The internet has forever changed the way we work in this business. Everyone from the craft service person to the producer utilizes the internet to enhance his or her work. The costume department is no exception – we shop like crazy online, at all hours of the day, using overnight shipping to bridge the gap. We can research ideas with laser-like precision. It’s pretty awesome. But with all the ease that technology brings, it also brings other, harsher consequences.
Everyone has opinions about what they see in movies or television. However, back in the days before Twitter, Facebook and all the other social media sites, a person had no platform for spewing those opinions. Now, any schmuck with a computer or smart phone can say whatever comes to mind, anonymously, about anyone or anything without personal consequence to himself. The crazy thing is, now, people in positions of authority actually listen. Get enough Twitter users on a Schadenfreude-tinged bender about something they dislike about a movie or a TV show, and it can get someone fired.
These people are sometimes called “haters” or “trolls”, and the phenomenon (not just of the hating, but of the listening to the haters) absolutely amazes me. I started Frocktalk to promote costume design and lift up the art form, in part to combat what I perceived to be an increasingly negative and nit-picking environment in the media. People doing the nit-picking, these overgrown Mean Girls, have never worked on a film or TV show in their lives. They have no idea about why things are the way they are. They’ve never worked fourteen consecutive eighteen-hour days under the gun to get a show off the ground. How dare they criticize – how dare they?!
Unfortunately for us who work in this business, we don’t get to run a disclaimer for our work before it comes out. We can’t say things like, “Our truck caught fire and we lost half the costumes, so we had to beg, borrow and steal on the day to have something for the BG to wear”. We don’t get to explain why things are the way they are. Our work has to speak for itself the first time you see it. That’s why this job is so stressful sometimes. That’s why we fight for things with directors and producers. We don’t get to say things in a public service announcement before the opening credits like, “I wanted this to be different, but the producers fought with the director, pushed for what you see here and they won.” We have to own our work and suck it up if we lose battles and are dissatisfied.
That’s what’s really so dumb about haters and trolls. They don’t know what goes on behind the scenes and they don’t care. They gleefully add insult to injury, and it doesn’t help anyone at all. I’m not delusional enough to think that by speaking out I could ever change any minds of the haters – that I could somehow wave my magic wand and have them understand how freaking hard our jobs are – but I guess I have to try. Perhaps there is some eventual karmic retribution for the haters; I don’t know. I’d love to see them try to trade places with any of us on a film or TV crew. Oh, how I would love to hear them complain about THAT.
I would caution studio executives against listening to the haters. Yes, they are the audience (presumably), but they are responding to something they really don’t understand. Grain of salt, everyone – consider the source. Most of them can’t figure out how to spell or use proper grammar. Really, you’re going to take them (and their inane opinions) seriously? Really?!
And with that – please kick the soapbox out from under me. I’m still here at work at 10PM on a Friday night, with no sign of going home any time soon. I’m looking squarely in the eye of a 100-hour week next week, no kidding, so I may not be able to do much updating. Thanks for your patience and have a beautiful weekend everyone… Peace out!