Aim for the head: How Supernatural fandom is like a zombie movie

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Title: Aim for the head: How Supernatural fandom is like a zombie movie
Creator: Gwyneth Rhys
Date(s): April 20, 2007
Medium: online
Fandom: Supernatural
External Links: Aim for the head: How Supernatural fandom is like a zombie movie; archive link page one, archive link page two
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Aim for the head: How Supernatural fandom is like a zombie movie is a 2007 essay by Gwyneth Rhys.

"And isn't that all we can hope for in the zombie fandoms? Just to get along, to still be able to enjoy one another's company, even though your friend is a slavering, gargle-noise-making, glassy-eyed fan? If you love them enough, you'll put up with their new interest even though you can't understand a word they say or trust that they won't try to eat you"

Some Topic Discussed in the Essay and Comments


Every Thursday and Friday, I skim fast over my flist because I know there will be almost no other content except squeeful posts about Supernatural. A while ago, it was the day before and the day after Stargate: Atlantis aired. But many people I adore love these shows, and I try to be all IDIC and my fandom's okay, your fandom's okay, but they can be... omnipresent. And hard to avoid. And a little bit wearing. When you're not into something that seems to have taken over fandom, it's not easy being IDIC.

In fact, I know people who have set up filters to avoid hearing about Supernatural, and I'm sure that if I could actually find the ability to rub some brain cells together and learn how, I might do it, too, just to take control over my flist on Fridays. Of course, if I filtered my buddies who love SPN, I wouldn't have much of an flist. Many people I know will sign on for a fandom they don't even enjoy, just to be in with the in crowd, and because that's where all the good fic writers go. At their peaks, Stargate SG-1 and Smallville (which I called Starville or Smallgate, because they seemed so ubiquitously together) probably had the largest collection of good writers and vidders I'd seen since back in the days of the Professionals, and I didn't even come into Pros fandom till it was nearly moving into the old-folks' home.

Recently I was talking with a friend, someone whom I would expect to be the last person ever to like SPN, and she started squeezing about it, and told me how much she was getting into it, despite the slash and the incest and the things she has never liked at all. And my initial reaction was this internal voice screaming NOOOOoooooo! They got another one! Our numbers of resistance are dwindling every day! NOOOoooooo!

That's when I realized: It's like being in a zombie movie. Any of the fandoms that ate fandom hit you with the reality that you are one bite away from being consumed by the undead, and soon you, too, could be stumbling around with your flesh rotting off, bleeding from your eyes, arms out in front of you, going, "grrrg join us aruggg join us aaalllggg." The few of you still living will huddle in a pub or a shopping mall or a house located in the middle of nowhere but suspiciously close to a cemetery, fending off the zombies with whatever weapons you have -- guns, machetes, old LPs, zine binding-combs.

And this isn't the first time a fandom ate fandom. As I said, SGA held that crown until just this past year, and I mean, try to find one person on your flist a year and a half ago who didn't have their own "Jeez, I wish I could pick off these SGA zombies from my flist" wishes. It's been a lull of a few years, though, from SGA to the previous fandom that ate fandoms, and then before that to The Phantom Menace. Hard to believe, I know, that anything so stultifying as that first of the Star Wars prequels could take over fandom, but anyone who survived that night of the living dead can show you their zombie-bite scars. They didn't take us alive then, and they won't now! Aim for the head, people!

What you get in the fandoms that eat fandom is the sense that you are trapped, and that there's nowhere to go to escape them. If you go to a con, you know that everything on the dealer tables and all the vids will be the current fandom du jour. You can't read your LJ or participate in a mailing list where the conversation doesn't turn to the hot series or movie. And as in any zombie movie, the zombies recognize themselves -- they don't go after one another, do they? No, they go after the living flesh, the ones who are still tasty and raw -- there's no fun in it unless you can convert. Just watch what happens when someone posts about a hot new show, and immediately gets comments on why they will so love it if they just turn to the dark side. So the ranks swell and the remaining few huddle ever tighter, pretty much till they run out of weaponry and are subsumed. Sooner or later, since zombies can't reproduce except by picking off the living, they will run out of resources, once they've eaten every last remaining survivor, or their show is cancelled because it's on Fox or the CW.

Excerpts from the Comments


Who was who said "circle the wagons, they're coming for our writers"? Was that Sandy? The last fandom that ate me whole was XF. I have fannish appreciation for SGA/SG1, which means I watch them and I read them, but I probably won't ever write them. Oddly at this point, if I were to do any writing at all, I'd probably go back to Pros.

If you shoot, I'll hold your ammo.

Oh, man, this had me laughing so hard. Seriously, my level of obsession is about as scary as being zombified, most days. And I'm sympathetic, because this is the first Zombie Plague Fandom I've ever really fallen for -- I tried to be stoic through TPM, HP, SGA]], SV, you name it. (I was a Sentinel fan, but already gone before it got big.)

Ugh, I'm sorry. *is contrite* Okay, not really, but sympathetic, yes.
Morgan Dawn:

"The omnipresent fandoms are the lumbering zombies of Night of the Living Dead, not the fast, flash-cut edited zombies of 28 Days Later. They come at you slowly but aggressively, like the ones in thr recent remake of Dawn of the Dead."

and here is where I disagree with you. Supernatural zombies (oops I meant fans) are like the 28 Days later. One second you're standing there talking about something else (like 'hey did you hear about that latest wank on...") and the next thing you know the only words coming out of their mouths are "SamandDeanandSamandDeanandSamandDeanand​SamandDeanand" and then they're running and tackling you.

Trust me on this. I know. In fact, come a bit closer...I want to show you something....

I'm sure this was how a lot of people felt when XF and Buffy/Angel were hugely fannishly popular.

As someone who's been in love with SPN since the pilot aired, it's been pretty hilarious watching everyone and their cousin fall for it, too. Heh.


There've been plenty of times I've watched friends obsess over stuff that didn't grab me, and I ended up really enjoying seeing them all happy and giddy. I guess I just don't begrudge people their various obsessions, regardless of how I feel about the source. I may not understand the appeal, but so what?

I'm sure conversation will be more diverse once Heroes comes back. (And - well, I would have thought you'd like SPN, actually, but I'll resist the zombified urge to elaborate. *g*)

I always kind of boggle when people talk about The Phantom Menace as an all-consuming fandom, because I was so het-oriented at the time that it barely registered. And because it was so much easier to ignore entire fandoms before Livejournal, I suppose.
sdwolfpup: This ... is how I felt about Veronica Mars during its first season. I felt like I couldn't go anywhere without seeing people talking about it and having it waved at me with "you must watch this!" :)

Hee! You are just saying that until the rest of the world realizes what they have been missing by not watching M7 or The Professionals. As soon as they flock by the thousand to Pros or or Alias or M7 fandom, you'll be a zombie too! Eeek... Any day now!

Personally I was totally zombified by TPM (3+ years, but recovered now) and SGA (close to 2 years and on-going), but still not getting the whole Buffy, XF, SV, SPN etc. in spite of the continued assault...

I am a fan of SGA and SPN (proud zombie here!), but I did find this very amusing and you do make a valid point. It can be a drag when everyone else is into something you aren't (I've never been a Star Wars fan), but the best advice I can give is to hit back! Not in the mud-slinging sense, but in the promote YOUR fandom sense. Someone blathers about a fandom that isn't your cup of tea? Agree to listen for five minutes (and time it) in return for them listening to you squee about yours for TEN minutes (untimed). People will either get the hint or convert.

On a more serious note, your f-list is just showing it's love - for both the show and you. We all want our friends to love what we love and share the squee, so it understandable that they try and 'convert' you (or should that be reanimate your corpse? *g*). Think of it as a compliment, but make it clear that you aren't interested and that they should please change the topic now. Most people don't realise how annoying they are being and will respond to a nice request to tone it down a bit. All this, however, applies to your close friends, mostly. Comms won't stop squeeing and really, do we have the right to ask them to? I just put on my blinkers and focus on the shows I like.

Speaking as one who's not only been hooked since the pilot of SPN, but who was also in love with the idea of SPN before it ever started, I must say that I agree with a lot of what you say.

SPN probably takes up about 60-75% of my fannish time right now, depending on any particular day. I like the meta, I love a lot of the fic (and there's tons of fic!) and I love a lot of the vids, but even I get a bad case of 'holy crap! another SPN community!?!' And sometimes I just want to read something non-SPN for a change and have to go digging for it.

This is the first time I've been part of a fandom juggernaut. One of those big honking fandoms that just sort of increases exponentially almost by the hour.

It is a little daunting and stupifying, but I have to say that after 1 1/2 years, I'm not tired of it yet.

I think what keeps me centered is that I actually have quite a wide fandom base. There are so many fandoms that I love that I can usually find common ground somewhere with just about everyone.

So, would you like to debat the sexiness of Sonny's stubble verses Martin's scowl? Or Martin's sleek, black panther look amongst all the pretty birds with their bright 80s Miami plummage? *G*

And what's your stand on the series Wiseguy? I had a serious kink for Roger Lococo. (RAWR! See icon.) There's a Sonny/Roger story that seriously butters my muffin. o.O

I, personally, despise open fandoms. Give me a nice off-the-air show anyday. Then the Heros and Heras are ours to take back from The Man.

On-going shows, you write, you vid, and then the show comes along, slaps you around, steals some of your best ideas, completely invalidates the others, and leaves you bleeding. Bastards.

here via metafandom, and I think I love you right now! :D

When you're not into something that seems to have taken over fandom, it's not easy being IDIC.

Oh, gosh this is so very true. I'm trying my very best to just sit back and let my friends have their fun and revel in their new shiny fandom, even if I'm quietly grumbling to myself that I wish and hope, someday, they'll come back to one of the fandoms we used to share and can we can squee over the same things again.

Ah well, such is fannish life. I seem to be pretty immune to zombie plague fandom attacks (at least since TPM tried to own my soul), and sometimes I wonder whether it's more a factor of not liking the same kind of shows/sources so many do, or whether zombieplague!fandoms just scare me away by default since then...

Speaking as a recently-bitten zombie, this is so true it has me wiping tears of laughter from my eyes.

It doesn't bother me when I'm on the outside because my flist is so gigantic that pagedown is already my bestest friend. Also, I like to pick up what people are interested in as I pagedown, it makes me feel as though I have my finger on the pulse.

And then I love the way the Great Wheel of Fandom spins, and you find yourself once more sharing an interest with someone you haven't "seen" much since two fandoms back.
minim calibre:

And then I love the way the Great Wheel of Fandom spins, and you find yourself once more sharing an interest with someone you haven't "seen" much since two fandoms back.

I was just thinking about this while gardening and thinking about Gwyn's post, because the biggest plus side of being part of the SPN Zombie Army is that I'm back in an active fandom with some of my old friends from a few fandoms ago, and it's so nice to reconnect that way. Sure, we'll spin in different directions again eventually, but for now, it's nice.

Great post!

There are just some things that don't hook you. I loved the movie, but could never get into SG-1 or SGA despite my friends intense love and attempts at persuasion.

However, when they glommed on me about Supernatural, I decided to go with it because there are some X-Files alumi attached. I haven't looked back since. I rec it to friends who are into that sort of show, or people who ask about it, but I'm not calling the general populace to the dark side. Even on my own lj I limit the squee to once a week ep reviews under a spoiler cut. Any other flailing and drooling is done at the show's comms.

But yeah, there are a lot of those sort of fans out there in every fandom. And as far as the cons? I try to stick to those that focus on my fandom(s) and interests.
Rachel martin64:

I'm an SPN fan and your post just cracked me up. Love it!!

I think the difference is Live Journal. With this "friends list" thing you get stuck seeing posts about every damn thing under the sun. Not just fandoms you don't follow, but all the gory details of their personal lives. Previously, a person would just subscribe to mailing lists about her own interests. I truly prefer mailing lists.
slashfairy: what's IDIC?
jfco13: IDIC - a Vulcan thingy, meaning "Infinite diversity in infinite combinations". Kinda sorta "chacun a son gout"...