Dear Jared Padalecki,
I have a quick question for you, but in order to ask it, i need to give you a little background on an event that is unfolding at the moment... Here's the background: Right now (this morning) at The American Culture Association's academic conference in Seattle, there is a panel being conducted called "Fandom As Protest Space" where Tanya Cook is presenting her paper titled:
Always Keep (Nerd)Fighting: Durkheim’s Collective Effervescence and Fandoms as Reformative Social Movements
And, this is the abstract on the paper:
"In his pioneering sociological work on how religion is fundamentally a social experience, Emile Durkheim theorized that individuals experience collective emotional highs when worshiping together. This “collective effervescence” creates a heightened, shared experience that helps to differentiate between the sacred (religious rituals) and profane (mundane, everyday reality). Thus, Durkheim argued, when individuals join together in religious worship they are not actually worshiping a higher power but are worshiping themselves as a collective or social group. In this paper, I apply Durkheim’s concepts of collective effervescence and other sociological theories to science fiction and fantasy fandoms. Through case studies of the Supernatural and Nerdfighter (John and Hank Green) fan communities, I argue that the collective effervescence fans experience through consumption of the show/media has resulted in a bridge to social movement mobilization for some fans. Led by celebrities in the fandoms, fan participation in the Always Keep Fighting Campaign, world-wide scavenger hunt, GISHWHES (or Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen), and Nerdfighteria meetups represent new alternative and potentially even reformative social movements (Aberle, 1966). Just as religious worshipers enact their values through social justice ministries or service work, some fan communities have effectively leveraged the collective effervescence fans experience after consuming the show and interacting on social media into real and measurable impacts in the world."
Now, Jared, I'm no academic (although i too have written papers on Durkheim's "collective effervescence"), but from the passage above, it sounds like we are at the helm of "social movement mobilizations" which tap into some of the same social fabric that enshrouds "religious worship." Add to this the fact that Supernatural is often referred to as a "cult show" or a "cult hit," and i think you have the makings of an interesting proposition...
Which brings me (finally) to the question portion of this letter: Jared, if we are in fact on a "cult show," and we are harnessing a "collective effervescence" akin to the worship of a "higher power," would it not be accurate to argue that we are actually cult leaders? And if we are cult leaders, would it not be reasonable to conclude that we should (while interest rates are low) invest in a sprawling, fortified compound that features underground bunkers, throngs of devotees wearing earth-toned linens, and hillsides peppered with dwellings configured to maximize polyamorous sexual encounters?
Let me know your thoughts.
to which Jared replied:
My dearest Misha,
I must admit, that was quite an astute, dashing encapsulation of our current mortal coil.
I feel obliged to thank you for sticking to your initial forewarning of a "quick question". Dare I say it, I've heretofore never been met with such brevity when dealing with pertinent matters.
I shall initiate my humble response by, first, thanking Tanya Cook for her observations. It is an honor to meet a fellow Durkheim-ophile (though, alas, only across the inter-webs).
That having been said, I would be remiss to not acknowledge the earliest of the sociological vanguards. Namely, the very subjects that prescribed their lives and limbs to the teachings of Jesus Christ, Allah, Buddha, Confucius, et al. Durkheim was CERTAINLY notable in his observation of religion and its subsequent effect on the social experience, but I contend that the phenomenon existed LONG before it was given a name. The souls that first experienced said "collective effervescence" were, arguably, as important to the subject at hand as the man who gave it a name.
After all, did "oxygen" exist ONLY after being labeled? Was "America" just a dream before Amerigo Vespucci was honored by the attachment of his moniker to the glorious plot of land in the Western Hemisphere?
There can be no seller without a buyer. They are part and parcel of the same experience. (My dear Bard might even suggest, "A rose by any other name...")
But I digress.
Whilst in the throes of leaden contemplation, it occurred to me that you, too, considered yourself to be part of the construction and completion of the vehicle with which I (and Jensen Ackles, obv.) inspire the thoughts and feelings by which the masses revel in the aforementioned effervescence.
Seldom does one of my storied followers count themselves as a cog in this rarified wheel.
So, it is with pride (and a touch of amusement), that I assure you that such a fortified complex does already exist; in the minds of the blessed few who are endowed with a child's imagination, in the hearts of the scorned lover who is certain of a brighter day on the horizon, and in the souls of the dreamers who, amongst a collective conscience, inspire us all.
Yeah dude. I'll call my banker. I'm pretty sure I can get a 7 year adjustable between 3% and 5%. If we got enough land, we could ride dirt bikes and stuff. I bet we could even set some stuff on fire and try to see who could skip rocks the best.
That would be pretty sweet.
Call me tomorrow.
to which Misha responded:
Sorry, man, when I didn't hear back from you, I assumed you weren't interested, and now I'm in escrow on this place with Daniel Radcliffe. Those rates sound great, though. I'd love to chat with your mortgage broker. Text me his 411!