First off, this statement represents my viewpoint and my viewpoint alone. I am not speaking for other writers or admins, but as editor-in-chief/founder of this site, sometimes a situation arises where I feel the need to speak out. Given my last few days, I think we all could use a reality check.
Monday we put out an article promoting an upcoming Supernatural academic event of which we are a sponsor. The article led to some unexpected backlash that quite frankly took myself and our Managing Editor Nightsky by surprise. Its come to my attention that some fans have taken this opportunity to run a vitriolic campaign against one of our writers, Bookdal.
I have to be perfectly honest. I stay out of Twitter controversies anymore and I have never spent time on Tumblr. Why? At risk of generalizing, it’s because what’s said and done in the name of “fandom” is many times misperceived and overblown. It usually results in words being exchanged, parties on both sides of the controversy getting emotionally hurt, situations escalating super fast and it’s no win. I absolutely hate the no win situation. The whole thing is counter productive to what I enjoy about this fandom and what the SPN Family is really all about.
My time has grown extremely limited in the past year, so I’m forced to choose how I spend my online time wisely. I didn’t know much about Bookdal creating a stir on Twitter a few weeks ago that has since escalated into a very nasty conflict. Given some of the comments I’ve received in the past few days, the situation has become very scary and goes way beyond the boundaries of how upset fans should react. It goes beyond the boundaries of decent human behavior.
I’m not here to say if what Bookdal said was right or wrong. That’s a judgment I’m not willing to make. For one, it’s none of my business. I do not know her intent nor am I going to make assumptions based on a 140 character or less message. Twitter is not a narrative. I do know that I’ve shot my mouth off on Twitter numerous times myself and it’s usually led to tons of regret. Through the years I’ve constantly found myself having to take a stand against irrational fan behavior and drawing a line in the sand. After merely promoting a conference, one that’s very good for our show and our fandom, here we go again. It makes no sense.
These battles are constant and never seem to end. For example, just a few weeks ago I ripped the episode “Paint It Black” on my Twitter because I was so angry that anyone possibly considered that to be an acceptable episode. I was also upset that two writers again delivered another atrocity, so from the urging of a few fans I put out a poll asking what the worst episodes were from Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming. Not my finest hour, even though it is a fair poll question. I got tons of backlash for that from “pro Supernatural” fans, who then got tons of backlash from other fans for running a “bully” campaign. It was just nuts. In the end, both sides of the fence were hurting quite a bit and it went beyond the realm of what was mere venting over a bad episode.
Then there was the recent time that we put out a Motivational Poster (created by our male writer) captioning Dean between Charlie’s legs. “Fandom Agrees: Every guy wants to be Dean, Every girl wants to be Charlie.” It was a purely heterosexual joke. Again, we were thrown back by someone we regarded as a colleague running attacks on us for being offensive to gay and lesbian groups with that poster. Honestly? In defiance, I let the poster stand, even though I would have been willing to change it if we were approached reasonably. I wasn’t about to give into bullying or give into a this sense of outrage that explodes online any time anyone goes “boo.” Plus, I thought the poster was funny. Sue me.
Since Monday I’ve gotten numerous messages and posts about Bookdal being a panelist at the conference and our support of her appearance. They’ve been all over the spectrum. Many have been very nasty but others have been wildly supportive as well. I’m going to share just a few of the supportive ones, because this is why I haven’t lost all faith in this fandom (although I’m getting close).
I have seen this kind of attack happen to others - it is like these individuals are just sitting around waiting to pounce. Heck, one even had screenshots all ready to go!
It is individuals holding a grudge & lashing out at someone who simply shares different opinion than their own.
I encourage the organizers of the event to look at Bookdal's professional credentials, as that is what is of primary importance...not the uncomfortably over-invested behavior of a few fans with grudges.
Text book bullying. Take a look in the mirror and do some serious self reflection before you pollute a comment page with misinformation, misinformation which by the way has nothing to do with anything else here except to point out you don't like someone you have never met in real life. You simply don't like their point of view , and have a transparent agenda to silence them.
I don't know Bookdal and don't know much about the context, but it sounds like it was an emotional response in the heat of the moment to friends (that unfortunately happened to be online), on what is a very heated topic. It doesn't sound like there was any homophobic element, and it doesn't read like she was really attempting to start a real campaign to harass anyone. It was venting to friends.
Or how about I share the words of Bookdal herself that she put on this page in her defense:
First, I'm representing myself and over fifteen years of fandom research on meta that I have engaged in as a scholar, the past five of which have dealt with Supernatural among other shows. Second, my twitter posts are mine and not WFB endorsed and most of my followers are not even Supernatural related. Finally, if you are going to indulge in ad hominem attacks (fancy word for name calling) then you can read all of my metas, only one of which ever mentioned Wincest and that was as a joke.
So what’s my response to this? Just stop. I want to enjoy my show, or speak out about my show when it falls short in the quality department. It’s a TV show people. It’s fiction. Attacking fans and waging all out campaigns to ruin someone both professionally and personally is extending boundaries beyond the intent of the fiction. It’s wrong on so many levels. What’s worse is that I’m actually saying this. I shouldn’t have to.
I do know Bookdal. I’ve gotten to know her a bit and have met her personally. I have no idea what happened that night but all I know is she’s a good person. Too often the anonymity of the Internet frees us to NOT think of someone else as a real person and makes us easily assume the worst about actions and intent. I don’t see a lot of people being given the benefit of the doubt and that worries me. We aren’t like that when someone is standing next to us.
As for the numerous threats that I’ve gotten that people will stop coming to the WFB if we support Bookdal, its kind of interesting that those doing the threats are not regular visitors. I can easily trace IP addresses! So I don’t buy into any of that. Those that are dedicated to the Winchester Family Business know what we’re all about. We’re here to talk about Supernatural in a way where all fans are respected. If that’s not your thing, that’s fine, we aren’t for every one. But this has always been our philosophy from day one. That isn’t changing today. We will not engage in shipping wars, fandom wars, fans of a specific actor wars or any clash that results in hurt feelings or worse.
I don’t believe in a “Don’t get mad, get even” campaign just because of one tweet. I don’t believe in ruining one person’s life because that person takes a stance that is unpopular to some. I don’t believe in fans turning on other fans, no matter what the differences. I believe in being inspired by a TV show and expressing in many different ways why.
Can I say with pride that every single comment or discussion on the Winchester Family Business falls within the parameters of good behavior? Heavens no. We’re human and this show does drive a certain passion. But we try. We believe in the goodness in this fandom and most of all behaving like adults and practicing common courtesy. The day I stop believing that is the day I pack up this site for good.
So there’s my official stance. You are allowed to share your opinions on the topic openly on this page. I won’t edit unless it involves threats, but the optimist in me is hoping it won’t come to that.
Keep calm and carry on wayward son.