Autograph Hound's Blah Blah Blog

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Why I hated you James Marsters - Austin Wizard World 2011

It’s only a TV show. Take a deep breath and get a hold of yourself. Remember when you laughed at the girls at work a decade ago when they got upset?  That’s what you told them: it’s only a TV show. 
Doesn’t seem so funny now, huh?
About 2 years ago I worked my way through the Buffy and Angel shows while playing poker online. I would have 3 tables up and fill the 4th corner of the screen with a stream from Netflix.  I played a lot of poker. I watched a lot of Netflix. I watched a lot of Buffy and Angel.
It was the beginning of July of 2009 that I saw the episode that really got me mad.  Spike tried to rape Buffy. I was furious. It didn’t matter that in a few episodes Buffy more or less forgave him or they had made an uneasy peace. For the viewers a decade ago, it was a passage of a couple of months and a week between episodes to sort through their feelings. I was watching 5 or 6 hours a day and I could not digest my emotional rollercoaster that fast.  I was beside myself and still very angry for weeks.
Later that same July I had the chance to get James Marsters autograph at San Diego ComicCon. I saw him at a table with a line of fans. He fans adored him. He was all smiles. I was mad. How could he smile and how could the fans love him after what he tried to do to Buffy?  I thought about standing in line and then really giving him a piece of my mind. Yes, I was really that angry. 
Breathe; it was only a TV show…
I’m glad I didn’t wait in line and I didn’t get in his face.
It took me a while to get over that. I’m better now. Really, I am. It’s JUST a TV show. Breathe...in with the good…out with the bad.  Breathe….
James Martsers was at Wizard World’s Austin ComicCon a few weeks ago. I got in line this time. I behaved like an adult. 
He put his hand out and shook mine before we started. He asked how I was and I told him I had a chance to get his autograph 2 years before but I was mad at him. He paused and looked up. I started – You raped Buffy…
He dropped the pen before I could say more and then he said: I’m sorry. Just like that.  He said ‘mate when I read that, I thought about quitting the show’.  He went on to say he told the writers that they don’t always understand what they ask the actors to do. The writers get caught up trying to outdo one another or work on something cathartic for themselves or just try to generate ratings.
He mentioned how hard that was for him and it affected him physically while on set.  It was not something he wanted to do. He couldn't talk them out of doing it.  There was no stopping it.

It was obvious he had to explain this lot. It was obvious he was trying to be open with me and give me an answer that would ease my lingering resentment.  He seemed to really want me to come to terms with my feelings. I really appreciated it.
The large convention hall had narrowed down to just the two of us as we had an intense and honest discussion.
When he paused, I said I WAS over it. I said it took a while and I know it’s a TV show but it affected me. He said it affected him too.  I felt like I got something off my chest and now it was time to hang out at the bar with him, like old friends and buy a round bitters.
I noticed he sat back in the chair. The tension was gone. I then realized he still had a line and I was bogging up the process.  He signed my photo and he shook my hand again. 
I told him thank you.  I was saying thank you for more than just a photo and a few seconds of his time. I was saying thank you for allowing me to get rid of some of my baggage.  And I was saying thank you for sharing some of his pain too.

AH

12 comments:

  1. Thats pretty awesome of both of you! Him for apologizing and telling the story of what happened and you for standing up for what you believed. I remember that scenes VERY well myself and I was also so pissed I couldn't look at JM on the screen for weeks without yelling..."even though it was only a TV show". I get caught up in my favorite shows as well.. its a part of my life, its a part of who I am and what happens in those shows does effect me, even if temporarily.. and I know Im not alone in that thought either. Thanks for posting this article.

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  2. Thanks for reading the post and thanks for leaving a comment. It's great to know I wasn't alone in this too. I appreciate the feedback.

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  3. Hmm, how can I put this. You do realise that JM is just an actor and not responsible for what the writers get him to do?

    If you had any problem with how the story panned out then maybe a letter Joss Whedon would have been more in order?

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  4. Blackthorn - Obviously this bothered you enough to defend ’JM’. We should probably have an offline discussion. Email me at ahbbblog@gmail.com.

    But a couple of quick points – what is the job of an actor? They emote so we can feel through their actions. A good actor gets you to suspend your belief for a minute or an hour at a time. If they can NOT help you suspend your reality then there is no need for them or for books or music. You are supposed to feel for them and through them.

    Marsters did that. He got me so caught up in a silly TV show that I was mad and furious. I was so emotionally invested that I refused to get his autograph at an earlier opportunity.

    In a way Marsters IS responsible for what the writers do because he needs to make it ‘real’. Also, actors and writers are symbiotic. They do influence one another with their abilities and input and reactions.

    If you feel I ambushed Marsters, then I obviously failed in my writing. I was NOT trying to blame Marsters for the scene. I wasn’t campaigning to have him arrested or stoned. I was trying to share my emotional rollercoaster and trying to share how nice Marsters was to shared his rollercoaster with me.

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  5. Well may I say maybe you should have worded it a little differently then really, because on first reading It just comes across to me at as someone who's confusing a TV show a real life sadly.

    He's not the character and he had no responsibility over what Whedon wanted him to do at the time.

    As I said, any problem with that scene should really have been directed at the shows writers, because as you found out JM was equally uncomfortable having to play out this scene so you weren't the only one.

    Imo JM shouldn't be placed in the position of having to apologize for his craft anymore then any other actor and as for refusing to have an autograph before, oh dear...

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  6. It was well known by most fans of the series, especially by as late as 2009, that James didn't want to do that scene, and he had spoken about it many times. You took the trouble to stand in line, and yet somehow this had passed you by. Perhaps next time, before you go out of your way to off-load on someone doing their job, and doing it well, even though they hate it, you will have the consideration to do a bit more research first. Or perhaps the emotional reaction was what you wanted, which is rather unkind.

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  7. Your definition of a fan might be part of the disconnect between us and your fellow fans. In my opinion, the various Buffy message boards and fan sites are not for the average fan. Those are for the people that have a more vested interested in the show, the characters, and actors than the average fan. For them and you, the show is still a living entity through the books, DVDs, fan fiction, graphic novels, etc.

    I don’t think the average fan knows about those avenues or really cares. I would not call myself a big fan of the show and I’ll admit I thought the movie was much better than the first few episodes of the series. (I know, what a sacrosanct thing to say.) That is why I never watched the series originally. I only know now about the various ancillary sites because of the comments made on my blog. I was not the one that posted my link on these sites.

    There is no trouble or effort required to stand in line. It is what I do - I collect autographs. I did not go out of my way to attend this convention to see James Marsters. James Marsters was not the only reason I went to the convention. His was not the only autograph I got.

    I will admit I was excited to see him and to get his autograph and to let him know how he affected me. From his reaction, he seemed to understand that and was empathizing with me that it was hard for him also. It was a time of sharing and not of attack, perry, and repost.

    I should have prepared and researched this scene and his previous interviews and know his reaction? This was not an interview where I had an allotted time and a series of questions to ask. This was an autograph session where I’m allowed a few seconds of time with an actor. In that time I asked a question and I got an answer.

    As I mentioned before, if you feel I ambushed Marsters, then I obviously failed in my writing. We should probably have an offline discussion. Email me at ahbbblog@gmail.com.
    Also, I want to thank you for reading the blog and leaving a comment.

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  8. Anoymous II, here. As a frequent reader, I was surprised to see styles of diatribe usually reserved for sports sites. Seriously, as a working actor for over 30 years, I am rather pleased to read that Marsters evoked such a visceral response from AH. I don’t know about the soap-opera-fanatic level hatred of JM, but it is understandable considering the actions of the character.
    In a comic or book, this would not be an issue, but the thing is that Marsters’ face is attached to the Angel character and vice versa. So, Marsters is responsible for what the writers told him to do…especially because actors can refuse to follow the script for whatever reason – personal, religious, financial, ethical, fan popularity, etc. That doesn’t mean they won’t get replaced or fired, just that they can still refuse. As a member of the WGA, I can’t count how many times I’ve heard from directors and writers that something is “not in their character’s motivation.” And some actors will actually walk rather than compromise their reasons…James Garner, Chris Engen, and others.
    The primary reason I can understand AH’s emotion is that he streamlined episode after episode into his system in single sittings. My wife, mother, and I assume, ‘trepkos,’ had the advantage of spending years not only watching the shows, but keeping up with news items and interviews.
    My recommendation to trepkos is, perhaps next time, consider that the person who has crammed the 1997 to 2004 episodes of Buffy and Angel into one year did not have that advantage. Also, it is not required for casual fans, regular fans, or hardcore fans to do any type of research. Last time I watched Buffy, I don’t remember there being any quiz or mandatory links to follow online. Perhaps next time, you will consider that not all fans are required to follow specific protocols. You seem to have gone out of your way to attack someone for not being like you, unless, you had specifically set out to be condescending, which is considerably unkind.

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  9. "So, Marsters is responsible for what the writers told him to do…especially because actors can refuse to follow the script for whatever reason – personal, religious, financial, ethical, fan popularity, etc. That doesn’t mean they won’t get replaced or fired, just that they can still refuse."

    All I can say is you obviously don't have a clue as to how the real world works when It comes to the industry, something I worked in for many years, because unless you're the lead of a show or top of your game of course you have no say in what you're asked to perform, especially with Whedon who has a bit of a rep for being a control freak when It comes to his actors.

    Todays breed of jobbing actors like JM do what they do not just for art, but to earn a living and they're not going to endanger that by refusing to play a scene. Of course theres a bit of 'wriggle room' when it comes to how they interpret the script, but the basics are still there and thats what they work with.

    They're just employees like anyone else after all. You don't pay them high salaries only for them to turn around and say I'm not doing that. They'd just laugh and point at their contract and say "yes you are hon, oh yes you are."

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  10. "How could he smile and how could the fans love him after what he tried to do to Buffy?"

    Because we're fans of the actor who is a kind man. He's not Spike.

    "I started – You raped Buffy…"

    Seriously, JM thought about ending his life after doing that scene. But you angrily go up to him and accuse him of raping Buffy. You were MORE than unkind to him. Shame on you.

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  11. Spike didn't rape Buffy, NEVER, and you're estupida to accusse James.

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  12. SPIKE DIDN`T RAPE BUFFY, RETARDED!
    You never see the Buffy TV show hahahaha

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