Bashers only!

Soap viewing at its best is a communal experience. The internet has revitalized this aspect of watching a soap. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of places—fansites, message boards, blogs—to discuss soaps online every day. It’s wonderful to be able to discuss the plots and the characters with other fans, get new insights or new opinions about what is going on. This is the substitute (or the supplement) to the family living room or the college common room.

But there’s a dark side, too.

What can happen is that people of similar opinions gravitate to one another and mirror and amplify each others’ opinions until they become “facts” which any idiot knows. It’s not the same thing as fans independently writing in to the powers that be all hating the same storyline, or the same character, because these fans have all egged each other on. This is mob thought in action.

On Days’ boards, it’s the shippers. I hate to say it, because when it comes to Steve and Kayla (and Chick—I’m still hanging in there!), I’m the shippiest shipper that ever lived. It is by no means all shippers, or even a majority, but it is within these bases that you will find the screechiest, the most short-sighted, the most ruthless posters. These are people to whom the show is a battlefield, the stakes are airtime and frontburner status, and every other character is the enemy. If a poster ventures the opinion that Kayla, as an MD, might be involved in helping Bo beat his illness, someone is sure to jump in and say this is BO and HOPE’s storyline, and Kayla should have NOTHING to do with it! (Sometimes the swarming nature of this makes me think of a B-monster movie from the 50’s like The Blob: “Look out! You’ve angered it!”)

Regarding how John and Marlena and Bo and Hope were sidelined last summer, “reading letters” has become a shorthand and a rallying cry. It cracks me up how such an innocuous activity can sound so awful—“John and Marlena were stuck READING LETTERS!”—the context suggesting something on par with “scooping up handfuls of monkey snot.”

Sometimes I wonder too if shippers are aware that they are watching what is, in fact, a soap. A soap depends on conflict, angst, suffering, and drama to fuel its stories. Some people seem to think that a character doing a bad thing means that the show is telling a bad story. Watching people screw up (believably), and get themselves in trouble (believably) is what character-driven drama—what everyone says they want—is all about. Badly done angst can be really, really bad, but if you’ve gotten to the point where any angst, any drama is inherently bad, it might be time to turn off the TV.

Speaking of turning off the TV, what really gets my goat are the people who, for whatever reason, are no longer watching the show, but feel the need to post and repost how much the show sucks. I always think of these posters as being the bitter ex-wives of the show, who can’t stop badmouthing their ex. Any viewer currently enjoying the show is like a much-hated new wife.

Of course I’m not saying that all critiquing, complaining, ranting, and making of snarky remarks is bad. Speaking for myself, there have been times that keeping up with the snark on TWoP is the only thing keeping me watching the show. But when it becomes a steady stream of venom and vitriol, when your hatred for a character spills over into hatred for that character’s fans, when your focus narrows to the point where all your posts are essentially one post, endlessly repeated, I have to wonder: is this supposed to be entertainment or what?


10 thoughts on “Bashers only!

  1. Ok, I want to take your blog and place into the signature for almost every message board I post in (TWoP naturally excluded).

    You hit on every one of my pet peeves, how even when I’m posting on a board supporting a couple I love, fans believe the story sucks unless it’s 100% about them apparently making googily eyes at each other. I also want to say how I loathe posters who quit watching the show but won’t leave the MBs and your ex-wife comparison is perfect.

    I would add that in the world of Internet, checking out any fandom, “bashing only” isn’t just regulated to soaps. When I was 100% dedicated to CSI and hung out at, I would be shocked at the backlash that would occur when the show would do anything new such as (God forbid) trying to end a ship that didn’t work or more importantly, introduce a new character to add new blood. Even on the soap boards, I have never seen such resentment on new actors entering a show as I have seen for primetime. Not all new characters work out (or even make sense), but I’m willing to cut the actor a break and not judge him or her until I’m seen them in at least 3-6 episodes, depending on how much he or she were featured.

    Um, sorry, Kind of got off tangent, but let’s just say we could make ourselves a book on this topic (hee, talk about irony, using our fandom blogs to rail out against the Internet’s ability to propagate negative messages.)

  2. Oh, MP I ❤ your blog.

    I love so much about the internet message boards — the opportunity to “meet” people who share my obsession with a fictional soap and couple (which is viewed as more than a little strange everywhere else); the great insight I can get from other posters; the spoilers (hee!); and just the general fun that comes from sharing the experience.

    But, it can also be one of the most frustrating experiences ever. The obvious frustration arises from the “bashers” who take delight in finding any reason (or making some up) to criticize characters you love. But, equally frustrating are those who share your love of a couple, but can’t stand anything that threatens to bring a little drama or conflict to the couple. Everything becomes life or death and signals the “end” of that couple.

    And, I fully agree about the insta-dislike of new characters. Everybody wants “new blood” but nobody wants a new character on the show. Why are they getting airtime that should be going to __________? Why does the writer love this character so much? And, if they love this character, they must hate my favorites. You can’t win for losing.

    It all makes me very grateful for islands of sanity such as TWoP and this blog. 🙂

  3. I want to say something more substantial than WORD, but there it is. I’ve been having more fun at Sony lately, because S&K fans are awesome, but I really hate the competitive, campaigning nature of the site that drives a lot of this. There’s some kind of Darwinian weeding going on over there — only the bitterest and the most dedicated stick it out very long.

    (Not that I haven’t posted in the occasional anti- thread myself. *g*)

    Like Tripp and probably others, this isn’t my first fandom. There is another board I sometimes visit for a show that’s been off the air for a few years. Someone still posts the ratings each week, from the night the show *used* to be on, to show that it was a mistake to cancel it because its old network is still losing the slot. This is a show that went off the air in *2005*. Bitter on the internet is apparently a renewable resource.

  4. Terrific points, as usual. Sometimes the bitterness and genuine-seeming hatred really takes me aback. Not that I haven’t trashed Belle and Marlena a time or two myself. . . but like you say, the oddest thing is people who claim they hate and don’t watch the show, yet still pollute the message boards with vitriol. I may be bashing the Glitter Girls, but I’m still watching the show and there are still things I like. I really don’t understand the point of watching a show you claim to completely loathe for whatever reason.

  5. It’s hypocritical, maybe, but cathartic, to be able to bash the bashers on this blog. There are no rules against “board on board” discussion here!

    lska, I’m laughing at your example of someone posting the ratings for the night the show used to be on—three years ago. It’s just so perfect.

    New characters definitely get bashed a lot. Whenever anyone starts a thread that Days needs to form new couples and look to the future, people say, “Yeah, maybe, but all the new characters they have now suck.”

  6. My “favorite” message board comment, especially since the firing of MM, BB and JP, is, “They fired (insert names of choice) and now they’re hiring new people?”

    Well, um, yeah. Yeah, they are. Deal with it.

  7. I know what you mean, Paula. I’ve seen a lot of comments in the vein of “I’d rather have ________ than some new person” as if that’s a real choice. To use one example, there were a lot of people saying they woul have rather kept JP than to bring on Tamara Braun. That’s all well and good but JP/Billie couldn’t fill the role that TB’s character is playing on the canvas. So, it’s a false criticism in many ways.

    I’ve seen the same thing with MM and BrB. Too many people don’t understand the idea of needing characters that can be used to tell stories.

  8. Actually, my favorite is when they insist on having Sheri Anderson back because she pushed stories featuring “their favorites” twenty years ago. No one seems to notice that at the time, the veterans were not veterans, they were the new kids on the block, and all the veterans of the 80s like Mickey, Maggie, Doug and Julie became props or back-burnered.

  9. Oh, I forgot to mention how much I agree with esp’s comment about how it’s equally frustrating to have fans of your same couple freak out over the possibility that the course of true love might not run ever so smooth. It’s even weirder when they’re not actually a couple–naturally, I’m talking about EJ and Sami, and I’m amazed that I read comments people don’t want EJ to have another love interest because that will “prove” he doesn’t really love Sami (whether you think he actually does or not isn’t really my point here, although naturally there are some terrific arguments that he really doesn’t).

    I guess I’m just shallow, because I’d rather not have JS’s hotness wasted and if all the show wants him to do is play with babies I don’t see the point. I mean, do I want to watch him have some steamy scenes with somebody other than Sami (now that Belle is soon to be gone and it’s safe to say that) or do I want him to be chaste? I pick door #1.

  10. I agree, Paxton. There is a lot of that in any shipper base. To be fair, badly done triangles and bad breakups (like the one for Bo and Hope after Zack’s death) have given angst a bad name. But if everyone is happy and together, if everyone is so in love they’d never look at anyone else, what on earth do you use to tell your stories?

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