What Ron D. Moore taught me about fandom

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This week has been an interesting one in the Outlander fandom.  There has been much ado about the show and its adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s books and characters.  The conversations about this topic have been, at times, heated and definitely filled with passion.  I saw several folks try to help people put it all in perspective by creating memes and posting quotes to remind us all there truly are things happening in the world to get heated and passionate about. But, the debate continued and continues.

Other than sports, (Go Buckeyes), this is my first real experience with fandom and it has been a curious journey. The degree to which I have become involved surprises me and drives my family crazy There has been more than one argument with my spouse over the amount of time I spend on social media fanning.  I’m not the only one who is surprised by their involvement.  Just yesterday, I saw at least three Facebook posts where women were telling the story of their obsession with Outlander.  They were all professing to be sane people who suddenly saw themselves acting like, as they put it, “teenage fangurls”. I think they were all looking for validation that this was normal behavior and that they weren’t completely looney tunes. Let me point out asking other people in the fandom in an online fan group might not get you the most objective response! And as time goes on, this phenomenon I find myself involved in gets curiouser and curiouser.

Last night, Terry Dresbach, Outlander costume designer and wife to Outlander Executive Producer Ronald D Moore, posted a travelogue Ron had shared with her.  He is currently on a cruise ship decompressing.  Terry has often said that she is constantly learning from Ron and that he is a student of human nature.  I have heard her say that Ron has always told her that fans, even the angry ones, are coming from a place of love.  I heard what she was saying and we discussed it, but per usual, it took something more to deepen my understanding.  This time it was Ron’s travelogue.  He recounted his reading of an old fanzine created by Star Trek fans.  I loved the way he described the fragileness of the pages typed on an antiquated typewriter and yellowed with age.  He felt like he was handling a precious papyrus.  He was moved by the art created with different levels of skill, but not with less love.  To me, his time spent with that fan-made magazine was reaffirming that what he did for a living mattered.   He remembered himself as a fan and how he felt.  He realized he had a lot in common with those folks who felt the need to create because of their fascination with a TV series.  I realized I was one of those people too and it made me smile.

 

 

Photo credit to @thenewredplaid and Alex Oliver

 

The Greeks and Outlander

Of all the connections I could have made to what Ron said and my experience with Outlander fandom, I thought about the Greeks.  I thought of Greek theater to be specific.  Over the years, I have taught high school students about the beginnings of theater which in actuality is the beginning of modern TV.  My students read the story of Oedipus Rex.  They always seem to be amazed to find themselves engaged in a story written so long ago.  In fact, in an effort to have them truly understand how long ago this was written we do a little math problem in English class. I have them figure out how many great-greats they would have to put in front of Sophocles name if he was their great grandfather.  If I remember correctly, it would be somewhere in the vicinity of 149.  The story really is interesting and I find I am able to challenge my students to think about such heady themes as fate and the irony of life.

Part of preparing them to read includes discussing the purpose of play festivals and how they were performed.  If you were an ancient Greek you would have filed into the amphitheater found a stone seat and waited to see several versions of the same story.  My students are always surprised to learn that everybody watching already knew the story.  They were watching to see who told it the best.  It would be like us all going to watch six versions of Little Red Riding Hood. The source material was being presented to the audience by different “executive producers” if you will.  Can you see where I’m going with this?  As fans of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander book series, we already know the story, but here we sit in our home amphitheaters with much comfier seats, waiting to see how Ron D. “Sophocles” Moore tells the story. I’m pretty sure our discussions about his adaptation sound much like the discussions the Greeks had about the adaptations they witnessed, minus the togas.  Did he get the characters right?  Did he retain the most important elements for plot?  What themes could we detect and did they ring true?  Was the dialogue believable and what about the acting?  I’m sure their conversations about Oedipus the King were just as lively and as passionate as our Outlander discussions and just like Trekkies,… coming from a place of love.

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So, today I find myself feeling some love for Ron D. Moore and his desire to tell the story of Jamie and Claire.  This Saturday I’ll tune in and watch to see how he tells my favorite story and then watch the fans’ reactions with new eyes.  Some fans will be inspired to discuss on Tumblr, create memes and artwork, and I…I’ll write a fan’s blog.

Here’s the link to Terry’s blog post http://www.terrydresbach.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Cruise-Journal-Day-8-2.pdf

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26 thoughts on “What Ron D. Moore taught me about fandom

  1. Cathy Ritter

    Beth

    I adore your Outlander observations. I have never been a fangirl. I have had favorite actors and I have bought all of their movies on DVD (Gerard Butler and Ryan Reynolds are the two before Sam Heughan); however, I have never tried to read every single word about them, every single interview, etc. I am 63 years old and Outlander and Sam Heughan have created a whole new world for me. I have grown to like Cait, Graham, Tobias and Grant also but not to the extent that I like Sam. I could be his mother!!! His acting is superb and I feel he will go very far in his career. There are other things else about him though that so remind me of my husband when we were first married—very endearing, sweet, etc.

    Thanks so much for your blog; I eagerly wait to read it.

    Cathy

  2. Kim Panico

    Thank you so much for this blog, Beth! Your observations and comments help me “clear my head” of the good and hard to read comments of others. I am a “fangirl” but mainly of Terry, Ron, and Diana. Yes, I was swept away, and continue to love the actors, but Ron, Terry, Diana (and the crew) are fantastic!

  3. Thanks so much — had no idea about the Greek play festivals! I always love it when I learn something new, and this is a brilliant comparison to our beloved Outlander world. I love what Ron Moore and Company have done and are doing with the story. Doesn’t bother me in the least that it’s not a word-for-word, scene-by-scene re-creation. 🙂

  4. I am a huge Ron Moore fan. I came to Outlander ( both the series and the books) because I had heard he was doing a new show and had to check it out. Now I find myself involved in my very first fandom, which is in turn both exciting and scary. The two visions of Outlander as presented by Ron and Diana are each as compelling in narrative as the other, but Ron’s team have brought a fierce and intimate life to, not only the characters, but even more vital, IMO, to the landscapes that they inhabit.

    Thank you for your wonderful words about a person I admire.

  5. Paula McKenzie

    Beth, this was wonderful, thoughtful, and honestly – moving. I just read Terry’s post as well, and am tearing up at what drives Ron, how he honors the material and the fans. I am a passionate Outlander fan (just like all the other ladies, so sensible in every other aspect of my life except this one area where I’m a total fangurl of Diana’s beautiful story and every offshoot of it). I am also a lifelong Star Trek fan, and in proud possession of some memorabilia from Star Trek TNG, where I first encountered Ron’s gift for storytelling. And, BTW, Ohio native here, Go Buckeyes indeed 🙂

    Thanks so much for writing this – well done.

    • Patricia Hare

      Looks like we Buckeyes have so many opinions in common! I sort of feel more like a fanmom than a fangirl, I just want them all to succeed!

  6. soosil51@aol.com

    Dear Beth, Didn’t Ron explain at one of the interviews during Tartan week how he enjoyed the fans who disliked his shows and said things like: ” I’ve watched the episode at least five times and you still got it wrong!” Outlander fans are like that too! Again you hit the nail on the head with your blog. Susan

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  7. Your blog is great Beth and I look forward to it. It clears away the clutter for me. I am glad that Ron sees fandom like this and not a nuisance. I hope Cait and Sam do as well. It must be tiring to do a million interviews answering the same questions over and over again. Also having fans mob you for pictures wherever you go. I know it is supposed to be part of the job but I hope they don’t become like Robert De niro. He starred in the movie Joy and I guess he was told he had to meet with the press. He was on Stephen Colbert’s show and he refused to talk to Stephen. They sat there in silence. I tuned into the show because I was a fan but I felt he wasted my time. Obviously he didn’t want to be there and everyone knew it.

    • SueGee

      Hi Jan,
      I’m another Outlander fan – and I read your comment and couldn’t agree more re: Robert Deniro — what a disappointment!! I was especially irritated since he’s obviously done some crap movies just for the $$ (that Dirty Grandpa with Zac Efron – yeeeek!) so to have an obligation to do some PR for a movie he should be proud of and to be pissy about it, bad attitude, dude. Have a great day, Jan!
      Sue

  8. Chris Finklein

    Why is it there are those of us obsessed with anything Outlander? I am loving the show finding myself feeling a disloyalty not watching each episode at least 4 or 5 times or more; not to mention Diana’s books are my all time favorite having read them at least twice (the first 2, 3 times in full). Why do so many take personal umbrage when the show does not seem to mirror the books? How could anyone find fault with one interpretation vs. another? It’s literary impressions that serve only to enhance the exquisite story. The mere fact the entire crew pays such close attention to the details spending countless hours and $$$ to insure the production is first class evidences the truth portrayed. I, for one, totally enjoy another’s impressions with the details. Knowing Ron & his crew are so talented and Terry pays such infinite attention to the finite detail of her world positively proves how marvelous this entire series is. I have loved reading and rereading the books but this TV interpretation is like the absolute most delicious icing on the cake. It’s another depiction of a marvelous tale done in the most beautiful way. How can I possibly find fault with such pleasure or perfection?

  9. mlynpeters

    What wonderful musings ! Beautifully worded & much appreciated by me. I am joy-filled when people can share, discuss & have minds open to a positive way of sharing opinions with new eyes.
    THIS is what interactive discussion should be! Having read the books, I am always excited to view these episodes, with the eye opening newness thnaks to Ron & his talented staff, as they give us an additional way of seeing this story!

  10. Diane Pyle

    Beth, Your comparison to Greek plays regarding their different versions was true inspiration. I love all the Outlander writing, music, acting, costumes, Scotland and characters. I am so glad that Ron and Terry came to the project out of love for Diana’s books. Since I first started my first book one year ago, the whole experience has deepened my life. I can see things differently – especially my husband. And for 78 years old, that is saying something! I love your posts – always prompts reflective thinking, too.

  11. Lisa Hamlin

    Beth, I enjoyed your blog very much. I never read the books before I became a tv outlander fan. I too am obsessed! I was a Commumication major and had to write many papers on the great Greek orators. Loved your comparison!!

  12. SueGee

    Always enjoy reading you, Beth. You put into words the appreciation I (and I’m sure many of Diana’s fans) have for Ron’s respectful endeavor to put onscreen the width and breadth of Diana’s novels. I love learning something new when I’m reading, and that is another reason you are a must-read on my blog lists (new to me this time: your comparison with the Greek plays, which I’d never known about). Love your voice, Beth; thank you for sharing yourself.

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