Liking It Doesn’t Make It Yours

Good evening! I’m happy to be back; thanks to Alyssa, as always, for inviting me, and to you all for reading.

It seems that writing about fandom is becoming something of a theme for me here, and apparently this time will be no exception, as entertainment journalist Jace Lacob has a piece in The Daily Beast about showrunners and Twitter. He talks to Hart Hanson of Bones, Shonda Rhimes of Grey’s Anatomy, and Dan Harmon of Community about the dangers of the direct interaction with fans that Twitter invites:

“While I’m delighted that fans of the show think of it as ‘their’ show, that delight doesn’t extend to any desire to listen to them tell me how I’m ruining ‘their’ show,” said Hanson. “The rude people—who are a minority but very vocal—are convinced that what they think about the show is what everybody thinks about the show and as a result they are furious when I don’t do what they want. It’s a kind of strange megalomania that becomes extremely wearing.”

I follow Hanson and Rhimes on Twitter, and I’ve seen these tweets to them, and they’re pretty awful. Of course, it’s a no-brainer that people shouldn’t go around being cruel or threatening people on Twitter. But I also reject the premise behind these Twitter issues: the idea that fans have some sort of creative ownership over shows (or movies or book series), and that the creators “owe” the fans something. I’m not sure whether the interaction with showrunners, stars, etc. facilitated by social networking has created this sense of fan entitlement, or whether fans always thought these things and are only now able to express them because of Twitter.

And I’ll go so far as to say that it’s good that fans have no creative control. I don’t want to watch a crowd-sourced TV show. If I did want that, I’d watch The Bachelor or American Idol, where fans do theoretically control the “plot” with their votes. And, of course, viewer whims controlling an actual fictional plot would produce even more chaos and questionable quality than we already see on reality competition shows.

So no, Hart Hanson doesn’t care what you think of the character development on Bones this season. And I don’t want him to. I signed up to watch Hanson’s show, not yours. If you really hate it, don’t threaten the man’s dog – just stop watching. Whether and what you watch is the part of this process you get to control, and that’s where the power lies, anyway: the network executives might glance at Twitter occasionally, but what they really care about is ratings.