If you know anything about my story, you know that my writing a blog about Outlander and finding myself in the middle of a fandom was a complete accident. At the suggestion of my nieces, I started my blog as a way to practice writing. I needed something to write about, so I started writing about my favorite series of books. Unbeknownst to me, my nieces sent my blog to Diana on Twitter. She read it, commented and retweeted and I started gaining readers. Then it was announced there would be a TV series and as they say, the rest is history. For the most part, being part of this fandom has been wonderful and has brought a lot of joy and wonderful people into my life and so, I try pretty hard to stay out of fan drama. It isn’t always easy, but I try. Mainly I don’t add my two cents because I feel like I’ve already said my two cents and I’ve yet to see any behavior in this fandom change because of what I said (hard cynical eye roll at myself). No sense beating a dead horse. But, after reading that Matt B. Roberts, Outlander executive producer, effectively shut down his Twitter account, I thought, well this could have been predicted. Then I thought, I did, I wrote an article about this very thing. So, I went looking for it. I wrote it back in season 2 and I have to say, it has aged well. The trajectory of personal attacks and character assignation that will effectively ruin a chance of any constructive criticism being heard by TPTB seems to moving forward unabated. In the years between this article’s publication and now, a lot has happened in this fandom and our country. I have to wonder if the increase in uncivil behavior has some connection to the uncivil political discourse we are inundated with daily. I re read some of the comments to this article and I’m still struck by the logic that excuses bad behavior because it is generated by passion. Do people feel strongly about Diana’s books and characters? Yes. But, this adaptation is someone’s attempt to tell a story and not personal. Fans are free to express their likes or dislikes of the series, but I still say there is a line of decency that shouldn’t be crossed, no one, even those in the entertainment industry, should have to have skin that thick.
Sunday, I was made aware there was trouble brewing in the Outlander fandom over some edited footage from the final scenes of the episode “Faith”. It’s been a couple of days and I’ve had a chance to see some interactions between fans, creators, author, and cast. I’ve let my thoughts sit for awhile and I think I’m ready to put those thoughts to words today.
I just watched the entire clip
and what came to mind was how ironic and sad it is that love of such a wonderful story has engendered so much ugliness.
When “Faith” first aired I posted my reflection on the blog and was overwhelmed by the response and moved by my reader’s stories of tragedy and grief. http://wp.me/p4mtBT-3zD That episode dealt with a part of life spoken of mostly in whispers if spoken about at all. The real and honest portrayal of the loss of a child generated thoughtful discussion and for some it created a desire to tell their own story maybe for the first time. It was and remains an amazing episode of TV.
I am not nor have I ever been an expert on the creation of a TV show. Despite my voicing from time to time my likes and dislikes about certain episodes, the truth is I wouldn’t know the first thing about how to adapt the books to screen. Oh, the show has piqued my interest and I’ve done some reading , but I have no experience in the creation of a TV show. Like most people, I just know what I like and don’t like and then watch or don’t watch a show accordingly. I felt the need to place my qualification to be a bonafide tv critic right upfront because this whole thing is bothering the heck out of me and I need to talk about it, but I want to make sure everybody knows who I am…a fan.
I’ve heard Diana say before that she fought for a scene to be left in or left out of the production. Sometimes she wins and sometimes she doesn’t. She always makes sure to add that no one has to listen to or include her in the decision making, but she is glad that they do. Overall, she seems very pleased with the adaptation. I always try to remember this wasn’t the first time someone had an idea to make Outlander’s story into film and I then remember that only she really knows how wrong this could have all gone. What is really confusing me with these edits is that nobody seems to know why the scenes were cut and they aren’t being shy about saying so. It isn’t only fans expressing their displeasure or surprise, it’s Metyin, a director, tweeting he thinks the scene was better in the edited footage, and Diana and Sam Heughan, lead actor, adding their two cents. They aren’t blaming anyone, but they seem as puzzled as I am.
I agree with Metyin when he said the edited scenes tied together all that happened in the previous episodes. The last time edited scenes were released, I found myself able to see why each scene (except the one with Murtaugh on the beach with Claire) was cut. I could easily see how each would affect the overall storyline, pacing and character development if left in. I remember thinking that having more time doesn’t necessarily mean the story will be better told. Sometimes less is more. But, this time…more looked and felt pretty good. I’d love to hear the reasoning behind the edit because…that scene was amazing.
I’m not sure I know exactly where the buck stops in this production, there appears to be a lot of thumbs in the pie and a new merger had to have some impact. I do, however, know where the blame for fan displeasure has landed and that is squarely on the shoulders of Ron D. Moore, executive producer. Here’s the thing, even if he did make the decision to cut this scene totally on his own, he doesn’t deserve the nastiness fans are spewing. NO ONE DESERVES THE SHIT I’M SEEING . He hasn’t destroyed or sabotaged the show, he isn’t disrespecting book fans, he doesn’t hate Jamie or Sam, he isn’t making decisions based on what his wife wants or overreacting to what fans say NEEDS to be in the show (thank God), there is no conspiracy or agenda (other than making the best show he knows how to make) …sigh…did I cover it all? Oh, and, it isn’t personal. But, the attacks sure are. Some are thinly disguised as “concern” from fans who LOVE the show, but just want RDM to get with the program and deliver what they want which is more of “the core” of the story. The truth is we may never see book Jamie and Claire, but I’m not buying the line that Jamie has been emasculated to make Claire look stronger, or that the relationship between the two main character’s has been altered beyond recognition. This fandom seems to have as many shouting points and conspiracy theories as the presidential election and they get repeated about as often.
Here is another thing I’m puzzled about. How do the same shit stirrers get access to and notice of the cast and creators? I swear it’s the same dirty dozen that lie in wait for something negative to be said about the show and then pounce. They sit in judgment of the show and its fans. They feel it is their right to degrade the show, its stars and makers in the name of “critique”. Translation… you didn’t make the show the way I wanted so you are wrong. The meaner they are the funnier they think they are and the gloat-fest goes on for days and their infamy celebrated. The dissatisfied jump on the bandwagon with “I’m glad I’m not the only one that feels that way”.
Critique is one thing and being judgmental another, but some fans tend to use the two interchangeably.
Judgmental usually refers to people who have a fixed, negative attitude about something. It carries a meaning of “passing judgment”, black or white, thumbs down or up, like a judge ruling whether someone is guilty or innocent. It focuses on the negative result in that process. It also has a moral component.
Critical, at least by tradition, carries the idea of a well-reasoned, expert, articulate, and in-depth examination of the ideas or quality of a thing, not the thing itself: something that a literary or movie critic might do. Though it tends toward negative, it’s not necessarily so – a movie could receive critical approval. Critical comes from critique.
- Criticism finds fault. Critique looks at structure.
- Criticism looks for what’s lacking. Critique finds what’s working.
- Criticism condemns what it doesn’t understand. Critique asks for clarification.
- Criticism is spoken with a cruel wit and sarcastic tongue. Critique’s voice is kind, honest, and objective.
- Criticism is negative. Critique is positive.
- Criticism is vague and general. Critique is concrete and specific.
- Criticism has no sense of humor. Critique uses humor to soften the “blow” of the critique.
- Criticism often looks for flaws in the writer as well as the writing. Critique addresses only what is on the page (screen my addition to the list) .https://chroniclesofharriet.com/2012/03/06/a-critic-critiques-criticism-critically/
Loved what this article had to say about the “vocal” fans.
It isn’t just Outlander dealing with fans who have crossed some sort of line of decency in the sand. Social media has given us access to creators and it has been a learning curve for them and frustrating to fans who aren’t the vocal minority.
This unfortunate behavior mostly comes from vocal minorities. But it’s an unfortunate truth that those who yell the loudest are usually the first to be heard, which is how you get TV writers blinking in panic at the idea of having to cater to fan whims. I wouldn’t be surprised if, despite saying otherwise, fan backlash results in far less communication between creators and fans, rather than more.
Creators and fans need to find middle ground before creators shut fans out completely
Make no mistake, this is what will happen…it already has…
But, …the fans lament, I can’t believe fans concerns aren’t LISTENED to (translation: why aren’t you doing what I want)
…And the amazing news, as far as creators are concerned, is that the explosion of social media might have opened up communication between the artists and their fans, but it’s by no means equalized it. Major studios and publishers, and the creators they’ve chosen to invest in, still have a bigger megaphone than any of their fans on Twitter. They just have less privilege, less complete protection from a dialogue with their audience, than before. Some still find ways to choose not to have that dialogue. That’s fine; it’s their right. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/are-fans-getting-too-entitled_us_5750ab2ce4b0ed593f13e893
Loved this too…lack of empathy…let’s insult the people the creators and cast care about and then act surprised when they get upset…smh…
Fan entitlement, or something like it, can be hurtful—especially for creators who work on beloved franchises like Doctor Who or Star Wars, where fans feel a strong sense of ownership of long-running characters. But fan entitlement is an attitude problem, brought on by a lack of thoughtfulness and empathy. It’s not an umbrella term for every fandom reaction, from death threats to hashtag activism. http://www.dailydot.com/parsec/fandom-harassment-captain-america-ghostbusters-devin-faraci/
Critique (I just did. I told you I thought the scene was better before the edit and why without taking it personally or damning anyone to hell) can be productive when it is truly critique.
I would not be surprised if Outlander’s folks are setting new boundaries as we speak….
With social media increasing consumers’ access to producers, fans and creators are still negotiating their boundaries online. Sometimes, a handful of fans will wildly overreact to a creative decision (the emphasis is mine) and behave like immature dicks. Sometimes, a creator will misinterpret a piece of constructive criticism as a personal attack and freak out. Occasionally, a hashtag campaign like #OscarsSoWhite or The 100‘s lesbian death backlash will start a productive conversation that might inspire real, positive change.
Here is my point, we have NO idea what happened. Maybe they made a poor choice maybe they didn’t have a choice. Is the show ruined? Are folks going to continue to beat the “Ron doesn’t get it” dead horse? You don’t have to like every decision, but for God’s sake it’s a TV show and these are real people who work hard and take pride in their art. I understand folks have been waiting a long time to see “their” story on the screen and are disappointed it wasn’t delivered exactly the way they hoped, but you might want to consider cutting the creators and cast a break …it isn’t personal. And, if I was a creator? I’d be building a fence, an electric one…