was a “very large very naked man.” Extra points for creative use of the microphone to illustrate.

Oh Jared...
Oh Jared…

Colin Ford turned 18 and still looks so much like a young Sam Winchester, it’s striking. He’s also a bona fide Supernatural fan, and kept the theme of SPNFamily going by telling us he still stays in touch with his SPN costars who played Dean to his Sam.

houston con 2015 2 265

houston con 2015 2 270

Mark Sheppard took the stage to eat a steak dinner, looked mighty dapper in a long coat, and had a long conversation with Rob Benedict about his kiss with Jim Beaver practically standing on top of me. Not complaining.

So looking like Crowley here, isn't he?
So looking like Crowley here, isn’t he?

robmark jimkiss

mark s rob 2

mark s rob

Mark Pellegrino brought a fan onstage, who promptly informed him that she wasn’t allowed to talk to strangers. “Oh, but chatting with Lucifer, that’s okay?” he retorted. Also he came onstage to “Big Balls”. I cornered him later and shamelessly begged him to come back to do some of that – or even better, some more Rocky Horror – at karaoke or the Saturday Night Special. Fingers crossed.

houston con 2015 2 176

houston con 2015 2 179

Tahmoh Penikett answered thoughtful questions about the many genre roles he’s performed – in fact, one question was so thoughtful he joked that he needed to do some research. Mmm. The thought of that is pretty hot actually.

houscon 2015 005

houscon 2015 008

Sebastian Roche spent part of his panel dancing on chairs to his signature con song, “Get Lucky” and I think answered exactly one actual question.

seb 2

seb get lucky

Richard Speight kept the entire con running the way he always does (mostly smoothly, but when things don’t go smoothly, his improv is almost more fun! We even got a few verses of the classic con song “Where’s Misha” this time). He and Matt Cohen hosted a karaoke party that was so much fun I managed to stay up for most of it, and Rob Benedict and Louden Swain kept everyone in a good mood as house band. Much more about that in my next post!

houston con 2015 2 262

houston con 2015 2 253

Jared and Jensen were their usual entertaining selves. Jensen can distract me just by the way he stands. I can’t even explain it, it’s just…. distracting!

j2 ja stance 2

j2 ja stance 3

With bonus tongue...
With bonus tongue…

ja grace


Jared has the best boyish smile, and he was playful as always at Houscon.

j2 2

That wink!
That wink!
Jensen: that was me. Jared: shhhh
Jensen: that was me. Jared: shhhh


And at San Fran con, which I never posted very many photos of, so I’m putting a few in here.

houston con 2015 2 128

When he isn’t being adorable, Jared is equally distracting.

houscon 2015 032

houscon 2015 036

houston con 2015 2 126

I loved Jensen’s re-telling of the ‘Flying Fangirl’ story – it’s like a running joke through Fangasm, as we hear the dramatic tale in whisper down the lane fashion from fans who were there, guests who were there, and finally Jensen himself. This time he even acted it out while Jared sort of shook his head in disbelief that it actually happened.

And she grabbed me like a spider monkey...
And she grabbed me like a spider monkey…
Jared's face.... lol
Jared’s face…. lol

The boys also acted out a slow motion fight scene, showing how they make those thrown punches and falls look so real. I was sort of amazed at how close they come to actually hitting or kicking each other, and how they can instantly move their bodies in such a way that you’re just sure there was impact. No rehearsal, they just popped into it like it was nothing. I guess that’s what a decade of acting together does for you!

j2 fight 2

j2 fight 3

j2 fight 4

j2 fight 5

j2 fight 6

j2 fight 7

j2 fight slo mo

j2 fight

Play fighting seemed to be a theme of the day…

j2 fight curtain

The Saturday Night Special is always a highlight for me, but I’ll do a separate post about that because I took so many pictures. And miracle of miracles, some of them came out okay! (I borrowed my sister’s camera. Clearly she knows how to buy them better than I do).

I also got to go to Jensen’s meet and greet, so I’ll share a few tidbits from what is my previously established inferior memory. Thus, tidbits.

A fan kicked off the meet and greet by saying that the scene in the previous week’s episode where Dean was so scary actually seemed like Jensen had personally transformed himself into someone else to be that frightening.

Jensen: [with a dangerous grin that was disturbingly hot] Uh oh, she’s on to me…

ja smile

houscon 2015 034

houscon 2015 035

He went on to talk about that scene where Dean questions (and threatens) a tied up Metatron that left most of us shivering.

Jensen: That was all shot in one day with Curtis Armstrong. When I’m working with someone who is giving me so much, such a talented professional, it enables a playing field. You develop a relationship with the other actor, and that allows you to play and find the nuances. Curtis is so good, so professional, and I trust him.

Jensen said that Dean felt so dark in that scene, that it almost seemed like demonic Dean was back.

(Not necessarily a bad thing, since most of us – including Jensen – think we could have used a few more episodes of Demon!Dean)

Jensen went on to say that it was hard because Curtis is such a nice guy.

Jensen: I went from Dean wanting to peel his skin off. Then they untie him and he gets up and hugs you!

I was bouncing on my seat after he gave that answer, because it was so similar to what Curtis Armstrong had said when we interviewed him.

Me: What you just said about working with Curtis, and how filming it all in one day impacts the work – that’s exactly what Curtis said when we talked to him! He talked about how great it was to work with you and to be able to let the scene unfold.

Jensen: (smiling that ridiculously adorable smile) That’s how it is when I work with Jared too. And because it was shot consecutively and not spread out, you can stay in it and then let it go whenever they’re done and not have to find it again the next day.

houscon 2015 015

Me: I know Serge Ladouceur is going to be directing again soon. What’s it like working with him as a director – what does he bring to the table as the director of photography?

Jensen gave a long and articulate answer that I unfortunately don’t remember the details of, possibly because he was looking at me the entire time and damn, I guess I’ll never be completely calm when that happens. I do remember what he said first though.

Jensen: Well, we know it will be beautiful. And that the composition will be incredible.

Me: Absolutely.

He talked about the spirit of collaboration on the Supernatural set, and how that means that when Serge directs, he can lean on Jensen and Jared for advice about the acting side; when Jensen directs, he can lean on Serge for advice about the lighting and composition. There are no egos on that set, he said.

Jensen: We feel okay to lean on each other. That was something that Kim Manners began, and it’s continued to this day. Many of us have directed – me, Misha, Serge, Jerry, Johnny – and after you direct, you don’t get a big head about it, you go back to being who you are on the show. When I directed, I leaned on Serge. It’s like Kim Manners said, if you have egos, we don’t have time for you.

He eventually started listing all the different things you have to pay attention to when you direct – the million and one things you’re responsible for….

Me: OMG, stop, I’m stressed just hearing about all of that!

Jensen: (laughing)

But seriously, I don’t think I could ever be a director. I’ve watched other people do it, and it makes me nervous just thinking about having all that responsibility on my shoulders. I feel certain I’d let a hundred balls drop. Possibly more.

Another question was one that would only seem unremarkable to Supernatural fans. Does Jensen prefer dying or having to act opposite someone who has died, as in that unforgettable scene when Dean talks to his dead brother in AHBL? Jensen said that he prefers being the one who dies – that it can be physically tougher, but emotionally easier. For example, he said, when Dean was dying after being stabbed by Metatron, he was trying to joke his way through it until he finally gets emotional near the end of the scene, grabbing Sam by the shirt and managing to say “I’m proud of us.”

He said again that there was originally more dialogue there, but that he felt it took away from the emotionality of the scene.

The fan next to me then put words to something I admit has crossed my mind more than once since last season: “We’re broment starved.”

Jensen: Broment starved? For the BM moments?

(I love that he uses that term, immortalized in the 200th episode)

Fan: Yes. Are you guys turning into John Winchester?

Jensen said that he thought we got a little of the sentimental stuff in the scene where the brothers are sitting by the lake, but we all agreed that got cut short and Dean deflected anything overtly emotional pretty quickly. I can’t totally disagree with Jensen that the writers don’t want the boys to get all mushy, since the Winchesters have always been men of few words, and ‘No chick flick moments’ has been Dean’s mantra since the beginning. On the other hand, if Sam and Dean don’t hug soon I’m gonna lose it! We’re all still hurting from Season 9’s fighting, after all.

Jensen said that the emotion, however, is there. I think what he said was, “we talk but we don’t always speak.”

Jensen: It’s spoken in unspoken words, an unspoken conversation that goes on continuously with them – it’s a slap on the back, a hug around the neck, there’s emotion behind those little moments. He [Jared] and I understand that. He and I are practically brothers in real life, so we’ve had to develop a relationship that is honestly very similar to Sam and Dean. Life imitates art and vice versa.

Me: (suddenly wishing I had tissues…)

houston con 2015 2 129

Jensen: The writers let us do that between the lines. We may not verbalize it, but we try to emote it. The writers might write a brother moment though, they’re not above that and we’re not either.

That was so well said that it relieved my desperate need for a hug (a little…), and made me feel better about reading lots of brotherly affection in all those little gestures. It’s the way Sam touches Dean on the shoulder to reassure him; it’s the way Jared and Jensen do the same. It’s full of meaning, even if it’s unsaid.

There are always many examples of the way Jared and Jensen use those small gestures of reassurance at cons. Here are just a few…

The supportive leg tap
The supportive leg tap
The shoulder pat
The shoulder pat
Always there to hold each other up
Always there to hold each other up

j2 support 2

j2 support

One of the last questions was what are Dean Winchester’s greatest strength and weakness?

Jensen said it’s the same thing: family. Dean derives inner strength from family – it defines so much of who he is and what he is.

So true. And it defines so much of what’s special about the SPN Family, no matter how much we might squabble. We all draw strength and inspiration from each other – I see it every single day on every social media platform out there, and at every convention I’ve ever been to. It’s why we wanted to write Fangasm, so we could tell the positive story of fandom (and especially Supernatural fandom) that nobody talks about. I love hearing Jensen say that’s what it’s all about for Dean too.

And for the rest of the SPNFamily. It’s the little things, like Jensen wearing a Random Acts tee shirt at SFCon. They support each other – we should too.

Jensen in his RA tee shirt and Richard thank fans
Jensen in his RA tee shirt and Richard thank fans

Is it Tuesday yet??

You can read more about Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls
and Fan Phenomena Supernatural at the links at the top
of this page!

17 thoughts on “A Family Affair – SPN Family At HousCon

  • SPN Family. I still believe in it. My personal opinion on the “in-fighting” is that the people saying the bad comments are a very, VERY, small percentage of the fandom. They are just some of the type of people who get bold; and LOUD being on the internet. No real people to confront them on what they say. It us all just on-line chatter. That they started. Most fans have nothing but good; and positive things to say. We are just quieter about it!! P.S. Love all the Jensen tidbits. Thank you!

  • Fantastic write-up, as always! Perfect tie-in between con feels and SPN Family overall. And no need to explain why the way Jensen stands distracts you…I think we all get it. 😉

  • I hope the Penny Jaime is correct, because my initial reaction to the first half of this post was “Did I just spent a shit-ton of money to attend a con where I’m not going to be welcomed?” Followed quickly by, “Did I just spend a shit-ton of money to go to a con where I will be completely clueless?”

    Fangasm talks about some of the different ways people engage in fandom, and I tend to just go to the same handful of places for my SPN fix. It’s not like there’s a secret password that gives you access to all of the fandom.

    Oh my God… there’s not a secret password, is there?

    That said, every so often I end up reading about “in-fighting.” But I have no idea what is being referenced. (I’m not on tumblr, I don’t really do twitter either. I just watch the show and obsess and overanalyze… a lot.) I can’t possibly be the only one, right? Can someone just once explain the actual issue, or at least include a link, instead of just making these vague statements?

    Which gets me to my clueless concern: is the vagueness just a test? If you have to ask, are you just pointing out that you aren’t fan enough?

    • I have only seen the in-fighting on tweets and other web sites. It seems to be associated with the episode posts/comments. That’s why I don’t follow the tweets much and I don’t follow the other web sites anymore. I think if you go to the cons with realistic expectations and treat it as an adventure, you are going to have a good time. If you run into people from this web site I’m sure you will have a great time!

  • Excellent post; I got such a good feeling for how the cons work. I’m also one of those people who doesn’t see much infighting. For the most part I keep my feelings confined to my LJ and I have a Winchester-free tumblr. Not that I wouldn’t love that, but the tumblr is for other things. Every now and then a show review of mine on LJ gets some nasty comments, but I respond with respect. Also, on Twitter, if somebody randomly starts a shit-storm, I mute or unfollow. But the people I follow on Twitter don’t pick fights with others and we tend to be on the same page, whether it’s ranting or gasping over the magnificence that is Jared Padalecki. My dream has always been to take him down in a flying tackle…so much MAN.

    • I dig the way you roll. 🙂

      Yeah, it certainly seems to be quite the Twitter phenomenon, people stalking each other’s timelines to look for reasons to rake the “other side” over the coals, dragging celebrities into the drama, trying to tear down other fandom websites for perceived slights TO CELEBRITIES AND FICTIONAL CHARACTERS, for pete’s sake. Pretty sure the stars can handle themselves.

      I don’t see much infighting either, except when I read comments on reviews and sometimes, via friends who have landed in someone’s crosshairs. I just wish folks would concentrate on building up what they love instead of tearing down what they disagree with. (And I’m not talking big, societal issues, here. I’m talking tit-for-tatting over the show.) Fangasm actually does a damned good job at staying kind, IMHO.

      Cons are usually really joyful places! It’s outrageous fun to be with fans who share your mysteriously rabid hobby. There will always be a few people who cross lines of propriety, but that’s true of any gathering of human animals. I’ve only been to one con, but I’m jonesin’ to get to another, mostly to hang with the buds I’ve met through fandom.

      Though JP’s fine form doesn’t hurt the ol’ eyes one bit either. Nor Ackles, nor ANY OF ‘EM.

      I’m pretty easy.

    • That sums up what I like about this blog – I can go on and on about one line, the way the plot carries over from one episode to another, speculate about where the show is going, and also just indulge in looking at the hotness without it being weird that I’m both engaged intellectually and, um, otherwise. (Speaking of which, I was beginning to think that I was the only Jared/Sam girl here. Not that there’s anything wrong with Jensen/Dean. At all. Really. Especially this season. But there’s something about Padalecki that just hits the right notes for me.)

      I like that this is civil and we can delve into the nuances without judgment. That’s what I’m hoping to get out of the con. That and the excuse to play dress-up as an adult. And the hotness. Shouldn’t forget the hotness.

  • Lynn thanks for the Convention review, great as usual! Nice pictures too! I am looking forward to my first convention in Vancouver this Summer!

  • Thank you for your wonderful review! I have to say, I’ve only been in this fandom for about 15 months, and in that time I’ve only encountered kind, generous, supportive, creative people who have made me feel extremely welcome. I dabble a little in LJ, tumblr, and twitter, and have found a fabulous group of people who write, vid, and make incredible art, all inspired as I am by this show. I hear about the infighting, but haven’t experienced any of it directly, and am grateful for that. Maybe I’ve just been lucky, or maybe my past experience in other fandoms where there was some of that has made me street-wise, but no — I overall, I have to say this is the most creative, amazing, FUN fandom I’ve ever encountered. And I don’t even go to the cons!

  • I adore your Con reports and your positive outlook on the passion, creativity, and support that pours out of fandom. I’m at the point where I just turn away from the wank – I’m too grateful for this miracle of a Story to waste my time on that!

  • Bless you for this post, Lynn. Sometimes it seems like all there is is the fighting, and con weekends that don’t generate wank seem few and far between, but when you’re actually at them, the sense of family is so much stronger.

    I think @Penny Jaime is right, and there are relatively few people who live to stir wank, but damn, they are LOUD.

    It’s good to know that even when those loud voices are drowning things out for some of us, there are refuges like this blog that restore my faith in this fandom.

  • Great review! This was my first con and I definitely felt the love. I asked the question about dying and you remember way more than I do, so thanks for refreshing my memory. I had a hard time concentrating…can’t IMAGINE why.

  • You’re “waiting in the ER” fear plus a statement you made connected to a different Con report…Vegas…that the boys are sensitive to the heartbreak fans feel when a con plan falls apart, has prompted me to comment MY heartbreak. 2014 Dallas Con spanned my birthday. I’ve been a fan since 09 & have feasted on the first 4 seasons multiple times in penance for my delinquent years. GOLD tickets to the event were my gift to myself. Good friend was going with. Excitement abounded. The morning before the event and before my birthday, I woke up and started vomitting blood clots as big as my fist. Called 911-barely. Was taken to the ER. Blood pressure was 59/42 & was basically going down with all the trimmings. Ended up with surgery, blood transfusion, blah, blah, blah. All I could think about was missing the boys. The GI lab nurses told me the next day that all I talked about while I was drugged up was “some convention you were going to miss on your birthday the next day.” They brought a flower and a balloon to my room to take the edge off my sorrow. I still haven’t gotten over it. Not sure when I’ll have the money again. Medical bills are high even with insurance. **sigh** Did I mention it was my 62nd birthday? Carry on.

Leave a Reply