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Thinky thoughts on episode reactions 
12th-Dec-2014 09:05 pm
Discussion / no weapons discharge
On Fandom Reactions and Reacting. And why the request to "...just stop watching" is difficult.

Please note that this is not in response to any one person's comment. My husband said it to me recently and it got me thinking. Also, I started writing up a disclaimer for my reaction posts and realised I had some things I wanted to say about negativity and episode reactions. I've also been tussling with Twitter and trying to figure out how to successfully "play" over there.

After episode 10.09 ended I went on a verbal tirade around the house and my husband copped most of it. After carrying on a treat he stopped me and said "why don't you just stop watching it then?" (rather too hopefully I might add!). I looked at him and said "Are you mad? How could I do that? You can see how passionate I still am. I wouldn't be ranting like this if I could simply walk away. I still ADORE these characters and I am still heavily invested in their story" (I'm sure he thinks I'm mad, but loves me anyway…*g*).

The thing is, I've also seen this reaction from fans to fans. I understand the sentiment and appreciate how frustrating it must be for fans who have nothing but praise for an episode to then read a heap of negativity about it. It must seem strange that fans could watch a show that they have negative feelings for.

Unfortunately, the option to simply "stop watching" is not that simple. In fact, I'd say the very nature of how difficult it is, is the reason why negative comments and reactions exist. I know that for me, the only reason I will be negative about the show is because I can't (and don't want to) tear myself away from it. I WANT the show to keep me engaged and be everything I love about it. I WANT it to live up to my expectations and be of a high standard. It's when it doesn't do those things that I will find myself reacting negatively to it.

Much of that negatively comes about because of the pain that is felt when the show lets you down. It's about loving it with all your heart but seeing things in it that annoy you or you think are just plain stupid. It might even be a way of trying to let go. Being negative and posting about it could be a way of doing some self convincing…this is why I should let go. Kind of like death throes. I admire the fan who can suddenly cut ties and not spend years lamenting it. I am intrigued by fans who say "I haven't watched the last few episodes and I really don't care". That, for me, is a sign that the passion has gone and therefore the ability to cut ties completely is so much easier. The day I don't care if I miss and episode will be the day I truly know the passion is fading. Just because I am angry at an episode (or permanently pissed at Carver) should not mean I should stop watching or stop sharing my feelings on it (not that I've directly been accused of this).

Having said that, I don't consider myself really that negative. In fact, I'd say that I'm pretty positive most of the time. Of all my reviews this season the latest episode is the only one I've been annoyed with. I've rated most episodes either "awesome" or "pretty good", so being critical on ONE episode in a season does not make me some sort of a "bad" or disloyal fan. It makes me a frustrated fan who needs an outlet. I've always seen fandom as a place to be able to discuss all elements of the show - be them positive or negative.

I think it's possible to be a loyal "good" fan AND be critical about the show. I don't mean out and out character bashing or stomping all over someone else's squee. Nor do I mean sending hate to the writers or jumping hatefully on someone's tweet/comment because you disagree with them. I mean being able to say "man, that sucked" or saying "what's happening to my show?!" without the backlash.

Which brings me to another area that I've been wanting thinking about lately.

I try very hard to not dump negativity on other people's journals but it gets trickier on places like Twitter and Tumblr. On LJ we have a space that we can create cut-texts to hide content. Followers can decide whether to click on your thoughts and read what you have to say and by doing so take responsibility for what they are about to read, but on Twitter they can't make that choice (unless blacklisting tags, but I'm not sure that's very successful).

I have realised that posting random (negative) thoughts on Twitter is problematic. There are people who just don't want to see that. I have been trying lately not to dump negativity on Twitter because I am conscious that some of my followers just don't want to see it. I know I could accept losing them as followers and I probably need to toughen up in that regard - but the connections I have with many of those people are more important to me than using it as an outlet for my frustration. The problem with Twitter is that it is SO easy to just jump on and post a random thought that pops into your head. It takes a lot of strength (for me) to NOT do that, so I've made a choice to stop visiting there as much as I was. My problem is, I don't really have an outlet for random frustrations, observations or even squee anymore. I don't see LJ as a great place for one off random comments and twitter means that you're likely to offend someone. I suppose it's about control and not giving into the feeling of needing to shout things out to the world. But damn it, sometimes I just want to post random observations or worries or excitement about stuff without the fear of pissing someone off. Unfortunately I have the kind of personality that worries about being at odds with people I've met in fandom.

Mostly this is about saying that criticising the show, the writers, the show runner etc. does not automatically make you a disloyal or bad fan. I think it makes you a fan who, for whatever reason, still wants to be involved with the show and the fandom but needs the freedom to complain about it or perhaps make fun of it, or find a way to enjoy it despite it's failings. I find in many cases the complaining ends up being a way to reconcile problematic aspects of the show in order to move on. That's my personal experience of it anyway.

On the flip side, I think positivity has to be utterly respected also. Nothing is better than having a positive reaction to an episode. I love seeing people's positive reactions to ones I feel negative about. If I'm feeling positive about an episode I tend to avoid, or skip past negative ones and accept that we each view things differently. I'm always thrilled to come off of an episode full of joy and usually I don't care if there are others who are negative about it. Over the years I've come to trust my initial reaction to an episode. If it didn't work for whatever reason I will be true to that. If I felt squeeful (even when others didn't) I will be happy that I was lucky enough to experience it the way I did. We are all different and even though we may never see eye to eye, I think it might be possible to respect each others reactions. No matter what they are.
12th-Dec-2014 01:17 pm (UTC)
I couldn't agree more. I tend to be critical by nature, but I still love the show. I enjoy reading all types of reactions, and I appreciate when people bring my attention to things I might have missed, whether positive or negative.
12th-Dec-2014 02:02 pm (UTC)
Ditto. Reading opposite reactions can sometimes be enlightening. OR annoying…:) Either way they provide an added element and depth to an episode I think.
12th-Dec-2014 01:40 pm (UTC)
I agree completely. All I'm going to add is that I had plenty of those "how dare you criticize the show, you should be licking their boots for gracing you with their presence" type fans who would then turn around and secretly read my utterly negative (albeit in a funny way) recaps of S8 every week. Point being that loving the show is great and not thinking too hard about it critically is even better (I watch almost all other TV like that and it's great -- but I haven't spent years writing about, say, Oliver Queen) but too many times people who SHAME people for not praising unconditionally are just hypocrites who think it makes them look like better fans and -- oh my gosh-- might make Jensen love them best one day!

Conclusion: you do you, bud.
12th-Dec-2014 02:13 pm (UTC)
I actually admire the way you can have fun with the show, call out its weaknesses and then focus on the sex! :) I'm not in a place (yet) where I can causally watch the show and take it or leave it no matter what. I still need to dig deeper and try the hell to make sense of it. The day I can say "ugh, that sucked" and not spend hours thinking and angsting about it will be the day I turn a new page. :)
12th-Dec-2014 01:43 pm (UTC)
i agree.i have tried to leave this show 3xs before when i wasnt happy with it, and i always came back-at the end of season 6, the middle of season 7-the 1st half of season 8. then i came to your journal, to read what you thought about the mid-season finale and then left a comment here. i waited til 8x11 to come back after reading what you thought about 8x11 and i enjoyed the episode and stayed for the 2nd half coming here to read your reviews of the episodes. stayed for season 9, 10x01, i decided to grade each episode to help to see how each episode would play out and so far it has helped; i have enjoyed most of season 10 except for 10x08 and 10x09 which has me taking a serious thinking about who these characters are and putting me back in that place again where i feel like Supernatural has lost me again for the 4x. as i left a huge comment. ive decided to re-watch The Vampire Diaries-another series that i own, and take a break from Supernatural. i also think im going to wait to read your review on 10x10 before i come back to it in January. i still love Spn but right now i just need a break to do some thinking.

Edited at 2014-12-12 01:44 pm (UTC)
12th-Dec-2014 02:22 pm (UTC)
I hear you. It's a journey that's not that easy. I sometimes wish I had it in me to take a break, but so far I just can't. Even after being disappointed and annoyed I'm still hooked.

I glad you've been able to come here to read the reviews. :) I'm hoping to have some good things to say about 10.10!
12th-Dec-2014 01:44 pm (UTC)
Some of this is very familiar to me. A lot of the time I don't talk about the show because I don't want to rain on others' parades, but sometimes I feel very isolated in my frustration. People I used to vent to have stopped watching, for a while now. But I, too, have felt better about s10 on the whole although, like you, I was underwhelmed with 10.09.

And speaking of that why the hell would Sam have left Dean alone with 4 gangsters and waited all that time in the car, anyway? They'd have both kept everyone covered while Cas got the girl out and then backed out together, surely? (sorry, just had to get that off my chest :P)
12th-Dec-2014 02:34 pm (UTC)
A lot of the time I don't talk about the show because I don't want to rain on others' parades,

I am conscious of that too. Not so much on LJ, but definitely on twitter.

And speaking of that why the hell would Sam have left Dean alone with 4 gangsters and waited all that time in the car, anyway?

Did you see that the director confirmed that Sam thought Dean was right behind him and didn't realise until he for to the car that Dean wasn't there? I have typed up my review for the episode (will post tomorrow) and mention there how clunky that scene is. I think we have to believe that Sam didn't know Dean was still in there and it all happened so quickly that Sam didn't have time to react until it was too late. Essentially, narratively, Sam needed to be out of the way. It had nothing to do with his arc (or any sort of failure on his part), but purely Dean needed his moment so the mark could take over.
12th-Dec-2014 01:49 pm (UTC)
Oh, I completely understand where you are coming from. When an episode doesn't live up to its potential, or plain out sucks, the feeling is 'why didn't anyone connected with the show see where this went wrong and FIX IT?!?! Don't they love it as passionately as I do and want to make it wonderful?'

And there is the bewilderment that to someone in charge this plothole/OOC behavior/unbelievable moment DID make sense--are they watching the same show I am? Because I know what Supernatural can be at its best, and that's what I want--all the time!

The negativity stems from disappointment when the show does not live up to its own standards, the personal inability to have any effect on correcting the error, and the worry that the people in charge no longer have the same vision I want.

Because I know you are not someone whose first impulse is to pick apart, when I read one of your reviews where you've been let down I feel sad, especially when I managed to find enjoyment, because I want you to be in love with the show...even though I myself realize it's no longer reflecting my personal vision. I think season 8 took me from believing completely in the perfection of Sam and Dean together to feeling like this is still the only thing I want to watch, and if the show has drifted from what I truly wanted, at least Jensen and Jared are still awesome and totally worth my time/respect.


PS I think where this last episode misstepped was in being much lower-key that last year's midseason when Kevin died and Gadreel outed himself as a bad guy...this was tame. Didn't help that the teaser set it up as an action episode. And yet I found it interesting and frankly the John story and the last few minutes were enough for me to be satisfied.

12th-Dec-2014 05:40 pm (UTC)
It think you've hit some really valid points as to why we're ticked off with the show, B. Yup.
12th-Dec-2014 02:45 pm (UTC)
I've always loved your episode reviews with squee and things you think could've been better dealt with. I definitely prefer this kind of reviews than quick shout of sheer emotions (This episode's awesome!/ This episode sucks! )on Tumblr and Twitter, because well, that doesn't give me more than confirmation (when I share the emotions) or annoyance (when I don't). Your reviews and comments under them give me perspectives I otherwise won't gain by myself. And that's what makes reading your reviews a rewarding experience. And that's a good way of appreciating the show. Say what you like/dislike about it and give reasons. Always inspires others and yourself from your interaction.
Speaking of why I can't quit the show since I'm not liking it like before and it's giving me a dose of depression every week, I guess it's because Sam and Dean gave me the courage to make important decisions at the lowest point of my life, and I thank the show forever for that. Now I see Sam and Dean everywhere, and that makes me happy. Fandom has also contributed to my love for the show. Discussions on my flist always keep me thinking about it.
I'm sorry that you don't have a channel to vent your negativity... I try to convert that into fan art so that I can get it out there without ruining the show for others or something like that.
12th-Dec-2014 05:41 pm (UTC)
Converting negativity to art is BRILLIANT. ;)
12th-Dec-2014 02:46 pm (UTC)
You SHOULD be able to come here, on your own journal, and post random shit whenever you feel like it. You could always restrict said random shit to a smaller group perhaps? I keep forgetting one can make posts friends only or to different sets of people, but the facility is there.

And Twitter is just a minefield, even for non celebrity-types like us, with both comments and feedback being unstrained and often rabid. I pop over there occasionally and then run away again to the friendly land of LJ.

Anyhow - I still find you one of the most positive influences around, and I'm more than happy to read any of your thinky thoughts, rants or blurts about the show whether I agree with you or not.
13th-Dec-2014 09:49 am (UTC)
You SHOULD be able to come here, on your own journal, and post random shit whenever you feel like it

Luckily, I am able to do that. Considering some of the topics I raise I am rarely confronted by aggressive responses. Though yes, I could great a smaller group so I can post random thoughts. I did consider creating a new user name and posting there.

and I'm more than happy to read any of your thinky thoughts, rants or blurts about the show whether I agree with you or not.

Thanks hun! I love chatting on LJ. Twitter is a different beast and I have a mix of followers. I am very conscious of upsetting anyone so it's probably best to stick to LJ for my thinky thoughts.
12th-Dec-2014 02:46 pm (UTC)
You don't owe anyone an explanation, nor should you feel guilty, for having an honest, critical response to a show you love with all your heart--too much to lie and pretend everything is perfect and not demand it be as good as you know it can be, like some fans who enjoy policing other people's fanning and attacking anyone who dare say how they actually felt. If someone needs to ask everyone who ever had a thought other than "everything was perfect!!" to stop watching, it's because of their own insecurities with the show, which they won't acknowledge and thus they lash out at anyone who will.

Fandom is not about passive consumption. It is about critical engagement. I, like you, love the show too much to quit...likewise, I care about the quality of it too much to sit and cheer when it is being fucking awful.

It doesn't make you a better fan to say everything is great all the time. It shows that you honestly don't care enough to push it to be as good as it deserves to be. In 200+ episodes, something is gonna suck. It's impossible to watch a show that's gone on this long and not see one thing you disagree with. That doesn't mean you walk away. Hell, even the people who work on the show talk about how much they hated certain developments (Jared "why the fuck didn't I look for my brother" Padalecki, Jensen "lol it was so fucking stupid to take the Impala away for a season what did that accomplish?" Ackles will tell you).

Loving the show when everyone else isn't so hot on it doesn't make you a bad fan. Hating the show when everyone else loves it does not make you a bad fan. The only thing that makes a bad fan is being assholes to people who work on the show or other fans. Anyone who tries to drive other people away from a show they love when they are already struggling with watching that show go in directions they hate (that shit stings!) because they are not watching in the way that person feels is correct and pretending it's all good? THAT is a bad fan. And I've gotten a few of them on my ass, but you know what? If Jeremy fucking Carver can't take my show from me, some little minded bully with a keyboard certainly won't.
12th-Dec-2014 03:37 pm (UTC)
Hell, even the people who work on the show talk about how much they hated certain developments

Exactly. Jared's now openly talking about how much he hated the Sam/Amelia storyline -- is he a ~bad fan~ for not licking Carver's balls over it like the fandom thought police told us we were supposed to?

p.s. Ackles makes me want to hashtag that #FandomThoughtPolice
12th-Dec-2014 03:06 pm (UTC)
I completely understand your reaction to being told why not quit watching it. My daughter said the same thing to me years ago and my response was pretty much the same, I'm still involved. When I stop getting angry, then it's time to quit. I admit I have had real problems with Supernatural since Carver took over, but I still care enough to watch. When that changes, I'll stop.

I admit, I don't have to worry about saying things on Twitter because I am constitutionally incapable of keeping anything I say to under 140 characters. Tumblr is different, but even there I tend to respond to posts rather than initiate.

I will also admit that there is one type of person to whom I say "then stop watching". Frequently (usually on ratings sites or sites talking about series renewals) someone or many people start saying "They need to cancel Supernatural. It's old. It's tired. It's gotten so bad.". To them I say then don't watch, because actively rooting to have a show, with good ratings, that many people are still enjoying to be canceled because an individual no longer likes it seems petty and wrong and counterproductive. If people stop watching the ratings will go down and the show will be canceled. Campaigning for a show, any show to be canceled for any reason other than not enough people watch it makes zero sense to me.
13th-Dec-2014 10:45 am (UTC)
Hubby says it to me every time I whinge about the show. And my answer is always the same "I just can't". I just HAVE to know what's going on and I live for those really solid episodes. And also the Js. Sometimes their performances blow me away (not always mind, but when you get Jensen owning the screen as a demon or jared killing it at the end of S8 it all becomes worth it).

And yes, I would say in that circumstance saying "then stop watching" makes sense. In fact, I'd say if someone was saying "it's tired and so bad" they've probably already stopped watching and now just want everyone else to stop watching too (to justify their own lack of interest).

And I have often felt like saying "stop watching then" to people - especially when I see criticism week after week after week. I never do because I figure if they have the energy to still write about it then they must still be engaged and, like I said above, are just finding it really hard to let go. I think on personal journals anything goes though. If someone wanted to purely write about how awful the show is each week then it's their choice. But on discussion threads (not necessarily on LJ) it does get tiresome.
12th-Dec-2014 03:41 pm (UTC)
Oh Ash, I sincerely hope you don't leave twitter! I have really enjoyed interacting with you there! As for "negative tweets" and the backlash you may have received, yeah, I understand your frustration, and it shouldn't be done, by anyone, period. But this is the #SPNFamily and everyone has strong opinions and are willing to voice them, loudly *sigh.* I follow several people that are, shall we say, a little more critical of Show than I usually am, but I follow them precisely for that reason! Because I ENJOY seeing *constructive* criticism (not out-right bashing, those I unfollow quickly if I've made the mistake of following in the first place). Not every episode is for every fan. I get that. And I *appreciate* the fan that can be critical and yet stick with it, and still love it regardless! I hope you will stick with twitter and let your followers adjust to your point of view. Some will leave probably, but you may find there are others that share your feelings FOR Show and frustrations WITH Show as well! If you like, I'll be happy to rec a few ppl I follow for that reason. Don't give up on us over there! But if you do, I will still stalk you here so you're not getting rid of me that easily sister! lol :P xo
13th-Dec-2014 10:50 am (UTC)
Oh hi there! I didn't realise you were on LJ too. :) Twitter is a strange beast for me. I love it for its entertainment value and for hearing about all the stuff, but I've become wary because I am conscious of saying the "wrong" thing. I know I should have a thicker skin and not care, but it's not in my nature. I will still be around though - mostly reading and responding to tweets. I'll link stuff etc. I'm trying to take a break from posting any show comment at the moment (which I might be successful at or...not!).

Thanks for dropping in! (and for your lovely support).xx
12th-Dec-2014 03:43 pm (UTC)
I'd say that I'm pretty positive most of the time. Of all my reviews this season the latest episode is the only one I've been annoyed with. I've rated most episodes either "awesome" or "pretty good", so being critical on ONE episode in a season does not make me some sort of a "bad" or disloyal fan. It makes me a frustrated fan who needs an outlet.

OMG, thank you! There are people out there who cannot bear to see anything less than 100% squee for every episode. After my post on 10.9, I got some "I can't stand all this negativity" reactions. From a couple of responses, you would've thought I'd advocated setting fire to Baby, then taking Sam and Dean out back and putting a bullet in their heads. This after I expressed dislike for ONE episode -- one episode out of eight near-perfect ones. One episode in which I still found something to like.

I think it's possible to be a loyal "good" fan AND be critical about the show.

Absolutely! There's a huge gulf between those who utterly despise and nit-pick every single thing about the show, and fans who are critical because they love this show, remember its glory days, and haaaaaaate when the writers or friggin' Carver showrunners eff it up. I'm firmly in the second camp -- I love SPN to death, but my love for it is not blind adulation, and you better believe I'm gonna bitch when TPTB screw it up.

You can't please everyone all the time, and it's pointless to even try. Enjoy SPN on your own terms, bb. Continue to say what you feel, good or bad. Me, I enjoy all your reviews and meta, from the squeeful, to the "meh," to the "bleh." Carry on!

Edited at 2014-12-12 03:47 pm (UTC)
14th-Dec-2014 04:31 am (UTC)

This episode seems to have that effect on some fans. Many who have been positive throughout the season felt this episode let them down and I've noticed a bit of a backlash to some that have expressed those negative thoughts. I think we all need a space where we can talk honestly about how we felt about an episode - whether it be good or bad. I think LJ is a pretty good place to be able to do that - in most cases there seems to be more tolerance here than in places like twitter. Personally, I still feel comfortable here expressing my opinions. Thankfully! (otherwise I wouldn't be able to have conversations like this one...). I appreciate that negatively does get people down - but at least here we can warn for it and hide stuff behind cuts. We also have ways for turning the negative into positives, which I think is what makes fandom a great place to be.

*more hugs*
12th-Dec-2014 03:56 pm (UTC)
There is such an odd disconnect going on. My SPN watch buddy simplybeing went on twitter after the episode and there were people literally crying on twitter. Going on ecstatically about what an epic mid season finale it was and she and I looked at each other and said, were they watching the same show we were?

I used to watch SPN and just slip into Sam and Dean's world like an old comfy flannel shirt. It actually took a fandom review for me to realize how ludicrous it was for the boys to be stealthily sneaking around town in a cherry, highly noticeable, growly, vintage car. It never even occurred to me that in all these small towns that car would stand out like a beacon. But it didn't matter, I was in the zone.

Even during Sera's reign, I was still there. I liked the Leviathan arc, I just found her pacing really slow and the build up took too long. But Carver just makes me want to tear my hair out. I read spnmonster's reviews and from fifteen hundred feet the episodes meta is elegant. But then from an executional point of view it's sloppy and messy and inconsistent with a completely uneven and totally inconsistent with Canon handling of all the characters, not just Dean and Sam's and then I start to get angry.

I don't want to hate show, I want to love it and yeah, I can't walk away because I love those boys. I don't think it's dishonest to miss what you loved. Kripke unwittingly stumbled on lightning in a bottle with Sam and Dean. I don't think it's a betrayal to recognize that the magic is gone. We only see faint sputters of it now and then. I for one am hanging on to those for dear life, but I can't turn my brain off and rejoice in SPNs decline. I think the trick is to take joy in the good and not get too bitter about the bad. I do know reading too many bad reviews, just like reading too many spoilers for an episode can have a negative result, but you are allowed to have your thoughts and thanks to the cut, on LJ at least just like with fic, if you don't like what you're reading, move on.
14th-Dec-2014 04:46 am (UTC)
*nods* and *nods* This exactly. After the episode I was pretty stirred up and was keen to see what everyone else was saying about it. It ranged from "what the hell was tha?1t" to "oh my god! my heart!". There's no denying I would much prefer to have been in the latter of those groups. I WANT my heart to be aching (and not because the show had pissed me off). Unfortunately that didn't happen and so the result was a negative post on LJ and on Twitter.

I think there are some great meta writers around and are making great sense of Carver's arc. There are also some who highlight the faults, but still find things to love. Then there are some who are very scathing and use each episode as evidence for how Carver is screwing everything up. I'd like to think there's room for everyone to express their opinions - and I actually think LJ is a pretty good outlet for that.

Oh and yay! I really liked the Leviathan arc too. I think S6 and S7 certainly had some pacing and resolution issues but I liked much of it. At the time I struggled so much with soulless!Sam but in hindsight I can see how cleverly that was done. I am hoping that in years to come I can look back on S8-S10 and feel the same.

but I can't turn my brain off and rejoice in SPNs decline.

Yeah. I hear that. It's something I definitely struggle with too. I can be squeeful about episodes but I feel like there's a bit in reserve for some of the things I've not been able to reconcile at all (namely story arcs not being resolved satisfactorily). I'm finding it hard to sympathise with Dean as much as I would like because I'm still feeling last seasons arc (of him allowing a non-con possession of Sam) has been unresolved. The same way I suspect some are feeling that Sam's attitude to it has been unresolved also.

Anywho...(sorry! went off in tangent there...). Thanks sharing for your thoughts.
12th-Dec-2014 05:05 pm (UTC)
I totally think LJ is a great place to dump random observations, I've got quite a lot of people on my flist doing that, on all sorts of topics. I sometimes respond, often don't, since it does not seem the same level of response as a long review or thinky thoughts essay.

If it comes to positivity/negativity and shows, and tend to view them like long-term relationships. After 10 years, you just know each other too well, and things that once were cute and endearing are now irritating and annoying. However, after 10 years you're not really evaluating the relationship in terms of 'do I love you enough to commit to you?' but rather 'are there enough bad things to make me want to leave?' (or is that just me????/o\). And as long as the answer to the latter is NO, I try to refrain from nagging about things he's never gonna change and get upset about them, and cherrish the postitives. So I guess I rarely post if I don't like something, and if I do, I try to frame it like I would constructive critizism, 'I love you hun, I really do, but if you invite your parents ever again without asking me first, you're gonna sleep in the guest room for a year!'.

I don't mind people posting negative stuff - but might not read it/not comment on it if it's not comming from a place of love.
14th-Dec-2014 04:56 am (UTC)
Yeah, I suppose LJ can work for dumping random observations. I have seen that (and I have done that myself). I just found twitter more immediate - which is the danger of it I think. I know I'm guilty of tweeting and not really thinking what I'm saying through. Whereas on LJ I am more careful (for some reason).

and things that once were cute and endearing are now irritating and annoying.

Yeah, that's a good point.

you're not really evaluating the relationship in terms of 'do I love you enough to commit to you?' but rather 'are there enough bad things to make me want to leave?' (or is that just me????/o\).

Ha! No, I think that's me too. I keep thinking - if this gets worse I'll just have to leave, but then I keep thinking "it's not bad enough yet". Though I have seen fans decide that yes, things are bad enough for me to leave now.

12th-Dec-2014 05:36 pm (UTC) - Negativity and SPN
I totally agree with your article - there are times when I have the exact opposite reaction as most of the fandom seems to be; other times when I think, why the hell am I still here?? And the answer is that there's still something that I'm attached to. Until that ceases to be true I'll still watch, read other people's meta, read and write fanfic and hope for the best. There's a place for everybody's opinions, despite what impression you might get from following Twitter. :)

The negativity that has NO PLACE in the fandom is that directed at other individual fans. I don't know what other fan groups are like, but this one tears its belly open and pulls out its entrails almost every week (sorry, too graphic?). There's some serious defamation going on, to say nothing of bullying that borders on stalking. It's ridiculous. That detracts more from the SPN experience than anything that occurs onscreen IMO.

12th-Dec-2014 05:59 pm (UTC) - Re: Negativity and SPN
Fandom in-fighting is LETHAL, I agree! Which is why I will unfollow folks who dogmatically character bash, fan bash, or don't reciprocate with me in fandom fun (ie. expect me to comment on their work but can't be bothered to comment on mine.)

Other fan groups are very much the same! It's part and parcel of being on the Internet and enjoying a fandom. I'll see people venting, in generalities, about how toxic a fandom is and I'll think "Oh, gawd, they mean SPN, don't they?" But nope! They mean Teen Wolf or Dr. Who or...etc. Gues it just is what it is! But we can certainly choose how and who we respond to. :)
12th-Dec-2014 05:55 pm (UTC)
Are we perhaps spellbound by this Supernatural Show and get mad when it seems to loose its magick but we still can't get away?...

*applauds your thoughtful thinky thoughts* :)

It was reading someone else's episode reaction that made me realize what exactly had me so upset with the ep and the understanding of it helped me make peace with it. It is really weird how my emotions go high, and hurt is being felt so deeply that it collects other, dormant aspects of frustration on its way out trying to verbalize it all, frying my brain in the process. This show is truly the only one capable of having me react this way. Spellbound indeed...
14th-Dec-2014 05:04 am (UTC)
Oh absolutely! It's kind of crazy really. I know why my hubby suggested I stop watching. I was so worked up he just can't understand that level of passion for a TV show. But, there it is. The magic indeed!

Even having this discussion has helped me feel less negative about the last episode. I still didn't like it, but I'm no where near as angry as I was. I like reading other perspectives - I particularly like understanding why something didn't work for me (my "proper" review attempts to explain some of that).
12th-Dec-2014 06:46 pm (UTC)

Your reviews are the ones I wait for like a kid at Xmas, because you don't just leave mindless squee or rip the show a new asshole, unequivocally. You give balance and reasoning and feeeeeels. You're careful to point out both the good and the bad. You allow folks to disagree, as long as it's done respectfully. You're welcoming and give us a great place to vent our concerns for this show we JUST. CAN'T. QUIT.

I can't disagree with a single thing you've said, and please don't feel like you can't just make random comments on your LJ, as you might on Twitter. Why ever not? LJ is BY FAR the best place to have actual conversations (providing Frank the Goat isn't chewing on wires). I don't hang on Twitter much either; there's just not a lot I can do with 140 characters, and most times, I'll avoid it and tumblr on Show days, until after the West Coast feed. But even then, it's not my favored platform.

As I said above in response to someone else, really the only stuff I draw the line at is dogmatic character bashing, fan bashing, and if someone expects me to appreciate what they do when they can't be arsed to appreciate what I do. Reciprocity is pretty derned important to me. It's why we do fandom, to a large degree...to share with each other and entertain and get and give feedback.

The character bashing is the biggie for me, though. That'll get me going faster than bug on a hot griddle. There is a HUGE difference between a character doing something you don't like, but is totally IC for that character (ie. Dean allowing Gadreel into Sam), and a character doing something OOC because the plot dictates it, but normally, that character would never have done such a thing (ie. Sam leaving Dean alone in the bad-guy den last episode, the Sam/Amelia year, yadda). And I think this goads me so bad because we end up relating--for our own very personal reasons--to a given character and when they are treated poorly by anyone (be it staff writer, show runner, or fellow fan), it gets our hackles up in an intimate way. I feel it in my gut, as though I've been insulted. Or one of my kids. I think it's pretty easy to tell when this is happening and the kind thing to do is respond with sensitivity, instead of continuing to bicker. Or just disengage altogether.

There is ALWAYS a kinder way to state things. Always. It might take a little effort, but it's there.

Bah, but I'm rambling. IN CONCLUSION *harrumph!*, please don't stop, Ash. Please expound at will! Please know that your journal has become a valuable hub for fandom conversation, and we're right here with you.
14th-Dec-2014 05:21 am (UTC)

Thanks hun for your kind words. I'm still very comfortable here and I love that people are willing to come over and join in the conversation. It's one of my fave things about fandom. It's not always an easy place to belong so it's great to be able to discuss stuff without it turning into a wankfest or fight.

I suppose LJ could be used to post random thoughts, I think I've seen it mostly as a place to chat more deeply (or post fanworks) and usually my *pop in the head* thoughts don't warrant major discussion. I thought twitter might work of that but you have to be really careful (well, from my experience). I like twitter for many reasons but I feel like I might have finally found my comfort zone with it - and that's not posting random feelings about the show there.

And yes yes. Character bashing is awful - particularly when feeling protective of that character. I don't think I will ever recover from the sheer nastiness that Sam received halfway through S9. To this day, it's the single most disturbing thing I've experienced in fandom. As a result, I find I get my hackles very easily when Sam is in any way "blamed" for anything from S9 (and now S10). I like character discussions and finding out reasons why a character did a certain thing that seems OOC. I really enjoyed making sense of the Sam/Amelia storyline when the show wasn't doing it successfully. de_nugis wrote some awesome stuff about and it helped me put it all in perspective. That's the kind of character discussions I love (even when I might not necessarily agree with them) and what fandom can be great for.

*hugs* thanks for sharing your thoughts here. There's been some very interesting discussions going on. :))
12th-Dec-2014 06:49 pm (UTC)
Ash, if I read nobody else's reviews, I always read yours, and the comments, because they're almost always intelligent, snarky, affectionate, and disappointed in lackluster episodes, cranky and disappointed in worse than lackluster episodes, as well as rejoicing in the fine points of better episodes. I gain a lot of perspective here. So thank you, and your flist, for that.

I'd been largely disengaged the past couple of seasons, but S10 has pulled me back in, and that feels pretty good. I've still got a wait and see attitude, but I'm more hopeful than I'd been in awhile.

14th-Dec-2014 05:25 am (UTC)
Thanks hun. I've been very fortunate that people who leave comments on my review/reaction posts always have interesting things to say about the episode. I really enjoy that level of discussion. Luckily I've felt I've been able to be honest in my reviews - even when there is some negativity. I do try to be balanced, but I'm not always successful in that...;)

Good to hear S10 has pulled you back in. I've been enjoying it quite a lot and I am trying to remain hopeful for the future. :)
12th-Dec-2014 07:07 pm (UTC)
Just a big, fat "WORD" to everything you posted. I get the same reaction from my mother as you did from your hubby... "Why don't you just stop watching it?" But it's like you said, we're still so heavily invested that we can't just tear ourselves away. We get so disappointed when the show lets us down, and I guess in some way, I still like to hold on to the tiny bit of hope that things will improve? I've really tried to lower my expectations recently, but sometimes it can be hard to do.

I used to be a huge fan of Stargate SG-1. I started having a lot of misgivings about it in its 9th season, and then there was a lot I REALLY disliked in the 10th. I actually didn't watch the whole season when it aired. The show would go on a mid-season break from Sept to Jan (though that year it returned even later), and the UK would start getting the second half before we did. I had like-minded friends over there who would fill me in on the episodes & let me know if they were worth watching. I was really starting to get very emotionally detached. But... I just can't be that way with SPN, you know?

And you're absolutely right that we should respect positivity as well. I really try not to harshen the squee of the people who are loving it, so I try not to get all negative on their LJs, but I will post my honest thoughts in my own LJ.

Edited at 2014-12-12 07:07 pm (UTC)
14th-Dec-2014 02:53 pm (UTC)
Hey there,

I still like to hold on to the tiny bit of hope that things will improve?

And sometimes it really does. There are fantastic episodes that make it all worth it. I've enjoyed most of this season so far, so I'm counting 9 out of 10 not too bad. I also live for all the Sam and Dean BM moments (and them just working well together). I love the Js and love seeing what they'll do with their characters each week. Even in eps I don't like there's little moments that I do. So...yay? :D

Thanks for dropping by.

12th-Dec-2014 07:58 pm (UTC)
You have this spot on - if I didn't care, there would be no reason to be negative. I'll admit to giving up and stopping watching after last season. Then there were a few things on Tumblr that suggested things had got better, so I was drawn in again. I WANT to love the show. I want the writers to do the main premise justice. It can be fantastic. This last ep though was utter dross. I enjoyed the last minute - and even that was predictable. I've come to at least one conclusion over the last season and a half - if there's angels involved, I may as well not bother watching. I have zero interest in Cas's storyline anymore and it cuts the main plot in such a way that the writers need to use lolcanon and frequent bangs on the boys' heads to resolve every plot in the shorter time remaining. I suspect I'm back out when it restarts, but sometimes it can look so shiny and I want what I can't have!
14th-Dec-2014 03:03 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it certainly has been challenging at times. I would love to see them reach the climax of an episode without one of them being knocked unconscious or tied up so that the baddy has a chance to tell us all the stuff we need to know (not that I have any objections to tied up boys as such...;D).

I've enjoyed the angel storyline a bit more this year. I liked Hannah and the move away from politics. I just get annoyed when they change the rules - or forget that Cas has powers. I prefer the non angel episodes I have to admit, but as I know they're here to stay I've been trying to go along for the ride.
12th-Dec-2014 08:12 pm (UTC)
I agree with most of what you said here. There should be a place in fandom for dissatisfied fans. Loving a show and being a loyal fan doesn't mean you absolutely have to see everything through rose-colored glasses. Negative feelings are just as valid as the positive ones, even if they might upset the fans who don't see anything to complain about.

But this: I am intrigued by fans who say "I haven't watched the last few episodes and I really don't care". That, for me, is a sign that the passion has gone and therefore the ability to cut ties completely is so much easier.

Well, I can only speak for myself, but as someone who's just decided to stop watching the show I need to say that it's not an easy decision, and that the passion is definitely not gone. I love Sam&Dean with my whole being, like the craziest, most passionate fan you can think of. I just feel that the show these days is so far removed from the show it used to be that it's not really the same show anymore, and forcing myself to watch it has been torture for me. And I just can't put myself through that anymore. It hurts. So I'm not cutting ties completely, not with the fandom and certainly not with Sam&Dean; but I do need to distance myself from the show as it is now. I'm not doing that because I don't care, I'm doing it because I care too much. Does that make sense?
14th-Dec-2014 01:27 am (UTC)
Makes perfect sense to me. Sometimes you need to take a break.
12th-Dec-2014 10:07 pm (UTC)
I admit I'm having a hard time bending my mind around the issue because I don't think there is any incentive in fandom against reacting negatively, at least not to the narrative itself? Like, of the (fortunately, small sample size of) harass-y anon messages I've gotten, more of them have been people who are mad at me for being too supportive of the direction Carver has taken things,* than about me being negative about anything? I have gotten one or two fan-credential-checks over being too ~negative about Dean and/or his behavior toward Sam. "I don't UNDERSTAND?!? how you can HAAAATE one of them??? Why do you even watch when THE RELATIONSHIP IS AT THE CENTER OF THE SHOW??!?" (Ah, yes, that sole determinant of the quality of a narrative, normative approval of a relationship between characters one loves, which led to the astronomical success of Selfie and the crushing failure of Breaking Bad.)

Point being, my anecdata suggests that no amount of positivity or negativity will avoid the risk of pissing people off. Posting with a clear conscience is IMO just about being as intellectually honest as possible and acknowledging that the results may or may not do it for everyone else. And possibly, if on Tumblr, using cuts and tags for blacklisting, I think that's a fair expectation.

IDK. Personally, I'm not bothered by people disagreeing with me on liking or disliking something. I'll go further, even, and say that I don't think worthwhile fiction often lends itself to universal agreement. What hacks me off is bad faith. Subjectively liking or disliking something isn't necessarily bad faith, but tone-policing about whether someone is "too negative/positive," rather than engaging with or even politely ignoring someone's opinion is bad faith. Not being thrilled on a Watsonian or Doylist level about a choice a character made is totally reasonable; insisting that said choice is objectively "OOC" and therefore anyone who puts forth an argument for why it does make sense is WRONG AND STUPID is bad faith. Being dissatisfied with a plot development is totally fine and IMO doesn't need any explanation; making a sweeping declaration that "THE ONLY acceptable storytelling choice is the one that would leave ME satisfied" is probably bullshit. &c, &c.

But yeah, I'm a big believer that sincere critique is a compliment. I am totally a viewer who will just bail if I stop being really engaged, and so if I'm engaged enough to be upset about something, I tend to think there's value in it. I've come down harder on BSG than almost any other show I've written about, precisely because it's one of my all-time favorites and I never get tired of unpacking all the complex stuff it did. I think it is a credit to SPN that I stuck with it through the earlier seasons, which for many reasons are not my usual style and which I find extremely philosophically questionable. It is a HUGE compliment to Dean as a fictional construct for me to have such passionate conviction that he is as big a scuzzbag as Angel(us) and Jimmy McNulty. They are the VERY BEST of the worst, okay. So it's frustrating to feel like that's off-limits to talk about.

*I will say this one steams me less because of the anons and more because I had numerous discussions concerning the issues that Carver and I are apparently delusional in exactly the same way about....the summer before he took over. Curious, how he's so tapped into my personal totally-out-there fanon, if there really is no logical basis in canon for it. It's almost (dun dun dun!) NOT NATURAL.
12th-Dec-2014 11:01 pm (UTC)
Not being thrilled on a Watsonian or Doylist level about a choice a character made is totally reasonable; insisting that said choice is objectively "OOC" and therefore anyone who puts forth an argument for why it does make sense is WRONG AND STUPID is bad faith. Being dissatisfied with a plot development is totally fine and IMO doesn't need any explanation; making a sweeping declaration that "THE ONLY acceptable storytelling choice is the one that would leave ME satisfied" is probably bullshit.

OMG! YES! A Million times YES!!!

I think that is the thing that makes me the absolute crankiest about fandom. I'm still loving this show. I don't love every episode and I don't expect to. (Come on? Is there really a show out there that you LOVE every single episode.)

I really enjoyed this mid season finale. Sure it wasn't non-stop action (does it have to be?) I enjoyed the character beats. Then I come to LJ and read about how terrible it was. How clunky. How boring. And the usual, the writers totally suck; the showrunner totally sucks. I start thinking, am I just "too easy." Am I not a discerning viewer? You begin to question your own enjoyment.

Thankfully, I have friends in real life who are not involved in fandom. They are highly intelligent folk who, for various and sundry reasons, know a whole heck of a lot about writing and literature. We can have discussions about what worked and what didn't without fandom agenda and the never ending muckity muck about showrunners playing a part. In that way it is "pure" discussion. They also enjoyed and thought "it was a very well written ep." I have warned them away from coming online because the fanwank can and will alter the way you look at the show. Especially this fandom which is the most divisive I have ever seen!

But that's the kind of rich discussion I wish fandom could have.
13th-Dec-2014 02:47 am (UTC)
I'm glad we've had these thoughts and opened these discussions.

Honestly, I don't think that anyone ever means to offend when writing a reaction post--but we do sometimes forget, or are over sensitive to the way that things are presented, especially because they are characters that most of us feel like we know and love.

I think what I've learned, especially after really diving into how I felt yesterday, was that we all think and process different ways. Whether it's squee, or criticism, or somewhere in between. But knowing where you stand, and opening your eyes to how people see it differently without taking it as a personal affront to how you see it can be hard. And can take a lot of self-reflection as to why we're angry/upset/feel guilty etc.

Anyways. I do enjoy your reaction posts because they're very well rounded, the ones that I've read. There are always good things and bad things, and I do like that you address it all!
14th-Dec-2014 05:33 am (UTC)

It seems quite timely that you have posted about reactions just as I was trying up this post. I think you made some very valid points. I think being mindful about other people's reactions is a good start in trying to not offend. There are different ways of offending and we don't always get that right. I certainly know I don't. I inadvertently offended someone on tumblr recently and I was mortified that I did so. It was after that (and some comments on twitter) that has made me decide not to randomly comment on stuff. My reviews usually contain more thought, so I hope that if I do (inadvertently) offend someone I'm in a better position to discuss it (or apologise for it). pocchina (above) talks about how we can get the feeling of being made to feel bad/guilty for liking something someone else has hated. It rang true to me and will probably help me frame some of my reactions a little differently in the future.
13th-Dec-2014 04:18 am (UTC)
I love reading your thoughts, which I often agree with - but I also am fascinated by when your opinions of something on Show aren't the same as mine. I think I've gotten better at being okay with other people loving things I hate and hating things I love, even if I don't always entirely get where they're coming from.

I continue to love the Show, but there's rarely an episode where I don't have something to quibble with these days. I'm not sure if it's harder to stay consistent after 10 seasons, or if it's just a different level of trying, but there are definitely things to quibble with. Somehow they don't lessen my passion for the Show or for Sam and Dean though. I'd keep watching just to see what happens to the brothers, and keep hoping that what does happen makes sense. To me anyway ;)

Also I will always always love LJ the best. For this very reason.
13th-Dec-2014 11:00 am (UTC)
Hey! Thanks for reading. :) I always LOVE reading other people thoughts - especially when they differ to mine. I am particularly impressed by people who can write reviews and give a balanced view (which isn't me at all. My reviews are very subjective and I am aware of that). I think main stream reviewers have to have that balance - look at the show critically, but infuse it with love (like a particular reviewer I know...;D). I ultimately think we have to be true to ourselves and our experience. The show is changing, but I think there are still many things to be positive about. Some are taking that change well, others not so well. It's all part of this crazy journey we're on with this show (and fandom). xx
13th-Dec-2014 11:18 am (UTC)
Ash, hun, they are your opinions, if you have them, say them. This is your journal and you have no one but yourself to please. People can slide on by, simple *hugs*
(Deleted comment)
13th-Dec-2014 08:31 pm (UTC)
Mid-season kinda sucked for you, huh? Same here. It seems like the sticking point for most is Sam leaving Dean alone/not having his back.

You know I'm not the biggest Sam fan and I did NOT see it that way at all. He didn't leave Dean standing in the middle of the room. Sam covered him right to the doorway. He saw Dean move towards him before he turned out the door. There was no reason for him to think Dean wasn't behind him, circling around the car to the drivers door.

At least I got a little amusement watching my hubby try to follow the jumping storylines. He thought Rowena was from OUAT and I don't think I ever convinced him otherwise. =)

Rock On!
13th-Dec-2014 09:15 pm (UTC)
I agree with you on Sam. I wasn't bothered by him not realizing Dean wasn't following him. I didn't even notice until people started talking about it on various sites. Your explanation sums it up pretty well.

That said I wasn't thrilled with this episode. Even though I have always been interested in what happened to Claire, the actual handling of her story didn't catch me enough for a mid-season finale. I think a lot of it was because the three stories seemed pretty unrelated. Also making Cas suddenly forget that he could use his angel powers to find Claire and rescue her, just so Dean could start killing "deserving" people irked me as well. pocochina has suggested looking at this episode as the first part of a story that will conclude when the show comes back, so I'm going to think that things will come together when they come back in January.
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