Somebody tries to get boyfriend involved in the Outlander shipper affair

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Note: moments like this are why we probably need a more robust definition of bullying. By way of explanation — Bernadette Giacomazzo is an entertainment writer who wrote a piece today decrying the behavior of Outlander shippers. Flutist Kim is an Outlander fan who has been an aggressive shipper. Kim’s tweet is in response to Giacomazzo’s article, and she’s accusing Giacomazzo of bullying shippers. For the record, Giacomazzo is not the bully here; at the same time, however (and this is what’s interesting about her article to me), she wants to forbid others from speaking in ways that she reserves for herself. In contrast to Giacomazzo, I have nothing against shipping. Please understand that this statement is not intended as a defense of shipper harassment either of Outlander cast members or other fans. However, shipping in itself does not constitute harassment (contra Giacomazzo).

I learned some other interesting things from researching/reading about this incident.

(1) There is a Property Brothers fandom (interesting because I think the PBs are really cute and I’ve watched a lot of their shows; Dad can’t stand them). They go on cruises with fans. The mind pales.

(2) It’s probably a horrible idea, if you are a celeb, to respond to fans who tweet negative things at you. No matter how galling it is. It’s a bit like when someone posts here to tell me I’m a homophobe. Yeah, it’s galling. But the person who’s making that post is only doing it in hopes of getting my (negative) attention, on the calculation that it’s a more reliable strategy than attempting to attract positive attention (or in my case, even starting a discussion).

(3) I really don’t think, if what you want to accomplish is putting a controversy to rest, that writing a long, aggressive piece about it is really the way to go. Or responding with verbal aggression to your critics (no matter how unreasonable they are). Mafia tactics work mostly when you can actually kill someone, otherwise not so well.

~ by Servetus on August 8, 2016.

26 Responses to “Somebody tries to get boyfriend involved in the Outlander shipper affair”

  1. What the hell? When I saw this post, I wanted to check the tweets, The Inquisitor piece, and the whole nest of hornets.
    1. Why tag @RCArmitage? Why is this nutjob dragging him into her delusional fantasy world, when it has nothing to do with him.
    2. I am really not into shipping. I don’t really get it, but whatever floats your boat.
    3. When a fan begins to harass the subject of their shipping, or any of their loved ones, because the subject’s actual life doesn’t fit into their fantasy, THAT is bullying, and comes very close to stalking which is a crime that should not be made light of.
    4. Engaging this unstable person only added fuel to the flame. In the end, it probably didn’t help the writer to feel any better about the situation.
    5. Flutist Kim, and those she called upon to help her gang up, need to grow
    up, and learn to differentiate between their fantasies and the actual world.
    6. If my use of nutjob, delusional, or unstable offended anyone, that was not my intention.


    • Personal attacks are prohibited by the comment policy, and that includes those conducted against people not present. I’m not going to edit this because I know you know better, but please refrain from calling people names, or I will put you on moderation in future.

      I think the problem here is that the author of the article wants to control not just what fans do (harassment — who isn’t against harassment) but she seems to feel that mere discussion of shipping among those who favor it is wrong.


  2. essentially telling shippers to ‘grow up’ is not going to “quell” anything , and I think this author knows that. if she really wants to change things, she could start by taking a less arrogant tone 😛


    • Yeah, I read it and thought, wow, you actually wanted to pick a fight, didn’t you. I also think there’s a false equivalency between musings about one’s fantasies about Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher 30 years ago and most of what shippers do.


      • one of the things that irritated me about this article is the implication that shippers don’t like a real life girlfriend/boyfriend b/c they themselves want to be with the celebrity. many fans just like the romantic fantasy of a non-fictional ship. I’m not condoning the more aggressive fan’s actions, not at all, but assuming it’s all about getting with the celebrity is condescending.


        • YES. This seems to be a really key thing that many commentators on fandom totally misunderstand. (I’ll say something more about it in a few hours, probably, for a different case.) But I also don’t think that most Armitage fans really want to be with Armitage either; they enjoy the fantasy and are quite aware of the difference.


    • She definitely didn’t handle it well. It really does concern me though that the shipper would go after his girlfriend. If none of this is about Richard, what was she looking to gain by trying to involve him?


      • I agree that it’s concerning, although it’s probably something best handled by the police as opposed to gossip columnists. I don’t think the shipper referred to in the article is Flutist Kim. I think Flutist Kim was trying to draw someone else into the controversy. One of the things that is interesting about this particular drama is that at least one other celebrity (William Shatner) has been drawn into it. And Armitage is on record as antibullying. Flutist Kim obviously follows The Anglophie Channel and retweeted their response to Armitage’s recent tweet.


  3. The most aggravating and, sadly, predictable aspect of the chronology, and the tweet trying to rope in Richard Armitage, is that nothing in the article against the Outlander Shippers was bullying. The fact that numerous commenters agreed with the article against shippers, and might have gone further in their disapproval, is also not bullying. It’s discussion. Readers / fans were expressing their opinion. No individual was singled out in the article, aside from the celebrities.
    Now it’s twice in two days that I’ve been directed to a situation where a spate of comments agreeing with the premise of a blogpost or article, has been defined as group bullying – here “feeding frenzy,” yesterday “rallying others.” The hashtag #rallyingothers was used by a professional journalist in a tweet to Richard Armitage, claiming #Ivebeentheretoo, in response to his recent tweet describing bullies.) The apparent basis of the complaint is similar to the complaint alleging a feeding frenzy. Many comments to the legitimate, non-bullying blog posts agreed that said journalist was insulting Armitage fans and otherwise not good at her job. (Other comments, but fewer, supported the journalist and argued against the opinions of the bloggers.)
    The bloggers and the commenters were couched as bullies for expressing their opinions.
    Neither case involved bullying, though I wouldn’t be surprised if the backlash by Outlander Shipper fans comes pretty close.
    Well, you know, Richard Armitage got himself into this:he can decide whether he stays mum or not.


    • Oh sorry – I didn’t see that FlutistKim retweeted the Anglopile tweet! Did she really? I’ll have to look further.


    • In particular, I don’t see how a response that merely involves agreement with an author’s sentiment but is not directed at a third party can be defined as bullying. If I right, “I dislike chocolate bunnies,” and you agree with me, I am not calling for their destruction and your assent doesn’t move us any further from there.


  4. Sorry, Serv, I don’t really how the article is not bullying. Just curious what your definition is … (A) unequal power dynamic – used her status as an entertainment writer to weigh in on a subject which she doesn’t really get ; (B) has no intention to discuss with her target; (C) preachy and prescriptive.

    Not excusing the actions of fans but it irritates me when non-fandom participants think they can come in and dictate how fandom is to function.

    The subsequent tweets to flutist have also this point and laugh dynamic.


    • The article doesn’t reach the level of harassment. It is solely the expression of her opinion (see Perry’s comment above), and her recommendation of how fans should act. She neither harasses shippers nor asks others to harass them.

      That said, I didn’t like the article, either, for the same reason.


      • I didn’t like the article either, – it was fan bashing and fan policing – and I think the tweet to the fan about strychnine, which referred to a line in an Outlander scene, wasn’t a joke in the best taste. – but how is writing about something one doesn’t like, or even trying to persuade others to take or cease action ( so pointless, in this case), bullying? If it were, then many editorial writers could qualify as bullies -especially if their audience agreed with them. In fact, critics of all sorts would be considered bullies under those circumstances. But if no one agreed or commented in agreement – then no charge of feeding frenzy or #rallyingothers would ensue; therefore, only the unsuccessful, unpopular, failed writers would be immune from the bully label.
        Take this a step further, and in the specific instance, suppose some blogger wrote a detailed, critical blogpost about Giacomazzo’s article, and concluded she was unprofessional, not really interested in changing behavior, had ulterior motives, and had been the same in the past. Suppose 50 commenters agreed with the post and voiced their own opinions about how unprofessional Giacomazzo was. That wouldn’t be bullying either, even though the post was directed at one individual.


        • or any politician who organized a boycott or a campaign.

          I’m also skeptical that a personal disagreement of short duration constitutes bullying (even if some of the things said are horrible or the people involved make fun of each other or point fingers). Yes, a power differential is involved here, and people should be aware of that, and you can definitely say that the journalist here takes advantage of her powerful differential. Even so, people say horrible things to each other all the time without them constituting bullying. Does mere ridiculing of someone else, even in the present of others, constitute bullying? That would exclude a lot of things that are commonly accepted as humor.


          • IMO, along with other factors, only sustained, repeated, conduct, intentionally designed to to hurt, demean, break another individual, would rise to the level of bullying. Not a few isolated incidents of mean or unkind behavior.


            • someone just tweeted “Saul Alinsky Rule 9?” at him.

              and I agree — repetition and intent to harm are both important.


      • From reading your and Perry’s reply it seems that bullying is isolated targeted acts at individuals.

        But social media makes a single unkind act more diffusive than what the original bully may have intended. Akin to tossing a lit match into tinder than walking away and saying, “sorry, I’m not at fault for the fire.”

        I also don’t think you need to be subjected to repeated acts to take it as harassment – what’s repeated anyway? Anything more than one?

        I would say the article might be dismissed as solely the expression of her opinion if she hadn’t engaged with flutist in subsequent tweets. What does “I read about you honey. Don’t take it there with me. I’m not the one” mean?

        Not even engagement more like upped the aggression quotient unnecessarily. Plus why even tag Richard? Obviously if she tags him than her reply is going to be seen by more people and this issue just flames on.

        Also bullying is in the eye of the beholder i.e. the bullied. You can’t define it solely for the perspective of the perpetrator.

        On another tumblr someone made the comment that whatever form of bullying Richard went through it effected him deeply. Are we really going to make distinction as to whether it was a one time slur/act or something that was said/done multiple times to him? For me, it was the word “Paki”. It’s been said to me on multiple occasions but only one I would consider bullying and that was the very first time it was said – but it was my situation at the time that also magnified the feeling of helplessness/shame.


        • To clarify: Flutist Kim is the one who tagged Armitage first. Not the journalist. I assume that Giacomazzo left him in the tag because she’d been called out to a third party.

          re, the journalist’s remark, I read it to mean, “I read about your exchange with Caitriona Balfe. Don’t do what you did to her to me. I’m not someone who will put up with it.” I assume anyone who was writing about this particular fandom drama would have run across that particular moment; I googled it and found it easily. I think if Giacomazzo writes an article, Flutist Kim responds to essentially accuse her of bullying by means of a rhetorical question, she is within her rights to state that she will not accept treatment similar to that committed by Flutist Kim to another person in the past. I don’t see why that response is bullying. (Neither do I think that Flutist Kim is bullying her in this incident.)

          I don’t think that bullying is necessarily isolated (it can go on for years) or directed at individuals (it can certainly be directed at groups of people), but it is definitely targeted in a more exact way than occurs in this particular article. It does also have to be repeated or sustained, I believe. One person saying one mean thing to another person one time, even if there are several exchanges in that conversation, does not qualify as bullying in my mind unless there is some exacerbating factor (potentially, incitement to others to participate). The thing is that on a playground, if you bully someone, you can be expected to have an idea of how your audience will react and what will happen next. The same cannot be said of social media. It is simply not possible for every author on the web to anticipate every possible outcome of or response to their writing by someone who reads it, although I agree that it is arguable that Giocomazzo could either have anticipated reactions to her prose more effectively (or is being disingenuous). Presumably people have more capacity to control their own reactions to statements than kindling has to control its response to flames.

          re: “bullying is in the eye of the beholder” — I have to disagree. I say this as someone who was “picked on” (the word we used then) as a child and who is sometimes said to have been the object of bullying in the fandom. Calling someone a bully has consequences, sometimes legal consequence, certainly reputational consequences. Using that label assigns responsibility to someone, who is then “the bully.” An increasing number of people (e.g., on Twitter) in this fandom say that anyone who disagrees with Armitage is a bully, or that people who criticize him are preventing him from speaking and that this is bullying. Many times in this fandom people tell me what I write is distasteful, that I should stop writing, they insult me or say something distasteful to me or suggest that I should kill myself. I regularly read direct and veiled criticism of what I write elsewhere, often written in the rudest terms. I get comments that are ridiculously, disproportionately hateful. I don’t like them, of course; they do affect my view of myself as a fan and a writer; I wish people would stop it. Still, these statements are not, on the face of them, bullying.

          re: what happened to Armitage — does anyone contest that his experiences affected him deeply, whatever they were? Presumably that is true for all humans who experience hurtful or harmful words or events. No one who questions what his definition of bullying is wants to deny him the right to understand his life as he wishes or talk about it on his own terms. The thing is that when he tells his fans what to do, he isn’t talking about his life. He’s talking about our behavior. In my opinion that requires a somewhat higher standard of definition. He’s not the only “beholder” in that case or even necessarily the most important one.

          re: what happened to you: I do not support or condone anyone calling other people racial slurs, and I am deeply sorry that you experienced that. No one should be subjected to it. I also do not question that it affected you deeply and horribly, because you have the right to decide or experience what the events in your life mean to you without interference from me. I have always had mixed feelings about the term “hate speech” but I agree that the yelling of racial slurs at people — particularly children or other vulnerable groups — should under certain circumstances be legally actionable. However, I do not consider it bullying in itself unless it is something that someone or a group of people do to you on a regular basis or incite others to do. Yelling racial slurs is a tool of some bullies. IMO, it is not on its own bullying. I’m not defining bullying solely on the perspective of the perpetrator. I’m saying it has something to do with the nature of the action committed and the context in which it is committed.


  5. Or, to cite something else that comes up — if I write a post in which I make fun of Armitage’s punctuation, and 50 fans laugh at it, are we bullying him?

    When BC is critical of fanfic writers in the ways that he was during the press tour for The Imitation Game — even though there is a crowd of fans and onlookers who agree with him about the alleged nuttiness of fans, and possibly someone might use him as an excuse for negative actions, is he bullying fan fic writers?


    • If Richard takes it as bullying – yes. If he’s able to laugh it off then, no problem. Maybe being able to spell is not a priority or a badge of honour for him. But maybe his spelling mistakes are tied to a learning disability, or just to a general perception that he’s not smart.

      We also have the choice as to whether we acknowledge his reaction or not.

      I have no idea what BC said but he should be aware of his unequal status within fandom , and if he’s dressing down a certain fragment of fandom then he should be aware that there may be consequences far worse than he intended.


      • I think that’s an impossible standard. First of all, Richard Armitage has never said what he thinks of jokes about him, so it’s not clear what he thinks (though he also makes jokes about himself at times — and the occasion for my first jokes about his spelling was a joke I thought he made). But secondly, that would essentially make most humor that involves people impossible. Satire would be extremely difficult. If Armitage felt bullied by the fact that I didn’t care for one of his performances, then I would as the responsible person have to stop writing anything that assessed a performance negatively. The people who have told me that the existence of this blog constitutes bullying (because any normal person would be made uncomfortable by receiving so much sustained attention) would be right and I would have to quit writing here.

        Essentially what you’re saying is that all commentary about Armitage that he can’t accept or tolerate is bullying. That’s rather frightening, frankly, if we assume that a moral person does not engage in bullying and must stop. (Also impossible, but that’s a different matter.) All of us must accept in life that there are people who do not think as well of us as we do, and that they may occasionally express this in ways that hurt our feelings. But my own perception of harm in reaction to something that is said to or about me is not the primary measure of whether a statement is bullying.


        • Sorry for the late reply.

          Satire is based on exposing and destroying a power imbalance. Bullying is based on exploiting and reaffirming the power imbalance. You cannot bully a powerful person/corporation. It’s why phrases like “All Lives Matter” or”Blue Lives Matter” are meaningless. Just like powerful corporations/people make poor satirists.

          I don’t think your blog is bullying because you have no power over Richard Armitage. You’re just a fan with an opinion. When I think again on the example you gave of making fun of Richard’s spelling, I realize that the element of power imbalance is missing. But difficulty with spelling is also not the best example because a person may have a learning disability.

          Now if an influential theatre critic wrote a scathing review of Richard’s performance but it was a fair review, and Richard disliked it, it’s not bullying.

          But I did express myself poorly – what I meant was that the definition of bullying has to take into account the viewpoint of the subject, as well. The definition of bullying has consequences for the subject, too.

          People who want to exploit their power over others have to be prepared to accept the consequences of their actions.

          I understand your reasoning in wanting a rigorous definition of bullying but I think the other elements of bullying are enough to distinguish when an incident is bullying or not. For me the other elements are a power imbalance, and acts or words aimed at demeaning a person’s innate being – usually why most bullying is aimed at a person’s appearance or race.

          You can disagree as equals but equals cannot bully each other.

          if you shut down a disagreement by calling the other person a bully when the other elements are missing – power imbalance, acts or words aimed at demeaning a person’s innate being – then you’re misusing the word.

          But the requirement of repetition takes the focus from the subject and centres it on the perpetrator. The requirement of repetition also obscures the fact that bullying is about asserting power over another person; we just the focus on counting the number of times the act was done or the word was uttered. What’s the magic number?

          I can just imagine how devastated I would have been as a kid if an adult told me being called a “Paki” by another kid on the playground was not bullying. That I would have to wait a few more times for it to happen before I could report it as bullying.


          • There is plenty of satire of the powerless available for our consumption. Female recipients of welfare are frequent targets of satirical statements. You may simply not be reading “Right” material (not that I am urging you to do this). Also, equals bully each other all the time in office settings — and bullying (by which I mean repeated abusive talk, spreading untrue gossip, organizing ostracization campaigns, or just acting singly or colluding with others to make work environments inhospitable or unbearable) becomes a tool of people who perceive themselves as powerless to try to retake control. It happens in academic apartments all the time. The most recent time I observed it involved a course scheduler who was conducting this sort of activity against professors.

            Power imbalance between me and Richard Armitage — I have roughly 11 years more formal education than he has. When I wrote it, I was a professor at a research university. I’m not saying I was equal to him — but over the years enough people have let me know that they thought the post was mean-spirited that I’ve started to wonder.

            Bullying certainly has consequences for the subject (no question). But I don’t think your definition works well for what I understand about bullying, not least in that it doesn’t even apply in the case we are discussion (race and appearance are not vectors). If we say that the victim determines what constitutes bullying, why is the victim privileged over the perpetrator? Why can’t the perpetrator in that instance just say “I wasn’t bullying”?

            Had I been the adult, I would not have failed to act to try to restrict the activities children who were calling other children racial slurs. If it happened once, though, it would not be bullying. That does not mean that I think it’s acceptable. On the contrary.


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