Dear #Shadowhunters Fandom

I assure you, the things that I’m going to talk about below are not exclusive to SH fandom by ANY means. It is a sad fact that they happen in pretty much every fandom to some degree.

I’ve been around fan activities for almost 20 years now, and the crazy has never diminished one bit. I stay as far from the core of fandom as possible, because I remember how the flame wars effected my opinion of the shows I once loved so much–it ruined them for me, and I swore I would never let that happen again.

Frankly, I’ve avoided fan activities in general ever since. I might talk to friends, or start a small group where like-minded (read: positive) people can talk about their favorite topics, but the minute things start to go cockeyed, I’m out. These are some things that drive me away quick: abuse of other fans, abuse of hard-working cast members, truly virulent, hyper-zelaous shipping; constant insults about the show(s), and WOW can I not stand book>show/movie purists. Let me explain:

CAUTION: RANT ENSUES

  1. Flame wars suck. I’m not talking about calm disagreements. I’m not talking about, “Oh, well, you like Saphael and I like Sizzy, but to each their own!” I’m talking about personal insults flung at another person or group because you disagree with something about a book, TV show, or movie. These people aren’t threatening your home, family, shelter, job, or bodily safety. GET OVER IT. Seriously. If you’ve lost your shit to the point where you’re insulting people, calling them names, harassing them (ESPECIALLY if it’s spilled over into real life–which it does, more often than you might think). You need to step away from the computer, the book, or the TV screen. Seriously. Take a breath. Take a walk. Get a life.
  2. OMG PEOPLE! Insulting the actors on a TV show for doing their job? Are you frickin SERIOUS WITH THIS SHIT RIGHT NOW? Look, you don’t have to like an actor or their performance. That’s fine. You’re a consumer, it’s your right to turn it off. Don’t watch it again. Don’t buy it on DVD. You know what’s not your right? To call actors names, to insult their looks, their work, assume personal things about them that you know nothing about and/or spread rumors about them. And for CHRISSAKE! STOP TALKING TO THEM LIKE YOU KNOW THEM!Their personal life is none of your business. It is RUDE to tell someone you’ve never met in your life that you want to steal them from their spouse, or have sex with them, or other obnoxious shit you would never say to someone’s face! They are PEOPLE. YOU DO NOT OWN THEM. THEY OWE YOU NOTHING BUT THE BEST PERFORMANCE THEY CAN GIVE IN THEIR CREATIVE MEDIUM. They’re not your frickin’ date. They’re not your pal. Nor will they ever BE your frickin’ date or your pal. Especially not when you treat them like meat and/or someone who should be grateful to you for paying that kind of attention to them.

    As a fan, you are BLESSED that some of these actors grace us with their attention and interaction on social media at all. You should thank them for spending their limited free time indulging your fannishness. You know what happens when a fandom starts acting like a mob of assholes en masse? Actors stop talking on social media. They limit any outside communication with fans to official sources, like interviews. You stop getting to know them on any kind of casual, personal level. And you know what? YOU DESERVE THAT LOSS. The rest of the fans who have been nice and respectful DON’T.

    I swear to Dog, if I hear about one more person getting down on certain Shadowhunters cast members, questioning their sexuality, or insulting their boyfriends/girlfriends/wives/husbands/race/religion/opinion on one freaking ship or another, I’m going to lose my shit.

    Wait…I guess I’m already losing my shit. LOL That’s what blogs are for! I just ask the perpetually rhetorical question: what the fuck is wrong with people? Where do they get the idea this kind of obnoxious behavior is acceptable?

  3. Shipping. Now, I’m a shipper. I have been a shipper through most of my fannish experiences. It’s usually a ship (or a character plus their ship) that draws me first into a series, and often it’s what keeps me there–or drives me away. You feel intimate with couples you talk about, or draw, or write fanfic about. That’s the way it is–you get invested in how you imagine them. If, on the show, you feel like your OTP is getting shafted, it’s easy to lose any sense of calm. BUT, and this is a big but: your OTP is not the only OTP in the world. Especially if it’s not even a canon ship.Here’s the joy of fandom: there is, honestly, truly, room for every kind of fan with every kind of taste. This does not guarantee that just because you throw a fit, your non-canon ship is going to become canon. It doesn’t guarantee that your canon ship is going to stay happy, squishy, and wonderful. This is not fluffy fanfic. It’s a television show (movie/book). It is created to appeal to a lot of different kinds of people, not just shippers (including NoRomos, people who would rather shove your ship up your ass than have to watch it on screen). Shippers are not enough to keep a show on the air. Shippers do not produce the show, write the show, direct the show, or otherwise control the direction of the show (as much as they would like to). Can you express your feelings? Sure. Letter campaigns, petitions, sending cool stuff in the mail to the people in charge. All of these things are within your purview as a fan. As are fanworks–that is, as they say, what fanfic is for.

    You know what is not your purview? Running around an insulting the show’s creators as people because you don’t like what they do in their work–because things don’t go your way. Look, I feel like my original OTP got shafted big time due to creator and network politics, and I’m not quiet about it. If somebody asks me to fall down and worship their creator, who is considered some kind of creative god in the universe of genre entertainment, I’m happy to tell them why I won’t. It’s not just the OTP, either. It’s a long history of disrespect for fans (especially certain fan groups who dare criticize them), disrespect of the original creation that gave their career a start, and some seriously troublesome issues with portrayal of women, even as they proudly tout themselves as feminists. I won’t interrupt every goddamn conversation anybody has about them EVER, but I’ll speak my mind if asked.

    Does this give me the right to insult this person as a human being? No. Do I get to call them names, spread rumors about them, etc.? No.Not unless I have facts to back up my accusations, anyway, and even then, the best course of action is usually to keep your mouth shut and your fingers still. Opinions are not facts.

  4. Here’s a fannish lesson I learned the hard way: if you have come to hate a show so much that it raises your blood pressure, enrages you, or makes you just completely lose your shit constantly? Sit. Seriously. Listen. This is important:STOP WATCHING IT. TAKE YOUR HANDS OFF THE KEYBOARD. TURN OFF THE TV. TURN THE CHANNEL. READ A DIFFERENT BOOK. Throwing unending virtual fits won’t change a goddamn thing, but it will negatively effect your health, physical and mental. And a whole lot of people will hate your guts.

    Honestly. I’m speaking from direct experience, here, not just blowing it out my ass. And I did feel much better leaving it all behind: the show, the fandom (with the exception of my friends), fanfic, everything. To some degree, almost 14 years later, I can come back and take part in some of the nostalgia. But the minute I see something that reminds me of those days, I duck out again. (Heh. Punny.)

    As a result, now I approach any fandom around anything I enjoy with extreme caution. When the crazy starts to raise its head, my first instinct is to run. I’m already feeling burnt out on some of the things I hear about SH fandom, and I’m barely orbiting around the outer edges of it. I like this show. I adore Magnus Bane. I love Malec. I would like to stick around and share that feeling with like-minded others. I don’t want to say, “Fuck this,” again and walk away. But I’m not willing to make myself sick over people’s behavior, either.

Finally:

Dear Book Purists: GTF over yourselves. You CAN NOT translate every little description, line of dialogue, or characterization from a book (or book series, especially) onto a screen, whether it be small or big. It can’t be done. Things are going to be left out. A show or movie is a different animal in kind from a book. I wish I could force every one of you to sit down with a book series and make you cram it into a TV-length screenplay and see how easy it is. It would make you think twice about whinging about every single little fucking difference between your precious books and the goddamn show!

Let’s look at a non-SH example. Outlander. The Outlander series has been deeply beloved to me for almost a quarter of a century. I know the books by heart. Jamie and Claire are my all-time OTP. I re-read them once a year, if I can, and definitely if there is a new volume coming out. There have been murmurings about a movie based on the series for years. My heart was clenched in terror the entire time. When the show was announced, I was both excited and nervous. How could they possibly bring these characters and the world I loved so much to the screen? And yet: SQUEEEEEE! I was fascinated to find out. (It was helpful that Ronald D. Moore, a spectacular creative talent, was Exec. Prod.)

The Starz show is not the books. But taken as its own wonderful beast, it is fucking amazing. Sam Heughan is not the Jamie Fraser who has lived in my head. He is another Jamie Fraser, and a damned good one who I insanely love. How can having two awesome Jamie’s be wrong? It can’t. Repeat the above for Claire. Repeat the above for Jamie/Claire. They are different than they are in the books, for a number of reasons. One of the biggest, as I mentioned, is that a good THOUSAND pages of book story can’t fit well into 12 or 13 42-ish minutes of episodes.

THIS is the episode script for Outlander Season 1 Episode 1, Sassenach. This script covers about FOUR chapters of FORTY ONE OF THEM in the first book. If you think the show’s creators are so awful, I suggest you do a little legwork: learn about how a screenplay is put together. Learn how a novel is written. Then try to figure out how one can work within the restrictions of the other. Make sure you keep in mind cast, direction, that every set has to be built, that there have to be costumes, and lighting, and music, and a billion other tiny details that go into making a television show. Wait, you don’t want to do all of that work? Well guess what? That’s what show creators have to do. You don’t get to stick the book in some miraculous machine that then spits out a perfect television/movie facsimile of the printed story.

I don’t understand why you would want a perfect copy of  your favorite book(s) anyway. If you don’t want anything ever to vary from the books, READ THE BOOKS. If you’re interested to see an interpretation of the books live on screen, watch the show/movie and don’t be a whiny bitch about it. I’m a bibliophile. I love my books. 6 times out of 10, I enjoy the book better than the movie. But I always give them a chance, and as a writer and someone who has seen behind the scenes of a TV show a bit, I know the difference. I know that one requires an entirely different set of skills than the other. Hearing people slam a show because OMG IT’S DIFFERENT FROM THE BOOK MY WORLD IS COMING TO AN END… It makes me run off and write ugly rants on my blog.

I used to get so pissed off in my early fandom days when people said to me, “If you don’t like it, don’t watch.” But do you know what? THEY WERE RIGHT. There are BOUNDARIES, people. You weren’t raised by wolves. Stop acting like you were.*

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*No offense to wolves. Wolves can’t help how they behave. YOU CAN.

Flames will be deleted, because I don’t have time for that kind of immature bullshit.

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