Supernatural

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Fandom
Name: Supernatural
Abbreviation(s): SPN, occasionally SN
Creator: Eric Kripke, Robert Singer, Sera Gamble
Date(s): 2005-
Medium: Television series
Country of Origin: USA
External Links: Supernatural on imdb
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Contents

Supernatural is an 38-45 minute drama that follows the nomadic lives of Sam Winchester and his brother Dean Winchester as they travel around the United States in their black 1967 Chevy Impala, hunting down and vanquishing supernatural foes like ghosts, demons, and other mythical creatures. The Winchesters were raised in the hunting lifestyle by their father, who spent years seeking revenge against the demon responsible for his wife's death in 1983.

Each episode of Supernatural has a monster of the week theme with a self-contained plot, as well as a season-long narrative arc that deals with the repercussions of the Winchesters' demon hunting lifestyle. In later seasons (5-9) the seasons have shown to be more about angels than demons

Supernatural was created by Eric Kripke, who wanted to cross American Folk Tales with traditional horror. [1]

The show is known for its tendency to break the fourth wall and include tongue-in-cheek references to its production and nods to its fandom in various episodes.[2] Examples include:

  • Having Sam and Dean solve a case on the set of a B-movie, 2x18 "Hollywood Babylon"
  • The show acknowledging fanfic writers and the existence of Wincest, 5x01 "Sympathy for the Devil"
  • Featuring LARPing, 5x09 "The Real Ghostbusters" and 8x11 "LARP and the Real Girl"
  • A Supernatural convention, 5x09 "The Real Ghostbusters"
  • Having Sam and Dean get stuck inside TV land versions of their own and other shows, 5x08 "Changing Channels"
  • The brothers being temporarily transported to an alternate reality where people think they are actors named Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki who star on a television show named 'Supernatural', 6x15 "The French Mistake"
Supernatural: the fandom where RPS *is* the moral high ground."[3]

The Supernatural Fandom

Cover of the gen zine A Hunting We Will Go (2008), artwork by Suzan Lovett. Supernatural is an online fandom that in some ways is still deeply rooted in the traditions of what came before. As typical with Lovett's art, the background details contain a hidden narrative - each image square references a key scene from episodes during the first season. The t-shirt Sam is wearing reads: "Sometimes he *is* heavy" referring to lyrics from a 1960s song "He ain't heavy, he's my brother." In the case of Supernatural the sibling obligation between Sam and Dean results in much angst. To see the details click for a larger version.

In December 2010, Supernatural won TV Guide's first ever Fan Favorite cover contest[4], for which there is a video of the cast thanking the fans.

On LiveJournal

The Supernatural fandom has a large and active presence on LiveJournal, including a daily newsletter [5] and many communities [6] dedicated to discussing the show or celebrating certain characters, pairings, or other aspects. While there are very active discussion groups at TWOP and thousands of stories archived off LJ (with a particularly large number at fanfiction.net), Livejournal has always been the major hub of fanworks-focused fandom for Supernatural. Fic festivals like the various big bangs (SPN J2 Big Bang, Dean/Castiel Big Bang, Supernatural Reverse Big Bang Challenge (link)) have hundreds of stories a year and a look at links tagged with Supernatural on Delicious will return thousands of hits, mostly on LJ. The fandom also hosts multiple separate LiveJournal kink memes: the monthly Supernatural Kink Community (spnkink-meme), the twice-a-year Supernatural Anonymous Kink Meme (Blindfold SPN), spn-hardcore, and knotting-focused take-the-knot.

When fandom began splintering away from LJ as clone sites were built and things like Strikethrough made many fans nervous, Supernatural fandom stayed unmoved for the most part. Strikethrough had very little effect on the fandom, and Supernatural remains notable for having a culture of not flocking the sort of content that often is in other fandoms (SPN mainstays like incest, kink, and RPS). In the early years of the SPN J2 Big Bang, nearly every story was hosted on Livejournal exclusively.

The fandom migration to Dreamwidth has been very small given the relative size of the fandom, and the communities there get very little traffic.

As noted below, the Archive of Our Own had just over 2,000 Supernatural fanworks on March 2010. As of Feburary 2014 Archive Of Our Own has over 60,000 Supernatural fanworks.

This all began to change in 2011. Partly due to the The Great LJ DDOS of 2011, the second of which occurred during the posting period for the 2011 edition of the SPN J2 Big Bang and a round of Blindfold SPN, and partly due to a few BNFs putting their back catalogue of fic on the AO3, the willingness to move fic out of the LJ bubble grew very quickly. In April 2011, during the first DDoS attack on LJ, killabeez wrote If you love us, you'll archive your fic., a plea to the fandom to backup their fic somewhere off LJ.

During the first half of 2011, leonidaslion, a popular and prolific author moved all her stories to the AO3 and deleted her Livejournals. candle_beck cross-posted all of her work there as well, and other authors followed. Interest among readers in using the archive soared during the summer of 2011 as fans in many fandoms were discovering the pleasures of reading big bang-length fic on e-readers and using the AO3 feature that allows downloads in multiple formats to get them in a couple of clicks.

By August 2011, the AO3 had over 10,000 works in the Supernatural category[7]. By December 2012, the AO3 had over 27,500 works in the Supernatural category[8].

On Fanfiction.net

Supernatural also has an active presence on fanfiction.net, with a large number of stories archived as well as many story community listings for organizing and reccing stories, and SPN discussion forums.[9]

Mailing Lists

A few Supernatural mailing lists offer episode discussion. While fan fiction is discussed, and on occasion even offered, it usually is gen and het.

On Tumblr

Popularity of unusual and uncommon pairings. Examples include Micifer (Michael/Lucifer), Adamandriel (Adam/Samandriel), Sevin (Sam/Kevin), Crobby (Crowley/Bobby) and many more. Supernatural also gained popularity on Tumblr by having gifs for everything. Including the phrase "we have a gif for that" which was said by Misha Collins at the 2014 DC con.

Supernatural Wiki

Many members of fandom contribute to the comprehensive Supernatural Wiki.

Slash, RPF, "Destiel", and "Wincest"

Due perhaps in part to the tight focus of the show on the Winchester brothers, they themselves used to be the fandom's main pairing. This incestuous pairing is commonly known as Wincest, and has occasioned some controversy both within and without the fandom. Some stories and writers portray the relationship dynamic as fundamentally unhealthy and explore the dysfunctional aspects, while others portray their relationship as a more traditional romance, or as some combination of the two.

The introduction of the angel Castiel has lead to the meteoric rise of Destiel. Many fans of this ship are adamant that Destiel will soon become canon. Destiel has been encouraged by the show with the inclusion of several things: Castiel's trouble understanding personal space around Dean Winchester, the impressive amount of staring that occurs between the two characters, the handprint Castiel marked Dean with after freeing Dean from Hell, and more recently, Dean's proclamation of "I need you, Cas."

The actors who play Sam and Dean also make up the main pairing of Supernatural Real Person Fiction, called J2 and Padackles (the smooshname for Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles). CWRPS features actors from Supernatural interacting with those from other CW Network shows such as Smallville, One Tree Hill and Veronica Mars.

However, the focus on Wincest and J2 as the almost only slash pairings shifted during the run of the fourth season (2008/09), which introduced Castiel (played by Misha Collins), an angel who saves Dean. Dean/Castiel has become more and more popular, while RPS fans started writing stories about Jared/Misha, Jensen/Misha (Known as Cockles) and "J2M" threesome fics.

Gen fandom

Perhaps because there were comparatively few other pairings to choose from and the choice between a main pairing based on incest or RPF is one that many people prefer not to make, Supernatural has a large gen community. A lot of the gen fic (or sometimes Bob fic, stories with a background pairing where the relationship isn't foregrounded) is casefic. Some writers who often write shipfic may also write gen fics.

An average of about 40% of the fanfiction listed in the newsletter every day is gen[10], and in the 2011 SPN J2 Big Bang, 21% of the stories were gen (down from a high of 33% in 2009).[11]

Het and femslash pairings

There is also a het community, focusing mainly on canon pairings, OFCs, and crossover pairings. Het pairings seen in fanworks include John Winchester/Jo Harvelle (non-canon), John/Mary (canon), Sam/Jess (canon), Sam/Ruby (canon) and Dean/Lisa (canon). Briefer canon relationships, such as Sam/Madison, Dean/Cassie and Dean/Anna also appear in some fics, as do non-canon pairings (including femslash ones) that feature Bela Talbot. Sam/Jess/Dean, although rare, may be the most popular FPF M/F/M threesome pairing.

Fanworks focusing on femslash pairings are much more rare than slash, gen, and even het fanworks, but they do exist.[11]

Conventions

The popularity of Supernatural resulted in several fan run conventions specifically devoted to the show. For more, see Supernatural Conventions

Controversy

There is a large amount of controversy in the Supernatural fandom. Sexism and racism in the source text and the fandom have inspired several imbroglios, especially during Season 3. At the start of season three, some fans felt that the show's tone had shifted, becoming disconcertingly misognynistic; the season-by-season Bitch Watch[12] was an attempt to shore up this assertion by citing the sudden prevalence of sexist slurs in the source.

Supernatural fans have also been known to fight over whether the actors on the show are stupid, cocaine-addicted, would look better with a few additional pounds, or are paragons of virtue, often resulting in wank, such as the aftermath of Jensenvention and PETJA.

A vid about Supernatural fandom, its joys and controversies, was made by counteragent in 2008: Still Alive.

Supernatural Fanfiction/Fanzines

A large portion of Supernatural fan fiction is posted on FanFiction.net and on Livejournal. The spnnewsletter maintains a set of delicious links or tags. As of Jan 2011, almost 40,000 stories have been tagged.

Tropes/Trends

Popular tropes in the fandom include:

  • pre-series - stories set during Sam's years at Stanford before Sam and Dean's reunion in the pilot episode, or when Sam and Dean were kids. Some pre-series stories focus on the lives of John Winchester and/or Mary Campbell-Winchester before the boys were born.
    • Weechesters - gen fic about Sam'n'Dean as kids.
    • Weecest - underage Sam/Dean shipfic usually set when both brothers are teenagers.
  • genderswap - fics in which Sam or Dean (or both, or later, especially in human AUs, Castiel) has always been a girl or is temporarily turned into one.
  • fuck or die fics - usually caused by a cursed object or a spell.
  • raised apart fics - where Sam or Dean (or both) wasn't raised by John Winchester in the hunting life, they meet as teens or adults without realizing they're brothers, and genetic sexual attraction usually takes care of the rest of the plot.
  • amnesia fic - usually a curse or spell causes the brothers to forget that they're brothers, but they decide (usually based on evidence of their constant proximity and remaining feelings of affection) that they must be involved and act on it, angst follows.
  • curtainfic - Sam and Dean or Dean and Castiel or all of them retire from hunting/stopping apocalypses, temporarily or permanently, and set up house together.
  • evil!Sam - usually focused on Sam's demon-given superpowers (prophetic visions, telekinesis, seen in seasons 1 and 2) corrupting him, on antichrist!Sam or Boy King (of Hell) Sam from references during seasons 2 and 3, on (canonically) demon-fucking and blood-drinking Sam from season 4, on Lucifer!Sam (Sam said "yes" to being Lucifer's vessel) from season 5, or on soulless Sam (a.k.a. Robo!Sam) from season 6.
  • evil!Dean or demon!Dean - usually based on becoming evil!Sam's (corrupted) Hellish consort, or focused on Dean's time in Hell (where he became a torturer) between season 3 and 4 and Dean not coming back quite "right" from Hell.
  • ghostfic - where during one of their brushes with death (usually in the early seasons) Dean or Sam doesn't remain alive or come back from the dead like in canon, but continues hunting with the remaining brother as a ghostly sidekick.
  • wingfic - popular even before the arrival of angels on the show.
  • angel slash - the arrival of the angel Castiel (and his relatives) in season 4 led to a second major FPF pairing for the fandom, Dean/Castiel. Sam also gets paired with angels (Sam/Gabriel, Sam/Castiel, more rarely Dean/Castiel/Sam, Sam/Lucifer all have adherents). Angel-on-angel slash such as Michael/Lucifer, Castiel/Gabriel, and Castiel/Balthazar is another subgenre.
  • soulbonds - a canon reference to Sam and Dean being soul mates, who share the same heaven[13] and Castiel's statement that he shares a "profound bond" with Dean[14] only fueled the already existing fire for soulbonding fic.

Posts in the LiveJournal themed rec sets community sd_recs offer an indication of some popular tropes in Sam/Dean (or Sam'n'Dean gen) fic.

Fanfiction Archives

Active

Inactive/Offline

A list of additional archives is being maintained by indie-archives here.

Fanzines

Most Supernatural fan fiction is online. However, a small quantity of fanzines continue to be produced, mainly of the gen variety. In addition to traditional fanzines, Supernatural has also created a thriving amount of doujinshi 'fan produced comics' in both English and Japanese. The bulk of these fanworks contain Wincest with a small smattering of J2 (or RPS). A complete list of Supernatural fanzines and doujinshi can be found at Supernatural/Fanzines.

Awards

Rec and Discussion Sites

Art

There is a wide range of artistic styles in the fandom, ranging from hyper-realism to photo-manips and from chibi art to anime/manga styles.

Communities for art include supernaturalart and spn_fanart.

Notable Fanart

Vids

Supernatural is a fandom with a lot of vids, many focus on the relationship between the two brothers and more often than not angst is a major element.

It was a big vidding fandom from the first; there were four Supernatural vids, all made by major vidders, in the 2006 premieres show at Vividcon the year it premiered:

Unfortunately, because there was limited footage at that time, these vids featured many of the same shots: a woman on fire on the ceiling, a car with one broken headlight, a woman in a nurse's outfit, etc. The nuances of these excellent vids were therefore missed by the baffled moderators of that year's Vid Review, Luminosity and Speranza, neither of whom had seen the show at that point and who consequently gave them short shrift. (Luminosity later went on to make some of the most famous vids in the fandom.)

Some of the more popular vids are known for their creative approach to visualize certain themes and ideas. Luminosity's The Fifth Circle for example merges SPN with non-SPN footage to give a better impression of hell and the use of effects is quite stunning.

Other vids are meta commentary on the canon, fanon or fandom of the show. The vid Women's Work drew attention to the simultaneous sexualization of, and aggression towards, women in the source text while Still Alive by counteragent uses images of women from the show to represent fandom/fen and attempts to provide an overview of Supernatural fandom with a focus on Season Three.

Where to find Supernatural vids

Commentary

References

  1. On the road trip from hell, Melbourne: The Age, 5 January 2006. (Accessed 31 March 2011)
  2. Meta Episodes page at Supernatural Wiki (Accessed 31 March 2011)
  3. quote is attributed to gothphyle and first heard at the last Zebracon in 2007. Source: stormheller Never say never, dated September 17, 2005.
  4. Supernatural Wins TV Guide Magazine's Fan Favorite Cover Poll accessed 2010-12-18
  5. SPNNewsletter[1]
  6. SPN Directory[2]
  7. Fandom page shows 10,978 on August 30, 2011. facetofcathy
  8. Fandom page shows 27,527 on December 12, 2012. on_verra
  9. As of 23 July 2010, ff.net has Over 32,000 SPN stories, 201 SPN ff.net story communities, and 112 Discussion Forums.
  10. Supernatural Fic Link Archive page, showcasing black_samvara's fic tagging project.
  11. 11.0 11.1 See Big Bang: stats and graphs post of 2 Sep 2011 by missyjack about the SPN J2 Big Bang. (Accessed 1 Jan 2012)
  12. Compiled by Trollprincess on May 19-19, 2008, in three posts: Season 1, Season 2, Season 3
  13. From Episode 5.16, The Dark Side of the Moon (accessed 1 Jan 2012)
  14. From Episode 6.03, The Third Man (accessed 1 Jan 2012)
  15. [WebCite of the front page.
  16. WebCite of the front page. The definition of "Dean Damage" can be read here; WebCite.
  17. WebCite for the splash page; [http://www.webcitation.org/6GFDWNkSq WebCite for the main page.
  18. WebCite for the main page.
  19. WebCite for the main page.
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