In my honest opinion, I think social media is a fantastic tool. Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Periscope, Facebook—you name it, I think they’re fantastic (even though I am terrible at using social media). On social media you can chat to other people, globally, about things that interest you; you can vent and blog about things you may not want to reveal in real life. You can make online friends who are funny, witty and intelligent; you can have intellectual and deep discussions with others and learn. You can use social media as a tool to bring communities—past and present—together, such as the very topical fundraiser for the Trevor Project has recently.
But as I’ve mentioned, it’s a double-edged sword. I’ll start with the very simple issue of cyber-bullying. Cyber-bullying accounts for a large number of suicides in the WHO’s most recent suicide collation—however, suicide is a murky subject as under-reporting and mix-ups are a huge problem in terms of numbers. As it stood of 2012, WHO reported a suicide rate of 804,000 per year (that’s 1 suicide every 40 seconds). In the light of such horrific things I’ve seen on twitter such as suicidal ideation and self-harm, this is an extremely topical issue, considering I follow many twitters that are television fans. The most topical issue I can think of is the outpouring of grief following LGBTQ deaths on The 100 and The Walking Dead.
I’ve also stated before that since opening my direct messages on Twitter, I have received messages from fans all over the world looking for some consolation or advice; some, I’ve extended my help to regardless, and we’ve had a nice chat and I’ve made some new friends. But as the fundraiser grows, so does controversy around one show in particular: The 100.
As recently revealed on the We Deserved Better website, site creators professionally collated a huge and damning amount of evidence implicating one of the show writers. To summarize, the show writer had visited a lesbian message forum (upon already knowing Lexa had died) to ‘reassure’ them differently.
I don’t know when this scandal over this show will blow over—I don’t know if it ever will, because accusations and immense evidence like this keep leaking. But one thing I do know for sure, and this isn’t from a critic/writer’s standpoint, is how to be professional. I am a pharmacy student and I hope to become a successful one. My main goal and vocation is to make patients my first concern. Yet there are aspects of my course that retain professionalism (be it attire, attitude, honesty, integrity) as one of the core points of our course. Why am I talking about pharmacy here? Because in all aspects of a profession, as the name suggests, surely professionalism is key. What has happened here, in this particular case, is absolutely, disgustingly unprofessional. It isn’t illegal—I don’t think so and I’m pretty sure it isn’t—but it is scandalous, exploitative, manipulative and cold. So cold. How cold must you be to deliberately post on a lesbian message forum (and if it’s a lesbian message forum, then surely it is amok with Clarke and Lexa fans) to essentially trick them into a false sense of security? To ensure that they are fully sucked into the frankly appalling game of PR and television business, knowing their beloved character is already dead, just to keep viewership levels up?
I think what is often forgotten is that behind these TV/computer screens, behind the statistics that are simply figures—there are real humans watching this show. There are real humans getting exploited and misled by false claims, lies and manipulation. That disconnect shocks me, considering writers often talk of making people ‘feel’. So how do writers feel when they blatantly lie and mislead their audience? Manipulate them? There can’t be any care there, for that level of exploitation—so really, is it just money?
Before this was even reported, I’ve had messages flooding in saying they’ve never seen exploitation—not just from this particular writer, but from the staff in general, including showrunner Mr. Jason Rothenberg—to this level before. Upon seeing this, I was horrified and shocked when I scrolled through the entire collation of tweets.
As just previously stated, if you are interested, it may be a good idea for you to check out the We Deserve Better website as a whole. I’d advise you to take some time in going through the website’s posts and collection of evidence, including tweets, pictures, quotes and other excellent articles covering the show’s scandal, to get a whole picture of what this means for the show.
The 100 is renewed for season four, as are all CW shows, so its future is secure. As for the viewership figures, the continued social media manipulation, the disastrous interview the show-runner finally gave (timely, before WonderCon) about the episode ‘Thirteen’, that remains unclear. Of course, there will still be a steady viewer base, because not everyone liked Lexa, not everyone liked Clarke and Lexa together, and some people may still be invested in the plot-line…whatever remains of that. So in light of this almost sensationalized article (good grief, I am becoming a newspaper journalist—help me) I want to congratulate the talented cast for getting season four, because Eliza Taylor is stunning as Clarke Griffin, and Lindsey Morgan in particular is an absolute star—honest, earnest and emotive.
To round off, I want to go back to my question: when does social media go too far? I’ve talked of cyber-bullying on a general and very serious level. But when it comes to professionals using social media, such as writers, then in my humble opinion, this is the very definition of ‘too far‘. As a professional surely you cannot exploit a trusting and vulnerable LGBTQ fanbase like that. As a professional surely you cannot have the audacity to lie, bare-faced, like that. As a professional, you must be professional. And in the light of today’s reveals, I can say without a doubt—this went too far. It went so far that I think it’s actually shot out of the planet and is currently orbiting another galaxy.
My last note is an apology. I wish to apologize to those very vulnerable LGBTQ fans I was talking about; I want to apologize to everyone who cried to me in my direct messages. I want to apologize to everyone who trusted a professional writer and got absolutely swindled. I want to apologize because every single one of you is a decent, beautiful human—and nobody deserves to be exploited or lied to like that. By anyone, lest a professional. So I offer my sincerest apologies. However, I do wish to end on a positive note.
In the light of all this consistency of scandals, there is still ongoing positivity with the fundraiser for the Trevor Project. As I write, it has garnered a mind-blowing $62,625. Yes, this recent news is horrendous and inexcusable—but I applaud everyone who has raised money for this excellent cause, and for anyone who cannot donate, I applaud you for sharing and promoting the cause too.
I have never really encountered a fanbase that has been consistently hit with so many disgraces in such a short period of time—but goodness me, on the flipside of that, because of such disgraces, I have never encountered a fanbase that has endured positively through all of it. I’ve never encountered a fanbase that has united others, inspired spoofs, raised money to save lives. This is the highest, most condemning level of unprofessionalism there is—there is no doubt about that. It is shameful and disgraceful (and I’m being extremely polite)—but thank you to the fanbase, and other supportive fanbases too—for continuing to march onwards with positivity and pride—as you should.