This is an open letter to the BBC

Sunday 27 March, 2011

Dear British Broadcasting Corporation,
I am a British Citizen. I live with my family, so I personally don’t pay the Television License, but we pay it together in that “If one of us has to cut back Financially, we’ll all suffer the shop’s brand products” way. I didn’t used to like the BBC, I grew up to be more of an ITV kind of girl. It wasn’t until I was in my late teens I started to appreciate what exactly the BBC have to offer.

It wasn’t much, but it was better than a lot of drivel out there. Or so I thought. I held the recreation of Dr Who against it for a little while, then I saw Torchwood and we were even.

Unfortunately, recently, you guys at the BBC made this cracking TV show. It was called Outcasts. It started off a bit sketchy, but I know a diamond in the rough when I see one. It was like a mixture of Battlestar Galactica, Firefly and Lost, the graphics were good, the scenery was amazing and believable, the cast were great and it seemed like no expense was spared in the making of this series. I say Unfortunately because, despite how brilliant it was, you guys at the BBC sabotaged it. I really think this series had the potential to go far, but you pulled the rug our from under it’s feet and then gave it a hearty shove down an elevator shaft.

First, there was barely any advertising. I knew when it was going to start, but I didn’t know that the following day was going to have the following episode. And then there was the completely unnannounced move to Sunday night. And that’s where the sabotage comes into it.

The target audience for this show was probably between the ages of 15 to 40. It’s a bit of a stretch, but I can see the appeal across these ages and even higher, if the appeal of BSG and Lost is anything to go by. That means the majority of the target audience would have either school, college, uni, 9-to-5 jobs or even the need to be up early to get the kids off to school and see the spouse off to work. They wouldn’t be able to stay up to see the show. They might record it, or Sky Plus it in this day and age, or do as I did and catch it on the IPlayer the next day. So when you give the lack of views as a reason for cancelling this show, you only have yourself to blame. Look around the internet, there were plenty of fans sustaining viewership, you just chose to ignore them because they weren’t able to watch them as it was airing.

Again, whose fault was that exactly, BBC?

That would be yours.

So now the series has been left on this cliffhanger, because there isn’t going to be a second series.

Does the words Firefly and Fox mean anything to you?

If not, i’ll explain. See, Firefly was this awesome show that aired 2002-2003. Fox decided to show it out of order, barely advertised it and then after changing time slots every week, decided there wasn’t enough viewers to keep it on air and cancelled it without even letting them get to the end of the series. Now, years later, millions of fans are still angry at Fox for cancelling it. They pack out rooms continually at conventions, they hold their own conventions to make up the lack of seats at official ones, they send complaint letters to Fox even now.

Even today, more fans get a taste of Firefly and wonder “Why did Fox cancel this!?”

I mention this because Outcasts is the British Firefly and one day, BBC, I hope you regret this decision to cancel it. I know for a fact you’ll have had many, many fans complain about the lack of a second series. Maybe some of them used a comparison to Firefly too, to give you an idea of what it is you have just done.

And if you still don’t know, i’ll put this very simply: You have left many people disappointed. Maybe some of those poeple might go as far as to not renew their Television license next year and would rather live TV-less than have to pay you, The BBC, to make mistakes. This would have made paying the License worth while, but the stuff you put on television the rest of the time? I feel like we’re wasting our money. We are.

And no doubt this will be used as an excuse to never do another futuristic sci-fi show ever again. “Ah yes, we did that once, it didn’t work out”. It did, you just didn’t give it a good enough chance.

I ask you, British Broadcasting Corporation, to think over this decision. Realise this big mistake you’ve made. Consider pulling a Fox and giving us a movie as compensation. Just, whatever you do, don’t write this TV show off as something you should never had made.

There were fans of this show, you just disregarded them.

Somebody Obligated To Pay For A Television License

Why I am Not a McPioneer

Tuesday 22 March, 2011

I, The Wonderful Unknown Person of The Internets, am a fan of McFly. I would even go as far to say that I’m a “McFly Fan”. I have somewhat of an addictive personality and end up buried deep in trivia of any random thing I may be attached to at any given time, and because I’m so darn sentimental, usually these things stick with me as I go.

Like the time I was completely obsessed with the Age of Sail and The Historical Docks of Liverpool. I may not be completely obsessed with it anymore, but all the stuff I found out about that time is tucked away in a compartment of my brain, filed under “Age of Sail Trivia of 1996”. Not to be confused with the information contained in the sub-folders named “Age of Sail Trivia of 2005” and/or “Age of Sail Trivia 2010/11”.

I was going somewhere with this… Ah, yes. McFly. A marvelous band and the closest thing I’m sure my generation will ever get to The Beatles. Until they went and changed their sound, and left me somewhat disillusioned and disappointed. Luckily for them, my negative opinions and nay-saying is drowned out by the copious amount of fans loving their ~new sound~ and flinging their knickers at them.

I’m not mad, or bitter, just disappointed. I don’t think this is what Chuck Berry was expecting. But you say any kind of negative opinion on this to other fans and you’re met with either non-confrontational disagreement or down right confrontational disagreement. I’ve not given the new direction a fair enough chance? I’m pretty sure I have. Excuse me if I generally don’t like that style of music. It’s not an anti-“new direction” based opinion, it’s an anti-“that style of music” based opinion. I’m not a fan of JLS, Blue or Taio Cruz either.

I don’t want them to progress to bigger, better things? Pish Posh! What sort of fan would I be if that was the case? I actually think this is a step back for them. A Different thing, yes, but Bigger and Better? When Tom actually wrote “She Falls Asleep” all by himself? There’s something limited-sounding about the production of their recorded songs, and it sounds like there’s something missing when they sing live. And I hate to say this, but whenever I’ve seen them sing live lately on TV shows and what have you, it sounds like they can’t hold their notes anymore.

This new direction, new sound, new look of McFly is not the McFly that I became a fan of. Yes, it’s true of me that I don’t like change or accept it very well, but I’ve handled every other change they’ve been through since I became a fan. This is a question of musical taste, so until they start to resemble the band I got into, I’m afraid i’ll have to be a life-long fan from the sidelines. This latest stuff hasn’t changed my opinion of the old stuff, after all.

But this still doesn’t get to the bottom of why I’m actually not a “Pioneer” either. You’d think a hardcore fan like me, who has never met the band, would jump at the chance to be a tip-top fan who get V.I.P treatment for queuing and seating. Well, no, not really. First of all, ticket prices have increased. I’m not saying this is Their Fault, but tickets already cost a pretty penny, and then when you add the travel, possibly accommodation and then the food and merchandise on top of it, I’m already paying more than I should for a few hours of bliss.

And I’m sorry, but paying any extra for perks I won’t even enjoy would be ridiculous and against my principles. I’m in a wheelchair, I need wheelchair seating, what use would priority seating be for me? Also being in a wheelchair means my queuing experience is messed with as it is, a majority percentage of fans are pioneers so I’d be going from one ridiculous crushing queue to another and still taken out of the queue for my own safety. At least now with the majority of fans getting their own queue, I’m more safe in the normal queue outside with the non-pioneers. All 10 of us.

And last but not least, I just shouldn’t have to pay more to get the average experience of a fan. Since this Pioneer/Members of started, every perk has gone to them. Not just first and fore-most because they’re the V.I.Ps, I mean nearly Every extra has gone on the website and everywhere else directs you to the website. Video chats, self-produced interviews, competitions and whatever else, all only accessible if you are a Pioneer. If you’re Not a Pioneer, the reply is “Why aren’t you?” not “Not to worry, you’ll get these eventually.” And I disagree with that.

Not being a Pioneer doesn’t make me less of a fan. The dislike of their music might make me less of a fan, the distance from ~the fandom life~ might make me less of a fan, but not “Not paying for extras on top of an already expensive hobby”. Anyone who has that opinion is welcome to it, but my opinion of those with that opinion isn’t a very good one. In fact I’d go as far as saying that those with that opinion are probably the same kind of people who I went to school with, who took pride in their parents buying from Waitrose and Sainsbury’s and thought little of those of us with a cupboard full of Kwik-Save’s No Frills products.

I just hope the band members don’t have that opinion, otherwise I’ll be left feeling more than Disappointment in their New Sound Direction.

Fandoms Never Die

Wednesday 9 March, 2011

First of all, I’d like to congratulate myself on getting to 20 posts here. It’s always hard to decide what to say herem because it’s not Really a personal journal, but I hardly have anything fascinating to talk about. So I end up talking about myself, or things which I’ve taken personally, just like I am now.

The latest thing that I’ve taken personally isn’t all that recent. I’ll say it’s The Bad Luck Of The Multi-Fandomer, and I am The Multi-Fandomer. If it’s not my favourite member of the band leaving, and/or breaking up the band, it’s my favourite character in films and books dying and being killed off. I’m not the best at dealing with death, so I take my escapism seriously to get away from it, so it’s always a shake up when a favourite character dies. I don’t just have to deal with death in real life, but in fantasy too? For shame, authors, for Shame.

And JK Rowling? I’m looking in your direction. Yes, Yes, Spoiler Alerts and all that but if you’ve not read from Order of the Phoenix onwards, then in my opinion you deserve to be spoiled. The last book was released in July, 2007. By the way, Soylent Green is People and Bruce Willis is a ghost.

I can sort of understand killing Sirius and Dumbledore off. I think the death of Sirius really brought home the realisation that these books aren’t Exactly kids books. They grow with you, they get darker, they get more heavy. I was hooked from the moment I first read the first book. I was a little late into the Fandom, and i’ve somewhat distanced myself from it, since the dust settled and a lull came between the 5th and 6th books. But I return every now and then, I get into the books again, I read the fanfictions, I look up interviews and information, and the Trivia! And then I get annoyed at the differences between the films and the books and rant about them.

It’s how I roll within the HP Fandom.

But anyway, so even if I’m not as emotionally invested in it as I was once, I still take it to heart that these characters I’ve grown to love over the series are dead passed certain books. The death I’m most annoyed about though? Fred Weasley.

He was my favourite Weasley. He was my favourite twin! And there is a difference. Any hardcore fan, especially if they’re fans of the twins, can tell and see that there is a difference between Fred and George (Or is that Gred and Forge?). So why did JK kill him off? What did poor Fred do to her? Was it not enough that George was permanently maimed? He had to be maimed again by losing someone who has been there for everything in his life?

For someone who doesn’t handle death very well, this shook me up even worse than when Dumbledore died. And that’s saying something. And it’s for these reasons that I’m heavily debating not going to see the next film, and I might never read the books again. Unless I just keep stopping at the 6th book, and the first part of the 7th film. It’s possible, if not a bit crazy, and it’s certainly something I’ve done before. If maybe I understood JK’s motives over this, maybe there’s some sort of silver lining I’ve not considered, I’d be able to face the series again.

But until I can sideline second-hand grief with understanding, my love for the fandom will never be as it once was. Fandoms might never die, but when characters certainly do, how are the more sensitive, as myself am, supposed to handle it?

Having no plans to watch the second part of the 7th film is my method right now.

Am I on the Outside Looking in?

Thursday 3 March, 2011

If there’s one thing I will hold my hands up and admit to, it’s that despite being a card carrying member of The Disabled Wheelchair Users Society, I know next to nothing on the culture, and yet I am always in the position of explaining disability-related things to people. The blind leading the blind, as it were…

Driving lessons, for example. When I booked my very first driving lesson, I sat there arguing for over 5 minutes with two different customer service workers from the BSM over whether disabled people could or couldn’t drive. The first person gave up and passed me on to their colleague, who explained calmly to me that if I drove a manual, I’d need at least one functioning leg for the clutch. I calmly told him that that was why disabled people who couldn’t use their leg tended to learn in automatics. I don’t even know anything about cars, that was just what someone had told me when I was first looking into driving lessons.

You’d think that these people, being the first people that potential learners interact with, would know some things about their company in order to keep the faith of the customers.

Alas, it seems like Logic is akin to Common Knowledge, and Common Knowledge is rarely so common.

Which takes me on to my point. You’d think that I, being the actual disabled person, would know a few common tricks of the trade when it comes to being disabled, but alas, I know next to nothing and it’s not like we’re given a “So you’re disabled” booklet to learn these things from. No, we know from people telling us, people passing on the messages, therapists, doctors, nurses… or at least we should be told. That’s not my experience. I’ve been handed tools and pieces of paper yet not how to do the exercises, as it were.

My latest problem is reading. It’s always been a problem, with my arms that are too long for my body, my stunted body being unable to curve at the spine (At least, not intentionally. I had Unintentionally down to a T, but then they put in the rods!). I could never read in bed because I couldn’t read lying down, if I read on my stomach I had to have a lot of pillows propping me up to the perfect angle. Until recently, my favourite position was sat cross legged on my bed or the floor, elbows resting on my knees so that I could hold up the book almost right in front of my face.

Now I can’t lean forward, I can’t rest my elbows on my knees and I definitely can’t sit cross legged. Even the most comfortable position right now only lasts about 15 minutes. How do I read?

For not very long, is the obvious answer. In pain is the more “woe is me” approach. But awkwardly would be hitting it right on my head. I half lean on my left side, whilst propping my side and back up with a pillow, the way it needs to be at ALL times, and holding myself up by way of left elbow resting on said pillow. Right leg bent for my fore arm to lean on, left leg straight as that’s the only position possible right now (maybe ever), book held awkwardly with both hands. 5 minutes later, a position change is needed or a rest.

I read Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince in maybe 18 hours tops, excluding the three hour break I had to take whilst I whinged my heart out. Now i’m reading a book about the same size. It’s taken 3 days to get to 100 pages.

So I genuinely am left wondering; how do people similar to my situation and worse do it? When I was in school, I remember one friend had all of the school books he’d need, on computer with an interactive device. Sort of like an E-book, but also like a game. Now we’ve exploded with e-books for Kindle and the like, I suppose that would be the latest answers.

But I have over 100 books. I don’t want to re-buy all of my books just so that I can read in comfort. There has to be a solution out there. Or am I doomed never to read again? (Because out of principal, I refuse to pay again for something I already own)

I can’t and won’t believe that this is a problem that Hasn’t come up before. I refuse to believe that fellow people with mobility and comfort problems, who need customised equipment to assure comfort and a steady posture, have forsaken reading just because there was nothing out there to make it an accessible hobby for them!

Can we Have a Civilisation, here? Show me the way!