Any fan of Outlander – whether the books or series – will admit whole heartedly that relationship between Claire and Jamie is the backbone of the story. Their love goes to hell, comes back, transcends time and is the foundation for two extremely strong, stubborn characters. It’s the living entity the Outlander story is based on – but most of us hate that Outlander is so often sneeringly called a ‘romance’. It is an epic, historical tale. ‘Romance’ stories have become something other than their original intention and are not well thought of in this time – but that is another blog.
Generally speaking I avoid reading reviews of anything as I find my personal tastes tend to clash with most people that review things ‘professionally’. However, blog reviews tend – more often – to be from everyday people, so I’ve been reading more of them. The world is a crazy, mixed up place and none of us think exactly alike.
I personally hate that these books and this show tend to be pushed as ‘romance’. It touches a bigger audience initially, but the very idea has turned off many as well – particularly males. I totally get that STARZ is trying to secure a specific audience initially, but I really hope they will downplay that angle a bit as the series progresses. I’ve been trying to get my guy to read the books for years. He consented to sit through the series with me (gruffly) but has now read the first book and was the one insisting we re-watch Eps 1-8 before 9 aired on April 4! The other books are queued up on his Kindle. Not that I am complaining. The series finally got him around the idea of it being a ‘romance’.
The problem with ANY review for anything is that the person writing it is biased. They just are – accept that as fact. Their viewing or reading or listening is going to be colored by their own likes, background, prejudices and a myriad of other things including what they had for breakfast that day! Keep in mind too – some people will just flat misrepresent something because they decided, before ever looking at the material, they weren’t going to like it.
Another thing us fans (especially the US contingent) are going to have to be prepared for…we are starting to get reviews from the ‘English’ now that Outlander is airing in the UK – and many of them won’t be kind. We have to admit so far the show does not show the English in a very good light. It’s written from the Highlanders perspective so this is understandable, but the English won’t care for it. There is still a lot of political strife between the English and the Scots – we all remember the high emotions during the YES vote just this last fall.
One specific thing that I’m already seeing issues on is the Gaelic and accents in the show. Having met Àdhamh – I know just how passionate he IS to get the language right! He told us how hard the cast, especially Sam, has worked to make it as accurate as possible. Is it going to be perfect? Of course not – these are not native speakers. Are there going to be production decisions made outside the language experts control for various reasons? Unfortunately yes. It happens. But overall I think they have done a damn fine job with the Gaelic and pray it brings a new interest for the language overall and helps revive it.
STARZ has done an amazing job marketing Outlander. Buses and billboards and TV/Cable and events and….yeah. But even so – people tend to get very focused on their own thing. How many polls have we participated in where people had no idea who Sam or Cait were and had never heard of Outlander? I’m thinking of the recent Zap2it poll against Misha Collins specifically. Many of them had no clue at all, yet the more we talked about it the more interested some of them got. So if they don’t know about Outlander or only think of it as a ‘soft porn romance’ they likely don’t know that Ron Moore is the force behind the show. That name tends to get some attention with a ‘wait WHAT?!’
I honestly don’t mind if someone watches the show or reads the books and says ‘I didn’t like this for XYZ, this is how it came across to me and that bothered me so I won’t recommend it’. That sort of review I have no problems with at all! It’s their opinion and that is very ok! We can’t all like the same things because how boring would that be! Where I take issue is someone who hasn’t seen or read the story and just grossly misrepresents it! (yeah, I spoke on this before and some of this blog is taken directly from that one – trying to be more generic here and not promote the guy I was ranting at.)
The question then becomes do we ignore or respond to the negative reviews. Give them more exposure or hope people don’t see them. Me personally say GO FOR IT ……………………..IF………………….you can give a clear, level headed, meaningful reply to counteract all the negative crap. Being a ‘rabid fan’, using a lot of bad language, saying what an idiot this person is really doesn’t HELP the cause. (And I have to thump on myself here as I tend to get a wee bit snippy when ticked off – mea culpa).
All we can do is promote the truth, about Outlander or whatever we are passionate about. Not all will agree and that is ok. Interacting with other fandoms on polls was a big wakeup call to ME about the responsibilities of being a ‘passionate’ fan. We had done so much good promotion for the show just being classy – talking passionately without being cruel to other fandoms. Being positive not only about the show but each other. We can encourage people with our comments to understand when a reviewer isn’t really being fair to the material, or is totally misrepresenting it. Call them on it – but be nice.
I am not perfect. I screw up on a regular basis. I am trying very hard to NOT respond to anything I get riled about until I’ve cooled off for a bit – don’t always manage it. Please feel free to call me on that. If I’m going to write things for public consumption I WANT to be held accountable. I may not change my opinion, just be more tactful about how I present it.