Femslash and the growing power of fandom

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: lawrence@krubner.com, or follow me on Twitter.

I’m not saying anything new if I say that fandom has changed the relationship between the reader and the author. I have the impression this change started in Japan and has been imported to the USA. That’s despite fandom mostly living on the Internet and the Internet having been mostly developed in the USA.

Fandoms influence on authors tends to be trivial. Authors often ignore fandoms. Or the authors play to the fans in cheap ways, and only occasionally. Two characters who have never kissed, but of whom there is slash fiction, end up kissing, and the fans, or the author, joke that this is fan service. The joke is very thin. If the author does this often, then they violate the trust of their fans. If the author loses their audience, it seems like a punishment that has been earned.

The pushback regarding The 100 is a bit different. It’s different because its femslash, but its also different because of the directness with which some of the fans wanted to criticize Jason Rothenberg. I get that fans criticize comic books and movies all the time, but this had a political angle that is rare. The fans weren’t saying “I found that scene unrealistic” the fans were saying “This is a violation.” Is the charge warranted? I think a showrunner is trusted by the fans, and to kill a character for cheap reasons is a violation of that trust. So I think the charge is at least somewhat warranted.

I should emphasize, I’ve nothing new or original to say on this topic. I’m writing this blog post for myself, mostly to record the impressions I have, right now in 2016, about the relationship between authors and those who consume the creations of authors. If you’d like to learn about slash fiction, femslash, fandom, manga, The 100, or Lexa and Clarke, there are a lot of great blogs that you can read, some of them written by fans. You would be doing yourself a disservice if you allowed this blog post to be the first thing you read on this topic.

NSFW: Since I’m partly writing about slash, remember that some of what I link to will contain erotica.

Jezebel just posted a bit about who is expendable on TV shows.

Really, it betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of who this story is really about. Apparently the writers considered Ichabod to be the lead, and Abbie an important but not necessarily vital element. Sure, there’s some hand-waving about a potential fourth season plot that has Ichabod tracking down someone who inherits Abbie’s job as Witness—taking on her soul, which actually sounds a little creepy if you think about it. But Nicole Beharie won’t be around for that, which is, quite frankly, absurd. I’m not sure if there were behind-the-scenes issues we aren’t privy to, but Beharie’s a critical element of the series. Tom Mison is a fine actor, but without the two of them together, what’s the damn point?

The chemistry between Beharie and Mison was what drew many fans to the fantasy series, and they’re extremely disappointed in another show killing off one of its more diverse characters, regardless of what the practical issues were that may have forced the showrunner’s hand.

I see three issues being described above:

1.) the authors don’t understand what the audience likes about the show

2.) the authors should show some respect for the energy that the fans invest in the show

3.) when the authors kill off a character, they tend to kill characters who are not white or not heterosexual

This last issue raises the question of what rights the audience has. Yes, they can always walk away from the art. Authors can be punished by depriving them of an audience. But if the fans have invested a lot of energy in creating an audience, are they not owed something?

The comments on that post are really worth reading:

This is important because the writers made a black woman feel expendable in her own damn show! We get disrespected so bad and all people tell us is to wait our turn! We have so few black leads out there and they killed one of our darlings!

To get an idea about what kind of energy, try searching for “lexa clarke” on Tumblr:


Then you’ll find whole blogs devoted just to Clexa

I’ll devote the second half of this post to Clexa, because the energy of the fans has gotten my attention, but as Gizmodo has been writing on this subject, I’ll mention that they focus on Xena as the springboard of femslash:

Xena, and her plucky sidekick Gabrielle, somersaulted into fandom like a pair of rockets. Xena: Warrior Princess had the luxury of arriving on the scene at the perfect time. “Girl Power” was a phrase on everyone’s lips, social mores had loosened enough that you could talk about gay people without being committed or labeled a deviant, and the internet was building enormous communities on chatrooms, websites and Usenet.

It was a group of elements that just needed a spark. Xena kissing Gabrielle (even though she was in Bruce Campbell’s body) was god damned ignition. That Xena was also one of the most watched shows on television helped, too. All the small disparate fandoms of queer women had a single banner to unite under, and a blond and brunette to ship like an Onassis.

They had a lot of creativity too, and immediately started churning out fanfic and fanart that even straight fans could enjoy. Then, late in the second season, the show aired an episode that would not only alter the Xena fandom—but fandom at large—forever

All the small disparate fandoms of queer women had a single banner to unite under, and a blond and brunette to ship like an Onassis.

“The Xena Scrolls” was a “clip” show designed to be cheap and help fulfill the episode order. It just happened to be a damn clever clip show. Set in the 1930s, it was a major role reversal for the primary women of the cast. Lucy Lawless wasn’t a flinty-eyed warrior princess, but a Southern debutant out to reclaim her father’s reputation, and Renee O’Connor wasn’t the bubbly sidekick, but a hard-nosed adventurer out to restore her family name after her father sullied it. The episode was so popular it inspired its own fandom. It also inspired the creation of a whole new genre of fanfiction, which started out being called “uberfic” before being renamed “AU,” for “alternate universe.”

AUs had existed before Xena, but they’ve been rare and frequently unpopular. Xena romanticized the AU. It wasn’t just about putting good looking people in new situations. There was something distinctly canonical about it. These were soulmates meeting again and again throughout time, living the same stories over and over again, with little tweaks here and there.

The Xena fandom took the opportunity presented by “The Xena Scrolls” and ran with it—changing the characters but always keeping some element, however small, the same. And as they produced more and more uberfic, the scenarios presented in the stories moved further and further away from the original conceits of the show. Writers were spending months—even years—on their fanfic. After a point a question was naturally asked: why not just sell it?

Almost fifteen years before E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Gray the Xena fandom was “scrubbing the serial numbers” off their uberfic and turning fanfic writers into lesbian lit superstars. And they’re still doing it today. Check out the top ten best selling lesbian romance novels on Amazon. They’re almost all either former fanfics, or the work of authors who started as uberfic writers.

Later in the article they talk about The 100. This is the part that interests me most, the notion of fandom as a social justice movement:

It helped that The 100 already had an active fandom before Lexa, and that that fandom was full of many of the young queer women who had successfully campaigned for a lesbian subplot on Glee. They had the experience and the time to get their fan on, and here was a show giving them what they wanted without them having to do any work. There was no demanding gay ladies at Comic Con panels and PaleyFest events, or giant Twitter campaigns seeking to trend queer hashtags over “official” ones.

There is a real danger for authors who don’t understand the forces they are up against when they mess with fans. In particular, if you promise fans a happy ending, and then kill one of the lovers, you should be ready for some very serious pushback:

It also helped that the showrunners seemed to like them. Writer’s assistant Shawna Benson (she was just announced as a new writer for DC’s Batgirl and the Birds of Prey) took to lesbian fan websites to court viewers and promise safe and sound lady lovers on a show known for its shocking murders, and showrunner Jason Rothenburg was happy to tweet any and all love for Lexa and the Clexa pairing.

I’ll come back to this.

On television shows, women in love with women remains rare. Over the last 20 years, there have been the occasional shows, such as Buffy, that had that occasional lesbian character, but fans clearly feel starved for more:

but like after the 100 my standards are so high that all other shows will have to step up their game in order for me to even consider watching them at all.

like what do you mean there aren’t any badass females? no queer women in love ruling over the world? the biggest evil mastermind isn’t a woman either? where are all the poc characters in the position of power?? no platonic m/f friendships? interracial couple is not the one with the healthiest relationship on the show that literally everyone and their mom ships? sorry mate, not interested.

I loved Italo Calvino’s book “If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler” for taking on the issue of the relationship between the author and the reader. Back then it was a rare topic. It’s a topic that authors need to think about nowadays, because the relationship of author to fan is changing.

To be clear, I think this is great: :

Person: didn’t you watch [insert show title]?

Me: yes

Person: why don’t you anymore?

Me: are you sure you’re ready for this conversation

That’s a fierce fan, which is what every author should most crave.

On television, there is the issue of how to use the time during the commercials:

Do you remember any other ads during the show? I focused a lot of my tweeting on target. I need something to replace it in my rotation lol.

I don’t. I mostly used the commercial breaks to update people about the trigger warnings. I even missed the FTWD one because I wasn’t focused, I’m so sad about that.

But I might have just what you need. We have a whole list of advertisers on that email brigade post which you can find right here. I think you can use most of those.

The notion of social activism putting pressure on corporate investment has a long history. It won a victory in the 1980s as a movement against Apartheid in South Africa. It’s modern consumer oriented focus took shape during the 1950s. In a different form, with a focus on workers rights, it goes back to at least the 1930s, if not the 1880s.

With television and movies, the product is cultural, and the social justice concerns have to do with representation.

What exactly is the benefit of lying to fans? In the short-term, one can get a ratings boost. In the long-term, one has to face the backlash.

One of the major points “YFNL” made, was to reassure people about something that had been posted on social media.

Alycia Debnam-Carey had stopped by The 100 office and signed a poster to Jason with the following:

“Thank you for this opportunity. Jus Drein Jus Daun.”

Many fans took this as a goodbye note to Jason, suggesting that Lexa would be dying this season.

YFNL, in their capacity as “Rumor Control,” discredited that theory, stating that there was no goodbye implied and that Alycia was simply thanking Jason.

Of course, by the time Shawna Benson stopped by the board to reassure fans and “help them sleep better at night,” she was already aware of Lexa’s death. In fact, even media members were aware of Lexa’s death at that point. Eric Goldman, of IGN, joked that Kim Shumway had accidentally spoiled Lexa’s death for him at Comic-Con, weeks before Shawna visited the thread.

YFNL assured the fans:

P.S. Like pretty much everyone else, I am ship-agnostic. But I have a fondness for Clexa that cannot be denied. And I’m straight, since someone asked my orientation. I’m here because you guys amuse me. And this is completely unsanctioned, hence why I can’t prove anything.

Fans felt more reassured after YFNL’s posts and presence in the forum; the confidence in Lexa’s survival rose even more when “YFNL” revealed herself to be Shawna Benson, a staff writer on The 100.

And this sums up some of the important issues regarding the relationship between authors and fans as of 2016:

This situation as a whole raises a number of questions about proper social media engagement between fans and creators. Was it wrong for fans to feel comforted when a writer on the show specifically seeks out their fan spaces and their LGBT+ spaces to reassure them about their favorite characters and relationships on the show? Should the creators really feel blindsided by the fan response when they spent time during the hiatus on lesbian-specific forums and read hundreds of posts that discussed the fans’ fears of Lexa’s death? Is lying to fans just to preserve the “shock twist” in the show really the right way to go about telling stories? Let’s discuss.

Rothenberg did a lot to promote the character of Lexa, which is why it seems just that he later became the focus of people’s anger:

We Deserved Better:

If Lexa’s reveal as LGBT+ made a splash, it was nothing compared to the “leaked” shot of her kissing the lead of the show, revealing both canon romantic feelings between two female characters and the fact that the lead is bisexual. The writers immediately took to social media to decry the leaks, articles started coming out, and “Clexa” spontaneously trended world wide. The ship had sailed. Again, fears immediately surfaced concerning the fate of LGBT+ characters, but they were, again, addressed and assuaged.

Can a person lie this much and not pay a price for it?

Others on staff also had to face fan criticism:

This bit I can at least identify, in terms of watching one’s boss make a terrible mistake, and yet somehow not being able to stop that mistake from happening:

If Clexa is bringing an unusually intense reaction from fans, I’m sure part of it is the unusual and unethical lengths that Rothenberg was willing to go to in his efforts to boost ratings for the show.

Given that the messy and possibly unethical use of social media to raise fans’ expectations had also become a major point of contention above and beyond just the use of the tired lesbian death cliché, Jason also addressed those issues, by eloquently explaining that people intentionally misunderstood his excitement about the show to be a positive thing for the LGBT+ community.

Part of my interest in this particular case of fan activism is that this particular incident seems unusually rich in ethical issues. For any writer thinking about the modern relationship between the author and the fans, this incident is a “must study” event.

Rothenberg claims he learned a lot from the criticism he faced, but of course, we can not know if he is sincere:

“Absolutely, I am aware of that and I do think that’s an incredible silver lining in all of this, for sure. Warner Brothers by the way, supports The Trevor Project, as do I. Believe it or not but looking at this whole thing that happened, although it has been hard for me personally, boohoo me, the truth is that it’s a positive. It has really opened my eyes in a lot of ways to the power that stories have in the world and the responsibility that I have as a storyteller. Both in the way I communicate via social media of course and promises, implicit or not, that I might make and the stories themselves.”

Rothenberg demonstrated a fragile ego that hated criticism:

That night, Jason perceived the promotion of The Trevor Project and the popular trending topic about LGBT+ equality to be an attack on him and his show: he retweeted a message from a fan that read “To the bullies, the cowards, and the trolls. You lose. #RenewThe100” and went on to state things such as “do not pretend that because the cause you champion is noble, that you—and how you behave, when you are a bully—are noble” and asked “what are you doing, bully, to be different to those who you say bully you in what they have created?”

The use of the word “bully” seems incredibly inappropriate. Imagine a 15 year old woman who realizes she is a lesbian, and worse, who has classmates who realize she is lesbian. What does she have to deal with at school? Outside observers need to ask who is more deserving of sympathy, the young women looking for positive role models who resemble them (and share their sexuality) versus the mid-career guy who stumbled but doesn’t want anyone to laugh at his stumble.

The fans want relationships that happen in the canon, not just in the slash fiction they write. Canon here has a broad usage:

Canon, as it applies to television series, is substantially different from its literary counterpart. For example, there is no question of which Sherlock Holmes stories (the first non-biblical literary works to which the term was applied) are canonical: those written by Doyle are, everything else isn’t.

Television canonicity works much differently, as there are many authors involved. Works not officially sanctioned are generally outside of canonicity, but what remains inside is more nebulous. Officially licensed material, novelizations and tie-in novels are not usually considered canonical. Even broadcast material can be excluded from the canon when decreed by Word of God.

The primary issue is that canons for completed works (especially with a single author) are descriptive, whereas fans’ attempts to define canonicity for ongoing works are prescriptive. If a fact is “canonical”, you are “not allowed” to contradict it.

The concept of canonicity is almost entirely an invention of fandom. The writers will ignore, include, or change whatever facts they damned well like. This is not to say that the writers totally lack a sense of continuity, but it is a much weaker concept than “canonicity” as presented by fan communities. Writers can tweak continuity quite a lot without actually breaking it by using Broad Strokes.

Anyone who knows a bit of history is aware that people attach a great deal of meaning to the narratives around which they shape their identity, and they are willing to fight hard regarding what is canon. In 1517 Martin Luther said that the only path to Heaven was by God’s Grace and that all Christian theologians before him were guilty of the Pelagian Heresy. Over the next 100 years, nearly 50 million people died in the various wars, most of which were religious wars. The narratives that people latch onto, and form their identities around, are the things that people are most willing to fight for.

This latest wave of activism could potentially be a second wave to what started in the 1990s. If the 1990s brought the first openly lesbian romances to the television, but with restrictions such as “they must die”, then this is the second wave that says “We demand a happy ending.” A possibly related development is that the movie Carol was made last year, based on the Price Of Salt, which is often said to have been the first lesbian novel to have a happy ending.

Gizmodo emphasizes the frequency of lesbian characters being killed off this year:

That turned out to be Empire, where a bisexual Naomi Campbell (in love with a dude) murdered her wife, played by Marisa Tomei, before offing herself.

Showrunner Illene Chaiken, herself a lesbian and creator of The L Word, insists that her show isn’t “a part of that phenomenon or conversation.”

“If anything, the lesbians should wish for a character like Camilla to be killed off since she just preyed on a powerful lesbian in order to fulfill her heterosexual ambitions,” she told Variety.

Chaiken may believe that, but she’s the only one. The dead lesbian (we’ve had once a week since late Febuary) and her opportunistic bisexual wife are a part of a trend that can no longer be ignored. What was once a miserable trope consigned to discussions on L Chat and Tumblr is now being discussed, and condemned, in the open, and by more than the frustrated queer girls experiencing it.

And of course, some of the anger comes from the fact that it sometimes seems as if the entire entertainment industry is homophobic:

TV producers often don’t react much better. Supernatural, Once Upon a Time, and Teen Wolf have all followed similar tactics in their most recent seasons, with the two halves of each of their respective slash ships spending less and less time onscreen together.

Stargate: Atlantis enjoyed decent ratings and a stolidly middle-aged fanbase that had supported the franchise for over a decade. It also had a major cult following within slash fandom because of the popularity of the slash pairing of John Shepard and Rodney McKay, a.k.a. McShep. McShep fans helped give the series a longer life and solid DVD sales into its fifth season. But unexpectedly, the show was canceled, not because ratings were poor, but because producers wanted to “broaden” the franchise’s “core fanbase.”

In other words, since the fanbase was too middle-aged, too female, and too prone to writing slashfic, the whole show had to go. The fanbase was so upset at SGA’s cancellation that Stargate: Universe, intended to be its younger, hotter sibling, crashed and burned in its first season. The franchise hasn’t been back on the air since.

Some of the comments on Gizmodo argued that focusing on the characters sexuality was itself a homophobic thing to do. There are a few obvious responses to this:

Probably my least favorite discourse when it comes to sexuality is people who take the “your sexuality doesn’t define you” shit and interpret it as “your sexuality doesn’t matter”

Your sexuality doesn’t define you was something meant so that people stopped equating an entire human and its unique identity to the fact that they like men or women or both or non binary people or all of the above, and solely defining them based on that

So yes, your sexuality doesn’t define you, but your sexuality is part of your very complex, very long definition. If you looked up yourself in a dictionary, it might take 25 pages to fully explain who you are and among those lines there will be some of them talking about your sexuality, because it is important and it is defining in your life because it’s part of how you relate to others and it’s part of what makes you you

(On a completely different topic, we should stop and note exactly how awful the leadership at Yahoo is, including Marissa Mayer. Tumblr is the epi-center of a million fandoms. Yahoo could have built it bigger, if only the leadership at Yahoo was comfortable with the weirdness of fandom. Yahoo’s leadership is an example of the classic mistake that Peter Drucker often wrote about: business leaders who are uncomfortable with the reasons for a products success, and therefore fail to grow the product. I would love to see Tumblr spun off as an independent company, with a CEO who has a real love of the strangeness of fandom.)

The Clexa fandom mobilized to get advertisers to stop advertising on The 100:

The message: This isn’t about a ship. This isn’t about a single character. This is about a pattern of behavior. Tell them you’re not okay with them supporting a network, a show, and a showrunner that have a long history of mistreating their LGBT+ and POC characters. Make it about the overall impact, but also give it a personal touch. Let them know you can’t in good conscience continue to be the customer of a company who supports this. DO NOT BE RUDE. Be eloquent. Be thoughtful. Be smart. This will make all the difference in the world.

The purpose: Advertisers are what keep any network afloat. If they won’t listen to us, they’ll listen to their sponsors. If we can make even two of these advertisers either call the network to ask what is going on or withdraw from the show, we change the game completely.

They had some success: Maybeline stopped advertising.

There is a tremendous amount of frustration out there in fandom:

Congrats, Jroth! Your show is just like Game of Thrones! The 100 and GoT both have:

✓ racism

✓ queerbaiting and mistreatment of LGBT+ characters

✓ unnecessary rape

✓ killed off characters before their time for shock value

✓ OOC characters that exists to further the plot

✓ bad storylines with a bunch of plot holes

✓ showrunner(s) that have no idea what they’re doing

For me, this line of criticism invokes a certain amount of “there but for the Grace of God go I” musing. I can almost imagine how Jason Rothenberg got himself into such a bad spot. If I was in his shoes, I could almost imagine making the same set of mistakes, if I got caught up in a line of reasoning that went like:

1.) I am writing a fantasy show

2.) Game Of Thrones is a fantasy show

3.) Game Of Thrones is much more popular than my show

4.) I am competitive and need to win this race

5.) I can beat Game Of Thrones by adopting its tropes

But then you end up being hated for all the reasons why Game Of Thrones is hated, rather than being loved for the unique creation that you helped bring into this world. That desire to imitate another successful work can be deeply misleading for an artist.

Also, regarding the use of torture, one has to wonder how badly a team of writers can misunderstand their audience. Torture, in television shows, became popular when Bush W was President, and it became popular on shows about corrupt police (The Shield) whose audience was mostly men. The use torture appealed to a male fantasy about power (the men who liked these shows always imagined themselves as the torturers, never the one’s being tortured). Does it make sense to try to imitate that particular kind of fantasy when dealing with an audience that has radically different sensibilities?

Please for the love of everything don’t watch this. Some of the triggering things that happened (I probably missed some):

Octavia beating the crap out of Bellamy

Bellamy turning on Octavia AGAIN

torture and torture and more torture for Raven

ALIE forcing all of Raven’s bad memories (of torture) to come back to her until she’s screaming in pain and “submits” to her

ALIE taking full control of Raven’s brain

Jackson drugging Abby and tying her up to a chair

Jaha forcing Abby to take the CoL pill

when she refuses, ALIE in Raven’s brain makes her slice both of her wrists open and doesn’t let Abby save her until she swallowed the chip.

Clarke still hasn’t showed up on screen.

Ontari just gauged some guy’s eyes out – very graphic

Ontari talks about being taken away from her family as a child by queen Nia,and talks about how she was psychologically abused by her

Ontari basically sexually assaulted Murphy by abusing her power while he was chained up (literally) – they were in Lexa’s room so extra warning on that since it’s implied the had sex in her bed

Jasper drugging Raven (in attempt to save her)

Jasper puts the blame about everything on Clarke despite her being on screen for literally 8 seconds

The preview only showed even more torture for Raven and it looks even worse. It appears like someone beat her up and she (Raven/ALIE) and Clarke yell at each other. Also tw: suicide attempt.

@the100writers retweeted a rape joke regarding Murphy. (link)

Please stay away from it if you feel you might be triggered. Or even if not, this show doesn’t deserve to be watched. It’s disgusting.

What does it mean when a show is this strongly denounced by its previously most ardent fans?

was there an actual rape scene? or was it the metaphorical rape with the chip and abby? please tell me it was just the metaphorical one..

Both metaphorical with Abby and the chip and an actual rape scene.

Ontari had Murphy literally chained up, took her clothes off even when he said no, kept trying to persuade him even after he said there was someone else, then she abused her position of power until he had no other choice but to give into it. Of course it was not showed on screen since it was rated 14 but it was there.

It was rape and it was disgusting. Abby x Chip scene was just as disturbing since it was more graphic with the addition of Raven’s self harming.

The response here is brilliant and full of truth:

I don’t know why but this episode has wrecked me and I don’t even watch it anymore but just seeing the reactions. I don’t know why, I feel so bad that they’ve turned this show into this, I feel so bad that young girls have to see this kind of treatment on TV. After 307 I was very depressed but also angry enough to fight this and sink this show but now I feel hopeless. Is it bad that I feel hopeless? How can we fight this? I don’t know why but I feel like I don’t have the strenght anymore :(

Use that anger to fight. Stay angry because you have every right to be. They WANT us to get tired and give up. If we give up now, they win and they will keep doing this. We deserve better.

Trust me, just because you’re not seeing results the exact moment, that doesn’t mean things aren’t happening that you can’t see. Trust me. Just trust me. Keep fighting like we always do. We ARE making a difference. Don’t let the CW fool you now. Just keep pushing.

Certainly, this will effect Jason Rothenberg’s career in some way, so the pushback will have some effect, even if it takes a long time to appear. And not pushing back would also have an effect, but a very sad one.

The Bury Your Gays trope leads to cynicism among the fans:

my dear lesbians, have safe sex. safe sex is important. don’t get shot. wear a bullet-proof vest during and after intercourse you can never be too careful. just… have safe sex, okay?

In terms of a second wave of activism, following up on what started in the 1990s, there are more lesbians on screen now than ever before, but they are being killed off:

as of tonight with the lesbian couple from empire dying, here is the list of lesbian and bi women characters killed on tv in the first just over 3 months of 2016:

zora – the shannara chronicles
carla – code black
julie – mao the expanse
rose – jane the virgin
ashleigh – janet king
lexa – the 100
kira – the magicians
denise – the walking dead
nora and mary louise – the vampire diaries
mimi and camilla – empire
that’s 12. in just over 3 months. this report from 2015 says there were 35 lesbian or bi women characters on television. so far in the first quarter of 2016, over one-third of them have been killed off.

this is not okay.

Young heterosexuals have roughly a billion fictional characters they can identify with, but queers have very few.

when clarke kissed lexa how long do u think she was waiting to do that… like obviously lexa has been waiting 3984 years but honestly so has clarke??? tbh she fell in love w her before the mountain and tried so hard to hate her after lexa left her there but she couldn’t… nd u know she started fallin back in love with her the second lexa got on her knees in front of clarke and swore fealty to her. anyways she’s been eyefucking this extra binch every day since then and when she kissed her it was probably like coming up for air and when she saw lexa cryin bc she kissed her it was like drowning again and they were so intense i miss them so much

So the fans invent their own stories:

ANONYMOUS: after clarke and lexa are done having sex, they are lying naked in bed and crawl under the covers. lexa rolls over and becomes the little spoon, like she always does, while clarke has her arm around lexa and is holding her. they are both so happy and are just lying there enjoying each others company. lexa says out of no where “do you think i could be the big spoon tonight? i want to hold you in my arms” and clarke just smiles and rolls to her other side as lexa places her arm around her

What had the fans previously loved about the show?

A repeated theme is “I’m so tired:”

Honestly…. I’m SO TIRED of watching straight people sit down and discuss LGBT issues, telling us how to feel and what we should appreciate, as if you have ANY idea how LONELY being gay feels, the crap we go through, how it messes with out mental health, and on top of that, how watching ourselves die over and over again, including 307 AFFECTS US, an already vulnerable community. Straight people do not understand this and watching them talk about it is frustrating. Next time you want to know the importance of LGBT fans deserve better, please ASK SOMEONE FROM THE LGBT COMMUNITY.

This makes me want to rip my hair out just as much as I do while watching white people discussing POC issues the same way.

And of course, there is always reality, which informs everyone’s encounter with fiction. A vulnerable population that suffers abuse in its real life is going to react to abuse in fiction like its a lived reality, because it is. And a writer who has never suffered abuse needs to be careful, or they will stumble. Badly.

Jason Rothenberg seems to have been wanting to imitate Game Of Thrones, without stopping to think that perhaps he would lose his audience if he did so. But reaching for that kind of darkness means changing the characters that the audience had become attached to:

I’ve seen a lot of people arguing that The 100 has always been dark, it’s always killed a lot of people, so there’s no reason to be up in arms over this season doing the same. Even if we leave aside all the problematic social politics of exactly who it has killed and how, the carnage in season 3 just feels different. This post is right: it’s because it got caught up in its own hype, took the comparisons to Game of Thrones to heart, and became dark for darkness’s sake.

The 100 has always been dark, that’s true, but it used to be dark because it was about moral dilemmas, characters caught between a rock and a hard place, having to choose between two terrible options. We’ve been able to sympathize with and love them anyway because there has always been this element of necessity hanging over these big, plot-driving decisions. Cull the 300 volunteers or everyone on the Ark dies. Kill Finn, or Camp Jaha is wiped out. Let the missile hit the village, or leave everyone in the Mountain to die. Irradiate the Mountain or let your friends and family be tortured to death. These were impossible choices where there was no right answer. There was no way to avoid someone dying, it was just a question of who.

The same can’t be said of the deaths that have driven season 3. There was no imminent threat that forced Pike & co. to massacre Indra’s army or face some other end that was just as bad. No one else’s life was saved by attacking Semet’s village. Titus wasn’t caught between a rock and a hard place when he decided to shoot Clarke. Pike wasn’t having to weigh the cost of executing Lincoln against some other death that would certainly come if he didn’t.

The show used to generate drama by creating hard choices and forcing characters to struggle with them. Now, it creates drama by having characters make bad choices and forcing everyone else to struggle with the mess that results. It’s gone from focusing on moral dilemmas to moral failures. Sure, they’re both drama. But one was a lot smarter, more unusual, and more compelling than the other, and it’s a shame that the show’s creators didn’t recognize that.

Jason Rothenberg is chasing after Game Of Thrones darkness, while the fans want to fantasize about a happy lesbian romance:

Jason Rothenberg has fallen into the trap that Peter Drucker accused many entrepreneurs of falling into: being dissatisfied with a small success, and wanting a bigger success, and destroying the small success in an attempt to win some bigger success.

We should stop and think about an alternate universe in which Rothenberg was content to work on The 100 for 4 or 5 years, giving the fans exactly what they wanted, and then, after that success, going on to do another show, and with that other show, perhaps pursuing themes that are darker and more violent. That other show would not necessarily be about teens and marketed to teens.

Instead, he stirred up this kind of discontent:

Since you have written the episode I wanted to ask you. The writers say Clarke loved Lexa. How come she wasn’t allowed to say it on-screen? She said it to Finn when he died. Lincoln got to say it to Octavia. Heck, even Bryan got to say it to Miller. Yet the lesbian couple didn’t get that? Instead it’s some ‘I want you’ line that others can twist into it being about Lexa being the best Commander for her people. It’s really sad and disappointing. (1/2)


you know, ultimately it’s a question of the showrunner’s taste – whether he feels something is “earned” or not, and that’s a very subjective and personal decision. we all cared about this relationship and wanted it to feel as real as possible… and for what it’s worth, i truly believe that the two of them loved one another.


i’m not raging or anything, this just makes me head hurt and my heart ache.

finn: cheated on raven, slaughtered innocents in a village, sacrificed himself to grounders; “earned” i love you

miller and bryan: three scenes in three seasons; “earned” i love you

lexa: swore fealty, obtained justice for herself + clarke + arkadia by killling the ice queen, enforced blood must not have blood (effectively sparing arkadia), left the decision of emerson’s life in clarke’s hands, found a solution to growing tensions without outright declaring war, stops herself from saying ‘i love you’ presumably because she doesn’t want clarke to feel pressured to stay, has all the nightbloods swear to protect clarke + skaikru after her demise, comforts clarke even as she dies; doesn’t “earn” i love you

showrunner, why?

As someone who thinks of himself as creative, I am a bit surprised at the hole that Rothenberg fell into. He had the choice to do something historically original, versus the choice to imitate another successful show, and he chose imitation over originality. I do understand being competitive, but I personally compete over originality as much as popularity.

Among the people effected by his decisions, the actresses were left in an awkward spot, unable to denounce their show, but feeling sympathy with the fans:

This is where certain kinds of activism are at right now:

I feel very frustrated with the LGBT revolution right now. Not because we aren’t doing wonderful things, but because I personally feel like I’m not doing enough. Are there ways to get involved beyond twitter trends and emailing sponsors? I’ve done both, as well as drafted a letter to my local comic book store re: shawna benson, but idk, I just feel really helpless and like i’m not doing enough.

Mate, you’re doing what you can. You should feel proud and not helpless! Like, I’m proud of you! Those are 3 main things we’re focusing on: contacting sponsors and comic stores, trends and not giving them views.

Other things you can do are: unfollow Jason, downvote episodes on IMDB (link), give the show bad ratings on Amazon if you write a review (S1, S2, S3), cancel your subscriptions and ask for a refund (if you bought them on amazon/itunes), unfollow the show and rest of the crew on all social media, spread the word about the movements, donate to the Trevor project, and just spread the word about it all.

If you’re really ambitious, you can try reaching out to writers and people who might want to cover the story. I’ve seen that the Swedish television talked about this? Which is wild. I’ve seen people trying to reach out to ‘celebrities’ or people who are big LGBT+ supporters who might want to bring attention to this.

But sponsors are where it will hurt them most. They only care about money, obviously, so we need to make sure they lose it and make them questions S4.

Margaret Atwood has the line “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”. Jason Rothenberg has certainly made clear that he does not want anyone to laugh at him:

Jason Rothenberg: ”I mean, I feel like it’s interesting, especially living in the age of social media, where the bad things that happen in the show, I become sort of vilified for. The actors are generally still loved, which I think is important. It’s a hard story for people. It’s the story that we told this season.”

Is he for real? I mean – IS HE SERIOUS?!?!?!

He wonders why people blame him while still loving the actors/actresses?!

I.. okay.





I cannot deal with him.

Also. He’s still ALL about himself. Being the victim. HOW.

And there is this:

Everyone agrees the actresses were censored:

it’s amazing how the main character of the show has hardly said a word the entire panel mmmm it’s a mixture of how much has jason censored her and how much eliza literally doesn’t give a shit

The actresses seem far more sympathetic to the fans than the writer:

That’s Jason Rothenberg faced criticism from fans at the conference made some fans very happy:


Bo Peabody became incredibly wealthy as the founder of Tripod, and later he wrote a great book called Lucky Or Smart? His own idea for Tripod had been a disaster, but some of the computer programmers at Tripod came up with a different idea which turned out to be successful. So was Peabody lucky or smart? He concludes that he was smart enough to realize that he had gotten lucky.

Jason Rothenberg gives exactly the opposite impression. He was lucky, but he was not smart enough to realize that he was lucky. He stumbled onto a success that he had not planned for, and he didn’t know how to capitalize on it, so he through it away. He lacked the humility and the brains that allowed an entrepreneur like Peabody to become successful.

We should all try to be more like Peabody, and less like Rothenberg.

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