Attendees of a pop culture conference Wednesday tackled several questions, including whether pornography satisfies viewers and what “Breaking Bad” says about the morality of a changing legal system.

The annual Southwest Popular and American Culture Association conference, a 35-year tradition, is a nerd extravaganza with students and professionals presenting on Arab culture in the U.S., alternative reality games, horror and violence, creative writing, apocalyptic narratives, sexual ethics in the media, the Grateful Dead and hundreds of other topics.

Lynn Zubernis, who has been the area chair of the “Stardom and Fandom” category at SWPACA for the past three years, said she keeps coming back to the conference because of its compelling atmosphere. This year’s conference features a keynote about the Chicano Southwest.

“The regional focus of the conference is taken very seriously, so it always has a flavor of the Southwest,” Zubernis said.

The panel on morality and mortality in the much beloved television show “Supernatural” was bursting with fans, laughing about the characters they love and learning about philosophies of happiness and free will.

Similarly, the morning’s panel on “Breaking Bad” was a lively collection of fans throwing out their theories about Walter White’s motivations.

Zubernis said she aims to bridge the gap between fan subcultures, academia and the public, while also working to dispel the shame many fans feel about their love of popular culture.

“Everything we’ve written is about challenging fan shame, and the more coverage I can get for that, the better,” she said.
Zubernis has written four books about fandom, and will be publicizing them at the conference.

Delores Amorelli, another presenter with a panel on the portrayal of monsters and females in young adult literature, said she has also returned to the conference for the third year.

Children and young adult literature is bursting with monstrous female figures, and she wants to know why, she said.

“What I’m doing now is trying to deconstruct those types of characters and get at why it’s always women who are painted as the monstrous ones,” she said.

Amorelli said she wants to work in schools with children’s media, and decided to come to the conference so that she would be able to better serve her students.

Southwest Popular and American Culture Association Conference
Feb. 19 to 22
Hyatt Regency Hotel, 330 Tijeras Ave. NW
$200 professional/$185 student
For a complete schedule of events, go to