Torchwood Writer Gets Online Abuse: Where social media stops being fun

A few days ago, I wrote about the Torchwood 5-day mini series which ended on Friday. During that same evening, it’s with great amusement that I also discovered that James Moran, writer for Severance, and episodes of Doctor Who, Torchwood, Primeval, Spooks, and Crusoe, was on Twitter.

In many ways, I enjoy seeing these backstage celebs on Twitter. By backstage celebs, I mean people who aren’t Britney, MC Hammer or Stephen Fry. Those people can be on Twitter all they like, but they’re already in the limelight. Seeing those who usually don’t get the limelight finally interact with the public through more than their scripts, stories or stage direction is more exciting, as we don’t usually get to hear them speak other than through their characters.

However, this evening, I came across a post by James which allowed me to realise just how seriously some people take television. He received many positive and praising messages, but was also highly criticised for a storyline that even upset me. Yes, I did have a tear in my eye when Rhys held the camera for Gwen to record her final words as “the world ended”.

Some have been spewing insults and passive aggressive nonsense. Accusing me of deliberately trying to mislead, lie, and hurt people. Telling me I hate the fans, that I’m laughing at them, that I used them, that I’m slapping people in the face, that I’ve “killed” the show, that I’m a homophobe, that I want to turn the fanbase away and court new, “cooler” viewers, even that I’m hurting depressed people with dark storylines. Asking me to pass on vitriolic, hateful messages to people I love and respect.

Not cool.

As James says, this just isn’t cool.

I love letting a story envelope me and take me away from work, home, the fact that the kitchen’s still not tidy and the stairs need hoovering. I love a story that lets me get a tiny little crush on one of the characters and picture travelling the stars with them. [Hell, I named my cats after Jack Harkness and Rose Tyler!] And yes, sometimes I want to shout at the TV and disagree with their stupid actions. “Don’t go in there alone and DO NOT put your gun down, you idiot!”

But people, all of you people who’ve given James abuse, get. a. fucking. grip.

“Hurting depressed people with dark storylines”? Please, get some real help. And I’m not saying this intending to offend, but with a true concern that if a TV show is enough to make you cross that line, it’s time to look at getting real help.

And if this isn’t your situation, then please go outside and get some perspective. This is television, and for a change, hey, it’s good enough to make people feel strongly about it by choosing a path less travelled. If the writers had taken the usual path, the same people would have clamoured that the ending was cheesy and predictable!

So have some respect for people and their trade. If a writer can’t join Twitter and enjoy it for what it is – a totally open means of communication with the audience – then writers, actors, authors and other backstage celebs will pull back and let their PR agencies do the talking. And that’s not what we want, is it!?

Here’s 50p, go buy yourself an ice cream and some perspective.

5 thoughts on “Torchwood Writer Gets Online Abuse: Where social media stops being fun

  1. Measi

    *applauds* I’m horrified by the behavior of fandom, although based on experiences in Doctor Who… I can’t say I’m surprised. It’s just pathetic. If they’re upset about events in a show, that’s fine – the events WERE upsetting. But threatening writers goes far over the line.

  2. Dan Wilson

    I really enjoyed Torchwood this past week. Totally gripped. Moreover, I liked the darkness and, well, the nihilism, to some extent. Schmaltz is easy. Torchwood: Children of Earth was tricky drama and rewarding and engaging for it.

    But this post isn’t really about Torchwood. It’s about feedback, proximity and conversation. Moran is a well respected writer with a proven track record. I admire his work.

    His response (which is utterly understandable) reminds me of the role a seasoned community manager can play. As you note, “he received many positive and praising messages” and yet the negative has been the focus of comment.

    There’s something distinct about valid criticism (and that can be negative and positive) when compared to bile and grumbling. All commentary deserves credence but sometimes it requires the lense of a online community brain to filter what’s truly worthy of brainspace, consideration and response. As always, the first action to the community flurry, is to nothing at all and think a little.

  3. love that jones boy

    So you never actually read the messages for James Moran? I find that when people don’t like our work, it’s easy to say “they weren’t nice to me” or “they insulted me”. People quite easily assume a negative response is a flame or they take it badly.

    Yes, people are angry. Publicity told us one thing about COE and then we were given another. There are those of us who liked Torchwood the way it was. We were lied to, misled and hurt. Sadly, James was an easy target of that anger. He’s an adult writer who should man up a little and not run off screaming because people had issues about the show. He really didn’t take the time to hear about those issues. If you are going to put yourself out there to the public, you have to remember that the public is not always going to love you.

    I’m not saying that abusing people is right but I saw very little abuse. A negative opinion is not abuse.

  4. Vero

    love that jones boy:

    Yes I did read a number of the messages addressed to James, and I felt embarrassed for those who posted them. If someone accused me of making them suicidal through the art I create, believe me, I’d be quick to want to leave the public eye too.

    Yes, I’m going to miss Ianto if he doesn’t come back by some magic, I thought we were just getting to a stage where we could understand more about the character. However, that doesn’t justify having a go aggressively at the author of the storyline, does it!? If every tv show and movie had a predictable plot line, you’d all be whinging for different reasons!

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