The Mortal Instruments.
I was once told that the way to write journalistic essays was to keep your emotions out of things. But when you are writing about fandom, the truth is – it’s fueled by emotion. Everything that we do, everything we say, it’s all based off emotion – our love for the fandom that we are in. Without love, without the deep need of really wanting to be a part of it – we’re not in a fandom, we’re a fan.
I know that they sound the same, but they are different. A person in a fandom lives, eats, and breathes whatever it is they love. If you are a fan – it’s just another thing that you love, but not something that you build your life around.
One thing that I learned a long time ago is that fandoms – they aren’t always fun. Where as you all love the same thing if you are part of a fandom, everyone in that fandom does not like the same thing. Because of those things – fandoms sometimes become heated. Team this or team that, different ships, etc.
I used to love the Mortal Instruments/Shadowhunters fandom. Until it became a chaotic mess.
I can respect passion. We all have it. But somewhere over the past three years, passion has somehow not been what this fandom is about.
When it comes to this fandom, there are three facets of fans. The book fans, the show fans, and the ones that are both. Somehow this fandom became so divided that living in it everyday is living in a fandom war. And it’s not supposed to be that way.
Years ago, when the Mortal Instruments movie was made – it was nothing like this. Sure, we all had different opinions, like we do now. But a difference of opinion didn’t mean harassing tweets, name calling, making derogatory memes about things. It meant – a difference of opinion. Somehow over the years, this fandom seemed to have forgotten that we all don’t have to like the same things to be in the same fandom.
A majority seem to have forgotten something else. That without the source material, the books, we don’t have a fandom at all. Without the books, there is no television show. There is no Alec Lightwood, no Simon Lewis, no Malec, no Shadowhunters at all. That doesn’t mean you have to like the books. But what I see isn’t that: it’s a group of people in this fandom who believe there needs to be a war between the people who like the books and the people who like the show, even though the majority of show fans either also book fans or are indifferent.
But the war is not necessary.
Every time I write something about Cassandra Clare, I am called a book stan. I don’t really consider that to be an insult. I have respect for the material, the book, and the author. But there is a certain obvious hypocrisy to those who spend their time putting Cassie down while using characters based from The Mortal Instruments as their Twitter handles. While using art drawn by her friends as icons. While using the runes designed by her and her best friends to decorate their tumblr pages. While using lines from the books in their bios. The characters that we all love came from her mind. They are bits and pieces of her. The characters are pieces of her mind. So – how is it that you can call her names, yet you surround yourself with the world and characters she created? I am not sure. I’ve shown the twitter of a prominent book hater to a casual friend – they couldn’t believe it. It was covered with quotes like “bitten by a gay spider” and made reference to looking forward to Aline Penhallow on the show, a character no one would even know existed if she hadn’t been in the books. The casual friend kept insisting this couldn’t be a hater. It must be a fan. It didn’t make sense. Because — it doesn’t.
I guess I wonder – when did we all stop enjoying the fandom and choose to live our fandom lives in survival mode? Just getting through in order to make it to the next episode of a TV show – that has continued to show that they have no respect for the source material.
I know, I know – adaptations make changes. I respect that. I totally do. I am not against changes. But what I have an issue with is when those changes show that the source material has never been read by the show runners. If you haven’t read the books, I know that you won’t feel that same way. While, I will tell you that this season they have delved into character development more – they have become sloppy. The continuity, the world – it has become disjointed and nonsensical. The showrunners spell the characters’ names wrong. They think Ithuriel is Uthuriel. They have no idea how old Magnus is. They claim the big deal about the Mortal Sword is that it can “kill any demon” when literally any seraph blade can do that. They don’t have the willingness to crack a book or ask Cassie a question. And that shows disrespect for every fan.
And what that is, is not an issue with the actors. I love the cast. I have had the pleasure of meeting and talking to them several times. They know everything that this site has written about the show and the way the characters are portrayed in this show. They know it’s not a conversation about them. It’s about the way this show is written.
So I have to ask myself, who ruined Shadowhunters for me first – the show writers or the fandom? The question is a little more complicated.
A few days ago, Todd Slavkin tweeted the below tweet and all hell broke loose.
And Cassie tweeted in reply.
People automatically assumed that the issue was Simon’s cheating. But the issue with Todd’s tweet wasn’t about that. The disrespect to the fandom was based off one thing – the obviousness that the source material hadn;t been read. Book Simon never cheated. He dated Isabelle and Maia, yes, but they were also dating other people. That’s not cheating. It’s dating. It’s there on the pages of the books.
The issue was never that Simon cheated, because he didn’t. The issue was that he dated people who knew each other.
I don’t like a cheater. I don’t condone cheating. I have been cheating on and it’s fucking painful. But I have dated someone who has dated one of my friends. And yes, that was an issue. But that doesn’t make it cheating. It’s not okay to redefine words to make them mean what you want them to mean, rather than what they do mean.
But it’s not about me. It’s about the fact that if Todd had read the books, he’d have known the question was nonsense to start with. But he clearly hasn’t.
People took issue with Cassie’s tweet too. There was an overwhelming amount of people that wrote about how she could have just DM’d him and taken the issue up privately. On the other hand the people that take issue with her writing, her involvement with the show – they could all contact her privately too instead of dragging her on twitter. The bigger issue, though is that her post needed to be public. She was showing the book fans she would stand up for them when the show runners were punching down at them — them, the only reason Todd and Darren have a job at all. And the bigger question is why we feel like it’s okay for men like Todd and Darren to be rude as hell in public but when a woman raises her voice to say that’s not okay — she should have been nicer and quieter and even silent about it. Men who are only employed because she exists are trashing her work, and she should be silent? Why is that?
I myself did tweet about Todd’s tweet. And was inundated with hate. This is no shock – I have lived with it for the past three years. There are hate blogs, hate tweets, hate memes. Everything seems to be chaotic when an opinion about this show is voiced.
And that’s not okay.
You don’t have to agree with me. I don’t have to agree with you. That’s the beauty of being a human being. That’s the beauty of fandom. We all love different things.
But it’s the way that the factions of fans talk to each other that will be this shows unraveling. It will be the undoing of this fandom.
Everyday is a battle. Everything is a battle. Fandom isn’t supposed to be this way. I can’t tell you when to get over things, you can’t tell me. What we can do is learn to respect each other and demand that we are respected.
The drama of this fandom didn’t stop there this week. If you haven’t been paying attention – Alec and Magnus’ sex scene. In the last episode, Alec showed up at Magnus’s door and basically said he wanted to take the next step – having sex. He pushes Magnus into a room and we fade to black. Consent was inferred but not given.
Fans were pissed. And rightfully so. Showrunner Darren responded to the fans concern over not hearing Magnus giving consent.
The thing is – I can see where this means that we all care about the same thing. The characters. We believe in them, we hope for their joy, we know the way that they should be and focus on the things that we feel that they all deserve. Consent should have been given – it would have taken 10 more seconds.
But my concern with Malec isn’t just that. It’s the fact that we all seem to have different ideas of their representation. Time and time again I have been told that the show gives them “good representation”. I disagree. We explore more of the other couples innermost feelings, motivations, relationship evolution – but with Malec we are told and not shown. We see little affection, little on-screen reason why these two would ever be interested in each other. We seem to miss every major turning point in their relationship, like what happened when Alec stayed at Magnus’ house drinking? What did they talk about? Did Magnus ever have a feeling about Alec’s bigotry toward Downworlders? Why did they go from a first date and two kisses to sex? Why is this a storyline that gets three minutes an episode and they don’t seem to be in any order? Why do the two of them have nothing to do with the overarching plot? Demons and angels and Iron Sisters are running around while Magnus and Alec..go for sushi. They’ve been reduced from characters who had a place in the story to a D-plot joke.
You are allowed to be angry about the way they’re sidelined on the show. Hell, I think it’s great that there is a fight for a better storyline, a better representation, for them to be treated just like anyone else. Because – they are just like anyone else. Their love shouldn’t be defined by the fact that they are men, it should be about two human beings that are going through the stages of falling in love and finding out what that means.
There are people who have said that no one should speak up or be angry because they are worried about the show’s renewal. Honestly, you should speak up, be angry, be happy, and be whatever you need to be. Because this is fandom. And fandom is about fighting for the things you love.
All this time, many have sat by and kept their mouths shut for fear of being yelled or or for fear the show would be cancelled. And because this is the kind of show that clearly assumes silence equals consent, what we’re getting now is the result of that.
In this fandom, being a lover of the books has somehow turned into dirty word. But – just work with me here – it’s not. Ed Decter spent so much time isolating the book fans with his contempt for the idea that they were all female – wanting to create a show that was manly, that was his own procedural drama. But when you look deep at it – why was this show made in the first place? Because there are millions upon millions of book fans across the world. Those people translate into ratings. Every book fan I have ever talked to is looking for a middle ground. No one wants to change it to the show being an exact replica of the book. We just want a good TV show.
At the end of the day, one day this show will be cancelled. It’s true. What is the use of sending death threats, harassing, cursing out each other? Is it going to make the show stick around any longer? No. It will hinder progression.
For once – I would hope that the show – everyone from the writers to the show runners – would start to listen to what needs to be done to fix this situation and give all the factions of fans something to tune into. Book fans want a better show that is respectful of the source material, show fans want a show that gives them the ships that they want – and what seems to be missing is the understanding those objectives aren’t so far off. Right now, both book fans and show fans are disappointed, feel hurt and attacked by a show where the showrunners and the main fan sites and feeds are constantly telling lies to try to incite clicks. We’ll all find out the lies anyways, and then what?
We should take this moment when the sidelining of Malec and the treatment of Isabelle has upset us all and work forward from it. Here’s hoping that we all find a way to fix it. We can’t count on Clary to find a rune to fix this broken fandom, we need to do it ourselves.