It’s people like you that spoil it for everyone else.

So I go away for a week to visit my girlfriend’s family and run with the bulls – I’m fine, thank you for asking – and manage to avoid most of the Torchwood spoilers.

Some of which will likely appear in this post. You have been warned.

So I come back, gulp down the lot, and check out some of the reaction on the Internets. Why not? See how everyone else likes it.

(Very good, I thought. Nice work from all three writers, the director, and the actors. Reminded me a lot of the classic British TV SF of the past in style – A For Andromeda, the various Quatermass series and so on.)

And what should I find on the Internet but a bunch of fucking half-wits yattering on about how the writers have destroyed their favourite series.

Now, let’s be clear here. I’m a fan myself. I go to conventions, I read tie-in books, I’m watching all of Doctor Who in order from the start. I. Like. Science. Fiction.

The clear difference here is that I don’t consider someone else’s work to belong to me.

It’s known in psychology as a sense of entitlement. I love this series, therefore it belongs to me. I love these characters, therefore a threat to them is a threat to me.

And there seems to be a particular contingent of this madness in SF fans. I don’t know why. Perhaps they’re just more vocal about it than the average EastEnders fan when, for example, Tiffany Mitchell suffered a tragic road accident on New Year’s Eve.

So when a well-loved character died in episode four of the latest series of Torchwood, these people were outraged. And they have made their displeasure known.

Some of the opinions which I’ve read have included “I’m never watching Torchwood again,” – quite a common one, this – and promising never to spend another penny on Torchwood merchandise.

Possibly my favourite has the line “Thanks for your contributions to this fandom” in it. This fandom. Not the television series. Apparently it’s all about the fandom, and the series just happens to be vaguely associated with it.

But you know what? Fair enough. You can’t please everyone all the time, and a bit of polite disagreement never hurt anyone.

And then there are the others. The name-calling, the accusations of homophobia, of deliberately trying to hurt fans. The stupidest of the dumb.

Let’s be clear: you have a right to think whatever you want, whether it has any basis in reality or not. You might, for example, claim that “George Lucas raped my childhood” when he released The Phantom Menace.

No. He did not. He made a bad film. And taking it personally is not going to do anything other than make you feel bad about yourself. Because then you are granting power over your own happiness to something that you have no control over.

Because you are not in charge.

“They’re alienating the fans! We’ve supported them all the way! We should be consulted/informed/listened to!”

No. You do not get that right.

You took it personally. You decided that your sense of well-being was bound up in the lives of characters you have no control over. You.

You did this to yourself.

And to then attack the writer? To say “You didn’t do this the way I wanted to, so you’re at fault”? To insult them? To lay the blame on them for you not liking something?

For the last few years, Torchwood writer James Moran has kept a blog. In it he shared his journey from aspiring to professional writer, sharing what he’s learned, trying to give a little bit back.

Because, you see, he’s a fan too.

And now, thanks to the comments from fools on the Internet, he’s having to scale back his presence. To be a little less open, a little less helpful to those who are also trying to learn, trying to enjoy.

And you did this.


God preserve us from people like you.

9 responses to “It’s people like you that spoil it for everyone else.”

  1. I’ve almost certainly said it before: I do not understand fandom; I don’t understand that level of, is the word commitment, delusion? What does make people take it that extra mile?

  2. This post has totally destroyed your blog for me. I am going to get all my LiveJournal friends to boycott it, and I have set up an online petition to make you rewrite the post. And I’m certainly not spending another penny on your merchandise.

    And just wait till you see the fanfic I’m writing about you.

  3. Yeah, but it wouldn’t have been right if RTD had borne the brunt either. The series was great. The death was great. This post was great, Piers. Couldn’t agree more. Feel so sorry for James Moran. I read a lot of the posts on his site after day 4 and over the weekend and wasn’t surprised by his decision. But you’re absolutely right. They did it to themselves.

  4. Very well put. I think another factor is the anonymity of the net; allowing idiots to vent their irrational spleen in a way they never would in person. If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t say it online.
    Even then a lot of these ‘fans’ use assumed names. God preserve us from them, indeed.

  5. Anyone who’s ever been to an Old Firm game knows that you don’t need the internets to vent irrational fandom related idiocy. If it wasn’t this, it would be something else. Like religion for example.

  6. Great post Piers. Agree with every word.
    It seems the internet has provided people an ability to mouth-off in ways they would never dare to someone’s face.
    It’s okay to not like something, and okay to get upset about something you feel passionately about.
    I pouted like a good-un when Tom Baker was replaced and said I’d never watch it again. Thankfully, that was before the internet, and that piece of idiocy could ever get aired publicly, making me look like the prat I would have surely felt, as I sat glued to Peter Davidson’s brilliant first season.

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