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Downworlder Drama

Shadowhunters news has been far from mundane in the last week. It began just before Labor Day when 403Auction tweeted fans letting them know about their prop house auction of over 4,000 Shadowhunters items, from wardrobe and weapons, to set decorations and statues. Excited fans combed through the online catalog, anxious to snag something special from their beloved show. Unfortunately, a greater demon was lurking in the shadows and astute fans soon realized that certain items being sold foretold a future yet seen. And they were pissed! That’s right, a sundry of spoilers for the show’s yet-to-air final dozen episodes were hidden within the treasure trove – the most grievous being a letter from Clary to Jace. I, for one, made a conscious choice not to review them – though gracious fans provided us with screenshots – as I don’t want to know the ending. Some fans had that choice taken away, others sought out the reveals.

Co-showrunner Todd Slavkin was made aware of the spoilery sale and placed a call that rectified the situation, but was it too little too late? Fans felt disrespected yet again by Freeform. Yet according to TVLine, Freeform denies organizing or hosting the online event.

So, who did list the auction and why was it even up and running prior to the show’s final swan song? I messaged 403Auction with this very question, but as of print had not received an answer. It’s possible the cost of storage was a determining factor, but you’d think the auction would’ve drawn more eyes, thereby more money, had it been held until 3B, which could’ve offset the cost. Instead, it began 3 months after 3A and God knows how many months before 3B, when interest is far from peak. It doesn’t make sense… unless you just don’t care and that’s the message fans are taking from this fiasco.

Sadly, they’re also realizing this auction means a true end to Shadowhunters as the sets have been dismantled and everything moved into 403Auction’s storage.

Even more distressing though is the cruelty and destructiveness of some disgruntled Shadowhunters fans as learned by originating author, Cassandra Clare.

Three days ago, in an apology post she tweeted after snapping at a Shadowhunters fan, Cassie not only asserted that a fan vandalized the car of Martin Moszkowicz — the Executive Chairman of Constantin Films, the company who owns the film rights to Shadowhunters — but that she herself has been under a constant barrage of abuse for quite some time. Whether she’s talking about the possibility of an Infernal Devices show, new projects, her latest book, her recent trip to LA, posting a press release about the show’s wrap, whatever – her mentions are riddled with vitriol about the cancellation of Shadowhunters — something out of her control as she does not own/run/manage the show, despite it being based on her material.

Some fans defend their anger by saying she’s long disparaged their favorite TV series or doesn’t support it outright. NEWS FLASH: Authors are often disappointed by interpretations of their books as it’s their literary baby. Imagine if you created a piece of art—painting, music, film, dance—and someone else took it and changed it in a way you felt didn’t fit your original vision. You’d be upset and may even distance yourself from it. This kind of thing happens all the time in the entertainment world and the originating artist has the right to feel disappointed and disillusioned. That doesn’t mean they aren’t grateful for the opportunity to see their art produced, or the new fans they’ve gained from it – it just means the new iteration doesn’t match their dream.

Look around social platforms and in the media and you’ll see numerous artists who’ve experienced this kind of upset. And they have the right to their feelings – but a small group of Shadowhunters fans have taken Cassie’s criticism of the show very personally and vilified her for it. She, the architect of that world, those characters, that story, is being crucified for being dismayed over changes the showrunners made. And honestly, the outrage is ridiculous.

I KNOW how much this show means. I know the show has saved lives. I know what it represents among POC and the LQBTQ+ community. I know its many, many incredible fans have done amazing things in honor of it. And I know fans are devastated over losing the show. The grief is real. I too love the show and am so disappointed to see it wrapping up. Like you, I will mourn its absence when the series finale rolls credits. But it is asinine to attack its creator over what she has or hasn’t done in support of the show, to threaten and verbally abuse her over what she’s said about the portrayal of a FICTIONAL character, a character she wrote.

And then there’s the faction of TV fans who say, “But she writes about incest, doesn’t write about POC, writes about yadda-yadda,” let me say this… if you don’t like it, don’t read it. It’s. Just. That. Simple. And if you choose not to read her books, which is your prerogative, leave it at that. Don’t send her ugly tweets about the reasons why you won’t read them. I mean, what’s the point of that? What doesn’t appeal to you, will appeal to others. Fortunately, in this world, there is something for everyone.

Speaking of the books though – it’s dismaying to see such ugly in-fighting between book fans and TV fans. My thought – as a fan of BOTH – the show would not exist without the books. Period. And without Cassie Clare, there is NO Shadowhunters. Are the books or TV show perfect? No. Are both worthy of massive fandemonium? Fuck yeah! And both can be loved individually and apart from one another. They each are their own thing. Appreciate them for what they are.

What isn’t debatable or defensible — crossing a line. Fandoms diminish themselves daily by poisonous attacks. You need only look to recent articles to see how geekdom has turned sour. To preserve our passions, to fortify fan followings, we must respect creators and artists, source material, each other, and not resort to belittling and bullying. Does that mean there aren’t disagreements? Hell no. Does that mean you can’t voice your opinion? Of course not. But as my mama always says, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.”

Social media has given us the great gift of accessibility. The other day I tweeted Jenna Elfman to let her know I’ve been a longtime fan and I’m thrilled she’s joined Fear the Walking Dead. I got a lovely and unexpected response from her that made my day. Not only can we have interactions like that, but we can build entire communities around the things we love and find like-minded people who share our fervor. That’s the beauty of the hyper-connected world we live in.

Unfortunately, there’s also the toxic side — trolls. Online monsters who hide behind avatars and have no qualms about spreading hate. Just look what happened to Star Wars actress Kelly Marie Tran. That beautiful, spunky girl was bullied off social media, tarnishing what should’ve been the most exciting and fulfilling time of her life. For the life of me, I will never, ever understand vicious and virulent ogres who get off on shredding a person’s soul. I can only pity how empty their lives must be, how shriveled their hearts.

And sadly, to come back to Cassie, she’s been trolled hard. Here’s the thing, writers are a neurotic lot. We ceaselessly worry about whether we’re good enough, fret over every written word, take bad reviews like bullets and want nothing more than to please our fans. As such, the slightest thing can knock us off kilter and murder our creativity. The constant bombardment she faces in her mentions isn’t only likely to force her off social media, there’s also a real chance it’ll freeze her output. I know for sure it would mess with my mind. I’d be assailed by doubts, even resentment. How do you write for an audience you fear will turn on you… again?

When an artist interacts with their fans it makes them feel heard and seen. Appreciated. And that’s an amazing thing. Mutual appreciation can breed great things. GISHWHES, the annual competition run by Supernatural’s Misha Collins, is a good example. The problem comes when fans feel entitled, as if they have ownership over an individual. “If you don’t do A for us fans, we will boycott B.” “Because you did THIS, we’re going to make you suffer by doing THAT.”

Here’s the truth – the artist doesn’t owe you a damn thing. They don’t need to tweet at you. They don’t need to change their work to appease your desires. They don’t need to acknowledge your hashtags, campaigns, movements. They don’t need to sign autographs or take selfies. If they do – fantastic, great, praise be! Be thankful, appreciative. But to expect it, to demand it, is just disrespectful and will continue to drive creators away. An artist’s only job is to create. And before you say, “Well, without the fans they would be nothing. They need us.” Yes, they do. But if the art is excellent there will always be fans. There are plenty of artists who have zero social media and no direct interactions with fans and still, they have people who follow everything they do.

Creativity needs to be nurtured, not abused. If artists continue to be harassed by fans, not only will access to them diminish, so will their art.

Be the sunshine, not the rot.

Written by Terri Clark

Terri Clark is an entertainment writer, TV addict, pop culture geek and award-winning young adult author. She loves the access Twitter has given her to the people behind her favorite books & TV shows. TV isn’t just a static sport anymore. (Yes, sport! Watching as much as she does requires commitment, dedication and endurance.) She's a writer and lead editor for Talk Nerdy With Us. Please follow her at terriclarkbooks on Facebook and Twitter. You can find info on her YA books at TerriClarkBooks.com.

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  1. This is, unfortunately, an extreme misrepresentation of what the Shadowhunters fandom’s issue with Cassie Clare is. Since most of this has taken place on Twitter, it’s almost impossible to really get into the meat of the issue.

    It isn’t that Clare doesn’t like the show. That’s fine. A lot of creators don’t like the adaptations of their work.

    The problem is that for the last several years, she has repeatedly lashed out at fans of the show, in such a way as to make them targets for bullying by her large fan following. Then when she’s called on this behavior, she claims that she’s actually the victim so that she gets a bunch of people running to coddle her and take her part while anyone she doesn’t like gets the abuse of her supporters.

    She’s been doing this for 20 years, ever since people took issue with the fanfics she plagiarized whole chapters of and got her kicked off fanfiction.net.

    Yes, creators should not be abused. But it is cruel and disingenuous for Clare to complain SHE’S the victim of bullying, when in fact she deliberately weaponizes her massive fanbase. And it’s especially toxic when a white woman mobilizes a largely white mob to go to battle for her, knowing that a significant portion of the Shadowhunter fandom are young queer people and people of color who are seeing–sometimes for the first time–reflections of themselves and their struggles in this show and in these characters.

    It’s even worse that she often lies to accomplish this.

    Take, for example, the notorious incident where she referred to Alec as a rapist (then deleted the evidence, as she usually does.) This stems from an incident where a scene on the show was carelessly written so that consent was assumed but not actually verbally affirmed. It was a failure of the writing, and the show fandom vigorously took the writers and showrunners to task for it, to the point where they apologized and made sure to include a few episodes later, in a flashback scene hailing back to that moment, an exchange where consent was verbally sought and clearly affirmed.

    Clare called Alec a rapist months AFTER the flashback scene confirming consent had aired. There were absolutely no grounds for the complaint. She flat-out lied to misrepresent what happened in that scene. The writing was sloppy, the showrunners made a mistake, they fixed it, the problem was resolved.

    The LGBTQIA+ community already has to deal with homophobes regarding them as predatory and comparing them to pedophiles and rapists.

    For a STRAIGHT woman to falsely call a gay character a rapist (and thus egg on her followers in repeating that claim) knowing that a lot of young, queer viewers relate to that character and see reflections of themselves in that character is not just problematic, it’s downright cruel.

    And it was a cruelty deliberately and calculatedly founded on a lie, and one for which no apology was ever issued.

    Similarly, Clare’s claims of Moszkowicz’s car being vandalized are completely unsubstantiated (as were her claims during the last brouhaha a couple months ago that show fans were organizing a boycott of her new book.) She provides no proof, merely hearsay, and people who called Constantin were told no one there knew anything about such a thing happening. But it was the perfect thing to say to outrage her following and get them defending her instead of being disturbed over the way she was lashing out at fans of the show. She makes unfounded, unsubstantiated claims with little regard for truth, because it’s not truth she’s interested in, or fairness. She simply wants to outrage people and turn them against whoever she feels has insulted her.

    This is a perpetual pattern of behavior. It’s existed for literally two decades. You have walked into the trap of a master manipulator who knows exactly what to say and do to whip a mob into a frenzy of outrage.

  2. First of all, Cassandra Clare is a bully. She has been since her Harry Potter fanfic writing days. Look it up. Look at this thread: https://twitter.com/RinChupeco/status/1037470716302569472 Funny you don’t bring up the shit your precious Cassie has pulled, how she got mad at a showrunner for saying Simon won’t cheat on the show—reassuring a fan, or how Cassie called Show Alec a rapist, or how she slut shamed show Izzy. Funny you don’t bring up how book stans hate on Luke/Isaiah for being black or how they hate on Harry. But I guess moc are unimportant to you, even when Isaiah and Harry are some of the sweetest guys in the world. And why the hell did you tweet at Harry and Kat who are enjoying time with the people they love?

  3. Thank you, very much for this patronizing one-sided piece of advice. It will definitely foster behaviour change in the alleged attackers of Cassandra Clare, who has been nothing but a hapless victim in all of this. I am currently playing the world’s smallest violin in honor of her pain.

  4. The issue with Cassandra Clare is much deeper than what you’ve only presented at the surface. This article should have been about the very positive effects the SHTV fandom has made with the Trevor Project to spread awareness and encourage its continuation – and unfortunately it’s only a sidenote here. Jenny Trout made several good points here and I agree with her: https://twitter.com/Jenny_Trout/status/1037315198338707456 .

    I agree with you on your point that the artist doesn’t owe anyone a damn thing. But what should also be remembered is that Clare seeking out tweets not tweeted directly at her, not in her mentions, made by young fans who bear the brunt of attacks from Clare’s defenders – that isn’t healthy behavior. There’s something to be said about curating one’s own social media space and learning when a fight simply isn’t worth the negativity. The young fan’s tweet wasn’t Clare’s business – she was not tagged in it, and regardless, it wasn’t an attack on the author; it was a comment about potential spin-offs. Instead of actively pursuing criticism, I hope next time Cassie practices what she preaches and refrains from cultivating drama where there’s absolutely no need. For her own self care and for that of her fans, she has the ability to block, mute, and step away from conversations that aren’t worth her time.

    Additionally, comparing this situation to Kelly Marie Tran is a poor choice. Kelly Marie Tran is a POC actress who withstood racial abuse; Clare is a white woman who has, many times throughout her career, incited harassment and perpetuated it. Their situations are massively dissimilar.

    This fandom – both sides of it – doesn’t need a recap of the latest theatrics that hardly speak for us all. I sincerely hope you consider an article on the positive efforts of the Trevor Project. There’s a good story there that deserves to be told in depth.

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