It has been nine months since Supernatural ended, and a lot of that nine months has been contentious to say the least in the Supernatural fandom. Maybe that’s why in the past week, everyone fell in love with Chance Terry’s TikTok account bursting with his amusing and simultaneously heartwarming declarations of man crushes on the Supernatural cast.
First it was Jeffrey Dean Morgan, then Jared Padalecki, closely followed by Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins.
Not only did fans love the videos, so did the actors. Morgan proclaimed having a man crush right back, Padalecki responded #TruthBomb and Ackles left a message of appreciation. It was Misha’s birthday and he was at a convention, but I’m sure he’ll appreciate his too.
What’s so happy making about Chance’s little videos is that they’re full of heartfelt affection for the guys at the same time as they are often hilarious. In an era where toxic masculinity seems to rule the internet most days, Chance (and his equally appreciative girlfriend) are a breath of fresh air. It’s all for fun, but when he says he’d like to ‘put a finger on it’ everyone watching gets it.
Chance and his man crush declarations did something that’s too rare these days in the Supernatural fandom (and often in any fandom) – brought everyone together to agree on something. Mostly anyway. (If you read enough comments on the internet, it’s impossible to hang onto any of your sense of well being). Chance seemed pleasantly surprised and nearly overwhelmed with the Supernatural fandom’s enthusiasm, and in turn fans welcomed him as part of the SPN Family. Not sure if he realizes there’s a door to get in, but good luck finding the one to get out!
The popularity of Chance’s TikTok videos reminded me of another amusing man-crush-on-a-Supernatural-actor video from a while ago – the Elf Pirate’s ‘Sex With Jensen Ackles’ video. It made the rounds in the fandom when it came out, to some people’s delight and others’ consternation and probably others’ what the hell is this? It made me laugh, and it’s undeniably catchy too. Similar to Chance’s videos, though taking it to the next level for sure (a Winchester sandwich with an angel on top, anyone?), the Elf Pirate’s video also does some of that same challenging of norms using comedy.
Several people put it on my timeline yesterday again and reminded me of it, so I thought I’d share a little conversation I had with the Elf Pirate about that video.
I got to know fellow academic and fan Nicholas Yanes when he interviewed me about Family Don’t End With Blood and There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, and the process of putting those books together with the Supernatural actors. We share an appreciation of that show, so I was excited to hear that Nick and colleague Kyle Moody have just published a new book on another fan favorite television series – Bryan Fuller’s “Hannibal.” I had a chance to ask Nick and Kyle a few questions about the book and the series and its creator, at a time when Bryan Fuller is being discussed quite a bit in fandom at large.
Here’s some information from the press release description of the book Hannibal For Dinner: Essays on America’s Favorite Cannibal on Television –
Bryan Fuller’s and NBC’s Hannibal only lasted for three seasons, yet it became a critical darling and grew a ravenous fanbase that remains active five years after the show ended. Hannibal is the very definition of a cult show, one that only grew in stature after its unfortunate cancellation. Even when placed in context with Thomas Harris’s popular novel and Academy Award-winning film series, Hannibal stood out as a singularly artistic experience. When it arrived back on Netflix in the United States in 2020, it shot into the Top Ten and immediately sparked discussion of a possible cast reunion and new seasons. Fortunately, academics had already spent years writing scholarship linking Hannibal to changes in television production, mythological interpretation, food culture, and pop psychology, and now there is an edited collection that combines academic and insider production perspectives. In the wake of the show’s return to popularity through Netflix streaming, Hannibal for Dinner includes interviews with writers and producers of the show as well as academic essays that explore the Hannibal franchise – “its evolution, creatively bold risks, mythology, a culture of killers, and how to be an entertaining host when having friends over for dinner. (Well, the last one is a joke for the Fannibals.)”
I like a book that isn’t afraid to include some in-jokes!
Based on the character from the novels and films, Fuller’s version of Hannibal has been called “unique, weird, beautiful and grim.” The show follows the evolving relationship between FBI investigator Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and Dr. Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen). USA Today covered this new book and called the show a darkly comedic horror thriller that some viewers have also interpreted as a twisted love story, saying the show is “all over the place in the best way possible” with grotesque imagery that is simultaneously visually appealing. They also called it visionary story telling at its finest, lauding the show’s ability to find beauty in the macabre, with some of the most depraved scenes also awe-inspiring spectacles.
The show is controversial because of its unique ability to combine the grotesque and the beautiful and for the relationship between Will and Hannibal that USA Today recognized as the love story at the heart of the show. It’s the kind of morally complicated relationship that fans love to “ship” and to explore in fanworks. Add to that a “tragic, ambiguous and beautiful” finale and you have the ingredients for a passionate fandom – and some controversial ships.
Series creator Bryan Fuller has been vocal in pushing back against the show’s fans being shamed for their shipping preferences or for expressing creativity in their fanfiction, fanart, etc. In a twitter back and forth with some who took issue with certain fanworks and attacked the fan creators, Fuller responded with a now viral tweet:
I’m not disgusted by Art. I’m disgusted by cruelty. I’m disgusted by hate. I’m disgusted by those who would shame others for expressing themselves creatively.
I asked editors Nicholas Yanes and Kyle Moody about that twitter exchange and other aspects of the controversial show, and how those are addressed in the new book.
Can you talk a little bit about Fuller’s attitude toward fanworks, and how that has influenced the fandom and the way ‘Fannibals’ interact?
Yanes: In the chapter “Empathy for the Audience” by Nicole Wild, which is one of the many great chapters in Hannibal for Dinner, Wild discusses how the actors and creators of Hannibal often appreciated fanworks. The people behind Hannibal enjoying fanworks has been documented widely. This mindset helped create the Fannibal community we have today. The reason being that it was not fanworks versus the show; instead, it was fanworks being seen as an extension of the show.
With Fuller’s approach to Hannibal’s fan community, Fannibal fanworks are not seen as competition but as another form of ‘engagement.’ After all, for a group of people to take the time to write, read, and share fan fiction [and] erotica, then they are going to take the time to watch a show and encourage others to watch it as well.
Is Fuller’s attitude a reflection of themes in the show itself, explicitly pushing boundaries of what is “okay” to depict even in fiction?
If you haven’t been watching Amazon’s “The Boys,” what are you waiting for? (For some in the SPN Family, maybe the announcement that Jensen Ackles was joining the show in Season 3?) Ackles will play Soldier Boy, the ‘original superhero’.
In the comic, Soldier Boy is described as relatively innocent and naive, avoiding the cursing that The Boys is known for (though Kripke seems to be promising we’ll have an R rated Jensen Ackles at last). He’s a member of a team called Payback, but desperately wants to be part of The Seven (the most powerful supes). Soldier Boy is also a coward and not the sharpest tack in the box and is so weirdly patriotic he yells out the names of states in the middle of fights! There’s also a frame of him wetting himself.
I can see Ackles playing to his comedic talents with some of that, but Kripke has also promised Ackles will bring some pathos to the role, which just might break my heart. A parody of Captain America, Soldier Boy has enhanced strength and agility, but apparently he’s not as strong as some of the other supes and capable of being bested by the likes of Billy Butcher.
Oh, and Soldier Boy’s costume? Shorts and short sleeves. I approve.
Fan art of Ackles as Soldier Boy has already begun to appear, which so far looks alot more attractive than the comics version. Time will tell whether Kripke and company are going to take into account fannish hopes and dreams when the time comes for costuming.
Are you listening, Eric?
Thanks to Ackles’ casting, alot of Supernatural fans are discovering the show for the first time – it’s a rollercoaster of a ride that’s both fun and disturbing — and strikingly irreverent. “The Boys” follows what happens when superheroes (who are as popular as celebrities, as influential as politicians and worshipped like gods) abuse their superpowers instead of using them for good. That sends “the boys”, everyday people who realize what’s going on, on a quest to expose the truth about the superheroes known as “The Seven” and the multi billion dollar corporation that “manages” and covers up for them, Vought.
The Boys is based on the best-selling comic by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson and was developed by Ennis fan Eric Kripke, who’s showrunner, writer and executive producer. (Kripke is also responsible for my favorite show of all time, Supernatural, which explains how I discovered The Boys in the first place and why I’m beyond excited that Ackles is joining up). Long time Supernatural director and producer Phil Sgriccia is also along for the wild ride. I binge watched Season 1 of The Boys and was thrilled when Season 2 was announced. The first three episodes of Season 2 premiere Friday, September 4, on Prime Video and then new episodes will drop each Friday with the season finale airing on October 9.
At last year’s Comic Con in San Diego, I was able to chat with Kripke and some of the cast – this year, in the middle of a pandemic, Amazon put together a virtual press junket so we could hear more about the upcoming Season 2. Kudos to the organizers for coordinating a million zoom calls and ensuring that we all got to spend time with Kripke and the cast – it was an enjoyable afternoon even if we were all juggling curious pets or kids or dealing with technology challenges! We also got to see the first three episodes, and while I’m going to keep this article free of specific spoilers, let me just say that they were pretty mindblowing! When they say that Season 2 is more intense and more insane than Season 1, they are not kidding.
As we begin Season 2, the Boys are on the run, hunted by the Supes and trying to regroup. In hiding, Hughie (Jack Quaid), Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso), Frenchie (Tomer Capon) and Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) try to adjust to a new normal with Butcher, the father figure of the group, (Karl Urban) nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, Starlight (Erin Moriarty) must navigate her place in The Seven as Homelander (Antony Starr) sets his sights on taking complete control. His power is threatened with the addition of Stormfront (Aya Cash), a social media savvy new Supe, who has an agenda of her own. On top of that, the Supervillain threat takes center stage and makes waves as Vought seeks to capitalize on the nation’s paranoia. The Supes of The Seven also include Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott), A-Train (Jessie T. Usher), The Deep (Chace Crawford) and Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell). Recurring stars include Claudia Doumit, Goran Visnijc, Malcolm Barrett, Colby Minifie, Shantel VanSanten, Cameron Crovetti, Laila Robbins and Giancarlo Esposito returning as Vought boss Stan Edgar.
With that introduction, here are a few excerpts from each of our roundtable chats with the cast to whet your appetite for more of The Boys. I’ve purposely kept any spoilers for Season 2 out of my coverage, so you can be as gobsmacked as I was by those first three episodes. I posted our conversation with Eric Kripke in yesterday’s article, so check that out too since he had alot to say about The Boys, and some Supernatural insights too. If you’re considering beginning The Boys, I think what the actors have to say about the show and their characters will give you a glimpse into just how complicated this show is and how deep the characterization goes. That said, the themes of the show are dark and disturbing and right there in your face, so be prepared.
I’m a psychologist by profession, so I was fascinated by what The Deep and A Train, two of the supes, had to deal with in Season 1 – for A Train, a struggle with addiction to both the enhancing drug Compound V and with the lure of fame and fortune. The Deep, meanwhile, had to deal with his discomfort with his own body — the gills which allow him to be a superhero but also set him apart from “normal” people. After a rather traumatic sexual encounter and being called to task for his assault of Starlight, The Deep ends Season 1 with some self loathing starting to be evident. Their struggles made their characters complex and pulled for some empathy even as those two supes did some awful things in the first season. So I was excited to chat with Chace Crawford (The Deep) and Jessie T. Usher (A Train). How did their characters move on from some of those things they’ve done in the past?
Jessie: They both have to deal with it, they’re not at a place in their lives when they can just move past things anymore. They both – excuse my language – they fucked up to the point where things can’t be covered up by Vought anymore or swept under the rug. A Train is figuring it out as he goes. It’s too much for him, because he’s kinda turned his back on everyone who had his back, so he’s got to do it alone. You’ll see him figure that out in Season 2.
Chace: I think he’s genuinely close to rock bottom. He doesn’t know who he is, and never really has known who he is. I think he’s broken open enough to have to at least try some self exploration.
Chace said he had really enjoyed seeing all the episodes and seeing everyone else’s work.
Chace: I like doing these crazy scenes.
[All I’m gonna say is Lucy the whale, someone said]
Jessie: (laughing) I have never seen a good idea go bad so fast…
Chace: And it turned out so well! I was like, how is this gonna turn out, this is crazy…
Jessie: That’s the thing about filming this show, you’re like, I don’t know how this is gonna turn out, then you see it and it’s like wow that was freaking amazing! Clearly they saw something that I had yet to see. I’ve been pleasantly surprised throughout this entire Season 2 and I know everyone else will be as well.
I write most often about my favorite show for the last fifteen years, Supernatural. But before Supernatural took over my life, I was a lifelong Star Trek fan, literally since I was a child. I’ve watched most of Trek’s incarnations, and loved both The Next Generation and Voyager. And my research is on both fandom and the psychology of being a fan and also celebrity and what that entails psychologically. So I was delighted to run across a hilarious little video by Robert Picardo (who played the iconic role of the holographic Doctor on Voyager) – which was inspired by an equally hilarious video by TNG’s Brent Spiner (Data) – that has something to say about celebrity and the profession that both are in.
The pandemic and being in isolation has changed the entertainment landscape in every way possible, mostly not for the better (other than delaying the ending of Supernatural perhaps, but that’s another story), but one thing it has brought fans is some unique social media offerings of all kinds from their favorite creative people – including these two videos. Both Brent Spiner and Robert Picardo have current projects going on that are exciting, but I’m glad they took the time to share a few minutes of poking fun at their profession, the idea of celebrity, and themselves! (You can check out the video plus a special director’s cut at the end of this article)
We discovered that we’re both from Philly before we actually started the interview.
RP: James Darren from Deep Space 9, who’s a great guy, is also a Philly guy – and proud of it!
Lynn: Rightly so. Philly rocks. I loved your video, it was hilarious! It’s also very catchy. I knew you could sing, since you sang on Voyager, which I think helped it be very aesthetically pleasing, and the lyrics are also very witty. How did it come about? Did you write and conceive of it yourself?
RP: Yes I did. My friend and colleague from Star Trek TNG, Brent Spiner, who played the character Data, who was an android — and probably the most famous and popular AI character in Star Trek, simply because their show was the first of the reboots and I think had the biggest audience when they were on of all of the subsequent series. Brent, about 6 weeks ago on twitter, uploaded a hilarious 2 minute or so singing parody that I highly recommend you watch…
Lynn: Oh, I did! When I saw yours and it mentioned Brent’s, I immediately went looking for his – it’s a hilarious spoof of himself and of celebrity and it’s awesome.
RP: And really he did that as a gift to his social media fans. It was just something he decided to do – it was shot during the lockdown with appropriate precautions. He thought it would be fun to give something humorous like that to his fans. I was very impressed.
Lynn: Me too!
RP: Meanwhile, a mutual friend of both Brent’s and mine named James Marlowe – his main business is to produce big corporate events for large tech companies like Apple and Facebook. He has a whole staff of people he had on salary and none of them were working because these events were all being cancelled. I had shot before with his little crew of five or six people to do videos for these events, so that’s how I know James and Brent also knows him. He called and asked if I’d seen Brent’s video. I said I watched it and it’s hilarious and he said, would you like to answer it? I said, what do you mean? And he said well I have a crew that’s at your disposal. I’m paying them and they’ve got nothing to do. I said, I can’t think of a single thing, but thanks for the offer.
RP: So I hung up the phone and I thought about it. I thought that Brent’s was so colorful and fun and joyous, I thought wouldn’t it be amusing if I did something entirely different that looked sort of like a lament, like film noir in black and white, a joke lament, like an actor bitching about his career.
I usually write about my favorite television show, Supernatural, on this blog. But as an author, I admire other authors – especially ones who are able to write lots and lots of books with characters that capture reader’s imaginations and inspire them to change some of their world views. I also admire my fellow Supernatural fans and creators, including my good friend Hansi Oppenheimer. I so enjoyed working on her Squee project films – we share a love of Supernatural and an appreciation for creativity of all kinds. So when Hansi put her creative talent to use on a new project, I couldn’t wait to see it.
I had the privilege of watching a screener copy of Hansi’s new documentary film about groundbreaking author Joe R. Lansdale, ‘All Hail The Popcorn King’ – and found it captivating. Not only is it an intimate portrait of the author, it is also a walk through history. East Texas and its rich background comes alive through Lansdale’s memories as he paints a vivid picture of how things were when he started writing, inspired by the everyday (and yet unique) people around him. The drive in movie, the small town library, comics and Bugs Bunny cartoons, soap opera radio shows. The typewriter with keys that stuck and early manuscripts messy with white out and smudged carbon paper – as Lansdale himself says, some of his uniqueness comes from the meshing and crossing of different forms of media in the late 50s and early 60s as Lansdale was growing up.
[Joe and Bruce Campbell on the set of Bubba Ho-Tep]
Lansdale talks like he writes, and you don’t want to look away. He’s a storyteller, and that lends itself to a documentary. Hansi Oppenheimer makes the film a visual feast to go along with the verbal one, just as rich in walking us back through time. Vintage footage of drive-in movies and intermission concession ads create a feeling of nostalgia that works well with Lansdale’s rememberings.
The film traces Lansdale’s influences through the eyes of those who know and love him as well as through Lansdale himself. He walks us through his own history as he walks through the parts of East Texas that formed him, repainting the current landscape with his memories of what it was like when he was a young boy. It’s a rare glimpse into what makes an author tick, of the influences that impacted his writing and his style of storytelling. Lansdale has created characters who were groundbreaking in terms of representation, and who were inspiring enough to help people get through tough times in their real lives.
Joe: To think that fiction can do that, can have that impact, that’s kinda humbling.
That statement sort of encompasses both Lansdale’s influence and who he is as a person. How wonderful to have a film that captures both those things while Joe is still with us – and still writing.
I asked filmmaker Hansi Oppenheimer about her reasons for making this film and her appreciation of Joe and his work.
Hansi: I’ve been a fan of Joe’s work since the 80’s. I finally had the opportunity to meet him two years ago when I was invited to appear at a con in Houston. I reached out to him to see if he’d be available for an interview for my Youtube channel and he invited me to Nacogdoches for lunch and the interview. After the interview, I reached out to him for a piece on a short about Joe Bob Briggs that I was working on and he wrote me the most beautiful, touching, funny piece and got it back to me in a day. I was so grateful that I promised him my next film would be about him and I ‘m so glad I did. I’ve never worked with anyone who was more honest, generous and collaborative. He reached out to some of the biggest names in Hollywood and introduced me so I could include them. As Mick Garris said “If you’ve read Joe Lansdale, you love Joe Lansdale”. He truly is a genre unto himself.
[Joe and Nick Damici on the set of Hap & Leonard]
I also wondered which of Joe’s stories and characters spoke to her personally and why?
Hansi: I really love The Drive-in. I’m obsessed with Drive-in culture and his novel takes that and turns it on it’s head. Another favorite is The Magic Wagon which is about a traveling medicine show in the early west with supernatural elements. I adore the Hap & Leonard series about two “brothers” who try to fight the good fight despite overwhelming odds. (Sound like some characters we all know and love? Yes, Hansi is also a Supernatural fan) It was briefly made into a wonderful series on Sundance TV and is available on Netflix. I also loved his run on the comic Jonah Hex.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten many more favorites and there’s so many I haven’t even read yet. As his son Keith said “He writes them faster than I can read them.” He’s written over 50 novels and 500 short stories! So there’s something for everyone in his work. But the best thing about Joe is he is as genuine a human as you can find. He won’t bullshit you and he’s been a supportive and encouraging member of the creative community for decades.
[Joe, Don Coscarelli and Joe’s niece, Pamela Lansdale]
[Joe, Karen, Keith and Kasey Lansdale at their home in Nacogdoches, Texas.]
There will be a screening of ‘The Popcorn King’ in Austin, Texas, on August 18 at the historic Alamo Draft House. Joe Lansdale himself and his family will be there, along with Brian Keene, Rick Klaw and Yuri Lowenthal, among others. Filmmaker Hansi Oppenheimer and Joe will also appear at KillerCon on August 17 in Austin to discuss the film, hosted by Brian Keene. And on October 5, George R. R. Martin will host a Q & A and screening with Hansi Oppenheimer at the George R. R. Martin Cinema in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which should be fascinating.
There is also a a DVD available for pre-order at the Squee Projects site at https://squeeprojects.com with bonus featurettes and additional interviews that didn’t make it into the final cut of the film.
Squee Projects is also looking to partner with people to bring the film to smaller community venues. If you would like to host a screening or partner with Squee, you can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.