So hey, I just went to my first Buffy singalong, which seemed like it was going to be a great way to cap off the Whedonistas launch. But then this thing happened, and I want to talk about it.
Every time Dawn opened her mouth, people in the audience started yelling, “Shut up!” You can defend this by saying it’s the same thing as what we do at Rocky Horror, except that it wasn’t. It wasn’t clever, and it wasn’t directed at all the characters or the property as a whole. It was directed at Dawn.
When a young fan (certainly not older than college-age, probably still a teen, quite possibly under-age) yelled out asking people to stop, people yelled at her. When she tried to explain that this type of action has made the actress who plays Dawn cry and that Joss Whedon had asked people not to do it, people yelled out that both she and the actress needed to toughen up.
In a moment the Buffy singalong had gone from some fans engaging in questionable courtesy to a bunch of fans bullying a young fan because she cares. A lot.
What. The. Fuck?
Being a fan is about love. Sure we argue and debate and rant about People Who Are Wrong on the Internet. But coming to a Doctor Who convention (as Craig Ferguson says, “Intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism”) and bullying a young fan to toughen up because she had a problem with the way the event was going because a Buffy singalong generally does not involve cheering and encouraging the silencing of a young female character whose arc in the episode is such that she is kidnapped, silenced, sexualized and forced into a marriage in Hell?
That was the most uncool thing I’ve seen in fandom in a long time.
Fans need to stop bullying other fans on- and off-line. It’s vile and disgusting and weak. And it makes us so terribly below the heroes we adore.
The Whoniverse is about the people who were never supposed to be heroes choosing to be heroes: shop girls and queer boys from council estates; women who’ve been left behind and men who’ve been forgotten. Secretaries and PAs and temps. People who, that when you hear their stories, you can’t help but hope that at the end of the world the universe might pause for a second and give you just one perfect beautiful moment in which to fix everything.
So in light of that, who the fuck do you think you are to bully some girl for caring about stories just as much as you do?
ETA 2/21/2010: I’ve posted a follow-up to this, addressing some of the comments both here and at Whedonesque and offering a more detailed description of what happened.
ETA 2/23/2010: A few final thoughts about the discussion this has engendered.