Tinfoil or tin hats is a term that originated from people wearing tinfoil hats to keep out the "alien signals" and is generally used to describe the super paranoid or conspiracy freaks.
A fan is said to be wearing a "tin hat" or engaging in "tinhattery" when they are convinced they are being sent secret signs that their favs are really IN LOVE and DOING IT. The term was coined in 2003 to describe the behavior of fans of Lord Of The Rings actors Elijah Wood and Dominic Monaghan source. Another popular Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson of One Direction (Larry Stylinson). Jared and Jensen have a strong tinhat following in our fandom, but other people are also shipped including Jensen and Misha (Cockles), Richard Speight and Rob Benedict, and Kim Rhodes and Brianna Buckmaster. Some people believe in a poly relationship between Jared, Jensen, Misha and their respective partners, which is known as the Commune.
The majority of fans who happily consume and produce fanfic and fanart or even actual stories or photos of the actors, based on the idea of a relationship between actors, approach the fantasy in a playful way. These fans may make comments in reaction to a photo of Jared and Jensen together along the lines of "oh they are so in love", but this is connected to the fictional constructs of the actors, and the fan is aware it is not fact. These fans may use phrases such as I am putting on my tin hat to indicate that the author realizes the fiction of what they are saying but are happily indulging in their fantasies. A tongue-in-cheek annual activity at the fan convention WinchesterCon was the Tin Hat Parade, which involved fans making real tin hats out of aluminum foil to celebrate their favourite tin hat pairing.
Serious tinhatters will have a firm conviction that the actors concerned are really in a sexual/romantic relationship. They will see signs everywhere to support this, such as the wearing of certain items of jewellery, body language in photos, and comments in interviews. For example at the Red Bull Soap Box Derby in 2008 Jared and Jensen wore jerseys with the numbers 13 and 14 on them. Some fans were excited to discover that in Chinese numerology '1314' means "forever and eternity" - obviously Jared and Jensen were signalling their real relationship through this code. Other things often interpret as signs are: displays of jewellery (from their secret love), wearing of the same or similar clothes, appearing together in public, touching and prolonged eye contact.
Conspiracy theories abound and any information that appears to contradict this belief is rejected and said to be the work of the Studio Network PR mavens or other evil doers. Weddings to people of the opposite sex are claimed to be merely elaborate means of concealing the true (gay) loves. Female partners are often referred to as beards. Blind items in gossip columns are also a common source of secret information. Many fans also claim finely-honed gaydars or that they are ITK - "in the know". Complex theories will be developed to account for the presence of heterosexual relationships and children.
Most tinhatters are harmless. However as with any fandom, some tinhatters can manifest an extreme obsession with the topic. This may include direct attacks on people associated with Jared and Jensen through social media sites or blogs, stalking (online and in real life) and doxxing (revealing of personal information such as home addresses online).
The main gathering place for the extreme tinhatters has been the SPN-gossip community which was created on 19 April 2009 on LiveJournal and later moved to Dreamwidth. The latter was was suspended by Dreamwidth on 31 July 2021. Both actions were in response to people on the community repeatedly posting residential addresses related to Misha and Jensen.
- Tinhat entry on Fanlore
- Spn Gossip on Livejournal
- SPN Goss on Livejournal
- Jared and Jensen Daily on Tumblr
- J2 Tin hat Network on Tumblr
- J2 MadHatters on Tumblr
- Post comparing J2 and Larrie shipping
- A collection of news items from 2005-2013 about Jared and Jensen with a Tin Hat commentary
- Fifty shades of yellow by thenewinquiry
- One Direction, Fake Babies And The Problem With Celebrity Conspiracy Theories by Junkee
- Tinhat history by fitchersvogel
- Inside The World of Real Person Fanfiction by SyFyWire