Monday, October 13, 2014

The Power of Words

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Diana wrote a post on Facebook the other day, about the differences between film and book, and the more that time passes the more bizarre I find people's reactions to it.

If the human race can land a probe on Mars, I'm pretty sure we can figure out what book adaptations entail. We don't need to be taught anything.

Diana's "true fans" as they call themselves ... (aka teacher's pets that think even a grocery list written by her is "brilliant;" their words, not mine)... interpreted Diana's post as a means to make "the nitpickers shut their wee traps and keep their complaints to themselves."
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Also their words. (They have quite a limited vocabulary which consists primarily of insults). They insist that everyone else - what one person calls "The Moaning Minnie's" - has unrealistic expectations of the series. They think we're so idiotic that we expect e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g from the books to make it onto the screen.


If everything from the books was in the show, it would be airing until the year 3010.

What's more, all too often these "true fans" (I'm speaking of the fanatical one's) place DG on a pedestal. For example, calling her a "Goddess" or "The fairy godmother from the Highlands."

And here I thought she was from Arizona.  photo scratch_zps3adfc319.gif (Okay, that was rude. The fairy godmother remark was kinda sweet, but since it was followed by more name-calling, I didn't exactly feel obligated to be nice... especially since I'm typing this on my own echoey blog).

I'm all for praising Diana's writing. IMHO she's one of the hands-down, absolutely best writers of our time. The woman is incredibly gifted at her craft, but that doesn't mean you have to share her opinions about the tv series. If we all did that, there wouldn't be discussions about the series at all.

I understand that, unlike a lot of authors, she keeps in touch with her fan base. Sure, that's great. It's refreshing, but unfortunately a lot of people are easily seduced by that. It doesn't occur to them that Diana is the type of person that thrives on communication. (I'm pretty sure we can all agree on that). It's a big part of her persona, and likely what assists so much with her writing skills. She's a great communicator, and with all that conversing comes a false sense of camaraderie. It just seems to me that many of her closest fans mistake this for being in her 'clique' so-to-speak. They conduct themselves as if they're back in grade school and desperately wish to be the popular girl's best friend; to carry her books, to sit at her table during lunch... to agree with her every word.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that these people get so caught up reading her posts/opinions that they forget to come up with their own. Diana's words are not coming from On High. She isn't their mother. (Many fans have mentioned that she's been "mothering" them throughout the series). She isn't their best friend. She's a communicator, and that brilliant mind of hers thrives on it. They don't bear in mind that, in the grand scheme of things, she's still human and not everything she says is going to be all roses. (How nauseating would that be!)

Even so, as far as they're concerned every explanation she utters is a golden bar of truth. When they read her thoughts on Facebook that day, they saw fireworks... they issued applause. In their words, the "haters just got schooled!" (I must confess I was a little frustrated that Diana didn't step in and disagree, other than to say that she didn't mind complaints but did mind ignorance).

Ignorant, are we? (I know that sounds mean, but what else is one supposed to take away from such a comment? I sincerely doubt ignorance is at play here).

Is it any wonder they translated her words as addressing "ignorance" and the "complainers," and let me tell ya... there were some harsh comments made on that one post alone. It was ugly to see. Every time I visited that Facebook page, it started feeling a little like junior high. (I've since unsubscribed. It wasn't exactly a positive gathering place. I detest rudeness on public forums!)

Now, I can't speak for Diana Gabaldon. Only she knows exactly why she created that post, but I certainly didn't like the comments and vibe which that post created.


After Diana wrote that on Facebook, and I saw so many repulsive responses from her more fanatical followers, I was happy to see a fellow voice of reason elsewhere. On her blog she addressed the issue so superbly, and in her comments section it was apparent that others were on the same page. It was a refreshing sight to see!

So here's my two cents as well.  photo cents.gif


I really don’t care for sweeping generalizations about people that are a little dissatisfied with certain episodes. It isn’t that we are hard to please and are nitpicking every little detail and wishing every single line from the books would be in the series. The biggest complaint… (well, I think “concern” is more accurate)… I’ve seen is that there’s been too much focus on Frank, etc rather than on Jamie or on his and Claire’s relationship. It’s the basics that’s being left out, or priorities being mixed up. (Example: The honesty speech not being in the wedding episode… Jamie being out of character by leaving Claire alone while she was going into shock… Frank scenes that aren’t relevant to accelerating the story… there being more Frank scenes than Jamie/Claire scenes in the mid-season finale of all episodes. As someone else mentioned, even Angus and Rupert are hogging some desperately needed screen time from our hero and heroine).

We are not Poutlanders, or Sheeplanders. (Never heard of that last one until recently. How…. creative?…. those folks are. Limited vocabulary, that's all I'm saying). We’re intelligent people that can think for themselves. We’re protective of these characters, and we love the books, so when we feel there’s an injustice slowly unfolding before our eyes we have every right to express our feelings, too. When we disagree with others we don’t lump them into categories and give them silly, made up names that sound like they’ve been uttered on school playgrounds.

In a nutshell, I think we’re the adults.

Diana loves to ramble (thank God it isn't just me), so I'll only share snippets from her Facebook post.

If by some miracle anyone is reading this,  photo 19.gif parts of it are not G-rated so I'll try to remember to edit certain parts of Diana's post. If I forget, some of it is pretty crude, so proceed with caution. Also remember that this is only my honest reaction to what I read. I very much doubt anyone will even read this, so I'm not saying these things to upset anyone or stir the pot. (Personally, I find that that pot was already stirred to begin with).

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(Diana's thoughts on telling us what to think, because while we can have our own opinions - and address them - we're perceiving things incorrectly, and she's here to explain the truth)  photo 34_zpsd8619e6f.gif

Just my opinion...
(And yes, maybe I'm mistaken but that truly is what I gathered from that Facebook post. Maybe that wasn't her intention in the slightest. All I'm saying is that that was the message I received, and tried to ignore initially, but then the crazies translated her post as 'sticking it' to everyone else. I just didn't like the feeling of there being a division there; that we're either on Diana's side, or we're not and should just stop watching the series altogether. That kind of thinking is far too simplistic for my tastes).

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"So--I thought I might address a few recent comments and questions on Episode 8. Not to refute people’s opinions—everyone’s entitled to think as they like, and say so—but just to show you a bit about How Things Work."

Obviously I don't know Diana personally, but I've read enough of her posts that alarm bells are already ringing like mad. "Show you a bit about How Things Work?"

Already that sounds either condescending, or like there's a hidden reason as to why she feels it necessary to show everyone "how things work." It's common knowledge that the series is going to have to have its differences from the book because it's an entirely different medium to tell a story.

I like to think that most people are intelligent enough to know better, ESPECIALLY people that will voluntarily read - sometimes several times - a series of books which weigh like an elephant. (Each book consists of roughly 800 pages).

It isn't that we need anyone to take us by the hand, like some child, and subject us to an extended step-by-step explanation on how things work in film. Do we really need to be educated, or is this her way of trying to change our opinion under the convenient guise of explanations and enjoying teaching things? (I'm not saying this is the case. I'm not inside Diana's head, and I'm not an oversensitive person that's overreacting, but that is the vibe I got... and that's all it is. A vibe, which could be right or wrong).

It wasn't that we didn't understand certain filming aspects of the episode. It's that we just weren't all that impressed with it.

Even those who were unhappy with an episode CAN still be fans of the show. It doesn't have to be black-and-white. (The more fanatical fans believe this is the case). We don't have to either love it all and agree with DG 100%, or hate it all and stop watching.

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"While most people were riveted—as they should have been; it was a terrific episode—there were a few who were upset at things they perceived to be “missing” —these including:"

If most people were riveted why bother with an explanation/justification at all?

And they SHOULD have been riveted? So what we can gather from this blanket statement is that the mid-season finale was a Golden Goose which the minority just can't see for themselves. (Hence the purpose behind the explanations to come).

Diana defending the books that she writes is one thing, but telling people that they should have enjoyed an episode... and then attempting to educate those who didn't... sounds belittling to me. (Again, this is just a vibe. I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt).

A lot of people weren't happy with the episode, so I say "So what?" Not everyone is going to agree. Those who don't praise an episode are not necessarily wrong or misunderstanding what they've seen.

And "perceived to be missing?".... only if she and her followers admit that they, too, are "perceiving" everything to be perfect. They're also "perceiving" that the mid-season finale was a "terrific episode."

The fact remains that if you're going into this series knowing what the CORE of the books are really about, a lot of people are not perceiving some things to be missing. We're saying it.

Because key elements to the story ARE missing, and anyone who says this series so far is without flaws whatsoever.... well, it's obvious they're either living in La-La Land or are afraid to speak up.

And nothing in this world is perfect. Nothing. Not even her books, as much as I treasure them and as dog-eared as they are, so naturally the same applies to the series.

Not everyone has to have the same tastes.

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ALL the things you wanted to see--one on one Jamie and Claire, more scenes of intimacy, relationship building, Claire patching people up, etc.--ALL of them, are things that would require extended chunks of time ("extended," in a TV show, is anything that lasts more than 60 seconds). None of these things are "action," none of them move the plot in any direct way.

Did she seriously just excuse RELATIONSHIP BUILDING between Jamie and Claire because of TIME? This tv series IS about Jamie and Claire. The entire cast is even built around Jamie and Claire. It begins and ends with them. These two are the focal point and the story radiates around them.

And Jamie/Claire don't move the plot in any direct way? I cannot believe anyone would say that in regard to the two MAIN characters.

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Now, a successful adaptation is always balancing the needs of the story versus the exigencies of the form. As Andrew Marvell notes to “His Coy Mistress,” –“Had we but world and time, this coyness, mistress, were no crime…” I _have_ world and time in a novel; pretty much all I want. I can shape the story to fit my own notion of pace, rhythm, focus and climax. So can a show-runner and his gang of writers—but they don’t have world and time.

Common sense again. No one needs to be told this.

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(in reply to the person complaining about the redcoats’ abrupt appearance):
“ But...the redcoats came out of "nowhere" in the book, as well, when they pull Claire out of the stream. It isn't that they aren't "there"--it's that in neither case does Claire _see_ them, because she's so totally focused on her goal...and we're in her head, so we don't see them, either.

Diana's explanation of the redcoats sudden appearance was dead right, but by reducing this one person's viewpoint to simple "complaining" she cheapened their view. (I just didn't like how this one person's thoughts were so easily dismissed. If a world famous author - one which even little old me has helped make a multimillionaire by purchasing her books and recommending them to family and strangers alike - read my honest thoughts about an episode and dismissed them as "complaining".... I would have felt very disrespected).

I get that Diana's explanation was spot on, but "complaining" was a poor choice of words when most likely this person simply forgot that that's how the redcoats appeared in the book as well. (For the record, I don't think Diana intended for it to sound that way but I bring it up because the majority of members on her Facebook page do have that elementary mindset of everyone else being "complainers" and nitpickers. I guess I've read enough about the "complainers" that the word itself has made me become defensive. I'm just tired of it being misconstrued).

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We _can’t_ see what Frank was doing and going through after Claire disappeared.

We don't need to see what he's going through because it's obvious. He's searching for his wife, he's worried about her, and he already had suspicions over the highlander.

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Technically, it’s possible to use multiple viewpoints in a book—(in fact, I got a note from one of my editors (regarding a chunk of MOBY I’d sent him) saying, “Congratulations…I think you’ve just done the literary equivalent of juggling half a dozen chainsaws.”)—but OUTLANDER was my first book, written for practice, and I wasn’t out to make things too complicated. Had I used flashbacks of Frank’s life in the context of a book of that size, they’d either be overwhelming, or trivial distractions. Used in the context of a 55-minute TV episode, they were beautifully balanced against Claire’s 18th century life.

Beautifully balanced? Err, no. No, I can't agree with that. You can hardly say there was any balance at all since there was so much of Frank (Ron Moore's 'pet') in that finale.

I'm beginning to think others are right and Ron wants to turn Outlander into "The Frank Show." The first half of the season certainly felt like it, and so much so that many newbies to the story still believe that FRANK is the hero.
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Also - and I agree so much with this - but like I read someplace, the scenes with Frank in the finale had a more polished feel to them while the other scenes felt rushed. To me, that's very telling of Ron Moore's way of thinking. I understand wanting to give Frank a larger role. I really do, but it seems to me that Ron and Co. are going overboard with it. (Example: The overly angst scene at the stones. I get that Claire and Frank love each other, but by no means did they have an EPIC kind of love. No, no, no, no. Hell no).
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In addition, there’s a visceral punch to _seeing_ Frank’s actions that gives you an instant emotional investment in him and his story.

God, no. The guy is okay with his wife cheating on him, yet at the same time he's so possessive. (Sociopathic behavior, anyone?)

That's not a character I have an emotional investment in.  photo yawn1.gif (Although others do, and that's fine).

I really don't mind seeing Frank, but when he takes so much screen time away from where it's most needed... THAT' S when I have a major problem with it.

I'm e-l-a-t-e-d to hear that Frank's character won't be as present in the second part of the season!
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I probably have the chops to do such a thing effectively in print ¬_now_, but I didn't when I wrote OUTLANDER (and in fact, I wouldn’t have thought of doing it; I wanted most of the focus on Jamie and the 18th century, both because that’s where most of the color and action and Story was, but also to assist the reader in falling in love with Jamie along with Claire, so that we would understand her later choices.

Do I really need to say anything more? The text I underlined says everything that Ron Moore and the writers needs to be reminded of.

Those words right there clarify EXACTLY WHY there are so many people with concerns... (what everyone else is calling "complainers" or outright "ignorance")... over the series, particularly the last episode. After all, this series is an ADAPTATION of THE BOOKS and Diana herself just explained the focus of her books.

Her words: "I wanted most of the focus on Jamie and the 18th century, both because that’s where most of the color and action and Story was, but also to assist the reader in falling in love with Jamie along with Claire, so that we would understand her later choices."

So are these people (myself included) complaining/ignorant/seeing the glass half full, or are they only frustrated and protective over a cherished story and its characters?

Think about that.

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OK, moving on to the was-it-rape? scene and the aftermath…


The TV-only people probably think he _did_ succeed because one of the "warnings" at the beginning was an "R" for "Rape," even though there isn’t one in the episode. Now, whether whoever put the warning on thought that's what happened, or whether it's merely a "trigger" warning (i.e., people with a sensitivity to scenes of sexual assault might want to know there is such a scene in this episode)...I don't know.

But this is one of those things where stuff from the book actually can't be shown adequately. It's absolutely clear from the book, because we're in Claire’s head, and we _know_ what she was perceiving. But the shot can't be under her skirt --


(which would not only be crude, but would grossly undercut her--and the audience's--sense of shock and dislocation)...then it's not going to be clear to viewers, who will have to be left to draw their own conclusions.

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The scene was badly directed, period. (The same could be said of the Grant fight). When an audience isn't sure whether X or Y happened, it means the final edited scene was a failure. (This is why blockbuster movies have test audiences before being released to the general public. You don't want your audience confused over the final result).

And when Jamie says this to Claire afterwards --- "... and to let you be... to not STOP him!" --- those words, and Jamie's tense pause in saying the words and barely being able to even get them out of his mouth, lead the audience into thinking she was indeed raped.

And then there was the unwise decision to film in slow motion while Claire was being attacked. It has nothing to do with drawing our own conclusions. WHY would that be a secret from viewers in the first place? It wouldn't be. (They really should have included Jamie/Claire's eye contact from this scene in the book).

This was just poorly executed editing and direction, plain and simple. It happens.

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2) See remarks above about time. Including this scene would have meant leaving out something else; and everything in this episode is necessary to the purpose intended by the writer/production team.

Yeah, the Bromance Ron Moore has with Frank.

The purpose intended by the writer/production team indeed.

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3) The scene wouldn't have been nearly as effective on film as it is on the page--and the reasons have to do with Claire's subjective sensory perceptions. You simply can't _show_ most of what she's experiencing without it being pornography.


But you can describe it, vividly and straightforwardly in text, without it being gross. Without those subjective bits from Claire’s interior point of view, though, the scene doesn’t have either the deep sense of intimacy or the intense sensuality that you have in the book version; it’s just another sex-scene (albeit one admittedly with some fairly funny dialogue).

While I agree that that scene isn't essential to the plot, others aren't saying that it requires you to SEE it if it has any hope of making it on film. It isn't about pornography, but simply Jamie saying that one funny line.

SURELY this is another matter of common sense. Every fan of the books - the author herself included - understand why so many fans wish to have this scene in the series. This doesn't need to be explained to anyone.

I'm fairly certain that scene WILL make it into the series... which will only prove my point. It is filmable, as the draw towards that scene is Jamie's sense of humor coming through in an intimate moment, nothing more.
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It isn't that so many people are "nitpickers"... "complainers"... "Poutlanders"... "haters" that need to be "schooled"... or expecting the tv series to mirror the books in exact detail. It's common sense that the film is going to have to have its differences from the book because it's an entirely different medium to tell a story. I like to think that most people are clever enough to know better. I sincerely doubt there are that many simpletons out there.

Do I love the series? Absolutely, but there are things that worry me and a lot of people. No one expects the series to be perfection, but there's nothing wrong with voicing concerns and when someone does let's please not act like schoolchildren on the playground. We're all adults and no one has to "put up or shut up." We're not all "haters" and "complainers" either. We're simply defending a story and characters that we hold dear.

And that's the bottom line. We're FANS with CONCERNS. It doesn't mean we hate the show or the actors, or have to keep our opinions to ourselves. No one sets out to feel this way, but it is the honest reaction to what we saw. That's it. We don't all have to think every single scene in this series is pure gold.

I think it's a lot like having children or a loved one in your life. They might disappoint you from time to time, but you still love them and can see their possibilities and good points. I just think it's important to remind people that no one should be berated, or "schooled," for feeling the way they do.

And please... let's stop making sweeping judgments and lumping people into categories of you're either on our side (loving it 100%) or you're not. At the end of the day it is just a television series and we are all people with feelings and our own opinions.

Words are powerful, so choose them wisely.

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