I don’t know what it is about the Supernatural fandom, they are so creative and enthusiastic, not unlike Harry Potter fans. They have the loyal dedication of Brown Coats and the zeal of Whovians, but there is an actual sense of community that they create that makes them stand out, even the actors interact with their fans like they are a part of this world, and they are. I stumbled upon this group of amazing people at a time when I was at my lowest, recently diagnosed with Lupus and dealing with the isolation of chronic illness. They accepted me with open arms, filled my social media feeds with inside jokes, inspirational quotes and made me feel less alone…like family.
As a creator, I have shied away from the fangirl status focusing more on creating than consuming, it had been awhile since I had a total fangirl obsession… then came Supernatural.
It seemed harmless enough, a show about demons and monsters. I was already a fan of Buffy, Lost Girl, Anita Blake and Hellblazer, anything involving mythology and/or occult would keep me amused. I figured since I was an experienced fangirl, I’d be prepared to not over do it. Long Story short, I am now in several fan groups, have a Dean, Sam & Cas sitting on my desk at work, and have written fan fiction for the first time in thirteen years.
Recently our Supernatural family experienced a crisis, rumors spread around that some asshat cyber-bullies attacked fans encouraging them to self harm and even commit suicide. A sick and cruel act purposefully directed at those who were at low points in their lives.
If we were dealing with any other group of people, this incident would have severely damaged my faith in humanity, but outpour of love, support and pride renewed it in a way I never thought possible. Like a massive army they gathered around each other and sung loud and proud that Family Doesn’t End with Blood. Those words boldly scribbled across their arms they reminded the world what community means, every person matters and every person is loved. Those who know me, know I scoff at sentimentality, but this outpour of love and defiance against these douche nozzle haters made me tear up a bit.
Middle and High School wasn’t kind to me. A lonely, awkward alt girl who never fully got the hang of muggle fashion, social grace, much like my boobs, completely eluded me during adolescence. My livejournal was chock full of angst, pain and longing for acceptance.
I considered myself rather resilient, I knew who I was and wasn’t about to change for anyone. I didn’t think I was weird, I was just being myself, but after awhile bullies took their toll, even the kids who weren’t outright nasty to me avoided me in fear of being the next target. I had to eat lunch in the guidance office because my mere existence caused too much disruption because kids would throw food, books and chairs at me. I have since distanced myself emotionally from those times. Looking back that level of abuse would have been hard for an adult, let alone a sensitive twelve or thirteen year old girl. Despite a few attempts to end my pain, I survived those years…mostly thanks to the internet
The internet in the late 90s was a beautiful thing for nerds. Having few kindred spirits at school, it was the one place I could connect with others like me. It was my safe place where I could be me without worrying about getting spat on or gum smeared in my hair. I discovered the secret world of sci-fi conventions, Dungeons & Dragons and endless fandoms. It was a supportive, accepting community of misfits and I’m not sure I would have survived those years without it.
I am now an adult, an empowered albeit still slightly awkward alt girl who creates worlds inspired by the ones I discovered in my community of fellow geeks, freaks and nerds. In a society where freak and geek is sheik, I would often think ‘wow these kids have it so easy these days’. Now I’m not so sure. Our little haven from the ‘norms’ is no longer safe. The internet went from a wonderful place where everyone could be themselves to a place where being yourself makes you a target for aggression and hate.
Things would seem pretty desperate, these bulies, the new world order, are much like the leviathans in season 7. How could you defeat an enemy so elusive, so twisted? Supernatural fans know that no matter how helpless, you still need to fight the good fight, stand up against darkness at all costs. We know that banding together is the only way to defeat these giant bags of dicks and keep the internet safe for people to be themselves.
My final thoughts on this are on the thirteen year old girl, crying alone in the school bathroom with the few torn up pieces of her sketchbook she managed to rescue from the garbage can while a bottle of Tylenol ate a hole in her stomach. I see her in these new kids growing up with no safe places to be themselves. I want to tell them, it gets better. You have a family that wants to protect you from the bags of dicks be they people, illness, depression or just hard times. This fandom is your safe place.