Five or six years ago, I was standing in line at Wizard World Philly (as you do), wearing my Supernatural tee shirt (as you do), and another fangirl also waiting in line commented on it. We struck up a conversation, bonded as Supernatural fans, and soon realized we had a lot in common, including a fascination with fandom and the sociology and psychology of being a fangirl. Fast forward several years later, and Hansi Oppenheimer shared with me an exciting idea for her next film project – a documentary about fangirls. Would I want to collaborate with her?
You bet I would! That film became Squee! The Fangirl Documentary. We filmed segments all over the country, including at San Diego Comic Con. It was my first foray into being a producer as well as a co-writer, and I will never not be in awe of all that producers have to juggle again! We’re so proud to say that the documentary garnered all sorts of awards from film fests all over the world and, equally important, the reception from fans was overwhelmingly positive. We wanted to celebrate fandom and combat shame, and fans told us that the film did just that, with the help of some celebrity contributors too.
One of the things that makes the SPNFamily so awesome is the love affair that the fans have going with the show and the characters. Sometimes social media can make it seem like there’s more discord and infighting than agreement or celebration in fandom, but in reality, most of us spend a lot of time appreciating our favorite characters and being grateful that they exist in the universe (even if it’s only in the fictional universe of Supernatural). There’s a fandom project going on right now that celebrates our favorite Supernatural characters, as a matter of fact. It’s called the Supernatural Birthday Project, and it runs until September 10 and is inviting all Supernatural fans to participate. The online blog goes live on September 13, and the organizers will compile a book to give to the cast at the Vancouver convention.
I chatted with the organizers to find out what the SPNBday project is all about.
Lynn: This project, unlike many others, focuses on fans’ love for the characters instead of the actors. What was your rationale for this?
Jennie twitter.com/deanisntfine: I think we were trying to get back to the core of what unites us: The love of the show itself. Everyone fell in love with the show because something in one or more of the characters spoke to them. This project gives fans a chance to look at that closely, and then, kind of cathartically, thank the characters themselves for what they’ve gotten from the show.
Axy twitter.com/aaaahhhxy: We often see people creating amazing projects for the actors, either individually or as groups, but as the creator of this project, and someone who did write to Jared in the past, I questioned what it would be if I had the opportunity to speak to Sam. I was lucky enough to experience talking with Jared about Sam, but I felt the unexplainable frustration of knowing that I would never have this kind of conversation with Sam, and that the millions of questions I have would mostly stay unanswered, save for the more pressing ones I will be able to discuss with Jared himself. But that we can’t talk with our characters doesn’t mean that we can’t tell them things. So at first, I thought about a simple letter to Sam but then, how cool would it be to get people all over the world to do that and compile it into something that would have a different meaning for the actors because it would focus solely on their work? Those were the roots of our project. To do something original and a little different.
Passion is what being a fan is all about. It’s what makes it so fulfilling, what makes it an important part of our everyday lives and not something we only think about for an hour a week while watching a television show or once a year for two hours in the movie theater. That show or film or band or whatever we fan has the power to change our lives – it provides heroes and heroines for us to emulate, it sends different messages than what we hear from the rest of the world which are sometimes exactly what we need in order to feel okay about ourselves. It can inspire us to be better, help others, change the world, keep fighting for our own lives. The community that forms around the thing we’re passionate about – the fandom – also has the power to change us. Fandom can be a group that ‘gets us’ and gives us that all-important sense of belonging. Someone to share our good times and provide a source of support to get through the hard times. All that comes from the passion we invest in what we love.
When the thing we love is going strong, that is a beautiful feeling. It’s heady, affirming, exhilarating. Research shows that fans of a winning sports team have the same physiological and psychological reactions as the actual players who won the game. No wonder it’s important!
When the thing we love does not succeed, or is taken away from us, the emotions are just as strong. It feels devastating, a denial of all the good we found in this precious thing. It feels like an overwhelming loss – because it is one. There’s nothing silly or frivolous about the way fans love, or anything unimportant about what we get from that love. When it’s lost, we react with grief, and it’s just like any other grief. There’s denial and anger and sadness.
In the past 24 hours, quite a few beloved television shows have been either cancelled or not picked up for series by the networks that continue to have all the power. Lucifer, Brooklyn99, the list was a long one. Fans all over the world, of all sorts of things, are confused and furious and despairing over never being able to have more of that thing they love. Anyone who is a fan knows that sort of pain.
I want to send out a collective hug to all the fans who got bad news today, and all the people whose livelihoods depend on making that thing that people love. As a Supernatural fan, the CW deciding against a pick up of the spinoff Wayward Sisters has been a personal experience. Wayward (I’ll call it that because now we’re allowed to go back to calling it what it originally was, Wayward Daughters, and that makes me happy) was special to many in the fandom, because it was different. A show about women, starring women, and committed to being told through the perspective of women – diverse women. It’s a credit to Supernatural that the show created characters in Jody and Donna that resonated so much with viewers that we knew they could carry a show of their own. When that became a possibility, it felt like a remarkable evolution, and a hopeful one. The importance of representation is indisputable, and Wayward was going to be a big leap forward – in fact, we don’t even know just how far the show was going to take us, or how life changing that would be for so many people waiting to see themselves reflected onscreen.
Wayward was also different because it was an idea that began, not in a writer’s room or a network meeting, but in fandom itself. Supernatural fans wanted more of the female characters we had come to know and love. We wanted a whole show devoted to those women and exploring their stories. At the time, it almost seemed like an impossible idea, but that little idea caught fire and gained the attention and support of Supernatural’s writers and showrunners and the actresses themselves. For more than a year, fans and writers and actors joined forces to get the idea off the ground. Robert Berens wrote a pilot, Andrew Dabb and Bob Singer got it made. Kim Rhodes, Briana Buckmaster, Kathryn Newtown, Clark Backo, Katherine Ramdeen and Yadira Guevara-Prip kicked ass. Fans rejoiced, and relished the hope that success brought.
I was truly shocked when the network passed. It seemed like the time was so right, and with a built-in fan base, it seemed like Wayward should have been a no-brainer. Then again, I’ve thought that many times only to have TPTB make another decision. I suppose I shouldn’t be as shocked as I am this time.
Maybe the outcry will change their minds; stranger things have happened. Wayward Sisters was trending a little while ago, while none of the shows that did get picked up or renewed were. That probably says something right there.
And if it doesn’t? They still can’t change what Wayward has come to mean to the fandom. That word was reclaimed as something that was okay, as something that was not a source of shame – as something to be proud of! Embracing being WaywardAF on tee shirts and hoodies and caps and anything else you wanted to put it on was powerful for so many fans. It was a way of saying no, I won’t let you shame me for being different, or tell me that I can’t be myself. Led by Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster’s willingness to be real, onstage at a convention or online in tweets or in the chapters they wrote in Family Don’t End With Blood, the Wayward message inspired many others to be real too. And that is the healthiest thing any of us can do! That’s the true power of Wayward, and nobody can take that away.
I don’t know what the future will bring for Wayward Daughters. I know the fandom that I call my SPNFamily is hurting right now, as are the talented and committed actors and writers who worked so hard to make this happen. I do know that it’s not over. Whatever form Wayward will take going forward, the movement is very much alive – and the evolution that Wayward is a part of is not stopping. So put on your tee shirt and take a page from Briana and Kim because we’ve still got work to do – and don’t let this discourage you from the message. Stay Wayward.
This is the final installment in my series of articles shining the spotlight on some of the talented artists within the SPNFamily. Friendly reminder that, for the purpose of these articles, I am spotlighting some of my favs. And you might agree, my favs might be your favs. But it’s also very possible that your fav might not be spotlighted in this series… and that’s ok. I mean no disrespect to your fav, I mean no disrespect to you, the Artist. Shine a spotlight on your favs by letting them know how much you appreciate what they do!
As I explained in the previous articles, “art” has a multitude of definitions. If you asked 100 people to give a definition of art, you would probably get 100 different answers. Art is photography. Art is painting. Art is drawing with graphite, charcoal, or ink.
In this article, you will learn that Art is a multitude of things. Art is painting and drawing, and it is also mixing in a plethora of other materials into these creations. Art is taking a piece of wood and fashioning a piece as unique as your idea. Art is taking wire and stone and other bits and pieces and forming these materials into beautiful pieces of wearable art. Art is taking an idea and adding your creative touch. Art is finding the right words to create pieces that evoke every emotion under the sun. Art is fabric and stitching and sewing and creating unique pieces. Art is, quite literally, a hundred… a thousand… tens of thousands of different things.
Today is a special day – the birthday of a special person. So I wanted to share some of the stories we’ve heard about how Misha Collins has inspired Supernatural fans and changed lives. That’s the theme of our new book, Family Don’t End With Blood (which has other amazing stories of how all the Supernatural cast have changed lives), so it seemed fitting to share a few fan stories in honor of his birthday.
I still remember the first time we met Misha, way back in Season 4. We had been on the Supernatural set (a visit chronicled rather hilariously in Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls) and were scheduled to interview “the new guy” that evening at the hotel. Our set van pulled up behind another Supernatural set van as we arrived at the hotel, and out jumped Misha. Except he looked nothing like Castiel!
Instead of a trenchcoat and a stern face, this guy had on a tee shirt and faded jeans that looked like they were vintage 1970s flared jeans. And damn, did they fit him well! And he was smiling! I turned to Kathy and said ‘nobody told me he was so hot!’