Because every time I see someone on tumblr claim that the writers, the actors, and/or the network is homophobic simply because their ship isn’t canon, I want to hunt them down and punch them as HARD as I can. Supernatural has been nothing but supportive from the very beginning, and it pushes the envelope much farther than most shows. It was not originally nor was it ever intended to target a gay audience; it’s aimed at your average sci-fi [with a high percentage of female] demographic. So, with that in mind, the amount of support the gay community has received through this beautiful show since 2005 is amazing. And this gif set doesn’t even include all the references to the main characters being gay the show makes itself [I already made that gif set]. So, guys, kindly blow it out your ass. Nothing but love coming from this show, it deserves it right back.
I definitely don’t think that SPN is intentionally trying to be homophobic! Obviously, they’ve made a point to include lots of queer characters, as your gif set shows. The problem you’re singling out here is the complaints of the slash shippers, right?
So let’s say some tv people decide they’re going to make a show. And they want to target female audiences, so they decide that their central duo is going to be two hot dudes, and there’s going to be lots of ho yay/joky flirting/innuendos, because the ladies, they like that! And we do! Shows like Sherlock, White Collar, Merlin, Supernatural, even movies like X-Men: First Class and Thor owe a large part of their fanbase to the slash shipping phenomenon, and the fact that women are increasingly making up a significant portion of the fanbase for genre fiction. I love slashfandom, and it’s given me great happiness in my tv viewing, but there are some unfortunate implications that come with it.
Slash started back in the day with shows like Star Trek, when homosexuality was still taboo and tv series really couldn’t show gay relationships on television. The innuendos and subtext, whether purposeful on the part of the show or not, were interpreted by fans as a real relationship with the understanding that innuendos were all they could get. But in 2011, when moment such as those above are routine for tv, when a lot of shows like Glee or Skins do have main characters who are queer, why is there still a need for this kind of real-but-not-real subtext for main characters?
Genre shows, unlike relationship dramas like Skins, are expected to cater to certain audiences—i.e., white males. The fact that young women are becoming increasingly involved in the fandom is not exactly welcomed, as pretty clearly illustrated in this quote by one of the Sherlock creators. You pointed out that SPN isn’t meant to target a gay audience—but what does that have to do with anything? Are you suggesting that queer main characters are only to be expected on The L Word or Queer as Folk?
The thing that frustrates a lot of the shippers is that the slashy “subtext” in these shows come off as patronizing or just pandering. These shows tap into their fans’ want to see queer relationships without actually committing to showing queer relationships. It’s easy for SPN to put queer people and relationships as side characters! They don’t have to come up with complex narratives for these people, they don’t have to address any thorny issues, they don’t really have to deal with them in a way that requires any depth. But actually writing their main characters’ slash relationship as canon? They’re not going to go there.
Plenty of tolerant people still think of gay/straight as a dichotomoy and think of gay people in terms of stereotypes. Bi-invisibility is a very real phenomenon, and most bisexuals in fiction are portrayed as rampant lotharios attracted to anything that moves. In the real world, sexuality is fluid, and people don’t always have it all figured out early in their lives. As most characters involved in slash pairings are presented canonically as straight, having them pursue a romantic relationship with someone of the same sex would be more challenging to viewers than gay Kurt getting together with gay Blaine. Possibly-but-oft-denied queer Dean getting together with previously-asexual Castiel would require some explaining. Even in shows like Sherlock where the characters’ slash relationship is understood and discussed widely, where the characters’ sexual orientation is left deliberately ambiguous, it’s still understood that there’s a line, and they’re not going to cross it.
The thing is, if these slash couples were male-female couples, shipping them wouldn’t even be news. Everybody shipped Bones and Booth, even in the beginning when they were firmly “just friends”, because the possibility for romance was there, and no one was surprised that they got together. But slash pairings are held to a different standard. Slash shippers who want their pairing to be canon are treated at best as unrealistic, and other shippers often deride them for being delusional. I think a lot of slash fans are tired of being berated for wanting their ship to receive the same validity as a het ship and for being constantly told that slash ships are a bit of fun not to be taken seriously.
I’ll not go into Wincest, because that’s a whole nother issue. But I do think the things I’ve brought up are essential to understanding the Dean/Castiel pairing and why many of the shippers are frustrated with the show. Dean/Cas has, from the first moment of their onscreen time together, played out exactly as you would expect a fantasy love story to play out. They meet, they dislike each other at first but can’t seem to stay away from each other, they gradually get to know each other and find they’re not so different, they laugh, they flirt, one of them changes sides at the last moment to save the other one. One of them dies for the other one. I find it offensive that we’re expected to treat this story differently because both of the characters are men. The idea that SPN would plan out this relationship in all its epic glory and still treat the romantic aspect of it like a joke is disappointing, to say the least.
And the idea that SPN never displays any kind of homophobia is just not true. (The other gif set you’ve linked to above actually provides a pretty good round-up of homophobic jokes!) Dean continuously uses “girl”, “chick flick”, and other feminine traits as insults, the idea being that there is a right way to be a man, and it isn’t to be anything like a woman. I can forgive Dean for his insults, because it’s obvious they’re a product of his own insecurities and daddy issues. But a lot of people do find SPN to be problematic for its sexism and homophobia. Just because they’re not completely terrible about it doesn’t make them immune to criticism.
YES, YES, YES, I AM CRYING, SUPERNATURAL IS THE WORST. Aside from its literally constant ~hilarious~ gay jokes, every single time a genuinely gay (everyone is gay or straight right) person is on Supernatural, WITHOUT FAIL, they are either hilarious or dead or hilariously dead. Or evil. Or pathetic. And usually also dead. (Which is to say, receive much the same treatment as any other character on Supernatural who isn’t a straight white dude.) Supernatural does not push the envelope. It is the envelope.
And what the fuck right do you have to assume that if someone is unsatisfied with the way Supernatural murders & mocks its queer characters, it’s just because ~her ship isn’t canon~
Not that that isn’t a valid reason to be unsatisfied, do you know how much better this show would be if Dean and Castiel kissed mouths