This week's spoilers used for commentary are compliments of our friends over at SOAPTOWN USA

March 6, 2006

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This week, my boss wrote a column about Zach Slater and it really got me thinking.  I've been a fan of Zach's since he first came on the scene, admittedly grandfathered in by an appreciation of Thorsten Kaye's previous work.  After reading her column, I found that she made some very valid points, but after reading the rebuttal that a reader wrote to her, I also realized how quickly I'd forgotten the lessons I'd learned in the past about passionate fans.

As a soap columnist, you can have a body of writing that spans back years, but you're only ever as good as your last column.  Every character has its passionate fans, I think, and if you say anything negative about the object of their affections, they will quickly write and decimate you.  Of course, if you only write benign columns that never put you out on a limb or give an opinion that some might find controversial, then you're seen as a sell out.  First and foremost, having a column that is commentary based means that you are obligated to put your opinions out there.  In doing so, you will never please everyone and someone is always going to bitch because you did not write what mirrors their own thoughts.  Far from simply writing "I disagree and here is why," it is rare that a reader offers comments contrary to what a columnist has said without stooping to personal insults and insisting on what the columnist should or should not have said (or evangelically attempting to convert the columnist to their "right" way of thinking).

I have never understood the need for people to attack those who espouse views different than their own.  Why is it exactly that if someone writes a column saying they do not like a character and gives good reasons for not liking them, the fans of that character feel a need to write and fervently try to convert the person who doesn't like them?  Why do they need to describe at length exactly why the columnist is "wrong" because they see the character from another angle?  Aren't there enough fan websites to speak at length about why the characters should be idolized?  Is a different opinion so threatening?  Is it right for a columnist to be condemned and called names for disagreeing on one point when there could be 100 points in previous columns with which the reader agreed? Do readers really expect that we, as columnists, will always reflect their own view exclusively? 

For that matter, is it really so horrible to simply not like a character and offer good reasons why?

Why is it that if you DON'T like one character it is automatically seen as an endorsement of another character?  In the past, if I wrote anything at all negative about Carly, then I was labeled an Alexis zealot.  If I said anything negative about Natalie, then I must be pro-Evangeline.  What if I just don't like any of the assholes, but in that moment, I happen to be discussing one asshole in particular?  Do I need to provide a scorecard of affiliations for every column I write denouncing one character's actions?  What's funny is that even when I firmly state (in reply) that I am NOT pro-so&so just because I made an anti-so&so comment, I am labeled a liar!

It's that kind of generalization and presumption and putting words into people's mouths that causes a writer who is stating an opinion in opposition to a column to immediately lose credibility.  I might be enjoying the debate until they start telling me how I really feel or the "underlying" thoughts I have.  As soon as a reader begins reading between my lines in their rebuttal letter or calling names or attacking me personally instead of sticking to the subject at hand (which is invariably the subjective opinion of FICTION), their credibility immediately goes out the window for me.  That tells me they do not have the intelligence or strength of personal character to discuss the issue directly rather than stooping to the denigration of an actual person (the columnist).

I actually "got" Katrina's column and I think some readers completely missed the point.  It was not about one event or one action in Zach's life.  It was about a series of behaviors in a character that she found disturbing.  I was honestly grateful to see another side to this character I enjoy and to have a more rounded impression of him as a result.  I find it fun and interesting to read direct opinions about characters and couples and situations. 

As Katrina pointed out, character development is an art form that is created on the canvas of a movie, a TV show or a book.  As with any art, each person will interpret it differently.  That does not mean one person is wrong and needs to be converted over to the Saint [Insert Your Favorite Character's Name Here] Church of Blind Dedication.  It just means that they see things from another viewpoint and believe me, there is plenty of room for everyone's impressions.

It's good to feel passionate and excited about a character, but when that leads to attacking those who do not share your opinion, you've taken a dive into the crazy fan pool.

I'd like to thank Katrina for writing a column that gave me something to think about and broadened my impression of a favorite character.  She did so without once berating those who actually enjoy Zach and merely presented her own observations and conclusions, which I found riveting.  Even as a fan of Zach's, I would stand by my boss' column even if she was not my boss.

Basically, if you need others (or everyone) to validate your own opinions, you must not be very firm in your beliefs to start with.  Mob mentality doesn't make anyone right.  It just makes them loud about being a mob.  You really can love a character and not fall apart when someone else doesn't and says so outright.  I promise.  It can be done. 

Rant off.

[After weeks of enjoying it, I did not like AMC this week, so I am going to give it a week to settle before I comment on the show itself.]


Tess tells Nash that it's over between them

I'll bet he's getting used to this by now, poor guy.  To them, it's foreplay.

Todd forces Evangeline to make a tough choice

That whole "pizza or burgers" thing is definitely a bitch.

Spencer wants Todd out of Blair's life and mind and will not settle for anything less

Funny, Todd feels the same thing about Spencer (so do I).

Adrianna and Rex go to NY and share a room

I hope Rex brought his sleeping bag.

Todd keeps an eye on Spencer

But whose eye is it?

John asks Evangeline where Todd is

I hope she hides him in plain sight, just for the comedic value.

Cris and Natalie make a deal

"I'll punch people and you kiss on John.  Deal?"

Nash makes a choice and leaves Llanview

Pwwwlleeeassse come back!  (With Roger Rabbit affectations)

Marcie and Michael's wedding plans are not going according to schedule

Since the proposal went so awry, I am not surprised.

Dorian goes after Clint as Viki watches

She's nothing if not persistent, huh?



Hugh will not allow Todd's conviction to be overturned

Hugh is definitely taking this a little bit personally, don't you think?

Hugh demands answers from John and Evangeline

Everybody's lookin' for answers...

Dorian gets a new assistant at Craze

Is it Starr?  Everyone is overqualified for every job in the state of Pennsylvania on this show, so she might as well get her start.

Evangeline keeps Todd hidden while she tries and proves his innocence

Todd definitely knew the right door on which to knock!

Todd wants all of Spencer's secrets exposed

Sounds like a brilliant blaze of glory to me!

Viki and Clint make the choice to find out Tess' secret

The better to integrate you, my dear!


Diego comes home after revealing info which sets him free

Are we really going to go with a "the real roofie stalker" story here?

Jason tells Alexis to stay away from Sam

I think that is the most brilliant thing the guy has said since he bonked his head on the rock.  Those two definitely need to not mix it up.

Emily sees Sonny's other side

The glassware breaking side?  Let me guess. She's not mortified... she's turned on.

Nikolas says a final good-bye to Courtney

The better to find a new piece of ass, my dear

Robin kisses Patrick and lets him know what she really feels

I'm sure if he's feeling her, he can figure that out.  (small, kind of waifish, even, warm, probably a little stiff and tense)

Carly goes back to being Carly

A recast?  Already?

Sam is not happy when she finds the truth who her real mother is

Yeah, that's gotta burn.  It also proves that Jason is a much better private investigator than Ric.


Robin acts on her feelings for Patrick

Is he wearing her like a hat now?

Carly and Jax spend quality time together

Don't they know it is just way too soon for them to be taking Little John to Disneyland?

The Gay basher Frank returns looking for Lucas

Because like most gay bashers, he's a latent homosexual and wants to thank Lucas for showing him the light and apologize for beating his ass.

Nikolas steals Courtney's ashes

Piece of ass, piece of ash... whatever

Jax and Carly have dinner much to the surprise of others

Is it widely thought that they do not eat?

Sonny takes Emily to Spain

Sonny, you just rock.  I can't tell you how much I appreciate you doing that.  I consider it a personal favor.

Sonny talks freely with Emily about his life

Oh wait.  Wait.  The two of them are not going to stay there?  We still have to see them?  They're maybe coming back?  Well shit.  I retracted my gratitude.  You're not helping me at all, Sonny.  I thought I could depend on you.

Sam wants to confront Alexis but has her doubts

Yeah, that's a sticky one.

Carly voices her opinion about Emily and Sonny's romance

Yawn.  That's different, huh?

Sonny and Emily find it very hard to keep their relationship a secret 

I guess we're at the whole "singing from the mountaintops" phase.  Ack.

Jax starts thinking about Carly in a romantic way

As long as he doesn't start thinking about her in a family way...

Stay Cool Everyone,

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