#AskSupernatural: That time Supernatural regret to ask for their fans’ opinion

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With only one week to go before the start of San Diego Comic-Con, the Supernatural official Twitter account (@cw_spn) started a hashtag called #AskSupernatural. The purpose was that the fans could ask all their questions regarding the show for next week’s Supernatural panel. And, in only a few seconds, the hashtag was flooded with questions and concerns from all the corners of the fandom.

And by “all corners of the fandom” we obviously also include the fans that are NOT happy with where Supernatural is going or with how TBTP are treating certain fans. #AskSupernatural was seen by some fans as an invitation to ask all those things they were dying to ask. And this included concerns, complains, sarcastic tweets and even harassment.

Let’s not forget that the Supernatural fandom has suffered some wank recently, causing a big wave of fans to leave the fandom. Some of them saw #AskSupernatural as the last opportunity to express all their discontentment with what the show is doing:

https://twitter.com/xceteras/status/489134727992193024

(You can find other complaints here)

Of course, not all the tweets were negative. A lot of them praised the show and asked nice questions to the cast or asked for spoilers for Season 10. However, there were enough negative tweets to make @cw_spn take a hard decision: delete the tweet that introduced the hashtag. No explanation, no commentaries by TBTP. The tweet was just gone. Err…

this is awkward - supernatural - the daily fandom

This action could be seen as many ways. Probably the real reason they did that was to stop the negativity from reaching advertisers before such a event like Comic Con. But, let’s be honest, the harm was done. The hashtag still exists and the tweets are still there. So that decision did nothing more than backfire when it was seen by fans as a cowardly thing to do or another way of turning their backs to those fans who don’t agree with everything they see on screen. This only caused the hashtag to flood with even more negativeness.

supernatural - comic con - the daily fandom
Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki and Misha Collins during Comic Con in 2012

Did the FANDOM do the right thing? Yes and no. Comic-Con is a place to have fun and celebrate what you love, not to discuss sensitive topics in fandom, so that was probably not the right time to ask such delicate questions. After all, some tweets made the show look bad for advertisers and that isn’t something we want when we think about the budget. However, a lot of the fans who asked those questions are people who have given up on the show and don’t even care much about its future. We also have to take in consideration that everybody should be free to ask any questions they liked and to express their opinion. What was certainly NOT right is to harass TBTP or the cast. Thankfully, that was only a minority.

Did @CW_SPN do the right thing? No. If you’ve studied something about Marketing and PR, you’ll know that when facing a crisis, ignoring a question is usually the worse things you can do. Sometimes it’s even worse than lying. Even though I do understand where they’re coming from, asking a question to your public is always risky and can sometimes awaken some negativity. You have to be smart enough to know when to ask the question and be ready to face the possible consequences. Sure, having such negative questions pop up was bad for Supernatural‘s image, but ignoring them and acting as if nothing had happened was even worse.

This is not the first time that a branch’s hashtags turns against themselves. McDonalds had a McFail when they started the #McDStories and people used the hashtag to tell all the bad experiences they’ve had with the franchise. Twitter is a dangerous place, and sometimes you have to be ready to play with fire.

Bottom line, I think that the least they could have done would be to only choose the positive answers for the panel. But instead, they decided to delete the hashtag all together. We’ll have to wait and see what happens on the actual Panel (Sunday 27th, 10am) and see if any of the positive questions could reach their destination.

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  1. Most of the “negative” comments were not negative at all. It’s called constructive criticism. You can still passionately like something and be critical about it. The people who tweeted these things are genuinely concerned about the direction of a show they love. It’s like when grandma says something super racist, homophobic, sexist, etc. You still love grandma but you have to stop and explain to her why what she said or did was not acceptable.

    Many of the issues brought up in the ask supernatural fiasco have been brought up to TPTB in much better ways previously only to be dismissed outright as the ravings of someone who just wants something to complain about. These are questions that have been circulating for quite some time. They have been asked during times that weren’t PR sensitive for Supernatural and they are continuously dismissed. Is it any wonder that when the CW then asks for questions that they get the questions people have been trying to ask for years? (Only to be dismissed again)

    One of the questions that this article lumps into “negative” tweets is “Why did Dean and Cas share a fond memory of Cas being raped and murdered?” This is not a negative question. This is a very serious question. This is indicative of much larger problems in a show that should be much more aware about consent issues due to the nature of the beings they write about.

    Also, I noticed that you’re link for “negative” comments only went that page of tweets of frustrated fans finally giving up being nice about asking their questions when the genuinely negative comments tended to be from people who, for whatever reason, hate some of the actors. I think you should re-word your link to “You can find other complaints here” because otherwise you are implying that these tweets are more negative than the tweets that were outright harassing the actors with personal attacks.

    1. By “negative” we didn’t mean negative in general but what @CW_spn considered negative. We agree with your opinion and feel like those fans should be able to complain about things that they have all the right to be offended for. We’ll change our wording to make it more accurate. Thank you.

      1. Thanks for clarifying and listening.

        I feel like wording is going to be a particularly sensitive topic in the SPN fandom for the next little while.

    2. How is the question “why do you hate women” anything but negative, or rather hate mongering? I’m not saying that Supernatural doesn’t have issues that should be addressed but the way many people went about it was not expressing constructive criticism. It was fan rage. True, It was fan rage based on substantial problems the show has, however, at least half what I read wasn’t really well thought arguments addressing the show’s problems. Which is a big problem in my eyes, personally. How does the creative team then differentiate between serious questions the fanbase wants answered and the raging of butthurt fans who are just pissed off for shallow reasons?

      What are these “better ways” that have come previously where The Powers have been made aware of the fan’s issues? I would very much like to know. As far as I know, shipping questions are banned at conventions, not that the actors have any control over anything past their acting choices, but still. Do you mean on twitter? How can we be sure that writers and producers are giving anything besides a glance? Only one person who has any real creative control over what happens on the show has said anything on any of these issues, Adam Glass. Guy Norman Bee is a guest director and Chad Kennedy is a script supervisor, neither are producers of the series.

      I understand why this happened for sure, Supernatural’s terrible PR was bound to catch up with them eventually, but I think what happened was more wank than thoughtful dialogue with the creative staff.

  2. It was mostly butthurt shippers hijacking social issues because they are pissed their fan fiction will never be real on the show. Yes, not having a lot of recurring female/gay/poc characters is unfortunate, but it’s not misogyny/homophobia/racism. That’s grossly oversimplifying real social issues.

    Though one of the most ridiculous complaints about how Dean could be attracted to a poodle but not Cas. That was joke, you don’t have to find it funny, but Christ it’s such false equivalency. Also, that the show does nothing but kill women is another gross oversimplification, the show kills everyone, and yes some characters are women. This is the death count for season 9: Females: 42 and Males: 103 with 18 unknown demons in the episode “First Born.” Those numbers seem really sexist, don’t they?

    1. I agree with you on the second part but not the first on your first paragraph. I don’t think that under representing woman and minorities in a work of fiction is directly misogynist, homophobic, or racist and to say so does grossly oversimplify things. However, nothing exists in a vacuum. Fiction tends to reflect the cultures from once they came, so the social ills in a society also can find there way into our fiction. Those “butthurt shippers” are hijacking these social issues because most of the people who ship slash couples are they themselves queer. I believe that many of them see the lack of respect given to them and their opinions when it comes to destiel as an extension of the grief they get in real life for being who they are.

      I also agree with you about the women thing. I don’t take issue with how women are portrayed on the show for the most part, since Supernatural kills off almost ALL of their reoccurring characters. Bobby, John, Ash, Kevin, Gordon, Victor, Andy, Jake, Gabriel, Chuck, Gadreel, Samuel, Rufus, Frank, Benny, Balthazar, and Adam have all died, too.

      1. “… most of the people who ship slash couples are they themselves queer.”

        I don’t think this is necessarily true! Not sure how we could ‘scientifically’ asses this, but anecdotally speaking, to my observation, the majority of slash shippers seems to be straight women. Just judging by fanfic writers, the majority is still straight. This doesn’t change anything, but it speaks to why the conflation of wanting to see yourself reflected in entertainment media and simply wanting to see your ship made real comes to pass.

  3. Reblogged this on TV taught me how to feel and commented:
    Another thing they could do – maybe after season 10 – is do an honest feature in which the writers and show runners address all those issues of misogyny, queerbaiting and so on. WE DESERVE ANSWERS.

  4. I witnessed this hashtag unfolding… it was brutal. But I admit I enjoyed seeing some of the backlash – after so many seasons of constant criticism about misogyny, lacking representation and queerbaiting, we deserve answers.
    Hopefully, the hashtag was as cathartic for everyone as it was for me. I got all those negative feelings out of my system, at least until SDCC will spark new discussions as questions will go unanswered or ignored.

    1. I watched it too, and I was embarrassed by fandom’s behavior. Any ‘catharsis’ felt like a temper tantrum to me. “We didn’t get what we wanted, so we’re going to rail about it and spoil everything for everyone.” Again I say: this is not the right way to make change. It’s simply going to force the Powers That Be to steer clear of fandom even further, which is probably a very, very good idea anyway.

      We are not owed anything. Fandom is only a portion (albeit a loud portion) of the viewing audience. And the even louder portion of fandom that jumps on the social justice bandwagon with generalizations and hyperbole is a smaller slice of the viewing audience even still.

      Don’t like it? Stop watching. Spend your money and energy on a property that fulfills your idea of good representation. Write the stories you want to read. You aren’t going to badger SPN into admitting it queer baited or was willfully mysogynistic. Sorry.

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