I would pay top dollar for a comprehensive, source-supported explanation of how Superwholock vanished.

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Title: Untitled
Creator: phantomrose96
Date(s): July 2, 2016
Medium: Tumblr post
Fandom: Supernatural, Doctor Who, Sherlock
Topic: disappearance of SuperWhoLock; Fandom Decline
External Links: http://phantomrose96.tumblr.com/post/146783876562/i-would-pay-top-dollar-for-a-comprehensive, archived
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I would pay top dollar for a comprehensive, source-supported explanation of how Superwholock vanished. is a Tumblr post by phantomrose96, published on July 2, 2016, speculating on the apparent disappearance of the large crossover fandom SuperWhoLock.

As of August 26, 2016, it has 116,251 notes including many reblogs continuing to discuss the drop in popularity of the superfandom and offering reasons for its disappearance.

The Original Post

I would pay top dollar for a comprehensive, source-supported explanation of how Superwholock vanished.

Like……..that was the core of tumblr in 2013. Its tainted life-blood. Its fetid royal palace. Destiel this and Johnlock that. Tardis-in-the-impala-at-221B URLS. Bendydoot Cucumberpatch and long analytical debates of which doctor is best doctor

What caused the end? What destroyed it? What series of events sunk this fortress? I’m so. So curious. This was so much of what tumblr was. So unavoidable. It’s cultural history. I want. to know.

Some Responses

[theofficialvincenzo]:
So I’m not completely sure but I think you can pinpoint the disappearance to the month following Dashcon. Like, the entire year prior, things were going fucking insane; The DW 50th anniversary, Sherlock returned after a hiatus, Dean became a demon or something I don’t remember. Point is, the fans were worse than ever.

And then Dashcon happened: All those people got together for a nightmarish event in the ball pit (for anyone who doesn’t know what Dashcon was, look it up and read any of the news articles about it. I promise, you will not be disappointed).

Now, I wasn’t too active on tumblr at that point because of school reasons, but I remember finding out that the new season of Supernatural had aired on TV, and I saw NOTHING about it on tumblr. Not a single post on my dash. It was a miracle, but I was so confused. How had the whole fandom just vanished like that? I still don’t know for sure, but it was very shortly after the Dashcon incident.

Then Doctor Who returned. New doctor and a new companion. Same scenario. Nobody said anything online. I was still big into DW so that was kind of a bummer but it was still astounding.

I went back online more readily and started realizing that fandoms, as I had known them, were essentially dead after that summer. It was like everybody simultaneously realized how toxic those communities were after they all got together in person and proved themselves to be a disgusting bunch.

It was the fastest and most unsettling jump in internet culture I’d ever seen. Overnight it became an embarrassment to admit that you were in a popular fandom. [1]
[siphersaysstuff]:
The real culprit isn’t gonna be a singular event anyway, but a convergence of a lot of factors that aren’t Dashcon.

The first being the simple diminishment of the shows in question themselves. Dr. Who changed the Doctor to good ol’ leathery Capaldi (which isn’t itself bad and I dig it but let’s be real, there was a sizable chunk of “young doctor” fandom) and the head writer became… unpopular (whether or not you agree with why doesn’t matter, fact is he kinda honked a fair chunk of the fans off). Supernatural had become a walking corpse of a show running solely on inertia rather than ideas, and that was BEFORE another damn renewal. Sherlock had massive gaps between episodes that made the wait between Stevenbombs seem reasonable (more on that in a bit), AND the same-lead-writer-as-Who problem AND the rise of the Bollywood Collarbong deal which I admit I don’t quite get because I didn’t think he was super-overexposed but it IS pretty fun to mangle Twasbrillig Bandersnatch’s name so there you go I guess the memetic power there is your culprit.

[...]

Thus, the staggered, staggering, status-quo shows of the Superwholock Triumvirate simply fell out of favor as more and more options -notably more progressive and/or impressive options- spilled into our world.[2]
[agriff11]:
My personal theory is it was because of hiatuses and competition!

- Hiatuses: Sherlock especially, but the long Doctor Who mid-season breaks didn’t help. People wandered off. Some of them to very similar shows, like Elementary, which fought initial fan scepticism to become THE Sherlock alternative.[...]

- Fans became more critical. All three shows frequently come under fire for their treatment of women, LGBTQIA people, etc., and without new content fans had no option but to rewatch and reexamine the same episodes over and over again. Their flaws became more obvious on repeat viewings, and the comparison to new arrivals like Elementary didn’t help.[...]

- Fandom backlash! You either die a hero or live long enough to become a villain. After events like the Mishapocalypse and the infamous FANDOMS GRAB YOUR WEAPONS post Superwholock became shorthand for the most obnoxious parts of Tumblr and fandom, so more people starting distancing themselves from it (see also: how Bronies killed the MLP fandom). And, yeah, it all came to a head with the Dashcon Clusterfuck 2k14.

- Fandom Backlash II: Your Fave is Problematic. Every popular figure from Joss Whedon to Taylor Swift is eventually the subject of text posts and screencaps dragging their name through the mud. Steven Moffat, Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, and Jensen Ackles (I believe? It might have been Jared Padalecki. I don’t really follow Supernatural) have all had plenty of this.

IN CONCLUSION: there wasn’t enough new stuff being made. People found their own new stuff, which in many cases they found more appealling. People became less forgiving of the old stuff, its creators, and its fans. Eventually enough time passed that they gave up on the old stuff completely, so when it came back they weren’t interested. [3]
[joshuathehumanboy]:
I just figured we all quit following those blogs and they ended up in their own weird ass little corner of tumblr [4]
[peppermonster]:
People grew up. Big factor. A lot of the super fans were high school aged and pretty much blogging whenever not in class (probably during class too -kids with their fancy ass phones these days -back in MY day…-*coughs*) but once those kids finished high school they either had to get jobs and or go to college, and suddenly they couldn’t write sixteen Supernatural fanfics, reblog every Fanart of their favorite ship, meta on every post, and stay up all night marathoning DrWho so that they can be one of the elite who can claim they saw every episode etc. eventually they just couldn’t burn the fandom candle from both ends and kinda snuffed themselves out. [5]
[boanertitz]:
Without attempting to be contrary or confrontational, does it not seem a little dismissive to assume that the fandom of that niche were high schoolers? In retrospect it really does seem like that particular core was more of a flash in the pan. Or at least it’s online presence was. Not gonna disagree with that.

But everyone I knew that identified to that fandom were in their mid 20’s. Granted I don’t know a lot of high schoolers.

But suggesting that the fans just “grew out of it” seems kind of obtuse in the realm of how trends in fandom work. I don’t think those people care any less about those things but I think they got tired of feeling like their interests made them a target to have merchandise shoved down their throats. It’s tiresome to be really into something that ends up being inescapable. Either online or otherwise.

It’s insulting to feel pandered to by the people that are making something you genuinely care for. Something that you desire.

I haven’t really watched the other two shows but that’s certainly why I stopped watching Doctor Who. My feelings got hurt by what the show slowly morphed into as a side effect of its growing success. Even though I was participating in what was, in my opinion, contributing to the demise of a brilliant franchise.

I dunno. That’s just based on my own experiences. Not really sure. [6]
[squided]:
As someone who was a Supernatural fan, I just recall after this whole incident, I just suddenly lost all interest. It was some sort of strange realization that I suddenly had that the show was going on too damn long, the fandom was too damn annoying, and everything just felt so dragged out. Not to mention, as much as I loved the idea of Dean/Castiel, I was getting so annoyed at everyone coming up with “cute” stories involving them cause they sounded like they were written by a 12 year old who had literally no idea how romance or sex works and just put down what they saw in other movies or porn. So I think it was a combination of Dashcon and the crazy intensity of all the fandoms that just pushed everyone within them away [7]
[pixel-powered-painter]:
I was never a Superwholock (I did watch DW, but mostly just to have something to talk about with people), but I had many friends who were, and what it really boiled down to was that the constituent parts of the trio started falling apart.

First I saw Supernatural going downhill. Many of my friends dropped it because of its constant need to one-up the previous season (we’ve all seen the post about that), but it really fell apart when (I think?) Dean became a demon or something. Fans separated into factions: Those who claim it ended with season X, those who claim it ended with season Y, and those who were still on board for some reason. I remember a post I saw where a group of them were fighting over which era of Sam and Dean should be “THE” Sam and Dean everyone uses/remembers. With that kinda in-fighting, it was doomed.

Then Doctor Who began its downfall, which can be summed up in one name: Steven Moffat. Most people agree the show began its descent after he became showrunner. The new Doctor, Matt Smith, was not interesting (or hot) enough for some; the special effects switched from mostly-practical to all-CGI; the stories became even MORE contrived and convoluted; and (of most debate if I recall) there were accusations that the female characters of the show were sexist in nature. Now, honestly, I think it’s unfair to place this all squarely on Moffat’s shoulders–A show like that has so many people working on it, it’s never just ONE guy–but he became the scapegoat nonetheless. And when he did, the fandom tore itself apart. Half out of nostalgia for the RTD-led era, half out of some of the earliest Discourse I can recall. By the time the next Doctor came around (Peter Capaldi), half the fandom was dead and the other half didn’t care much for the fandom.

Then, in the whole process of Doctor Who’s discourse, Sherlock became the biggest casualty. I, personally, was always critical of Sherlock–I was a fan of the books from a young age, and the show pulled a lot of cheap tricks to make it more “flashy”–but with Moffat under fire, it didn’t take long for people to apply the scrutiny they gave to DW to his other show. And Sherlock, plain and simple, doesn’t hold to scrutiny. It’s full of sexism, queerbaiting, faux-intellectual bullshit (oh, he talks fast, so he MUST be smart!), shoddy plot development, Cucumber Thunderbitch’s disgusting face…but the crowning turd on the shitshow of Sherlock was the “debate” on whether or not Sherlock died at the end of (iirc) season 2, then leading into a giant hiatus. The death was, of course, a cheap attempt to keep interest during the hiatus…and, plain and simple, it failed. It’s one thing to have a character from Supernatural come back (as they so often do), but Sherlock was ostensibly rooted in reality, so to claim he’d come back from the DEAD was beyond absurd. Sherlock fell, and so did the fandom.

Of course, all the other things up there contributed too: Dashcon, Elementary, everything. But as I watched all my friends pulling down their supernatural posters, I can say without a doubt that just good old fashioned criticism is what truly killed the beast. [8]
[whatsagendercanyoueatit]:
I also feel like it was a certain amount of enough ‘your fave is problematic’ being weaponized in the cultural pastime of ‘shaming young women for things they like’ taken to nuclear degrees, but I know the above definitely had it’s share of culpability too. [9]
[twirlytumblfluff]:
OK but also, Tumblr has died? I mean, I don’t follow Supernatural or Doctor Who or Sherlock fandom or any combination thereof – my subscription list is 95% art blogs, 5% personal friends – and the posts turning up on my dash more or less reflected that, but nowadays my TWO social follows make up more than half of posts I see on a given day. Art Tumblr has collapsed. I’ve mainly only noticed it this year (since this summer, really), but I’m wondering if it’s following on a general trend of which this Dashcon phenomenon may have been a start. Has anyone else noticed this, or is it a strange coincidence that all the artists I follow have lost interest in Tumblr around the same time? I am a little happy in my old curmudgeon’s heart if it’s true that people have been turned off by fandom – I’ve known since 2001 that it brings out the worst in people, and that’s why I’ve only hovered round the edges and lobbed things in occasionally, but people seemed to enjoy the nastiness – and I hope all these people are finding worthy and constructive things to do with their newfound time. All the same … Where is everyone? [10]
[residentbunburyist]:
Dashcon certainly didn’t help, but I would actually blame new, different content breaking into the cyclical mess that were these fandoms as the truly destabalizing feature– for instance, the Sherlock fandom had been left on their own for long enough that they’d walled themselves in long before this, started feeding off of an incestuous loop within their echo-chamber, and new content after so long quite simply broke them. But let’s see what else:

Aug 23, 2014– marked the beginning of Doctor Who series 8. As most of the Superwholock fans began and ended their Doctor Who love with Matt Smith, you have a huge amount jumping ship right there. For some Who fans this change was old hat. but for many, Smith was their one and only Doctor. And those were the ones who were keeping their end of Superwholock alive. The Tennant and Eccleston fans had already had years to calm down, convert, or be ousted from the fandom. So this change was huge for the remainder of the strength. Some stayed on. but the art, the fanfic, the actor-obsession all had to shift gears. This apparently didn’t happen. not with the momentum that would be needed to keep such a large-scale fandom together.

most of 2014 was between seasons for Supernatural. I’ll admit I know very little on that front, but my main guess for this would be that after 10 seasons, some of the momentum had to be waning? Possibly season 9 left little to work with creatively/shipping-wise.

Jan 1, 2014– Sherlock season 3. I don’t know as much what was going on with Supernatural, but I’d bet money that this was where the glue came most violently undone. As mentioned before, this fandom had been left alone for so long that they’d ingrown and inbred until it was hard to remember for many what was actual canon and what wasn’t. There’d been so much time to develop, hone, and normalize so many headcanons into fanons, so many characterizations into common acceptance. This fandom was one of the most prolific but also one of the most tight-knit. New content threw the entire schism into disarray as, within mere weeks, the entire structure of the fandom came tumbling in on itself, branching into pro and anti-various series 3 developments, pro/anti-Mary– much of the more interesting art and writing dried up in favor of steering towards a deluge of fix-it fics and sniping at each other; creative output was marked by an absolute refusal to accept new canon into their world, an attempt to hole up the new paths rather than explore them to desperately try to recapture the pre-series 3 feel. Two years later, and you’ll still find surprisingly little that is canon-compliant with series 3, or AU’s that bring in aspects of series 3. The Sherlock fandom collapsed into different camps, and thus the largest and most steady of the ‘Superwholock’ trio dissolved into fan-wank. [11]
[lactobacilli]:
Looking at scientific evidences, the theory doesn’t seem like a theory anymore. It’s reality.

See that chart? It’s the Google search trend for “superwholock” from 2011 to today. The highest point was on July 2014, the same month Dashcon took place. Moreover we can observe a constant decrease after that peak. After Dashcon disaster.

Coincidence? I think not. [12]

See here for a live version of this Google trends chart.

[titanoboa]:
it really was heavily influenced by fandom backlash. i think a big thing that happened with the sherlock fandom, which was the one i remember the most vividly, was the creation of elementary. when the premise was announced people flipped a shit and when it was announced that lucy liu would be watson so many people became unreasonably angry which made a lot of us realize holy shit there are some incredibly racist and sexist people in this fandom. i remember there was one day that there was constant back and forth arguing about it. but before that there was a few that were starting to get annoyed at the jam jokes, the sweater jokes, martin freeman and cumberbatch, that time some fans refused to respect the wishes of freeman and kept POSTING PICTURES OF HIS CHILDREN online, there was a lot of build up in that fandom. it essentially caved in on itself and barely anybody wanted to be associated with it [13]
[madnerdwithabox]:

I’d also to say that in addition to the “white male” level of blandness SuperWhoLock has, Sherlock and Supernatural play a LOT with queer baiting and as the fandom grows older we just get tired of that bs. You see people from all fandoms gravitating towards show that have proper (or try) lgbt representation, not to mention social and racial representation as well.

DW has a lot of problems but it does not have as much queer baiting as the other two (it did give us Vastra and Jenny) and it seems that they are trying to change things up a bit there~

Anyway.. what I mean is: fandom kids are tired of cishet white male bs AND of not having real canon lgbt relationships. SuperWhoLock is just… not what the fandom wants anymore.

At least that’s how I see it. [14]

References

  1. theofficialvincenzo.tumblr
  2. siphersaysstuff.tumblr
  3. agriff11.tumblr
  4. joshuathehumanboy.tumblr
  5. peppermonster.tumblr
  6. boanertitz.tumblr
  7. squided.co
  8. pixel-powered-painter.tumblr
  9. whatsagendercanyoueatit.tumblr
  10. twirlytumblfluff.tumblr
  11. residentbunburyist.tumblr
  12. lactobacille.tumblr
  13. titanoboa.tumblr
  14. madnerdwithabox.tumblr