Sunday, July 8, 2012

On the Danger of Feeding the Trolls

As you may know, a lot of episodes of the early days of television are lost, presumably forever.  Partially as a cost-saving measure, and partially because they literally never imagined people would want to re-watch TV shows, a lot of video tape was erased and re-used, and a lot of film was thrown away or burned.  Even Doctor Who, considered one of the best Sci-Fi shows ever made, has tragic gaps in its collection.  As a rule, anyone who has episodes of the show have been asked to come forward, and the BBC will only ask to make a copy of the episodes; no questions asked, you keep your original.  It's always a joy to hear that an episode or two have been found, sometimes from TV Station archives, sometimes from private collectors.

So, a few months back, I ran a review of Julie Newmar's series, My Living Doll, which was just released on DVD.  It's listed as "Volume 1", not because a second volume is planned, but because only 11 episodes of the 26-episode series are known to exist, and they wanted to make it clear that it wasn't the complete series.  They even listed one of those episodes as Bonus material, as they didn't think the quality was good enough to charge money for. 

They actually had the whole run, but fifteen episodes were lost in the Northridge Quake of 1994.  They spent six years trying to find as much of the series as they could.  Believe me, eleven episodes is a TRIUMPH - for the years I've been a fan of the show, I only knew of four. So they played as fair as they could, and I was more then happy to get what we got.

The reviews on Amazon were pretty positive, save for one fellow who really took them to task for "only" releasing 11 episodes.  He seemed to think that this was a multi-volume dodge, as opposed to it being all they had.  So he slapped two stars on it and left a short, nasty review.

Which all the OTHER fans of the show began to...oh let's go with "rebut with extreme prejudice".  Classic "I can say anything I want I am anonymous" stuff - insults, references to farm animals, the usual.

But here's the thing.  Then the guy says that he has two additional episodes of the show in his film collection.  This was met with suspicion by the commenters, but the producers of the DVD tracked the guy down, and started negotiations to get the copies.

The comment thread, being on the Internet, turned uglier, and the epithets blew thick and fast.  Some of the comments got deleted, and I can only imagine what kind of line they crossed to earn that. After a conversation that referenced the rude comments on Amazon (over which which nobody involved had any control), The fellow stopped taking the calls of the producers.  He popped back up announce that because the Internet had hurt his feelings, not only does he have no plans to offer the episodes to the producers, he plans to burn them.

The guys over 65 (based a small bit of research) and is likely not used to the vituperatives and invective tossed about casually on the Internet.  But threatening to destroy the episodes is an overreaction, and if it's as a result of the commenters, they might have to do some thinking about how they do things.

Now, there's no way to know if the guy was on the up-and-up, or if he was as much of a troll as the folks who insulted him.  But he had been talking to the producers, and progress was being made.  But to lose any bits of classic TV over a couple of comment thread insults would be an absolute shame.

Not everybody on the Internet knows when you're just being witty, or engaging in good-natured ribbing.  Sarcasm does not work well in test, acronyms and emoticons notwithstanding.  There is no way to know how someone is going to take your comment.  A shred of decorum could go a long way to keeping a situation from getting out of hand.  hopefully this will be the worst thing that ever comes of these people's electronic slings and arrows. 

1 comment:

  1. Which is why I need to break myself of the habit of reading the comment boards on Yahoo. I have trouble enough as it is swallowing the nastiness that takes root so easily there. What is truly upsetting is that there are some people who seem to go far out of their way just to deliver a random cruel comment.