Supernatural guest star turned series regular, Misha Collins, has used twitter to mobilize a vocal and expressive fan base. While his position on the show has remained somewhat marginal through the series’ fourth and fifth seasons, Collins’ twitter followers (currently topping 60,000) proactively celebrate his centrality to their appreciation of Supernatural and his accessibility on twitter. Together, Collins and his fans author a narrative of celebrity/fan co-creation. Via twitter, Collins has dubbed his fans “minions,” and fans embrace and propagate this label on multiple online interfaces including Twitter, Livejournal, and YouTube, thus playfully coauthoring a cross-interface narrative of fannish world domination.
Placing Collins at the helm, fans frame him as leader of a movement of affect, transgression, and excess. Both Collins and his fans cultivate a camp or ironic deployment of military discourse and authoritarian aesthetics. This “Minions Recruitment Advert” by @Manic_Minion playfully trades in the language of propagandistic and instructional film as it constructs both Collins and his fans as knowing performers of nationalistic fannish devotion. The video envisions the call to minion-hood as the opportunity to participate in communal, renegade military organization, highlighting specific images of women engaged in military and industrial labor. The skills described in the video reference various in jokes mined from Collins’ purposefully absurdist and parodic tweets.
This play with irony and affect calls to mind the more visible, mainstream interactions between Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert and his Colbert Nation, but where Colbert and fans perform a excessive libertarian masculinity, Misha Collins and his minions intertwine transgressive and stereotypical gender performances. Indeed, gender and sexuality are key in these discourses of military (dis)order and affective domination: in works such as this video, fans celebrate Collins as a renegade yet thoughtful artist who models an alternate mode of masculine authorship. In so doing, the mostly female fans perform and thus author their own fan personae as transgressive, aggressive, and overtly sexual, yet intellectual and self-aware. This fannish self-representation invokes and then implodes stereotypes of excessively emotive female fandom.
Individual vs. community?
Great post, Louisa! This is a fascinating example to look at in comparison with Kristen's excellent discussion of the squeeing, cheek-grabbing performance of emotion in female fans. Here, as you mention, the intellectual self-awareness is clearly present and somewhat foregrounded in a way that works against the stereotype of squeeing fangirls. I'm curious to know what you think might be at work here as to why that might be.
My first thoughts, in comparing it specifically to something like Kristen's example of "Oh My Salvatore," are that it might have something to do with factors of age and community. There seems to be an older, somewhat more culturally aware sense of irony at work here that younger, stereotypical female fan performance lacks. In addition, I'm particularly interested in the way Collins term "minions" and this vid at once construct and hails a specific sense of community. That is, expressing one's affinity for Misha Collins means expressing your belonging to a group rather than just your individual feelings. Does the presence/construction of an interpretive community allow for more playful transgression in performing fandom? Does the presence/construction of an interpretive community allow for a different kind of interaction with celebrities themselves?
Hi Kristen--Very interesting! Building on this, I'd venture to say it's not only the amount of attention but the type or mode of attention and interaction: not only did Misha encourage followers and coordinate them to take down PDiddy for the lucifer is coming campaign, but he/they also interact in a way that fosters their own community mode of interaction. It's not only the interface of twitter, but also the playful/satiric tenor that is shared by both fans and celebrity in this case. Crucially, it's not just that Misha Collins came into an already existing fandom and copied their modes of interaction--more that he engaged a still evolving fandom and the fandom shifted to encompass the celebrity/fan interaction.
Thinking about these modes of celebrity/fan interaction really does help shed light on the significant difference between the fan/celebrity interactions stemming from TVD and Supernatural/Misha Minions, especially given the fact that both series are on the same network and indeed have an overlapping fan base.
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