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Last night and earlier today, I've heard about a bizarre LJ site where people get off writing crude, untrue and demeaning stuff about Garett, Richard and his family, as if it was all a) hilarious and b) perfectly okay to post what could well be considered libelous (or is that slanderous?) material in a public forum. I've seen and heard of the fictionalization of the lives of real people before, usually undertaken out of some affection for the celebrities involved or a blurring of the lines in the writer's mind about what is real and what is not, but never have I seen it so maliciously done before. I found myself wondering if the LJ Admin people were advised that this deplorable stuff was being gleefully written about real people, if they'd require that it be taken down.



Normally, I accept that it's a free world on the net and people can pretty much post what they want. Certainly, when it comes to fan fiction, we all agree that it's up to the writer to decide how the characters are portrayed. If a given story happens to be of a genre or characterization that I personally think misses the whole point of the innate decency of the characters, their integrity, and the fundamental equality of their unique and highly prized friendship or relationship, then I just move on. Not up to me to define how anyone else sees fictional entities.

But I find the pillorying of real people in a hurtful, destructive, crass and completely untrue manner very disturbing. The fact that the writers of this stuff seem to think it all hilariously funny makes me feel ill. I wonder if they are, er, healthy people in mind and spirit. Are they sociopaths who get off on the character assassination of real people? Or do they not perceive the difference between real people, the reality of their lives as other human beings, and fictional characters? Or do they think it's perfectly okay to be hideously cruel and blisteringly nasty in what they write -- because it's a free world, after all -- and how they represent these real people, who are in actuality innately kind and generous of spirit, is nobody's business but their own? Okay to write this filth, not in the privacy of closed notes if they, indeed, do feel for some reason that these blameless people deserve their scorn, but in full public view?

Well, it's sure public now -- a professional reporter commented on their little scenario last night, having found it linked to an article she had written. The reporter's comments were very smooth, even encouraging -- and one wonders what she may make of what she's found in some future article about what 'fans' have to say about the stars of The Sentinel. As one of these LJ contributors apparently claims to have some personal knowledge of the celebrities in question, through some past role she played, some people could read what is being written and wonder if there isn't truth in it -- and that's when it could get really ugly, if it ends up as speculative headlines on the rags that fill the shelves by grocery store check-out lanes. One can only hope that it's perceived as the spiteful, mean diatribe that it is and that readers make their judgments accordingly about the people who spew such hateful nonsense under the guise of what? Writing satire? Please.

I suppose it's perfectly clear that I find the garbage being written, and the people writing it, disgusting in the extreme. I'm sure others will advise me that I'm over-reacting and, besides, it is a free medium and so people can and evidently will write whatever they want. Nevertheless, there are some things, in my mind, worthy of taking a stand against, and this is one of them. There is nothing amusing in what they are writing. To the contrary, what has been written reads more like a vicious hatred that could be both immensely hurtful and harmful to the celebrities being targeted. If I knew of a way to shut them down, I'd act upon it. Yes, celebrities no doubt come across such stuff from time to time and learn to weather it as part and parcel of being public figures. But that doesn't make the publicizing of this kind of garbage, under the guise of 'fiction' and 'humour', either right or acceptable. It may be futile to rail against it, but no way, having become aware of it, could I remain silent and by silence convey that I thought it was perfectly okay. It's not.

If anyone chooses to comment on this, I'd be interested in your views on the fictionalization of the lives of real people, and the public posting of hate literature about celebrities. I won't, however, share the link to the stuff I'm specifically writing about as I'm not interested in giving these people any free advertising.

Comments

( 37 comments — Leave a comment )
aerianya
Apr. 4th, 2006 03:17 am (UTC)
Sadly there is no law against bad taste.
Liberty is the right to be</> wrong not do wrong.
caarianna
Apr. 5th, 2006 12:45 am (UTC)
I like the sentiment about liberty, but it seems in this venue, liberty means the right to do whatever you want.
alyburns
Apr. 4th, 2006 03:37 am (UTC)
Where is this site?
Is it real? Have you been there?
caarianna
Apr. 4th, 2006 06:13 am (UTC)
Re: Where is this site?
Yes, I've been there, it's real, and I've read it.
peter_neverland
Apr. 4th, 2006 03:50 am (UTC)
The freedom of speech is one of the trickiest freedoms we enjoy. On basic principle I support the right of everyone to express themselves. Yet, at what point does the freedom to express yourself conflict with the rights of others not to be harmed by your freedoms. Unfortunately self-regulation is a severly lacking skill in today's society. Too often just because we can do something many people take that as they should do it. It seems to me that these people are so wrapped up in their own needs and wants that they don't see the harm their behavior causes.

To put someone down, whether it is an actor, a stranger, a friend, a relative or whoever, and to talk about them like their feelings do not matter brings down society as a whole. It encourages people to see other people as objects rather than as human beings. Sure, there are some that can engage in this behavior and not have it affect how they treat those around them, but everyone is not like that and honestly I'm not even sure I would say the majority of people are like that.

Fiction is a reflection of life; we see something in fiction that we respond to, that's what separates good fiction from bad fiction. So that leaves me to wonder what it is about this degradation that they find so appealing? This is as true in fanfiction as it is in RP, but I think it holds added weight when it is a real person that you are belittling. Someone who if they ever found out about it would be hurt, not just offended, but honestly hurt that complete strangers were ridiculing him in such a vicious way.

My words to those who do it are this, if it was you that the story was about, not just your name but you, how would you feel? And if you really wouldn't mind what does that say about your ability to feel?

My words to authors in general, be careful what you write, because you do influence your readers.

My words to readers, be careful what you read, because words can become a part of your soul.
caarianna
Apr. 4th, 2006 06:11 am (UTC)
Very well said, and very, very true. Thank you.
jessriley
Apr. 4th, 2006 04:06 am (UTC)
What kind of floored me was the reaction of the reporter to all of this. If she is trying to make a success out of her online magazine, supporting or encouraging the mockery of those she interviews doesn’t really seem like a good career move.
_suziq_
Apr. 4th, 2006 04:27 am (UTC)
Yeah, I found that interesting as well. Wonder if this'll end up in some article or in her LJ at some point.
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Sorry - aerianya - Apr. 4th, 2006 05:51 am (UTC) - Expand
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vamysteryfan
Apr. 4th, 2006 03:18 pm (UTC)
The reporter's response was odd to say the least. If she relies on celebrities for interviews, but then supports "loving mockery" with the results, won't her sources dry up?
caarianna
Apr. 5th, 2006 12:43 am (UTC)
You'd wonder, wouldn't you? I've wondered if sending her a note, to assure her that what she found is an aberrant microcosm of the fandom, would be worth pursuing, but I'm hoping she just shrugged and moved on.
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trislindsay
Apr. 4th, 2006 08:46 pm (UTC)
I have seen RP fiction done in funny, silly ways going back 20 years or more (and it certainly went on long before that). And I do mean funny and silly (with ocean going volkswagons and talking animals and nothing in the least demeaning or nasty about the actors). And that writer was absolutely castigated, even though the story was private and did not get out and about through her doing (and that was long before the internet). I thought that was stupid - the castigation - because it was obviously nothing more than silliness. I've read other stories from that time period that were equally funny and based on true-life experiences of the writer and her real interactions with the actors. But again, these were done with love and would not have read as demeaning in any way. The stories were also very private and never made public.

I haven't gone to this site, but from what you've said, it's disturbing. Unless the actor himself is doing the writing, RP stories are fiction and we know that. But the actor involved here probably doesn't know that. I certainly wouldn't want somebody I considered a friend of mine writing demeaning fic about me. I would distance myself from that person and any contact I might have with others who might do the same thing - and by that reasoning that could lead to this actor's withdrawal from his fans who have nothing to do with the RPS being written. And could you blame him? It's like being kicked in the teeth.

RP belongs behind locked posts if it is going to be on LJ. Even if it's silly and stupid and not demeaning, it should be kept locked. If it's demeaning and nasty, especially so. There's a lot of RP fic nowadays, but most of it is kept private, wherein the authors post behind locked LJs, and they are very, very careful about who gets in.

This nastiness is the same lack of respect, in it's own way, that I was writing about a couple of weeks ago that got me in so much mud (wherein I got noted in fandom wank, which was funny actually, for being a 'grande dame' in a fandom I have never been in, and an actor I've never been a fan of). It's bad manners! It's cruelty for cruelty's sake. And a few people are going to ruin it for everyone as this kind of thing gets more publically prevalent.

Why is it that some people feel they must put down others to build themselves up? (And the more they deny it and find it funny, the more likely it is, according to psychiatrists.)

In many cases fandoms police themselves, and I hope that happens here. This isn't a boy-band or a couple of 20 year old actors. We have a great fandom in TS, with good people and I hate to see us all get hurt because of a few.
caarianna
Apr. 5th, 2006 12:40 am (UTC)
Thanks so much for commenting. And, you're right; if the LJ had been locked, none of this would be an issue as none of it would be public knowledge. I'm not sure how a fandom polices itself in an instance like this. There's no 'list mom' on LJ to exert order and two of the individuals who have expressed concern about the stuff on this site have been mocked on the wank LJ. Seems 'being cool' equals 'being cruel' these days and that's sad.
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ninasis
Apr. 6th, 2006 06:08 pm (UTC)
My thoughts? Saturday Night Live does worse EVERY WEEK. MadTV - ditto. Jay Leno, David Letterman, Conan - even Jon Stewart. Satire is a well protected form of media - much more protected than fanfic will ever be.

The GarettVerse in particular - it's satire, it's comedy, it's just as fictional as every piece of FPS available on the net today.

I find it interesting that this has become such a big deal in a fandom where a simple browse thru 852 Prospect will have you inundated with fics where Blair is raped and tortured and mutilated, where he is a pregnant elf (complete with accompanying "artwork"), where you have fans creating pieces of erotic art showing Richard and Garett in sexually explicit poses and posting those in UNLOCKED posts for the entire world to see. How in the world is the GarettVerse really as repugnant as folks are claiming? I mean - really, pregnant elf!Blair vs. Funyuns for sex.

I find this whole thing funny and sad and more than a little stupid. The same thing that applies to folks who don't like rape-fics, or who detest incest fic, applies to RPS. Don't like it? Don't read it.
caarianna
Apr. 6th, 2006 06:42 pm (UTC)
For me the difference, as I said in the header to my note, is fictional characters versus the real people who played them. Jim and Blair, whether in fic or art, aren't real people. They don't actually exist. What we say or draw about them can't really hurt them because they're a fictional construct.

However, GM, RB, their families, KW -- these are real people. The content and style of the material in question is not true and could be very hurtful. (Political commentators mock an actual act or statement, they don't make up stuff to degrade public figures -- if they do, they get sued for libel.)

In my opinion, RPF is wrong, even when it glorifies the individual, let alone villifies them, because it 'objectifies' human beings, turns them into objects, things -- is disrespectful to their humanity. It may go on in a lot of fandoms and been a genre for years, but that doesn't make it right. Willfully going out of one's way to hurt any living being is not right -- throwing words can be far more hurtful and destructive than throwing rocks.

Further, this isn't simply about one's own entertainment anymore. A reporter who has already interviewed these guys is now aware of this stuff because it was publicly posted. Whether you consider the content of the material funny or not, the fallout if it goes mainstream could be a good deal less than amusing to anyone.

gershwhen
Apr. 9th, 2006 03:30 am (UTC)
It may be mean and badly written -- but it IS listed as fiction, which means libel doesn't apply. Libel requires that people writing it believe it is FACT.

Libel and slander are legal claims for false statements of fact about a person that are printed, broadcast, spoken or otherwise communicated to others. Libel generally refers to statements or visual depictions in written or other permanent form, while slander refers to verbal statements and gestures. The term defamation is often used to encompass both libel and slander.

I don't personally read it (or care for that matter) but it drives me nuts when people start portraying fiction as "fact" -- this isn't a newspaper reporting gossip, it's someone making up stories.

caarianna
Apr. 9th, 2006 03:42 am (UTC)
Yes, the stories are listed as fiction, but the commentary that elaborates is not. And, in the US, it may be that even fic can leave a person open to libel, slander, defamation of character and invasion of privacy. See the attached url, an article by someone in the communication and legal field in the US who pulls no punches about the dangers of promulgating RPF/S.


http://www.trickster.org/symposium/symp78.html
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( 37 comments — Leave a comment )