Hi Suds Buds!
In the January 22-28, 2000 issue of TV Guide Magazine (on sale now), soap critic Michael Logan includes a blurb on Agnes Nixon, creator of All My Children, in which she states her current feelings on the internet. "I don't mean to say it isn't valuable, but give me a well thought-out fan letter -- even a negative one -- that comes by mail any day. A lot of what is written on the internet is not thought out," she claims. "Sometimes the (fans online) seem less interested in the soaps than they are in topping each other. They have become their own audience."
Interesting comments, but I am stumped. Is she referring to flame wars? Fan fictions? If so, then yes. Maybe posters try to outdo each other. Much of it is done in fun, IMHO, or to see a favorite storyline end their way (fan fiction). Some is harsh and hurtful -- directed at other posters, or actors, and that's unfortunate. People have a right to express their opinion. Some are not as tactful as others, and on this, I agree with Nixon. It would be better to think before posting.
However, there is an abundance of "well thought out" show commentary, both accolades and criticism, circulating the internet. I see it posted, or receive it via email. Isn't she aware that the internet is the fastest growing communications breakthrough since television? Many users are soap fans. Many are the highly sought after demographics: women 18-34, and teens 12-17. Many make excellent points about their favorite show. Yet, after reading Logan's article, it's obvious that despite the cyber revolution, Ms. Nixon still has a resistance to the future, and is not altering her position. This troubles me.
When I first joined America Online in the Spring of 1994, my reaction to the amount of online commentary about television programming was simple. Forget Neilson ratings. If a network or producer wants to see how his show is performing, all they have to do is sign on.
When ABC became a content partner with America Online in late 1994, it was logical to ask producers if the network took cyberfans' comments to heart. Their response at the time was something like not really. It's not a reliable sample. There is not a computer in every household. Not everyone is online. The percentage of our daytime audience with computer access and online capability is marginal. So the sample is skewed.
Okay. I bought that argument at that time. But a lot has changed in six years. The number of the online-cabable households has grown exponentially, and continues to do so. ABC left AOL for their own internet dynasty, http://www.abc.go.com, and would most likely agree that their original argument is no longer viable.
Then came the Museum of Television and Radio's exhibit on soap operas in 1997. Not only did they publish a spectacular coffee table book (World's Without End: The Art and History of the Soap Opera, available through the Turtle Run Store they hosted a number of seminars dedicated to the genre. I participated in one devoted to All My Children. The panel consisted of Agnes Nixon, then EP Francesca James, director Conal O'Brien, script writer Michelle Patrick, and several cast members. When asked about the internet commentary regarding AMC, Nixon laughed and said, "We are aware of it, but don't pay attention to it."
Her response was a tad jarring, IMHO. Three years later, she seems to maintain the same position. Shame on you, Agnes. Although, not paying attention to, as Logan states, "the instant opinions of ax-grinding, bile-spewing mouse pushers" may be best for the show in the long run. The producers have a vision. Maybe they should not bow before the masses. It might muddy already unclear waters. The "too many cooks in the kitchen" thing. But they should not completely disregard the myriad of constructive recommendations, or cavalierly dismiss internet users as blowhards who know nothing because of a few bad apples.
If Nixon is reluctant to accept feedback from the internet, due in part, to some of that bile-spewing, flaming, lack of consideration for the hard work that goes into getting a soap on the air 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year, with hardly a preemption, and never a rerun, maybe some internet soap fans should try a different tact. Stop flaming. Stop bashing. Approach a negative criticism in a positive fashion. Be constructive not destructive. It's obvious that getting executives like Nixon to take internet soap fans seriously is a challenge. But challenges can be overcome. It may take a while, but let's remain hopeful. Meantime, get your cards and letters in the mail.
I have a great deal of respect for Agnes Nixon, as does the television community in general. Her portrait is predominantly displayed in the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences building in North Hollywood, guaranteeing her rightful place among the industry elite. A protege of soap pioneer, Irma Phillips, she is a credit to the genre. She has succeeded in the soap opera business 40 or 50 years. One heck of a long time. Maybe too long? We are in the 21st century, Agnes. Regardless of the few bad apples, it's time to take the internet seriously.
What do you guys think? Post your thoughts in the "Criticize the Critic folder," on the Turtle-Run Message Boards.
Now for the fun stuff! Have you tried NoPudge Brownies yet? They are one of TRO Store's featured products, and boy are they delicious. Easy to make, too. Just mix, bake and yummy. The best part is, they are NO FAT, and only 2 points each on Weight Watchers. Can't beat that. Hope you decide to try them. Please remember to say in the "comments section" on their order page, that Turtle-Run sent you! Then, I want to know how you liked them. I promise, you won't be disappointed!
Soap Notes -- All PassionsPassions fans check in at http://www.nbc.com on Monday, January 24th. Taylor Anne Mountz (Kay) and Travis Schuldt (Ethan) will be chatting live at 9 PM ET (6 PM Pacific) as they notify the winners of the Passions online casting call. Did you vote for your favorites? Don't know about you, but I can't wait to see who won. Won't it be fun to watch their debut on the show and to know you were a part of it? I mean, wow! How cool is that? LOL
Both Brook Kerr (Whitney) and Liza Huber (Gwen) will star on Wheel of Fortune the week of February 7, 2000. Check your local listings.
Rodney Van Johnson (TC) fans you are in luck! Rodney is available for a date. The Big Brothers Association will be auctioning a date with Rodney on Thursday, February 10, 2000 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills. Big Brothers is a not-for-profit organization that helps boys who have no fathers. The event runs from 6 - 11 PM. I am trying to get more information on this, so if you want to bid on that date with Rodney, keep checking back.
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