Depths of Fan-culture or Who is Misha Collins and Why do I care?
Idols and Ideas, the Actors of Supernatural and General Politeness
Or: People occasionally confuse me and fandom is not an exception.
Hello new followers 🙂 In celebration of acquiring around 100 of you in the span of about 48 hours I thought I’d break pattern and post some more rambling text of deep thoughts that has been floating around in my brain for awhile.
Let me start this by making an annoucement that will blow your minds: Jensen Ackles grocery shops.
Mull that around in your brain for a moment. I’ll pause to let that sink in.
Mind-boggling isn’t it? That someone you only ever see from a distance, hear about from second hand gossip (print or digital), and will probably never meet outside of a professional setting has a life that involves the mundane things that you do everyday. He’s a person, with person feelings, and person relationships and imperfections and opinions and stories. In short – Jensen Ackles exists outside of what you happen to think and imagine him to be.
Where am I going with this? Well I had this conversation with my brother in the grocery store about celebrity gossip magazines, actors, and tumblr and my brother turned to me and said, “Jensen Ackles is not a person.”
This blew my mind, because obviously Jensen Ackles is not in fact a collective hallucination. He’s an actor. In fact, there is overwhelming evidence of that fact. My brother was quick to respond, “No, I mean to most people he isn’t a person, he’s an idea.”
That stopped me because it seemed so odd. But now that I think about it my brother is right. Fandom and the Mainstream Media has a semi-annoying habit of making actors into ideas just as their characters are.
Now let me be the first to say I don’t think there is anything wrong with being invested in fictional characters and concepts. As irritating as those people who say it isn’t healthy are the fact is that humanity has done this for centuries. It’s called religion. Every culture has a set of stories by which they showcase desirable and indesirable traits in their belief system. So yes, it is totally acceptable to be emotionally invested in something fictional that doesn’t exist necessarily outside of the collective cultural imagination. (By which I mean: The average Ancient Greek probably wasn’t going to meet up with Apollo on the street corner after hearing about him cursing Cassandra. Take that as you will.)
But it is it acceptable to apply that logic to real people?
Personally, I really don’t think so. But then I have a really hard time investing in people I don’t personally know and interact with on a fairly regular basis.
Fan Confession- For most of the first 5 seasons I had no idea who played what character in Supernatural. This isn’t really odd for me as I very rarely note the names of the actors playing anyone. The Winchesters and Castiel were the Winchesters and Castiel.
Then I saw “The French Mistake”. And my reaction was the same as the Winchesters “Jared Pada-who?”
Also, I still didn’t care. Sam and Dean were my main concern. In many ways they still are. I’ve invested a significant portion of time and emotion in the boys, gone along on all their adventures, seen them suffer, seen them laugh. I’ve participated in the lives of Winchesters even if in a passive way. I know their stories. I didn’t know or particularly care about the actors who portrayed them.
It’s a bit different now. I’ve watched most of the Youtube videos of the cons for J2 and Misha and genuinely enjoyed them. The actors seem to be great people, Misha Collins is always a joy to see and they have great stories. Stories are what I like about people, I like to know about the silly things that have happened, that give me a glimpse of who they are even if I don’t know them well. If they are funny stories, well all the better. We can laugh together at the silly things that happen in life. I’ve gotten to participate in their lives for a short while in a small way. If I saw that them at a convention and didn’t immediately suffer the social anxiety I have with most people I’d be comfortable saying “Hey you guys do a really god job and I enjoy the show.” “Maybe even, “Congratulations on your new baby.” or “Your child is adorable.” But that’s about it. The type of stuff you can say to people who you’ve just met and is socially acceptable. They’ve shared a bit of themselves with me and the rest of the fandom, so I think that’s great. I feel closer to them as people and that makes me care about stuff they have to say more.
But at the end of the day, most of what those people do or say is not going to directly affect me physically or emotionally. And anything I have to say is going to affect them even less.
Which brings me to this: Why did Gen Padalecki (Cortese) actually get threats against her life? Why did that one person send porn to Jensen Ackles parents? And why does half the fandom want to have their babies?
There are lines. Boundary lines of politeness and legalities that really shouldn’t be crossed. There is no excuse for these things. The Supernatural fandom is mostly decent about this particular breed of nastiness. But seriously? What possible reason is there to threaten the life of the now Mrs. Padalecki? I’m reasonably certain she hasn’t done anything to deserve it. All she did was fall in love and marry her husband, which is something the majority of people seem to aspire too. Jensen Ackles might remember you as an anonymous weirdo, but all sending that package did was make him and all involved really uncomfortable. And really girls? I understand you really like these men, both the actors and their characters but in reality having babies involves 9 months of pregnancy, childbirth and at least 18 years of being responsible for a child.
And as much as I like the Winchester brothers, I wouldn’t go that far.
I guess what I’m saying this: Let’s all enjoy the story together, but at the end of the day People are going to be People regardless of that story.
There is a definite line between fiction and reality my friends. Let’s all try to remember that it exists.