In the wake of the announcement from Jared Padalecki that his wife is pregnant, let us here consider the nature of wank. If you want to look into the wankfest to which I refer, you can go here. I don’t want to make this post all about Supernatural or the specifics of this one incident of tinhat craziness. If you’ve spent any time at all in fandom, you have probably encountered this sort of madness. You know how it goes – “X doesn’t love his wife REALLY, he has a secret gay relationship with his co-star Y, so the marriage is a sham arranged by their publicists, to protect their careers”. My understanding is that the most infamous case of tinhattery to date was (is still?) to be found in LOTRips and was centred on the Domlijah (Dominic Monahan/Elijah Wood) fandom. I’m sure that this plot unfolds with varying levels of intensity in many fandoms and, lately, SPN fandom has been carrying the tinhat banner.

I’m fascinated by the tinhat phenomenon. Now, please don’t think this is me trying to set myself apart from those OTHER, crazy fans, but I sincerely wonder why it is so important to some fans to believe that two men who have been slashed in fantasy MUST BE together in reality. It is as though they find it necessary to read the text of these two celebrities as having a slashy subtext in order to justify writing stories about them. And I don’t understand why that would be necessary. Fanfiction is fantasy. It is made up. I really do believe that the vast majority of people in fandom understand this. And RPS, despite being about two ostensibly “real” people, is also fiction. It has its own characters and themes, drawn from publicity material and gag reels and photos, yes, but still it is fiction. So what does it matter, as long as we keep it quiet and don’t push it in the actors’ faces at a con?

To say that the tinhat fringe consists of fans who simply possess a few more emotional tics than the rest of us (and by this I mean “who are nuts”) seems to me too easy. We all have our neuroses and our scars, and for all of our varied reasons, we find something therapeutic or comforting or exciting or fulfilling about exploring our fantasies in an on-line, anonymous forum. I really wonder if the folks engaging in the tinhatting are simply indulging another kind of fantasy, kind of “live roleplaying” a melodramatic RPS story with evil publicists and downtrodden gay actors and self-serving producers. I guess I want to believe that they are fans just like me – a bit eccentric but more or less ordinary.

From the tinhat phenomenon is inevitably derived the wank. The anthropologist in me observes wank – and wank about the wank, and the wanky wank report – with still more fascination. I wonder, if I observe fans being a little “nuts” and I decide to step in and let them know it, am I then joining in the wank? At what point does an intervention in the name of sanity become wank?

I wonder, if I met a wanker in real life, would they seem like a pretty average human being? If that is so, what emotional needs are being satisfied by wankery?

[META] Wankety Wank
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