Of course I'm referring to 'Herself' in the literary world; Diana Gabaldon.
The other day Starz released this Official Photo of Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser:
All matter of chaos broke out on the internet. My twitter and facebook feeds were frenzied. Thousands and thousands and thousands of women all posting their very strong opinions. Either they loved it/him, or they thought his hair should be redder. Or they thought Chris Hemsworth should have been cast.
A gazillion comments were posted on the Starz site (production company) or Diana's Facebook page.
I stopped reading the comments after the first 100.
There are days when I am ashamed to be a woman. And that day? Was one of them.
There's something about anyone, but in this case, women, with strong opinions believing it is their right and their duty to state their opinion and then defend it to the death. Even if that strongly held opinion is something as shallow as:
Excellent... But I expected his hair to be much more of a vibrant red
for real! Where is the red hair?!
I don't want it obnoxious red, but he is supposed to stand out in a crowd
he's a little skinny and not red haired enough and the hair is too short
Literally THOUSANDS of women complaining that his hair is not as red as they imagined it would be, based on the description in the books.
And then there are TENS OF THOUSANDS complaining that his hair is not long enough:
A bit longer too
he needs long hair.
I'd like his hair to be a more definite red and a bit longer! Picky I know...
I had to stop reading.
For every woman who complained about the color and length of his hair, twenty others rebutted with a passionate cry about photo saturation, cloudy day, dirty hair, and sarcastic reminders that even though Jamie has long hair in Books 2 - 7 HE HAS SHORT HAIR IN BOOK ONE. And immediately after long replies were posted, like this one:
PEOPLE!!!!!! THIS IS JAMIE. YES I am YELLING. In book one, if you have read the darned thing, he has SHORT HAIR. Axe to skull, recall?? He does NOT have Ronald Mc Donald hair. ALSO, this is a desaturated image, so the red is not as strong -like any other color in this image, it's muted. So, AGAIN. DIANA says THIS IS JAMIE.
And the VERY NEXT COMMENT IS:
Was I imagining that he had red hair? Where's the flame? Jamie is supposed to have red hair!!!!!
Lawd have mercy. This is like listening in on the most frustrating conversation ever... where everyone is most concerned about making sure their opinion is being heard and not caring what anyone else is saying. The important thing is to make sure their voice was heard. Because they have a voice, and it deserves to be heard. And Diana needs to hear it. And so does the Production Company. Because THEY OWE their viewers/readers a duty to produce a show that they have been imagining in their minds.
Sam posted this pic on his personal facebook page:
And it started all over again.
Diana had had enough.
She posted this:
By the way, this:
(And the Casting Wars? Are people (women) writing to Diana and Starz telling them WHO THEY REALLY SHOULD'VE CAST FOR THE ROLES...)
People? This woman is responding to thousands and thousands of her readers who have posted comments on her timeline and sent her tweets telling her she's wrong about Sam being cast as Jamie.
I am in awe of her good humor. She can lay the smack down and no one knows they've been bloodied. SO good.
Goodness, can’t leave you lot to your own devices for long, can I?
1) People are entitled to their own opinions. Naturally, I’d prefer these opinions to be expressed—and received—civilly, but up to you, of course. I believe in the virtues of free discourse.
2) I—of course—am likewise entitled to an opinion.
Now, my opinion is based on rather more information than most others expressed here, because
a) I created Jamie Fraser and thus—presumably--have a pretty good idea of what he really looks and acts like.
b) While I haven’t yet met Sam Heughan, I’ve seen Rather a Lot of him (about 95%, at a rough guess), both in terms of
a. Photographs, and
b. Film, and
c. Bits and pieces, like audition tapes
Naturally, everyone forms mental images while reading. Everybody. I do it when I read other people’s books, too. Now, I can’t imagine why anyone—having read OUTLANDER—would form an image of Jamie as a 7-foot tall Bozo the clown on steroids, but you know….whatever floats your boat.
Why anyone should expect a film company to a) telepathically extract your personal vision of a character and b) try to replicate that onscreen is one of the Great Mysteries of the Universe, and I’m not about to try to solve it here—I got a book to write, among other things, and there are only so many hours in the day.
So I’m just going to say This about That:
Y’all have not seen Sam Heughan “be” Jamie Fraser.
Now, when they told me who they’d chosen and that they were sending me the audition tapes, I was in the car, driving from Phoenix to Santa Fe with my husband. Unable to get to my computer until we got to Santa Fe, I was madly googling “Sam Heughan” on my iPhone (my husband was driving, I hasten to add).
Frankly, I thought he looked bizarre. He’s 6’3”, that’s fine…very chiseled face, but oddly chiseled, and what’s with the large forehead and cleft chin?!? Jamie doesn’t have a cleft chin and his nose is not all that long, though it is straight…and good grief, I know we wanted somebody who could play a 22-year-old virgin, but this guy hardly looks like he has hair on his behind, let alone the dangly bits…but…
But you know, I do understand what it is that actors do.
(Do you know that, btw? What they do is magic. They can become somebody they aren’t—and their physical outline is just Really Not That Important. (Within limits. Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher is a long way outside those limits…).)
So I sat down at my computer, sort of looking warily through my fingers. Willing to suspend disbelief if I could, but kind of dubious, you know?
So here he is, dark-haired, in a long-sleeved gray T-shirt, and I’m thinking, “Boy, he doesn’t look anything like his IMDB photos, he actually looks pretty human, that’s a relief…”
And five seconds later, Sam Heughan was GONE, and it was Jamie Fraser right there in front of me. True. No costume, no makeup, no props, nothing but cues from an offstage casting director, and…it was him.
He did two scenes. First, a confrontation with Dougal, right after Dougal’s ripped his shirt off in the tavern.
“Devil take ye, Dougal MacKenzie! I dinna owe ye that!” Blazing blue eyes, swelling shoulders, and…bam. Showed this small bit to a (male) friend recently, who blinked at the screen and said, “Man, he’s powerful!” He was.
Second scene was even better; it’s the scene where Jamie explains to Claire exactly why he’s about to punish her.
Now. In the months since then, the production people have been kind enough to show me the occasional glimpse of this or that. I have seen the red hair in its full glory (it took seven tries—and 27 hours in a salon chair, I was told by the victim), and speaking as someone married to a red-head (himself Jamie’s original body model) and with two more in residence…it’s definitely the right kind of red.
Red hair—as I notice a few red-heads have been mentioning—looks Way Different, depending on the light. Unless it’s truly carroty (and Jamie’s is Definitely Not), sometimes it looks almost brown, sometimes it’s red-gold and sometimes it’s all different colors and sometimes it has almost-blond highlights and sometimes…well, let’s put it this way: it doesn’t look like Bozo the clown or Shamus the Wrestler, it looks like Real Hair, just red. (And if you really worry about this, do go and google “red deer images” and see what the heck a red deer’s pelt looks like.)
But beyond the physical details (which are, um…Really Good, and decency prevents me going further, save to say that while Jamie certainly doesn’t look like Thor (gag me with a spoon), he—and Mr. Heughan—look Very Nicely Muscled indeed)….Sam Heughan can act. And he totally nailed it.
So. Feel perfectly free to express your own opinions. (I don’t know quite what people expect as a result. Surely they don’t figure that Starz will say, “Oh, no! Robyn MacGillicuddy Stimson thinks Chris Hemsworth should be Jamie! Get Hemsworth’s agent on the phone!” Or at least I hope they don’t think that…) You’ll change your mind in due course.
Or I’ll pay you a dollar.
I will read anything she writes.
And next fall, when she comes to Surrey?
I'm going to invite her to spend a weekend at the lake.
Three things I'm thankful for:
1. Crappy Monday is now over. Yay.
2. Long weekend coming up.
3. Inspiring articles like this one...
It's written by a young man who concluded, after 18 months of being wed, the "Marriage Wasn't For Him". SO GOOD.
Read it. It'll only take 3 minutes.
He had such a wise dad.