June 2016. I will present a paper at: ‘PopCAANZ’ this month in the Fandom session.
‘Jensen Ackles is a (homophobic) douchebag’: Discourses of perceived homophobia on an LGBT internet forum
This paper analyses discourse on LGBT internet forum the DataLounge that takes Jensen Ackles’ (star of cult series Supernatural) supposed homophobia as its subject. Ackles’ construction as a homophobic subject from the perspective of certain members of this online homosexual community is explored with regard to five relevant threads — created between 2007 and 2014, and which have attracted in excess of 1,150 responses, collectively. Of particular interest is the manner in which Ackles’ statements and behaviour at fan conventions (especially in relation to the popularity of queer readings of the character he plays), and of his supposed religious and political inclinations are read by members of this anonymous online community. This discourse is considered in conjunction with existing scholarship on Supernatural as a cult phenomenon, in particular readings of religion (Engstrom and Valenzano, 2010) and patriarchy (Howell, 2014), and of negative experiences by fans (Schmidt, 2010). Also considered is Ackles’ portrayal of the character of Dean Winchester, who has also been read by scholars (and members of the DataLounge forums) in relation to a certain hegemonic view of masculinity and heterosexuality (George, 2014; Nicol, 2014).