Sunday 30 March 2014

Unplugging from John Green & Rob Thomas

I am a self-confessed online junkie.  I spend an inordinate amount of time online in professional and personal capacities.  I like being a keystroke away from any information, news, or person.  But events over the past year have made me realise one thing - I don't need to know how the sausage is made.

Some context...

I am a rampant media consumer.  I am active in young adult literature, library, teaching, pop culture and romance communities.  I have equal numbers of real life and online friends, and they are all great people.

For all the benefits the internet has given me (email, shopping, Skype, a new career), there is one notable downside.

I can't escape.

I can't escape from being inflicted with every detail of every process of some creator's work.

This wasn't so much of an issue until this year and two creators;

  • John Green, and 
  • Rob Thomas

And now I find myself getting irritated at a screen and two people I don't know.  (Actually, I have met John Green before and he's a lovely man.)

I like final products.  I like reading John Green's work, and I have liked reading Rob Thomas' Rat Saw God and his tv shows Veronica Mars and Party Down.  In fact, Veronica Mars owned my heart the three years it was on the air.

I am the person who reads articles, listens to film and episode commentaries, and have been known to buy companion guides for certain television shows.  Information is not something I typically hide from, but something I actively seek out.

Yes, I am being a sooky la la
And yet, the recent Kickstarter campaign for the Veronica Mars movie, and the filming of The Fault in Our Stars was a point of Adele-saturation. At this point in time, Thomas has sent out 92 updates on his highly successful Kickstarter initiative to revisit the world of Neptune High.  92 updates, a media eclipse of content, a mediocre film and nowhere to run.  Even in unfollowing every cast member and creator, I was still inundated with information about the script, the casting, the production, the team working on it, the media appearances, Rob's new VM related projects, the premiere, and now I am getting news on an unrelated Thomas driven project via the Kickstarter updates*. Despite my own social media cull, the retweets and Facebook status' of my friends continued the avalanche of content befalling me.  It was almost suffocating.  What was once a passion for Veronica Mars was redirected into a dislike of its creator.

*I don't want to know about iZombie.  Nor should I be force fed it.  1) It's not related to the Veronica Mars Kickstarter other than Thomas' involvement in both projects, and 2) the CW passed on a TV adaptation of Lauren Graham's Someday Someday Maybe in favour of iZombie.  But mostly my irritation is based in that fact that it has NOTHING to do with Veronica Mars. Treating a Kickstarter update system as a ready made enewsletter is glorified spamming.

While this was all happening, so was the next level of Green.  He is now a part of the zeitgeist and thus he is everywhere.

John Green.  Lovely man.  Talented writer.  But sometimes I just want to squirrel away in a cave somewhere so I don't have to hear about him so much. (In his defence, I am pretty sure he's over hearing about himself as well. We could even share said cave.)  Every article on YA refers to him, many publicity materials compare new work to his, he has multiple online ventures, VidCon, and then there's the film.  Oh the film.  The film in which my Green saturation point was hit.

Green was understandably thrilled when news hit that The Fault in Our Stars was to be adapted by such esteemed people. Screenwriter Scott Neustadter is fantastically talented (go watch The Spectacular Now now) and director Josh Boone's Stuck in Love should have received more attention than it did. Green's success is a combination of scary levels of productivity and talent but much of the glut of Green content is not of his making.  Primarily it seems to be lazy YA article research and marketing people jumping on his name as the most recognisable name in young adult fiction.  Of course he was rapt with the casting (Shailene is a goddess), of course watching his work enacted was moving, of course fans wanted to hear it direct from him.

However, the multiple daily posts from set were a tipping point.  For me.  I am sure for 99.99% of Green readers loved the content.  It was simple - it was a matter of choice. I would disengage.  I unfollowed Green on Twitter and then Facebook.  Then I unfollowed him on Tumblr, and Instagram, and YouTube.  You would think this would have cut me off.  Not so, because of retweets, status updates, reblogs and recommended videos...there was no escape.  Articles and posts were written about every picture, every video and every tweet.  As a youth lit advocate my online circles are largely YA, I was continuing to be consistently fed information second and third-hand.

I look forward to seeing the movie when it comes out later in the year.  Due to my rampant unliking, I have been able to filter a fraction of the information out.  There is a slight chance there will be some mystery for me...I hope.  I was also looking forward to the film being out there as I had believed the Green-centred maelstrom might abate.

And then this week news broke that Paper Towns is to be adapted.

I am happy for Green.

I am happy for contemporary YA.

I am happy for his readers, soon-to-be YA readers and the further validation of this storytelling in cinema.

I am less happy that I won't get some breathing space from the online chaos and tidbits.

But in a world where we are becoming increasingly interlinked, escape is becoming less probable.  I want some mystery back.  I love hearing about the process, and the creators' emotional journey etc after the end result.  If the process is intensely detailed as it's happening - I need to disengage.  I don't want to be over the book/film before it has even made its way to the public.  I am then robbing myself of some great storytelling with the added benefit of surprise.

I like the sausage - I don't need to see how it's made, read articles, be notified regularly of its progress, and be advised of the emotional state on those making it.  But that's a decision I have made.

But what I am wondering is if I am alone.

Does the information overload overwhelm you too?

Somehow, someday, somewhere, I will follow John Green again. Most probably after the inevitable musical adaptation of Will Grayson, Will Grayson has been on Broadway for 18 months.


proseandkahn said...

Hahaha! Yes, yes, yes! You stated my feelings exactly! And so well! Green is a fine writer, funny, intelligent and respectful of his audience. He is also a master manipulator of the web. I have enjoyed his thought-provoking vlog-brothers vids but he lost me way back when he launched the publicity stunt for TFIOS. It was too, too much and I almost didn't read the book because of it.

I ended up both reading and listening to it. It's an okay cancer book. The audio is actually better than the book. Kate Rudd turns in an excellent performance. But the hype! All the stars! Why? It's okay as cancer books go but it broke no new ground, like another cancer book released that year, Me, Earl and the Dying Girl.

Great post.


Danielle said...


Danielle said...
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Danielle said...
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Jen Robinson said...

I'm not even interested in process after the fact, let alone before the fact. I just want to read the books and see the movies, knowing just enough to know why I might be interested, and no more. I feel like I'm pretty far to one tail of the distribution on this - I hardly ever read author interviews or movie news - I just skim right past it. This post of yours I read all the way to the end, and found refreshing :-)