Supernatural Screening Prompt

The two episodes of Supernatural screened for class are two hours of television filled with self-referencial humor and a very “meta” analysis of fan culture.  In this fashion, the episodes address the relationships between the viewers and the producers of both Supernatural specifically and fan culture in general.  The easiest concepts to pick out are the ways in which the episodes poke fun at fan and producer alike.  Instances like the characters Sam and Dean scoffing at and not taking seriously the fans of their fictional selves, or when the author of the Supernatural books, Chuck, proclaims that he must be some kind of God who has cursed Sam and Dean to live out “bad writing.”  In these two examples, both the fans and the writers are belittled and laughed at.  It is necessary for both parties to have a sense of humor for these themes to go over well.  On the other hand there are definitely ways in which both viewer and producer are elevated and empowered.  The fact that the author, Chuck, ends up being a prophet protected by archangels illustrates the importance of the author, and the way in which multiple fictional Supernatural fans end up helping out Sam and Dean gives fans not only a feeling of empowerment but it is also a nod to the ways in which fans can function in a participatory way with the show (this occurs literally in the episodes, but can be seen for as a metaphor for fan participation outside of the episodes).

What are the repercussions of the way in which these cultures are imagined?

I think that there is a definite gender divide as a result of the representation of fandom in the show.  Women fans are represented as swooning girls in love (and often times sexually charged) with the fictional characters, whereas the men are depicted as wannabes who can only get happiness from (very poorly) imitating and living out the lives of other people.  I think in both cases, these gendered definitions of fans are insulting.

I think that another result of the themes from the episodes are an approval of certain types of fans but not others.  The only fans that are really accepted by the characters Sam and Dean (and maybe the producers of the show) are the two fans who end up helping Sam and Dean save the day, claiming some generic comment like “We had to help, it’s what Sam and Dean would have done,” and explain to Dean what the true meaning of the books are.  In this manner fans that appreciate the show, appreciate the message, and support the characters are fans that are appreciated.  Other fans, like the ones who make Sam/Dean sexual websites, or who only like to bash the books in public forums are put down in the two episodes.  In this sense, the show is really illustrating which kind of fans are respected and which ones are not.