Thanks. The process has sometimes not been easy. More often than
not, one runs into fairly blunt opinions. But that's part of the process.
Many people I know in the TV or film business have tried to maintain such
a line, and just get turned off or insulted and go away. Or they come in
briefly to get the PR invovled, a la "Sneakers," and then they're gone. A
few stay...George Martin, others. And sometimes it's very hard to take it
on the chin from someone you've never met, who's just called something you
worked on for five years "crap" and sometimes for reasons that are more in
the perception than the reality (such as the internet user who flamed me
for using wrist links when it's clearly established that in the future we
will all be using chest-communicators a la TNG, and thus every time I used
our links it broke the illusion for him)....
But in the long run, it's been, and continues to be more of a positive
experience than a negative one. Because some of the criticisms have merit,
and need to be addressed. Other times, hard questions get asked, and I
have to sit down and really think about this character or that situation,
and in doing so, those answers end up helping the show. Every day, I find
anywhere from 30-60 messages in my GEnie box, most of them Internet relays,
and it's like opening a puzzle box...you're never entirely sure what you're
going to find inside.
And most of the messages are informed, and literate, and challenging,
which is the part I enjoy most. As for the rest...my sense is this: a long
time ago, when we began this journey -- and I've been on-line talking about
B5 on the nets for several *years* now -- the one thing that was foremost
in my mind was the sense that SF media fans are probably the most exploited
such fans around. They're expected to be cash cows who line up and buy
the products, no talking or shoving in the lines, and for god's sake no
questions or hassle. They're often valued for as long as they continue to
buy the merchandise. Every year, producers who don't know SF, and don't
know fandom, and really don't care, trundle out their shows as the Next
Best Thing Since Sliced Bread, raise a lot of attention...and when the show
turns into crap, they're suddenly nowhere to be found.
When the pilot aired, I stuck around. And I'll do all I can to stick
around while the series is airing. (The only glitches may be when I'm hip
deep in production.) This is my audience, and I feel that one should be
responsive and receptive to one's audience, and not run out when things get
uncomfortable. You knew the job was dangerous when you took it. See, the
thing is, I *am* a fan, and I've *been* a fan, from a kid growing up on
Bradbury and Clarke and Tolkein and Doc Smith to the present...I've sat in
the audience and listened to those aforementioned producers at conventions
and waited, only to be disappointed.
And when the time came to do B5, I swore that I'd try and do it
differently...that there would be an ongoing dialogue with the viewers of
the show, that we'd listen and be responsive and not just exploit, and if
we didn't have answers to the hard questions then by god we'd go and we'd
GET the answers. Or look like idiots. Because it's the fans who keep
this medium alive, and to ingore that aspect seems to me inappropriate.