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I know some very heated discussion is breaking out after the Robert Singer panel at ChiCon. I was there, so was Nightsky, so I wanted to offer a perspective that maybe short tweets cannot.

A lot of fans asking questions were younger fans. Several brought up with Mr. Singer those semi-obscure but very obvious to the fandom issues that he was oblivious to. There were specific issues on continuity and other things that Singer just couldn't address because he is not a continuity hound like this fandom. He's an old school yet very skilled producer that basically makes episodes and then moves on. A lot of these fans with those questions didn't get that.

For example, someone brought up a question that has been pushed around on Tumblr for a while, episode 9.03, aka "I'm No Angel." Since April was possessed and had sex with Castiel, who wasn't, will they ever go back to how that non-consensual act would affect Castiel? Singer, very confused by the question at first, said that they have other character stories to pursue and they probably wouldn't be going back to that one. He told another fan who asked a continuity question (sorry, I don't have it handy) with a smile "Sorry, I can't help you." He didn't remember what she was talking about. He politely suggested to another fan who asked about a dangling plot to come up with how she thought it should go. I don't think the fan liked that answer, but it was hard to tell.

His answers clearly showed the difference between Singer and this fandom. When asked about Bobby Singer and if they would revisit his situation in Heaven, Singer said he didn't think Bobby was being taken to a good place. In that answer though he said, "Sorry, it's just television." I think he was thrown back by the reaction of the crowd over that comment. He did try to back track a little, but it's clear that he thinks it's just a TV show. Is it wrong? Not necessarily, but he didn't seem to understand this very passionate fandom who takes the outcome of the character situations seriously.

Another thing that really got people going on Twitter was the question why they never used "christo" after 1.04. Singer said that they thought it was funny to see Dean say that line, but there hasn't been an occasion since come up where they've needed to use it. I read loads of outrage about that, especially since demons are constantly in the story. What occasion were they waiting for?

All in all, Mr. Singer was polite, happy to be there, and is oh so out of touch with the online fandom. It was clearly a generation gap moment and fans were not going to get hard answers. Singer is old school TV and back when he started, no one obsessed over details in a TV show like this (for almost all shows that weren't Star Trek). He obviously treats Supernatural the same way. As a fan, it's up to you to decide if that is good or bad, but a lot of young fans came out of that panel a little horrified by his attitude. I understood where he was coming from, and it does explain a lot why writers like Brad and Eugenie can get away with what they write.

Let me know if you have further questions about the panel in the comments. If you want to know more, check out the @winfambusiness tweets on the panel or the entries posted on our Facebook. I'm sure it's on Youtube too, so I'll see if I can't find those links later.
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Melanie
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I guess in a way, its good that he's NOT up on the online fandom - at least we know he's not into 'fanservice' stories. But its really amusing that he thought 'its just TV' was going to fly at an event celebrating a TV show fueled by the passion people have about that TV show. The ten year anniversary of the event celebrating the TV show, no less.
But I'll say this -- Supernatural is damn good TV due in large part because Bob Singer's been around - based on the fact that his favorite scene was the end of 'Faith' -- recognizing the brother's relationship as the heart of the show, rather than the 'horror movie every week.' (Which was/is still pretty awesome! - I love MOTW episodes, but its because its Sam & Dean doing it, not the monsters)
I honestly loved hearing his perspective and look forward to any additional ino you have. Thank you so much for the tweets of the Con!
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It does make me laugh when he tries the 'it's just a TV show' line. What does he think is going to be the response, 'Gosh you're right Bob, why are we wasting our life on this light entertainment when we have world poverty to solve' & mass walkout from convention?
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Res
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I saw a rumor that Singer was quoted as saying that Dean had a "mental deficiency". Is that correct?
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njspnfan
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"...that he was obvious to". I think you meant "oblivious to" but probably typed this up on a hurry. (sorry... don't mean to be a grammar Nazi).

Was working from my home office today and had the twitter feed open. Just a couple of quick thoughts...

"Just a TV show" was probably not the brightest thing to say to a group of fans that shelled out hundreds, up to a couple of thousand dollars for tickets, photo ops, autographs, travel, lodging, etc. That being said, I agree with Alice; this is a generational thing and I'm not surprised he said it. But, the reaction is over the top, with people calling for boycotts and the incessant name calling and righteous indignation in the twitter-sphere. I'm guessing that's probably why he came out briefly during the J2 panel, to smooth ruffled feathers.

Kripke was the visionary and Singer brought a lot of show business expertise to the table. Seems to me you need both to run a successful show and Bob Singer should be lauded for this. Kripke had the passion and cared about the story; canon, consistency, the lack of which since Carver took over has pissed off a lot of passionate fans. Bob Singer is a good director but is very much old school and doesn't really understand the world of social media. And, that fact that he views the work of his significant other and her writing partner as good enough, tells me all I need to know. So, not really surprised by what he said.
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Gerry
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Personally, I am delighted Bob Singer is out of touch with online fandom. I wish they all were. I think showrunners like Damon Lindelof (Lost) and Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad) among many, have taken themselves off social media for a reason. They don't need a small clique of viewers aggressively in their virtual faces telling them how to run their shows. Both these show runners said both over the top negativity and positivity is destructive to their creative process. They need to focus on their creative vision and the chips must fall where they may. I wish our writers would go that route. If season 4 had happened during the twitter era, and TPTB listened to fan feedback, Sam's story would never have happened as it did. Many fans were both hurt and outraged. But it was excellent television and took Sam where he needed to go for the story.

I also think a lot is being made of Singer saying it was just a TV show. He's demonstrated many times over the years that he is very interested in character stories. In fact, Kripke said it was Singer's advice to focus on Sam and Dean's story, not the urban legends, and that changed the whole tenor of the show. So, he cares what happens to the characters. On the other hand, he'll take them where he thinks they should go, and he deals with the reality of making a TV show. When exploring where Bobby went is relevant to the Winchesters' story, Bobby will come back into view. Until then, his story is off stage, just as John's was when he went to hell - or as far as that goes, where he is now. The show has a particular lens.

I noticed about those questions is that for many of them, there was an embedded assumption that everyone shared the fan's POV and that therefore there was only one right answer. That's never a good position from which to ask a question. The questions also contained specific language taken from detailed previous discussions between fans which Bob Singer was supposed to be familiar with and immediately jump into the discussion. Again, never a good idea. Some of these questions would be fine in a face-to-face back and forth discussion, such as an interview, where definitions can be clarified and the conversation is free flowing. They don't suit a Q&A at a convention. Sera Gamble and Bob Singer already had conversations about consent when Ruby 2 was introduced, so he is not averse or unable to talk about it. But that does not mean he will immediately recognise the way particular way this fan framed it or that he would necessarily agree with the framework when he did. He may think they portrayed the reaper as inhabiting a still alive vessel. Clearly, angels can inhabit soulless vessels, as Cas is still in Jimmy.

I think the Bob Singer panel showed why fandom and show should maintain a distance. Online fandom makes up a very small part of the viewing audience, and even that fandom is broken up into even smaller factions. Bob Singer is very aware of his audience demographics. He knows that not only does Spn have a very large male audience, but that this demo is not one well represented on twitter or conventions. Doesn't mean they don't exist or aren't important. I had to laugh at the one question about does Singer now realise, after looking at the audience, that Spn's audience is not 18-39 males. He was very forebearing in not pointing out that convention audiences are not representative of the larger viewership. As a case in point, when Charlie was killed, the next episode the ratings went up. The audience at large did not walk away in outrage. Fandom is not viewership and dedicated viewers who do not tweet or attend conventions still count as fans and matter.

My .02.
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LEAH
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He is old school and maybe out of touch with the online fandom (that might be a good thing as they rarely agree on anything) but he agreed to come and answer questions at a convention and I don't think he deserves the abuse I see heaped on him on #chicon and elsewhere. He was a guest there! He is not used to public speaking like the actors are. It seems like he was polite and doing his best to answer questions. I respect him for what he has done the last 10 years. We may not like things about the show but I have no doubt he has worked very hard and with passion the last decade to bring us the best show they could. I think they all do. He deserves respect for that. And no matter how many fans get their panties in a bunch over every little detail it IS only a tv show.
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Airmid
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How old school is old school here?

I ask because looking back at other fandoms this is not a new thing that has popped in in the past decade or so or since the internet took off. Star Trek for example had a cult following even after the original series ended and even had conventions with thousands of fans showing up before the first movie that helped renew the entire series came about.

Clubs and fandoms around things like television shows, movies, books/book series, singers etc are nothing new. There have been clubs, meetings, Q&A panels and the like for a long time.

I would think that telling people who have all gotten together to share their deep interest in something that it's "just a TV show" would damper the mood quite a bit. In some ways it seems to come off as belittling, that they didn't know any better and the wiser Mr. Singer is there to set them straight so they can go focus on something else.

Not that his viewpoint is wrong, but a better tactic might have been understanding why people are passionate about something or at least phrasing it better.
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Kat
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Here's my take on it. Bob has a huge fricking job, making sure episodes get made in 8 days. that the stories are good, the post production gets done right, the music is good etc etc etc. He does not have the time to sit there and wonder if an angel is feeling traumatized that he didn't give consent right before he got stabbed to death by a rogue Reaper. Seriously? Why is this even a topic?

I am having this conversation with someone right now on Twitter and I have yet to have her explain to me how the topic of consent would even get brought up to Cas. Dean explaining that? Come on, really? Sam, not likely. Crowley, now there's a hysterical scene right there. People need to chill out and look at the entiretly of the show, not the minutiae of things that really have no place in the SPN world. SPN is not and will not ever be a show with social commentary on the world at large. Leave that to NCIS or other shows that deal with all that. Supernatural is a show about family, monsters, mythology and fun that doesn't take itself seriously. Would be nice if the fandom remembered that.
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Airmid
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Kat -

I was actually coming back to add something to my post when I saw your comment. While true that he has a big job and that things are kept on schedule there are a few things to keep in mind here. He's not doing it all by himself, he knows what goes into the show and if he wasn't familiar or invested in talking to fans then maybe he shouldn't have been the one in front of the crowd and politely bowed out. Of course he's going to be doing other things in his time off but amazingly other creators and producers in the past have lead balanced lives, helped create loved series/characters/whatever and have known about the universe they were involved in creating. They didn't brush off comments in a rather patronizing way.

Should he know everything about the show? No. But when your name is under the fancy title of producer and a character in the show shares your name you should either know enough or at least know enough not to stick your foot in your mouth. Which is what the problem is here. There's a huge difference to saying "I don't know" or "You'd have to ask one of the writers, they're the ones on top of that stuff" and what he went with. That's what upset people.

If he wants to just treat it like a job then that's fine. But it would wise not to put himself in front of fans to answer questions if that's the case.

What I wanted to add to my earlier post is that it occurred to me that this is a show that has a Supernatural fandom written into the show. Complete with conventions, fanfic, websites, and Becky the superfan. Not to mention a musical being created out of it in the show's universe. The writers have consistently through the years thrown out little and big things in show as nods to the fandom they know exists in reality. It's not a new thing, and Alice that's why I can't buy what you put into your post - that he's old school. Old school or not, whether he approves or it or not he should know it exists since he is a producer and should have been better equipped.

Another example of an older fandom I also thought of was the Wizard of Oz. Baum wasn't keen at times continuing the story. What's interesting is that when you read the original series (and wow is it trippy at times) you'll see in his intros that he talks about getting letters from children who love Dorothy and all her friends. He goes on to talk about how they inspired the plot for that each novel. While the backlash wouldn't have been like it is today with our constant social media I wonder what those kids would have thought if he just sent back a letter saying "Thanks, but it's just a book."
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Russ
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I don't have too much to say on this, as it's the first I'm hearing of it, and also the only place I'll care to read such things.

I don't think it's a case of "old school". It's a cae of people being halfwits.

From the get-go of Supernatural, Bob Singer is essentially a tradesman. He was hired to do a job, so he does his job. That what he's there for. Regardless of the fact he's been there from the very early stages. His job was to help get shit done. Need some ideas thrown around? He'll throw around some ideas. Need those ideas turned into logistical realities? He'll do what's needed to get shit done.

That's a Producer's job. Get the practical shit done.

He's not an artist/creative force. Never has been.

Anyone attacking him for his comments is an idiot ... and that's the nicest thing I have to say about the supposed derisive commenters on that Twitter/Twit thing.

That post was a lot calmer than I initially wrote :o
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Jen
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I'm with Russ on this one. I think its disappointing that this chatter even gets air play. I'm glad you wrote this for us to understand what is happening, but the people or fans who really need to read it never will They don't come to WFB because its a mature/ responsible site. Bob is a very important person who works in the background of a very popular TV show. He supervises the written scripts by his writers. Ask Him 101 questions about any episode written by said writers and he would answer those questions with good knowledge these were more fan to fan questions/fandom questions things he has no knowledge off. The Boys and the other actors usually answer these questions and with much fun and enjoyment as the fandom Leave Bob out the back to keep doing a Great job
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Alice
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Hi everyone! I edited the post to be a bit more coherent (yes, I typed it up very quickly but I wanted to get this out there). Mostly, I wanted to say how much I'm impressed over the mature and thought out comments here. You go to other places online and it's a rant fest.

When I talk about Singer being "old school" I'm talking more in the TV production sense. It's a TV show, that's what he's doing. The difference is clear to him. Sure he sets out to make the best show he can based on the time and budget constraints, but in the end, it's entertainment. If you like it, great, if you don't, oh well. They have to keep moving irregardless. Kripke was NOT old school. He obsessed over every detail and he had very grand visions. A lot of those visions were squashed by time and budget. In other words, Singer often brought him back to reality. They balanced each other perfectly. Obviously when Kripke left, that balance shifted.

I agree with those of you that said that Singer was just doing his job. He's done what he got paid to do, and when he went home he didn't sweat over any details. He really wishes to retire, but he still feels really connected to this show and the people involved. He'll still have his hands in it for a while.
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NOLANOLA
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Yes, it was Kripke's BABY, Singer brought it home & fed & clothed it. ;)
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borgmama1of5
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This is my first time on your site,but I was following the commentary and wanted to my feedback on Bob Singer's controversial remarks, as I was there.

1. "It's just a tv show"--There was a sad crowd reaction to Bobby being in heaven's jail, and I heard Bob's words as attempting to say, 'it's okay, kids' in a comforting way. Was it the smartest thing to say to a room full of fans who care deeply about these fictional character? Probably not, but he wasn't negating the fans' investment--it's just that our investment is different than his because we are consumers of the show while he is on the creator end of it. It didn't sound like a diss to me.

2. The questions about the Nazis killing Charlie was worded confusingly--I know the details of the show and couldn't figure out the Nazi connection to Charlie until later. Fans have fantastic memory for details, but a producer (or the actors) are not going to remember details that happened in an episode that was filmed over 6 months ago. (This isn't just a problem from the Bob Singer panel, it happens regularly...)

3. The diversity question--I couldn't understand the question as it was delivered and I doubt Singer got any of the nuances she was asking. However, his answer that it is a horror show and people die seems pretty accurate to me. On the issue of diversity, I see the show as having supporting role characters that are diverse--for example, look at all the intelligent female law enforcement officers we get. Is it perfect? No. But does SPN deserve to be castigated any more than the rest of the TV world just because we love it and want it to be perfect?

4. The consent issue--the questioner began with 'in episode 9.03...' How many people, including dedicated fans, would immediately know what episode that was? Singer didn't have a chance to give an answer to that question because he clearly did not know what the young woman was referring to. Attempting to clarify, she mentioned the character's name, April, but again, after 200+ episodes, it is unrealistic to expect someone on the production side of the show to instantly know who that is. When Singer tried to get her to clarify, the questioner never explained that the consent issue was about April's body being used by the reaper to have sex with Cas, and Singer went with consent for saying 'yes' to letting an angel possess you. Then, because he still wasn't sure what the question was, he went with 'it didn't need to be addressed.' Someone reading that response, who knows what the issue was, would certainly see Singer's answer as dismissive of an important issue, but he wasn't answering to the question of non-consensual sex. And essentially, ever action taken by a demon-possessed meatsuit is without consent for whatever it is. That's part of the horror aspect.

Supernatural is not perfect, Bob Singer is not perfect, heck, not even Jared and Jensen are perfect...so let's give them credit for how much they do get right and appreciate that they give up their private time to converse with us. If an issue needs to be addressed, start by giving them the benefit that it looks very different from their side and something problematic to fandom may never have been thought of in that way from their perspective.
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I agree with the people who say that 'he's old school' only goes so far. I mean, Singer has got himself up to speed on 1001 other aspects of the show, such as the shift to digital, so that he can do his job as producer effectively. He doesn't have to be always on twitter or in tune with the fandom, but could he really not get an assistant to write him up a memo to read on the plane to Chicago about what kinds of questions are likely to come up at a Q&A and five suggested things to say and not to say such as how to deflect questions about continuity errors? In the age of Joss Whedon and JJ Abrams and Stephen Moffatt, if you're going to go to a fandom convention there really is no excuse for not getting up to speed with where your fandom is at. If you don't want to engage with fandom, then why go to the convention? I think he does do an essential job and certainly there is a need for all successful television shows to balance the visionary with the practical, and his experience and ideas about how to get things done

The other thing is that television shows, film, and all mass media to some extent play a game with their viewers. They don't want them to peep behind the curtain and see the hard-headed business decisions that go into the show. They want these viewers to buy into the illusion and have done so since the days of the big Hollywood studios. The studio doesn't publish online details about how it operates with an explanation of what exactly Singer's job is. Why should someone who knows nothing about how television shows are produced know exactly what Singer's job is and what he does and doesn't do? Why couldn't he tell them (why not start the panel off by saying 'you may not know what exactly I do - here's what I can tell you but please don't ask me about continuity because I can't remember that stuff'? Why not get someone like Speight to give that kind of an intro so that fans' expectations were managed?).

There is also a question about discourse here. I would be prepared to bet a substantial sum of money that Singer spends most of his time operating in a pretty macho environment where even if people do feel things deeply, they play those feelings down in how they articulate them and often put a kind of a jokey spin on them. Certainly not in the kind of environment where he would be happy to frame something like why he likes that scene in 'Faith' in terms such as 'it spoke to me as realising the eternal truth about human nature and our relationship with the unknown' or Dean taking on the Mark of Cain as 'Dean's fragile masculinity, bless his heart, leads him sometimes to take unwise decisions, but we all just want to wrap him in a blanket and take care of him'. He's facing an audience who do talk about the characters like that. You can say that in an interview situation such as bloggers interviewing at Comic Con the onus is on them to accept the discourse of the people who produce the show - but is this really true at a fandom convention? Should his session come with special rules? One of the fascinating things about watching the conventions evolve has been watching other people learn to deal with the fact that this is who some of their fans really are. The elephant in the room at Singer's sessions though - it was the same watching the online response to his Jibcon panel - is that a lot of people are really frustrated with his wife's writing as a contribution to the show but who is going to call him on that?
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Gerry
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I think the same. One, there is no consensus in fandom and at all panels, there are times the questions go awry. Misha answered a question about Charlie a few cons ago that many people were disappointed by. Fans come to these things with huge expectations and their own read of the show. And some of these fans came to this convention with the express intention to "stick it to" Bob Singer, as they have not been shy to express online.

I just watched the panel and I thought Bob was polite, often funny, willing to answer what he could understand and somewhat less experienced at deflecting what he didn't know or didn't quite understand. The "it's just television" to me sounded like he meant it to be funny -- hence his body posture and tone. He noted the reaction and said, "Whoops!" He's not going to remember story details like fans do - neither does Jensen. He's not going to diss his wife, which again I think is a pretty common practice among panel guests. As much as con guests need to think about their responses, fans need to think about their questions. We are all participating in a common space.
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