If I were to ask for a show of hands, how many would come forward and admit they’ve heard those words? You know, when a favourite character of yours gets killed off—literally (let’s say…Lexa from The 100) or Alex Danvers (wait—she’s still alive, but she’s kind of existing in this weird baby-brooding shell of hers, so let’s just…roll with it).
You’ll probably get from this that I’m not particularly serious about my writing. I love it. It’s my passion. I love coming up with original ideas; I love making people think. It’s why I jumped from pharmacy to writing. But whilst I have the good humour to brush stuff off, and perhaps—and this is a fault—insensitivity to character deaths and whatnot (for example, Lexa’s demise did not upset me as much as I thought it would…at all) I like to think I’m empathetic enough to not be a complete dick about it.
Granted, I would say I’m a douche at the best of times. I am opinionated, yes, but my own credit, I listen to what other people have to say, digest it, and argue back; sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I realise they made a fucking good point and I’m completely in the wrong.
But in this case, I am gonna be a stubborn pain in the ass and just come out with it:
If you ever tell anyone to just “get over it” because of a fictional character, you’re a twerp. Yeah, you hit Basic Understanding Level 1: it’s a fictional character. What you haven’t done is levelled up to Basics 2, because these are a.) real people with, therefore, b.) real feelings.
The thought that someone could discount real tears; real pain—all of that—is appalling. What kind of isolated psycho do you have to be? No, I’m not gonna post and rant into thin air, because I get the impression this post won’t change fuck all. You know what? Those kinda people are always gonna exist. The ones who get a hard-on because they’re trolling someone, or the ones who get a tingling sensation somewhere inappropriate because they upset someone with their language.
And I should not even have to write this post, but because I see it so often it’s genuinely depressing (even for a clinically depressed person like myself…) here goes nothing:
#1: You should never feel any less of a person, or ashamed, to truly feel pain or hurt deep in the chest over something on television.
The phrase “television is evolving” is always gonna plague us. You’ll hear it a thousand times. I know I’ve said it in nearly every season review I did. Television is no longer sitting down every week and watching an hour-long show before leaving it be until the next week.
Television doesn’t just belong on our screens. Not only do talented—amazingly talented—fans curate gorgeous fan-art, fan-videos, fan-fiction and certain projects and all sorts—they do it in their free time. Nobody pays them for their passion. Think about it this way: an actor is passionate about acting, and they get paid a shit-ton for it. These awesome fans don’t get a penny, but there’s no complaints there.
The thing is, television programmes are decided to evoke emotion from us. Be it disgust, paranoia, fear, love, adoration, sadness…TV wouldn’t be TV if it didn’t make us feel. Well, it would be, but it’d be one hell of a crap programme if we didn’t care for the protagonists. We want someone to root for: it’s within our nature.
Feeling that pain—mind you, the pain that the producers and writers intended for you to feel—does not render you a crappy fan who is weak and pathetic. It means you have a fully functioning heart, and the writers did a good job of making you feel. After all, what is this world without heart? What is television without an empathetic viewer on the other side of the screen? Take away these objects and what is the point of television? Some meaningless pixels? So I tell you what: fuck those people who just say “it’s just TV”.
I will be the first to say I don’t get overly emotional at television tragedies. I just don’t. I admit that and it’s just something that is part of me. What isn’t a part of me, though, is the necessity to mock others for feeling upset about something I didn’t find upsetting. Do you know why? Because in a world of seven billion people, other people’s emotions will differ from yours. It’s called humanity; it’s called individuality. If you’re so narrow-minded you cannot recognise that, then I pity you.
#2: The Lexa Incident
I’m just sticking this here briefly because my first whiff of this—of true ‘fandom’ if you will—was when Lexa was killed off on The 100. Now before then, I’d been quite happily involved. Interacting with other people on Twitter was a great opportunity for me too. I really enjoyed it (up until polling season hit and everyone went bananas).
So when Lexa was killed off, I wouldn’t say I was an influential voice. I still am not an influential voice. (Off topic: I recently discovered I’d love to delve into journalism as a career—and I hope to take some writing classes for it. If anyone is in that sector or has any tips, I’d love it!)
Anyway, people flooded into my inbox on Twitter, so I opened it up for anyone to DM me. Do you remember when I said I enjoyed interacting with people? Yeah, well, it took a bloody nose-dive. I discovered two things:
- The fanbase is very young—much younger than I thought. We’re talking vulnerable, awfully sad, young fans—some (most) of whom are within the LGBTQ community.
- They were the victim of the very problem I wanna talk about: “just get over it”. And I’ll say this carefully: I’m being polite here. These kids coming into my inbox had been bullied, called names that I don’t want to repeat, and just hated the amount of vitriol they reported to me was unbelievable. They actually had screenshots of these conversations, but I won’t share them out of respect of their privacy. It involved words I don’t think I’d dare use.
Okay, so you might think: yes, they’re young, they’re impressionable, blah, blah, blah…
I’m gonna smack you from a pharmacist perspective, not a writer’s one. These kids were crying; these kids were depressed. These kids had such disgusting expletives thrown at them, and this happened with multiple people–not just one–and who threw this filth? Middle-aged, grown women. I am not sure what it is about that rainbow flag, but clearly rainbows are not universally liked. These kids saw LGBTQ representation on-screen (which is rare enough) in the form of Lexa, only to witness that representation killed off by a fucking bullet to the abdomen. A treatable wound, no?
If you still think this is about Lexa being killed, then…no. Just nope. This is about the dispensable nature of LGBTQ characters on-screen. When television is as immersive as it is nowadays, representation matters more than ever. When you see a lesbian character shot, non-fatally, and then die—and then flipped over to chop some wiggly AI out of her head—I mean, it’s not the most sensitive way of handling a death, is it? LGBTQ characters can die—of course they can! LGBTQ people die every single day!
But isn’t fiction supposed to be a world away from ours? If someone can get shot in the abdomen in our world and survive, then why the hell can’t they survive in The 100? Considering Lexa is the Commander, shouldn’t she just have, like, 24/7 care and the Grounder version of health insurance? I am not campaigning for the actress, Alycia Debnam-Carey, to come back. I watched the latest season of Fear the Walking Dead and she is so awesome that I do not want to reduce her to a CW show with non-existent ratings. And I don’t protest the death itself. If it happened, it happened.
But listen, if that show can get away with mass genocide and turn it into a soppy sob-story for sympathy; if that show can have their male hunk of a protagonist murder three hundred innocent people in cold blood and still give a redemption arc to its murderers, then the notion of a fatal belly wound is genuinely laughable. But that’s another story.
The point is: if you’re reading this and you have told people to “just get over it” because it’s a TV show, have you ever:
- Thought about how moronic and disgustingly insensitive that sounds?
- Thought about if you’d be upset if your pasty white boy favourite died?
- Considered the REAL person on the other side of the screen you’re picking on?
If you’ve answered ‘no’ to all three questions, I really give up. The lesson, really, is that some people are just absolute dweebs and on behalf of those people, I apologise for their lack of heart, insensitivity and weird agenda. Let’s revisit this when someone like our genocidal hero Bellamy Blake (let’s use the same show to avoid confusion) gets killed off – if he ever does, because, well, alpha male and all that…
#3: That’s…Literally it.
I actually genuinely just wanted to stick up a post where I ranted for ages about this because it’s such a prevalent problem. Has it ever happened to you, and under what circumstance?
I’d have hoped that with the open community within fandom and the sharing of such amazing talent that fandom would be so much more pleasant.
I’ve read shit about myself that I swear to God is not true yet for some reason, someone’s made shit up about me (I feel important, so joke’s on you, dickhead) that’s so unbelievable that I almost wish it were true just for the sake of it. Makes me laugh, at least—but I’m not particularly…the phrase people describe me as is “don’t give a shit”. And it’s true. But I do care more about others than myself. I hate seeing people upset. Especially for such horrible, stupid reasons.
Just think about it. People are so passionate about ‘ships’ and who ends up with who. Some actresses get bombarded with hate because they’re getting in the way of this viewer’s dream “ship”. Is that not just as ridiculous as getting upset over something…upsetting?
Absolutely beyond me.
I guess the takeaway is something you already know. Feel how you feel; cry if you want to cry; laugh if you wanna laugh; be angry if you wanna be angry; kick a chair if you wanna kick a chair. You do you. You’re the viewer—the most important person. Another viewer’s POV may vary hugely, but you know what, you can engage in a healthy debate or you can, if the viewer is being a knob, just ignore them. I know it’s hard because some of them really dedicate admirable time to ‘troll’.
A programme and its message is what you make of it. Sure, production staff will have ideas in mind. But your takeaway is YOURS. Your emotions are YOURS. Don’t let some nobody tell you otherwise.
Television, representation, ships and characters: these are all given to us on-screen. What you take away, stored within your heart, your mind…That’s yours. No matter what anyone says or teases or bullies. Yeah, it’s hard to tune out the insensitive juveniles when they yap so loudly. But if something via media matters to you, or hits home—that is yours, and always will be.
The only shame lies on the people who try to invalidate that. Be your own damn hero, and feel. For yourself.