Dear Supernatural

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Title: Dear Supernatural
Creator: Lisa Schmidt
Date(s): November 13, 2011
Medium: Online
Fandom: Supernatural
Topic: Representation of Fans, Meta Episodes
External Links: http://symposium.transformativeworks.org/2011/11/dear-supernatural/ (defunct)
http://fanhackers.transformativeworks.org/2011/11/13/dear-supernatural/
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Dear Supernatural is meta essay written by Lisa Schmidt in response to how fans were represented on the television series, in particular the character of Becky Rosen, a fan stand-in, and her actions in the episode Season Seven, Time for a Wedding!.

Excerpt

Then, in last Friday’s episode, you went too far. I don’t know how or why you thought it would be a good idea to make a good portion of your viewing audience believe that you have nothing but contempt for us. I understand that once you’ve become known for your meta episodes you have to keep trying to push the boundaries, but this?

Yeah, Becky is back. This time she gives Sam a supernatural roofie, basically tricking him into marrying her. When he figures it out, she hits him over the head with a waffle iron and ties him to her bed. She persists in trying to get him to like her even after this. She nearly sells her soul in exchange for his love. She is literally presented as a loser in life, desperate to prove to the shallow, popular folk from her high school days that she is good enough to marry a hot guy. She is depicted as quasi-delusional, criminal and pathetic.

How offended am I? Let me count the ways.

One. Let’s get something on the table here. You don’t know slash, Supernatural. (You don’t even particularly understand fans, apparently, but that’s for another point). We do not write slash because we can’t have Sam-Dean-Cas-Kirk-Spock-whomever in our bed. This is a much more complicated fantasy. We are not hanging about or showing up at conventions out of the vain hope that maybe, just maybe, we’ll run into our boy at the bar and it will be love at first sight and a whirlwind wedding.

Two. We are not a bunch of desperate single virgins. Yes, some of us are single. Some of us are not. Some of us are heterosexual, and some of us are queer. Many of us have satisfying sex lives, and yes, our slashy fantasies may play a part in that, but this makes us not much different from ninety-nine percent of people in the world. How many people out there are totally, absolutely satisfied with heteronormative gender and sexual orientation? How many people manage without fantasies? Please, show me these imaginary “normal” people.

Three. We are not losers. I am certainly not a loser, and the women I know who are into slash are not losers. We have careers and we have a life outside of our fandom. We are interested in social and political causes. We have other interests. We even have social skills.

Four. If we learned that the apocalypse was unleashed (yeah, I’m going back to a Season Five Becky gripe) we would be concerned. We would not persist in our little sex fantasy while other people ran around doing real, important things like saving lives.

Five, and this is a big one. We can and do respect boundaries. Indeed, boundaries are extremely important to us. How else could we function in this world that considers our harmless fantasies as evidence that we are mentally and emotionally unbalanced? We would never hurt our love objects. We would not violate their privacy. We would certainly not kidnap them.

I am so very, very disappointed in you, Supernatural, because you have perpetuated the classic old stereotype of the fan: unbalanced, delusional, apt to cross over into dangerous behaviour at the slimmest pretext. This is especially disappointing from you because you had led me to believe that you understand fandom.

Reaction

More confusing was perhaps Sera Gamble saying in interviews that she thought fans would love this. I'm not certain what she sees in this episode to love - reinforced stereotypes or issues of violence and sexual consent? More than last year's "The French Mistake," this read to me like the collision of RPS and real life as a site of panic.
Thank you, yes, exactly! I am always leery when producers try to channel fans. Your post only convinces me further that the bridge between us is too wide to ever leap over, and although in a way that makes me sad, in another way, it just further brightens the line between producer and fan. I am tired of being pathologized, and of explaining my desires. SPN isn't just talking to us, you know; it's reinforcing the existing stereotype, and it's made all the worse by its now being a betrayal.
Thank you so much for writing this. It's exactly how many fans feel.