Sequential Tart Interview with Hope

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Sequential Tart Interview with Hope (full title: "Demon Hunters and Textual Poachers An Interview with Prolific Supernatural Fan Hope")
Interviewer: Mary Borsellino
Interviewee: Hope
Date(s): January 1, 2007
Medium: online
Fandom(s): fandom, Supernatural
External Links: interview is here, Archived version; reference link
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Hope was interviewed by Mary Borsellino in 2007 for the ezine Sequential Tart.

For a similar interview, see Transformative Works and Cultures Interview with Hope, Leandra, Jules, and Vanae.

Some Excerpts

I don't know that I'd single Supernatural out as more progressive than other media fandoms in existence at the moment. I think that fans are generally quite a clever bunch when it comes to IT — in order to participate in and get the most out of fandom, fans tend to have a bit more than your average technical competency (ranging from knowing enough html coding to post fanfiction with bold and italic text to highly skilled vidding and multimedia editing). I think as the environment fandom occurs within develops, so do the fandoms within it. I'm willing to bet that there's still an active Trek fandom, and that there are Trek songvids and photomanips (actually, I know for a fact that there are), but Trek is an 'old school' fandom — it started with zines and conventions and whatnot. So I think fandom itself as a phenomena evolves as the technology does, just as media texts do. For example, Supernatural has canon material that crosses a range of media — from the TV show to the official website with the Journal, to John's active email address, Dean's active phone number, interactive DVD features, even the rumoured 'webisodes'.

I do think that Supernatural, rather in the tradition of pomo horror and this new generation of TV (following yes, Buffy, but I think more importantly, Firefly) acknowledges its fannish audience more overtly, and respects fans more in terms of, let's just say — not catering to only the lowest common denominator in the audience! I think fans are becoming auteurs (certainly the case of pomo horror, but think also Tarantino, Kevin Smith, Bryan Singer ...) and therefore creating texts they would enjoy themselves, respecting and communicating more directly with fans through the text. I think Supernatural's range of progressive media trusts and encourages and rewards this kind of fannish skill set. I think in this case the fandom and text complement each other, though it's not a unique relationship as far as fandoms go! (Think Heroes, Lost, Firefly/Serenity.)

Because there are a lot of factors involved. My 'academic training' is intimately tied to my reading of texts, and Supernatural is no exception. I don't turn off my academic brain when I'm watching TV, or when I'm thinking about TV, or writing about TV — creatively or otherwise. This year I wrote a thesis on Supernatural fanfiction, that in itself changed my way of thinking, of processing and developing ideas. Aided by the fact that my hobby time (reading Supernatural fanfic and watching Supernatural!) was pretty much exactly the same as my study time (reading Supernatural fanfic and watching Supernatural!), I have to say that for me there are no dual roles.

Fandom theorist Matt Hills has been talking in recent years about the fan's position as critic being as valid as the academic's in that the analysis of texts are pretty much synonymous, and hell, Oscar Wilde was talking about "The Artist as Critic" over 100 years ago. In other words, I don't see my fanfiction and my academic writing as all that much different, aside from the fact that one is institutionally sanctioned. With the development of both my analytical skills and modes of expression, the way I expressed myself as a fan changed as well. In terms of fanfiction, I'm a lot more disciplined in the exploration and expression of ideas, but that's what fanfiction has always been about, for me — exploring and expressing ideas raised by my consuming of the text. It's just a little more creative than essay writing!

So, to answer the question .... There are no dual roles. And much of my interaction with the Supernatural fandom is through my LiveJournal, which means there is already a degree of intimacy with other fans, a personal interaction. I didn't feel at any time alienated by my position as an 'academic', because the majority of fans I was interacting with during the course of the thesis-writing already knew and trusted me. And I try not to separate the roles of 'fan' and 'academic' anyhow — one of the main ideas of the thesis was to argue for the legitimacy of fan-created texts, so I'm all for considering fans and fandom just as important as mainstream art/texts and academia, and aim to carry out that belief in all my fandom participation.

I love the Super-wiki. I've been building and managing archiving websites since almost the very beginning of my time in fandom (since LOTR back in '01), and find the wiki format a godsend for managing fan material. The free-for-all of contributing information is a crucial element of fan communities, I think, removing the potential elitism and/or intimidation of a moderator or editor who you have to submit information to, or who gets to choose what's archived or not. Also, it's a helluva lot easier to manage when people are putting their own stuff in, instead of leaving all the updates to me!

The sheer volume of the Super-wiki makes me incredibly happy, as does the traffic it gets (over 15,000 visitors just since Season 2 started airing), and to know that people are using it — whether out of curiosity or research for fanworks — definitely makes it worthwhile. I'm really glad of the decision to make it a fandom 'archive' as well — I think it's probably the aspect of the Super-wiki that I'm most proud of. Not only does it provide a place for all these things that characterise and individuates the Supernatural fandom to be recorded, but it does so alongside (and within, too, I think) the documentation of the 'canon', or officially provided/sanctioned text. It acknowledges the existence and validity of the fandom, its history and the fanworks created within it, rather than being shy or ashamed about it, or trying to remove/hide things like the existence of slash from the 'public eye' of fans who might not engage in such creative fanworks.

I hope, too, that structuring it like this encourages pride in other fans, too — that their enjoyment of Supernatural is no less valid than fans who take a different approach. I think the Super-wiki is much richer for including fandom in its collation and dissemination of information.

In terms of fandom and slash narratives, I find the way that authors deal with this kind of intimacy between the brothers fascinating. Because there are a whole range of responses, and categorisation of those responses. Because slash means different things to different people, but I'd stress that limiting a definition or categorisation of 'slash' as 'gay porn' is extremely unwise. Yes, the two factors that characterise slash as slash are the gender of the characters and the relationship between the characters. But the way Supernatural fandom has manipulated both of these factors while continuing to or refusing to categorise their work as 'slash' is fascinating in and of itself.