Today I’m kicking off what I’m calling “Con week,” as in Fan Convention, not ex. As many of you know, I’m getting ready to attend this weekend’s “Salute To Supernatural” convention in Chicago (at least Saturday and Sunday). Considering this week’s episode is a weird story that takes place at a Supernatural convention, I’m going to ride this theme as much as a I can!
Starting off, I’m sharing a piece from Jasminka about her thoughts as she plans to attend her first con in LA in March. Enjoy!
In Fear of Supernatural Fan Conventions â€“ The Wicked At Rest?
In his day T.E. Lawrence once complained to George Bernard Shaw of press attention, who simply replied: â€˜You always hide just in the middle of the limelightâ€™. In a society somewhat obsessed with celebrities, conventions probably are symptoms of a strange mental condition one might want to call â€˜being a fanâ€™. A condition I am not free of.
In fact, I am going to attend my first Supernatural convention ever, although I had been determined to never do that for mixed reasons: The expenses are preposterous. The conventions manageable for me usually feature the actors, but not any other members of the team behind the whole operation. I would cherish the possibility of talking to Eric Kripke, Jeremy Carver or Sera Gamble, and I would have loved to ask Kim Manners, whose work I have admired for a long time, a question or two. However, the hugely creative, invisible minds of the show donâ€™t show up. Furthermore, Iâ€™ve never felt completely at ease in a room with hundreds of in all likelihood screaming people after having almost been crushed once at a rock concertâ€¦ and some fans just donâ€™t know how to behave.
My resolution of not going, not ever, turned to jelly as soon as I discovered that arranging my vacation accordingly would be possible. I waited for months for the tickets to get on sale. I kept checking my e-mails for newsletters to make sure not to miss anything. I even managed to reserve one of the Gold tickets, and Iâ€™m going to sit in one of the first thirdâ€™s rows (the others were already gone after having been on sale for merely ten hours, which I could hardly believe â€“ did I get onto the wrong site and purchase Bon Jovi Tickets?).
When I got my credit card account I actually felt I was in serious need of medication. Iâ€™m insane.
For a few years now I have been a fan of this show. From episode one. Most people I know watch the various CSIs, Lost or Ghost Whisperer, but Supernatural actually seems to have â€˜a underground cult followingâ€™. Iâ€™m a person who enjoys talking about the stuff I love. With my circle of friends we have a sweet tradition â€“ we get together and share the latest books weâ€™ve read or go to the movies or theatre or whatever and spend hours of rambling about it over dinner, which is incredibly creative and a source of bliss. With Supernatural, it was a lonely experience at first, as hardly anyone I know watches it. After a couple of friends discovered the show as well, I was suddenly able to share my love for Supernatural and talk about facets of the show, although they became not as hooked (I think addicted would be the better term) as I apparently am.
Iâ€™m not exactly an internet buff, and it took me a while to find out about other fans and fan sites. I visited some of them, and was appalled for the most part, because of the often arrogant and derogatory manner some fans voiced their opinions (weâ€™ve seen some of it even here, on Aliceâ€™s fabulous site), not only bashing each other, but the characters and even some actorsâ€™ private persona. The latter, in particular, is a no go. I stayed away from those forums. That was not the language I expected. I was aghast at how people spend so much time and energy in taking offence to certain aspects of a tv show that places family and values connected to integrity, friendship, reliability and the simple being-there-for-each-other in its centre. It struck me as weird how people who loved such a show could behave so differently.
I also discovered transcripts of conventions. I read some of them, but there were so many that I couldnâ€™t keep upâ€¦ I did not notice at first, but slowly (although it defied common sense) a wish began to grow in my mind: I wanted to go to such an event, to see the actors in the flesh (even if I wouldnâ€™t be able to shake Sera Gambleâ€™s hand, gosh, I love that smart womanâ€™s writing) and â€“ hopefully â€“ ask a question or two, since a few facets have been bugging me from the beginningâ€¦
I looked at the Creation site and found out about the prices. Now, that was something I could hardly justify. Pay a few hundred dollars to be herded up into a hall with hundreds of people like cattle, and get an autograph, perhaps a photo with one of the stars (and a split second of actual eye contact) â€¦ Come on! Really? I put the idea away.
Butâ€¦ I wasnâ€™t able to forget it. A part of my cortex devoted itself to that idea without my conscious consent, it began to think strategically: if this season is going to be the last one, then Jensen and Jared and all the others will move on to other projects. They will be making other shows or movies. If I wanted to go to a con, now would be the timeâ€¦ They might not be able to sign on for future cons.
Okay, what about the cityâ€¦ Vancouver? Parsipanny? Los Angeles? Chicago? Before I even resolved on going, I came to a decision concerning the city â€“ L.A. This is the city major show business issues are settled. Most of the agents are there. Many friends and girlfriends/boyfriends probably live there. The actors involved with the show might want to come to Los Angeles for professional and private reasons which could improve the chances to see most of them on that convention stage and indulge in the stories they want to share.
I felt the temptation rise, but still I kept reprimanding myself for the mere thought. It all felt ludicrous. Furthermore, travelling to the States from Europe (where I live) for a convention alone still appeared to be the nuttiest idea possibleâ€¦Planning my vacation so much in advance is always difficult, thereâ€™s a lot to be taken care of, a lot of preparations to be done. Did I want to â€˜relishâ€™ the long flight and jetlag for a weekend only? Iâ€™m not the kind of person who enjoys long hours on a plane.
But then my partner suggested that we could make a road trip along Highway One, something I have always wanted to do. I had no reasonable excuses anymore â€“ so, Iâ€™ll be at the Los Angeles Convention March nextâ€¦
When I bought my ticket, only Jared Padalecki was announced, Misha Collins followed, and then Jensen Ackles and Jim Beaver. Iâ€™m curious who else will be signed on, and I hope for Samantha Smith, Loretta Devine (I adored Missouri, and she did such an endearing job) and Lauren Cohen (I didnâ€™t like the character of Bela much, but I loved the ambivalent and gutsy approach she took to the role, Iâ€™d love to ask her something about that), you know â€“ get a few ladies up there.
Going to a Con like this will be the probably craziest thing I have done in a long time. I have not entirely justified it for me as of yet, since I donâ€™t see why the organizers sell tickets for so huge a price (I needed to put money away for a while to be able to even think about going, and I can still imagine more useful ways to spend the sum. I have been known, though, to not always do what would appear practical).
I assume the actors get their fees from that money, and I hope their agents made good deals for them. Some actors involved with this show have yet to become starsâ€¦ some are barely known outside of the Supernatural corona and will welcome the additional income.
One aspect of that pain in my neck that keeps annoying me is the idea of putting people on a pedestal and worship them (as Paris Hiltonâ€™s onscreen-persona so wonderfully pointed out in Fallen Idols). The whole celebrity hype is absurd, phoney and downright pathetic when it comes in the forms we have read about on venom-filled sites and discussed here â€“ the strange behaviour of â€˜fansâ€™, their approach to actors as if they were circus horses, their disrespectful bashing of girlfriends, work or talent in general. And â€“ what appears to be really creepy â€“ some fansâ€™ problems with discriminating between a fictional showâ€™s characters and reality.
Thatâ€™s an attitude I have never been able to comprehend, really. Most actors are ordinary people with sometimes very taxing jobs. There is no screen-magic involved in their real lives, and red-carpet-events might come easy to big calibre stars, but for the many not-so-well-known actors those are not every day experiences. Public appearances often are part of their contracts â€“ advertising a show or movie, and many dislike that. Many actors are very private people that donâ€™t enjoy discussing aspects of their personal lives with individuals not belonging there.
Their daily rhythms are not exactly uncomplicated, and when you work fifteen to eighteen hours a day, thereâ€™s not much time left to do anything else but sleep. I guess, being signed on to a con serves also as a nice change to their usual routines, but with all the drama going on within the fandom I wonder how long they will want to or be capable of getting in the midst of their fansâ€¦
Of course, in a business that depends heavily on box office numbers and/or ratings an actorâ€™s â€˜worthâ€™ is often defined by external influences. You need a stable background to not let that mess with your head. John Updike once said â€˜Celebrity is a mask that eats into the faceâ€™.
I donâ€™t know whatâ€™s going on in the brains of some fans, actually. Perhaps the actors of Supernatural read some of the stuff posted on the web. Hopefully they donâ€™t. I should not have done it, either.
What I read there does mess with my head, and Iâ€™m not even a part of the show. It should not affect me. But it does nonetheless.
I was hoping to experience a weekend of fun and relaxed banter. I donâ€™t feel intimidated by celebrity, which might be an advantage, because â€“ hopefully â€“ my nervousness will stay within reasonable bounds, hence my hope for fun instead of wobbling knees. I had been reduced to some sort of jelly, though, when I met some stars during my studies and being completely taken aback by their sweetness when I had expected arroganceâ€¦ so, Iâ€™m not entirely sure about not falling victim to the occasional adrenaline rush that will result in painful stuttering.
A while back I used to be a part of that particular world (this is for you, Sablegreen, dear, and crazyfan, as you specifically asked about it). Iâ€™m a trained actress and received a scholarship to study opera, and I used to be a ballet dancer before that. Iâ€™ve got to know the nicest people in that business, and some of the biggest egos. Itâ€™s all there, but â€“ bottom line â€“ they are all just people that live in a world of theatre or screen, acting, music. It is another planet when it comes to working conditions, but you find sweetness or meanness there just as anywhere else. It had been my world for a while.
Even so, I sustained a couple of serious injuries and had to put a stop to that life. I took another path and became a psychotherapist who works with patients suffering from severe trauma or terminal illness, cancer mostly, and â€“ I have to admit â€“ I love this job more than anything (imagine a person who suffered the worst possible treatment in a war telling you that he slept for the first time in months… itâ€™s as rewarding as it gets), but some part of me still regards other actors as colleagues, which will probably serve me well when it comes to the not-wanting-to-get-nervous. Iâ€™m not sure whether Iâ€™ll succeed here. Because Iâ€™m a fan, too, and not immune to fan-girl-momentsâ€¦
When I got my tickets, I was thrilled, although going to a Con still seems to be absolutely crazy. Truth be told, what Iâ€™ve read recently on the web and the â€˜fan warsâ€™ that came to this site dampened it all a bit, and Iâ€™m striving to get that joyful feeling backâ€¦ I was hoping to meet other fans. You know, talk about the show, and find out whether someone will be able to explain to me what the breakfast special â€˜pig in a pokeâ€™ exactly is, among other things.
Judging from what was to be read and seen on the www, some fans just misbehave, and they donâ€™t even seem to care. Or do they think the amount of money they paid entitles them to conduct themselves in a manner that does their parents no credit? Do some people actually believe that the actors are theirs to toy with? Alice pointed it out in her amazing article â€˜“Fan Conventions – Absurd or Awesome” how Jared and Jensen get constantly asked to re-enact certain moments of the show, like from Yellow Fever or Bad Day At Black Rock, and I bet there are many more.
You read or hear of the strangest elements at Cons, and Iâ€™ve started to feel afraid that it will turn out to be the disappointment of the year in terms of meeting fans. But there is another voice in my head as well, trying to relax my mind: there will be the nicest people there, too. Thatâ€™s what I hope for.
The guest stars will, fingers crossed, have a great time and not feel embarrassed by strange behaviour of the wicked. There will be fans that will come to the convention to have fun and enjoy talking to strangers about the show. Maybe some pennames will get faces.
Here on this site I have met a lot of sweetness, many intelligent minds and creativity beyond expectation. There have to be more of us out there â€“ perhaps even at that particular convention that, hopefully, will be rich in fun-loving and respectful comments, genuine laughter and stimulating and imaginative conversations in the hotel barâ€¦ and the wicked voices of this fandom will be at restâ€¦