This is a guest post from my partner & Outmander, Kyle. He does not have a platform to express things like this so I’m letting him use mine. This is his opinion expressed in his own way – I just copied and pasted.
Why am I not an outlander fan? Several hours of thought after returning home from seeing Ron Moore in San Francisco, I realized that I do not qualify to be an Outlander fan. I am thankful for this.
I was reading all of the Q&A that Ron did after watching the SF Giants ball game and he gave an interesting response to a question. Someone had asked him if he enjoys writing or producing more. His response was enlightening. He said “I’m a writer”. That is how he introduces himself. Not I’m a producer, nor a show runner, but a writer.
This got me thinking where I fit with the Outlander fandom and where “my place in the world” is. I have had the opportunity to meet some of the people that make the show happen and each and every time I find myself really respecting the individual for who they are. Not exclusively for what they mean to the show, but who they are as a person. This has always been the most striking and eye opening aspect of getting to meet the “real person” behind the social or otherwise media persona. I realized then and there that I am NOT an Outlander fan!
I am a Ron Moore fan.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love the show. I think that it is an amazing adaptation of a great series of novels, by a truly gifted author. I have been (almost without exception) overwhelmingly struck by how well it plays on the screen. I am in awe of the talent of the cast and the depth of feeling they bring to the show each and every week. Amazing performances by not only the lead actors, but so many of the supporting cast as well. This show truly makes you believe in it. I am also constantly shocked by how intense and accurate the crew and staff have managed to create a backdrop and construction of an entire world out of our time and make it believable. That takes some major talent on the entire crew’s part. All of those people that we never see or hear about that make the “real stuff” happen. They all deserve our applause and admiration.
While appreciating all of this I still don’t think that I’m an Outlander fan. You see I love much more of Ron’s work than just Outlander. Truth be told I’m much more a Battlestar Galactica fan. I also love the work that he has done with other shows such as Star Trek. To me Ron Moore is more of a person than a show. That may seem odd, but here it is. So many of the “fans” that I read and interact with on social media on other venues seem to have this pair of “Outlander glasses” on. As far as I can tell they break down into two specific groups. The first group, the “uber fan”, seems to think that no matter what, if it has to do with Outlander it is wonderful, amazing, perfect, and just plain “the best thing ever”. Now, this might seem like the result that the staff and studios are shooting for, I however see several problems with that. The most obvious being that the person, actor, director, crew, producer, writer etc. gets lost in the mix.
Take for instance the Gaelic consultant Àdhamh Ó Broin (another that I have been fortunate to meet and get to know somewhat). To the typical “fan” if you mention his name the response will probably be “who”? If you continue with “he’s the Gaelic consultant for Outlander”, the response gets changed to “Oh, yes! Great guy! They are doing SO well with my favorite show!” The person himself gets lost. I am pleased to say that yes, he is a great guy. He is almost singlehandedly bringing a “lost” Gaelic dialect back from extinction. He is so involved in the resurgence of the almost lost culture of Scotland and he’s a fine warm and caring person as well. He is really “quite the kick” to be around.
I have not had the opportunity to meet any of the cast members but I am sure that this holds true for them as well. I have seen a lot of what Sam Heughan is doing with his charities and other projects. I know that Caitriona Balfe, Tobias Menzies and Graham McTavish have their own projects, charities and such going on as well. I loved Graham’s performance in The Finest Hours. I just have not had the privilege of meeting them yet.
Then there is the “second group” of fans. I would almost rename them “slams”. These are the people that for whatever reason, make it their mission to find fault. To them, nothing that Ron is doing fits with “their” view of the books and is therefore taboo. Jamie’s hair is not red enough. Why did they remove my favorite scene (even though it did nothing to move the plot forward)? Claire should be this way, etc. Anything that sits outside of their mental image or interpretation of the material is “wrong”. And they are very vocal in letting people know about it. A sub-group of this class of fan is what I call “the Jamie show” fan. Nothing, and I mean nothing else is important at all. The other actors, the time and effort that it takes to put on a production of this scope, the decisions that have to be made for plot movement, time, cost, etc. None of that matters. It’s all about Jamie/ Sam Heughan. This second group is the reason that I almost completely, stay away from the fandom.
Now both of these groups do have a few things in common. They both, for whatever reason, feel that the show “owes them something”. In some cases that may be a debt payment of staying more strictly with the books. Many times I find these “negative Nellie’s” so mentally draining that I retreat to protect my sanity. In others it may expose itself as a sense of “entitlement”. For instance the “We are the biggest fans, we deserve this person’s full attention. All others Stay Away”!
I’m sure that the average “fan” fits somewhere in the middle of these extremes, but these “sane ones” are not at all vocal. I rarely hear from them on social media or in other forums. I do interact with them if I happen to meet them at some gathering such as Àdhamh’s west coast Gaelic instruction tour both this year and last. These are the people simply sitting in the room enjoying the reason for being there. Their interest in an aspect of the show, a person involved in it, or as in that case, an understanding of the Gaelic language. They seem to be the “silent majority” to steal a well-known phrase. It’s the outlying ends of the fandom that make all the noise.
Both sides of this coin have, in my opinion, missed the point. For them it is all about the show. For me it is all about the people. The extreme positions of both sides have turned me off to the whole “fandom” aspect of Outlander. I retreat from the social media interaction of it to keep my sanity and to save my soul. I will continue to love the show. I will do my utmost to learn more about these fabulous people that make this production happen. This means from the top to the bottom. Every contribution is important. I haven’t even touched on writers, costuming, visual effects, set building, or the thousands of other people that make this possible for us all. For me at least, it’s the people, not the show.
If this makes me a Non-Fan, then I’m proud of it.