Emmerdale: Playing Devil’s Advocate (Once. Twice. Three Times the Devil!)

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Fandom and Other Six Letter Words

I have lots of thoughts and feelings I need to get out. Again. I always have thoughts and feelings. My thoughts and feelings don’t ruin your thoughts and feelings, but I’m just adding my thoughts and feelings to the pile.Can I get one more section of ‘Thoughts and Feelings’ into that paragraph? No. I’m done with that lame joke.

First, this is mostly about today’s episode and my reaction to certain reactions. Do these reactions step on anyone else’s? NO. Have a problem with them? Shoot me over some mail, and we can talk. Don’t like what I have to say? Unfollow me. Easy. No harm no foul. I’ll live. Ok, now we can begin.

Robert/Little SJ

Robert wanting to be a good father isn’t evil. Robert wanting to love his son is not evil. Robert wanting SJ to be protected isn’t evil. Robert isn’t going to hate the child anymore. He is here and tangible.  He knows that this child isn’t the problem. A child shouldn’t be blamed for the parent’s sins. I love seeing Robert so open and happy with his son. It’s ok. He is allowed to love him. Doesn’t mean he loves Aaron any less. Doesn’t mean he is ready to love Rebecca either. He is playing nice because he wants to be near his son. How dare he? Stop the hate and look at the situation clearly. Its all about SJ for Robert. That’s all it is about now. That is who he feels he has left. Who he can love since he thinks he can never love Aaron openly again (in his mind anyway).

No. Robert didn’t put down the Dingles. The Dingles aren’t normal. No family is normal on this show. To act like The Dingles are angels now is ridiculous and people are just looking for reasons to hate Robert. It’s getting old, and I refuse to acknowledge that type of hatred past this post. Its stupid and my energy on that topic ends here.

Aaron

Aaron’s pain isn’t the focus for a reason. We know what he is feeling. We don’t need to be reminded of it every show the baby is on. Ok? It’s not the Aarondale or Robrondale. It’s not Robertdale. It’s Emmerdale. Everyone has to get some equal time here. Also, Aaron’s scenes were perfect today. Why? It shows a thawing. It shows the reunion road is now open for Robert and Aaron to walk down together. Let me explain.

Aaron sees the baby with them and smiles sadly. However, he says congratulations to Robert and no one else. That is what mattered in the scene. Not Victoria. Not Rebecca. Not Tracy.  It was about Robert and Aaron and Baby SJ. It was a continuation of Fridays scene. Robert stepped up and is being the dad Aaron knows he can be.

Which leads us to the comment Aaron makes to Chas. “If Robert can step us so can Cain.” Which says to me that Aaron is thinking about Robert. He is thinking about how Robert is putting the child first over his schemes. He is stepping up. The crack in the frozen heart of Aaron Dingle is here. This is the beginning of healing for him and Robert together.  If I wasn’t clear before, Robert can love Aaron and Little SJ. Love isn’t finite.

I read it as positive because guess what people. We are entering a new phase of the story. Robert and Aaron are going to talk. They are going to thaw out. It is going to get better. Embrace the possibility of a positive future. It’s lovely.

The Whites

Way too much energy spent on the Whites. No, The Whites aren’t victims. They are getting their just deserts finally. Since the Whites arrived, they have been a thorn in the side of Emmerdale residents in little ways. All that little karma adds up in the end on a soap opera. This is their karma coming to get them.

Also, something to remember. Robert is full-blown, “I love SJ” while the Whites are more concerned about money now. Worried about themselves and the business going forward. Sure, people can worry about that, but they have a new baby in the house. Most would be focusing on that little bundle of joy but not The Whites. That coldness peeks through again. They are cold, money hungry and will be each other’s downfalls. Robert just helped that move along mostly with Lachlan.

They are everything Robert doesn’t want to be anymore. That was Robert when he was fully separated from Aaron. That was Robert before he met his match in Aaron. SJ and Aaron made Robert realize that he can’t live life like that…like The Whites are. The Whites are a cautionary tale. If SJ can’t make the Whites change their ways, nothing will.

Personal Anger

I’m personally creeped out by people wishing for Robert and SJ to die. I’m also getting creeped out by people who act like Aaron is a baby who lets things happen to him when he is a full-grown man who makes his own decisions in life. In reality, Aaron removed himself from the situation and went and got himself on a better track. Now he is coming back into the fold. He is ready to come back into this story. Anyway, yes, these people are fictional and no one wouldn’t wish for the death of a child in real life but…doesn’t make it any less creepy. This is a personal opinion. Feel free to disagree.

The hate around here is choking me. Everyone can get angry and hate things. I hate things too, but I talk it out with someone, and I move on.  Some people just harp and the cycle of negativity never ends. Break the cycle. I beg the fandom to break the cycle. At least out in the open. Its so hard to be excited when someone is always there to act like the doom and gloom police.

Also, for the people who send death threats to me and others in the fandom. You are terrible human beings. Stop it. That is building bad karma that will bite you in the ass very soon. I’d love for those people to say what they have written to my face. Bet you they can’t do it. It’s pathetic and needs to stop before something goes wrong.  I’ve seen it happen in other fandoms. You will threaten the wrong person, and someone will get hurt. Knock it off. Stay in your own lanes and we all will stay in ours. Don’t like an opinion. Learn to ignore it and move on. Talk it out. Do anything but send someone as sick as a death threat.

Well, I feel better. I have ‘anon’ shut off because if someone wants to talk to me, they can say it to my face with their names attached. Whew, I feel better now. Now I should go do something productive. Take a shower. Get my life together. Watch a Christmas movie. Walk away for awhile. Thanks for reading. Have a great night.

Spoiler Culture and Emmerdale: Has it Gone Too Far?

As I sit here, writing this out, I am frustrated. Beyond frustrated with the Robron Fandom and Emmerdale fandom in general.  Some might be surprised at this statement. Others might be nodding along with me.  Fandom is a polarizing culture that isn’t for the faint of heart. Sure, it sounds like a broad stroke especially when I haven’t met everyone in fandom but based on my experiences, the Robron fandom is not for the faint of heart. It is full of different ages, sexes, sexual orientations and opinions that should make it a diverse and exciting.  It is interesting until something comes up that divides the fandom. Then it becomes a battlefield of hurt feelings and angry people.

There are two ways this happens. I will be talking about the one no one seems to talk about out loud. Spoilers. Ah, spoilers. We can’t live with them and can’t live without them.  However, lately, especially with Emmerdale, I can live without them.  According to a Slate article, “ the word spoiler was most often used in reference to the King James Bible, where it means destroyer…” (Brogan, 2015).  Oddly enough, that is what it feels like whenever a spoiler drops in the Emmerdale fandom.

Usually, it happens on twitter and sets the Emmerdale world on fire. Sometimes it turns out to be true, a half-truth, some information is missing or is completely wrong (usually from Digital Spy Message Boards). Either way, I cannot escape it. People DM me wanting my opinion, which I’m fine with but usually before I can form an opinion or even deal with it myself.  I feel trapped into giving an opinion. Usually, I go the outraged route because I don’t have time to think things through. Then, a few hours later, I’m feeling a lot better about the spoilers. That seems to be a huge problem. Initial reactions make things seem worse than they are. Instead of taking things with a grain of salt, the fandom rather light their tiki torches and burn down ITV Studios.

I don’t work that way.

I might be on my own though. There is an actual study from 2011 that found that people like to be spoiled. The test subjects were given spoilers about a story and then were told to read the story. They found that people still enjoyed the story even though they were spoiled.  The study found, “…that plots are just excuses for great storytelling. It doesn’t matter that you know the course of a narrative because a story that’s compelling will always be compelling…” (Percival, 2011).

Does that apply to soap operas and their spoilers? I think it doesn’t. The spoiler culture seems to be a toxic place especially when it comes to Emmerdale.

Spoiler Culture and Soap Operas

I looked for spoiler culture and soap operas and didn’t come across any articles but came across a ton of opinions of spoiler culture that relate mostly to movies and nighttime dramas. Some thought it was in a person’s right to not be spoiled while others claimed there were time limits involved. Some even cried out that spoilers are just part of life and that we should all just get used to it.

With a soap opera that changes. Not only are there no real breaks but there are over twenty people on the cast list. Filming is quick, and the writing is even quicker.  The rules of spoiler’s change.  Just like twists on the show the spoilers come out just as quickly and furiously.  The spoilers aren’t after the fact but before causing a dilemma. Does one spoil oneself for a future episode or does someone stay in the dark? One should have the option to choose, but it never seems to happen. Spoilers run rampant and will find its way onto one’s Twitter or Tumblr feed.

The spoiler culture in soaps is hard to run from once you join the fandom. It becomes a way of life which makes things rough.  Especially when people are reacting so violently towards certain stories. Taking everything at face value making the show hard to watch or even feels hard to enjoy when something goes right on the show. (for instance, Nell’s twist was a lot of fun to watch, but Twitter complaining about it just drove some of that enthusiasm into the ground).  Fandom becomes a slave to spoilers, and that turns the fandom into an unhappy place. Even worse? Some people get upset if you aren’t upset enough about what is happening, not taking into account that people have different viewpoints on different storylines.

I have a personal theory that soaps and their twists were ruined by the internet. On the one hand, the internet brought soap fans together to talk about the show and speculate about future storylines.  It was fun to talk to someone with a different point of view than you. Then, on the other hand, people fall into groupthink, things are leaked way too early, and people take spoilers to an extreme. It makes it less fun to watch.

Lately, Emmerdale has been leaking like a sieve. Magazines had/have heavy duty sources, and people are sneaking onto the set and getting big important chunks of dialogue on camera for the whole internet to watch.  People who have access to spoilers have been spoiling whole months’ worth of story while interjecting their own opinions which confuses the average twitter user who comes across this phenomenon. Then the ‘spoilers’ that come out of message boards that end up being crap but stay in the fandom vernacular until the episode airs. Same with the Tumblr anons that share real and fake information pending on what is happening within the fandom.

This spoiler culture that has been created is toxic and can drive a person up a wall if they pay attention long enough.

I know I spent a long time talking about how toxic is can get but there is always a silver lining to this. Spoilers can be a good thing especially if one needs to prepare for a certain event or choice a character makes. Sometimes that time to prepare can make an episode easier to watch. Spoilers can be a good thing. A positive event that can bring a fandom together (a wedding, a reunion or a truth coming to light) having that spoiler helps raise the spirits of fandom that things are starting change.

While I currently find it hard to enjoy spoilers, there is a good side to spoilers and what they provide for fandom.

You Don’t Have to Read Them!

Now, I bet you are thinking. You can always ignore them. Unfollow. Move on with your life. However, it’s not that easy. It still shows up on Tumblr in questions on other people’s blogs or even my own. Twitter yells and repeats it even when you mute the person spreading the spoiler. It will find a way to get to me, and it became more of a nuisance than a helpful look at the future of the upcoming weeks.

I want the choice to be spoiled in this fandom. I like when people come to me with a choice to be spoiled. It has happened many times, and I am forever grateful for that choice. Then the choice to be spoiled is in my hands and mine alone. That is how it should be, but I know it never will.

What Now?

All I can do now is grow a thicker skin against the fandom freak outs that send me over the edge. All I can do is take each spoiler at face value and wait for the episode to air before making any true judgments. Understand how other people feel without sacrificing my own thoughts and opinions on a storyline.  One doesn’t always have to play nice. Spoilers can be helpful and give us some idea of what to prepare for but sometimes spoilers are toxic, and some people need to step back from the freakout and just watch the show. Hope for a better turn in the storyline or a better outlook for their favorite character. Sometimes, it’s easier to walk away from the computer till one is ready to come back. No one will judge. We all, including the show, will still be around.

What do you think? Spoilers ruining your fun or do you enjoy knowing what is coming on Emmerdale? Tell me below or tweet me @AmandaJ718! Until next time, enjoy your time watching Emmerdale and don’t worry about the future too much. Sometimes a fan just has to go with the flow.

Confusing Rebecca White

Photo Credit and Beta Reader: Justine @BeauitfulHusbands and @klainedestined.

Rebecca White is a confusing character.  If one were to watch her first scene and compare it to her last scene, it is like watching two different characters. Normally, this would be ok. That means the character has developed and changed with time. However, that is not Rebecca’s case. She has developed many different personalities. Currently, she is rocking the victim look. Now, there has to be a reason for these drastic changes.  People have talked about it but haven’t come to an exact conclusion.  So, I decided to take a whack at it. I broke down her time on the show, all the changes I’ve noticed and what could be the reason for these changes.

I don’t like Rebecca White.  I might never like her, but that doesn’t negate how problematic her arc and characterization has been on Emmerdale. It’s important to remember this as we go forward.

So, let’s go!

Rebecca Whites Timeline (In Three Parts) 

The Beginning – Helicopter Plans

Rebecca White enters the scene in a helicopter (something the town fears after that terror) and finds her way to her family, The Whites. Robert calls her in help get her family admits that they set Andy up for the shooting.  She starts off helping but slowly it becomes evident she wants to know if she is an heir to the White fortune and she wants Robert Sugden back.  Robert tries to keep her sweet and on plan when she starts enjoying her time with her family.  Then she keeps pushing before after the second kiss Robert tells Aaron what has been going on. After Rebecca finds out she is a White, she decides to start protecting her family (especially after Andy’s name is cleared).  Once Robert pushes her away declaring Aaron as the one he wants is when she wants her revenge. Trying to embarrass Aaron in the pub, who knows all, she is unsuccessful and leaves.

Rebeca is presented as someone who has traveled the world. She was raised with money and went to, the best schools. Wearing the latest styles (in large hats), she was someone who has done and seen a lot.  She is flirty, young and headstrong.

 

Roberts and Aarons Separated – The Incident

A few weeks after Aaron tells Rebecca off, the three are now friends. Rebecca is listening to Aaron and his issues with Gordon, helping Robert out with plans for Aaron and even helps out Liv after Robert is left alone after Aaron goes to prison. During this time, something shifts. Her flirting gets heavy and seems to want, a different Robert. Robert keeps pushing her away but trying to keep her as a friend.  After a nasty fight with Aaron in prison, Robert, who is drunk, sleeps a sober Rebecca. After he pushes her away, she gets angry and throws their past in his face, especially after she finds out she is pregnant the same time Aaron comes home.

Rebecca is well on the soap vixen road.  She appears to get everyone into a false sense of security through friendship while wanting to steal Robert away from Aaron and his family.  Then she gets what she wants from the incident only to be pushed away.  From that point on she becomes the victim of Roberts ‘user’ ways.  She starts to hate him.

 

Pregnancy and Beyond

Rebecca finally tells Chrissie about the pregnancy and decides that she wants to do this on her own. She doesn’t want or need Roberts help.  When Robert says he doesn’t want the baby, she gets angry and lets Ross shake Robert down. Then changes her mind. Then gets angry when Robert thanks her for not keeping the baby and decided to keep from him that she was pregnant.  So, to a shocked pub and Robert and Aaron, Chrissie tells everyone that she is pregnant.  She doesn’t want to be in the way of Robert and Aarons relationship but still tells Aaron to break up and run from Robert. After Robert decides to not to be in the baby’s life he keeps his distance but doesn’t. Rebecca stays with Victoria, decides she wants Robert on the birth certificate, wants money to help with the baby and shows him the scan.  Soon, Robert and Aaron fall apart, and she gleefully talks about it with Debbie and Victoria at the pub.  Happily, she accepts Robert wanting to help with Home Farm and be in the baby’s life, acting like everything will be fine because the baby has both parents around.

Her personality changes from happy to sad during one episode.  She needs Roberts help at every turn but dismisses him the minute her father gives her attention.  She seems happy to see Robert and Aaron fall apart but then hoped that the three of them could have raised the child together. She even wanted the two to be together but still told Aaron to run for the hills in the same episode. She just invites herself into Roberts life and thinks she should right to do that. It’s confusing and makes the character hard to follow.

 

Confusion as Big as Rebecca’s Hats: Personal Thoughts 

See the confusion? How did this happen?  Here are some of my thoughts.

Audience Reaction

Rebecca, in my opinion, was brought in to stir up the White Family, Robert, and Robron. A classic soap vixen, which is fine. I love a great soap vixen.  From my memories and some research, people were mixed on her but didn’t see a real reason to get too upset. She seemed to be heading down that vixen road and have so interesting conflict with her family when it all seemed to stop, right around November and Aarons pub fight. Something happened that made everything confusing. Her character varied from episode to episode. The storyline seemed to stop and go depending on what was happening to Robert and Aaron. The family storyline appears to slow too. Only coming up in weird moments.

So, with that, the general audience seemed to fall from mixed emotions to hatred. Predictability, the Robron fandom turned on her (I know there are fans of the character in the Robron fandom as well). The audience seems to be having a hard time relating to someone who keeps changing personalities from episode to episode. It also doesn’t help that she was a factor in the breakup of a very popular couple. When that happens, the character needs to be developed and handled with care. Rebecca? Was not handled with care. She was thrown at us with no instruction or warning, and now she is a mess.

Writing

Usually, soap writers can keep a steady characterization when reading for a soap. Especially the writers for Emmerdale. However, when it comes to Rebecca, that steadiness goes out the window. I can tell when certain writers are writing for her. There is a set that writes her as a saint; there are set that write her with an edge and then a set that writes her like she is a blank wall.  There is no continuity there which is odd for a show like Emmerdale. That is a problem. There is a miscommunication happening there that is ruining her character.

(Ok…it happens for a few characters. I know two writers who hate Robert and it shows.)

 

Script Changes

In the same vein as the writers, there has been talk of the story changing and rewrites happening (some even think the story changed after the second Robert/Rebecca kiss).  This hasn’t been confirmed anywhere, but that could explain the confusion with the character.  When changing the direction of a story, it could mess with the characters motivation and direction in a show.  That might explain why the writers are all writing her differently.

 

Chemistry with Cast

Again, this is subjective. Personally, I never saw a connection there between Rebecca or Robert. I saw a small spark between Chrissie and Rebecca but its thin and flickers easily.  Not having chemistry with the people, you work with the sell the character and the relationships, plot points are hard to sell, and then things become confusing.It happens on every show, but usually, people don’t keep the character around.

 

Acting/Directing

Again, another subjective topic. I don’t want to step on toes but my own opinion? I’m not a fan of Emily Heads acting. It feels forced. Sometimes it seems like she is overthinking a scene and sometimes it feels like she doesn’t care. Again, personal opinion. However, that might be affecting how people see the character. Relate to the character.Much like the writers, different directors could be the reason why people are confused by her.

 

I hate Rebecca White. I can’t stand her. She isn’t a character that was written correctly. She was designed to shake things up with one of Emmerdale’s big couples. It needed a strong actress, writing, and direction. However, we have this mess. A polarizing character that has caused nothing but confusion, anger, and fighting among the fans and even media.  Hopefully, as we go into those Fall months we finally get some answers or a reason for Rebecca’s confusing behavior.

What do you think? Do you find Rebecca confusing or do you see a method to the madness? Tell me below or tweet me @AmandaJ718.  Until my next piece, see you around Emmerdale.

 

 

Aaron and Robert: Good for Each Other?

The boys are in hell. Broken by their current situations and missing each other it hurts us, the viewers as well.  In this time off the fandom has more time to analyze Aaron and Robert and where they stand with each other. The questions I’ve seen come up on Tumblr and Twitter are:

Is Aaron better off without Robert?

Is Aaron happier without Robert?

Is Robert worthy of Aaron?

Will Robert always be a villain?

I’ve seen many answers, and I had to add my two cents to the pile of pennies. I analyze both Aaron and Robert’s lives before they met and who they are as people.  Then my own personal feelings on the biggest question of all.

Should Aaron and Robert be together?

Aaron Dingle

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Aaron has never had an easy life.  Born to Chas Dingle and Gordon Livesy in 1992 and being left to live with his father and stepmother.  As he grows up he and Chas didn’t have the best relationship. He regularly clashed with her whenever he visited. Chas felt guilty she left Aaron behind while Aaron felt angry that his mother didn’t seem to want him.  Aaron comes back in 2008, Chas learning Aaron is a drug dealer for the McFarlane’s and kicked out of Gordons house after hitting Sandra, his stepmother.  The Dingles get him out of the problem and Gordon won’t take him back. He ends up moving to Emmerdale for good. After getting into numerous scrapes, stealing and selling animal drugs from Paddy and stealing a van and setting Belle up for it, Lisa gets him a job as a mechanic. He dated two girls, Victoria and Holly, only to have his true feelings revealed when he kisses Adam.  Scared to death Adam would reveal his secret he convinces him it was nothing.  He meets Jackson and flirts with the idea of kissing him almost being caught by Paddy and Marlon. Jackson tries to touch Aarons arm and he punches him. Aaron tries to commit suicide once his secret is out being saved by Adam and Cain. He goes out with Jackson who moves the relationship too fast and ends up having to help him with his decision to kill himself, good and sweet Ed is next who he runs off with and abandons in France and then he is home for good after finding that going on the run doesn’t work. We learn later that Gordon had been raping Aaron as a child which explains his moods but doesn’t excuse his actions.  He is guarded and doesn’t have time for more than one-night stands, until Robert Sugden appears in his life.

Aaron is a Dingle through and through. He is someone who hits first and asks questions later.  Anytime Aaron doesn’t want to deal with his emotions. The audience tends to excuse Aarons choices in life because of how his father raped him, and Chas left him behind. Which, can be detrimental to his character.  The walls around his heart were built by Gordon, Chas and the people who have let him down for good. Aaron doesn’t trust easily even when the people he loves shows they love him. He doesn’t take to flaws well even though he is full of them.  He is grumpy and keeps to himself, not daring himself to love at all.

Robert Sugden

Robert_Sugden_2014

Robert never had an easy life.  Born to Pat and Jack Sugden in 1986 he lost his mother at four months old leaving him to be raised by Jack and his grandmother Annie Sugden.  As time went on Jack met and married Sarah, the woman who would become his mother figure. He then got a little sister named Victoria. He made a friend in Andy and got him adopted by his family.  That is when it started. Like the first pancake, he was pushed aside for the new brother by Jack. After Andy kills Sarah in a barn fire (the one person who was always on his side and loved him like her own), Andy and Robert become friendly enemies.  Between fighting for Jacks attention, Katie’s attention and ultimately who belongs in the village.  Robert dated/slept with a lot of women (sometimes drunk) which included Nicola, Charity, and Sadie.  We found out later that there was more going on there. Robert interested in the family farm hand, kissing him and getting caught by Jack. Getting beaten for this Robert has hidden that side away.  Until his return in 2014 when the man who put up a wall of charm and revenge comes home and meets Aaron Dingle.

Robert is a legacy. Born to the Sugdens, the fans who were there from his birth have seen him grow up in front of their eyes.  They feel a connection to him as they watched him grow up in Emmerdale.  He was open and wide eyed until Andy came about and things started to change. He was fighting for the approval of his dad, the one person in his life that has been there always. The one he thought would protect him. Instead, Jack hit him, belittled him and ultimately sent him away from the village. So, it is no wonder that when he comes home, he is bitterly charming towards the family left behind. In his time away, surviving on his own, his heart had a wall around it, a wall built by Jack. He still had that wide-eyed child in there, but it was drowned out by all the trauma his time in Emmerdale and beyond inflicted on him.

Should They Be Together?

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Robert and Aaron have daddy issues. Fathers who didn’t do their jobs of protecting their sons and raising them to be the best people they can be.  Not giving them a real chance at leading a semi-normal life in the slightest.  They both have/had mothers who loved them but left them in different ways. Aaron and Robert both hid who they truly were (Gay and Bi) and tried to over compensate for that through drinking, fighting and causing general mayhem. Aaron uses his fists to get out of problems. Robert uses his mind.  Both had first experiences that tainted their views of living a gay and bi lifestyle in the future. They both get into trouble easily, especially when protecting their own.

They even each other out. Where one fails, the other picks up the slack. They are both highly aware of what is it is like to be left behind. That pain that comes from the heart when one is left behind used and abused and kicked out of the family way too soon.  They both have a lot of love to share but don’t know how to share it. They can’t stay away from each other for long because they are like magnets.  They know and understand each other’s good and bad sides and still want to love each other with all their heart.

So. Should they be together after all?

They are good for each other. They are. They both have similar demons that need to be handled, and they will handle them once they learn to communicate with each other.  Learn that Aaron uses his fists when he is scared and doesn’t know his way out. Robert uses his mind and alcohol when he is scared and doesn’t know a way out. They are each other’s families.  Yes, they have their blood (The Dingles/The Sugdens), but those families have failed them.  They want to create a family with each other. A family of their love and the arrival of Liv strengthen that feeling between them.

Aaron and Robert understand each other in a way that other people cannot. Sometimes all they have to do is look at each other and they know what is going on in their mind.  They know each other’s triggers.  They figured them out quickly over the course of the affair.  This is something that would be harder to convey to someone who hasn’t been through a rough life. They just get each other in a way that no one else could. Rebecca thinks she knows Robert. She knows the Robert with the walls. Aaron not only knew Robert with the walls, but he knew how to take those walls down with one conversation.  He sees all of Roberts sides and not just the charming, revenge minded, and sarcastic one either. Robert knows Aarons walls and knew how deep and intense those walls are; one would say they are still coming down.  Robert knew Aaron was hurting himself before everything came out about Gordon because Aaron couldn’t fight his way out of his emotions. So, he fought himself by running obsessively and hurting himself.  Robert was the only one to see Aaron and what he was going through.  These two can read each other like a book, even with the walls way up.

Robert and Aaron are more similar than different. They will have huge highs and scary lows, but that doesn’t make them wrong for each other. Not in the slightest.

That makes them a classic super couple. A couple we can get behind and root for regardless of what happens to them in the future.

Conclusion

People question if Aaron and Robert should be together. Looking at their histories and how they balance each other out, of course, they should be together. Aaron isn’t happier without Robert. Robert is worthy of Aarons love. Aaron is worthy of Roberts. They just don’t realize they are worthy of each other. So, fans out there should stay true and support this couple while they are at their lowest of lows because soon, they will be building to the highest of highs. I know I want to be there when it happens, will you?

Tell me what you think below or tweet me @AmandaJ718. Until next time, keep reminding yourself it isn’t a competition and Robron are worth supporting after all.

Participatory Culture and You: Does A Fandom Ruin a Show or Character?

Fandom.

It is an entertaining, reassuring, annoying, downright scary part of loving a piece of art. Yes, this art does include television shows. I’m convinced we are seeing a manifestation of Andy Warhol’s art in reality shows. That is for another essay though.

Anyway….

Fans are there to celebrate the highs and the lows.  You develop friendships that go beyond just talking about the show. You find your creative center. You can overanalyze and criticize the show and not be considered ‘weird’ for doing so.  You can swap theories and inside jokes. Fandom becomes this community of sorts. A place to stop by when the real world is getting too rough.

It’s another version of the ‘third place.’

That is a lot of fun. Until it’s not.

Which leads me to the question that has been populating my fandom riddled brain.

Does Fandom Ruin the Enjoyment of a Show/Character?

This reminds me of an academic writer named, Henry Jenkins and his theory of participatory culture.  I used to read him in graduate school and I loved what he found out.  In case you are wondering what participatory culture is, “…an opposite concept to consumer culture — in other words a culture in which private individuals do not act as consumers only, but also as contributors or producers.” (Jenkins).  It is the way we went from being passive in how we enjoyed our art to be more active producers. It depends on where we affiliate ourselves (Tumblr/twitter/message boards), how we express ourselves (fan videos/fanfiction/Meta-analysis), how we work together to solve problems tasks (special events that are by the fans for the fans), and how we shape what we see while enjoying our art (reviews/podcasts).

It’s how we contribute in our participatory cultures that have us enjoying the art on a deeper level. That includes a few more ideas that came out of studying participatory culture. Jenkins came up with a phrase called, textual poachers from his 1992 book, Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture. Textual poachers are:

How fans construct their own culture by appropriating and remixing—”poaching”—content from mass culture. Through this “poaching”, the fans carried out such creative cultural activities as rethinking personal identity issues such as gender and sexuality; writing stories to shift focus onto a media “story world’s” secondary characters; producing content to expand of the timelines of a story world; or filling in missing scenes in the story world’s official narratives order to better satisfy the fan community. (Jenkins; 1992)

Whew. That was just me nerding out (Look Ma, that graduate degree came in handy) but what does this all mean towards my question? What shows have some of the strongest and largest fanbases that stretch generations and have recently turned to the internet to join forces with others?

If you guess soap operas, you are right!

Soap Operas have fans that have grown through the years through the generations that watch.  This is very true for two soaps I love, Emmerdale and The Young and the Restless. One from the United Kingdom and another from America. Two different worlds, same participatory culture, and textual poaching.

I’m going to compare these two soaps I enjoy. Emmerdale and The Young and the Restless.

Emmerdale Fandom (As I See It)

Emmerdale has a powerful fandom. The fans are protective and opinioned which makes for a fun time.  Not kidding. Having so many different feelings and views gives you more to talk and think about. There are more people to talk to about theories, favorite characters and even how we feel about certain writers.  The fanfiction and fanart are heavily available for any character you want (even the characters who are long gone). The meta is outstanding and people knowing the histories of every family is aplenty. You can always ask a question and get an answer.

People are taking the art in front of them and putting their own spin on it, poaching it if you will.

With that said, poaching the material and making it our own is when things get messy. Head canons become fact for people. Shipping outside the norm becomes a sore spot for the fandom. Some even think the poaching goes too far. Some want to participate but feel left out of the well-established groups already formed. Some even take those discussions we have and take it too far letting opinions upset or get them.

How people shape and view the characters or a storyline on the soap can affect how others see a storyline or character.  While you think, ‘I’m not that easily swayed’ you would be surprised how strong group think gets while everyone is in their little online worlds.  Fractured fanbases make it hard to participate in this fandom and still be respected for the contribution. It comes in waves and right now, we are surfing on a fractured wave.

For instance, I’m heavily involved with the Robron fandom. The current storyline and split have caused a fracture that always happens when a soap couple ends things. Except, this time, there seems to be a war going on. In fact, I found that I’m starting to hate Aaron when I know I don’t hate him. Not for a minute. However, being constantly shouted down for pointing out faults, not understanding someone’s head canon or letting troll take over the fandom space makes the character harder to love. Which, for the lack of a better word, sucks. I think I can argue that a lot of people feel that way.

The Young and the Restless Fandom (As I See It)

The Young and the Restless. The fandom has a smaller social media presence but still as loud and opinioned as the Emmerdale fans. One could argue there is less textual poaching in this fandom. There isn’t as many theories or meta.  There is participation through reviewing and using social media to talk about the soap.  People know their character histories and are well-versed on showrunners and producers. Less on the writers.

With that said, things can be angry fast.  Usually around the showrunner. The biggest drama isn’t always who should be paired with who but who is running the show and if they are doing a good enough job.  That starts the showrunner wars.  We are in the middle of another changeover, and the fans are arguing over who should be picked next. It is less about what is happening on screen (it’s there) but what happens off screen that effects the fandom and how they participate within the fandom.

The ship wars are never bad. The storylines are usually mocked and tolerated. It is the fighting about behind the scenes drama that does me in.  I really don’t want to care about the showrunner. I don’t care who is running the writers room. I just want to see my favorite characters every day at noon dealing with the craziest of problems. I want to see who gets thrown down a volcano not who said what to whoever in the dressing room last week.

What was the Point of That?

What was the point of comparing the two fandoms and shows? There are two different fandom and two distinct ways they participate in their shows.  Emmerdale is intense about what is happening on screen while The Young and the Restless is passionate about the behind the scenes that what happens on screen.

Which brings me back to the original question. I’ll remind you. Does fandom change how you feel about a show/character?

I believe it depends on how intense the fandom can be.  Emmerdale has an active, intense young fandom out there. Opinions are shared and misheard, and people take those meta/fanfiction/gifs and love or hate them.  Fights happen easier and the longer you stay in that world participating, the easier it can get to feel like what others feel like (group think sneaks in again as well as wanting to agree, so you don’t have to fight with someone anymore). It makes it hard to enjoy a character or show on your own terms.

The Young and the Restless has an older fandom that tends to stick to discussing or reviewing the show than getting deep into the meta/fanfictions/gif making.  They don’t textual poach but there is a culture of participation that can affect how you see things but easier to walk away from seeing as things never get that intense over what is happening on screen.

So, yes, I think a fandom can ruin a show or character, but only if you stay too long and stay unhappy.  Meaning, this can all be fixed by walking away for a while. Watching the show and its characters on your own terms. Get a better footing before jumping back into that culture of participation and the groups that form.  It is easier to do that with The Young and the Restless seeing as it isn’t as intense and the participation is small (I have walked away too. For a year and it was the best decision. I can watch the show with clearer eyes now).

Emmerdale is harder to walk away from. The show itself has been one of best things I stumbled upon in a long time. It’s a different look at how soap operas could be running, and the fans are passionate and lots of fun. That fun can turn on you fast though when a story doesn’t go the way the fanbase wants, and their poaching of the material doesn’t help lessen the blow. People arguing can get old and hard to ignore. Like I said, I should walk away but I can’t. I’m too rooted here now. I have met many smart, talented and fun people in this fandom.  I love the fanfiction. I love the gifs. I love the jokes and I love how people try to make the best of a bad situation. Even though things are rough and people are getting more and more cynical, I see hope there. A positive that is on the horizon. It’s just rough to see it for long right now.

So, how do I fix this feeling? Tell me below or Tweet/Tumblr me @AmandaJ718. I’m very interested in getting opinions on this. Until next time, I’ll see you around in Overthinking World. It lives next to Denial World and Theory Land (THEORIES DON’T GET A WORLD?).  If you got that reference, you get a cookie and a trip to St. Olaf. Enjoy.

Flynn Carsen and the Librians: My Learning Soulmates

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Flynn Carsen is my soulmate. No, not romantically (I’m not smart enough for him) but he is my emotional soulmate. Let me back this up.  Flynn Carsen is a character from The Librarians series.  It starts with three movies following the new librarian, Flynn Carsen as he learns about the ancient world of the Library and its artifacts. The television show continues the journey with Flynn, Eve (his guardian/girlfriend), Casandra (Librarian in Training #1), Jacob (Librarian in Training #2), Ezekiel Jones (Librarians in Training #3) and Jenkins (the Caretaker).

It’s a great show. Check it out.

Anyway, Flynn Carsen is my emotional soulmate.  He is someone who failed to launch. When we meet this character in the first movie, he is in his early thirties and still in school.  In fact, he has multiple master degrees and PHD’s. He is thrown out of school and must figure out his life.  He is a mess. He loves to learn, and he knows he is smart. He just doesn’t know where to start. He doesn’t know what he is worth out in the world.

That is how I feel right now.  I graduated with my master’s degree four years ago, I’ve been taking freelancing work but haven’t found a steady job. I’m floundering. This is something that I love about Flynn. Like him, I love to learn. I’m having trouble finding my way. I automatically felt connected to him.

We need more characters out there like that. We have enough of young teenagers-early twenties stories of finding their way. Let’s start talking about the people who took more time to get to a certain point. Not everyone works off the same time schedule. It’s time for our media to reflect that.

I know things are crazy and life is very uncertain for us all. Sometimes it takes a good book, movie or television show to help ground us and help us work out some issues. For me, Flynn Carsen is that person to do that for me.

I’m truly glad Flynn Carsen exists out in the fictional world. It’s good to know that I’m not alone.

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Now it is your turn. Which character do you relate to out there in the fictional world? Tell me below!

Until next time.

This has been Amanda living in the fictional world.

Is Television Being Dumbed Down?

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As we recover from the 2016 Election and face the impending doom that is 2017-2020, I start to think about television.  Is television going to be dumbed down?  I just heard all of you say that television is already stupid. Thank you for that.  Yes, television, in general, is dumb. It was designed to entertain us after all.  We are a nation that watches so many reality shows, comedy news shows and cartoon sitcoms with incredibly dirty jokes.  So, yes, one could say, television is already dumb.

However, we have had many shows that are challenging, witty and eloquent grace our screens.  Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Stranger Things, Transparent, The Americans, Orphan Black (just to name a few) have had enormous and cult followings since their premieres. These shows and much more think the American public is smarter than we even realize.

After this election I have to wonder, will television be dumbed down again?

I noticed an article on the Slate website that talks about how CBS new comedies weren’t well received. The network appeals to the older more conservative viewer. These comedies are all, “…fronted by white men, fashioned as “traditional” catnip for audiences resistant to broader cultural shifts.”.  Is this the future of American television?  Are we in for more shows that only speak to one part of the population? Does that mean television will get even dumber?

Maybe. Maybe not.  Currently, ABC and CW (Yes, a CBS channel technically), have shows on the air that show the American I am aware of. We aren’t all white. A good amount of people is other nationalities and countries.  Shows that are popular and show that from these two stations are Jane the Virgin, Fresh off the Boat, Black-ish and The Goldberg’s. These shows talk about different cultures through comedy and drama. These shows are popular and well received for a reason.  They show a better representation of America.  Believe it or not, not everyone is white, are Christin and share the same cultural traditions you do.  Shocking. So shocking. (Sarcasm alert)

We need these types of shows to broaden horizons of people stuck in a rut. Learning and respecting other cultures isn’t bad. Your white card won’t be revoked if you respect another culture. You might even like what you hear and see.

Will we be seeing a Larry the Cable Guy Show soon? More than likely. I bet you it will be on after Kevin Can Wait on CBS and do well. Will I be watching? No. I will be hoping that this upcoming regime will make creators are and inclusive.  Let Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu lead the way.

What do you think? Do you think television will be dumbed down even more or do you think television will start to diversify even more? What about Cable shows? Tell me in the comments below.

Until next time.

Spoilers Are Ruining Everything

I’m a television fan (no way Amanda we haven’t noticed) and because I am a tv fan I have looked for my fair share of spoilers.

Ah, spoilers.

Gossip is the little tidbits that keep us interested in a television show.  Sometimes. It could stop us from watching, but that’s for another time.  The internet has made coming across spoilers easier than ever.   There are whole websites dedicated to the art of the spoilers.  They make it their job to find spoilers for fans regardless if they want to see them or not.

In the past, spoilers were hard to find.  Sometimes a brief preview of an upcoming show would appear in a magazine, talk show, or entertainment show but most audiences were in the dark about what was to come.

Did that make things better?

Take Soap Opera for instance. Other than spots on entertainment shows or the Soap Opera Digest the soap opera fan was in the dark about what was happening next.  Now, between set reports, rumors and the remaining soap magazines reporting spoilers like baseball scores. Which fan had more fun? The one riding the storyline wave as it came or the one who already swam into calming territory?

I guess it depends on the person.  Personally, I believe that spoilers might be ruining the television experience.  Spoilers tend to ruin surprises. That surprise twist that makes an episode. That storyline that has the possibility to become legendary can be reversed because a small fraction of angry fans complained enough on Twitter to change the writer’s minds.

Why can’t we, as an audience, just let the story play itself out. Let the story take us into directions we didn’t see coming.  If the story ends up being disappointing, we can move on from the show.  Being always aware of the possible twists and turns can make a story disappointing too.

So, as I write this, I plan to avoid spoilers as best I can.

Will you?

Until next time, I hope you enjoyed.

We Need a Little Christmas but Not This Early

Welcome back. As I write this, Spotify is playing a Christmas song. No, I didn’t pick it. This is what happens when I hit shuffle.  Before that, another Christmas song played. Now an ad promoting shopping early for Christmas gifts just came on.

Hold on. I’m checking my calendar.

Right. Just as I thought. September. I’m still in shorts and a t-shirt. The leaves are still green and on the trees. Right.

Fa la la la la la la la la la.

I love Christmas as much as the next random person. It brings a nice warm glow as we head into the coldest and darkest nights of the season. People are a little nicer; the houses glow a little brighter, and lots of goodwill and cheer showed on television.

Yeah, I enjoy that too, after I eat turkey and then shop like an idiot the next morning.

Why are people in such a rush to start the holiday season? Especially when we have Halloween and Thanksgiving to enjoy?

I feel like this started, where I live anyway, around the time Hurricane Sandy hit.  Everyone had enough no living with no power for two weeks and extreme cold. So, Christmas became a two-month event. Since then, it has grown. The minute September hits people start thinking Christmas.

It drives me nuts.

We need separation. I want to feel that transition from summer to fall (the weather doesn’t seem to want to play along, but someday it will be cool out). I want to feel scared and enjoy some good candy in the month of October. I want to look forward to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and overeating with my family. Then we can jump into the next holiday.

Why rush. Enjoy each month as it comes. Christmas will be here soon enough.

What do you think? Are you running around humming Christmas songs already or are you just as sick of the rush? Leave a comment below.

Until Saturday, this randomly organized pop is going to bed. Have a good one.