I got an amazing peek into the culture of fandom when I went to a Supernatural Convention in Nashville, TN. It may seem odd that a travel blogger is writing about a television show convention, but one of my favorite things about travel is getting a glimpse into a variety of cultures around the world. Sometimes though, we forget that there are a variety of cultures right here in the US. Going to the Supernatural Convention gave me the opportunity to experience the American culture of Fandom.
I’ve never been to a convention before. I enjoy television shows and some comics, but I’ve never considered going to one of the conventions. It wasn’t on my radar. But I’m always up for a new experience, so when my aunt, a Supernatural Super Fan, invited me to go with her to the Supernatural Convention in Nashville, TN, I happily agreed. What a great way to try something new and spend some quality family time!
I love the television show Supernatural. The characters are loveable and relatable, the stories are engaging, and it has just the right mix of action and humor. It’s an incredibly enjoyable show, and I was excited to experience the fandom first hand.
The Supernatural Convention had many wonderful aspects. The fans got the opportunity to hear the stars of the show speak and to ask them questions. The fans could mingle and perform during the Friday night karaoke night. There were cute little gift stands set up, one of which sold “items” from the show, including a hunter’s starter kit, warding spells, demon repellent, and other novelties. There were also lots of opportunities for extras, which included photographs with various cast members, meet and greets, autograph signings, and even a concert by a band formed with cast members.
The opportunity to listen to the stars of the show speak gave me a greater appreciation for the show and the culture of fandom. Supernatural is an escape for many people suffering from mental illness such as depression and bipolar disorder. The stars of the show are involved in numerous charity efforts to assist people who struggle with these illnesses.
Jared Padalecki started his own charity campaign, Always Keep Fighting, as a means to help people suffering from depression. He suffers from depression as well, and his outspoken support for others is extremely humbling. He joined his co-stars Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins in creating online support for fans suffering from mental illness, called “You are not Alone”. Misha Collins has used his Supernatural fame to support Random Acts, a charity that helps raise money for disasters. It’s easy to see why the fan base so ardently supports its heroes, they support the fan base as well. The stars of Supernatural all use their fame to make the world a better place. It was a beautiful thing to see.
A little room for Improvement
There were some aspects of the Supernatural Convention that I think could enhance the experience for the die-hard fans. I think they could have more events going on in the main room, so that the fans who can’t afford the extras have more to do. They could screen episodes of the show, or play more fan videos from YouTube. During that down time, many people were having pictures taken with cast members, or going to meet and greets. Those things cost more though, and sometimes a lot more depending on who the cast member is.
I also think it would be cool if they had panels discussing social issues surrounding the show (gender roles, the psychology of victims, the cultural impact of the show, etc.). One final thing that I think would be really great would be if they could have a safe room with mental health counselors available on sight, given the charity organizations run by the cast members and the amount of fans suffering from mental illness. I’m sure these things would be expensive and difficult to implement due to insurance and licensing concerns, but I think they would improve the Supernatural Convention experience for many fans.
The Culture of Fandom
The culture of fandom is a newer aspect of American culture. With Geek culture becoming more mainstream, the culture of fandom is taking off. There is a fandom for almost anything that you might be interested in, from television shows to toys to gaming. The internet has helped immensely. People who in the past may have been bullied or shunned for their interests can now find like-minded people with the click of a mouse. There are online meeting groups to discuss episodes and to share fan fiction. The various fandoms have developed into support groups, and they can give people a sense of belonging.
I now belong to the Supernatural Fandom. It’s more than a fandom, it’s a family. It’s also a travel experience that I will cherish forever.