January 27, 2005

People Without Lives

In the course of my extensive research into the culture of West Wing fandom, I dropped by the bulletin board for that show over at Television Without Pity, where I immediately noticed the deleterious effects of Televisions Dweebishness on the human brain.

It's just nauseating: they have, like, their own little language. Really. Little "in" terms that only they recognize. Outsiders are expected to . . . I dunno. Read a whole bunch of their postings and sort of pick up on it gradually. I just couldn't get it out of my mind that these television nerds are building an entire subculture around TV!

From the Site's FAQ:

• Anvil/anvilicious: Used to indicate obvious or heavy-handed writing that has no regard for the viewer's intelligence, thus bludgeoning them over the head with parallels, et al. in the manner of Wile E. Coyote and his Acme Brand anvils.

• HoYay: Short for "homoeroticism, yay!" A celebration of textual and subtextual homoeroticism.

• Mary Sue: A character who's just a little too perfect to be believed.

• Ship/shipper: "Ship" is short for "relationship." If you are an X and Y "shipper," that's short for "relationshipper." That is, you want those two characters to be together.

• TPTB: "The Powers That Be." Generally designates writers and producers.

Can you believe these losers? Can't they get, like, a real hobby or something?

Posted by Attila at January 27, 2005 11:19 PM

What an unbelievable coincidence. I just got through being mad at that Web site. I learned from a friend of a friend that they established a message board for fans of the TV show "Battlestar Galactica," and who isn't, really? So I signed up and made some new friends.

Or, rather, I thought I did. In short order, I'd piqued the ire of what I only assume are employees of Television Without Pity, Inc., not once, not twice, but three times.

My most recent crime against humanity was using the word "um." "Um," evidently, is not allowed on that site. I got an extremely nasty message from somebody informing me that I was not to use the word "um," and that I'd been "warned."

My reply, sent via e-mail, included the following:

"All facetiousness aside … what exactly is the rationale behind demanding that contributors live up to an utterly arbitrary standard of civility — 'um,' for cryin' out loud? — while showing no particular interest in maintaining any civility of your own? From downright abrupt scoldings about topicality, to the mercurial deletion of entire comments without even so much as a terse e-mail to the author, to shutting down access to an account for days for absolutely no reason whatsoever … it'd be hilarious if anybody were laughing about it."

I went on to say:

"The people who contribute to this site, as individuals, seem to be real nice folks, pleasant to talk to and entertaining to hear from. But if this site could be thought of as a metaphorical person, if it could be described as having a personality … well, 'Television Without Pity' is kind of an asshole."

It surprises me not in the least that Aaron Sorkin, back when he was still writing "The West Wing," devoted an entire B-plot to taking these people down a peg.

On that subject, tell me nothing. This past Wednesday's "West Wing" is still waiting for me on my TiVo.

Posted by: Jeff Harrell at January 28, 2005 12:22 AM

I think I saw that on posting FAQs. Believe me, I've been to the strictest bulletin board in the world, the one at Casebook: Jack the Ripper, and the FAQs there constitute a long list. What they want is to prevent serious ripperologists having to explain over and over to the newcomers the basics of the crimes. You really only want to comment there if you've been doing your homework and have a legitimate question.

But there certainly aren't rules about which colloquialisms one may and may not use.

Wonder how the Television Without Mercy people feel about people starting a post with "Uh."

Posted by: Attila Girl at January 28, 2005 02:13 AM

I don't know about "Uh," but I can tell you that they're not wild about people who start comments with "Dumbass."

Posted by: Jeff Harrell at January 28, 2005 09:06 AM

I believe that the term "shippers" arose out of the X-Files TV show. Shippers were those who wanted Mulder and Scully to get together. At least that was the first time I ever heard the term.

Posted by: HomericPundit at January 29, 2005 08:49 AM

The sexual tension is certainly reminiscent of that on the X-Files.

Posted by: Attila Girl at January 29, 2005 05:18 PM

Not just rude, but downright vengeful, too. I suppose somebody from Over There saw my comments Over Here. I am no longer allowed to post comments on "Television Without Pity."

I know I should be all broken up about it, but … you know. Not so much.

Posted by: Jeff Harrell at January 30, 2005 04:55 PM

That's pretty twisted, by any measure. These people wouldn't last 10 minutes in the blogging world.

Posted by: Attila Girl at January 30, 2005 05:58 PM

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