‘Supernatural’ fandom gives the CW a lesson in Twitter PR

Note to the CW: You tweet what you sow.

 

Aja Romano

Internet Culture

Published Jul 17, 2014   Updated May 30, 2021, 10:43 pm CDT

It might be summer, but the CW, the network responsible for some of the biggest fandoms around, including Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries, isn’t taking a break. In fact, this week on Twitter, CW executives, or at least the people who run their social media accounts, have been getting thoroughly schooled in the ways of fandom and social media—and the dangers of inviting fans to talk back.

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#AskSupernatural Any show recs for new shows to watch, since I won’t bother with this one anymore?

— Supermishamiga (@supermishamiga) July 15, 2014

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On Tuesday, the network launched a series of Twitter hashtags for various shows, inviting fans to submit questions to be answered by the casts and crews at San Diego Comic Con. After a deluge of responses, the network eventually deleted all but two of the open requests:

Have questions for @grantgust? Use #AskTheFlash for a chance to have them answered at Comic-Con®! #CWSDCC #WBSDCC pic.twitter.com/e1DtNQQMX7

— The Flash (@CW_TheFlash) July 15, 2014

Have questions for #Arrow? Use #AskArrow to have them answered by the cast at Comic-Con® 2014! #CWSDCC #WBSDCC pic.twitter.com/Y2aQVlfDiQ

— Arrow (@CW_Arrow) July 15, 2014

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Among the hashtags whose official announcements were deleted are #AskTVD, #AskTheOriginals, and #AskSupernatural. Particularly in the case of Supernatural, the CW’s ploy backfired; thousands of fans who were angry and upset with the network deluged the #AskSupernatural hashtag for days with snark, challenges, and critical questions, which seemed to far outnumber more innocent questions about the show’s narrative.


GIF via our-lord-and-savior-mishacollins

So many fans joined in that #AskSupernatural trended worldwide on Tuesday and then again on Wednesday, and shows no sign of stopping today. Numerous fans compared it to the equally ill-fated #AskRobinThicke:

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@xceteras @byegender on a scale of #AskRobinThicke to #myNYPD, how much of a PR disaster is #AskSupernatural?

— Marek Ange Sulkowski (@lurkeriatipsos) July 15, 2014

Are you all starting to regret the #AskSupernatural tag? Did #askrobinthicke teach you nothing?

— Kerry (@Nightwriter01) July 15, 2014

The vast majority of SPN fans joined in to criticize the show’s oft-noted ongoing issues: cyclical plots, problematic tropes, and above all the sustained refusal to give Dean and Castiel, or “Destiel,” an explicitly acknowledged romance.

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#AskSupernatural when will we get something other than “one bro has issues, other wastes season trying to save him, Cas in angel wars”

— Gadreel (@_gadreel) July 15, 2014

#AskSupernatural Do you realise that a large portion of your fans are queer and female? Do you have ANY interest in pleasing them?

— Louise (@FlooStorm) July 15, 2014

#AskSupernatural How do you write two characters in classic romantic tropes and then declare NO HOMO?

— MazeltovCocktail ADM (@slythrntimelord) July 15, 2014

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#AskSupernatural do you think women are witches?

— Pup!Sammy’sBitchface (@sammysassyqueen) July 15, 2014

#AskSupernatural You made Charlie canonically lesbian & still just implied her relationship with Dorothy cause subtext is your thing, huh?

— Bones (@cecilos) July 15, 2014

HAHA! RT @angel_kist: #AskSupernatural do you realize our expectations for S10 are so low, Hell is our upstairs neighbor?

— darkforetold (@darkforetold) July 15, 2014

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#AskSupernatural There has been 3 bestiality references in supernatural that I’ve managed to catch. Would a kiss between 2 men really hurt?

— Jizzel Faith (@Gizzel22) July 15, 2014

#AskSupernatural Do you believe bisexual Dean would ruin the show? How would you explain that to queer viewers?

— Hael Azalea (@HaelAzalea) July 15, 2014

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#AskSupernatural Why did you kill Kevin? Why get rid of Charlie? Can you be on this show only if ur a straight white male?

— Supermishamiga (@supermishamiga) July 15, 2014

Most of the constant refrain of criticism stemmed from SPN’s status as the whitest, manliest, straightest show ever to have inexplicably cultivated a fandom that is its demographic polar opposite. But in between the social justice and ship-related concerns were more practical questions about the plot of the show itself:

@cw_spn #AskSupernatural is Adam ever gonna get out of the cage?

— *?Alma Carrillo?* (@almacarillo) July 15, 2014

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@cw_spn #AskSupernatural also, how can you explain me how in 8×01 Dean has been in Purgatory and still has a better haircut than Sammy HOW

— franz fennynand (@unbreakablesouI) July 15, 2014

#AskSupernatural would it kiLL YOU GUYS TO SAY CHRISTO ONCE IN AWHILE. OR EXCORCISE DEMONS RATHER THAN KILLING THE VESSEL. ;-;

— 100 DAYS !!!!!! (@jennahush) July 17, 2014

Fans were also quick to respond to the CW’s deletion of the original invitation to use the hashtag, though there’s no indication that it was due to the nature of the questions and not simply the overwhelming number of responses:

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Deleting #AskSupernatural doesn’t change the sexist, racist, homophobic tendencies of SPN. I love SPN, but there’s stupid shit in the show.

— Anya (@AnyaFarFarAway) July 16, 2014

#AskSupernatural Voicing your complaints and concerns is NOT hate. People are asking the Qs they want answered, even when theyll be ignored.

— Miss Renee (@MissReneeChan) July 16, 2014

The Daily Dot also got some appreciation from fans on the hashtag:

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#AskSupernatural how do you feel about the fact that articles like this exist and that they are 100% right http://t.co/lJGZwCvMfF

— Shelby (@frickinmisha) July 16, 2014

Elsewhere, fans of The Vampire Diaries and The Originals also had their own particular complaints:

If Damon comes back to life and reunites with Elena what are the possibilities of seeing their reunion happen in the rain? #AskTVD

— (@alfasterthanyou) July 17, 2014

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#AskTheOriginals #AskTVD Why didn’t Elijah go see Katherine when she was dying? Because it really made him look like a D bag.

— Mae (@Bicksie404) July 17, 2014

Yikes! Looks like the CW can’t catch a break. It’s a good thing we love their shows so much. And after all, they do say disagreement is the highest form of respect.

Screengrab via Netflix

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*First Published: Jul 17, 2014, 5:48 pm CDT