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:
#AskSupernatural how do you feel about spn being known for misogyny & queerbaiting?
— Holli (@hollidewees) July 15, 2014
#asksupernatural how much do you regret starting this tag? Probably as much as I regret watching season 9.
— Jess (@pumpkinjess_) July 15, 2014
(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 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.
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.