Our brand new editor’s column starts out with an important topic, which doesn’t seem to be winning us many friends lately. As the saying goes: You can please all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but if you try to please all of the people at any time you’ll make everyone super-pissed. I think that was Abraham Lincoln.
So does GateWorld allow freedom of expression, or do we censor opinions that don’t agree with the Stargate party line? If you dislike something (say, Stargate Universe), will GateWorld’s moderators let you have your say?
On the flip side of that, why does GateWorld allow so much hate and criticism of the new Stargate show? Some days it seems like you can’t go two clicks without running into the same old names posting the same diatribes against SGU. Particularly since the show’s premiere in October, we get a constant stream of flack from both sides: “You’re censoring me!” and “You shouldn’t allow this!”
What’s a guy to do?
Both here on the news comment threads and at GateWorld Forum — which I’m proud to say is now nearly a decade old — our decisions about what we allow boil down to two guiding principles, which are elaborated in the posting rules:
1) We want to be a place where free expression wins the day, where fans of all stripes and points of view can share their opinions and have meaningful conversations.
2) We want to be a place where respect wins the day, friendly and fun to visit, where members of the community are held to the most basic standards of decency and dignity.
Mutually exclusive goals? Some days it feels like it. Is it actually possible for critics, many of them angry and disappointed, to express their opinions in a respectful way? Is it possible for devotees to read tactful criticism and not take offense? Some days I want to tell those who think that we allow too much to try moderating GateWorld for 48 hours under the conditions of #1. Other days I want those who seem to have nothing to say apart from their bitter condemnation of SGU to show their appreciation for #1 by trying #2 on for size.
In my opinion, GateWorld’s writers, editors, and moderators have been working hard to provide a moderating voice in a Stargate fandom “war” that is quickly putting all past scuffles to shame. We have vocally supported the show, publishing news and publicity and talking on the weekly podcast about how the writers seem to be giving us just we want: a show more focused on character drama than action, with more extended story arcs and a fresh take on storytelling in the Stargate universe. From the first frame, I think SGU has been delivering.
On the other hand, I think those who have criticized certain aspects of the series have a point. So we’ve also criticized aspects of various episodes, though we’ve tried to be thoughtful and respectful in doing it. But more than any specific criticisms with which I might agree (too much use of the stones) or disagree (I think “shakey cam” is dynamic and not overdone), viewers have a right to be heard. If they can comment on the show tactfully and with respect for its cast and creators, and for those fans who do like it, they should be able to do so. Even if they do it a lot.
Unfortunately, the tactful and respectful criticism has been too rare for my tastes. Words like “crap” and “stupid” and “idiot” aren’t respectful to anyone, and we’ll continue to delete posts where readers insist on voicing their discontent through hate and insult. Call it “censorship” if you like, but I don’t come over to your house for dinner and rant about how the pot roast tastes like crap and that your kids are ugly. There’s a time and a place for criticism — but, more importantly, there’s a right and a wrong way to do it.
So, my advice for those who are complaining about censorship and who want to get their voice heard: Do it with class. Think it through. Be specific, and be constructive. Self-edit. If you are moderated, try and figure out why so that you can improve your posting habits. If you’re trying to get your comment noticed by the producers, think about the fact that they really do want to know what people think of their work … but if the critique is couched in insults and malcontent, they won’t hear anything you have to say.
We don’t want to censor anyone. And we don’t want to continue to crumble into a place known only for hatred and bile. And so we try to maintain the balance. And most days, no one seems happy with the result. So, tell me — what would you do differently?
“I really enjoy the podcasts. Please keep up the great work. I’d really like to hear a podcast on the comparison of Babylon 5 vs. Stargate in general.” (Eagle1)
I would love to do a Stargate vs. Babylon 5 show, but first I have to convince David to watch it! If you listened to this week’s show, you’ll know that I bring up B5 just about every time we talk about story arcs or religion in sci-fi. He’s rather selective and doesn’t seem to like watching 10 shows at the same time, like me … so I guess you need to get on his case, too!
“I would like to know your take on the issue of the SG-1 / SGA movies. Sources say that MGM is out of money or running out of money, yet we get such deep thought provoking fair as Hot Tub Time Machine …” (OCD4theSGC)
Any time MGM releases a film I take it as a good sign and pray for its success. The studio is down to something like one or two releases per year, which I take to be just this side of out-of-business. They need hits other than Bond, Stargate, and (sometimes) Rocky. Otherwise the studio has to live off its archives, which probably just won’t work.
“What is going on with the Stargate Movies? I know about all the financial trouble … but give us some more details on when Brad Wright thinks they will start filming?” (Jimmy007)
Obviously everyone is eager (and growing frustrated) about the next Stargate movies. Will they happen? Won’t they happen? MGM is on the auction block at the moment, so I don’t think anyone knows for sure. Ask the new owners. There’s no point in The Powers That Be at Stargate saying anything more right now, because there is nothing definitive to say. They’d like to make the movies, but need money from MGM to do it.
The movies aren’t dead, gang. The more time that passes, perhaps the longer the odds get. But the people with the purse strings have to say “Yes” or “No” before anything else happens.
“How do you view SGU’s treatment by Syfy? Since it’s been pushed to April, does that mean Syfy has little to no faith in it?” (Mrja84)
I think the network has done well by the show. The 4-month break in the middle of the season has nothing to do with Stargate and everything to do with Syfy’s desire to air original programming all year long. It’s a strategy they’ve used with Stargate just about every year, with a few exceptions (including the last two years of Atlantis).
Unfortunately, while it may be better for the network to not have to show reruns of Sharktopus and Mansquito, I don’t think it’s better for the show. SGU is too arc-driven for that long of a break to be anything but harmful. MGM and Syfy spent a lot of money and effort getting viewers to tune in for the October premiere, and now they’ll have to do it all over again for April. ABC learned a long time ago that when they split up a season of LOST, they can’t get nearly as many viewers to come back. (Same with FOX and 24.) There is definite wisdom in running the season all the way through and then making us wait six to eight months for the next run.
With SGU, there’s also the added factors that 1) it’s a brand new show, so viewers are deciding whether to follow it; and 2) it’s controversial with established Stargate fans because it’s such a departure. Many fans gave it 10 episodes, but may not come back for #11 — which we hear is when things really get good. If there was a small (or no) break between “Justice” and “Space,” I suspect audience retention would be higher.
“Do you see SGU using any previous elements of Stargate in future episodes? Technology may be the easiest, but would characters/cultures likely appear that are not apart of the previous main characters?” (Mrja84)
I would just about guarantee it. The show’s writers love to bring in elements from the show’s established mythology, which is one of the reasons we love it so much. Take the Ancient chair interface, for example. We also know already that a certain group of baddies from SG-1 will turn up before the season is out …
“Realistically, how deep in the hole do you think CME is?” (Mrja84)
From the statement the video game studio released this week: Deep enough to declare bankruptcy, but not deep enough that everyone at CME is convinced they should have.
“What happened to the Friday 5! I really miss those.” (Emily)
That series was a lot of fun to do but a lot of work. Add to that a cross-country move, a wedding, an international move, and then the launch of SGU, and I decided to limit it to a summer series. Time permitting, it may return next summer.
Last but not least, we received the following alternate title suggestions for this weekly column:
“Windows of Opportunity” (David Bloch)
“Indeed!” (Cindy Billings, Brett)
“I Was Told There’d Be Cake” (Brett)
Thanks, everyone! I think we’ll stick with “For Cryin’ Out Loud,” at least for the time being. It captures the way I feel just about every Friday, after spending a week of moderating comments.
We got lots of comments and e-mails with topic ideas and questions, so if yours didn’t show up this week, we might work it in next Friday! In the meantime, your questions and comments about this week’s column are always welcome. See you in the thread below — but please, keep it nice!