wraithfodder (wraithfodder) wrote,

Meta: An Actor's Guide to Stargate (Universe) Fandom

Heh, I had an older copy of this I’d done years ago when Stargate Atlantis first came out and I unearthed it, so figured, why not retool it and post it now that I have a LJ.  

This is what I would say if I had the chance to speak to the Stargate Universe actors, because too often sci fi fans get a bad rap ‘(ohmygawd, crazy people – they have no lives – they live in their parent’s basement!’ – but nobody says a darn thing about the half-naked out of-of-shape guys who paint themselves blue and red at baseball games and stand around for hours in 20 degree temps cheering on their teams…).

Last Updated (at bottom) - March 4, 2009

Welcome to Stargate fandom! You’re probably thinking, hey, I know what fans are like, I’m an actor. I’ve got fans.  Well, sci-fi fans are a bit different, as you’ll come to find out. You see, sci-fi fans are very passionate about their shows. Heck, just read the comments in Joe Mallozzi’s blog!


In the event you’ve been apprised of fan reaction to Stargate Universe – which has ranged from “I can’t wait, it sounds fantastic!” to “die, SGU, die!”, here’s the reason for some of the more extreme reactions: when SG fans discover that their favorite show has been messed with (i.e., casting changes), or worse, cancelled, they’re pretty vocal about it. You see, when Atlantis got the axe, and then Stargate Universe (hereinafter referred to as ‘SGU’) was announced less than 24 hours later, well, fandom sorta imploded. It didn’t help that a Sci Fi Channel exec said of fans in an article once … they [the fans] have kind of their next fix of the Stargate franchise…” Eh, that ‘fix’ remark didn’t sit well with many fans, for the obvious connotation. To spin it differently… it’s like someone taking away the dog you’ve had and loved for years (SGA) and then being given a new puppy (SGU) and being told you’ll love it just the same. Sure, they’re both dogs, but hey, you had five years with Rover and loved him to bits and now someone is giving you Spot.


Sure, you’ll run across the more extreme fans, who are sort of obvious, but overall, fans are decent folk, And despite fans “squeeing” (see below) or hotly debating the show on the web, you’ll find a wide range of folk from all across the globe (no doubt SGU will be illegally downloaded where it’s not shown, just as Atlantis was). So if you trip over fan discussion on the web in which someone says “that medical scene was incredibly unrealistic, sigh,” the person griping is probably a doctor! ;)


Your web presence: If you don’t have a website, someone will probably build one for you. Fan sites can range from anything from just photos to well-thought out sites on all your work. If you don’t have one but want one, see what other SG actors have done in regards to sites. Some build their own (David Hewlett) while others get pros to do it (Rachel Luttrell) and I think a few were very well-done fan based sites that the actors eventually went ‘okay, you’re my official site now.’ There are already gobs of sites devoted to the Stargate franchise. You might want to start off with an official site – SciFi.com already has a site at http://www.scifi.com/universe/ and a rather active forum for SGU already discussing the show -   http://forums.scifi.com/index.php?act=SF&s=&f=167 - even though it hasn’t even begun filming. 

Also, do you already have a Twitter, a blog, or a website?? Then don’t be at all surprised if fans will not only visit and leave messages, but may also copy some material to other sites. Fans have been doing this since the internet first sprung up, but mostly, if you do an interview, they copy a small segment, then provide the link to the main source. Twitter is relatively new so most fans just post the ‘tweets’ around the web, and then fans may go ‘oh, he/she has a Twitter’ and may sign up if they have a Twitter account, otherwise, many are content to just read it elsewhere. It’s harmless and in a way, it’s also free publicity. Not everybody subscribes to Twitter. And face it, whatever you put out on the web can be read by millions of people. Hey, isn’t that the purpose of doing a site/blog/twitter anyway? Oh oh, an excellent example of actor-fan interaction on a blog: David Nykl's (Stargate Atlantis) blog - http://lettersfrompegasus.blogspot.com/. 


Spoilers: Stuff you’re not supposed to tell us fans, no matter how much we beg or cajole. However, even before the show airs, fans will get their hands on the sides (probably from the same sources you’ve used to get gigs) and begin raving (or ranting) about what’s been written. But most tend to wait until it airs before commenting. One thing you will find out if you visit the web, fans will nitpick any flaws they find. If the science, medicine, costuming, military ranks, etc. are off, you’ll find out, because the ‘experts’ watch the show and play on the web. And heaven forbid if the writers take episode #78 of SG1 and ‘retread’ the plot into an SGU script, cuz we’ll spot that, plus any ‘homages’ to movies.


Flaming:  Most flaming (loud arguing) tends to be about flaws in the show. On the amusing side (well, now it’s amusing, back then, it was annoying), fans spent weeks arguing over the color of Sam Carter’s lipstick in SG-1. Then there was discussion on Teal’c’s micro beard thing (the “albino Velcro caterpillar” as I called it, and I really hope no one sports that thing on SGU), and when Michael Shanks went from shaggy hair to a Hamlet hairdo (for a Hamlet play he was doing), fans squawked, but mostly they gripe about inaccurate science, plotholes (“Hey, if the guy’s paralyzed from the waist down, how did he move his leg??”), etc. And if TPTB kill a main character, well, the fan sites just implode. Oh yes, if the writers decide to make your character a medical doctor, protest it – run screaming to your agent – physicians (Fraiser on SG1, Beckett on Atlantis) tend to be sacrificed to the ratings gods on Stargate (aka, they DIE).


On the Plus Side: Some fans like to send gifts. So if you say in an interview “I collect toy frogs,” don’t be surprised if you start receiving them in the mail.  If you have a website, and a favorite charity, you can always mention that if you prefer not to be inundated with gifts that will overrun your garage. David Hewlett has directed fans toward Doctors Without Borders and fans have done some great collections for DWB in his name. Or you could register at Ikea, whatever ;)


YouTube: Oh, fans will make incredible music videos once there’s enough footage to play with. Or post snippets of you talking at cons ;) Once the show is on for a few weeks, check out YouTube to see your character to the latest hot tune, unless the owner of that tune takes down the vid.


Conventions: They can be a great place to get instant feedback, but your hand might drop off from signing photos in the autograph line ;) If the studio sends you off to a Comic Con to promote the show, by all means go. They are incredible events! Just wear comfortable shoes/sneakers as if you go on to the floor to check out the tables (action figures, toys, games and lots more), you’ll do a lot of walking. Oh yes, you may get your own action figure one day that may be for sale at this and other events. J Also, if you say something at a convention, it will probably be across the world in a few seconds courtesy of the multitude of fans who carry Blackberries, etc. Ah, yes, the joys of Twitter!


SG-1 or Atlantis or Universe? While many SG fans are fans of the franchise – they’ll watch all of the incarnations -  some are fans of just one show, because of some aspect of it, or they followed an actor into it and once that actor left, they stopped watching.


Fan Fiction/Forums: Fan fiction is self-explanatory. Fiction written by fans, which can range from just incredible (some writers go on to be professional authors) to just embarrassing. A few definitions in case you dare to go onto the web to see what fans are saying…


§          AU: Alternate Universe. Seen in both fan fiction and on shows. They used it on Stargate SG-1 several times. You can do things with your main characters you might otherwise might not do (like kill them, demote them, marry them, etc.) In fan fiction, your character might become a dragon (but, mind you, a mighty fine dragon!)


§          Gen: short for general, or fan fiction like you see on the show (in other words, it’s not slash or ship – see below)


§          LiveJournal: A blog, although with different features than Blogger. Many fans utilize this service as it’s more amenable to posting fanfiction, artwork, icons (yes, little pictures of YOU with funny sayings, etc.)


§          Ship: Male/female romance, short for ‘relationshippper.’ Like Mulder & Scully on “X-Files” (that’s where the term came from). A fan fiction term that has crossed over to the general medium of television.


§          Slash: Fan fiction composed of male/male, or female/female relationships, all the way up to NC-17 in nature, and this is specific to fan fiction. It’s been going on since Star Trek when fans paired up Kirk/Spock (and slash comes from the “/”) in between names, although in SGA fandom, combined names became the rage (“McShep”) for McKay/Sheppard slash, but then there was McWeir (Mckay and Weir) which was really ‘ship,’ but then, you’ll never have time to read fanfiction anyway and there’s probably some legal issue about it if you decide you want to write an episode of the show ;) If you do a convention, someone is bound to ask a slash question. Oddly enough, since you’re in Canada, you can probably read about it in the press. It seems whenever a Canadian paper covers fan fiction, it always focuses on the slash aspect. Don’t know why, but that’s what they do.


§          Squee: A term seen on boards in which fans just LOVE something to death and go “Squeee!”


§          TPTB: The Powers That Be. Basically, the writers/producers of Stargate (usually Mallozzi, Wright, Cooper, etc.) although it also refers to MGM and SciFi (commonly called ‘Skiffy’). Can either be revered or vilified depending upon what they do to the show.


§          Thunk: The noise made when you fall and hit the floor. It’s when fans just love a character/actor and ‘thunk’ threads are very happy places in which fans talk about how ‘hawt’ the actor/character is, etc. etc. Lots of photos get posted to thunk threads.


§          Whump:  From fan fiction, also known as hurt/comfort. The character gets hurt (whumped) and the others comfort him/her. Sort of like “you only hurt the one you love.” To me, it’s reminiscent of some old TV shows I used to watch which always put the hero in peril and got him banged up, so I blame TV for my love of whump fiction. ;)


If you’re bored or just want to go ‘ohmygod, they write THAT?!’, here’s a good site for  fandom terms: http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/alabaster/A632062

Much of it has to do with fan fiction, but many of those terms (like UST, for ‘unresolved sexual tension’), translate into normal everyday talk about the show.


While fans may argue vociferously on the web about the show, most of us do so because they’re so passionate about the show. We love it, and want to see it be the best it can be. And heck, sometimes debating/nitpicking a show can just be fun too ;)

UPDATE: Ah, a fact I totally forgot to add. While some folks in the entertainment field ascribe to the fandom as being the sterotypical geeky male nerd type, Stargate fandom has a high ratio of female fans (ranging from, say, teens all the way past retirement age). 

UPDATE - 04 March 2009 : Scripts. You'll get lots. You'll save some, trash most, but you know what, save some complete ones. W hy? They will sell at charity auctions (no, you can't auction them to pay the rent) ;) These scripts go toward great charities like Make-A-Wish Foundation, etc.


That’s about it. Enjoy the ride!


And that’s what I’d say, well, write, since no way would I ever the time to really sit and talk to an actor unless I paid $$$$$ to get a set visit, so I need to buy another Powerball ticket. I dare say I’ve rambled on quite enough anyway, and I haven’t even finished my coffee yet!


Hmm, anybody else have anything to add? This is, after all, my point of view of far too may years in fandom ;)


.Oh yes, and if your retainas are by any chance scorched by any of this, view this YouTube video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6yzjDXp_og - and it will erase everything ;)
Tags: actor's guide, fandom, stargate universe
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