Friday, September 26, 2008

The Phantom Panic: I Hate Who Now?

Quote of the day: "If you’re not bitter and you’re working in Hollywood, then you’re not really participating." ~ Craig Ferguson

State of mind: Ranty, and possibly making stuff up. Everyone else is.

Date: September 26th, 2008

It’s getting a bit ridiculous to have people I’ve never met tell me how I am feeling or who I am hating, and it’s been happening a lot lately. In fact, just the other day I found out I hate the people in marketing that have to sell Dollhouse to the public. I had no idea. What a revelation! I feel so free now. Except, oh wait, I don’t hate marketing. I don’t even not like them. In fact, I’m actually a little intrigued by what they do in marketing and maybe I sometimes think about them when I’m in the shower. Take that Clay Shirkey! Not only does he claim that fans hate marketing, he does so without any substantiation. Not one quote, link, or an anecdotal retelling of a run in with a fan to support this claim. I know I’ve never seen anyone hating on the marketing for Dollhouse on Whedonesque, but it could be because there hasn't been much marketing of Dollhouse yet. It won't air until January. And even if it were true you would think that of all places some traces of this claim would have appeared there as it is the site that Joss himself sometimes posts on. (I was going to say, “The Man” instead of “Joss” but it didn’t feel right. Joss is boss. And “The Man” has a twofold meaning (at least to me), one being the person with the power holding everyone else down, which doesn’t sound like Joss Whedon at all, and the second meaning is the actual man, the first man, Adam. Adam, who you might recall, was paired up with Eve. He told her not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge and said it was because God told them not to, but did he offer any proof that God said to lay off the apples? No. See? No substantiation. And look where that has gotten us. Good work, Adam.)

I guess this is all part and parcel of being a member of the "Whedon Fandom". I don’t think it has an official name. Or handshake. Although there should be. Oooh… And maybe jackets. Yeah, that’d be cool. I do sometimes refer to myself as a "Whedonist" because, as someone pointed out, it has the word hedonist right in it. (Although I never call myself that out loud.) I should mention that I love being a part of fandom. Sometimes I even develop a crush on the fandom... especially the kind that throw me and a few hundred other fans a Backup Bash on short notice. It has a bad rap however. A negative reputation as a collection of overly obsessed fanboys and girls with nothing better to do than watch TV, read comics, go to conventions, and post online. And what the hell is wrong with that anyhow? Why can’t I share my thoughts on a particular episode that touched me deeply or struck my funny bone enough that I rewound a scene a few times just to savor the comedic flare more than once? Why should my being online or meeting people from around the world with a common love of a particular show be any less worthy of time than the friends of mine that I know that spend an entire weekend figuring out their Fantasy Football stats? It’s my time and I’ll do with it what I please and I’d appreciate not being judged for it. Jeez. It’s not like I’m drop-kicking kittens.

And there are other downsides besides being generalized and mostly dismissed, like fanwanks, trolls, stalkers, fandom fatigue, fandom factions, and finding out people that you thought were your friends are perfectly OK with lying to you and other people they called their friends just for the chance to meet their favorite actor and then have the gall to act as if it is you and the friends that were lied too that are in the wrong for being pissed off about it. I mean, where in the hell was their logic processor installed? High School? And occasionally I come across people inside the fandom that seem to forget that they are a part of it. They try to remove themselves from the perceived herds by throwing around the "fanboy" label which ticks me off because by using it when they disagree with a certain show, episode, or storyline, they reduce the opinion of others as a reactionary dogmatic one yet try and claim some sort of superiority because everyone but them have obviously succumbed to the hive mind. All of this while posting on the very board dedicated to the show/actor/writer that they are implying everyone is overly obsessed with. Over identify much? And tell me, oh removed one, you registered why? And have been posting for the past so many years because...? To enlighten everyone that you never mentioned thinking of as sheep before of their narrow minded ways? Oh get off it. You’re part of the fandom too. Just embrace it. Fandom isn’t a dirty word. It isn’t the obnoxious uninvited guest to the party. It is the party. So relax and enjoy and stop being a killjoy. Disagreement is fine. I welcome it. But being dismissive and condescending I don’t. And P.S. Someone pointing out that facts do not back up a claim are not being condescending, they are just pointing out the facts. So next on my list of fandom pet peeves are the walking wounded, the posters that think that anyone that disagrees with them is being disrespectful. Seriously, grow up. However, all the bad in any fandom I’ve participated in is always outweighed by the good. I’ve met some amazing, generous people, have had the chance to participate in some worthy projects, and have had my horizons widened. (Which isn’t as dirty as it sounds. Usually.) Plus, I’ve gotten rained on in LA. Twice.

I’ve been thinking about all of this a lot lately because of the so-called panic Joss Whedon fans fall victim to whenever any news about his up coming and highly anticipated show Dollhouse is posted.(It’s on FOX this January. Yes, FOX. Deal with it.)

If one were to believe the entertainment journalists the fans are in an unthinking frenzy about the fate of the show before it has even aired. But I don't. (Well... who knows, maybe somewhere there is a group of Whedon fans making up a batch of Kool-Aid with that groups admin declaring Dollhouse’s early demise. Hope it’s at least grape. Their last sip of sugar filled refreshment shouldn’t be that awful blueberry crap. But seriously folks, bon voyage. Hope you don’t end up in the shrimp dimension. I hear it’s boring.)

Besides, fandom isn’t like the Borg where one person represents all and from what I've seen it seems that the greatest number of negative comments appear under online articles but not so much on forums or other online communities. And when there are concerned comments on the boards someone else points out why they shouldn’t fret and calm is restored quickly, the panic smacked down by actual information and not enflamed by supposition and guessing. I sometimes wonder if they are getting the idea the fandom is worried by reading the threads but don't follow them all the way through and recognize them as thoughts from a moment in time and not an unwavering position. Posts are part of a continuing fluid conversation, not static declarations. So when they say “the fandom” do they mean the communities or just the random guy that comments under the online articles on their home page? Why do they get to represent the entire fandom? Again, NOT BORG. Of course, the idea the fandom is in a panic could be that for every article that claims it is there is one that feels it has to say, "Don't panic!" or "before you start to panic" and "thanks for the panic attack". And if anyone who has been paying attention knows it's that if you say a word often enough it becomes truth. Misrepresentation leads to misconception which leads to suffering. (Yoda had it totally wrong.)

I once raised the idea that there actually wasn’t a panic and was asked if I recalled the Save Dollhouse bru-ha-ha. I actually hadn’t. So I did a little googling (also not as dirty as it sounds) and found the forum and a few articles on them. What I discovered wasn’t that the site incited fears about the shows future but that their forum would make the rest of the fandom look like idiots and that the effort would be a waste of time or have a backlash effect. Very valid points. But still, it did not cause panic about the fate of Dollhouse itself. Besides, the board name was meant jokingly. Mostly.

From what I’ve read when I visited the site it’s more an attempt to use the fandom to promote the show early on and less to do with actually trying to save a show before it has even aired. But the pre-emptiveness of it isn’t totally unwarranted. Despite the credentials of the new guy at FOX, shows get cancelled. It’s just a fact. So I’d say that Save Dollhouse is made up of 2 parts promotion, 1 part joke, and 1 part dread of an actual cancellation.

I’d also like to point out that the comments that fans are worried because of Joss’s “track record” or “history” are illogical to me. He is 1 for 3 on the TV show “failure” scoreboard. Buffy the Vampire Slayer had 7 years. Angel had 5. Firefly was the one of his 3 shows that got axed before it’s time but that went on to be successful on DVD. (And now I’m wondering if anyone is twitching in anticipation of what my next words will be. Will I perpetuate the myth? Nah.) But despite the oft-repeated claim that the DVD sales of Firefly garnered a big screen adaptation of the show, they didn’t. I actually believed they had though until I started posting on Whedonesque. I wasn’t active in the fandom at the time Firefly was axed or the campaign activity afterwards. I was too busy trying to save Farscape. Which, although we did get a made for TV four hour movie, I call a fail. We didn’t get the fifth season like we wanted. (Screw you, skiffy!) Unlike Serenity, The Peacekeeper Wars wasn’t one story from the Farscape universe, it was the storyline that would have been told over the course of the 5th season and it lost a lot in the compression. Which is a pity because Farscape was a stellar show and it deserved better. No. Mary Parent and Universal saved Firefly and gave us the "Big Damn Movie" Serenity. Now... the marketing for Serenity... them I'm not so keen on.

In short (ha) no panic. No hating. So please stop telling me how I think and feel. I can do that for myself.

By the way, I’m not going to provide links to the articles claiming that fans are panicking. I mean, they didn’t when they made the claims we were so why should I to dispute them?

*The word "Panic" appeared in this blog nine times.*

Show quote of the day: "Kind of makes you wonder—of all the things we’ve hunted, how many existed just ‘cause people believed in ‘em?"

Green tip of the day: Recycle, bitches!


cabri said...

Rant? Well ... maybe.

Hey, it's football season! Let's go drop-kick some kittens for Joss!

ctheokas said...

If you google, and it isn't dirty, then you're not doing it right.

I google myself all the time. I prefer to google with someone else, and I prefer googling other people, but I'm okay googling solo.

JennyLu said...

WOW. That was a fantastic piece of writing and I support your argument 100%

samatwitch said...

Great post! No more ranting than it deserves to be. (I hope that made sense - it's 2 am.)

fermicat said...

I think my take-home lesson of the Save Farscape efforts (and others around the same timeframe) is that there is rarely anything you can do to change a network's mind if they decide to drop a show. So many good shows don't make it. Some bad shows do. You just have to hope that someone at the network understands how to schedule and market the good stuff so that it has a chance to build an audience and grow.

LL said...

You were a little brief... but I think I got the gist of it...

You should feel bad, and sad, and happy, and glad that someone takes the time to 'splain things to you like that. :ewink:

Beth said...

OKay, LL made me spew. I love Joss, but I don't really understand fandom. I don't think it's a bad thing though. I'm not judgey about it anyway. I'm judgey about McCain supporters, but fans? Not really. I think for me the idea of being a fan of something means I'm less than and they're greater than. I never understood it ... idolizing something. I love things, I am entertained by things, but I'm just not a slobbering fan over people or even non-slobbering.

I like what I like, but I'm just too lazy to get together with a group and discuss it. Maybe if I were different, Twin Peaks would've had a longer run.

trinamick said...

I used to get all worked up when a show I loved was cancelled, i.e. Farscape, sure that it would make a difference. Now I just mutter under my breath, convinced it is all part of the plot to persecute me. It goes better with my martyr complex.