I’ve been mostly keeping quiet about the Vampire Diaries fan rage that’s been going on lately, but I do have a few thoughts about it that I wanted to set down. There’s a common theme in a lot of the complaints that I’m reading, a pervasive sense of entitlement. As if the fans somehow feel that they are owed a different story than the one that’s been offered.
The truth is, there’s no quid pro quo arrangement between television fans and writers. If we identify ourselves as fans of something, it’s because we choose to do so. I choose to invest time and energy in supporting TVD because I enjoy the show. I admire the people who make it and I love working with my vampire-diares.net colleagues. I like many of the people that I’ve met through our shared love of this series. Basically, I feel that the effort I put into being a TVD fan is worthwhile. I choose to do it because it adds something fun to my life and I get great things out of it.
Know what I don’t get out of it? A say in the story.
Loving a TV show does not entitle us to a voice in its creation. No matter how much time or energy we devote to watching the show, talking about the show, tweeting, voting in internet polls and commenting on websites, we do not get a say in the plot. Even if we spend money on merchandise, DVDs and fan conventions, we still don’t get a say. No matter how big our emotional investment is, it’s still our investment. We are not the writers’ bosses, and our devotion doesn’t put any extra obligations on the people making the show.
The reality is that the writers will write the very best story they can and hope that people like it. That’s where their obligation to us ends. There’s no way they can please everybody, and while the internet can make it look like “everybody” agrees on one thing or another, the vocal audience isn’t the majority of viewers. There are a lot more people watching TVD than the people make the show a big part of their lives. Most people just turn on their TVs every Thursday night, watch the episode, and go on about their lives without ever visiting a fansite or making a comment on twitter. While it is tempting to think that more investment = more power, it just isn’t so. When all is said and done, television is a business and a complicated one at that. There’s a lot more going into the creative decisions than what outspoken fans say they want.
If you want a pairing or storyline so badly that the lack of it ruins the show for you, then that’s just how you feel and that’s valid. I wish you the best, but don’t let love of a TV show make you crazy. Don’t let it make you a bully, or make you think you’re somehow entitled to tell someone else how to do their job. Devotion is a wonderful thing, but in excess it can also be very destructive. Love the show or leave it, but until the TVD writers show up at our jobs and start telling us how to do them, we don’t get a say in what they write.