Shippers and anti-fan fans in Smallville fandom

Ed note: This is paper/project about Smallville fans that I recently completed for a media audiences course at Indiana University.

“[C]learly anti-fans construct an image of the text – and, what is more, an image they feel is accurate – sufficiently enough that they can react to and against it.” – Jonathan Gray[1]

Most texts have their die-hard fans and their detractors.  We expect die-hards to write the fan fiction, serve as consumers of any products related to that text and create interactive, collective intelligence communities, as Henry Jenkins suggests.[2] And as Jonathan Gray notes, we expect the anti-fans to “find cause for their dislike in something,” whether that be genre, director, stars or something else entirely.[3] But for the most part, we also expect the die-hard fans and the anti-fans to be the two extreme ends of a spectrum (with non-fans somewhere in the middle) without there being much overlap between the two groups.

However, thanks to the ever-developing world of online fandom that ranges from text-specific message board discussions to the comments sections of mainstream media web sites, the distinctions between the fan and anti-fan is blurring. The primary catalyst for the melding of these groups is “shipping,” which is the fans’ fervent emotional investment in the romantic relationships of fictional characters. Fans who participate in such behavior are known as “shippers,” and typically express their support for a relationship in a number of ways, including fan or slash fiction, which positions the characters in new situations or contexts and can be erotic, and online discussion postings. Because they can ardently support a specific pairing, shippers quickly become diametrically opposed to other pairings that could undercut their primary “ship.” This leads to arguments, flaming and “shipper wars” across the web between various shippers who might despise one or more characters of a text. However, as shippers oppose specific characters or pairings, they do so because they think their ship is better for the characters, and the text as a whole.

Therefore, the opposing shipper groups create a landscape where certain fans are anti-fans of specific characters and relationships, but still die-hard fans of the text as a whole. Meaning, instead of die-hard fans and anti-fans existing as polar opposites, fans can exist as both in the same space, creating the anti-fan fan.

Case study of the anti-fan fan: Smallville

To explore the existence of anti-fan fans, I have chosen to present the once-WB, now-CW series Smallville. Smallville premiered in 2001 on the now-defunct WB network and began as an exploration of the teenage years of Clark Kent, the boy who would someday become Superman. Over its nine seasons, the series has primarily highlighted characters from the DC Comics universe and decades of Superman mythology, starting with parents Jonathan and Martha Kent, future-nemesis Lex Luthor, buddy Pete Ross and love interest Lana Lang and later Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, Oliver Queen (aka the Green Arrow) and of course, Lois Lane.

However, Smallville has implemented its own original characters as well, most notably Chloe Sullivan, who has spent the entire run of the series as Clark’s best friend, confidant and now-superhero sidekick. In fact, aside from Clark, the only character to appear in every season of the series has been Chloe. While the series is based on comic books full of superheroes and action, its existence on networks predominantly aimed at teen girls means that a substantial amount of the episodes deal with characters’ romantic issues.

Thus, there are Smallville shippers of all sorts, each with their amalgamated names: Clana (Clark-Lana), Clex (Clark-Lex), Chlark (Clark-Chloe), Clois (Clark-Lois), Chimmy (Jimmy-Chloe) and Chlollie (Oliver-Chloe). At this juncture of the series, the most popular – and thus in hostile opposition to one another – ships are Chlark and Clois. The battle between these two groups dominates most of the conversation on the most popular Smallville-related fan site, KryptonSite.com, and in comments sections of more general (and popular) web sites, but has also exploded so much that each stable has its own private web site that allows them to enjoy their specific ship without the hostility of the other group.

Through the analysis of these various web portals and interviews with members on each side of this specific shipper war and people trapped in between the two, this paper will explore how the anti-fan fan works within the fandom of Smallville and its implications for the fans and the series as a whole. It will also attempt to answer these questions: How do these shipper wars affect the fans’ enjoyment of the series? Can they enjoy it outside of the confines of shipper-dom?

Chloe vs. Lois: A history

It is important to describe the circumstances at which both Chloe and Lois exist in Smallville and how they interact with the Clark, as it shapes the shippers’ feelings and reactions to the series as a whole. As previously mentioned, Chloe has been a part of the series since the beginning and in the earlier seasons, served as a makeshift placeholder to Lois. She was the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper and did just about anything for a story. As the series progressed, she became a foil for Lex Luthor, harvested a multitude of sources and eventually worked at the Daily Planet as a reporter. These traits are typically attached to the Lois Lane character in the Superman comics, animated series and films.

When Lois Lane herself was brought on the series in season four, her personality was far from any of those traits that Chloe had. Instead, she was a fifth-year high school student with a smoking problem that did not have any interest in journalism.[4] And though she eventually warmed up to the idea of journalism, she admitted that Chloe was better at it than her and only got her job at the Daily Planet because Chloe had previously penned a story under Lois’ name to protect her own identity.[5] For seasons four through seven, Lois was primarily used in the series as a comedic foil for Clark and little else. The portrayals of the two characters led to an infamous theory concocted by Chloe fans early in the series that some still hold on to today: The Chlois Theory. The predominant Chlois fan web site, CarbonCopy.com, describes the Chlois Theory is as follows:

“What if Lois Lane, famous ace reporter for the Daily Planet, helpmate, co-worker and eventual spouse of Clark Kent/Superman, actually grew up with the name Chloe Sullivan? Well, then we have been unknowingly watching the story of young Lois Lane on Smallville since the Pilot. Fans who think so are Chloisers because they hope Chloe is the iconic Lois Lane. Currently, the most popular Chlois theory is that for some as yet unknown reason, the character played by Allison Mack, will adopt “Lois Lane” as a pen name for her work at the Daily Planet.”[6]

Thus, not only do the Chloe and Lois fans fight over which one is a better romantic partner for the to be-Superman, they also go to message board war over which one is the true, “iconic” Lois Lane. Fans on each side of the argument are obviously hostile when the subject is brought up.

One Clois fan that goes by the handle Jade feels that the Chlois theory is “generally argued [for] by people who seem to display a complete lack of understanding of Lois Lane’s character in the comics” and noted, “I used to debate the theory with its proponents, and it was always mind-boggling to me how they twist things to suit their theories.”[7]

Unsurprisingly, ardent Chlois supporters do not agree with this point of view. Elliotxoxo expressed his anger through a blog post, noting, “If you’re still watching Smallville, which most of you aren’t (considering the ratings), then you’ve witnessed the fake!Lois Lane steal everything that once belonged to Chloe Sullivan. I believe the intuitive rejection of the shallowly written EDLois Lane [ED refers to actress Erica Durance] drove SV to push Chloe into an obscure arch of her own in these later seasons.”[8]

Based on the other interviews I did and information I gathered for this project, the responses for each side of the debate typically follow that pattern. Alas, this argument completely overwhelms the online discussion of the series, with seven different 4,000-plus response forum topics dedicated to it on KryptonSite.com.[9] Adam, a fan of the series uninterested in the Chlois theory or any shipping for that matter, noted that he “can’t even go online to read about the show anymore [because] all it seems to be is fans of one female arguing against fans of another – and even some arguing that those two are the same person.”[10] Therefore, it is apparent that the battle over who the true Lois is colors the Chlark-Clois shipper wars in a completely different way that takes it beyond just who makes a better or cuter couple; many of the arguments turn to who is simply the better person, with Clark left out of the equation.

Becoming an anti-fan fan

The anti-fan fans within Smallville fandom complicate Gray’s definition of anti-fan in a few ways. Gray suggests that although sometimes anti-fans have never watched the series or film they vehemently oppose, their knowledge – and thus hatred – comes from the “paratext,” an idea introduced by Gerard Genette. Genette refers to the paratext as the “semi-textual fragments that surround the position of the work” that “stand to inflect our interpretation of the text substantially.”[11]

Thus, anti-fans can further their dislike of a text by passively noticing articles about it, discussions centered on it or anything else partially related to the primary text without actually consuming it themselves. However, almost all the anti-fan fans in Smallville fandom are full-time, active consumers of the series.

Based on the forum postings after each episode found on KryptonSite.com, fans of both ships watch every episode, but use each episode as a way to further their side of the shipper argument. Each episode gets its own sub-section of the forum and based on my browsing of each sub-section for this season, most of the topics focus on either Chloe/Chlark or Lois/Clois. For example, the sub-section for the April 2, 2010 episode “Escape” features topics with titles such as “Chlark sex talk” (1,981 views and 72 comments as of April 17), “Clois sex” (3,464 views, 117 comments) and “Who wants Clark more?” (A poll with 1,912 views and 136 votes).[12] Though this episode dipped heavily into these issues and therefore probably created a more spirited output, the sub-sections of the KryptonSite.com forums are filled with Chlark and Clois fans trying to prove different things about their specific ship. Discussion topics for the most recent episode “Upgrade” – one that was more mythology-heavy – include: “Dear Lois, Dump Your Boyfriend and Your Cousin: An Open Letter” (2,570 views, 86 comments) and “Clois scenes” (4,804 views, 185 comments).[13]

It seems that no matter the episode or the subject matter, Chlark and Clois fans interject themselves into the conversation. For example, the original post in the “Dear Lois, Dump Your Boyfriend…” topic was actually a negative response from a Clois fan to “Upgrade,” but in just a few responses, it turned into a Chlark-Clois thing as one commenter said: “P.S. Encourage Chloe and Clark to get back together and live happily ever after. Whoops, did I just through in a Chlark reference in an entirely anti-Chloe and Clark thread? J.”[14]

Additionally, it seems that the Smallville anti-fan fans not only actively consume the series as opposed to passively interacting with the paratext, but they also use the various paratexts to help further specific shipper causes. Obviously, the message board could be read as a paratext that would allow someone to be knowledgeable without watching religiously, but it is apparent the Chlark and Clois shippers use it for more than that.

The two groups are also very active on more “mainstream” media web sites, most notably Entertainment Weekly’s web site EW.com, and TelevisionWithoutPity.com. Thus when spoiler journalist Michael Ausiello posts something about Smallville – which he does more so than any other series aside from House and Grey’s Anatomy – the comments typically turn towards the pros and cons of Chloe and Lois.[15] For example, a March 30, 2010 Ausiello entry about a series regular dying has garnered 808 comments as of April 17. [16] There, one fan noted that “No Chloe, no Smallville,” which caused a few Lois supporters to say, “You don’t mean that” and led to this comment by an obviously Chloe supporter: “I KNOW a ton of people who already left (only watching the Chloe scenes online and some who refuse to even do that) I’m sure once Chloe is gone, several people will leave and never come back. Once Chloe is gone, I will feel no temptation to watch ANY of the scenes.”[17] Gray acknowledges that “dislike is potentially as powerful an emotion and a reaction is like” and these instances display the fans using the paratexts as a way to spread the word about the characters and pairings they ship, but also using them to cut down the ones they do not like. [18]

Chlark shippers vs. Clois shippers: How anti-fans fans interact with one another

The previous sections have explained who these different groups of people are and how they can become anti-fan fans, and now it is time to discuss how the two groups interact with one another. As Henry Jenkins suggests in response to Pierre Levy, online fans are “expansive self-organizing groups focused around the collective production, debate, and circulation of meanings, interpretations and fantasies,” and as a whole, Smallville fans certainly fit that bill. [19] The activity on web sites like KryptonSite.com and EW.com have already been noted, but additionally fans take to YouTube to create various mash-up videos and also pen fan fiction (Smallville is the 13th most popular TV text on FanFiction.net with over 11,000 stories).[20] Thus, it is obvious that fans of the series are active, but a closer look implies that the Chlark and Clois shippers are the most active of the whole group.

And throughout the message board posts, comment flame wars and anything else, the plan for each group is seemingly to “score wins” or defeat the other, whether through their actions or events that take place within the context of the series itself. On KryptonSite.com’s forum, each episode sub-section has a “Best Actor/Actress” poll where the two groups fight over which one of the actresses/characters did the best, an obvious competition between the two groups.[21] Moreover, when the ratings for each episode are released, the conversations reacting to that usually focus on blaming lower ratings on one character or celebrating higher ratings on another. For example, the comments on a recent Hollywood Reporter article about the series’ ratings quickly turned to the blame game. One anti-Chloe commenter said, “The ratings fell off a cliff in the second half of last season too. The common denominator? More Chloe-focused episodes,” while an anti-Lois commenter replied with “Not surprised, nobody wants to see Cnois.”[22] Craig Byrne, the creator and editor of KryptonSite.com, said that the attempts to put one over on another do drive most of the online interactions between the groups: “I think sometimes people do or say things just so they get those ‘wins’ and can rub it in to everyone else. For example, I’m sure most Chloe fans loved [recent episode] ‘Checkmate’ [a well-regarded episode] just because Erica [Durance]was not in it. They might not have cared otherwise.”[23]

These instances represent attempts at gaining distinction and subcultural capital. Subcultural capital, as discussed by Sarah Thornton, centers on members of a subculture distinguishing themselves through certain knowledge, skills or taste that makes them look “better” or “authentic” in comparison to other members of the subculture.[24] While Thornton and later Jeffrey Sconce discuss subcultures in opposition to the “mainstream,” their work still applies here because Chloe and Lois fans exist as almost sub-subcultures within the larger fan culture of Smallville fandom.[25]

Thus, when episodes predominantly highlight Clark and Lois, the fans that support that ship feel like they have gained an upper-hand, some distinction, because they are so emotionally invested in that relationship and so a positive moment for that couple means a positive moment for them, individually and as a group. These reactions also further the argument made by Mark Jancovich that subcultural groups are not harmonious groups fighting up against one power – in his case, the Hollywood film system – but instead, groups of people with varying readings of the text that can easily turn into “vicious struggles for distinction.”[26]

Effects of the shipper wars

Another development that has been inspired by because of the war between these two groups is that the two of them have slowly begun receding from the battlefields. While both groups still participate actively in conversations and debates on the KryptonSite.com web site or more mainstream portals like EW.com, many fans have given up and retreated to their communities where they know they will not be bothered by members of the other group. CarbonCopy.com has already been mentioned, but it exists as a major pro-Chlois theory and Chlark community, along with other sites like two-of-us.svtometropolis.com and flybacktome.suddenlaunch3.com. On the Clois side of fandom, DivineIntervention.com is the dominant community. What is perhaps most interesting about each of these communities is that they require users to sign up for a username and password to even read most of the content. Additionally, early in the current season, fans of Chloe and Chlark were vocal in organizing miniature boycotts of certain episodes that foreground Lois on Twitter and other social media spaces.[27]

It seems that the opposing sects want to create space between themselves and “other” fans, whether they support a different ship or not. One Clois supporter Paloma noted that while she has a KryptonSite.com account, she spends almost all of her time on DivineIntervention.com because “discussing the show with like-minded people is the most enjoyable,” while Jack-El49 said he was banned from KryptonSite.com and thus chooses Divine Intervention because “fighting about relationships leads to unhappy endings that I just don’t care about at this point.”[28] These instances display the fans becoming anti-fan fans because they choose to avoid a certain text – in this case just a certain part of it – but are still actively doing so and instead choosing to focus on other portions of the text they do enjoy.

Additionally, it is also an example of the fans creating more levels of distinction between each other in the sense that it takes a “true” fan to make the effort to create a username and be an active member of a ship-specific web site instead of just lurking around on the general spaces. Moreover, it seems that the need to create distinctive, separated groups at least partially violates Jenkins’ ideas of fan enjoyment through interactive, participatory cultures. Without the full group of Smallville fans together, the collective intelligence does not quite exist in the way that it could, or is at least skewed towards fan ideology or another. The scope of response, something Jenkins celebrates the internet for bringing fandom, is more limited than it could be.[29]

Is it all bad?

Most of the evidence presented thus far paints a fairly negative portrayal of Smallville fans, groups of people who intensely argue for outlandish theories, participating in heated discussions and sometimes even pushing for boycotts of certain episodes of a series they supposedly love. And with anti-fan fans retreating to their corners of the internet and avoiding constructive, intelligent discourse, it seems like the war between Chlark’ers and Clois’ers has drained the energy out of the fandom.

However, despite the separation from places like KryptonSite.com and the movement towards ship-specific web sites, discussion still happens. It might not occur between fans on opposing sides, but if a private web site like DivineIntervention.com can have over 7,000 members, some conversation about Smallville is happening.[30] As Craig Byrne notes, “The positive part is that the fandom wars have kept people talking about the show for years. It’s worse to have viewers who are apathetic” and for a series in its ninth season, there is something to be said for a rabid fan base, whether they agree on much or not.[31]

And there is real-world evidence for the fervent support for Smallville, as its move to the Friday night “death slot” as some call it this season did not substantially affect ratings; the media has consistently celebrated its performance throughout the 2009-2010 season.[32] The series also regularly has one of the most-attended panels at Comic-Con each summer. Finally, the regular coverage of Smallville on popular web sites like EW.com, TVGuide.com and TVGuideMagazine.com proves that the mainstream media knows that there is a group out there who wants to talk about the series. The 808 comments on just one EW.com article prove that no matter what they are talking about specifically, fans are still interested in discussing Smallville.

This suggests that Jenkins’ positive outlook for participatory culture exists within Smallville fandom. The collective intelligence pool might not be as large as it could be, but under the circumstances, it still exists and exists in a substantial way. Moreover, the creation of different, ship-specific web sites fits Jenkins’ idea of the expansion of communities fairly well. In this example, fans might be splintering away from a major fan hub in KryptonSite.com, but the creation of new web sites can be read as a positive growth for the fandom. And though he refers to fandom in general, Jenkins’ notion that the internet leads to a mainstreaming of fandom can also apply here, considering the frequency of Smallville fans on the more mainstream news web sites.[33]

Lastly, despite all their posturing and arguing, some fans’ willingness to let go of it all might prove to be a partial maturation process within the fandom. After years of attempts to create distinctions, score wins or gain subcultural capital, most of the shippers I interviewed seemed at least partially burnt out in arguing about ships, even if they still support their ship. Rachel noted she “hated negativity and character bashing no matter who it is,” while Mary said she “despises shipper wars and always thinks of the show with Clark Kent as the main character in mind.”[34] These sentiments were echoed throughout the series of interviews completed for this project and obviously they represent a small sliver of the full fandom population, but even some signs of a truce are perhaps better than none.

What’s next?

With this project, I set out to prove that the relationship between the fan and anti-fan was not as far apart as we might think, however, throughout my research it seems as though the issue of fandom within Smallville was also more complicated than even I originally thought. There is a substantial amount of evidence that displays how fans on either side of the Chlark–Clois and Chloe-Lois battles exist as anti-fan fans, people who can fully enjoy and embrace the series as a whole, but refuse to do so for certain characters or relationships. The anti-fan fans actively work against the other groups through typical fan production – message board postings, fan fiction, etc. – and have created an environment that is relies on trying to prove the other wrong or create some sort of distinction. Things get nasty, threats are made, and people are made fools of, all in the name of fictional relationships that do not “really” matter.

And yet, with this building up over multiple seasons of the series, members of each group are seemingly fed up with the fighting and are now retreating to their own sub-subcultures where they can celebrate the things they believe in with likeminded individuals. Therefore, past academic work on both anti-fandom and internet fan communities has been complicated within the Smallville fandom universe.

There is no longer a clear line of difference between the fan and anti-fan, but communities are splintering and perhaps shrinking because some want to avoid diverse opinions. Could this or does this happen in other fan communities? Would it eventually become a negative thing because not everyone is together in the discussion like Jenkins’ optimistically hopes they will be? But on the flip side, any debate about a program that is moving into its tenth season on a network barely anyone watches has to be seen as a positive. That is not to say that without the shipper debates, Smallville would have no fans, but these groups certainly do expand the conversation – wherever it takes place – and keep the series in the minds of the mainstream media, who thus continue to report on it.

Therefore, does the shipping’s effect on the series’ profile outweigh the possible negative outcomes, such as some fans tuning out due to certain characters being pushed to the front? Could the retreating into smaller, less argumentative communities be read as a positive for the future of shipping within fandom? Are the seemingly arbitrary distinctions the shippers try to make between one another important in any way? And is an active, productive fan base, flaws in all, crucial to keeping a series on the air for this long? The case of Smallville is not able to answer all those questions on its own, but hopefully it serves as a stepping stone on the path to understand how fans, anti-fans and anti-fan fans exist in the same space and influence a media text.


[1] . Jonathan Gray, “New Audiences, New Textualities: Anti-Fans and Non-Fans,” International Journal of Cultural Studies, v. 6, no. 1 (2003): 71.

[2] Jenkins, Henry. “Interactive Audiences”? from Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture (New York: New York University Press, 2006), 136-140.

[3] Gray, 71.

[4] “Lois Lane.” The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Web. 27 Apr. 2010. <http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0000198/&gt;.

[5] Harold, Holly. “”Facade”” Smallville. The WB. 6 Oct. 2004. Television.; Slavkin, Todd, and Darren Swimmer. “Kara.” Smallville. The CW. 4 Oct. 2007. Television.

[6] Massena. “Some Achieve Greatness: Part I – An Overview of Evidence.” Carbon Copy.org. 06 Jan. 2006. Web. 26 Apr. 2010. <http://www.carboncopy.chlois.org/essays/reasons/some-achieve-greatness-part-i-overview-evidence&gt;.

[7] “Interview with Jade.” E-mail interview. 7 Apr. 2010.

[8] Elliottxoxo. “The “What If” That Is ‘Smallville'” Spider Fan’s Web. 14 Nov. 2009. Web. 26 Apr. 2010. <http://spiderfansweb.wordpress.com/2009/11/14/the-what-if-that-is-smallville/&gt;.

[9] “KryptonSite Message Forums Search ‘Chlois Theory'” KryptonSite. Web. 27 Apr. 2010. <http://www.kryptonsite.com/forums/search.php?searchid=2205707&gt;.

[10] Interview with Adam.” E-mail interview. 3 Apr. 2010.

[11] Genette, Gerald. Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation, translated by Jane E. Lewin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1997.; Gray, 72-74.

[12] “#9-16 “Escape” – KryptonSite Message Forums.” KryptonSite. 2 Apr. 2010. Web. 17 Apr. 2010. <http://www.kryptonsite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=618&gt;.

[13] “#9-18 “Upgrade” – KryptonSite Message Forums.” KryptonSite. 16 Apr. 2010. Web. 17 Apr. 2010. <http://www.kryptonsite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?s=&daysprune=-1&f=634&gt;.

[14] Britas15. “Dear Lois, Dump Your Boyfriend and Your Cousin: An Open Letter – KryptonSite Message Forums.” KryptonSite. 16 Apr. 2010. Web. 17 Apr. 2010. <http://www.kryptonsite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=141748&gt;.

[15] Ausiello, Michael. “The Ausiello Files – Top Categories.” The Ausiello Files at EW.com. Web. 27 Apr. 2010. <http://ausiellofiles.ew.com/#&gt;.

[16] Ausiello, Michael. “‘Smallville’ Exclusive: Someone Is Going to [major Spoiler Alert]!” The Ausiello Files at EW.com. 30 Mar. 2010. Web. 27 Apr. 2010. <http://ausiellofiles.ew.com/2010/03/30/smallville-finale-death-spoiler/#comments&gt;.

[17] Ausiello, Michael. “‘Smallville’ Exclusive: Someone Is Going to [major Spoiler Alert]!” The Ausiello Files at EW.com. 30 Mar. 2010. Web. 27 Apr. 2010. <http://ausiellofiles.ew.com/2010/03/30/smallville-finale-death-spoiler/#comments&gt;.

[18] Gray, 73.

[19] Jenkins, “Interactive Audiences?” 134-140.

[20] “TV Shows [Most Popular] – FanFiction.Net.” Unleash Your Imagination. Web. 27 Apr. 2010. <http://www.fanfiction.net/tv/#&gt;.

[21] “#9-18 “Upgrade” – KryptonSite Message Forums.” KryptonSite. 16 Apr. 2010. Web. 17 Apr. 2010. <http://www.kryptonsite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?s=&daysprune=-1&f=634&gt;.; “#9-16 “Escape” – KryptonSite Message Forums.” KryptonSite. 2 Apr. 2010. Web. 17 Apr. 2010. <http://www.kryptonsite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=618&gt;.

[22] Hibberd, James. “‘Smallville’ Drops Again, Hits Season Low.” The Live Feed. 17 Apr. 2010. Web. 27 Apr. 2010. <http://livefeed.hollywoodreporter.com/2010/04/smallville-ratings-low-.html#disqus_thread&gt;.

[23] “Interview Craig Byrne.” E-mail interview. 4 Apr. 2010.

[24] Thornton, Sarah. Club Cultures: Music, Media, and Subcultural Capital. Hanover: University of New England, 1996. 9-14, 158-162. Print.

[25] Jeffrey Sconce, “Trashing the Academy: Taste, Excess, and An Emerging Politics of Cinematic Style,” Screen 36.4 (1995): 371-393.

[26] Mark Jancovich, “Cult Fictions: Cult Movies, Subcultural Capital and the Production of Cultural Distinctions,” Cultural Studies 16.2 (2002): 306-322.

[27] Russell, Derek. “Starkville’s House of El Episode 135 – “Kandor”” Podcast. Starkville’s House of El. 11 Nov. 2009. Web. 27 Apr. 2010. <www.smallvillepodcast.com>.

[28] “Interview with Paloma.” E-mail interview. 3 Apr. 2010.; “Interview with Jack-El49.” E-mail interview. 3 Apr. 2010.

[29] Jenkins, Henry. “Introduction: ‘Worship at the Altar…,” from Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide (New York: New York University Press, 2006), 1-19.; Jenkins, “Interactive Audiences?” 134-151.

[30] “Interview with Mary.” E-mail interview. 3 Apr. 2010.

[31] “Interview Craig Byrne.” E-mail interview. 4 Apr. 2010.

[32] Hibberd, James. “CW Renews ‘Smallville’ for 10th Season.” Heat Vision at THR.com. 04 Mar. 2010. Web. 27 Apr. 2010. <http://www.heatvisionblog.com/2010/03/cw-renews-smallville-for-10th-season.html&gt;.

[33] Jenkins, “Interactive Audiences?” 140-143.

[34] “Interview with Rachel.” E-mail interview. 4 Apr. 2010.; “Interview with Mary.” E-mail interview. 3 Apr. 2010.

23 thoughts on “Shippers and anti-fan fans in Smallville fandom

  1. Cory,

    I really enjoyed your write-up on ‘shipping in SV fandom. Instead of just dismissing ‘shipping as some off-the-wall concept, you actually took defined terms and applied them accordingly to break down and understand it. Before I joined the KryptonSite Forums, I had absolutely no idea about ‘shipping and all that it involved, including the plethora of acronyms and portmanteaus. I wish this had been around then, it would sure have been a help!

    You represented each faction fairly as I saw it, with interviews from both sides of the spectrum without inserting your own influence…basically just a “Here it is everyone…” Much appreciated. It’s not easy to find that on the ‘net nowadays in regards to subjects such as this especially.

    We Smallville fans are definitely amongst the most passionate, as Craig said, it would be worse if we weren’t!

    I look forward to more.

    –Jenn aka WickedJenn (KryptonSite Moderator)

    Like

  2. Outstanding and thought-provoking research paper, Cory. I think your work was well-researched, well-documented and superbly presented. It was a pleasure to read.

    Like

  3. Dear Cory,

    I think this is an interesting essay and I appreciate you taking the time to do this. Clearly, you took this very seriously and I respect the time and effort that you put into this project.

    However, I think you have a few inaccurate assumptions and statements in your paper.

    First off, you imply several times that people retreat to their own websites (outside of Ksite) because they want to talk with people who are like-minded about the show. You also imply that many people shun “intelligent” discussion for discussion with people who will simply agree with you.

    I don’t think this was a proper assumption. In fact, I would probably label it a generalization.

    Personally, I don’t post a Ksite because I’m 27 years old and I find ALL the conversations on that site to be very immature. It’s easier for me to have mature conversations at a site like Divine Intervention where a large majority of the members are older and more mature. It has nothing to do with not wanting to be around people who are more general fans of the show and it has everything to do with wanting to talk about the show with people who are closer to my age and life experience. As I’m sure you can imagine, a married 27 year old is going to have a different perspective watching Smallville than say….a high school student or a college student. I’m not saying that one view is better than the other. However, I do find that it’s more enjoyable for me to talk about the show with people closer to my own age. If the average poster skewed a bit older at a place like Ksite, I might be more likely to post there. As it stands, I’m drawn to the people who are closer to my age and life experience. I know from experience that I am not alone in this. Many of the members of Divine INtervention (and yes, we have over 7,000 members) stay at DI not because they want to avoid people who disagree with them….but because they want to talk about the show with people closer to their own age.

    Second, I think you have misrepresented Lois Lane’s role in the show in the early seasons. Yes, she was sometimes used for comic relief or to put it better, to inject a little joy and laughter into what had become a very very dark show. In fact, Al Gough and Miles Millar (the original producers of the show) stated several times that she was a NEEDED comic relief in the early seasons because the show had become so dark. Tom Welling also openly stated that he liked Clark interacting with Lois because she challenged him in different ways than any other character. However, Lois was not only comic relief. She came on to the show investigating the death of her cousin, Chloe Sullivan. She may not have been interested in journalism yet but she was certainly investigating and following clues in much the same way that a journalist would. She went on to share several dramatic scenes not only with Clark but also with Jonathan, Martha, Oliver, Lional and her cousin, Chloe.

    Lois had multiple important and more serious scenes with Clark throughout Seasons 4-7 that had nothing to do with comic relief. She provided friendship and guidance to him on several occasions even causing Clark to admit that she “knew him better than anyone.” I truly do appreciate you taking the time to talk about Lois’ entrance to Smallville. But I also think it’s important to accurately represent the show canon. While Lois was used sometimes to inject some joy into what had become a very dark series…..only a quick visit to youtube would show how many rather serious and emotional scenes she contributed to the show as well.

    Next, you have inaccurately stated that Lois was only hired at the Daily Planet because Chloe used her name as a pen name. This is not true. According to show canon, she was hired in the episode, “Kara” by Grant Gabriel due to the tenacity that she showed in investigating Kara’s spaceship. Gabriel admited that he couldn’t print her story–but he admired her hard work and drive towards getting it. He later admitted that he had been impressed with the story that she wrote about the underground fight club in the episode “Combat” back in Season 6 and that he made the choice to hire her after seeing that particular article.

    Finally, while I appreciate your coverage on the Chlois theory I do think you have missed a rather important and essential point about WHY this is such a hot debate. You’ve done a good job representing why people who are FOR the Chlois theory believe it to be true. However, you did not present the counter argument. I would assume that this was an accident becuase I do believe you are trying to be neutral. But it’s essential to understand why so many fans are AGAINST this and to truly understand that goes beyond “shipping.” The reason that so many Smallville fans are against the Chlois theory has nothing to do with shipping and everything to do with the fact that many of us are very dedicated Superman comics fans. This is less about shipping for many of us and more about remaining true to WHO Lois is throughout the Superman comics canon. Lois, as she has been written for the last 70 years, is much more than simply an interest in journalism. Many times, Lois is defined more easily by her negative qualities—qualities that she has exhibited for over 70 years in the comics. She can be bossy, rude, pushy, loud, aggressive and many times she puts her foot in her mouth. She’s also fiercely loyal and has an endless curiousity. You mention Lois’ smoking: something that as you may recall is actually a callback to Superman: The Movie and Superman Returns. Smoking has been shown to be a vice for Lois Lane in the past hence why Smallville gave it a nod back in Season 4. The problem many people have with the Chlois theory is that it simply doesn’t take into account that Lois Lane as a person and as a character for the last 70+ years has been more than just journalism. And in order to BE Lois….you need to embody the personality of Lois Lane—something that Erica Durance on Smallville has always done from her first moment on the show back in Season 4. Despite not being interested in journalism in the beginning, Erica Durance’s Lois Lane has ALWAYS exhibited the personal characteristics of Lois Lane. She’s been praised by comic book writers and by fellow Lois Lane, actress, Margot Kidder, for her spot-on understanding of the character. THAT is why so many fans have a problem with the Chlois theory. It ignores WHO Lois is as a person and defines her solely by her desire to be a journalist. Clark Kent began his journey on Smallville with complete rejection for his destiny as a superhero. Does that mean he is not Clark Kent? No. It simply means that Smallville has taken these famous characters on journeys where their ultimate destination is the exact opposite of what they started out wanting. Clark Kent wanted to be “normal” and stay forever on the farm. Now, he has embraced his destiny as the savior of the world. Lois didn’t want to be a journalist but we all know how that turned out. Just because these characters started out far away from their eventual desinty doesn’t mean that they don’t exhibit the personality traits of their iconic characters.

    I totally understand that you were doing your best to stay neutral. But I do believe that if you are going to accurately talk about this situation than you need to clearly address the facts of why this subject is so hotly debated. It’s important to remain true to the show canon and there were a few instances in this paper where I feel that you did not adhere to what actually happened on the screen. I’m sure it was an honest mistake since I truly do believe that you were doing your best to present both sides.

    Thank you for taking the time to write this paper. I can tell you put a ton of hard work into it and I wish you the best.

    Kindest Regards,
    Mary (from your article)

    Like

    1. Mary:

      Oh my goodness, thanks for the long comments. I will rightfully admit the error in relation to how Lois got the job at the DP, that was too simplistic of an explanation on my part. However, I don’t think I necessarily mis-interpreted Lois’ importance in the early seasons, I think it’s more of a difference of opinion between the two of us. I think my comic relief comment is accurate, and obviously she did have other things to do, but in terms of her role in the larger arcs of those seasons, I can’t say she was completely involved — especially compared to S8 and S9.

      In terms of the fans retreating from one another, I wasn’t trying to imply they’re leaving “intelligent” discussion, I was more trying to interact with the scholarship more than anything. Later in the paper I note that it’s not really a bad thing, just a different thing. If there’s an implication there you’re seeing just know it wasn’t intentional.

      Finally, I don’t disagree with your discussion of the other side of the Chlois theory and like you said, I tried to paint it as impartially as possible by just saying “this is what it is.” I think if I were to take this paper further and not have any page length restrictions — which I did here — that’s one of the first areas I would expand. But for the most part, I didn’t discuss that further because although it powers a lot of the debate, there were other angles to pursue that worked more with scholarship and things like that. All valid points on your part, though.

      Thanks for the great comments, I’ll take it all into consideration if I expand this project more.

      Like

      1. Cory don’t bother to defend your comments.I agree with what you had to say.
        Clois/Lois fans have had it rough.i guess it just makes them plum crazy having to defend Lois/Erica and her silly antics.
        It is true that the writers did a whole doozy on the character Chloe Sullivan.It made Chloe fans pissed off and we do have the right to be.
        No other character have been maligned as Chloe Sullivan.
        It was as if..TPTB wanted to get rid of the character and created a different show.
        Yes we are mad..Yes we feel cheated..After watching a character for so long..It is like reading a book with Alice in Wonderland and realizing in the very end.She isn’t who she was told and written to be.And made into someone who you barely recognize in the end.
        I only hope that tPTB give Chloe Sullivan an end that us fans love..But having to watch the shenanigans of Smallville writers play out on screen. and what is going on the show right now..All i hope is that the Character Chloe Sullivan- Just survives in the end.
        I hope that is not too much to ask for?

        Like

    2. It is very clear that Chloe Sullivan/ Allison Mack is the Proto type Lois lane..So said Gough and Millar since day one.
      If we Chloe fan feel cheated it is because of total character Assassination of the character, to make one fake big tits Lois Lane/Erica Durance important.
      If you watched the pilot and through out the series.One would find that Lois Lane traits was already there in Chloe Sullivan.
      It is all bull shit writing..A 360 degree craptacular mess of this series..
      Chloe Sullivan is and will be the only one true Lois Lane to Smallville..It was the best retelling of an old boring farth story.
      Allison Mack took on the role and made it interesting and fresh.The one gal to root for..The underdog..The friend and confidant of Clark Kent..
      Now that Smallville is in it’s last and final season.It is time for it to end..
      Clois- Tom/Erica has failed..In epic proportions.
      With Tom declaring NO season 11..And Allison saying Bon Voyage..
      I for one says thank you this Clois mess is coming to an end..
      Erica’s Lois is fake and boring..With no apparent chemistry with Clark Kent..
      I thank you Cory..You nailed so many things about this series..It was great when it started..But somewhere along the way.The writers lost there friggin minds..
      I wish Allison and Tom the Best..
      TPTB never realized the potential of these 2 stars..and certainly the talent of the great ALLISON MACK!!

      Like

  4. “It simply means that Smallville has taken these famous characters on journeys where their ultimate destination is the exact opposite of what they started out wanting.”

    What Smallville does, is to tell viewers that it doesn’t matter what you want in life, or what you do or don’t do to work for what you want in life. If you have a Destiny, you are Destined to be this thing, even if you fight against it tooth and nail. Lex Luthor tried very hard to fight his destiny to be evil, but it consumed him anyway. Lois Lane didn’t care about journalism, and is stupid to boot, but she ends up a Great Journalist because it’s her Destiny. Clark Kent only wanted to hang around on the farm with Lana Lang, but it’s his Destiny to be a Great Hero, so he is, despite burning down the Twin Towers. He also becomes a Great Journalist because it’s his Destiny, though he has even less experience at reporting than Lois did.

    I find this to be a most revolting concept, and that’s why I’m an anti-fan, not because I am involved in any shipping wars.

    Like

  5. Interesting piece. I must admit I am one of the rabid fans who has the upmost hate for the snoozefest which is Clark and Lois, and once and still does adore the beauty of Clark and Chloe. However with Season 10 being it’s last, Allison Mack taking a backseat and Clois being shoved in viewers faces like a gag around someone’s mouth stopping them from being able to scream, “They are a terrible couple they are the reason the show ratings plummet and must I include the obvious most hated as Clana and Chlark fans put together a sh*t storm.” But now all you hear is, “Mmmphhh..uuumgggpphhmmm….eeeaa….errr.errrr”

    I’m digressing, my point is Season 10 shall not be watched my me and many of my fellow Chlark and Clana fans. Yes we have found common ground. It is correct to say I didn’t like Smallville as a whole but it individual characters.

    I am happy that the show will end with fans, producers and all knowing that the supposedly “iconic” couple that was Smallville’s Clark and Lois was most hated by the majority of fans, and decreased the ratings and caused fans to desert the show.

    Like

  6. HAAA! Suck it Clois are suppoesed to be THE couple of like Superman yet most fans hate them soooooooo much that believe the role of Lois Lane belongs to Allison Mack and understandably Mack is brilliant the only female character with most and only talent on the show. With her gone hopefully fans might warm up to Durance and I say HOPE because it’s been 5 years and she is the most hated character on the show with the smallest number of fans.

    But at long last the train wreck that has been the last 3 years of Smallivlle is over.

    Clois fans can rejoice in their couples “togetherness” but again it’s not much of a victory when most fans didn’t want it to happen, it was forced, it caused ratings to drop and it will be over it a year and when it is every original fan of Smallville will breathe a sign of relief, hell someone might even let out an “hallelujah!”

    Like

    1. 1. it wasn’t forced. it’s been there since season 4.

      2. ratings didn’t drop because of that, it was because it was on the hardest night for any network. FRIDAY.

      / I get that you’re a chloe fan, but you guys will seriously make mountains out of molehills to support yourselves and your self-righteousness that comes with being a chlarker.

      //and THIS reiterates the whole point of the article to begin with. thank you.

      Like

      1. Actually it was forced..
        We had Clark and Lois tied to a chair..Where Lois confessed to Clark she loved him out of the blue..If that isn’t forced i don’t know what is ahaaaa
        And yes ratings sank due to failed Clois
        In S7-8 Smallville had over 3 million viewers.When S9 prgressed it lost massive fans..taking it to barely 2 mill..
        Yes S9 and Clois epic failure!!

        Like

    2. Lois is the most hated character on the show with the smallest number of fans??????
      Sorry but its clear Lois has more fans than Chloe now! Lois was voted the best character on many sites!
      Chloe became the most hated character on the show! Most of viewers cant stand her!
      Chloe fans are delusional sometimes!

      Like

  7. The irony is that this intense ‘shipping battle is taking place at a time when virtually no one is watching any more. The show has been a footnote since season 7.

    Clois vs Chlark? Who cares? It’s Clana and Clex that the vast majority of fans will remember.

    Like

    1. I loved Lana Lang.The writers did a disservice to the character and the actress KK to build up Lois/Erica.
      It was sad..It was unfair..and unnecessary.
      It could have been just 2 young people falling out of love as time and as they both grew up.
      So is life.
      The writers also demoralized Chloe to make way for Lois/Erica.
      By the end of S9 there was less Chloe and more Lois.It was plain bad writing.
      It was like the writers wanted a different show.So they tried to get rid of Chloe/AM to make Lois/Erica important..In Smallville world that meant death.
      The killing of a great series..And unfull filling of the one true Lois lane to the fantastic series which is and will always be Chloe Sullivan

      Like

  8. Cool article bro. Very well researched. But I have to say …

    I ship Alicia. She would have been a better girlfriend to Clark than all of these dogs. She was funny, fierce, and had the best chemistry with Clark ever. All others pale in comparison to Alicia.

    BOW TO ALICIA

    Like

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