What I heard Diana Gabaldon say… Outlander’s EW cover.

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Wow. Just wow. That cover stirred up some controversy.  Even Diana encouraged fans to discuss. She left two images on her Facebook page, one a cover she wrote for her books and the EW cover.  She then left instructions for folks to leave comments and promised she would be back later to tell us all what she thought.  Mixed in with the belittlement, name-calling, and worship there were some opinions expressed and viewpoints shared that were worthy of consideration.  But, what, we all wanted to know,  would  Diana have to say?  So, the fandom waited to hear what the author thought of the cover marketing the show and ultimately her story.

Having read and watched Diana’s responses to previous fan issues, I  made some pretty accurate educated guesses.  Diana is direct.  She was.  Diana explains her views clearly. She did.  She is very pragmatic.  She was.  Here is what I heard Diana say:

  • the romance element is the easiest to sell and promote
  • there isn’t one image that could ever define Outlander
  • one magazine cover isn’t going to define the series
  • the magazine is trying to catch their perceived audience’s attention
  • the cover isn’t scandalous

After reading, I tweeted those points.  Her response sounded like what it was, an answer from someone who, as she put it, has “been in the trenches for over 25 years”.  She has seen her genre bending books and story marketed as a lot of different things,

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She seemed pretty accepting of the whole thing as a reality, but I’ll admit I had a tough time squaring that acceptance with this video of her reaction to Barnes and Noble marketing her books as Romances https://youtu.be/72lRj-ewq6s  (5 min mark it gets good). Overall, I agreed with what she had to say, however, there are a couple of things I’d like to revisit.

She didn’t exactly say she was happy with the cover headlines with the picture.

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This was one of the main points I was trying to make in my article.  It wasn’t the picture I had an issue with, but rather the way it was coupled with those headlines. In fact, I found someone I would have liked to have written those headlines!  Here is a great article written by Brooke Corso that beautifully explores the meaning behind that photo for fans of the series and books http://popwrapped.com/necessary-outlander-cover/  .  Couple the picture with some of her words and I’m buying the whole thing!

 

The Kilt Drops

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She insinuates and rightly so, that it seems fairly hypocritical to take umbrage with this picture’s marketing if no one had an issue with the “kilt drops” campaign.  The fandom’s presence on social media was fairly new when Starz rolled out the kilted street performers and covered buildings with this marketing ploy.  However, there was a group of us who did say a word about it, in fact, we said lots of words about it.  In fact, I mentioned this campaign in a recent article http://wp.me/p4mtBT-1af .  That Diana didn’t see our protests isn’t surprising , but some of us _did_ speak up!

Several hundred times this week, I’ve been told that sex sells and it would be naïve to think otherwise cuz its been used to sell things for eons.  I’ve come to the conclusion I could not work in advertising. I understand it is their job to understand the psychology of what sells, including sex, but I’m pretty sure my conscience would bother me if I had to write a campaign suggesting a person could get laid if they only bought the right car!  <g>   I consider myself to be a fairly pragmatic person like DG, but I’ll admit that I do object to this type of marketing on a theoretical basis. I know Diana says that the term bodice-ripper= historical romance to virtually all marketing people and that nothing negative is intended.  I’m not so sure.  I believe there is a negative connotation associated with the term bodice-ripper.  I believe it is often used to demean women,  I THINK the use of this term is meant to suggest that the books or TV series’ value should be questioned because women, especially “middle-age women” are fans. I find it very disturbing that in addition to disparaging middle-age, it seems being a woman disqualifies us as purveyors of what is worthy. Those cover headlines….were marketed to a perceived audience alright…women who would be dismayed that Jamie was going to wear pants.  As I said in my previous article on this topic, I realize this is just one magazine cover, but I sure hope this isn’t a trend.

Not comfortable being the poster child for the stuff in that article

So, I check on the blog stats at least once a week.  I like seeing where I’m being read and how people found the blog.  This morning I was amused to see that someone had put in the search box “”if  @SamHeughan is a blonde who gets to dye his hair” and got my blog!  I also noticed a few clicks to another blog.  Curious, I clicked and was taken to Outlander Cast.  I saw in the introduction of their latest article this statement “Whatever you want to say about the cover, whether it’s good like us, or critical like other well known Outlander Blogs, you have to admit that the picture is freakin’ sexy as hell.”  The link takes you to my article!  First, I guess I should be flattered to be identified as other well known Blogs, but the link ONLY takes you to me!  And, eventually the article degenerates into the same name-calling, belittling seen all over the fandom.  Basically, anyone who doesn’t like everything about that cover must have issues with sex.  So, as a sexually active woman in a 40 plus year marriage who said repeatedly that I had no issues with the picture and in fact, found it striking, I am bit confused.  If they are trying to say not everyone thought the same then okay, but if not….then I do have issues  and they aren’t with sex!

Lumping and labeling

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I’ve said before and I’ll say it again.  You don’t have to agree with anybody, but why lump and label anyone who doesn’t agree with your viewpoint?  It was obvious that Diana didn’t agree with some fans take on the issue.  However, she never once insulted anyone or called them names.  She did tell folks they needed to get out more and it sounds like pretty good advice to me! I think I’ll take that advice and ask my sexy husband to take me on a date tonight and maybe later we’ll do a little Jamie and Claire role-play.  I’m sure I have a little linen and plaid somewhere, ….

 

P.S. These are the last comments on this issue!  I promised I would address DG’s comments. Next post will be waaayyyy up beat!

 

 

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16 thoughts on “What I heard Diana Gabaldon say… Outlander’s EW cover.

  1. BRAVO for you! Love what you say and how you say it – – Keep it up, please! And to put a positive spin on the critical link to your blog: At least it got more readers to your site, and hopefully some of them were smart enough to realize that you’re views are intelligent and you’re comfortable with what you’re saying………Carry On!

  2. Iris Giger

    Beth, I so much love your blog and even more this article. I’m thrown away how you’re able to express my thoughts! ; )
    I don’t agree always 100% with you, but this time I totally do. And it’s always worth to think about your view.
    I never ever was any kind of fan before October when I first listened to DG OL audible and binge watched the TV series after reading book2. And I guess, I am still not getting why any fans should write such hatred comments as we can read these days.
    Thank you so much for your texts and thoughts, Beth!

  3. Glory

    Beth
    I often love your writing very much. I am pleased to read you are done with this issue. Season 2 will give you some meatier material to write about. Looking forward to that.

  4. Michelle

    Beth, I too find “bodice-ripper” anything but a neutral term. I’ve had women tell me they won’t read Outlander precisely because they think it’s a bodice-ripper. If any of them see the copy on this cover, they aren’t likely to take my counter-argument seriously. *sigh* While Diana may have a point — that you cannot depict the breadth of Outlander in one photo — it makes the text accompanying the photo more important. Phrases like “kilty pleasure” and “bodice ripping” do not contribute to a broader understanding of Outlander. Thanks for fighting the good fight — language is important.

  5. Darn you, Beth. I say, darn you. Now I HAVE to go read the blogger you linked to. I am almost afraid to do so, because I am already following way too much stuff on this subject.

    And you “hit another one out of the park” in this post.

    You have NO idea how relieved I am that you didn’t get me started on the term “bodice-ripper” description, which I think is misogynistic and demeaning, and screams of rape. But, I’m NOT going to go there.

  6. Katie B.

    To be fair, I really disliked “The Kilt Drops” and actively said so at the time. That bothered me much much more than the EW cover. EW is at least about the couple. “The Kilt Drops” is nothing but male objectification. I much preferred the “Damsels Don’t Distress” tagline, but apparently not too many agreed with me at the time.

  7. Janelle Dvorak

    I thought “The Kilt Drops” was juvenile at the time. Diana’s views, while eloquently expressed, didn’t convince me that extolling a more varied number of OL’s virtues in advertising wouldn’t be a good idea.

  8. Candace Wishon

    One of the most important facts that you noted is that what you “heard”, what was the “read between the lines” of what is not said is often as important as what is said. She said many things about the picture, and the article, but what she sort of skirted around, and as you noted, she didn’t say was that she really liked the picture, and that she liked the article. I think she was basically saying, you know, I have been at this a long time, I have no control over what the media says, or how they perceive it and after a while, she just has to grin and bear it, and know that in the end the truth will be told. And honestly, no matter what she may have really WANTED to say, I really don’t think that she could and not ignite a s**t storm. For her, for EW, for Starz, and for Sam and Cait. Sometimes you just have to chose your battles.

  9. Sheila

    I love these books and Diana, nothing will change that. Not corny marketing or overused cliche’ vocabulary. For that matter, a fandom so diverse, it will just have to agree to disagree…its tiresome really…probably why I just rely on this blog and it’s pretty damn thorough breakdown of a variety of Outlander topics. I love your enthusiasm Beth and nothing will change that! Have to say I loved the photo of Sam and Cait and that’s all I noticed…didn’t bother to read anything because I’ve been there done that…didn’t want any hint of what’s to come or bullshit commentary from some writer’s assignment! I hate the term ‘bodice ripper’ with a passion. However, honestly only noticed it after all the hubbub…probably because I read everything on my iPhone and frankly am kidding myself with reading glasses! Great read! I so admire Diana’s passion for her baby I am with her. Everything else falls away so I can just enjoy this awesome TV series and its top notch cast and crew!

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