by Jody “Goldberry Riverdaughter” Boyce
Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls by Katherine Larsen and Lynn S. Zubernis is the story of two professional women who were swept off their feet by the genre television show Supernatural and the Supernatural Fandom, and their journey to legitimize their fangirling to their families, their colleagues, and themselves. The authors examine how the show’s cast and crew interacts with fans, how the fans interact with each other, and how the studio perceives those relationships. They also delve into the question of gender in genre fiction and the social acceptance, or lack there of, of female fans and their enthusiasm. Fangasm is wonderfully personable, the authors refer to themselves throughout the book in the third person as Lynn and Kathy. The interviews with con organizers, Internet-famous fans, writers, and actors are fantastic (if you think you loved Jim Beaver [Bobby] before, just wait till you read his interviews). It provides insight into the intensely personal and outgoing fandom that Supernatural fans and actors have embraced.
The book is written in a friendly, conversational style – like a blog post about a con experience. And, as a member of the Supernatural Fandom and several others (SuperWhoLock, anyone?), this book gave me a lot to think about. How overwhelming is my bouncing enthusiasm when I evangelize about my experiences with a book, show, or film? Are there people who would find the “squeeing” and the myriad theme t-shirts embarrassing? Am I helping my fandoms embrace all comers, or is it a more exclusionary world than I thought? But most importantly, as the authors and their interviewees touch on again and again, am I free to be Me? Have I found, through Fandom, a place where I feel like I belong and friends I can share my passions with unashamed?
Fangasm is not a naive fan experience full of sunshine and unicorns all the time. As active fanfic authors, con attendees, and then interviewers perusing a book project, the authors had awkward experiences with their fellow fans and with film crews on sets and attempting to set up interviews. The reflections the authors have about the depth of their fangirling and its impact on their friends and families was uncomfortable at times. And its very easy for the reader to apply the questions the authors ask to themselves and I don’t think everyone will like the answers.
Fangirls (and boys) will have what is known on the Internet as a “spiritual connection” with this book. And the bemused friends and family of the fans who are considering interventions may just understand them a little bit better. Though, an intervention may still be required based on the magnitude of the feels.
*Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls by Katherine Larsen and Lynn S. Zubernis is available from University of Iowa Press
Jody “Goldberry Riverdaughter” Boyce