I got an ask in my box last night. It’s the first ask I’ve ever gotten from anyone. (Coincidentally, LOVE YOUR FACES, FOLLOWERS! EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM!) I hoped it was going to be a request for a gif set or at least a nice insult but, instead, it was a condemnation. A fan, understandably caught up in the fervor yesterday, angry that I was still posting Jensen Ackles gifs since he is obviously (apparently?) a horrible person, sent me my first ever ask.
I have to admit, I’m a pretty bad member of any fanbase. I tend to have a loose awareness of what’s going on around me in all situations but, more often than not, the haps in a particular fandom will pass me by without my notice. It’s not that I don’t like the show. I like the show. Actually, for the first time ever, I’m going to say it out loud to someone other than my pet rabbit - I love the show - but I didn’t watch it for the ghosts or the guns (eww) or the jokes. I watched it because of you, tumblr. Because you wouldn’t stop with the gifs. Always with the gifs. Everywhere with the gifs. Jared Padalecki I remember (and still resent) from his days as Dean Forester but I had no idea who Jensen Ackles was until a gif crossed my dash that made me laugh so hard I spit a Jack & Ginger all over my keyboard.
It happened a few more times before I finally cracked and opened netflix and, guys, I’m glad I did. It’s funny when it means to be, and it’s funny when it doesn’t. I get a laugh out of every obscure reference (bonus points for the porn ones) but, mostly, there’s a chemistry to the whole thing that I think is probably one of the reasons an otherwise inexplicably stupid idea has captured so many hearts. I still refer Sam as “NDA” (abbreviated from Not-Dean-Anymore) and Crowley as “Badger.” You can bet that when I watched the episode with Jewel State, I called her character “Kaylee” in my head. I slept through the resolution of the Lisa/Ben plotline and only just caught it last night (which is good, since I’ve spent the last month and a half really disappointed in how I thought they’d let that just fade away… Oh, those salient details.)
Guys, when I got that ask, I had no idea what the Anon was talking about, so I looked it up and christfuck is the internet up in arms.
I’ve spent the majority of my life as a nerd. (There were a couple of years in the beginning where I recall playing with blocks and throwing up a lot. I’m pretty sure that’s what everyone else was doing then too.) As I child, I spent time as a science nerd. As a teenager, I loved to read way more than almost anyone I knew. I’m a ‘grown-ass-adult’ now with a bad habit for TV and politics and, still, nothing is really different.
That kind of thing - it leads you places - and one of the places it can take you is the place of that outcast suddenly thrust into a wall-to-wall carpeted room full of people who get you, shouting a question from the back. Regardless of whether or not anyone will admit it at the time, most people who attend cons get there in much the same way. They pick out their favorite outfit (and yes, sometimes that’s a full blown costume), they spend the night before laying in bed contemplating and strategizing about all of the things they’re going to see and do the next day or days. In the car in the morning, they muse over the exact question they’re going to ask and they way they’re going to ask it. Usually, they imagine some guilty pleasure scenario in which they thing that they say is so dazzling, so perfectly phased, that it touches the subject and they become best friends/business partners/a mentor/the perfect naked sex doll. In the end, whether that fan is a seasoned pro on their eleventh convention (for this fandom) in two years or a teenager whose mom is waiting out in the SUV with an emergency inhaler and an applesauce, that question is crucially important to them. It’s the vessel that carries all of the love they’ve poured into whatever fan community they’re a part of. I don’t need to tell Tumblr how much love that really is.
My heart goes out to the people in attendance at the NJCon panel a few days ago. It goes out to the fan, who never deserved to be booed. It goes out to the audience, who reacted devastatingly poorly in a moment of mob induced chutzpah. It goes out to the staff, faced with the unenviable task of wrangling the most dangerous species of fan their is - cult fangirls. And, yes, it goes out to the actors on stage - all of them, at all the conventions, every where.
Maybe it’s because I spend too much time in my head, or maybe it’s because my anxiety-radar is turned up to level three googleplex (yeah, so what, I was a math nerd too) all of the time, but I’ve noticed a fundamental difference between the way that actors and writers respond to questions over the years and I think it’s something almost innate in their jobs. Writing happens in the broad strokes - defining a plot line and deciding where to throw in a joke - while acting hangs mired in the minutia. (Casting, by the way, ends up somewhere in the middle.) A writer can talk ad nauseum about the universe and the character’s they’ve created while actors - and of course, I’m speaking generally - tend to have a harder go of it on those stages.
Ask a fan about their favorite actor from their favorite movie or show and they can probably tell you their pets name, what high school they went to, how they first decided to get into acting, every show they’ve ever been in, and what their childhood was like. Ask a fan about their favorite writer from their favorite movie or show, and they might be able to name them and even talk a little bit about the other things they’ve written with a dash of their personal politics, but even money says they probably won’t be able to tell you how many tattoos that person has, where they’re located, and what they’re of. And really, that’s OK. It’s part of the job - having your personal life picked at. Most actors with a large enough fan base to warrant a convention are compensated handsomely for the inconvenience, but that can’t mean - we as a fans (of anything) can’t let that mean - that they aren’t entitled to be human beings.
I don’t know what happened. I watched a video and I heard a girl ask part of a question that started with “as a bisexual…” before getting booed by the audience and silenced by a member of the staff. Meanwhile, the actors in the frame - both Jensen, who the question was directed to, and Jared, looked visibly uncomfortable trying to simultaneously figure out what was happening and rap the room out of their open hostility.
Was it the question that made him uncomfortable? Was it the booing? Was it a glare from a member of the convention staff? Hell, it was probably a little bit of all of the above. Do I know his personal politics? Nope. (Though, being from Texas, it’s pretty much 70/30 that he voted for Romney and, yeah, that’s pretty gross.) Do I care? Honestly, no.
Homophobia is a problem and it’s one that needs to be addressed in the hearts and minds of everyone as well as at the federal legal level here in America. (Where addressed = eradicated.) You know what, though - when I was sixteen, my grandmother accused me of having a lesbian affair with my best friend (which I was notably not having) and gave me a lengthy lecture on the subject of hellfire. I took it pretty personally and got more than a little defensive, and I love ‘the gays’ (as my grandmother less-than-lovingly refers to them.)
In the end, what I’m saying is this - if the truth of the matter is that it makes him uncomfortable to be asked on a regular basis if he harbors any secret desire to cut a sex scene with his two best work-friends and a slice of pie, can you really say that you don’t understand that?
(P.S. Now back to our regularly scheduled gifing.)