JIB5: Destiel, the PR nightmare and the potential queerbaiting

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Destiel shippers’ hopes were in an all time high after Stairway to Heaven and Do You Believe in Miracles aired. Metatron’s acknowledgment of Castiel being in love with humanity or everything being about saving just one human seemed to leave things pretty clear. Some fans even called the ship semicanon or canon on Castiel’s side. Destiel shippers couldn’t be more excited for Season 10 and, after a season of a lot of suffering, all was well.

But it didn’t last long as all those hopes were quickly crushed after this weekend’s convention. Jus in Bello has celebrated its 5th edition with the participation of Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki and Misha Collins among other members of the cast, as usual. Things started going downside for shippers yesterday during Jensen’s solo panel:

“There wasn’t a whole lot of Dean and Cas storyline in Season 9. Personally I kind of enjoy that. I think the whole Dean and Cas thing has gotten a little out of proportion“.

“I don’t think there’s anything secret to the relationship even though a lot of people wish there was”.

“I certainly know that Misha and I don’t play that, so…”

(These are exact quotes. You can watch a video here).

jensen ackles jib5 - the daily fandomWether he just referred to the fans who believe that Dean and Cas are ALREADY in a secret relationship as some fans are claiming isn’t very clear. Considering Jensen is used to fans shipping Wincest since the beginning of the show and those shippers usually believe Sam and Dean are already in a secret relationship, that could be the case. That would explain why he said that Misha and him aren’t playing it that way, because Dean and Cas DON’T have a secret relationship going on (fanfiction gap in 9×06 aside).

However, what I don’t agree with is the “the whole Dean and Cas thing has gotten a little out of proportion” quote. What does that mean exactly? Have shippers gone too far? Have they become too excited about their ship? Is that supposed to be a problem? This shows that Jensen doesn’t know much about how the shipping community works.

Don’t get me wrong, Jensen’s honest answer is welcome, but it’s come too late. However, Jensen has been the first person to come clean and be honest about what he thinks of Deand and Castiel. And here’s the thing: as much as the truth might hurt, shippers would rather know if there’s anything to hope for or not (similar to what happened with Sherlock and Hannibal). If you tell shippers that Destiel is never gonna happen then that’s it. Shippers will accept it (which doesn’t mean they’ll agree with it) and will just stick to fanfiction. But if you keep telling the audience to “wait and see” (like Adam Glass did after the 9×03 chaos) then those shippers will cling to canon possibilities with all their hopes.

After yesterday’s wank fest, this morning Jared has (unintentionally) made it worse for those shippers. After Misha said that Castiel’s Heaven in 9×22 was supposed to be filled with naked men with Jensen’s face on it, Jared said that they scrapped that because “we didn’t want to make the show about something it’s not“. (You’ve got to wonder how could Jared have known that when not even Misha knew why it was changed). The whole thing remains a mystery. Jared also said that “we didn’t want to make the episode seem like we were hinting towards something because that would have ruined the show, to make it about something it wasn’t about”.  Quite an unfortunate thing to say, Mr Padalecki. You not liking one ship is one thing, but actually saying that a same-sex relationship would ruin a show? Woah.

destiel fanart - the daily fandom

Destiel fanart (© tsuki-nekota on deviantart)

So… are Jensen and Jared at fault for this? NO. As offensive as it can be, they’re just giving their opinions. They’re actors who play a certain role. They don’t  know and analyse the show like some meta writers do. They only know what they interpret from the the scripts they read. Their interpretations are as valid as ours. And, let’s be honest, they’ve proven time and again that they don’t know as much about the show as some hardcore fans do: Jared thought Sam was unhappy with Amelia, Misha and Jensen were surprised that Dean became a demon in the finale… etc.

However, we can’t ignore what’s happening: some fans have deleted their Tumblr, others their Twitter. Some have decided to quit the show and already tweeted their farewells to the writers, while other say they’ll decide over the hellatus. Fans have been hurt. And their pain is totally valid and understandable. Shipping isn’t something that’s done for fun. Shipping is not about two hot guys having sex. Shipping is a feeling. Sometimes, a way of life. And sometimes, in slash ships, it’s the reason a queer person can feel validated and represented in media. Shipping can be a very sensitive topic and should never be taken lightly, especially when it’s slash couples.

Some fans have tried to defend J2 and repeat over and over again that PR is not showrunning and, therefore, we should only trust what happens on our screens, not what some actors think of the relationships. After all, a work is not only based on authorial intent, it’s also the viewers interpretations that count. And who are the actors to take those interpretations from viewers? Nevertheless, in a time where the Internet has amplified fandom and the relationships between the fans and the product they enjoy enormously, TBTP and the cast should be aware of how their words and actions can affect their audience. That’s why I said that Jensen and Jared don’t quite get how fandom works and how the shipper community should be treated. Misha Collins does, and has always treated all fans and all shippers with respect. He even apologised yesterday when he found out that fans were hurt by Jensen and it wasn’t even his fault! Conclusion: PR in this con has been a disaster and fans are entitled to be hurt.

And now for the big question: has the show been queerbaiting the whole time? This is something we won’t be able to know until the show actually ends and Destiel hasn’t become canon. Then Supernatural will become the poster show for queerbaiting.

Should Destiel shippers give up?

That depends on every shipper. Some of them have already given up, others are staying faithful and others didn’t even believe in their canon chances from the beginning. At the end of the day, you’ve got to do what’s best for you. And if you feel like these events are taking a serious toll on you, maybe you should try to stay away from the fandom for a while and just drown yourself in fluffy fics. After all, we’re here for the enjoyment, no matter what anyone says. And like that lady in 9×03 said…

“Your truth… not mine. Your lack of faith doesn’t cancel what I believe. That’s not how it works”. 

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Journalist with a passion for TV shows and anime. When I'm not writing, you will find me bingewatching Netflix, reading fanfic, or programming some geeky app.

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kitty
Guest

I loved Destiel but Jensen has sunk my ship. I now no longer even want it to go full canon knowing how Jensen feels. I am hoping Misha gets put in a spin off and is given a different same sex partner or somthing similar. I have been a fan of the show since day one and honestly believe Destiel is being written as not just queerbaiting but J2 are blocking it. I am blaming the cast not the writers. They have got too big for there boots and are changing scripts.

Denise
Guest

So you believe the writers are trying to make Destiel canon but Jared and Jensen are the ones blocking it? That’s interesting. I wonder what Robbie Thompson, et al., would think of this. Especially since they’ve had their limits tested with fans who are constantly peppering them with Destiel questions.

Kelly
Guest

You mean like they’ve been tested by fans constantly peppering them with demands that Cas be written out of the show?

Rachel
Guest
There are plenty examples of where lines where changed that would have indicated a more Destiel read on things (in The End 5.04 and in the episode in season 8 where Castiel tries to go through with his orders to kill Dean and can’t – “I need you” was originally “I love you.” in the script). These are the two incidences I know of for sure. I know that these changes tend to happen because the actors think that the character wouldn’t say that, so in that case it’s valid point to say maybe it’s the actors. In 5.04 it’s… Read more »
Kara
Guest
This show’s PR needs some serious work. We’re all WELL aware that the focus of the show is the brothers, but that doesn’t mean that all other relationships on the show are meaningless. There’s a large number of us who watch the show for the Dean/Cas dynamic, and that should be respected. Just because it’s not the MAIN focus of the show doesn’t mean it’s not important to us, or that it isn’t an important aspect of the show. I’m aware that PR doesn’t equal showrunning, but that doesn’t mean we deserve to have our ship invalidated and treated like… Read more »
Red
Guest

No one is invalidating ‘your ship’, in that you can continue to watch the show through whichever goggle you choose, but Jensen was asked point-blank, and he explained how he plays the character. Period. He doesn’t owe it to you to hem and haw about his truth, to propagate your fantasy. I saw the video. I don’t feel he was insulting or treating it as a joke. He was simply being frank.

The writers can’t tell you how to watch the show, just as you can’t tell the writers how to write it.

Rachel
Guest

He pauses and shifts his eyes. I say he was lying and knows it. I still adore him. I just think he’s not being honest for whatever personal reason.

Chris
Guest
If they can’t talk about it without being respectful and insist on marginalizing a large group of fans by makin hurtful comments, I wish they would just avoid talking about it at cons. I really appreciate that Misha is in time with the fandom and understands us – he’s always so kind, open, and accepting without making fans feel stupid or delusional. Jensen’s opinion on the matter doesn’t affect how I choose to enjoy the show and it doesn’t change what has been clearly on our screens for years. Cons should be a place to make ALL fans feel welcome… Read more »
one viewpoint
Guest

If it’s asked well would you prefer them to lie to make folks feel better or tell their opinion? What about all the viewers who wouldn’t want Diestel? Are their feelings any less important because you don’t agree? I Misha is wonderful but he also likes to edge folks on… To get a reaction which could be pro slash or just him being him.

Guy Fieri
Guest

they didn’t take into consideration the viewers’ opinions when they made literally every heterosexual relationship in the show canon

Frontierland
Guest
Destiel has never been hinted at in canon as a possibility. The shippers took homoerotic, which is a staple of Supernatural since Dean smacked Sam’s ass and called in honey in Bugs in the 8th epsode of season 1 and blew it WAY out of proportion. What Desttiel shippers refuse to accept, is that all the proofs they see are wishful thinking. If they get out of their echo chamber, they’ll relize that many, many people don’t see what they see. Dean and Castiel are friends. Dean is heterosexual. Jensen already confirmed that. But D/C shippers’ M.O. is to dismiss… Read more »
Frontierland
Guest

homoerotix * subtext *

Frontierland
Guest

homoerotic *subtext*

Kelios (@kelios)
Guest
I find it incredibly insulting to both Jared and Jensen every time someone claims they don’t know their characters and should have no say in the storylines. You’re wrong. About a lot of things in this article, but more than anything else you are wrong about that. Jared and Jensen have been playing Sam and Dean for 9 years. They know these characters better than anyone else. Meta writers on the internet? Please. These are people who are writing their OPINIONS. They are writing their interpretations. And those interpretations are NOT more valid than those of the people who bring… Read more »
eaksoy
Guest

Aww it’s always nice to see haters follow destiel news so closely! It’s like you guys are more invested in this ship than we are!

“changing a character who has identified as canonically straight for 9 years into someone who is bi or gay just to suit fans” This line is incredibly insulted to all the people who identified as straight most of their adult life only to realize who they truly were later in life. But you know, I wouldn’t expect anything better from you.

J
Guest
Actually this article is about things Jared and Jensen have said. I’m sure if neither had said anything J2 fans wouldn’t be here to offer opinions on it. I agree wholeheartedly with what Kelios is saying and also that J2 have done destiel shippers a great favor. Enjoy Destiel in fandom just like wincest shippers do but stop demanding it from the writers and actors. It’ll never happen on the show and why should it? Enjoying your ship in fandom is encouraged! I think it was really nice of J2 to finally speak up and not let you continue to… Read more »
one viewpoint
Guest

So you are saying those who are “straight” have less rights to say you are misinterpreting something because it’s not what you want to hear? It’s only insulting if you fail to acknowledge the viewpoints of someone else. Making yourself not say the truth to lead folks on is leading folks. Misha but I think he goes w the flow a bit too much which leads folks on in certain ways of thinking.

Louise
Guest

Kelios spreading wisdom and peace, how funny. Sage words of advice from someone who spends 99.9% of her time on twitter posting insults about Misha Collins.

Kelly
Guest

Go away, you awful person. Go back to raining hatred down on a man who helps build orphanages, and spreading disgusting rumours about Jared and Jensen.

J
Guest

I just want to second everything this person has said. They are dead on and perfectly stated.

What
Guest

Exactly. They got caught up in their own opinions and their own interpretations that they missed what was actually there. Complaining that they know more about a character than the guy who has been playing him for nine years is extremely silly. I get that you wanted Dean to be gay, but he’s not. Stick to fanfiction or move on.

jenny
Guest
I feel bad for getting seriously invested in this show- it would have been one of those shows I went through on netflix and set aside if the Dean/Castiel dynamic hadn’t caught me in season 4- I was actually getting bored. Now I genuinely feel torn-I’ve spent loads of money at conventions, I became what they would call a ‘hardcore’ fan that converted other people to the show. My tweeting patterns are so voracious and predictable that I got a Neilson survey about it- but now I wish I could get it back and mark it differently. The show doesn’t… Read more »
Gina
Guest

I feel you. I wish I had never gotten invested in this show. I wish I’d never discovered it, and Destiel, on tumblr. Destiel is what drew me…so I watched everything. I watched it all and devoted years of my life to this ship because what I saw was like nothing I’d ever seen before. I really thought they were going for it. I thought it was different. I was wrong.

redrumba
Guest
So stop watching. Go find a different show that suits your expectations. See, here’s what happened with Destiel: a certain contingency of fan thought they saw something romantic between Dean and Cas. It got exaggerated and expounded (via the internet) into something it wasn’t. The writers never intended for there to be a romance between Cas and Dean (and have said as much), but nor do they want to tell you how to watch the show. If you want to watch it through shipping goggles? Have at it! Does that mean the writers are obligated to make your ship canon?… Read more »
Hadley Hart ♥ (@HadleyHartx)
Guest
Thank you for this article. You’ve said a lot of what I’ve had on my mind these past 24 hours in a much more eloquent way than I ever could. I’ve been supporting this show for almost ten years now. I remember the previews for Supernatural’s pilot. I’ve gone to multiple conventions, I have the entire series on DVD and have it purchased online on amazon prime. I adore this show. I have for a very, very long time. I’ve grown up with it. I started at 17 and I’m now in my late 20s. This show has changed my… Read more »
Karma Houdini
Guest
I want to thank you so much for what you’ve written here. It took a lot of courage to express what you feel so openly and I know that there are a lot of hurt fans out there who may feel the same way you do. If I may just give my inarticulate two cents: nothing that anyone has for or against Destiel can ever either what we see on screen or what the relationship means to you. I know this is painful, I know how important it would be to see it made canon, and I don’t know what… Read more »
Sarah
Guest
I don’t mind Jared and Jensen for what they said. I ship destiel, and I respect their opinion and interpretation of the text. What I DO mind is TPTB for stringing us shippers along. Instead of telling us that the ship will never become canon, they gave us false hope. That’s the reason why we’re feeling hurt and deceived. Moffat agreed that he did in fact queerbait in Sherlock. Hannibal writers told their fans that hannigram will never happen BUT they are free to ship as they please. Destiel fans have not been given that courtesy at all. From the… Read more »
hobostick
Guest
Jensen and Jared are not writers for the show. They don’t know which direction the show is taking, they can’t speak for the intent of the writers or Jeremy Carver, and thus their statements don’t mean anything to me. (and tbh, some of their statements this weekend have made me question whether they’re both still stuck on the “brothers and no one else” mentality of early seasons, when it’s clear that this is no longer the case in Carver’s era.) All we can really look to as an indicator for the future of destiel is the way the show is… Read more »
qqqcaz
Guest
There’s a difference between honesty and just plain hurtful comments like “we didn’t want to make the show about something it’s not” and “that would have ruined the show, to make it about something it wasn’t about” (and really, Jared? Can you really say those things about a ship that your character isn’t even part of? that you barely even understand?) This isn’t about whether Destiel goes canon or not. This is about the fact that at a convention that people have paid hundreds of dollars to attend, many have been hurt or alienated by the actors’ comments. So while… Read more »
Natalia
Guest
You seem to have missed the part where the entire room erupted into applause when Jensen said what he said. Same with Jared’s comments. You also seem to have missed the part where the internet has been overwhelmingly positive toward their shared sentiments. Yeah, people were totes alienated homie. Like, maybe the Tumblr-dwellers. The fact is, almost everyone is sick of this ship and its shippers. Who are you guys going to abuse off of Twitter over this? Robbie? Also, Jared is a cast member on this show whose opinion is sought on a regular basis from writers and production… Read more »
Jen
Guest

I am not the OP but before Cas came along the SPN fandom was already full of Deangirls who hated Sam, and Wincesters who hated Jo. I know, because I’ve been here from season 1, episode 1. This fandom has been crappy to each other from the beginning. Don’t make it out like SPN pre-S4 was some kind of utopia where everyone behaved properly to each other.

Derek
Guest

Oh, please. That’s your argument?
People at cons cheer up for anything. If J. farts, people cheer.
Have you ever seen your fav celebrity? I’d giggle like an idiot if Misha Collins and Robert Downey Jr were in front of me, murdering kittens.
And if J2 have all this power on the writers, why the fuck did we have season 7? Explain, please.
And while you are at it, try to bully a little less people you don’t even know.

Fred
Guest

I litterally just choked on my iced tea I laughed so hard when I read your line about Misha Collins and Robert Downey Jr. murdering kittens and you giggling.

Jen
Guest

To add to my previous comment: I will grant, though, that the hate in this fandom has reached a level that’s truly disturbing. Please don’t make out like you Cas haters are the voice of reason when you direct so much foaming vitriol at the character/actor. The only unreasoning hatred that’s on the same level is – surprise! – also from SPN fans, this time against Sam.

The haters in this fandom make the rest of us look bad.

dakot
Guest

Natalie, you’re just another in a long line of entitled, heterosexist, bullying commentators who take pleasure in the disappointment of people who watched and supported the same show that you did, dedicated their dollars and their energies, only to be told that they were second-class shippers. You’re rubbing salt in people’s wounds and you should be ashamed of yourself.

Meg
Guest
Just getting back to Jared’s comment, when he said he thought it would “ruin the show” he most probably didn’t mean that a same sex relationship would ruin the show, but a serious one in general (because if destiel ever did become canon, the writers could never break it off) after all, Supernatural isn’t like the Vampire Diaries, the main storyline is to do with Supernatual creatures, NOT drama induced relationships (whether they be same sex or not) and to introduce one so late in the show could possibly de-rail it from the original idea of supernatural which is hunting… Read more »
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