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.

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