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February 20 2011

The unacceptable face of fandom. Racheline Maltese, a contributor to the Whedonistas anthology, writes about an ugly incident at a Buffy sing-along event. ETA: The follow-up article which looks at gender and character bashing in regards to the incident can be found here.

That is really awful. I had no idea that was happening at those events. Glad that girl stood up for Dawn, but it really sucks that people reacted the way they did. Not okay.
I know it's happened before, somewhere deep in the archives there's a discussion about it.
I always liked Dawn, even when she was portrayed as annoying. Even if she isn't your favorite character, I think it's childish to treat an actor like this for portraying her. Especially when it's with a large group of fans, and the actor is a fan. Sheesh...mob mentality at its worst.
This is terrible. I feel awful both for that girl who tried to stand up for Dawn, and for the Dawn bashing. What terrible behavior.
What those people did to the young girl is happening in reality, it's not part of the fiction. Bullying is an unexcusable, intolerant, destructive behaviour towards others. Bullies have to be stopped. Those people who shouted out at least have to send their regrets if not to make amends.
Haters seem to be everywhere these days, in case anyone hasn't noticed.
This has been going on for a long time and Joss has even spoken out against it (I remember that discussion, Simon).
It's just sad.
Thanks for the heads up Simon, I'll have a look for it, if only to enrage myself on this chilly sunday evening...
I hate Dawn as a character. Especially in the beginning of season 5. But it's not Michelle Trachtenberg's fault, she's a great actress. Yes, Dawn is annoying but Michelle is amazing because she could portrait such character so real. Like she's really an annoying person while in reality i'm sure she's nothing like that.

Some people just can't understand that. They think what they saw in the screen is real. That if an actress play an annoying character then she must be an annoying person in real life too.
This happens at the Buffy screening which closes Comic-Con every year. And every year it's a bit uncomfortable for me, but most love it. Just be glad Riley or Kennedy isn't in the episode, ahem.

[ edited by gossi on 2011-02-20 14:39 ]
I still don't get why so many people don't like Dawn, she's never been a problem for me. I guess some people just don't remember what it's like to be her age, some thought she was annoying and whiny, but I believe she was just being a teenager.
Agreed, Winchester.

I remember being extremely skeptical when Dawn first turned up out of the blue in S5, wedging herself into this mix of characters I loved. But soon, she became one of my favorite characters on the show.

So, yes, she was a teen and occassionally whiny. But who cares: people are just like that - and often, (much) worse - in real life. At the end of the day, she felt like a real little sis, which is a big compliment to both MT and the writers, and she was a great addition to this cast of characters.

As for this practice of screaming 'shut up' during the sing-alongs: I think it's small, and petty, and childish. Screaming at someone asking you nicely to stop, that's just of the charts.
I know some Buffy fans who go to this convention every year, and every year avoid the OMWF sing-along *just* because of the Dawn hate. I also know the person (not close friends with, though, or else I'd say something) who usually yells the loudest and angriest "Shut up, Dawn!!" outbursts at these events. I always close my eyes and give a mental "Shut up! Shut up!" to the people who always do this. Yes, interaction at these screenings is fun, and in Rocky Horror they yell "Asshole!" and "Slut!" whenever Brad and Janet's names are mentioned, but why pick on Dawn to that extent? Other than the little klepto moment, she's actually in the right throughout this episode, and it's a good thing that Dawn clued Tara in to the spell that Willow put on her. Every character has its fans, and it's just rude to both Dawn's fans and the show's creators to come to one of these things and show such hatred of her. I'm fairly neutral towards Dawn, but I'd walk out if there was that sort of thing towards my favorite character, so I totally understand why that's not appropriate. Too bad some other fans just don't get the concept. They might think it's all in fun, but it ruins other people's fun and drives some away completely.
Thats pretty disgusting behaviour. It's a shame as I always thought Buffy fans we're above bullying considering the writers, actors and general theme of the show would seem to be very much against this sort of behaviour.

I hope at least some who were there and acted like this see that article and feel some sort of shame.
To be fair, gossi, in my experience anyway, what happens at Comic-Con is the yelling at Dawn, not the bullying of fellow fans. That said, it sadly surprises me not at all that it's progresses -- or, regressed, really -- to the next stage. My first experience of the Dawn hate was a few years back at the Portland stop of the former commericlal road show of the Buffy sing-along, and it was brutal, just sheer ugly howling mob. I had to walk out. I'm really only surprised that it took this long for that mob to start harassing other fans.

Sidenote: worlds converge. I knew the author of the linked piece in another lifetime fifteen years ago in New York.
Yikes. Yeah, I meant the Dawn dislike at Comic-Con, not the other thing.

I think, to be honest, to most of the audience it's played for laughs. As in, it isn't like it's a screaming mob of bad people. It's just an element of the musical screenings format which, in my mind, doesn't mesh well with the show. Buffy is about being included, not excluded.
At Dragon*Con in 2009, there was som Dawn hatin' -- not terribly harsh, but enough that I felt a little sorry for the character (I don't have strong feelings for Dawn one way or the other -- she's no Willow or Giles or Tara, but she's certainly no Kennedy or Connor, either *shudder*), as well as the actress on stage. Last year, however, the audience was asked in advance to be nice to Dawn, and my Golly, there was so much Dawn-loving that it was almost awkward. I guess it indicated to me that it's not deep, true bullying of a character as much as a stupid tradition that can/could easily be stopped. The attack on a person in the audience is simply uncalled for and ludicrous, but I guess it just goes to show that there are bad apples everywhere -- even in the Whedon fandom.
I had no idea that this was going on at OMWF-singalongs. I've always wanted to go to one, but now I don't anymore. I like Dawn as a character, just like I like all the others (yes, Riley too), and I certainly don't wan't to hear anybody yelling "shut up" at her. Kudos to the girl who tried to stop it.
yep, I've been to the singalong at Comic Con and was not comfortable with the Dawn hate; to the point where I have no interest in attending again. I'm sure for some people they just think of it as fun, but I'm glad to see there are a lot of people who feel like I do.
Sorry to hear it's progressed from bullying the character onscreen to real people in the audience. The accounts of it I've read here have always been uncomfortable-sounding but this is a whole other level of bad.

Here's what Joss said about it:
And thanks to all the peeps at the Singalong. Marty and I had a crazy good time, even if we felt bad for poor defenseless Dawnie. (Every time you tell her to shut up, remember who wrote what she’s saying.) (That’s right. The kid’s with me.)
Sunfire: thank you for relinking that old thread; I just finished rereading the whole thing and it was very funny!
i never was a fan of the Dawn character, not because she was a whiny teenager, but it out me off a bit in the beginning when Joss rewrote the entire history of the show. but thats just my opinion. hating on the actress like this and her fans is just vulgar. if you hate it that much why go?
I'm not a huge fan of Dawn for the most part, but I never hung out with whiny, dramatic teenagers, either. However, I would never be so disrespectful as to yell "shut up" or anything of the sort, I don't think the show would be the same without her, and she doesn't actually bother me much in that particular episode.
Yeah, I finally went to the Singalong at Comic-Con 2010 and was underwhelmed. And, a young man sitting right next to me was yelling "Shut up Dawn". Cringe-inducing. I won't do that again. Singing along with OMWF in my apartment is just fine.
Even if I didn't love Dawn (and I do love Dawn) I would be very upset at this kind of behavior.
She looks familiar. She's on LJ, no?

I know Dawn's not a popular character, but it feels weird hearing that applied so vigorously to OMWF. Her lines in "What You Feel" are one of my favorite parts in the whole musical. I think she did a great job.
What is most cringe-inducing for me is that Joss expressed his disapproval of the Dawn-bashing, and yet they continue to do this. If it were me, I'd feel deeply ashamed.
I hang out in the Spike corners of the fandom, and most of us like Dawn, because she was nice to Spike.

I went to a sing-along once, and didn't like the Dawn hate. Perhaps an announcement before each screening would be helpful. Because honestly, it does ruin the experience a bit.
It's just not considerate. What if you were a big Spike fan and people who don't like Spike were yelling shut up every time he spoke? It's just ridiculous behavior.
I wasn't a huge fan of Dawn, mainly because while watching the show I was roughly her age and I felt that she acted too young and immature for her age. However, she grew on me and I love her in OMWF.

The short story "The Wrath of Dawn" by Cynthia Leitich Smith discusses such an event, where a girl attends a Once More With Feeling Sing-Along to find everyone bashing her favorite character. I would recommend it.
The short story "The Wrath of Dawn" by Cynthia Leitich Smith discusses such an event, where a girl attends a Once More With Feeling Sing-Along to find everyone bashing her favorite character. I would recommend it.

Do you have a link for that?
Eh. Jerks exist everywhere - including in fandom culture.
Yea. Pretty much the Dawn hate is why I don't think I could bring myself to go to the OMWF sing-alongs. Gonna have to agree with everyone that it'd make me very uncomfortable. Dawn isn't my favorite character, but I still don't think I could sit and let people hate on her like that and not want to hide.

Hopefully there's no one to hate quite like that in Dr. Horrible. O.o; Of course, maybe people think it's a tradition to hate on someone because of Rocky Horror, but I haven't been to one of those, either. No, because I haven't seen it. I DON'T KNOW BUT SOMEHOW I HAVEN'T.

I would think that they might tone it down a bit.
I suspect most people who attend singalong screenings think joss is spelt josh, ESG.
I suspect most people who attend singalong screenings think joss is spelt josh, ESG.

@menomegirl, I don't have a link for it. I found it in an anthology called "Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd" edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci.
A lot of people think that Sturgeon's second law is only applicable to fiction. But that's not true at all... It can be applied to anything... Including people...

And that's all I'm gonna say about this...
That's awful that they heckled the girl trying to defend her. I don't really care about "defending Dawn", as she is a terrible character, but it's not okay to yell at the fan like that.
How weird. I saw a lot of hate directed at other characters (and couples) on fanboards - but I never stumbled on any particular Dawn-hate online. I adore Dawn - she's such a vivid, full-fledged, three-dimensional character. I assumed that other people love her too.

It's disturbing, to read about such incidents.
To me, Dawn is simply a victim of the same disease. It seems that whenever Joss writes a charecter that is some how in conflict with his core group (but not actively) , as a fandom the charecter is shredded. This behaviour tends to continue until the charecter is officially brought into the group or killed in which case we don't really care.

In Angel, it was Season 1 Wesley. He wasn't Doyle, he was silly and he didn't mesh. Given a few years, Joss made him cool. Later, it was Conner who's entire reason for being was to cause conflict. He was given a year and a half and sacrificed to the gods of plot. In Buffy it was Dawn. Outside of "isn't Buffy great because she saved her sister", not much is done to make Dawn that acceptable. In Dollhouse you had Ballard who had a year of torment and then just kind of popped into the main narrative in an accelerated fashion. Firefly didn't have this guy because while Simon was close, he was protecting River and while Jayne was close, he could easily be written off as too silly or fun.

The wierd thing is that if you step back, all these charecters however have real reasons for being who and what they are. They are sympathetic if you bother or care to be that way. Fan reaction to them displays the EXACT same bullying charecteristics from this story. That is, dehumanizing an albeit fictional charecter to exclusively the traits that we didn't like. Wesley, annoying. Dawn, whiney. Conner, creepy.

Meanwhile, the real narrative was: Wesley, bereft of self confidence by a domineering father and an impossible situation. Dawn, unable to live a normal teenage life because of a star sister. Conner, robbed of an entire childhood because of the sins of his father. As Wesley showed, you could create a great charecter from a disliked starting point. But the problem was, Dawn, Conner, and Ballard, actually appeared too close to the end of the show or were too actively hated to really do much with. Which is unfortunate, you could have told a great story with all three.

Tied back to the main story, what I'm saying is that I find nothing shocking about it. That kind of thing is a logical extension of a similar behaviour pattern. It's sad, but there you go.

[ edited by azzers on 2011-02-20 19:22 ]
A couple years ago I experienced similar Dawn hate at these kind of events. It was so consistent and hateful in tone, that I literally had to pull away from group Buffy events -- I simply couldn't enjoy them anymore. It got to the point where people were telling Dawn to "shut up" literally every time she was on screen, regardless of whether or not she said anything!

It's like the only reason people were coming together at these events was to hate on Dawn, not to celebrate and/or analyze the show. IMO, Dawn is one of the weakest characters on the show, but when you put yourself in her shoes, her actions and behavior are quite believable most of the time. I found her to often be a very sympathetic character. I felt so unwelcome at most of these Buffy events due to this. :/
I love Dawn. Liked her better than Buffy most of S6 and S7. I went to one OMWF sing-a-long and never again. I can't tolerate mob behavior. Went to a talk back sing along of Doctor Horrible one year at Comic Con and found that intolerable as well. People try to be funny and when they fail at it, they decide mean is funny. It isn't. Ever. It's just mean.
Like With Pie, electricspacegirl-Thanks!
I would never show up to Buffy gatherings if it involved continuous character bashing. In fact, I went to a Buffy meetup once, and was really turned off by one person bashing Sarah Michelle Gellar. I stood up for SMG, but I don't want to have to listen to that crap and defend actors every time I go. I haven't gone back to a meetup, though I sometimes think about it, but I'm now hesitant.

[ edited by electricspacegirl on 2011-02-20 20:17 ]
One thing I've noticed at sing-a-longs I've been to is that a lot of the hatred towards Dawn takes the form of gendered insults eg. "slut." Even if I approved of that word, how does that remotely describe Dawn? These people really missed the point of BtVS if they think it's appropriate to yell something like that about a 16-year-old girl, or anyone for that matter.
I feel horrible for this girl. She didn't deserve to be treated like this. I my self quite like Dawn and Michelle who played her. It's cruel and un-Buffy, and the people who looked down at this young girl should be ashamed.

Plus, i really liked Dawn in OMWF, especially her giving birth to a Pterodactyl line, and the fact that for once something really wasn't her fault.
What if there could be a compromise at such events about yelling at Dawn to shut up? Like, stating upfront that you're allowing it right as she starts singing about being unnoticed and gets grabbed the henchman? With the added humor that she really does shut up. And then make it clear that it isn't wanted or needed the rest of the time. It lets people have a moment to vent and commiserate about the whiny, unpopular character and have their moment without ruining the rest of the viewing.
azzers, thank you for your post, which I very much agreed with.

I watched Buffy and Angel once they were already on DVD, and I had no problem with most of the characters that everyone seems to hate. Riley, Dawn, Connor, etc. I almost wonder if it was the fact that I wasn't part of the fandom when I was watching them, so I didn't have any of that mob-mentality-bias telling me that I should hate them.

I feel bad in particular for Dawn and Connor. Both teenagers, both having to deal with a bunch of crap that teenagers really shouldn't have to deal with, and reacting badly to it. I mean, come on. Connor was raised in a hell dimension by a lunatic, and his father is a vampire that has killed hundreds of people. All he has known is a black and white world until he finally discovers that there are shades of gray. On top of that, he's a teenager, with all the requisite emotional problems of one. Of course he's going to react badly and cause trouble. You would too. The same goes for Dawn. Discovering she isn't actually a person? (Regardless of the fact that where she came from has nothing to do with what she is, that is still a helluva thing to go through, I'm sure.)

It makes me sad that people in this fandom, out of all fandoms, are unable to understand and sympathize with a character and instead just write them off as "annoying." Even if these characters are not your favorite characters, it seems against the spirit of the show to reduce their complex character arcs down to nothing by just telling them to "shut up" whenever they are on screen. Where's the love?
There's a brief update in the comments.
It lets people have a moment to vent and commiserate about the whiny, unpopular character

Judging from this thread and reactions to this article, she's not an unpopular character. I'd drop the "shut up Dawn" mantra completely. It makes some fans feel uncomfortable and embarrassed to be there. Why cause audience discomfort at an event that is supposed to be an enjoyable communal experience?
Why cause audience discomfort at an event that is supposed to be an enjoyable communal experience?

Yes, this. I have nothing against people being critical of the 'verse, but the sing-alongs are supposed to be fun evens for *everyone*, including people who love Dawn and maybe even identify with her.
And, as argued here or over there, there's someone somewhere who hates each character. Would those defending the Dawn abuse as communal venting defend it if a noisy mob of Xander haters, or Spike haters, did the same thing? Doubtful. Everyone is at a communal screening for their own reasons; it's unruly and immature to steamroll over that be inflicting one narrow experience upon everyone else there.
I think Dawn is partly at issue where the fan base can be divided into Old Buffy Fans and New Buffy Fans. Dawn being a 15 year old new character when the show was in its fifth season? I don't think that's a co-incidence. There's gonna be people who identify with her, as they will have started the show around that time, or been that age. There's also going to be a whole - larger - group of fans gettin' their Kennedy on.

[ edited by gossi on 2011-02-20 22:41 ]
Not gonna get into the main conversation here because I think I have some pretty controversial thoughts on the matter, but shamoogity, I saw your post and I have to say, nowadays "slut" isn't a gendered insult. In my experience, it can be applied to both men and women in equal terms, at least in the contemporary scene.

Though I don't know why anyone would call Dawn a slut. She's not exactly promiscuous.
I went to an OMWF singalong at SFX weekender (UK) in 2010. It was absolutely amazing and didn't hear any of this! The only thing that was said was when Dawn sings "Does anyone even notice?" some shouted "No", cos they don't! I just don't get it and am so glad I have never experienced this side of it as I wouldn't be able to say nothing! Probably don't make much sense but this really does make me quite mad. I am proud to be a Whedon fan as we are generally intelligent, thoughtful, considerate and fairly groovy people and this makes me sad.
I don't find it all that surprising, do you?

Bronze beatdown of Blucas. Bronze and general online whupping up of Tara (and Amber since, well, the actor isn't playing make believe with their physique -- which btw was smokin' then and now so I never got this). Various and ongoing drubbings of Scott Allie.

I also find the "slut" thing particularly troubling. I'm not so complete in my sensitivity, perhaps, that I have an objection to the word outright, but at a sing-along? And about Dawn? I'd say it's overbroad at the least to go there with any of the women of the Buffyverse, let alone Dawn who prior to Season 8 was presumptively still a virgin and only an episode prior to that very musical had had her first kiss. I could guess, I suppose, to what someone might be referring, but it still seems more than a little bit selective.
This is just horrible, just horrible. I'm a loss of words.
What Madhatter Said.
I find this disheartening to say the least. I also have to wonder if these fans might be casual as opposed to dedicated fans - i.e. they watched the show for the fun of it, but didn't commit to it as some of us have. Not that that would excuse such behavior, but I think maybe those of us more outraged are those who care about the characters and the show, the creator and the writers.

Had I been able to hold my convention, we were planning on an interactive sing-along, where the audience members would get things like foam cheese wedges, plush bunnies and other fun props to hold up and maybe toss at each other during the songs. Not violently, mind, but like when someone tosses a beach ball into the audience & everyone whaps it around to see how long they can keep it going.

Ya know, fun stuff. And we were just going to play the music during an intermission between Q&As and the autograph signings, rather than air the entire episode. They did that at Motor City Buffy, and the whole audience was singing along; in fact, the guys spontaneously took Xander's part and the girls Anya's in "I'll Never Tell."

I kind of wonder what would happen if any of the actors were in the audience during one of these hate-fests. Like they come in after everyone's sitting and the episode starts, then when the shouting starts they'd get up and walk down the aisle. Would they get attacked? Or would the audience be the ones shutting up?
I think the point is, if you can answer the question "the fans would shut up", it begs the question what is the value to doing it in the first place. If it were a deeply held conviction (think political mob) then it would actually get worse if Michelle showed up. It becomes group catharsis.

If they shut up, then really what you have is a bad running joke that makes some members of the audience uncomfortable. There's nothing good or necessary about it.
I never realised there was so much hate towards so many characters. I watched Buffy from the start but didn't get on the net till season six. I knew some people weren't fond of Dawn and a lot didn't like Kennedy but never realised it boiled over so much.

Riley was a surprise, I guess they hated him because he wasn't Angel? If that's the case it's a bit strange because that seemed to be one of the main points of his character in Buffy. Same with Dawn, the reasons people seem to quote for hating her were why she was brought into the show.

All these characters seemed to play a role in the story I can understand not liking a character but hating them seems strange. Hating the actor seems even more weird as they just do what they are told.
I think a lot of the newer fans would be surprised how much their beloved characters were hated on when they first showed up. In particular Tara. Good lord, the old newsgroup went bananas, although I guess you could put some of that down to homophobia. Now I've depressed myself. I shall cheer myself up by watching all of Buffy this week. Yay!
Pretty disgusting when the abuse towards the character (which is bad enough) moves to an audience member. Personally, these kind of events never appealed anyway; I would love to see Once More With Feeling on the big screen, pumping out of a cinema sound system, but not the interacting stuff. I want to be able to actually watch and enjoy the episode. Then again, I'm someone who gets disgruntled at nattering whilst watching a film.

As for hated characters, I wasn't a big fan of Dawn in my first watch, but she has definitely grown on me on re-watches. Certainly post season 5, she is a great character. Riley too grow on me, but I still not totally converted. The moment he says "but she doesn't love me," in the The Replacement always puts a lump in my throat, so he must be doing something right. Kennedy was so-so, but the scene between her and Willow in Touched was... interesting (I know, I feel dirty, but... it's a spell thing.) Connor? Meh. People didn't like Wesley?
I didn't like Dawn especially the first time I watched the show, but I never hated her ... and this level of animosity just seems weird. I cannot fathom why anyone would call her a slut--which is wildly inaccurate to say the least. And it just makes me sad that fans would gang up on another fan for coming to Dawn's defense.

When I rewatched season 6 recently, though, Dawn absolutely broke my heart. She's in her mid-teens, which is often a difficult and vulnerable time at best, and she's just been through not one but THREE major traumas in the past year (finding out she's the Key; her mother's sudden death; and her own kidnapping and attempted murder, which ends with her sister's sudden and violent death). And then she spends season 6 surrounded by people in their early 20s who are too absorbed in their own issues (depression, breakups, etc.) to even *see* that this teenage girl is deeply lonely and desperate for love and understanding.

And the part that really breaks my heart is how she tries so hard to take care of the others--how she tries to be the adult when Buffy is a wreck, because there's no one else to do it, or tries to fix things between Willow and Tara. She's dealing with a level of loss and pain that no teen should have to deal with, and she's doing it essentially alone, because no one is listening to or supporting her.

Which makes the words "shut up" ironic, in a very sad way.
People call Dawn a slut, too? For slightly sexy dance moves under a demon's control? I've hoped for years to make it to a singalong someday but not anymore. Not if this is at all typical.
Also everything erendis said!
Oh my fuckety-heck, I hate this. This is the kind of thing I hate - not Dawn, not Connor, not Kennedy - but this.

I think it's likely that the shouting down of a Buffy-fan is (sadly) a logical extension of the mindset that thinks the (everso worn-out) "Shut up, Dawn" so-called joke (and slut, and whatever else) endlessly repeated is even funny to begin with. I feel bad for the girl who got shouted down, and BTW, she is my kind of gal.

There are a number of issues involved - gender issues, the hating of one's own inner Shadow "weaker" child, mob mentality - you name it - and all a big rich stinky stew of group-think ugly. I find it as puerile now as I did when I first heard of it years ago. I probably won't attend another Buffy Singalong - I've gone to three, and it's happened at all three - because of it.

Though whether or not one likes Dawn is hardly the main issue insofar as the gross bullying is concerned, I still feel compelled to re-post this poem by WHEDONesque's own Catherine, who wrote the sonnet "Dawn Speaks out at the Singalong":

Try to remember how it felt to be
a kid in high school--it sucked, right? I mean
who's selfless and mature at age fifteen?
And then try to imagine: Suddenly
you find out in those harsh, hormonal years
that you aren't human. You aren't even real.
You are a toy for some bitch-god--you'd feel
all messed up too, and when you dry your tears
and try to deal, your mother dies, and all
your memories of her are false. What then?
Your sister dies to save the world (again)
and it's your fault--for you she took the fall.
So pardon me for whining. Why don't you
Shut up yourselves 'til you've been through it too.

(Her other Whedon-y sonnets are all break-yer-heart good, too. They were posted on WHEDONesque in 2008; here's the link.)

Dawn-hate has also been discussed periodically at length here on WHEDONesque:

In conclusion, let me just take the high road here ; > and say, "Shut up, Dawn-haters" and add, "Please - shut the hell up, Fan-Bullies."

You're really not wanted here.

ETF: typos

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2011-02-21 01:58 ]
In unrelated news, if I ever need a lawyer, I'm calling QuoterGal.
Have none of you been to a "live" Rocky Horror show? Its all a part of the experience... I would yell shut up too!
I think we can chalk this up to group "oversensitivity"... Seriously, I feel bad that the girl got upset but it sounds like a fun event... Lets put our adult pants on and have some fun...
What has Rocky Horror got to do with Buffy? Totally different fan group. And quite frankly, it's insulting beyond belief to be told to "put our adult pants on". From what I've been reading, this phenomenon goes way beyond having some harmless fun.
I feel like I'm on the wrong side of the tide, but I do want to defend "Shut up, Dawn"-ers. I don't know how many of these people attended the original sing-a-longs in '07 before they got shut down by Fox, but that (yell "Shut up, Dawn!") was on the list of interactive activities. (Along with waving your parking ticket, blowing a kazoo to help Buffy find the right note in "Heaven" and pulling firework poppers during Tara's..."completion".) So I feel like that's not really the current participants' fault, since it was "sanctioned" at one point and probably went global from there.

I've yelled "Shut up, Dawn" more than once, both at the local screening way back when, and at SDCC the last few years. I don't hate Dawn, and I certainly wouldn't yell at Michelle or Joss in person.

Yelling at other fans is different, as is yelling "slut" at the screen, but it wouldn't have occurred to me before this discussion that yelling "Shut up, Dawn" (or, "You're not even REAL!!" as I heard during SDCC '09) would be seen by fellow fans as anything other than good fun, and in the spirit of RHPS.
I said before that my thoughts on this may be controversial, but Simpleba and jrs1980 seem to have raised similar points. I'm involved in a number of fandoms and this kind of behavior is MUCH worse elsewhere. I'm not even a member of the Transformers fandom and I hear it's totally brutal. While I think that "bullying" someone for defending a character is getting overboard, I do agree with Simpleba that there seems to be a group "oversensitivity" happening in the Whedon fandom, at least from my observations, more than any other fandom I'm personally a part of. And because of the nature of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it invites all kinds of philosophical, psychological, and feminist readings into every. Single. Aspect. Of the fandom. It all feeds into an atmosphere where if someone dislikes a character, that person is going to be greeted by a number of people who have not only analyzed that character's growth and character arc, but also how many average lines they have in an episode and what this character represents in a broader feminist perspective. Or something like that.

I'm generally a Dawn fan, but a friend of mine recently asked to borrow my Buffy/Angel DVDs so he could watch both shows, and he violently hates Dawn. Whenever he complains about her, I always make sure to note that she grows a lot in her 3 seasons on the televised show, particularly in season 7, but he still pokes fun at her character and I tend to join in. ("Get out GET OUT GETOUTTTT!" and Dawn breathing fire in early season 6 are the usual butts of our jokes.)

Some people like all of the characters and some people like a select number of the characters. I thought I loved all of the Buffyverse characters until I recently came to realize that I was bored by Riley. (What was his issue again? Something about Buffy not loving him enough, so he hooked up with vampire chicks? Whatever.) Violent dislike of a character is all too common in fandoms and while I won't word it as callously as "put [your] adult pants on," I will say "live and let live."

In fact, I'm not sure I would call this incident a case of intra-fandom bullying. I wasn't at this event and all I have to go on is this person's biased account of what went down. Not every Buffy fan is going to want to sit down and discuss the finer plot points and character developmental arcs, especially for characters they dislike. Sometimes, you just want that character to shut up. It seems to me like a screening wasn't the time or place for a single voice to be defending her character in a pissing contest of favorites. I would agree with the masses in that screening, that people should "toughen up" and try not to care that other people don't like their favorite or even not-disliked characters.

So really, what was the problem here?

What I see as the problem is a widespread "oversensitivity" (as Simpleba put it) in the general Whedon fandom, which is accompanied by verbosity and, sometimes, pretentiousness. On all sides. Someone's trashing Dawn? That's fine. You like her? Then say so. But don't try to change people's opinions.

My train of thought is crashing and I feel like I'm starting to sound a bit aggressive, so I'm sorry that this incident bothered everyone, but I just find it so shocking that people are reacting as if "It couldn't ever happen here!" ("Here" being the Whedon fandom.)

[ edited by Waterkeeper511 on 2011-02-21 04:23 ]
"Rocky Horror" is based on the same theme as "BtVS" IMHO. However, I do not recall a character being berated in that show.
Simpleba and jrs1980 - read the old Singalong threads & others I linked to above to find out that 1) people have been to RHPS viewings and 2) mostly find them irrelevant to this discussion and 3) many (including myself) have been to Buffy Singalongs as long as they've existed... as has Joss, who plain just doesn't like the Dawn-hate hollering. I respect that.

Simpleba - chalk it up to "oversensitivity" as you will, it's prolly good to remember for every insensitive or thoughtless act, there's always been someone standing there to say "oversensitivity" or "you're being a baby" or "toughen up."

It's not particularly persuasive.

(gossi - thanks ; > but I couldn't muster a legal argument to save my life - or anyone else's - but hopefully I could amuse or distract them while they were awaiting execution.)
So I feel like that's not really the current participants' fault, since it was "sanctioned" at one point and probably went global from there.

Sanctioned by one guy who was trying to set himself up as the arbiter of what a Buffy sing-along was. But really the point is: because one man sanctioned a stupid idea, it's okay for everyone else to not only run with it but to abuse it all to shit?

I don't think so.

The point is very simple, and no matter how long-winded people might get in their defense of the behavior, it remains simple: each person who attends a public screening of a Buffy episode does so for their own reasons. One group does not get to impose its way of experiencing it upon everyone else in the room.

At this point the only ones who need to grow up are the ones who inflict this nonsense on their fellow screening attendees.
Waterkeeper511, Simpleba, jrs1980 Well, for me, personally, I find it rude, boorish and insensitive behavior. Many fans of the show (myself included) don't feel..."comfortable" talking about our being a fan of the show with coworkers/friends/etc. because of the stigma (perceived or otherwise) surrounding the show.

"What? You like 'Buffy'? That show is SO LAME!" is the mildest comment I've heard. So I've learned to "shut up" about liking the show, unless/until I find out someone else likes it, and that generally comes about through a conversation about sci-fi/fantasy shows in general.

And, to be perfectly honest and extremely blunt, I'm sick of the "Oh grow up/Get a thick skin/Put your adult pants on" attitude. Do you have any idea how insulting that is? Basically you're (general "you" here) telling the person that it is not all right for them to care, passionately in some cases, about something that has personal meaning for them. You're belittling their beliefs and making them feel small and insignificant, which can lead to them questioning why they love what they do. And that is bullying. That is trying to control someone's thoughts and feelings by causing them to doubt themselves. And that's not ok.

Are there jerks out there? Sadly, yes. Do jerks tend to be vocal, sometimes loudly and overwhelmingly so? Again, yes. Is it wrong for someone "on the opposite side of the fence" to want to express their opinion? Not at all. What is wrong is shouting down a person for daring to say "Um, excuse me, but...I don't agree with you." It's wrong to turn an attack against a fictional character (And, really? Like my mother says when I'm getting too excited about a Packers game - "They can't hear you.") towards a fellow human being with feelings. Come on, people!

I really wish people would take a moment to step back and think "What would I do in that person's place?" It doesn't matter if you're speaking up in defense of a character/actor on a TV show, or unions, or pumpkin pie versus apple pie as a traditional Thanksgiving dish. If you feel strongly enough about something you shouldn't be afraid to be able to state your place on the issue. But shouting matches never accomplish anything, other than upsetting everyone involved. And often hurting feelings.

Oh, and in case no one mentioned it before, there's this phenomena known as "mob mentality":

The philosophers Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche were among the first to critique what they referred to as "the crowd" (Kierkegaard) and "herd morality" and the "herd instinct" (Nietzsche) in human society. Modern psychological and economic research has identified herd behavior in humans to explain the phenomena of large numbers of people acting in the same way at the same time. The British surgeon Wilfred Trotter popularized the "herd behavior" phrase in his book, Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War (1914). In The Theory of the Leisure Class, Thorstein Veblen explained economic behavior in terms of social influences such as "emulation," where some members of a group mimic other members of higher status. In "The Metropolis and Mental Life" (1903), early sociologist George Simmel referred to the "impulse to sociability in man", and sought to describe "the forms of association by which a mere sum of separate individuals are made into a 'society' ". Other social scientists explored behaviors related to herding, such as Freud (crowd psychology), Carl Jung (collective unconscious), and Gustave Le Bon (the popular mind). Swarm theory observed in non-human societies is a related concept and is being explored as it occurs in human society.

In other words, sometimes people get "swept up in the moment" and behave as the majority is, whether or not that's how they honestly feel. It took a lot of guts (And I'm thinking strong emotions) for that young fan to stand up in the midst of the shouting and heckling and try to defend a character she cared about. That same thing happens during race riots, religious and political upheavals and lynch mobbing, to name a few examples. Fortunately in this case the mob didn't turn against her physically.

And thank you, The One True b!X for what you just said.
At this point the only ones who need to grow up are the ones who inflict this nonsense on their fellow screening attendees.

Well said, b!X.
Someone's trashing Dawn? That's fine. You like her? Then say so. But don't try to change people's opinions.

A little confused about what your point is here, Waterkeeper, given what happened: Dawn was being trashed, this girl spoke up on her behalf ... and then was shouted at, and after the screening a bunch of people ganged up on her (verbally) and tried to change her opinion.

You asked what was the problem here ... well, there it is. It's not the fact that some people don't like Dawn; it's the fact that, in this case, the people who disliked Dawn were aggressively trying to silence anyone who disagreed with them.

I mean, I get that we all experience the show and have different characters we love and hate; but if the dislike of a character into shouting at a fellow fan, that seems like a major line is being crossed.

Or as b!x said much more concisely: One group does not get to impose its way of experiencing it upon everyone else in the room.
"...(W)e felt bad for poor defenseless Dawnie. Every time you tell her to shut up, remember who wrote what she’s saying. That’s right. The kid’s with me."

This needs to be said at every screening of OMWF. We are banded together by our love for the show, not for our common dislike for a character. It's not considerate. And it's not the Rocky Horror.

[ edited by The Goose on 2011-02-21 05:41 ]
erendis, at that point in my writing that post, I feel that I got caught up in one of the points I was trying to make, to the extent that I sort of forgot what originally went down.

Ganging up on someone isn't okay in my book, I didn't realize that they had physically cornered the girl or anything like that.

And ShadowQuest, I'm sorry you've gotten those kinds of reactions from people. =( I certainly never have.
I should also say that what particularly offends about the linked example is that is happened at a con, precisely the sort of place that's meant to be safe harbor for geeks and nerds, who sometimes have to endure "oh, please, it's just a television show/movie/comic book" dismissiveness in their day-to-day lives.

The bile at that sing-along is all the more reprehensible because it's a violation of that safe harbor, inflicted by the very people who should know better.
b!X just wrote a really good post about bullying - including this type of fandom bullying - at his blog FURIOUS nads! - "An Epidemic Of Bullying."

Check it out.
I was never able to understand how this happens. How people can think "shut up Dawn!" is fun. But if I ever considered "ah, maybe it's ok...", it died the day I read Joss didn't like it. Maybe I'm too "fangirl", but if Joss says it's not ok, then in my book it's NOT ok. And then actually yelling at a girl for saying that "shut up Dawn" is not ok, that is just insane, rude and unacceptable.

Others have said what I think better than I could, so I won't go longer on this... just, you know, what b!x and QuoterGal said.
Simon: "Judging from this thread and reactions to this article, she's not an unpopular character."

If that was the only way we would judge such things, perhaps. I'm going to stick with the impression I've gathered over time that Dawn-hate is not merely an isolated phenomenon imposed by a vocal minority.
I'm going to stick with the impression I've gathered over time that Dawn-hate is not merely an isolated phenomenon imposed by a vocal minority.

It doesn't matter either way, because the point still stands: don't be bullying penises.
You know what's one of the most offensive things about all this for me? (Aside from the fact that some fans turned on the girl, which is by far the most offensive aspect of this whole schmegegge.)

It's the ugly bile shown by the folks that yell this crap.

Though I think Dawn is a fine character, my feelings aren't hurt by some idiot yelling out "Shut up, Dawn" or "slut" every time she's on in OMWF. I'm 55, and over the years I've gotten pretty used to the fact that the world is filled with just enough assholes that a relatively thick skin may be required on a number of occasions. It's sad, but it's a fact.

I'm offended as a person in this fandom who enjoys, for the most part, identifying with others who love Buffy or Firefly or a host of other Whedon-y goodness. I get offended at the vitriol - no matter what it's called, or how laughingly presented, it just comes across as ignorant, mean-spirited, ugly, and just plain unfunny.

It's alienating, and to me, offensive that somewhere I go intentionally to enjoy being in the company of others that love Buffy is peppered with enough assholes that I no longer want to identify with these people in my fandom.

Tant pis, you might say, and life is filled with a thousand little disappointments, but - seeing that ugly coming out of my co-fans is off-putting, sad, and offensive.
It doesn't matter either way, because the point still stands: don't be bullying penises.

If that was the only point being put in play here I would agree. I certainly don't defend the people who went to the point of ganging up on this girl. I think some of this discussion in both places has gone a little too far in defining what the bullying is and seems to include the original act of the "Shut up Dawn!" callout as part in parcel of the bullying too. I think JusticeDemon said it well at the comments in the link:

During our screening of OMWF I provided outlets at important times to give the Dawn-haters direction – because otherwise it CAN and does run out of control. If someone doesn’t give them an example of how to “correctly” make fun of Dawn, some fans will inevitably start swearing and pushing the envelope (I’ve heard a laugh from “I hope you get raped, Dawn!”).

You can’t take this so seriously. People will make fun of actors, characters and episodes they don’t like – this isn’t going away. Dawn was legitimately a huge pain in the ass for almost an entire year and that won’t just go away because someone who likes Dawn now gets their feelings hurt.

That's a bit like them saying, "We have to be organized dicks or otherwise the dickness will run rampantly chaotic."

I don't buy it. No one has to be a dick at all. No one has to respond to their dislike of a character by being an asshole. That's a choice - and not one that I would want to defend on the grounds of, "Well, they're gonna do it anyway because she was a pain in the ass - you know, legitimately - so get over it."

This just legitimizes fans being douchebuckets to other fans.
I still find that ludicrous. Why are we clearing the way for people to make fun of it at all? This show means something, a deep something, to many people. Why is it necessary for that to bow down subserviently to people who just want to make fun of it? If you want to talk shit about it in your own head, or to your friend sitting next to you, there's not much anyone can say about that. But inflicting it upon everyone else is simply, as I said, ludicrous.

Most people go to conventions because, as I suggest above, they are meant to be safe places to be who they are. And then some of the very people who presumably themselves are there to be who they are inflict "you have to be like us, or suffer us in silence" upon others?

Ludicrous. And ludicrous to defend it.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2011-02-21 07:00 ]
"Dawn was legitimately a huge pain in the ass for almost an entire year and that won’t just go away because someone who likes Dawn now gets their feelings hurt."

Um, says who? There are plenty of people who really like Dawn's character so the "legitimacy" of your claim is totally subjective. Why the hell should everybody at these screenings have to put up with a bunch of overbearing douche bags who clearly have no respect for any of the people around them? What makes them so arrogant to think their feelings are more important than everybody else’s and that anybody even cares if they hate Dawn? It’s meant to be a sing along, not a character bashing session. Nobody should have to go to these events and listen to people screaming out “slut!” or making jokes about how funny it would be if the character “got raped.” They are showing absolutely no respect for all the other people at the event and it has clearly put a lot of people off from attending.

I couldn’t care a less that they’re criticising a fictional character. Dawn is not real and Dawn doesn’t have feelings so it’s not like she’s “hurt” by it. I just think you have to a massive DICK to go to this event and keep screaming out profanities when you know it’s ruining the experience for many other people. It’s just common courtesy to think about the people around you. They sound like the kind of morons who just recline their seat right back on a plane without thinking at all about the person sitting behind them.

Besides, they’ve been doing this for years now right? The joke has clearly run its course so it’s pretty lame they still think it’s funny when everybody else is just over it. Move on.

[ edited by vampmogs on 2011-02-21 07:20 ]
I find this whole discussion ludicous, but I'm still sticking to it, for whatever means.

If I may, wish to play out a scene:

Dawn: "You wanna know what I'm scared of Spike? Me. I'm like a lightning rod for pain and hurt and everyone around me suffers. I must be something so horrible, to cause so much pain and evil."

Spike: "Little bit, I'm a vampire. I know something about evil. You're not evil."

Okay, now my heart is broken once again, thank you very much.
The Dawn hate at Comic-Con this year was just uncomfortable, and to be honest, it ended the convention on a bad note. I'm on b!x's side here-- conventions aren't supposed to negative. We come to conventions to celebrate the shows that we love with like-minded people. Why do people in this fandom go along with the (admittedly vocal) minority of Dawn haters?

The mob mentality at play here is disheartening. I wonder how many people at these things actually care about what they're yelling, and how many are just shouting out vitriol because they think "that's what the real fans are supposed to do." Sigh.
Really? REALLY? Are you f*cking kidding me? You seriously just told me to 'put my adult pants on' and treat screenings of OMWF like RHPS in the theatre? Buffy, the show whose original network target audience was teenagers, being shown at a family friendly event (ie ok for kids/teens), regarding dislike of a teenage character (who had some legit issues to whine about), being defended by a teenage fan? The 'adult' thing to do would have been to ask the bullies to be quiet, apologize for treating their fellow UNDERAGE fan so poorly, and maybe even leave.

Not to mention it was a young woman, standing up to a group of aggressive bullies, in order to defend someone who due to uncontrollable circumstances couldn't defend themselves... y'all have actually *seen* the show BtVS and are familiar with Joss's concept and philosophy, yes? The fandom is too feminist? We read too much into too many things, especially regarding feminist analysis of Whedon's work? "So, why do you write these strong female characters? Because you're still asking me that question." You *do* understand the Buffy fandom, right?

As for the oversensitivity thing in general, sure, sometimes Western Society can take being PC too far. But when it comes to bullying, where, and better yet, how do you draw the line? When is it ok and when is it not? Why do you, or anyone, get to decide when *this* and not *that* is finally too much? Plain and simple, it was mean. It was a group of people, who were not only loudly and aggressively forcing their opinion on others (I've been to screenings of OMWF where you couldn't even hear Dawn because of the jeers) but turned in a malicious mob mentality against someone who was supposed to be one of their own and in a geek-friendly environment, and proceed to verbally harass and degrade her because they were so very certain that their opinion was right and superior. Sure, no physical force was used, but are we really so uneducated, so without compassion or empathy, so incredibly medieval in our ethics and morals that *physical force* is where the line of unacceptable abuse is drawn?

WTF,guys. This is downright embarrassing.
Madhatter just made me cry. I love Dawnie and I always loved her relationship with Spike.
I think that there is a legitimate difference between poking gentle fun at the show and characters and yelling angrily at them to shut up. Every character has its fans and every fan has feelings.

The problem is that a lot of people don't seem to know where the line between "good fun" and "being a dick" is. Unfortunately, that's a fairly critical line.

Like was mentioned upthread: these places are meant to be where people gather to express shared interest in Buffy. Especially because its such a hard thing to enjoy publicly (frequently mocked, etc.) It's really a shame that so many people have come away from it with a bad experience, and I would like to say to anyone that has felt that way that, as clearly evidenced by this thread, there are plenty of us Whedonites that are not dicks.
QuoterGal and b!x have pretty much covered most of the points I would make on this issue, but I find I want to voice my opinion anyway! :)

I have been to a number of OMWF sing-alongs, locally and at Comic-Con. The first one we went to locally we were given various props to use and told when to use them and that part was fun. Several people yelling "Shut up, Dawn" had me feeling very uncomfortable, but we put it down to them being drunk (which they were). However, when it happened at the next screening, we realised it was a trend, so after that whenever there was a screening, the audience was asked not to yell at any of the characters but to enjoy the episode and sing along. Everyone respected the request and nobody seemed to have a problem adhering to it.

I have been to the sing-alongs at the last three Comic-Cons, even persuading some of my friends who also dislike the shouting to attend, but we sit well back so as not to be disturbed by those who shout, although we all brace ourselves and wince when it happens. It has tainted my enjoyment - although not my love - of the experience. What should be one of the highlights of a Buffy fan - singing along with dozens, hundreds or even thousands of other fans to a favourite episode - is rapidly becoming an event people don't want to attend.

In two weeks I'm going to Emerald City Comic-Con and have been looking forward to going to the Buffy sing-along there; however, I am now re-evaluating.

I didn't have a big problem with Dawn throughout the show. I may be in my 50s but I still remember what it was like to be that age and I didn't have nearly the trauma in my life that she had: finding out she wasn't real, being hunted by a god, her mother's death, her kidnapping & near murder and then her sister sacrificing her life for her - all of which has been pointed out above - and that was just in Season 5! Of course she was whiny and sometimes annoying - she was 14 years old! What was Xander's excuse when he was whiny and annoying.

Season 6 wasn't much better for Dawn and yet by the end of S6 and into S7, she had already matured into one of the steadier characters. She shines in the latter part of "Potential" and from then on is a valuable member of the inner circle.

However, whether or not you like Dawn (or Riley or Connor or Kennedy, for that matter) does not give you the right to disrupt what should be an enjoyable fan event by yelling insults at a character on the screen or going even farther by yelling at a fan who objects to that rude behaviour.

We now have Dr. Horrible Sing-alongs at a lot of CSTS events. I have never had to say anything before we screened it - I always assumed people wanted to enjoy singing along and being able to hear the witty dialogue and so far I seem to be right.
The lesson--as always--people do have the capacity to suck beyond the telling of it. F*** 'em.
Better sensitive than insensitive and, if these are the two choices, better oversensitive than insensitive, IMHO.
I'm not utterly convinced of the idea that a young girl should know her place and not say anything just so a bunch of louts (for want of a better word) can hurl abuse. In fact good for her standing up to those people in the audience, it took a lot of balls to do that. I hope she's ok, my worry is that she'll have left the fandom as a result. The fact that people stood around her afterwards and told her why she was wrong is extremely unpleasant.

I say boycott sing-alongs until the organisers recognise that there is a problem and they have to sort it out. Write to them and tell them why you're not going and that you will tell your fellow fans as well. Post about it on Twitter, Facebook, LJ, Tumblr etc. Keep shining a light on the matter until you get an answer.
I really hate the excuse to toughen up, to act like an adult. Teenagers who have been bullied and beaten mentally and physically, commit suicide every day because people tell them to toughen up and don't actually do anything to help.
You really don't know how this girl was affected by the incident. A campaign to eliminate this kind of stuff is the only way to go.
If there are really a large number of people that dislike the Dawn bashing (and I'm one of them), then the strongest statement you can make is to get up and leave the room when it starts. If only a handful of people leave the room, well, then that sends a message that few people are offended by the behavior. Things are not likely to change. If half the room (or more) gets up and leaves, you have a real good chance things will change.

Unless hundreds of people email the organizers with why they aren't attending, simply boycotting may not be noticed. And if the event still sells out, then few will care. A half empty room sends a message for the rest of the singalong. I know its a lot to ask for people to stand in line for an event only to leave, but if a message from Joss doesn't change behavior, then I'm not sure what else will.
When Dawn first appeared, I didn't like the character. But I have never felt the need to yell at her to shut up when I have attended OMWF singalongs.
Like many others, when I have attended the singalong at San Diego Comic-con, I sit well in the back where we sing, we do not yell.
But even in that very large room, the enthusiasm with which people scream at Dawn has always been off putting.
It saddens but does not surprise me that some people would then transfer that behaviour to a real person in the room.
then the strongest statement you can make is to get up and leave the room when it starts.

I wondered about a walkout and it would be effective. But I wouldn't want a situation where things could get out of hand. Particularly if the audience abusers have been drinking before hand.
It's most of the audience with the Dawn booing, from my perception anyway. It stems from the original (and un-properly-licensed) screenings with the Buffy Singalong tour decision to tell people to boo her, and it's been with those screenings since then.

It's worth noting there's nobody controlling these screenings now -- they're individual groups -- and I doubt most of them are even licensed.
This isn't a matter of Whedon fans being "oversensitive". This kind of behavior is just unacceptable, it doesn't matter if it's a Whedon show event or something else entirely. There's no justification for mean, even if it doesn't turn into bullying of a fan (which kinda makes the point that this is where this kind of shit leads).
And the idea that the "adult" thing to do is just get over it, is insulting. If this behavior is anything, it's juvenile.

I like the idea of boycotting the sing-alongs, and letting the organizers know why.
I think its unacceptable for these people to be rude in public. I've been to a singalong and there were definitely shouts at the screen when Dawn made an appearance.

Personally, I think the way to handle this issue moving forward is to sanction ONE "shut up Dawn." Let people do it once if they feel the need and then shut up for the rest of the episode. If they scream every time shes on-screen, it ruins the whole experience, (IMO, of course).
I was typing out a massive reply, but then I deleted it. Simply put, I don't advocate this kind of mass bullying and it shouldn't happen, but the masses were not wrong in telling the girl to toughen up. You need to be tough in this world. Even if it's just dealing with fictional character hatred. One of the lessons I learned from Buffy is that the world is a mean place and you need to be strong to survive it. Or have a powerful witch bring you back to life in case you don't.

I vehemently disagree with the notion of there needing to be a "campaign" to get rid of this kind of behavior, at least in this particular situation.

I didn't mean to get you angry, cymerin. I'd love to talk with you more about this, though.
Cheers, I'd added it the entry.
but the masses were not wrong in telling the girl to toughen up. You need to be tough in this world.

This girl stood her ground against the masses and then continued to stand tall when a group of adults cornered her after the show.

She needs to "toughen up"?

She's already a Big. Damn. Hero.
When I go to the OMWF singalong at Comic Con this year I'm taking a heart which says 'I LOVE DAWN' on it to wave when she comes on.

Feel free to join me.
Emmie, that's a Big. Damn. Fact.

That whole "toughen up" routine reminds me of an abusive parent's rationalization for smacking their kid around: "It's a rough world out there and the sooner she gets used to that, the better off she'll be."

Yes, of course, the world can be rough - but a kid is stronger for being loved by the folks she loves, and not by routine mistreatment that is felt as betrayal.

Not to stretch the analogy too far, we - her fellow fans - are precisely the people she needs not to get this treatment from, to better enable her to face any harshness from the folks that can't understand or sympathize with her feelings and concerns. (Sorry if this sounds infantilizing - she actually sounds like a grown-up fully capable of standing up for herself. But... analogy has its limitations...)

Anyway, we need to not turn into "Them" by being assholes to each other. If nothing else, you can trust the rest of the world to provide her with all the toughening-up pressure she needs... sadly...

(doubleshiny, that's a great idea...)
Waterkeeper511, you are entitled to your opinion, but I really feel you are completely off base. Watching art with a fellow audience should not be an opportunity to force your opinion down someone else's throat in such a brutal manner and make of their experience something miserable.

I remember long ago as a student of opera, reading an article about Joan Sutherland and her conductor husband Richard Bonynge attending La Scala. At this opera house, perhaps in particular, it was the norm for the claque (basically organized factions of fans) to hiss, whistle, boo and torment the singers on stage (and believe it or not, still is today - top singers will for the most part no longer perform there) if they were not paid off or if they felt the singer had given some insult to Milan or La Scala. Sutherland said they got up in disgust while watching a performance, saying in so many words, "We are not gladiators, this is not the coliseum".

This kind of behavior and that exhibited at the Buffy singalong, lowers the general zeitgeist of art. Several people here have said they question attending one ever, or may not ever attend one again. And that's just wrong.
Emmie, that's a Big. Damn. Fact.

I'm writing her folk song "The Hero of Sing-Alongs" as I type.
In my personal experience, 'Toughen Up' is Bully speak for: Don't squeal so I can beat you up again tomorrow.
And I should have added in my post, lowers the zeitgeist of decent human interaction, not just art.
Shouting "Shut up, Dawn" during a sing-along? Eh. We were doing summat similar to RHPS back in the day when I was in high school.

Dawn-bashing? Well, I have an opinion on that, which is utterly irrelevant to the issue at hand.

Telling another fan that they are *WRONG* because, for whatever reason, they happen to like that character? Yeah, not so much.
And another thing...

If the creator of That Thing You Love tells you that expressing hatred for a character they created is Just Not On because it is disrespectful to them as the creator?

It's not only Just Not On, but disrespectful to the creator of That Thing You Love to argue the point.
That's actually the one argument with which I take issue. An audience isn't obligated to defer to a creator's wishes. An audience is perfectly free to do so, but it isn't obligated to do so.

It's just that whether they defer to the creator's wishes or not, there's a way to behave and a way not to behave.
@ b!X -- at some level, however, there's only so much nondeferring that can happen.

Yes, you can say "Hey, I don't like Character."

But if it becomes "Hey, I don't like Character, and Character must die and you have betrayed me horridly by not killing Character," that's rather overkill, if you will forgive the pun.

At the end of the day, thems that thought up the characters get a large say in what gets done with them.

Please note that the same analogy applies if Creator HAS killed off a character you happen to love.
BetNoir-I agree with b!x. An audience isn't obligated to defer to a creator's wishes. But Joss Whedon's wishes aren't the main issue here.

The verbal abuse and physical intimidation of a young fan at a convention gathering is.
The sing-alongs at San Diego Comic Con get more popular and crowded every year. From what I've observed at this con and others, yes there are some who yell shut up Dawn, but it's not done in a serious manner. People laugh and it's meant as lighthearted fun.

The only time I was bothered was when someone who was tone deaf sat next to me and sang as loudly as he could. I had to run away. ;)
Jeez, never been to a sing-a-long but now I'm pretty sure I never will unless the organisers promise to enforce a no-shouting-at-the-screen rule. Can't imagine anything more annoying than going to a film and having to listen to other audience members shout stuff when I'm trying to enjoy the programme and hear what's going on.

Definitely sticking to my bedroom and a couple of friends.

Also, can't remember who mentioned it earlier but the word "slut" is still a heavily gendered insult. As a woman, I'd feel really 'othered' by an audience who shouted this out at a female character. It's totally disrespecful and sexist.
Sorry, but I really object to the rampant overuse of the new trending media buzzword “bullying” and the properly horrified reactions required to comply with this latest foray into political correctness gone bad. You're a bully. No you're bullying me by calling me a bully. He's a bully. She's a bully. Bully. Bully. Bully. People are becoming hyper-sensitized to normal conflict and in the process, desensitized to the kind of behavior that genuinely causes long-term harm. An argument, even an unpleasant one, should not leave a well adjusted individual permanently scarred for life. I challenge anyone reading this to say that they never once growing up experienced a more difficult incident than what is described here. You survived it. She will too. And for crying out loud, we don't know that this fan was even a minor – she was originally described as college-aged.

What we do know is that the crowd had absolutely no interest in her until she initiated a fan on fan confrontation. She wasn't commenting on the show, she was calling out the behavior of other fans viewing the screening – her first amendment prerogative, but also her burden to deal with the consequences. What were the reasonable expectations as to what would happen next? Being a member of the majority does not rob you of your right to respond to criticism and express your own views and opinions. From all reports though, this fan acquitted herself well, so I have to ask the question: Why are we demeaning her by casting her as a helpless bullying victim? Does that just better make the point that the crowd was in the wrong? If the point to all of this is that the crowd was behaving rudely, fine... no argument. Repetitively yelling any opinion in a public venue is almost certainly going to annoy others. But don't hide simple objection to rude behavior by crying “bully”. That's just wrong.
Thanks b!X for the link to the excellent "follow-up and Simon for adding it to the heading.
I love this: "After this experience, I think perhaps we need fewer OMWF singalongs and more group showings of The Pack"
bul·lied, bul·ly·ing, bul·lies
1. To treat in an overbearing or intimidating manner. See Synonyms at intimidate.
2. To make (one's way) aggressively.

The problem is, the definition fits. The one person was shouted down, and then confronted by a large number of people while she was by herself. I think the reason many people have a problem with the word bully in a context like this, is that it often casts a shadow on normal things like democratic discourse. In this case, you have a large number of people arguing with a single person which shouldn't be in itself wrong, but it is a massive power differential.

In these situations, the ten are perfectly fine being completely wrong in their argument (for example, not specifically this argument) because groupthink either sets in or has already set in. It ceases to be an actual argument and usually turns into an exercise in power. Tyranny of the majority was first used hundreds of years ago for a reason. It's always existed (especially around free speech) and it has never been viewed as a good thing. It remains to this day the same thing it was then, bullying.

The "remains well adjusted" argument is a horrible one to make, especially psychologically. True, some bullying victims show symptoms immediately. But the human mind can bury trauma under layers of neurosis. Many times, people don't figure out why they've stopped being social or are angry all the time until years after the fact. Many begin to have problems forming normal social relationships. Now of course, usually one experience would be a big jump to get to that point, but I doubt any person in that theater knew or cared about the context of the woman in question when they started.

[ edited by azzers on 2011-02-22 20:14 ]
Oh wow, that's just sad. I suppose there's a dark side to everything, including fandoms.

At Dragon*Con last year, they asked everyone while they were still in line not to be mean to Dawn, since it was the performer's last year playing her, and for the most part everyone complied, and actually cheered pretty loud for her during the bows.

This actually reminds me of a short story on the same topic, about a girl named Dawn who defends her love of Dawn at a screening of OMWF, in a book called Geektastic.

[ edited by katiegrrl1016 on 2011-02-22 22:50 ]
BringItOn5x5, I think you raise valid points.

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