By Katherine Larsen and Lynn Zubernis
Published by University of Iowa Press
on October 1, 2013
Cover image and summary from Goodreads:
Once upon a time not long ago, two responsible college professors, Lynn the psychologist and Kathy the literary scholar, fell in love with the television show Supernatural and turned their oh-so-practical lives upside down. Plunging headlong into the hidden realms of fandom, they scoured the Internet for pictures of stars Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki and secretly penned racy fan fiction. And then they hit the road—crisscrossing the country, racking up frequent flyer miles with alarming ease, standing in convention lines at 4 A.M.
They had white-knuckled encounters with overly zealous security guards one year and smiling invitations to the Supernatural set the next. Actors stripping in their trailers, fangirls sneaking onto film sets; drunken confessions, squeals of joy, tears of despair; wallets emptied and responsibilities left behind; intrigue and ecstasy and crushing disappointment—it’s all here.
And yet even as they reveled in their fandom, the authors were asking themselves whether it’s okay to be a fan, especially for grown women with careers and kids. “Crazystalkerchicks”—that’s what they heard from Supernatural crew members, security guards, airport immigration officials, even sometimes their fellow fans. But what Kathy and Lynn found was that most fans were very much like themselves: smart, capable women looking for something of their own that engages their brains and their libidos.
Fangasm pulls back the curtain on the secret worlds of fans and famous alike, revealing Supernatural behind the scenes and discovering just how much the cast and crew know about what the fans are up to. Anyone who’s been tempted to throw off the constraints of respectability and indulge a secret passion—or hit the road with a best friend—will want to come along.
I’m a major Supernatural fangirl, so when I saw this book I just knew that I had to read it.
I’m not entirely sure what I expected from this. Perhaps I was anticipating a more academic view of fandom in general or a more analytical look at Supernatural in particular. This came across as a mix of an examination of fandom combined with the authors’ Supernatural fangirl perspective.
What I found most interesting about the book was seeing how people participate in fandom in different ways. Some, like the authors, attend conventions or read and write fanfiction. Others create fan art inspired by the show. While I would absolutely love to attend a convention (and still hold out faint hope that I might go to one in Toronto), I’m pretty content to watch (and rewatch) every episode, send Supernatural gifs to my sister (spoiler alert if you click on that link), buy merchandise, and read everything I can find about the show.
Overall, this was a quick and fun read, but one that I don’t think will hold much appeal to those outside of the SPN fandom. It’s pretty insider-y, and while the book talked about the authors’ own experiences in the fandom itself, I found myself looking for more of the analytical approach to the show and what it is that draws people to it. Every time I read something like that in this book, I got really excited, but then the focus would shift and I wished it didn’t.
Still, this was a fun read. And it turns out that the authors did write a more academic book (Fandom at the Crossroads), so I’m going to have to check that one out.