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).
Whether 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.
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 analyze the show like some meta writers do. They only know what they interpret from 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 others 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”.