When I do look at photos of an actor, it’s because I want to see what of them is in their character. In this case, I am looking for Derek in Tyler Heochlin. I want to know how he creates Derek so well. Particularly, since
Yes, yes, actors do this, this is their job, so don’t tell me that. In this case, the difference between Tyler and Derek is SO MARKED that when I see a picture of Tyler, I marvel at how handsome he is (because that’s what you do) and then I study it to see where the frown lines are (there aren’t any), where the strings are (again, no strings) and where he hides that rabbit! It’s a magic trick, I tell you and a mighty fine one! How does he do it? What is the genesis of him creating Derek, a guy who is 180 degrees different from him? That’s the answer that I want.
So then, pictures came across Tumblr of Mr. Hoechlin and his lovely girlfriend. They were taken in a Photo Booth (they had that kind of style), and it looked to me like the couple was having fun. And YES I saw them; they came across my dashboard. I nodded and smiled and “liked” the photoset. I didn’t download them because I’m more interested in pictures of the characters that actors play, rather than the actors themselves. (I’m even more interested in fannish art, which I download in a heartbeat to admire later.) But I looked at these, and now I feel badly about it and let me tell you why.
Evidently, someone gave a party to which Mr. Heochlin attended. A Photo Booth was provided to give the guests something fun to do. Evidently the photos were stored online behind a password; you needed the password to get to the photos and download them. The password was intended for the guests. Evidently some fan determined to BREAK THE PASSWORD and download the photos. She wasn’t just surfing the interwebs and looking for candids of Mr. Hoechlin to share, she broke into a persona website, hacked the private password, and took something that didn't belong to her. And then shared those photos, the ones that I “liked.”
It’s one thing to have someone take your picture on a street or somewhere, and oh look, there’s Mr. Actor Guy on the beach, and isn’t he swell? It’s another to break in to a website and take private time away from people who have good reason to guard that private time. There are enough pictures of Mr. Hoechlin on the internet (about a billionty, I’d say), so do fans really need to steal more?
I’ve been thinking about this since the Tumblr message came from the guy who threw the party. He’s pissed off and rightfully so. He threw a private party for his friends and now that privacy is broken. And then Mr. Hoechlin is pissed off too, and rightfully so. He tweeted the name of the fan who took the photos and said “not cool,” which is basically a wrist slap, but a pretty stinging one. Both of these individuals have the right to be angry; if it were me, I’d be thinking, “Why do I give these fans anything, when they just take what they want?”
I’m not sure, still not sure, what I can do from my fannish end of things.
I “unliked” the photo set that I saw, so that’s a start.
I don’t feel like I can apologize directly to either of these individuals. They don’t know me from Adam and I don’t know them. I don’t feel comfortable creating a fannish Twitter to apologize, either, it seems sort of…I don’t know. Too close. But I feel badly enough to want to apologize, so here goes.
Dear Tyler Hoechlin and Person That Threw the Party, and, frankly, Everyone At the Party. Dear EVERYONE: I’m sorry I looked at the photos. I feel like a heel for looking at them. I had no idea they were private photos, downloaded with a stolen password. I had no idea they were private. Honestly.
There was another note on Tumblr that indicated that not all of fandom was to blame, no worries, etc., so we’re supposed to move on. Right? Except, now, every time I look at a candid photo, something on the street, or what looks like it was taken in someone’s home, I cringe. And think, is this a stolen photo? How on earth did someone get a hold of a picture of someone at their collage graduation or at the dinner table sharing a meal with the family? Why am I looking at this? Will some fan get called to heel for it later? It just gets awkward. And I feel uncomfortable, whereas before, it was all a lark.
And then it gets worse. Because Sterek fans have won the damn EOnline Fantasy TV Couples competition. We won it, like, hands down, with one hand tied behind our backs. It wasn’t even funny, and yet it was. I prefer fannish competitions that do stuff like this; there was the After Elton one, which seemed more organic, in response to a TV Couples competition that didn’t include any non-heterosexual couples.
So then the networks got hold of the idea, and now they’re doing it, because it’s cool, of the moment, current, and gets fans to come to their website to click that little blue button like a bunch of trained pigeons. And by fans I mean ME. I was there, clicking, even though I thought, what? Why am I doing this? What do I care? I ship who I ship and no competition will change that.
But then some fan kindly informed me that if we win, if Sterek wins, then….evidently we’ll get some online chat time with the actors who play Derek and Stiles.
So not only do we get to “chat” with the fellow from whom personal photos were TAKEN, we get to chat with him about Sterek.
Do you see the problem here? Does anyone?
Not that I’m not curious as HELL what they think of it, what Hoechlin and O’Brien think about Sterek, but seriously? I can’t even begin to articulate how odd and uncomfortable this whole idea makes me feel. Yes, yes, of course I want to know EVERYTHING, but truthfully, what is there that Hoechlin and O’Brien can tell us that fans haven’t already figured out and are putting down in fan fiction and fan art?
This is a made up couple, that WE made up. We, the fans, made this couple up. We took from canon and extrapolated from there. Jeff Davis has clearly stated that when they filmed Seasons 1 and 2, they were unaware of Sterek. The actors are now filming Season 3; they are all aware of Sterek. Even still, what can they tell us that we don’t already know? I mean, other than the fact that they find the whole idea hilarious or disturbing; any questions (honest ones with real answers, not the jokey ones) that we ask are liable to have them squirming in their seats.
Okay, let me clarify, any questions that I would ask, the answers which I would find worth listening to, would have the actors squirming in their seats. So I’m really loathe to ask them, because why would I want to do that to these two perfectly nice guys who created two characters that I like to ship? I don’t want to make them feel uncomfortable.
Even given that I’d love the opportunity to ask the characters I write about what’s going on with them, to ask the actors is something else again. Can’t we get a holodeck or something, and get Derek and Stiles in there and ask them?
Maybe it’s me. I come from “Back in the Day” where the actors didn’t know about slash and we didn’t want or need them to know. We wrote what we wanted to write and had no expectations that the directors/producers/actors would suddenly “get wise” and make our ships real. And there was no insistence, urgings, or expectations that our ship would become real. Besides, that would take all the fun out of it – take the fun out of watching the show, and finding those moments to work with.
To me, slash is taking what you see in canon and spinning webs of gold from it. Directors don’t know that the close up angle of Actor A and Actor B is titillating to female viewers. They see it as “a close up.” We see it as a “romantic moment.” That’s the difference between The Male Eye and the Female Eye. So to ask these two actors to not only see what we see, to see what I see, but also to acknowledge it? Is like asking them to turn themselves inside out for our amusement.
So I’m preparing myself to be squicked by inappropriate questions about Sterek. I’m also thinking, what can I ask that’s reasonable and not too whacky to answer. Which will be difficult for me, seeing as I won’t be able to forget that Hoechlin’s pissed because some fan stole his privacy away, and why on earth is he going to want to answer any questions at all, let alone about STEREK. I’ll be thinking that the whole time, the WHOLE time.
You see how my mind goes rabbiting on with this? It’s like I can’t stop.
Here’s what I would ask, stuff like:
How do you feel about your character? Would you want to know them in real life? Would you bring them home to meet your mother?
The script gives you part of your character. Where do you get the rest of him? What is the genesis of you creating what we on screen?
How do you prepare when there’s a scene to shoot?
What do you find difficult about playing this character? What do you find easy?
Do you have any say in your character’s wardrobe?
Okay, so you see how this is going? These are BASIC questions, insightful sometimes, completely mundane the rest of the time. At no point are any of these about Sterek specifically. Because what would you ask?
Are the characters really in love? Is this a passing thing for the two of them? Who’s in love more? Who fell in love first? How can Stiles love someone like Derek, who’s so “difficult” to understand? Who’s on top? What sexual positions do the characters like best? What’s Derek’s favorite flavor of ice cream? How does Stiles feel about the fact that the mouth that he’s kissing is actually one that could rip his throat out? Do they ever have sex in the woods? How about in Derek’s Camaro? Does Derek realize that Stiles is only 16? Is Stiles ever afraid that during sex Derek will wolf out and hurt him?
You see? Aren’t these questions we should be answering for ourselves?
These questions, of substance for which we’d like real answers, would be so out of the realm of a PG rating that they would be impossible to ask. (And would be screened out.) Because Sterek isn’t them just being friends, it’s about the characters being in a sexual relationship. And if they’re just friends, then it’s not Sterek. That’s what slash means – a same sex relationship from a TV show that we turn sexual, on account of we see “a closeup” as “a romantic moment.” This isn’t just me saying this, slash goes all the way back to the beginning of time. To Star Trek. To Kirk and Spock. Watson and Holmes, even. But TV execs would be leery of having such an R-rated conversation, I mean, wouldn't they?
So those questions from above? Even if they get past the screening stage, Hoechlin and O’Brien aren’t going to know the answers to those. I mean, are they? Frankly, I’d rather they not be asked to think about this. I’d rather they just go on doing what they’re doing and unconsciously creating those moments from which I can extrapolate and write fan fiction. That’s all.
The only other question I can think that a fan might ask is, “What do you guys think of Sterek?”
And there we go again, pushing into their private lives, more than we ought. Because what can they say? “It’s awesome!” Or, “It’s really cool to think of our characters having sex!”
I mean really. The answers will be jokey and of no substance at all. We've gotten that before, so why bother them with this now?
Or the answers could be as cool as Rob Morrow’s statement, “I’ve been shipped with everyone including Jesus, so I’m good with it.”
Or as cool as Leonard Nimoy, who said something along the lines of, “A fan’s gotta do what a fan’s gotta do.”
Or maybe I’m thinking about this too hard on account of those damn photo booth photos and fans will actually be asking jokey questions without any real expectations of serious answers. Because maybe it’s only me who takes a ship seriously. I mean, when I’m in it, and writing about it, I get very serious, because it means something to me. I write serious stories, not funny ones.
I guess it’s uncomfortable to me because this fandom (and other recently created ones about TV shows that are HOT right now) seems to have not only broken through the fourth wall, we’re camping on the other side. Which provides no service to fandom at all; we’re too close, we know too much, and then we come to expect that the actors will not only understand our ships, but CREATE the ships. Bring them to life. And that’s really too much to put on them. I like it better when the ship is, on their part, unconsciously done. It’s more freeing that way, for me. Otherwise, not only is my family asking me when I’m going to write something “real,” (that is, not fannish), I’ve got Tyler Hoechlin, still pissed off about those photo booth pics, staring over my shoulder as I type, going, “What are you writing that crap for!???” With that growly face, you know, the one Derek makes?
It’s all too muddled and mixed up now. Derek Hale should be nowhere in sight when I'm writing fan fiction. And yet there he is!
I guess the only thing I can do now is to close the door, ignore the fact that the fourth wall has been shattered to smithereens, and go on writing fan fiction for me and my friends. The way I've always done and enjoyed it.