Pop Style Opinionfest: The Rise of Fan Culture

Posted on May 27, 2016

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OOOOOooooh, GURL. We shot our mouths off this week!

Actually, we hope that doesn’t turn out to be the case. Instead, we tried to have a considered, somewhat inside-baseball look on one of the hot topics on the pop culture scene; what The A.V. Club called “the strange entitlement of fan culture” (a phrase that comes off a little harsh to us), in a great little article that served as a launching pad for this podcast. We think we have a somewhat unique perspective, as two people who started off as uber-fanbloggers ourselves, and we used that as our starting point, giving some of our insidery stuff on the occasionally painful transition as we went from fan bloggers to general interest bloggers and critics, the one party we went to (complete with 5-minute Heidi Klum appearance) that changed our perspective on the issue forever, and then, much later, being on the receiving end of fan culture anger, whether that culture is Kristen Stewart fans or Adam Lambert fans or Outlander fans. We had a little tussle with the latter this week and – without any badmouthing or anger – used it as a discussion point about fan culture over all, bringing in recent pop culture thunderstorms over the new Ghostbusters and the fan disappointment with The 100 and how it may be shaping creative decisions in the future.

Bottom line: as with most things in life, there are good and not-so-good parts about fan culture in the age of social media and streaming platforms and we’re two opinionated bitches who found ourselves at the epicenter of it more than once in our blogging careers, both as fans and as the objects of fan frustration. And you know what that means, don’t you, darlings?

OPINIONS. And LOTS of them:

 

 

Thank you for your support in all things, kittens. You can download/subscribe to the podcast here if you’re so inclined.

 

[Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sony, Starz, The CW – Video Credit: CBS Radio/Play it]

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  • Eric Stott

    Adam Lambert……what IS she doing these days?

    • VioletFem

      Still touring! He was in my city a 2 months ago to promote his new album.

      • Audrey Lee

        Which is fantastic btw! Not a Glambert myself, I just dig it 🙂

      • Eric Stott

        Great! He’s a reality contestant who outgrew the hype&I I wish him a long career

    • LeelaST

      I’m assuming that feminine pronoun is a typo?

      • Eric Stott

        A little mild shade throwing, from one Gay man about another.

    • According to a billboard I passed the other day, headlining the Isle of Wight festival with Queen.

      • Eric Stott

        appropriate

      • David Kresner

        As a long time Queen fan, I think the initial impetus to join Mr. Lambert with Queen was well considered. The results, though, have been a travesty.

        • Kent Roby

          Yes, I thought it would be a good marriage, too, but it seems to be working less successfully than having Robbie Williams as the frontman.

          • GoAwayKardash

            Um…completely disagree. Having attended a Queen+Adam Lambert concert, I can assure you it was FANTASTIC.

          • Kent Roby

            Okay, good to know; I was just going from reviews of a set of friends who saw both pairings (they happened to prefer Williams, but to each their own!).

  • Tiaras&tweetybirds

    Somedays ago,an admin of a GOT fansite on facebook posted an article of Emilia Clarke ‘s feminist views & said,feminism is a cancer.it should be crushed.when I asked him why is feminism so bad,he literally replied that feminists are trying to take over “culture of men” the primary example being the new ghostbusters movie.It took all my strength to be polite to him afterwards & I asked,”what’s wrong with trying a fresh spin on an already iconic movie?”sob just blocked me.Now I am really sorry I didn’t get to say,”mommy issues much?”

    • argy-bargy

      He clearly doesn’t understand what feminism is. I’ll bet he thinks it’s just man-bashing. I don’t even bother trying to dialogue with bitter, vile men like that. I feel it’s futile, that their minds aren’t going to be changed, because they’re unable to put aside their hatred of women and view the issue clearly and for what it really is. 🙁

    • bitchybitchybitchy

      Sounds as if that lad has a problem viewing women as human beings who can think for themselves

      • Tiaras&tweetybirds

        He also said feminists exaggerate the number of violent incidents toward women.Men are always overlooked,they always come in second blah blah.

        • bitchybitchybitchy

          Face plant

        • I see these sorts of comments a lot–only online, never in real life so far–and I genuinely can’t understand the complete lack of awareness that could lead to believing that, and saying it out loud where people can see you.

  • karen how

    I’ve been amazed at the level of entitlement I’ve seen amongst some of the fans of the Outlander books (not all, some). Some of these people are just vitriolic. This screed below is from someone who keeps slashing at Terry Dresbach on twitter (who has the patience of a saint, IMO, with some of these folks who are quite *unhinged*):

    “Plain and simple, the “adaptation” is being made for Terry Dresbach…

    This “adaptation” has every single element Terry and Ron want. Terry wants it all about Claire being a badass bossy bitch. She got it. Ron wants a plot-driven show with ZERO characterization except for his golden boy Tobias….

    So what are viewers left with seeing? Terry’s costume wet dream with a bitchy heroine she can dress up like a doll…

    I’ve told my disappointment to Ron, Terry, Maril, Diana “Herself” and Starz and it falls on deaf ears because they don’t care.

    And people tell me “If you don’t like it, don’t watch it. Quit complaining.”

    Do you know why I keep complaining? Because I believe that people should be held accountable for their actions and their choices. You don’t get to do whatever the fuck you want and then get the pleasure of never being told what you’re doing wrong, or never being told how things could be fixed. You don’t get the joy of me kissing your ass. I WILL continue to hold you accountable for destroying the books, being sensationalistic and dramatizing rapes on the screen, and for the poor writing. That’s MY RIGHT as a viewer. You make the product. As the consumer/viewer, I get to tell you what I feel you’re doing right or wrong.”

    • Gatita

      That last paragraph is fucking chilling. Annie Wilkes from Misery would say she’s taking things too far.

      • karen how

        YES. You are so spot on with Misery.
        This woman is alarming, and she keeps going after Terry Dresbach on twitter basically accusing her and Ron Moore of conspiring to “ruin” Outlander.

        • bitchybitchybitchy

          That screed is disturbing. The Outlander books are fiction, entertainment. Some people do go down the rabbit hole, don’t they?

    • banella

      Have you considered that Ron, Starz and Terry don’t think it needs fixing? I like the series. I don’t like every choice but I never do with any show, movie or book.

      Your right as a consumer is to buy/view the product or not. You do not get to tell someone how it should be changed and expect them to change it to suit you. Coke seems too sweet to me now but I am not going to tell Coca-Cola they need to fix the formula because it is ruining drinking Coke for me.

      • Karen B

        It’s a copy/paste, not her opinion 🙂 She’s on your side.

        • banella

          Oh okay got you. Thanks! I missed that. It seemed so much like things I have seen. I thought the tone shift from the beginning was weird but thought it might be someone who was not very self aware. Maybe I have seen so many of these type comments in this and the AV club comments I am shell shocked. I usually don’t jump in but the last paragraph got me.

          • karen how

            Hi! I know, I wish I could have indented the quoted material to make it more obvious it was NOT me!

            This bit in particular: “Do you know why I keep complaining? Because I believe that people should be held accountable for their actions and their choices. You don’t get to do whatever the fuck you want and then get the pleasure of never being told what you’re doing wrong, or never being told how things could be fixed.”

            Holy crap, she’s got issues. Fanatic indeed.

          • Gatita

            FYI, you can use HTML tags in Disqus comments.

          • tessa

            don’t worry it took me a minute as well. I was like WOAH i need to reread this comment a couple of times

    • Joanna

      “That’s MY RIGHT as a viewer. You make the product. As the consumer/viewer, I get to tell you what I feel you’re doing right or wrong.” This person clearly doesn’t understand that he is not, in fact, the consumer – HE is the product (i.e. the subscriber that pays to watch and/or advertising target that is sold to advertisers, which is really the only reason creative content exists). His opinion literally means nothing unless it causes him to stop watching altogether.

    • MilaXX

      My favorite comeback. “Don’t like it don’t watch!” So stupid. I thought I was a grown woman who could like and critique something at the same time. In fact, often it’s only the shows I like that I bother to critique because I think the show can do better.

      • karen how

        There’s a difference though between writing a critique and getting personal and vitriolic – there’s some folks out there that can’t/won’t keep it in the realm of discussion and instead start lashing out.

        I always appreciate T&Lo’s media critiques as they’re exactly that: critiques. (Oh how I miss waiting for the Mad Men posts and the lively discussion that followed, and the Mad Style posts and analysis!)

        And typically, the readers of this site have lively discussions – even when disagreeing with each other, they’re respectful and don’t veer off into hyperbole and personal attacks.

        Some of the Outlander book fans have just started attacking reviewers, commenters, and the creative teams on the show, and I think that is where some exasperation arises and thus the response: “if you don’t like it don’t watch!” It’s because these VERY vocal few seem to *hate* everything they see, and start internet-screaming about how these people are *destroying* THEIR books. The Stephen King “Misery” types.

        If “don’t like it don’t watch it” is a blanket, knee-jerk response to *any* critique that’s given, I agree, that’s stupid.

    • ChloeElizabeth

      It’s okay to have an opinion. Scream your opinion to the world! THAT’S your right. But the fact that you think you get be the right/wrong police is totally egotistical. I think that because people have been allowed to influence some parts of television they think they are the judge, jury and executioner. The director curates what he wants you to see, you don’t have to like it. You don’t have to like what he’s doing, you can throw a fit. They are creating it in hopes you’ll enjoy it because they love it. And to have the gall to think that you get to change it! That’s repulsive. But that’s just my opinion.

      • karen how

        I might be splitting hairs, I do agree that everyone has a right to an opinion, but I don’t agree that includes the right to express those opinions by screaming, or engaging in personal attacks. I think Stephen King’s Misery was such a pitch perfect response/book after fans railed against him for not writing the horror that they wanted. Annie Wilkes is those fans that start claiming ownership and rights to fictional characters and who then lash out at anything and anyone that does not fit in to their dogmatic world.

    • alisa

      The hypocrisy… “You don’t get to do whatever the fuck you want and then get the pleasure of never being told what you’re doing wrong, or never being told how things could be fixed.”

  • Karen B

    I blog a daytime soap opera and the fanbases on a weekly basis is mindblowing. I’ve been called Trump/Nazi because I favored one side of a love triangle over the other. But… I also admit that the weeks they war are great for hit counts/traffic.

  • Audrey Lee

    I really appreciate your view on the 100 drama. I agree completely that creators shouldn’t have to cater to their fanbase specifically. I don’t understand why fans believe that the story must go their way when they’re NOT directly involved in the creative process. I understand becoming attached to characters, ones that get ganked in a manner that I think is sad or shocking or unfair, and it happens. It’s not MY STORY to tell, so either I can stop watching at the death of my favorite character, or I can continue to watch the story. Really, it comes down to am I watching the story for the STORY or for the CHARACTERS? If it’s the story, I’ll continue watching, if it’s the characters I’ll stop. It’s not my place to say that a show should be cancelled just because it did something I disagreed with.

    • bitterbriar

      Respectfully, the situation with The 100 is more complicated than presented in the podcast, though I did appreciate T&L stressing they don’t watch the show and hadn’t followed the press closely. They mentioned Mo Ryan’s article, but they didn’t touch on her main point — that the creators of the show deliberately and extensively engaged with the character’s fanbase on social media, asking them for promotion (urged them to vote for the character/the relationship in internet polls and promised behind-the-scenes content for a win), encouraging them to believe the character survived the season (by inviting fans to watch them film the actress’s scenes in the finale) while dismissing fears of her death, etc. It’s even been proven that one of the writers went into a lesbian-oriented fan forum, made it known she was professionally connected to the show and even eventually who she was, and encouraged those who were afraid the character was doomed (because of the actress’s other commitments) to keep watching.

      It would have been a cruel set-up for any character’s death. It was particularly cruel in this instance because The 100 is geared to a younger and internet-savvy audience who would be more attuned overall to this kind of twitter/tumblr campaigning. Also, much of that audience was either tuning in for the romance between this character and the lead or for the character herself as one of the few positive lesbian representations on network television (or both). Given the really long and inglorious history of lesbian and bisexual women dying prematurely on television (Autostraddle did a write-up about, the numbers keeps climbing), and how over a dozen of such characters have died in this year so far, this character’s death became a rallying point for a lot of people even outside The 100 fandom. It went beyond the character itself, and became much more about how television creators treat their LGBT characters and audiences. I don’t think fan backlash gets a pass just because it’s coming from a minority (or wants to speak on behalf of that minority), but I do think it deserves a more in-depth look at why they went from being angry to being organized.

      And yeah, the manner of the death itself was insulting to anyone with a grasp on interesting narrative, but that’s a separate issue.

      • highjump

        Agree agree agree. I will be interested in a follow up after Tom tunes in.

        I think a more apt fandom for TLo’s point about the aggressive lobbying of showrunners and cast members about the direction of plot would be Once Upon a Time. Lorenzo mentioned OUAT an episode or two ago, something about how none of the fans are happy, and I was hoping it might come up in this podcast. I feel like I could write a dissertation on the OUAT ship wars. I ship Swan Queen as endgame and read waaaaay too much fanfiction when I should be reading the 50 literary fiction novels sitting unread in a corner of my bedroom BUT

        1. I accept I am not in control of the show and a Disney property on a major network will probably not go there, as important as the representation would be to me
        2. I would never harass (and I have seen some nasty stuff) people involved with the show, people who write about the show, or people who ship those characters with others

        The level of vitriol from fans on any and all sides of the ship wars who can’t accept that at the end of the day it is not their show and that personal attacks only hurt people and do little to advance your agenda is the perfect example of toxic fan culture as TLo outlined, imo. And this isn’t to say that the showrunners and even the cast haven’t shown their ass a time or two. That is nothing compared to the toxic infighting among fans that goes on at cons and on the internet. When you’re screaming at a teenager who bought a different tshirt from at etsy store about a different non-cannon relationship in a convention center hallway you need to SIT DOWN.

        • Audrey Lee

          Additionally, did people really expect the creative team to come out and say “Hold onto your butts, your favorite character is about to eat it in a horrible way!” They could have said nothing at all and then the cries would be about how they don’t care about the fans at all or value their opinion. Deception is a part of making television (and that’s detailed very heavily in this podcast, if you listen to the bits about narrative in reality tv). It’s really unfortunate that a fan favorite had to go, but she LITERALLY had to go, it wasn’t a choice made entirely for creative purposes. You work with what you have, you make it interesting for as many fans as possible, and you absolutely cannot let one portion of a fan base dictate what happens.

          • bitterbriar

            “They could have said nothing at all and then the cries would be about how they don’t care about the fans at all or value their opinion.”

            Plenty of showrunners actually take that approach — say “we can’t spoil future storylines” or simply “we can’t talk about the fate of characters before it’s revealed on the show.” It’s not only expected, it’s the professional thing to do. Does it make everyone happy? Of course not. But what does? At the very least, it prevents fans from feeling outright deceived and used. Again: lots of fans get angry. The 100 backlash isn’t just angry, it’s organized, and that’s why I first opined that it was a situation requiring a closer look at the contributing elements. This is one of them.

            ETA: And I might be wrong, so please correct me if I’m mistaken, but — wasn’t silence/refusal to comment directly the approach The 100 took with Lincoln’s death? We heard news of the actor signing on to American Gods before the season began, and so there was a common assumption the character would die. Did TPTB trip over themselves to obscure the issue in that case as well?

      • Audrey Lee

        I’m familiar with the whole entire situation, and while I think the going into a forum and actively engaging with that particular subset of fans was out of line, I don’t think it really changes my point. The death of that particular character, while sudden, wasn’t handled IN SHOW any differently than other characters who have passed. I get being upset about the interaction and feeling deceived by the creative team, but frankly, it IS STILL their story to tell. This show hasn’t shied away from controversial deaths (hello 8 year old committing murder suicide) and I find it more than a little ridiculous to single this out for the plot. There is still bisexual representation on the show! There’s still gay representation on this show! There’s interracial relationship representation in this show! Two of those in one relationship!

        Clarke is still bi. She got her chance to say goodbye, AND Lexa helped her post mortem. People keep talking about fridging and insisting that it’s happening here, but considering the frequency and violence of death in the show, I’m less inclined to believe that’s the case here. Death is a motivator for EVERYONE in this show, including Clarke in previous situations (Wells, Finn, her FATHER, and so on).

        I’m sorry that Lexa got got, and it happened in a way that a very vocal portion of fandom disagrees with, and the circumstances OUTSIDE of the show led to such an uproar, but isn’t that kind of the point of the podcast?

        • bitterbriar

          I think the discussion of representation on the show and whether or not it’s still laudable is worth having. I also think the discussion of how Lexa’s death was treated, narratively and in a meta-textual context, is worth having. (Although just a nitpick: Charlotte was twelve, not eight.)

          But I’m wary of getting drawn into either of those discussions, especially in this forum, where the discussion is centered on the interactions between fans and showrunners/writers/producers (which I’m going to call TPBT from here on out for brevity’s sake). The podcast is about fandom culture and a discussion about how that can manifest in these interactions, and whether it ever crosses the line into entitlement (if that’s even possible). I only wanted to point out that the situation with The 100 is more complicated than presented in the podcast, and something of an exception to the overall rule: this is a situation where interaction between TPTB and the fans outside the show deliberately worked to shape expectations of and reactions to the events of the show.

          As I originally pointed out, this is a teen-oriented show marketing toward an incredibly social media-aware and -savvy audience. And The 100 isn’t like The Vampire Diaries or Jane the Virgin or other breakout hits for the CW — it gets good press (or it did), but its appeal remains cult. That means it depends on social media and fan interactions on these platforms to get the word out, stir up twitter trends and viral campaigns in order to draw in new viewers or ensure that its core fanbase will tune in each week for live viewings. Fan support like this is known as street teams, and they’re the lifeblood in sustaining projects that don’t have unlimited publicity or budget. (I actually just went to a lecture about this from an indie producer, so it’s not a TV phenomenon either.) That makes fan interaction a completely different animal right off the bat, from as highjump offered as an alternative, Once Upon a Time — a Disney property with incredible means and a core fanbase that isn’t dependent on social media.

          Does that mean these street teams get to dictate what happens on the show? No, and frankly, I think it’s derailing to suggest they believed they had that say. That’s not how TV works, and most sane people know that. But TPTB did everything but outright lie to those teams and fans who were concerned about Lexa’s fate — dismissed their questions as “paranoid,” accused them of having “trust issues,” and claiming there was “always” hope for fans of her relationship with the lead. In turn, these fans and teams worked hard to promote the show, often drawing in new viewers by pointing to these interactions and saying, “see, at least the lesbian won’t die on THIS show.” (You might not think it much of a selling point, but considering how many of them DO…)

          Obviously I can see upthread that we have to agree to disagree whether TPTB’s conduct in this area was professional, or even ethical. (Though I’d like to point out that even Mo Ryan found TPTB inviting fans to come watch the filming of Lexa’s finale scenes, as a red herring on her death, pretty ghastly behavior.) But just as I agree with you that fans don’t get to dictate the story, I just as strongly believe that TPTB don’t get to benefit from the manipulation and deception of their fanbase only to walk away with impunity. I’m not saying I support all aspects of the backlash, but really. From a PR standpoint, what did they think would happen? And it only made things worse when the showrunner himself went from being a frequent participant — even initiator — of these interactions, to realizing the fans were upset and going almost radio silent overnight. That’s where the accusations of being “cold’ come from. Not that he didn’t do what fans wanted, but from the fact that we went from friendly and engaging on a daily basis to unresponsive as soon as it was clear he wasn’t going to be praised for what he considered a game-changing episode.

          Now, that’s his choice! And he has every right to decide he’s just not into social media anymore. (Though I doubt that’s the case, given his complaints at Wondercon about losing something like 15,000 followers in three days.) But again, to the targeted demographic of this show being shut out on social media isn’t just an internet thing — it’s equivalent to being suddenly and completely ignored at home, or in school. It might have been a personal choice, but it was also bad PR. It was especially bad considering how many of the other writers and actors involved with the show took to social media to show fans their support, even begging them not to hurt themselves in response to the episode. Which might sound like an extreme reaction, but again… this is a young audience, many of them LGBT, who knows how many of them in conservative areas or homes. And they’d just seen one of the few positive representations of a lesbian character in a major role on a network show graphically murdered by ersatz father figure because he disapproved of her relationship, mere minutes after the consummation of said relationship. I absolutely believe the writers when they say they wanted her death to serve the story, but there’s no getting around the fact that’s a sequence of events to make a Hays Code-era censor proud. And it was delivered up with no warning, after months of outside-the-show dismissals (which most of that audience was desperately listening to) of just something like that happening.

          I know you started your response claiming that things that happen outside the show shouldn’t affect reactions to the show itself, and I just spent paragraphs talking about (mostly) events outside the show. I’m not ignoring your position, only trying to elaborate on mine: that I don’t believe this is a situation where you can deal with the two things separately. In fact, I think there’s an argument that TPTB didn’t WANT certain fans to only concentrate on events of the show or they would have suspected, as many originally did, that Lexa was doomed per the actress’s availability, and stopped watching.That’s part of what makes The 100’s situation so unique — that its popularity and following was so entwined and possibly even dependent on fan interactions, that these interactions were handled in the worst possible way from TPTB’s end, and that’s why the backlash is so extreme, so unexpectedly powerful, and so much more than fans being upset at the death of a favorite character. As I said before I don’t think this removes The 100 from the discussion of fan backlash completely, but I do think it requires more examination and discussion overall. There are elements at play which other shows and properties don’t have to deal with, and in order to understand this new world of internet fan culture (which is the point of the podcast), you have to recognize when that becomes part of the conversation.

          • Lovely Rita

            I think you summed up the nuance of the 100 situation really well. I don’t think it’s a representative example of fan entitlement because it was such a complex situation, and because of the specific way fans were engaged by the show. thanks for posting.

  • VioletFem

    Oh, I’m very excited to hear this! I follow you two on twitter and saw a little bit of how unhinged people reacted to your recent Outlander critique. I can understand being passionate about a work of fiction, but not to the point that you can not tolerate even the mildest critique.

  • oneWEIRDword

    Can’t wait for my commute home so I can listen to this!

  • Frank_821

    It’s a sad reality of any fandom that you have your extremists

    I once gave a talk about the clash of people in the cosplay community and how important it is to get to the root cause of the conflicts. One thing I said was to replace the word fandom with religion. When you look at it in those terms, things make a whole lot more sense.

    I agree fans should be able to express their opinion and have their voice but how much, if any, actual power they have over the creative development of the show becomes a trickier issue.

    Sometimes the the fans do get ridilcous with the illusion that they own the property and have the right to dictate the show

    Sometimes that voice is needed

    I think back 15 years ago when George Lucas came out with his “improved” versions of the Star Wars trilogy. Many fans of course didn’t care for them. When the DVDs came out there was a huge outcry for the original versions. Eventually I know Lucas yielded and released both versions

    I can recall the kerfuffle with the show the Killing. It got adequate ratings but not nearly as good as most AMC shows. When the show ended on a cliffhanger, I know many fans got upset since they were lead to believe the story was contained in a season. Some of them I know didn’t want to risk a show that would not have a completed self-contained story since new shows can be dropped on the turn of the dime. Sadly the response of the producer of the show came across as dismissive and insensitive of the fans. And the fans went ballistic

    even though the Killing was renewed and they promised the killer would be revealed in the 2nd season, the ratings took a hit

    • crowTrobot

      There’s definitely a religious, even cultish, like aspect to modern fandom. It can get pretty disturbing but at least they aren’t raising up massive armies to smite the non-believers. Yet.

    • I was wondering why so many people are choosing to live vicariously through pop culture figures, and then you said “religion.”

      Of course.

    • Heather

      I was one of those people who stopped watching the Killing when they didn’t reveal who killed Rosie Larsen at the end of season 1. That said, i think think my reaction was mostly that I had stopped really enjoying the show anyway and was just pissed that my investment of time in a show wasn’t going to be over if I wanted a solution to the central mystery. I ended up coming back to the show a while later and liked it more and glad I went back to it.
      I don’t like the idea that being upset about a direction the show is going is entitlement. It’s when your reaction isn’t “oh well, guess this isn’t for me” and is instead “i’m going to set the world on fire” that’s problematic.

  • Gatita

    As a writer, something I find super creepy about fan culture is the sense of ownership people have over fictional characters. You didn’t create them. You don’t have to agree with the decisions the writers make but when you start making threats and harassing people online you’ve gone way too far. I realize a lot of this gets channeled into fan fic but that can be creepy too, esp. when it’s real person fic (ask Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart about that). Anyway, I’m glad that the writing I do doesn’t generate a Misery following. ETA: I just went through TLo’s Twitter and holy shit! These people are terrifying.

    • oneWEIRDword

      Yes, Misery!

    • I’m a viewer and I agree with you. On a basic level, I didn’t put in any work. Nobody is harassing these people about how they phrased an e-mail at work.

      My first experience with fan culture going overboard was the first season of True Detective. Everyone online and around me were disappointed with the finale and believed they knew the story better than the writers. “They didn’t go into what was going on on a state level. It was her family. Blah blah blah.” The finale of True Detective made perfect sense if the viewer accepted that it was fundamentally about a relationship between two detectives. Everyone was occupied with brainstorming of their own storylines that the viewers ignored the storyline that was presented.

  • Lauren

    I rarely comment on things but I’m an Outlander fan and the somewhat nasty fan culture around it confuses me. I really appreciate both of your insight and thoughts on Outlander and otherwise. Keep doin’ what you’re doin’ – you guys are awesome and some of the best TV writers on the interwebs. Thank you for all the work you put into it!

  • AC Simons

    It really bugs me when “social” media gets twisted, nasty, and ugly, especially towards posters that I have a lot of affection and regard for, like Tom & Lorenzo. This is not kind, fun, or conducive to open dialog and sharing of ideas. I posted a very innocuous (at least to me) comment a while back and the vitriol was ridiculous. Whatever happened to the golden rule?

    • siriuslover

      And Twitter is so problematic because it’s hard to engage in civil discourse in 140 characters– at least for some people. So it becomes a quickie comment fest and often descends down a very dark, name-calling tunnel. I very rarely use it

      • oneWEIRDword

        I think I need to back away from it – because things are so ugly there. It’s a depressing thing.

  • Austen Jane

    It took an hour – but Lorenzo finally said what I was thinking, which is that there are fans, and then there are fanatics. I am a peripheral reader/follower so I didn’t know about the Outlander blow up until I listened to this podcast (and am glad I missed it!) but I think it does everyone a disservice to call these people and their personal attacks “fans.” Before Lorenzo said the exact word I was thinking of them as fan-trolls, which is essentially what they are.

    I appreciate the broad view that you all bring to critique, even if I don’t always agree with you. Hell – I didn’t even like Outlander. *goes to hide under a rock for saying so*

    • oneWEIRDword

      Hey, I’ve never even watched it.

    • tallgirl1204

      I love Outlander (books and show) AND I love TLo. It was like the perfect cocktail to read those posts. But I have always understood the concept that this is TLO’s house, TLo’s rules. I’m sad they need to walk away from some of the most beautiful and thought-provoking critiques I’ve read.

  • Anna M

    It’s too bad you guys are stepping away from reviewing Outlander. I completely understand why you’re doing it, and as a daily reader it won’t affect my visits to the site, but I’ll miss those posts a lot. I’ve been uncomfortable with the show’s fixation on rape since the first season and it was hard to pinpoint exactly why. Portrayals of rape on screen can be very necessary and powerful within a story, but there is a danger of becoming gratuitous about it. I think shows sometimes tap into very dark and unhealthy fascinations people harbor and take advantage of them. It’s tough to know where the line is, especially in high quality, intelligent shows. I realize I’m not saying anything groundbreaking here, I just really appreciated the clear-headed, concise and respectful way you pointed to that in Outlander. I really like the show and that review in particular shed light on what has been a nebulous discomfort for me since the beginning. Also I dearly hope you’ll find another show to do constume analysis for soon. Love that shit.

    • siriuslover

      You know, there’s a gendered component to the attacks against TLo, because I read at least two other blogs (one of which has been named here on occasion) run by women that mentioned similar concerns and no critiques. And that makes me so angry, and as TLo pointed out in this podcast, people criticizing are actually personally attacking.

      • Frank_821

        you compound it with last year’s outrage over Sansa Stark and her “honeymoon night” and it makes you wonder how on earth can someone take issue with someone being uncomfortable with the heavy use of rape as a plot element

        • CommentsByKatie

          Exactly…at least in my Twitter feed, the same people who were outraged about the camera direction and plotlines for Sansa are the ones defending the direction and plotlines for Fergus. I don’t get it. The only explanation I can come up with is that they are just hopping on the bandwagon of whatever the vogue outrage is rather than individually and critically thinking about what they are posting.

      • Anna M

        Yeah there’s def something to what you’re saying. Like, some women are ok with gratuitous depictions of rape if it’s “for women, by women” and men enter the discussion at their peril. But I also wonder if this site is more of a target because it has a large readership and higher profile (I don’t know what other blogs you’re referring to)

    • Gatita

      I have a theory about rape and male violence in fantasy literature aimed at women (see Twilight and 50 Shades in addition to Outlander). If you’re a straight woman, the person you fall in love with is statistically also the person who is mostly likely to rape, beat and murder you. Plus we are subjected to so much street harassment and random acts of unwelcome sexual attention all the time (until you age out of it and let me tell you the best fucking thing about being 50 is not having to deal with it anymore).

      Stories like Outlander function in part as a way for women to come to terms with their sexual desire in the context of a dangerous and even murderous patriarchy. Which is why I think some women come unhinged when you criticize the rapiness of the material–it’s almost like you’re attacking some emotional/psychological rationalization that’s too painful and difficult for people to acknowledge otherwise.

      Anywho, enough psychology for today. It’s Friday! When can I start drinking?

      • Fenchurch

        Oooh, that’s very interesting and something I had never considered.

      • karen how

        That’s an interesting theory; I’ve generally thought that the bodice-ripper/kidnap-me/50 shades fantasy tropes were ways for “good girls” to have more than missionary sex.

        Because “he made me do it!” absolves them of having lustful thoughts.

        • oneWEIRDword

          …as a reaction to the slut-shaming culture perhaps.

          • karen how

            Yes – and religious dogma. It’s so sad.

        • Gatita

          That too.

        • bitchybitchybitchy

          A bit late here with a comment, but I too think that the bodiceripper/kidnap/50 shades types of novels did/do allow women to explore their sexual desires and fantasies. The idea of being overpowered by a handsome man who is actually desired by the female character is behind some of those bodice rippers.

        • I wonder if that’s a generational or cultural difference? I’m in my late 20s living in NYC so I haven’t felt any pressure to be a “good girl.” But I do experience sexual harassment that triggers past trauma on a regular basis.

      • narciblog

        That’s a very good point especially considering Outlander is written by a woman. But it’s the same rapeyness that eventually turned me off the Game of Thrones books and one reason (along with the unrelenting grimness of the whole thing) that I couldn’t get past the first episode of the show. GRRM has gotten a lot of flack for the rape and treatment of women which he just brushes off as being “historical,” which seems like a cop-out to me.

    • BarbWoodruff

      The depiction of rape, or actually lack of it, is one of the things that I really liked and respected about Jessica Jones. The show makes no bones about the fact that Kilgrave is a rapist, that he raped Jessica, and that indeed, all of his mind powers amount to rape, whether his commands are sexual or not. And yet, the showrunners made the conscious decision not to show Jessica in a directly sexual situation with Kilgrave. The show was very deliberate in the choice to be about consequences and not about titillation. And it would have been very easy to go that route. Instead, the sex they do show is between consenting adults. They very cleverly and subtley use the character’s superpowers as a metaphor for all too common relationship dynamics. I don’t think this is just because they have a female screenwriter and showrunner. The original writers of the comic book were men. The opposite is true for Outlander, where the author is a woman and the showrunner is a man. Does that matter when it comes to adapting material that contains rape? I don’t know, but I do know that it’s possible to do it right.

      • Jessica Jones is a fantastic comparison to make because unlike Outlander, I would argue that JJ is a show specifically about trauma victims and yet it never truly depicted a rape on screen. Instead, the story focused on the fact and repercussions of rape and abuse.

        • YES, exactly. Jessica Jones and True Detective aretwo amazing shows that referenced rape and child abuse without ever needing to show either. So powerful.

      • karen how

        Thanks for articulating how you see the differences between the two shows in dealing with the same subject. I haven’t watched Jessica Jones, but I’m adding it to my list based you your description of its thoughtful and complicated choices.

        • It is very dark, but completely non-gratuitous. Completely respectful of the trauma survivors and their process. I’ve never seen anything like it on a screen before.

      • Anna M

        That’s a really helpful point. I think Outlander is so confusing because it sort of wants conflicting things. It wants to deal seriously with the aftermath of rape and abuse, but also seems to want to capitalize on it at the same time. It feels like a mixed message. I haven’t read the Outlander books or the Jessica Jones comics so I can’t say whether the problems/strengths of the respective shows come from the source material or the show runners, but it’s an interesting question.

        • Corsetmaker

          I think the whole thing is a mixed message though. In a lot of ways it’s quite an old fashioned book, which she and the fans try to deny. I quite like the books, they’re a pleasant read but they’re a bit like if Barbara Cartland had teamed up with Nigel Tranter to write a novel inspired by C.S. Lewis. At it’s core it’s an old school bodice ripper, so the problem comes in marrying that up with modern sensibilities.

  • Lurker

    When did America become so damn NUTS! WOW!

    • Audrey Lee

      These types are all over the world. I was totally into The Vampire Chronicles back in the day (lol wow that was hard to admit) and the hard corest of fanatic in my circle was located in Belgium.

    • Corsetmaker

      It is international, but I think it varies in type. The internet housewife variant does seem to be more US based. And that’s the core of the Outlander fandom. I don’t know why… demographics? More stay at home mothers? More internet use among that group than in other places? Dont know.

      • Lurker

        The false entitlement of the internet. From gamergate to internet housewives to political candidate supporters. Truly frightening.

  • Anniegolightly

    I had no idea you have to deal with so much creepiness and negativity. “Fandom” has become Freakdom.

  • siriuslover

    I am listening right now to this podcast while at work and it’s taking everything in me not to yell out “PREACH!” to some of your points, especially at this part about the cruel and personal comments. If something positive came out of this week’s kerfuffle, it’s that I finally had to cut off my ties to so much of the OL fan culture. I knew there was this whole level of stuff I just didn’t get, but the horrible, horrible comments I’ve been reading (and dealt with trying just to straightforwardly tell them they were making things up!) has made me draw my line in the sand and tell them PEACE OUT. And they keep going, trying to get the last word. It’s just a phenomenon I have never gotten.

  • pherocious cake

    excellent/illuminating discussion. thank you

    (and i’m sorry you had to go through all that — *passes the jug*)

  • rainwood1

    I want to say how deeply offended I am that you called the lovely Miss Miu Miu a bitch on the air!! You two are clearly cat-haters and especially female cat-haters and I’m going to personally tweet her so she knows you said that, and tweet that you are female cat-haters to the Humane Society, the ASPCA, PAWS, the President of the United States, and all 50,000 members of the Pretty Kitty Fanatic Cat-Lover Forum. You’ll be sorry!!!!!

    Seriously though, I had no idea this is what was happening. What a nightmare for you and the business. I found this podcast especially thoughtful and interesting, the interruptions from that bitch cat of yours aside (Daisy asked me to add that last part).

  • MilaXX

    Fandom is weird. I’ve been in and out of several. The sad thing is the bat shit end of fandom is really whack. Now with social media it’s taken to an nth degree and at times can be really, really scary. I am very happy to see the growth that your blog has taken. It’s one of the few places I feel comfortable hanging out online. I remember being a crazy stan’. I LOVED Ricky Martin. At one point in time I could tell you trivia, dates, places, and probably what he had for breakfast that day. The turning point for me was going to visit some friends after a friend and I had followed the band on the East coast leg of his tour and chatting about out travels. After a while the host said, “Do you realize you just spent 2 hours talking about Ricky?” LIGHTBULB moment. every since then I have tried to keep my bias in check when it’s something I love dearly. Basically I still stan’ but I try to at least be cognizant of my feelings and chill out a little when other don’t feel the same. It okay to be a little coo coo crazy over a celeb or fandom, just know that not every one has drunk the koolaide and it’s okay to scroll past something you don’t like.
    GamerGate dude bros = giant douche bags. It’s one thing to dislike something, but the doxxing and death threats are a bridge too far.
    The 100 is one of those shows that I missed simply due to scheduling and timing. I watched maybe 5 eps & liked it but haven’t kept up with it. I do recall reading a few tweets where the creators were a bit flippant. It felt like they were goading the fans. To be honest Walking Dead PTB did the same thing. I like but am not over bonded to the show so I just unfollowed Gimple & co. I like when show runners & writers interact with fans, but don’t goad them, berate them or make them feel stupid for being invested in your creation.
    BTW – I think Miu Miu is cute when she chimes in. Once Ms. Martha Jones was in my lap and she answered her back.

    • graziella

      I know. I was feeling all self-righteous that I never get defensive or uber- opinionated as a fan… Then I remembered how outraged I was about how Shonda Rhimes disrespectfully killed off Derek in Grey’s Anatomy. I got that he was off the show and had to die , but to have the key character of 10 years die at a subpar hospital, unable to speak and tell the subpar surgeon what he was doing wrong just seemed mean ! Ok I’ll shut up. Grey’s is definitely not Citizen Kane.

      • bitchybitchybitchy

        Rosebud…….

    • I love Miu Miu too

  • oneWEIRDword

    Needed to be said. With you, TLo.

  • CommentsByKatie

    Totally agree with the podcast. It has felt like we are at critical mass with the social media bandwagon hate machine for a year or so now. I am so glad that we are starting to see a little bit of constructive criticism about the phenomenon from brave folks like you, willing to speak up against it. Even when it’s sort of ‘deserved’- Cecil the Lion’s hunter comes to mind – it’s still terrifying to put yourself in that guy’s shoes and imagine hundreds of thousands of people doxxing you, insulting you, threatening you. It’s the entire Internet bullying one person in the space of a few days. It’s not right. Tweet an opinion, write a letter to your Congressperson, retweet an essay on hunting ethics, but don’t attack the individual. (Not to in any way compare you to that guy, because yours was totally undeserved.)

    Sitting down and having a discussion with someone is one thing – but casually tweeting a personal attack, wittingly or unwittingly adding to a social media assault on someone, is quite different. People need to think about the consequences of their social media actions. It’s not ‘just a tweet’ when that tweet is multiplied by thousands. I hope that when you do your check-in a year from now, the social media culture will have experienced some positive changes.

    • siriuslover

      I’m in a FB group for my community and there is a small group on there that takes pictures of bad parking jobs or people who pissed them off on the road and includes the license plate numbers. A number of others have requested they at least blur out the plate # if they insist on doing that, but they refuse and call “CENSORSHIP.” The rest of us are like “what?”

      • CommentsByKatie

        Ugh. Yeah, exactly. Parking badly is a jerk move. Posting the bad parker’s personal info publicly online…is also a jerk move.

    • Melissa Maladroite

      I used to be on a few feminist social media pages and it was this bizarre mix of valid points and self-righteous bullying. Anyone who didn’t post something that fell in exact line with what the group agreed on would be “dragged” (much to the admins’ delight) and claims of not knowing how to speak in an inoffensive way/requests to explain what the mistake was were also met with dragging, because it should be that person’s responsibility to research how to respond correctly. (Which I get, but let’s be real…not everyone spends their life researching and analyzing social media groups’ etiquette)
      it was weird because people were generally being called on for things that should have been called out for, but the way it was done felt so coercive and mean-spirited, with such a narrow POV being acceptable. So it was hard to parse out how to even feel about it

  • bitchybitchybitchy

    Haven’t listened to the podcast yet, but that A/V article is spot on.
    Just finished listening to the podcast-very insightful. I will miss TLo’s posts on Outlander, as their postst on the series piqued my interest and started me watching. That said, I fully understand TLo’s decision to step back from blogging about the series.

  • Thank you for taking this subject on. I had no idea you’d come under so much fire, and I’m sorry. The podcast puts a wider perspective on it than I’m used to seeing, which is making me think, and that’s good. In particular, I have a lot of geeks in my social circles, and the conversation about Gamergate and the Hugo Awards is ongoing among them. But I don’t hear much there about the women who are part of the trolling, and that element enlarges the conversation beyond misogyny to social media and what the culture in general has come to consider acceptable interaction. And then there’s the issue of creative independence (important to me as a writer who tends towards the contrarian), and the question of why so many people live vicariously through pop culture–though Frank_821 gives a good answer to that one. So much here to consider.

    OT completely: I’ve wanted to name a cat Miu Miu for years, and I’m delighted that someone has.

  • Fandom makes me extremely uncomfortable. I became involved with one through a charity that I worked for, to the point of attending a show con, and it’s left me with a terrible taste in my mouth. To call it cultish was putting it mildly. I ended up with the impression that there were a lot of people who were bullied outsiders at some point who now enjoy being a part of a community that can bully and exclude others.

    I’m obviously only talking about the really hardcore fans–the same ones who would try to personally hurt critics of their show/book/cute boy. Most fans are awesome, I’m sure. But the terrible ones are so much louder…

    I feel really strongly that creators have no obligation whatsoever to let fans guide their work. If you want a stake in something, create it yourself.

    • karen how

      Agreed: “I feel really strongly that creators have no obligation whatsoever to let fans guide their work. If you want a stake in something, create it yourself.”

    • BlackCatBitch

      Can you imagine if George Miller asked the “original” fan boy base input on the long awaited “Mad Max, Fury Road” ?!! Ha! I wasn’t invested either way before I saw Fury Road – but my god – what a film !

      • bitchybitchybitchy

        I was quite content with the way that Miller chose to end the “The Road Warrior”- that ending struck me as absolutely perfect, and for me, that was the end of the story. I haven’t seen either “Mad Max, Thunderdome” or “Mad Max, Fury Road”, but I totally respect Miller’s decision to take that story further, and in another direction-that’s the creative process.

        • Frank_821

          oh too bad

          Tina and Charlize were excellent in the respective sequels

          • bitchybitchybitchy

            I know that Fury Road was well received.

  • ChiKat67

    One thing that struck me about your podcast was the need for the fanatics to tag those associated with the show and, for lack of a better term, tattle on you. I honestly think what they hope to gain is personal interaction w/the subjects of their fanaticism. They are desperate for the objects of their obsessions to like, favor, retweet their missives. They NEED that interaction to validate and further solidify their opinions. They NEED to be able to show others that this famous person NOTICED them.

    However, I cannot even begin to understand the personal attacks you or anyone face on social media simply for stating your informed (and that word is important) opinion. I’m sorry that (once again) a very vocal minority have had such a negative impact, no matter how brief.

    • Gatita

      I can’t get over people tagging Terry Dresbach to accuse TLo of silencing rape victims. Holy, holy shit. That is breathtakingly offensive.

  • Judy_S

    The Outlander outrage went under my radar though I had been enjoying the posts analyzing the costuming (all that work & thought you put in was very evident and appreciated). Thanks for your clear and tactful analysis of the situation.
    I have only been associated with a couple of fandoms in the past–I was once on a figure skating discussion board (!!!!) and also followed a fairly sane forum on a particular actor. One thing that stands out to me is the high quality of discourse and friendliness provided by the Bitter Kittens. Bye and large it is fun to read the comments on the TLo posts, and they are good-natured and, if not exactly generous, generous in spirit.

  • alisa

    I’m seeing this as a larger trend in politics, popular culture, you name it… I don’t know if it’s related to the rise of fan culture or just really well exemplified by fan culture, but I’ve started noticing a pretty severe intolerance for any difference of opinion and a compulsion to escalate things to extremes. And this goes neatly hand in hand with an enormous belief in entitlement. I hope your theory that the Ghost Busters movie may be the tipping point is true, because I don’t know how much further this can go 🙁

  • BarbWoodruff

    This is such a timely topic and I’m very glad you guys have addressed it. You should see the state of Doctor Who fandom these days. It’s very extreme. Nu Who, Classic Who, RTD haters, Moffatt haters, people who hate new showrunner Chris Chibnall, even though he won’t actually start working on the show for another full year – it’s nuts. And I genuinely dread what would happen if a woman is cast as the Doctor some day. It won’t be pretty.

    I don’t know if you’re aware of what’s been going on with the Hugo Awards, but it’s another sad example of what you are talking about.

    Oh, and I should say that you may not realize this, but you can hear the cats much more than we can. It’s very funny to hear you talk about them being noisy, when in reality we can hardly hear them. And when we do hear them we love it. At least I do!

    • Gatita

      I just read up on the Hugo Awards, my god. Prime example of #masculinitysofragile

    • oneWEIRDword

      I can hear Miu Miu quite well when I’m listening to the podcast in my car. In the early days, I was hilariously startled by meows in the backgroud while driving on the highway, thinking maybe a kitty had gotten in somehow. I was relieved when TLo revealed the sound was from their place!

      • BarbWoodruff

        Maybe it’s my speakers that I don’t hear them that clearly. But either way, I actually love hearing them, and hearing TLo complain about them. It’s one of the distinct charms of their podcast.

  • Oof, I’m sorry you guys had such a rough week. Thanks for giving us this insight.

    I’ve been an obsessive fangirl since elementary school, including creating fanworks, but I’ve always hated any interaction between fans and creators, especially attempts from the former to influence the latter. It’s just way over the line and inappropriate, and I don’t think it’ll lead anywhere good with the story we love.

    I’m sorry you’ve been in such a maelstrom not just this week, but even after criticizing certain celebrities. It is so appalling that “fans” organize to attack you personally or try to harm your business. I hope there comes a day when they’re all very ashamed of themselves.

    Additionally, I have to thank you for taking a stand on this particular issue, even though there’s been a cost. Criticizing the gratuitous use and portrayal of sexual assault is so important, and it means a hell of a lot to me. I respect you all the more for it. My life schedule has changed so I’m not able to keep up with your prolific blogging the way I used to, but I still haven’t given up on catching up whenever I can.

  • myevilempire

    I’ve been reading and loving yall since Project Rungay, and totally agree with you on most of these points, except that as a queer woman the 100 controversy touched on a long history of “dead lesbian” tropes, which, for a show/creators that actively courted a queer audience, felt pretty triggering. Mo Ryan actually on her regular podcast, Talking TV With Ryan and Ryan, actually had a great discussion of this a little while ago. I think that there’s fan entitlement, and there’s marginalized group fans feeling safe and perceiving a rug pulled out from under them. Similar would be Hannibal season 2 “refrigerating” Beverly. Common theme, cis male show runners don’t always understand the cultural context of their characters. So many (especially younger or more rural) queer folks are isolated and connect via social media and TV, it comes to feel as if those characters are as vital as real people in our lives. That’s no excuse for cruelty, but certainly for calling out and boycotting, since honestly safe spaces in cultural media are sparse and we need to protect ourselves. It’s healing to have the opportunity to hold people accountable for perpetuating narratives that are triggering or damaging to marginalized groups.

    • Gatita

      One solution is to create your own content. YouTube and smart phones make it easier than ever to do your own thing and market it. Production values aren’t the same but having content made by people in your community who Get It makes up for a lot.

      • VioletFem

        People do that do too. It’s not like this is new concept you’re throwing out here. The point is sometimes, show creators get called out (in respectful way, not referring to online harassment here) because of how they carelessly treat a storyline and their fans. It’s not fair to critic something even if you are not a content creator yourself. I mean, that is what TLo and whole host of TV critics do (which is itself a form of creativity)

        • Gatita

          I think critiquing creators is a good thing, they should know when they do things that are offensive. But a white cis male is never going to be attuned to the nuances of the lived experiences of POC and LGBTQ files. What’s really needed is more (a lot more) diversity among showrunners and writers. For example, Lee Daniels and Empire. A white, straight showrunner could never have created that show.

          Anyway, I didn’t mean to offend. I guess I’m just not very hopeful that simply criticizing show creators is is going to result in any meaningful change in the content until the industry is more diverse. And in the meantime creating your own content is a way to seize control of the narrative outside of the traditional media channels.

          • Tina

            “For example, Lee Daniels and Empire. A white, straight showrunner could never have created that show.” — I have to correct you here. Empire is the brainchild of a straight (or at least said to be) Jewish guy, Danny Strong, who’s writer, director and EP on the show. It was his idea, he pitched it as a movie to Lee Daniels. At the time they were working together on The Butler, for which Danny also wrote the screenplay.

          • VioletFem

            Of course I agree with that. I’m not advocating that the stories about POC and LGBT people should ONLY be told by white cis male creators. In fact, I have specifically supported projects by POC/LGBT creators because they were of interest to me and because I want to see more of these stories told from our points of view.

            That said.

            I also believe that White/male/cis creators can write/film stories with diverse characters as well. But when they do so, they should be knowledgeable and respectful of the characters they create. If they fail in some significant way it is totally to fair to criticize how their story falls short. This is not an either/or proposition.

            By the way, Empire was first thought up by a white screenwriter, Danny Strong, who then worked with Lee Daniels to bring it on the screen. The writing team is also quite diverse as well. And if we focus specifically on TV shows , there is usually a writing team, not just 1 or 2 people writing the entire series. So even if a show was created by a white person, the entire project is a collaborative effort with the writers, actors, director and producer. Thus a story with a diverse set of characters can still be well crafted if the production team itself is diverse.

          • VioletFem

            We can both criticize and create and in fact people that come from underrepresented backgrounds are doing that very thing (i.e. Ava DuVernay, Lee Daniels etc). But just because some of the people who are criticizing are not themselves creatives those not mean that they don’t have a right to critique projects that do a poor job of depicting minority characters.

  • lisaepc

    When did giving an opinion become so vitriolic? It’s OPINION. In my opinion as an Outlander series book reader, it’s my opinion that there is a bit too much sexual abuse but I also understand that these are historic novels and sexual and physical abuse was common. The writers of the television series do a good job in walking the fine line between the books and what a mature tv audience will accept. For some the comfort level will be challenged—there is a reason Outlander isn’t on the Disney Channel.

    Enough of a rant? All this is to say, TLO stay true to yourselves. I hope you will continue to give your opinions. I may not always agree but I appreciate your viewpoints. I look forward to see your next review of the Outlander series and the costumes.

  • Claudine

    Very interesting discussion … I’ve been fascinated by online fan culture for some time now, and sometimes, just out of curiosity, follow blogs run and populated by “fans” who are in so deep that they truly come across as unhinged. The ebbs and tides of conspiracy theory, solidarity amongst the in-group, black-and-white thinking (someone or something is always set up as the villain to their chosen idol) is riveting. I imagine academics doing PhDs on the topic. I think it must be quite empowering and cathartic for the participants, but I find it worrying, as you mention, that things have descended to such uncivil levels–hyperbole is now a given, but wishing people death, automatically regarding those who disagree as a POS (piece of shit), stalking, shaming …. where will it all end?

    • I’ve done the same thing with following sites run by various fandoms! It is fascinating in a watching a trainwreck sort of way, but it is also terrifying.

  • banella

    While I completely understand you wanting to step back from Outlander it makes me very sad. Your analysis of the show and especially the costume themes really made me think about things in new ways I will dearly miss it. A small segments of the fans has ruined things for now only show fans but book fans and fans of art direction and costume analysis that may not watch the show at all. This is why we can’t have nice things!
    I can’t imagine how much of this the people making the show are dealing with. Sam, Caitroina, and Tobias probably get the worst of it for not being exactly the image someone had in their head while reading the books. Ron and Terry get the wrath by having the audacity to adapt it at all rather than regurgitating the books.
    There are tons of places to read TV reviews and even more places for fans to discuss something with other fans but I have never found any other place that does a deep drive into costumes like Tom and Lorenzo do. I was hoping to see what they thought of the green dress Claire wore to see the king. I thought it was calling back to Scotland. Or that St. Germain was wearing the same blue to die that Claire was when she went into pre-mature labor. Tom and Lorenzo I hope you know how much those posts were loved by so many.
    It was very sad to hear that you thought that work was not being appreciated because of the fanatics. All this is to say hopefully you can come back to the costumes here or find another show that hopefully will not have the same type of fanatic to ruin it.

    • Heather Miller

      This. Everything you said. I listened to the podcast this morning on my run and kept thinking “this is why we can’t have nice things!” I really enjoyed Tom and Lorenzo’s Outlander reviews. I have my own opinions about the book to show (for the record I prefer the show) but I truly appreciated reading other perspectives and critiques. I may not always agree with everything written but their rundowns often gave me food for thought.

      • mar

        I totally agree. This was my go to place for recaps and food for thought for the things I missed or a different viewpoint. I haven’t read the books so TLo’s insights and making this a spoiler free zone is something I very much appreciated.

      • EveEve

        I don’t really have anything to add to all the comments (ok, I admit I didn’t read them ALL) except this one thing: When a site like this capitulates to on-line bullying by fanatics, the fanatics win. Whether it is Project Runway fanatics who were unhappy about how cozy TLo *appeared* to be getting to some of the judges and/or some of the contestants, or Outlander fanatics going bat-shit about the most recent blog post. Backing away from the topic entirely is understandable, but it gives the fanatic bullies too much power. (Yes, I know the Project Runway posts stopped because you felt there was nothing left to say, but I can’t help think the fan criticisms also took their toll.) Personally, no dog in this fight – I didn’t read the books, and don’t watch the show, but I LOVED the style / costume recaps and think they were beginning to approach Mad Style levels of expertise. What a pity the online bullies are making this end.

    • Corsetmaker

      yep, it’s costume analysis I adore. I’d be quite happy with the style posts and no general review. Or a style driven post that touched on review. Because you’re right, there’s nowhere else to get that sort of thing. Not for a regular TV drama.

  • kagrrakid

    This was so insightful and pretty much summed up everything that has been sitting wrong with me whenever I try to join discussions on my favorite shows, thank you for doing this episode. Also for linking the AV Club article!

  • raininmai

    This “fandom” phenomenon/problem isn’t limited to entertainment. Politics is full of it, and the news media is just as afraid of the mob as any self respecting blogger is. News isn’t a public service anymore; it’s entertainment and profit driven and so we get news that’s so devoid of perspective as they try to not offend the lunatics by pointing out things like facts, data, etc. I love the internet, but the sense of power created by anonymity can breed monsters.

  • tessa

    I think the 100 is a little different than the other examples. it wasn’t that Lexa was killed off (or at least for for a lot of fans), it was the WAY she was killed off. The 100 was meant to be a show that people who identify as gay or bisexual could champion, and they way they killed her off felt like a betrayal to the character, and that is was evidence of the bury your gays trope. And part of the problem with the 100 was that the creators were engaging A LOT with the fans. It’s one thing to say that the writers don’t have to listen to their fans, but if they’re going to say ‘we listen to the fans, we understand your needs’, and then kill off a gay character in that way can be very upsetting.

  • Carrie

    I’ll just say that the title of the AV Club article is only harsh if you try and stay outside of the fan culture. Find the right (awful) fandom and that title fits perfectly. Case and point: the Vampire Diary fandom. Any one of the cast can post about literally the most unrelated thing on the earth and they’ll get a mention fulls of “DELENA” or “KLAROLINE.” They’ll wish illness and death on actors who portray characters that might threaten their beloved ‘ship’ and bully those whose views oppose them and get upset when actors or producers or writers take the show in another director or slight their beloved thing.

    Entitlement is a very real thing, and in some fandoms it is downright disgusting.

  • shoofly

    And, this, internet, is why we can’t have nice things.

    I’ll miss TLo’s coverage of Outlander and applaud them for making a decision that’s best for them.

  • visualchic

    ***Warning a Few Bad Words***
    How do I say this without sounding like a mega bitch…I hate the “Poutlander” community. Once upon a time I did Twitter and belonged to a few Facebook groups, no more. I made a comment once and I got jumped on like poor Mary Hawkins in that dam alley. I get to watch episodes early and after this last one aired, titled “The Fox’s Lair”, for shits and giggles, I popped onto a Facebook site. This was maybe 1 hour after the episode was finished, Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ, bad idea, it was like a train wreck, there was so much vitriol and poison flowing I felt that I needed to run to the ER for a shot. Why did they do this, why did they do that, I hated this, I hated that….blah, blah, blah. Leery needs to die, I don’t like the history, it’s boring. There’s not enough Claire and Jaime sexy time. Buy a vibrator if you need to get off on looking at Sam and Cait naked. Cripes, what a crock of shit all of it is. Like get a life, read a different book. Guess what Outlander community. There are a lot of other books out there to be passionate about. I know, I read. The books by Diana Gabaldon are not Canon for the series. It’s an adaptation, allowing for some creative license. Does the Game of Throne’s fan community fucking scream like a horde of Dothraki? I love Outlander, I’ve read all the books numerous times….BUT…..I’m not about to jump down Ronald D Moore, Maril Davis or any of the Executive Producers or writers because it might be different in some parts. It is their prerogative to leave out some of the book, run in another direction and have some fun….BUT AGAIN….the Outlander fan community has to bitch and complain, bordering on a nuclear meltdown, if certain things were changed or omitted. Example: From last year, the water weed part of the book. The proverbial shit hit the fan on that one.The deviations that do occur are certainly not going make me stop watching the show. Most of them I find interesting. Final thought, Outlander whacko fandom, grow the fuck up.

    Sorry for any typo’s or misspelled words.

    • I totally agree with you – the sense of entitlement is just overwhelming. I’ve read comments that basically say they don’t even care if DG approves a story change – “just because she wrote it doesn’t mean I have to listen to her” or something to that effect. I have heard that GoT book fans are much the same, however. Very nitpick about the “canon”. I only watch the show and haven’t read the books, so pay no attention to that social media talk. Re: Outlander – the obsessive need for every detail to be exactly as it was in the books – down to Caitriona’s eye color and the slant to Sam’s eyes, the color of his hair and shape of his nose is just nuts. When he was cast – all these biddy women complained he was too young looking – even though he was a 30+ year old man playing a 24 year old. I think the Twilight fandom is much the same as well. There is a huge middle-aged women contingent who totally obsess over the movies and Pattinson and Stewart, getting into Twitter wars over their personal lives, etc. I just don’t get it.

      • I’ve watched Game of Thrones for years and have not read the books (though I am considering reading them this summer just because I’m bored and since the show has outpaced the show finally) and I watched Outlander and also read the first book in that series. As a result, I’ve frequented fan forums for both series, and in my opinion, the Game of Thrones book readers can be pretty militant and obnoxious about adaptation changes, but I think the Outlander fans are much worse in regard to online bullying.

        And I certainly don’t mean all Outlander fans. I have several friends IRL who love Outlander and are perfectly sane and reasonable people, and I’ve met a lot of lovely, wonderful people online on several sites who are Outlander fans.

        But the crazy fanatical Outlander fans, in my opinion, are crazier than the Game of Thrones crazies, if that makes sense. I’ve been on Game of Thrones forums where they whine about how the book is better and they can sometimes be pretty rude to each other, but a lot of the Outlander forums I have visited make that look like polite discourse. In fact, Outlander forums are some of the worst I’ve seen for people who express any well-reasoned criticism of the series or even just a difference of opinion being ganged up on and where any argument against the series is responded to with hysterical “Well, you just don’t understand because you haven’t read the book!” rants. Never mind that I did read the book, understood the point perfectly well, and still wasn’t impressed with it!

        That’s one thing that makes me sad about Tom and Lorenzo stopping the Outlander posts–though I understand completely why they did and respect that decision. I felt like this website was one of the few where people could have intelligent discussions about the series that didn’t get overrun by the rude crazies.

      • Gatita

        I was part of the Twilight fandom (but the Cleolinda lolfan making fun of the series version, which makes it totally okay**) and you are not wrong about the crazy. The stalking in particular freaked me out. Pattinson joked about it, bless him, but it’s really not funny when you think of John Hinkley and Mark David Chapman.

        **It was totally not okay. It was a bad time of my life and in retrospect I was using fandom to escape my RL problems.

      • visualchic

        Uh oh, I need to barricade and fortify my house with multiple defense mechanisms and weapons…….Dare I say this on the internet??? “I HAVE NEVER SEEN OR WANT TO SEE ANY OF THE TWILIGHT MOVIES”. For the most part I like my entertainment on the grownup side and involving the usage of some brain cells. Me bad, oh yeah, me bad. Slap me upside the head for such sacrilege. I like the discussion here. I feel somewhat safe voicing my opinions. Hell will freeze over before I venture to say anything on Facebook or Twitter again. The “twits” can twitter away for all I care. My motto is…”If you ain’t got nuthin’ constructive to say, go have a timeout in the corner”. Act like a child, get treated like one. One final thought. I forgot to address this in my last post. [I was too busy venting my spleen] For crying out loud, who gives a shit if you are a straight, gay, man, woman, white, black, purple or a polka dot reviewer/recapper. I certainly don’t. I suppose there is a rule book out there that the vast majority of people forgot to read. Rule #1, “Show some respect for others views and opinions”. Could the book possibly be hidden away in the Vatican vaults?.

      • this whole thing has gotten me so sad! one of the few places that I could go to and NOT get a whole shitload of “the book this and the book that…” I don’t like some of the choices that have been made on the show, but obsessing over the whole thing and having it destroy your enjoyment is ridiculous…..it makes no sense to me to harangue people over it….I think someone said somewhere that if you are so invested in the books, you still have them to read….but seriously…did these people agree with EVERY writing choice Diana made? I suspect not, or they must not reread all the books…maybe just the cliff notes that contain their favorite parts!!!!
        I’ll stick with the sane ones out there and hope that TLo come back to us with deep dives into costume for those of us who will follow them right down that rabbit hole! Never understood the whole twilight thing…and as for the 50 shades of gray thing……!

    • unfortunately there IS a GoT screaming fandom that are always yelling about the books…but the show has gotten past the books and is into new territory…but if a comment starts with “but in the book…” I brace myself….I wish I knew what creates this whole poisonous situation that kills ANY discourse….

  • BlackCatBitch

    L: (long sigh) “Just allow everything to co-exist.”

    T: “I love Lupita but those shoes are hideous ! ”

    Haha – the best !! Love you guys !

  • catsonmars28

    Just listened to the podcast and really enjoyed it. Even though I don’t read the Outlander reviews (since I don’t watch the show), I did see some of the crazy responses on Twitter. Though I’ve seen this kind of vitriolic response on Twitter & blogs before, it still surprises me sometimes when you see this kind of reaction for simply writing a critique!

    I don’t blame TLo for wanting to take a break from it, especially when you consider the effort that goes into each of those posts. It’s not worth the hassle, if you ask me. If I was a reader of the Outlander posts, I might be disappointed, but I’d totally understand.

    As a totally unrelated side note, who else loves when the cats show up on the podcasts? The funny thing is I kept getting distracted by Miss Miu Miu, since I though it was MY kitty that was meowing at me!

  • I’m bummed that Outlander book fans (possibly myself included) are making things unpleasant for my favorite bloggers. I think T&Lo are pretty fair and I still love the show and the books and TLo so I hope y’all will be able to come back to it soon. I know I’ve personally made overly-passionate and occasionally intense defenses of shows on the site (I’m pretty embarrassed about my passionate defense of Empire just as it was getting completely and ridiculously nonsensical, because I admit my opinion has turned there as I realized it was totally off the rails, but the seeming derision I was responding to frustrated me and made me feel antagonized). It’s always good to remember the XKCD comic, “Someone is wrong on the Internet!” and remember how ridiculous internet arguments with strangers about opinions are, and to take a deep breath and a swig of coffee and enjoy the day.

  • Erica

    First, having just listened to the podcast, I’m sorry you guys have gone through this with Outlander fanatics. Second, I’m not trying to sound alarmist, but I was a prosecutor in a former life, and with certain troubled personalities, there can be in their minds a short trip from obsessiveness about a discrete issue or a celebrity and a violent act. I don’t mean your garden-variety fanatic, but the very small percentage of people who can, given certain circumstances, take their obsessions to criminal acts. Celebrities have had to come to grips with this and have had to do this for decades, even centuries, using handlers and such. But, now we’re in an age where the reviewer is better known. It’s great that people know your names and where you live and about your lives, but this also means that people who have a hard time separating reality from TV or movies can settle on you as people they “know.”. If you guys ever get a communication from a person that is both violent AND specific, please take it seriously and contact the police.

    On a lighter note, thanks for the suggestions on the podcast for Father’s day gifts. I ordered 2 gifts for my husband!

  • CatLady

    That was an insightful podcast. I’m sorry that you have to deal with so much crap from fanatics. It is completely sensible to break from the series for the time being though I hope you don’t stop featuring interesting movies and shows. Your posts on Outlander have actually piqued my curiosity and it’s on my list of shows to check out.

    On a side note it’s really nice to hear east coast voices again. I grew up in the area and I miss it. <3

  • Courtney

    I almost never comment on your site (though I love it and your podcast!), but I wanted to chime in and say I am really sorry that you guys are being treated this way by psychotic fans. I’m a big fan of Outlander and of your posts on the show and its costuming, so I will definitely miss them. However, I completely understand your decision to step away from blogging about the show. Your criticisms of the show and the books are totally valid, and it’s a shame so many people are blinded by their devotion to the show and the books to understand that it’s ok for people to dissent from their viewpoint. The personal attacks in particular are just totally uncalled for and incredibly disturbing. Jeez, internet commenting community, get over yourself! This is why we can’t have nice things!

  • golden_valley

    T Lo is being kind in calling these out of control fans as being passionate. They are passionate only in the way middle school kids are. They are immature and behaving as if they were in middle school…writing evil things on the out of favor kids’ lockers, shunning them in the lunch room, throwing elbows at them in the school hallways. Social media allows them to act out beyond the school building.

  • Corsetmaker

    Jeepers! I finally got more or less caught up with Outlander this week, read the reviews (but not all the comments) and have been clicking away waiting on the Style one (wanted to see what you thought of the black and white outfit) but missed all that! Aw, really sad you’re stopping with it. I’ve enjoyed your reviews. I don’t always agree, but that’s fine.

    This escalating obsessive fan behaviour is just ridiculous, it’s just mobs with pitchforks, truly pathetic and often amusing but also frightening when it gets so intense. Teenage girls and middle aged housewives can be scary creatures. Some people need to get a life, and some perspective!

    I’m on an Outlander facebook group (well a couple, but the UK one is quite subdued in comparison). I expected a lynching last week as I criticised Diana G’s writing of Scots language and her geography LOL but I survived unscathed. I’ve already had a ban for daring to mention politics… stupidly thinking that it might be relevant to the theme of the series! LOL!

  • Nonnah

    Enjoyed the single topic discussion. Right in line with the “deeper” side of pop culture. As a site with a many generations represented, it’s great to think about how things change, for better or worse.

  • AnneElliot

    I really enjoyed the podcast (as always) but I’m so sorry about all the Outlander backlash — I hardly ever check Twitter so I had no idea how bad it got. I do so enjoy your insightful reviews of the episodes and love, love, love the style posts. I completely understand that you’d want to take a break but will really miss your thoughts.

    Regarding fandom — I see your point about both male and female fans being equally passionate; however, I do wonder if there is an element of sexism with the idea that women now have a place in traditionally male comic book/action/sci-fi shows like Ghostbusters and Star Wars. I’m really happy to see more filmmakers include women (and non-white actors) who are a traditionally underrepresented. I honestly don’t think there would be as much vitriol if the reboots had been mostly male casts like the originals.

    (Also, your cats always make me laugh out loud.)

  • Alana

    I am going to dearly miss your reviews and style posts on Outlander. I don’t follow social media so I had no idea that such vitriol exists. I am deeply saddened and shocked by it. I am sorry, too, that you both were in the midst of so much unpleasantness. You two keep me informed and entertained on many levels and about many things. I just want to take this opportunity to say I’m a fan of yours and your site (but not a fanatic. Please, never that!). Thanks for doing those long and involved posts. I quite appreciated them.

  • Auntie Lamb

    I felt I was getting a bit too caught up/fraught with some of the Outlander TV Show stuff; so I quit all the fan blogs and now read only the reviews from TLo, Roxane Gay, and the AV Club. I love the books (I believe they help save my life – LONG story) AND the show; and actually enjoy seeing what the producers do to bring certain parts of the book to the screen. I operate from the assumption that NO ONE would deliberately set out to ruin something they planned to work so long and diligently on — not to mention something that represented such a significant financial commitment. Do I have theories, criticisms, opinions, wishes, and/or mini-grudges? Of course; but I find I enjoy the material – not to mention my life – a lot more when/if I don’t turn those into personal crusades. Very sorry to see you giving up your reviews; but I understand and sympathize.

  • mindlace

    One thing not brought up in this discussion is the possibility that the most vitriolic commentary is coming from people who aren’t “fans” at all.

    These days there are semi-organized bands of red-pill alt-right folks that like to jump on anything that suggests better treatment of women. They literally have google alerts set up to catch keywords like “rape”, and hang out in chat channels sharing links to content they think needs to be “corrected”, then egg each other on to make more hateful and/or disturbing comments – “who can make the sickest burn”.

    My suspicion would be that these folks are likely responsible for the more egregious comments directed at you, and unfortunately the outcome – that you’re not writing about Outlander any more – is basically the victory condition for them; they’re playing a game where offending/hurting people is how they score points, and silencing voices is the “boss victory”.

    Thanks for your contributions – my partner really loves your work.

  • Lala

    I will always love my TLO. I especially enjoy “hear my truth even though it hurts” TLO. I came as a projectrungay fan and have never taken the opinionating so seriously…smart minds think differently. Why is TV that serious in the first place? it’s for entertaining, not to live and breathe by.

  • ojosazules

    Good god! Missed it all due to tech difficulties. Darling darling TLo darlings!
    I will miss the lush oasis of gorgeous and insight that was the Outlander post.

  • Auntie Lamb

    I’ve been thinking about this off and on for the last 24 hrs (I know, I know; it’s not altogether healthy, but there it is) and felt I had to say a few more things: 1) I’ve seen these crazy harridans do this before – the part where they tag most of the Known World with scurrilous accusations, at least – they’ve pulled it on other fans, bloggers; I even remember them doing it to Sam Heughan once about a girl they didn’t like him dating AND to Terry Dresbach about her telling someone once just to stop watching if they had such strong objections; 2) I think part of what’s going on here relates back to the book readers and their “cult of fanatics.” Prior to the growth of the Outlander fandom to include show-only fans; when the fandom was exclusively book readers only – Diana Gabaldon and a few trusted acolytes ruled over the group with a pretty tight rein. Seriously: orthodoxy was required at all costs; there was no opposing DG’s absolute rule over everything Outlander. Anyone who objected or questioned was ridden out of the circle. This kind of censure has carried over to those who question anything about the books OR the show; 3) As I said before I hate to see you giving up your commentary on the show and – especially – the costumes, because of your expertise. I think we are all losing out AND – I’m sure you know that it’s exactly what these slags want – to shut you (and all other contrary views) right up! Love to you both (and the kitties).

  • Corsetmaker

    The irony is that the facebook groups etc delete anything they deem even slightly controversial. Someone posted about blogs (i.e. this one) being attacked by extreme fans – taken down. Posts touching on politics, such as the Sony memo about David Cameron influencing the UK release – taken down. And so on.

  • Heather

    I’m really bummed you guys aren’t going to write about Outlander anymore because I really enjoy reading a critical analysis of the show. Maybe it’s the scientist in me, but I like hearing different points of view on a topic to help me think more critically about the media I consume.

  • Paula Pertile

    Finally got to listen to this, and now I know why you’re not writing about Outlander anymore. I had no idea! And am so sorry. Sorry you had to go through all of that, and, selfishly, sorry because I really enjoy your posts and insights and Opinions. And I’m missing the costume posts too, but understand, and had no idea they took THAT long to put together. (We’re happy they’re back in Scotland, with all the gorgeous earthy plaids, yes?)
    You guys are a treasure, and I always enjoy what you have to say.
    And loves to Miss Miu Miu (from a Mother of Cats (6 boys), who sleeps with a package of Temptations under her pillow for spoiled pre-dawn snacking demands).

  • LaMamanduPoeteetSainte

    Gentlemen. I just listened to this podcast and all I can say is BRAVO!!! I have been following you since the rungay days and I think you hit the nail right on the head many times on this podcast. And yes, you are a brand (which I love) and you do need to protect it.