Just from reading the title of this article, without even knowing what it’s about yet, one might think right away “People bash authors on the internet all the time!” True. But in this case I’m talking about how fans of certain authors will treat them like they’re this mentor figure, or like they deserve their unconditional support, or like they’re personal friends. Like they can’t be wrong.
I’ve never been one to give unconditional support.
Since the creation of this blog, I’ve made very clear the fact that I’m a fan of Gail Simone’s writing.
And to give credit where it’s due, she’s often supported her fans on her blog and often taken the time to reply to their questions. But today I read something that really bothered me on her blog, her reply to a fan’s question:
I was seriously taken aback by this. I went to check the blog of the person who asked the question and saw this:
I genuinely felt like the person shouldn’t feel bad. I sent her a message to her AND to Gail, basically stating the same thing. The fan shouldn’t feel bad, Gail shouldn’t expect people to have read all of her past online statements, and if she really wants to not have that question asked anymore, she could leave a remark about it on the front page of her blog. Especially to the fan, I made it clear, they should NOT feel bad about it. And then I noticed the ‘read more’ section and clicked on it:
This broke my heart. Obviously this person looks up to Gail Simone’s opinion, and her harsh reply seems to have really affected her. I went to read the ‘about me’ section of her blog.
I think it’s safe to say that she might have taken a harsh reply from someone she looks up to way worse than some other people would have.
I then got a reply from Gail Simone on the matter.
In her reply, Gail makes some fair points, but also some other points that I disagreed with. I agree with her that it’s a very difficult question to reply to in the first place, even without taking into consideration, as she pointed out, how good the person is at it. I can also understand it’s frustrating to receive the same questions repeatedly, I went through the same thing myself very recently when some people disagreed with my article against ‘shipping’ the Robins together and I found myself repeating some things over and over, and in my case it only lasted one day. She obviously gets that particular question a lot more often.
I also agree with the idea that writing is her job and she doesn’t have to reply to all writing-related questions asked of her. In fact, she doesn’t owe anyone, I’ll agree with that too. When you buy a comic, you’re repaid with storytelling. Supporting an author does not mean the author owes you anything beyond that, the trade has already been made and was fair.
But here’s where I strongly disagree with Gail. First of all, one shouldn’t have to do homework to ask her a question. Maybe the person was just excited to discover she had a blog and didn’t know about the rest. Maybe because some fans get really excited over these things when they admire someone, some of those who asked her that question simply started typing in joy before they could think of looking elsewhere for that answer. Should they really be punished and, let’s face it, humiliated online for it??? If I do an interview with someone on my blog, I’ll do my homework. If I want to send them a simple question which they can even choose to ignore, I probably won’t.
Gail thinks that the context justifies her harsh reply. But I don’t think it does. Because people will continue asking her that question, because most people won’t think of doing a search online to see if she’s answered it before. And if she refuses to at least put a message on her front page to let people know not to ask it, whatever harsh message she leaves to anyone about it will be gratuitous and will serve no purpose in the long run because people won’t see this past reply any more than they’ll see her past comments about it.
Gail is entitled not to put such a statement on her front page though. She’s entitled not to reply to such messages too (which I personally think she should have simply done). And in a way, since it’s her blog, she’s entitled to give harsh replies. But as a follower of her blog, I’m entitled to determine if I want to continue giving this person my support.
I think her and I disagree on how important these questions and replies are. She’s giving her opinions here, which are as good as any other, but they’re not gold either. They’re just another person’s opinion. Always consider ‘Would I think the same thing if I didn’t enjoy this person’s work so much?’ when these things happen. In fact, I even applied it to myself as I pondered this. Why am I following the ‘Batgirl’ title? Retconning Oracle out of the DC Universe and putting Barbara back in the Batgirl costume was a really stupid idea. The only reason I bought the title is because Gail Simone is the writer. But honestly, I haven’t been enjoying it that much. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t stand out to me. I guess because I’m such a bat-fan I also want to know how Barbara got to walk again, I want to be up to date. So I’ll stick to the series until after issue #0 comes out explaining how that happened. After that, I’ll remove the title from my list. Make no mistake, I’m not boycotting Gail Simone and I’d still pick up a new ‘Secret Six’ by her in a heartbeat. I’m simply deciding to be less biased about her work.
I suspect I might get some hate for this post. I don’t hope to, I don’t like to push people’s buttons just to do it, but I won’t remain quiet about things that I find unfair either. I think Gail Simone was needlessly mean to one of her fans and I think no one will say different. I think the person who asked the question will only get messages telling her she should have ‘known better’ and she’s going to feel bad about it when she shouldn’t.
And I don’t agree with that. I don’t support it.
EDIT: Gail has reblogged and replied to this article, which you can read here.
To Gail: Regarding my position on the matter, I simply acted as someone who saw something that I disagreed with strongly. I don’t need to be the one directly affected to comment on a situation that I find was not correct, and I have seen you often do the same. So while it’s true that I’m on neither position in this matter, I still felt like it was important to speak up, especially since no one seemed to point out that the person did not deserve that sort of reply and she was obviously feeling bad because of it.
Also, I have mentioned in my post that I agree with the fact that you don’t owe anyone anything. I simply think your way of dealing with that question and that situation was poorly handled and lacked respect towards the fan in question, especially since they clearly weren’t in on the context of the situation (since they sent the question in the first place). I also agree on the fact that you are often very supportive of your fans. If anything, it made the way you handled this all the more shocking. No you’re not forced to reply to it, I agree with that. Bashing it, I agree a lot less.
I’m glad you will contact the person in question. I am pretty sure from your past comments and efforts that you’re not a bad person and that you like to support your fans, but I will stick to my opinion that you handled that situation very, very poorly and needlessly hurt someone’s feelings by acting rashly. This wasn’t someone who made an ignorant and intolerant comment, this wasn’t someone who bashed your work, this wasn’t someone who deserved to be exposed online in a way that left them open to be judged by others. I will respectfully stand by what I said about it.
As for the pedestal metaphor, I wasn’t saying you asked others to treat you like that as much as used it as a way to tell fans not to idolize too much the people whose work they follow or to agree with them too quickly without looking at the situation from an unbiased point of view, which I felt was happening at the moment I wrote my post. [Short 2nd edit: Although on second thought, the pedestal metaphor certainly works for someone who would reply to one of their fans that way.]
So I will leave the text of my original post as it was, but I’m adding to it your reply via the link to your reblog along with this present edit.
2nd Edit (and probably my last): Gail Simone later added this about it on her blog. I thought at that moment that it was a correct way to handle the situation. I think her reply as far as the girl is concerned is honest.
On my side of things though, she did accuse me during a private exchange of not really wanting to help the girl and of supposedly making things worse, that the situation would have been better handled just between the two of them. She completely dismissed my argument that if I hadn’t done all that, she would never have contacted the girl in the first place since she had been happy with just telling her ‘URGH’. She also seemed not to realize that calling to question my purposes did not in itself nullify every argument brought during this situation. (Because I have so much to gain from giving support to one person while suspecting a lot of Gail’s fanboys and fangirls will hate me for writing that article. Oh no, wait, I don’t have anything to gain from it.)
I think it was just easier for her to dismiss me as being a liar. When you dismiss someone completely, you don’t have to face the arguments they bring to you. On my side, I never said she was a bad person and pointed out the good things she did and does for her fans. I simply stated she was impolite and harsh to one of her fans for no good reason.
Was my article harsh towards Gail Simone? Yes it was. But she seems to be comfortable with it when she’s the one dishing out the harshness.