What We Say About Readers: An Internal Email Exchange About the GoT Book Reader Backlash
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What We Say About Readers: An Internal Email Exchange About the GoT Book Reader Backlash

By Dustin Rowles and Steven Lloyd Wilson | TV Reviews | May 15, 2014 | Comments ()


A couple of days ago, Steven approached me about the blowback he’s been getting from readers on the Game of Thrones Book Readers’ post. We discussed it over email, and ultimately, couldn’t arrive at a solution to the problem. Trusting that our readership, which has always — no matter the problem — regarded openness and transparency well, we decided to publish our email exchange (anger and all). It may not solve the problem, ultimately, but we’re hoping that it will at least allow for an open, honest conversation (and that it doesn’t completely blow up in our faces).

The following is a transcript from actual emails from the last two days. — DR

SLW: I’m not sure what to do about my GoT book readers posts. It’s feeling like they’re pretty much universally loathed, and it’s getting awfully discouraging.

DR: I read your GoT post yesterday (and liked it, and though I don’t read the books, I agree). I think that GoT, like Buffy or Breaking Bad, is just one of those shows that our audience is very protective of. It’s OK to criticize them, but they want it to come from a place of love. Your book reader recaps often sound like you just don’t like the show at all and sometimes, like you don’t like the books, either (and based on a lot of your other posts in the past, I know that’s not true).

Personally, I’m a little worn out on this season of GoT (I haven’t loved it, save for the Joffrey episode), so while some of us agree with your assessment, the readers really cling to the show.

SLW: The problem is that I find the show mildly entertaining but mostly just boring this season. More or less every episode this season has been forty minutes of filler not even from the books followed by ten minutes from the books in order to make a cliffhanger. They are stretching 150 pages of book into 600 minutes of television.

I wouldn’t mind that, I’d probably still watch it in good humor. It’s still better than most of what’s on television. I’d write some mildly snarky commentary about it. That’s how the season started. And the backlash was immediate because the commenters don’t want anything that’s even slightly critical of the show. And as I tried to explain more seriously and eloquently where I thought the show was going wrong, it just detonated the last few weeks into hundreds of comments demanding that someone else recap the show.

I’m anything but a nitpicky book purist, but if you’re not allowed to be critical comparing the book to the show, then I don’t even know what the purpose of a “book reader’s” thread is other than to toss up a blank post for comments so that no one spoils non-readers that nothing happens in Book 4 and that no one likes Book 5. There are a few people who agree with what I’m saying, but they get shouted down by a horde of angry people.

I don’t think I have ever been more angry at the readership. I have always treasured reading every comment on all my posts, whether positive or negative. But having this post go up is the worst part of my week, and I am so upset at this point that I’m having trouble writing at all. Even though it’s irrational, I’m having trouble forcing myself to write my posts for tomorrow because I’m so pissed at the commenters, I don’t want to write anything for them other than several paragraphs of profanity.

The way I see it there are four options. Either I keep writing what I actually think and be a punching bag. We post a nominal paragraph as a post just so that they have a place to comment. We don’t post anything. Or someone else should write it if we have anyone else on staff who’s read the books.

Personally, I hate all of the options. I hate not writing it because it feels like quitting and letting them win. I hate writing it because then I have to put up with them. I’m most inclined to put up a book reader’s post next week that’s just an upraised middle finger with the comments shut off, but I do appreciate that would be inadvisable.

I’m sorry to lay this on you.

DR: Well, there is another option, and you might not like it, and it has potential to completely blow up in our faces, but for your post tomorrow, you could simply post this entire email exchange. The readers can be maddening at times, but they always seem to value honesty, transparency, and open dialogue. “What We Say About Readers: An Internal Email Exchange About the GoT Book Reader Backlash.” I really do think they’d be receptive. It’s exactly the kind of thing they often say they appreciate about the site.

[p.s. not to be published, if you decide to run with the idea: cut the parts where we talk about nineties rock, what happens in BNL-4-Life Club stays in BNL-4-Life Club]

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Tamanna Jaisinghani

    The book reader's recap is the best part about the show's reviews. You can't stop that because a bunch of people disagree with you. It's an OP/ED piece, there will always be people who don't agree.

  • Slytherin Sister

    Keep writing them, I won't be reading. (Yea, big loss I know). Despite what you say here you ARE a huge book purist. Every single complaint you had was about difference and every difference is considered bad. It's super boring to read. BTW, I don't love everything the show does, but I'm not so closed minded that I'm going to automatically hate every change. "The writing,directing and acting is awesome, but her hair is a different color so this scene is the worst"

    But really, this whole thing is weird. Are you fishing for compliments? I mean, if you are negative, people are going to be mean. It's stupid, but I don't know why your surprised.

  • Guest

    I wrote a long-ass comment, and Disqus ate it, so I'm gonna keep this brief-ish:

    - I love the book reader's posts. I love SLW's writing. Keep on keepin' on.
    - The show isn't sacrosanct. The source material isn't sacrosanct. There's nothing wrong with honest criticism. Honest criticism is the most necessary criticism, yo.
    - In the weekly columns, SLW provides legitimate reasons for his disappointment with the show. The comment section is our place to passionately disagree! Just be respectful. Comment in a way that fosters discussion rather than trying to "win" arguments. Snark is cheap. And lazy. And it really does nothing to further conversation.
    - Outside of the email exchange above, I've never thought SLW has contempt or distaste for his audience. He's an intelligent guy, and I appreciate that he writes to the height of his intelligence rather than audience expectations. By doing so, he invites us to interpret and reflect at the height of our intelligence as well, and the overall discussion is (or should be) elevated.
    - The comments on this piece akin to, "Stop being such a whiny baby! Get over it!" are annoying as fuck. It was a previously private email exchange between friends, so the more vulnerable tone of SLW's comments makes sense. I admire the fact that they published it. Opening yourself up to internet strangers' judgment of that vulnerability is pretty brave.

  • George

    I've always liked SLW's posts. He's a good writer and I respect that he puts his thoughts out there for general consumption. But (and I'm probably going to be torn apart for this) this post strikes me as kind of whiny. I'm sure it's upsetting to read negative comments about what you've put a lot of time and effort into, but doesn't it kind of come with the territory? I mean, you're a writer on a pop culture website.
    Also, it kind of blows my mind that someone who actively dislikes writing a particular series of posts is the writer of said series of posts. If you don't like writing the posts, then don't write them.
    And has SLW even commented yet? Is he just lurking sadly through all these comments? Lots of people here are praising SLW's writing and the other Pajiba writers are all over this post, but SLW can't be bothered to join the discussion? Sorry, but I kind of agree with the poster who called this a bit of a pity party.

  • marsmella

    I totally agree. While I'm happy it's being discussed since it's better than having his tone get more and more aggressive with readers not really knowing what's going on, it seems like such a catalyst for people to respond with: "Oh no, you're the greatest! Go you! Don't go! All those other people are dummies" and whatnot. I obviously love Pajiba, have been reading it since I was a goddamn 13 year old, but sometimes this kind of debacle just kind of makes me roll my eyes a little bit. I love SLW and his movie reviews are often the highlight of my pop culture landscape, but this all seems a bit dramatic.

  • Robert Sanchez III

    All your stuff has the same "I don't give a fuck what you think because Im right" tone to it that i actually find it weird that you feel bad about the comments section. I enjoy the book reader articles, they are always interesting. As far as people bitching about you hating on the show, Fuck'Em. Everyones a snarky dick around here they should be used to it.

  • Modiano

    I really enjoy the book reader posts! I don't comment much and didn't realize the feedback was negative.

    I would be bummed if you stopped writing them. I want to read/hear as much dissection and conversation as possible after each GoT episode by thoughtful writers/podcasters. I look forward to what you have to say, even when I have a different perspective or opinion. I just love the discussion and analysis regardless. I hope you keep doing it!

  • solafidex

    The Book Reader post for Epi 6 gave a voice to the elephant in the room that book readers need to (possibly) prepare for...due to the lack of endgame source material, which creates small butterfly-effect changes in story arcs, the GOT showrunners may have, in fact, shat the bed. Yes, we may never see Strong Belwas on screen. But, we book reading show watchers disappointed with the current state of affairs need to prioritize our collective rage and direct it at the a-holes who've earned it by shitting in our bed!

    SLW is the hero we deserve.... but not the one we need right now. So we'll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he's not our hero. He's a silent guardian. A watchful protector. A Dark Knight.

  • blackheart

    Is no one amazed at how blatantly this fellow despises his audience?

    Dude, if you hate the material you review, hate the people who trouble themselves to read the things you write and are reduced to fantasizing about an upraised middle finger with the comments turned off, then maybe, just maybe, the best thing for you is to pick something else to write about.

  • I'm just so baffld by this. If you're reading his reviews and you come out thinking he genuinely HATES the show, I think you seriously need to review your reading comprehension. Because, holy crap, talk about blowing a bit of critique way out of proportion. Calm your britches, sirrah.

  • blackheart

    Okay Figgy, I'll bite ....

    Here is your post addressing me:

    Figgy writes "I'm just so baffld by this. If you're reading his reviews and you come out thinking he genuinely HATES the show, I think you seriously need to review your reading comprehension. Because, holy crap, talk about blowing a bit of critique way out of proportion. Calm your britches, sirrah."

    I will attempt to de-baffle you, Dear Figgy.

    You stated: "you come out thinking he genuinely HATES the show" as well as "you seriously need to review your reading comprehension. Because, holy crap, talk about blowing a bit of critique way out of proportion"

    Hmmm. Interesting. At no time was I discussing a critique by this particular writer. My comments were not in regard to any critique the man has ever written. My commentary was solely in response to the email exhange posted above.

    My first statement was: "If you hate the material you review...."

    Let's look at what prompted me to launch such an opening salvo:

    (The following quotes are excerpted directly from the above article.)

    SLW: "The problem is that I find the show mildly entertaining but mostly just boring this season. More or less every episode this season has been forty minutes of filler not even from the books followed by ten minutes from the books in order to make a cliffhanger. They are stretching 150 pages of book into 600 minutes of television."

    Okay, so he's maybe not up to full-on hate yet .... let's look farther shall we?

    SLW: "I’m anything but a nitpicky book purist, but if you’re not allowed to be critical comparing the book to the show, then I don’t even know what the purpose of a “book reader’s” thread is other than to toss up a blank post for comments so that no one spoils non-readers that nothing happens in Book 4 and that no one likes Book 5."

    Ah, there she blows. "Nothing happens in Book 4 and no one likes Book 5." There. That is why I made the statement regarding his obvious, clearly-stated dislike for his material. The hyperbolic shift to "hate" was my own, for reasons I will explain at the conclusion of my response.

    My second statement was: "... hate the people who trouble themselves to read the things you write...)

    I wrote this in response to:

    SLW: "I don’t think I have ever been more angry at the readership. I have always treasured reading every comment on all my posts, whether positive or negative. But having this post go up is the worst part of my week, and I am so upset at this point that I’m having trouble writing at all. Even though it’s irrational, I’m having trouble forcing myself to write my posts for tomorrow because I’m so pissed at the commenters, I don’t want to write anything for them other than several paragraphs of profanity."

    Out of the above quoted paragraph I feel it was, "I'm so pissed at the comentaters, I don't want to write anything for them other than several paragraphs of profanity." that indicated to me that he ain't feelin' a whole lotta love for his audience at this time.

    And finally, the middle finger thing ... well, I lifted that whole-cloth from his email, you really can't fault my reading-comprehension there. Just sayin'. Though, just for funsies, let's review it again, shall we?

    SLW: "I hate not writing it because it feels like quitting and letting them win. I hate writing it because then I have to put up with them. I’m most inclined to put up a book reader’s post next week that’s just an upraised middle finger with the comments shut off, but I do appreciate that would be inadvisable."

    And there is the word "hate" I piggybacked off from SLW to tie in to my response (I'm clever that way). It was a hyperbolic, proverbial shaking of the man to wake up and do what makes him happy. Someone else will pick up the reins on the GoT Book Readers thread if it is making him so angry.

    Really, Figgy, my abysmally poor reading comprehension aside, SLW does not sound like a happy fella. Not today anyway, and not over his current job.

    Now here's a thing. I found SLW's little pitty party troubling and off-putting, personally. If you did not, Figgy, then okay. I don't hate you. Disagree with my opinion until your face turns blue, but I don't hate those who read what I write. Ever. At least they are reading it. Believe me, a lot of people have thought what I write is absolute shite, but it has never stopped me, nor will it ever.

    So yes, basically I asked folks if they saw the vitriole on the part of SLW (you did not obviously) and I suggested to SLW that he finds something that inspires and delights him to write about. No, I didn't put it in the super-loving, "follow your bliss" new-age, I'm okay, you're okay, we're all okay together" style because frankly the guy sounds pretty pissed off and mean from his email and I was inspired to respond in a language he might be able to take on board. (For you playing along at home this is known as "considering your audience.)

    Plus, let me add, writing is not for pussies. I've been doing it thirty years and the thin-skinned flush out, sitting on barstools complaining how they "coulda been a contenda" if not for all the haters hatin'. Blah Blah Blah. I tell you it's the crusty bastards that make the grade. This is the absolute, rock-bottom truth of the life he's picked for himself. I'm trying to do the brother a favor, believe it or not. Most likely it's not welcomed. It's not well-received. Does that stop me? No. Nothing does. I'm one of the crusty ones.

    So, all that said.

    Mr. SLW: You are a good writer. You do good work. Please cheer up. Stop being a pissy baby. Get back on your horse. Fuck the lot of em. Whatever it takes to make you wake up and write about what makes you happy to write about, because you're good enough for me to waste this many of my words on you.

  • Jezzer

    "...you're good enough for me to waste this many of my words on you."

    I'm sure he regrets that now. STOP DOING WHATEVER PROMPTED THIS, STEVEN. >:(

  • PandaLove

    I was hooked on these posts by one of the author's descriptions early in the season about the surreal experience of trying to keep track of what's happened in the books versus the TV show -- it was like a window into my brain acrobatics every week. Since then, I have really looked forward to the reader posts as a way to help me process what's been off (and seems to be getting off-er) about the TV show this season. It's not just about the multiple offenses of non-plot-advancing rape but more about it just being boring -- I keep finding myself actually losing interest in characters that I used to find fascinating. The fact that I can read these posts to help think through why this may be the case, especially with the comparative perspective to the books, is actually one of the reasons I'm still giving this TV season a chance.

    I often don't read through the comments and didn't realize the negative reactions -- please add me to the list of supporters!

  • HelloLongBeach

    "I don’t want to write anything for them other than several paragraphs of profanity."
    Uh, ok. Honestly, I just read the first couple of lines after the disclaimer in the last post and then just read the comments because what SLW has been posting is uninterested and uninteresting. The show is designed to provoke and SLW seems very 'whatever' about it. It's a good show for sure but it's spirit, for lack of a better vocabulary, is not a whole lot like the books and that seems to bum SLW out.

  • I don't understand what's so hard about responding with a simple "I disagree, and here's why..." instead of just immediately going into asshole mode and insulting the writer. The whole goddamn point of the posts is to open it up to comments, and I love when people chime in to agree OR disagree with SLW. I just hate the assholery. Goddamn, people. Be productive.

    And so help me if I see another "I hate readers who complain about every little thing!" post, because THAT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. People take books and adaptations very seriously, and we are giant fucking nerds, and that's what we live for. And again: that accomplishes NOTHING. Come on, guys.

  • This. Totally.

  • Shazam!

  • *finally gets home and can log in to Disqus, opens Pajiba, clicks on article, sees "256 comments" under header*


    *closes Pajiba, searches for "funny cat videos"*

  • I know I'm sort of new around here, but here are my 2 pennies, for what they're worth.

    Write what you want to write and let the commentary go where it goes. If you hate what the show is doing now, be honest about it. Hell, I know there were times the books bored me to tears, but I knew it would pick up again, so I slogged through it. Because I liked the overall story.

    As far as things coming from a place of love -- I'd rather you wrote from a place of passion. Passionate love or passionate hate makes no real difference to me as long as you're passionate about the writing.

    If you're not enjoying the time you're spending writing the GOT Book Readers posts, then stop. If you enjoy it and other people think you have your head up your ass, well...

    That's their opinion. They're entitled to it. Just like you're entitled to yours. They're not more entitled to it because they're readers. You're not more entitled because you're a writer. No one's wrong here. It's a discussion.

    And while I think some opinions (like ones that think black people have smaller brains or climate change is Gods plan) are worth challenging until you're blue in the face, we're talking about your take on a television show and a book.

    If someone is offended by your opinion or demands you change your opinion because it's not their opinion when it comes to something like a book -- well, maybe they need to take a step back and look at what's important.

    So let some of them think you have your head up your ass. I think more think you have your head on straight and, in the end, with a site like this, it only matters if your boss thinks your posts need a change of tone.

    But if you're not feeling it any more, then acknowledge that too. In the end, I'd rather you wrote 2000 words I totally disagree with from a place of real passion than read a paragraph of you phoning it in and giving me something I'll click like on and never give a second thought to.

  • Jonas Blue

    I think Dustin said it all: "It’s OK to criticize (the TV shows), but they want it to come from a place of love."
    I simply stopped reading these reviews the moment I didn't see passion on them anymore. There's a need for this GoT book reviews, but not if the writer hates every single episode. Also, I don't think the season has been as weak as they say. TV in general is awesome nowadays, and yet people can be so overcritical about it. Enjoy the show and share that enjoyment while making a critical analysis. That's what I expect.

  • Yocean

    To those characterizing dissenting commenters as "cry babies," could you explain how in your eyes this SLW e-mail is not "Cry Baby"? And if I disagree to the characterization in that e-mail, am I cry-babying on the cry-baby nature of cry-baby accusations?

    Are we in Inception?


  • Jezzer

    Wait, I think I see the problem. When you broke off ties with Salon, did you forget to return their commenters?

  • Wilma

    I am one who does not enjoy reading the review for bookreaders. I did enjoy it a lot last season, but this season you've been off. Mostly in tone, but I also don't get the feeling the reviews are thorough? It doesn't seem like you put a lot of thought in them. I'm not sure myself either. I just know that I prefer the AV-club's reviews for bookreaders now.

  • IcarusAbides

    I really like the book readers post each week and for the most part I agree with most of what is being said, not always but I still enjoy reading your viewpoint on it so I'd like them to continue

    That said if you're simply not enjoying it and it's causing you stress then it's not worth it

  • Fleetwood Mac Sex Pants

    Since you read all the comments here, Steven, let me just say this: I don't read your GoT book posts, because I have only read the first two books and don't want to be spoiled (I love the surprises each week on the show, though not as much this season). But every week when they go up, I'm tempted to throw caution to the wind and read it anyway - because you are one of my favourite writers here, and I read everything else you post, whether it's a topic that interests me or not. So please keep writing all the things - there are people here who adore your writing and we want more, not less! As for the rest.. fuck the lot of them, I say. Sounds like you're making lots of valid points in these articles, and who among us isn't at least slightly disappointed with the way things are going this year on GoT? Fuck 'em, and write on.

  • Baobabble

    For what it's worth, I'm delurking (which is extremely rare but not unprecedented, but in the YEARS I've been following pajiba I think I've commented to one other post, so take that as you will, which I hope is mildly supportive) exclusively to say: not every book reader is that defensive of the shows and I highly doubt all of us disagree with your assessments. I usually find them spot-on. To the point where (because I neither participate in, nor read, comments,) I kind of just assumed that this was what everyone thought and felt succinctly expressed.

    Don't give up And don't let apolog

  • Look...people who has the poor taste to still love the show, and are hence angry at you disliking it, aren't people whose opinions should be overly credited. But I"m sorry, it's incredibly disheartening to experience such vitriol whether digital or in person. It stings.

  • YodasLlama

    SLW. I normally love your articles and reviews as I stated in my previous comment on your last book readers recap. The reason why I am annoyed by your book reader recaps is that you focus to heavily on everything negative about the show. The show is not perfect but it is damn fine television and every single recap I read from you is about everything you hated that was not like the books which is not normal from you. I really hope you continue writing the recaps just ease back on the throttle a bit. Its fine to point out shitty moments in the show (plenty to choose from) but the show as a whole is one of if not the best on television and your recaps seem to be 100% hate bashing of the show because its trying to flow different from the novels.

    Whatever you take from this however, continue writing.

  • Mrcreosote

    I'm totally in the tank for SLWs reviews. I may not comment often, but a critical review from a book reader's point of view is exactly what this series needs. You have any problems with mouthy readers, you send 'em this way and I'll make them pay the iron price. Or at least the iron plated price, which is discounted on QVC.

  • YodasLlama

    Critical reviews are nice and necessary but not when they are always 100% critical. This show is NOT a pile of garbage its pretty excellent and SLW reviews are normally hating on the show in its entirety.

  • Mrcreosote

    Sacred cows make the best hamburger. I don't think SLW calls the show a pile of garbage, he merely calls it out.

  • Maddy

    I'm pretty sick of this whole argument like 'how dare you criticise it this show is excellent'. Because it is by no means a bad show but it has lots of things that are problematic to say the least and I'm happy for people to call it out (even if I don't always agree with the reasons). HBO is making millions of this show, I think they can deal with some more critical opinions.

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth

    Don't you see, though? Your stance, your style of argument is the EXACT same technique. You state these things as if they are fact -- and you've done it throughout this thread -- and not opinion. And when stated that way, it makes people who disagree feel like you think their opinion doesn't matter. And that's part of what created this problem in the first place.

    I do think this show is excellent. And I'm certainly willing to engage in a dialogue about you disagreeing with that, but you consistently state your perceived weaknesses as if they're qualitative facts and not simply the way you see things.

  • Maddy

    Fair enough. I didn't see myself as doing that. I don't think that I have the best objective opinion on this (who does?) and I'm more than happy for people to disagree. Other people's opinions on this definitely matter! I'm just some random commenter

  • mzbitca

    You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villian. Maybe Joanna just got out in time.

    Not really too attached to this fight. I will give this piece of opinion to enjoy or discard as is everyone's wont. Generally when threads on TV s hows are covered here it's by shows that people enjoy. I may hate read a movie review but when I see you guys covering shows I like I"m excited cause it represents a place that I can talk about my opinions with intelligent people. Maybe GOT is beginning to spiral down where more and more people give up on it and SLW is just way ahead of the curve and soon we will be there and he is the proverbial canary in the coal mine. Or maybe it's just hit a place for him where he doesn't like it anymore, which is fine, but the purpose for the posts for most people to still to discuss a show they love and that's where the disconnect is. I don't think it's wrong for him to feel upset with commentators but I think there could be some validity in an argument that states that these types of threads really generally indicate love for a show even with the criticism and if the recapper doesn't feel it anymore is it matching what the community wants/expects.

    That being said: this is nothing compared to the shitstorm that's going to happen once the show really starts spoiling these books and everyone who's invest in whichever character being the queen/king/lord of light/fucking zombie ice killer whatever starts finding out their precious person is really just another person in the eventual body count the raging and flouncing is going to be fucking epic

  • Lord Inferno

    I'm sorry, I need to get serious here for a moment.

    The biggest problem I have right now with all of this discussion is...

    that as soon as I try to scroll down to read more insightful comments/random flame wars all I see is a picture of a woman trying to turn her navel into another vagina.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I hate pretty much all the sidebar ads on this site, from whichever disgusting, genital-resembling fruit is the cure to wrinkles and fatness to the animated woman bulging out of her pink bikini. Ugh.

  • Lord Inferno

    Dustin's got kids to feed. I respect that, but some of them really annoy me. The worst are the "paused" video ads that randomly will let out sound momentarily when I am scrolling or switching tabs. *heerg* *meeep* *ccchhhssshh* Normally I would have an adblock but it has been causing problems for me lately and I don't want to take any revenue away from Dustin.

    I did have one this morning on my android phone that was clearly a malicious phishing popup while visiting this site. Freaked me out, it was very sophisticated. I need to find a way to let Dustin know.

  • ferryman

    Release the Kraken!

  • L.O.V.E.

    watch out! It may point a spear gun at you!

  • Lord Inferno

    I find it hard to have rational, adult conversations when I'm this turned on.

  • lozymandias

    I think Dustin nails this: "Your book reader recaps often sound like you just don’t like the show at all and sometimes, like you don’t like the books, either" That's my issue with SLW's recaps, they just feel like he resents the whole thing. There are other people who criticise the show, but don't get the same response, so I don't think it's fair to just lump the reader's with the blame.

    I do wonder if the parts of the show that SLW does like seem obvious to him, or perhaps less interesting to write about - so he naturally glosses over them. It then means that a show that he likes even 1/3rd of, gets a post with 90%+ dedicated to problems with that show.

  • BoldlyGone

    I feel for SLW but just don't enjoy reading things written by people who clearly are not enjoying the thing that I am enjoying the fuck out of.

  • Yocean


  • foolsage

    One of the things I appreciate and admire most in SLW's writing is his insight into the stuff under the hood. It's all well and good to talk about what's happening on the surface of a scene, but I'm often more interested in the deeper meaning or just hidden stuff in general: the allegories, the character insights, the easter eggs, the foreshadowing, etc. I generally agree with SLW when he presents those insights, and when I don't, they spur me to think about the topic in new ways, so I still enjoy it.

    Steven, I really enjoy your writing. I respect your attachment to geeky stuff and your desire to elevate it beyond the childishness with which it's often associated in popular culture. I appreciate your thought processes and your ability to express yourself. I hope you don't stop writing.

    Strangely, I don't often tell the writers here how much I enjoy what they do, because I get caught up in the commentary. On one level, the articles are really a launching point for the discussion. I don't mean to devalue the articles by saying that, because a good article informs and shapes the commentary. I think SLW generally achieves this. I think it's also very important not to forget that a book readers' thread isn't JUST about the article, and isn't JUST a place for us to talk to each other, but both.

    When you're bored or apathetic about something, I think it's difficult to find a good way to inform and shape the commentary. If you find something boring, or pointless, fair enough. You're supposed to have opinions, dammit. As a reader though, that doesn't leave me much to work with. At the risk of being ridiculously reductionist, I think it's a bit like Mr. Miyagi's description to Daniel-san about martial arts. It's easy to be on one side of the street or the other side, but being in the middle is putting you in the way of oncoming cars.

    A book readers' thread is going to be peopled overwhelmingly by those who enjoy the books, or even love them. It's fine to find fault; hells, it's more than fine. If e.g. Game of Thrones wastes our time showing Yara trying to save Theon, or badly fumbles a scene by invoking the specter of rape, then even those who love the material are going to generally be ok with that discussion. And if we aren't ok with it, that's ok too. We don't all have to agree. The point of reviews shouldn't be to placate the audience, but rather to give them things to think about.

    That's where I think you've occasionally gotten into trouble: at times (and only rarely), it feels to me that you're expressing your boredom or frustration moreso than you're proffering the critical analysis that you so excel at. That's when you tend to lose me as a reader. As I noted in the Thread That Broke SLW's Heart ( :( ), I personally prefer reviews that tend to find a clear position for or against a work. That way I can revel in the snark, or enjoy the author's enjoyment. When the author's just expressing apathy, it doesn't give me much to think about.

    That is NOT to say that I think reviews need to be all positive or all negative. Not at all. Again, there's a need for, and an appreciation for, critical analysis that pokes holes in even very good works of art, and contrariwise I enjoy when people find redeeming qualities in things that generally are perceived to suck. Be yourself, and voice your opinions, please.

    However... a book readers' thread is a place for people who feel passion about the topic. As long as you express passion, be it positive or negative, you're in the same place as your readers. When you start to feel apathy or boredom or disinterest too often, you risk alienation. Again (yes, I'm being repetitive here, because there's a high risk of being misunderstood on such a delicate topic), I am NOT saying that you shouldn't tell us if something bores you. Just don't focus on that to the detriment of the actually interesting stuff that's presumably still there, and that justifies you spending so much time and effort writing about it.

    Whatever else you take from this, please don't stop writing.

  • Yocean

    Thank you for voicing my sentiment so elegantly. I am one of the dissenter on SLW's Book Readers reviews but I do love his writings in general. And I felt terrible that I was being a bully or a part of mental block for his writings (though, my impression was that the commenters who agreed with his review overwhelmed with ones who disagreed). And the other thing is - and I do hate to compare but to explain my POV - when Joanna was writing those, it was so much fun. And there were love and passion abound. Coming from that to SLW's weekly "I don't care for it" attitude was disheartening because I still liked the series and were watching with people who were still excited about it. I just do not agree that this season is the worst. And when you have love like that and faced with cold boredom, well, you hate it like a cold shower splashing in your face when you are expecting a warm one.

  • lillypilly17

    I look forward to the book readers' recaps every week! Not only do they sometimes jog my memory (I read the fifth book two years ago now), but they also examine the episodes in a way that non-reader recaps can't.

  • I'm another lurking reader. I don't want the posts to change just because the noisier readers are crabasses.

  • Meh, I enjoy the book readers posts and actually enjoy reading all the comments from the crybabies who think they own everything they like. It's fun to watch them squeal and demand that you accommodate them, or else. It really reminds me a lot of the "George Martin is not your bitch" post from years ago when all these little bitches started making demands of the author.

    Cry some moar, please.

    Also, keep writing, Steven.

  • I'm not a book-reader (or a spoilerphobe, so don't worry), so I don't have anything to say about that. I could comment that SLW is one of my favorite Pajiba writers, which is true, but it would just be a screen for my real question:

    *whispers* Is there really a BNL-4-Life club? Can I join?

  • lowercase_ryan

    Bare Naked Ladies??

  • TK

    Yeah, they're meeting in the next room. Yup, right through that door. Go right on in.

    [slams door, walks away whistling]

  • bibliophile

    SLW is my favorite writer on this site, and I love his recaps. I guess those of us that are his fans should be more vocal in the face of his critics. I have noticed a pretty shitty tone in the comments section the last few weeks which has made me disinclined to post.

  • Valhallaback Girl

    SLW knows I am his number one fan. And not even in a Misery or Fatal Attraction way. So in my eyes, dude can do no wrong.

  • Batesian

    For what it's worth, Steven, while I don't agree with everything in your recaps, I think you make excellent points and quite enjoy reading them.

  • AdmiralTubington

    I'm thrilled that Pajiba is bothering to address this, because it shows you guys actually give a damn about what your readers think, and that's refreshing.

    But, for what it's worth, some other people here are going on about your use of "objectively worse way to treat that scene" in your last review, and I have to second them. That is fabulously arrogant and completely dismissive of the show's staff as artists in their own right, and it honestly leaves me scratching my head. Is there a single change that you're in favor of, however major or minor, or are their changes just inherently awful decisions because you wouldn't have made them? You say you're not a nit-picky book purist, but truly, you are. At least explain why you think that way - every review you have written comes across like a grocery list of statements like that, just railing on and on about how the show didn't interpret this thing or that thing the way you would have, instead of really discussing the pros or cons of how they DID interpret it.

    If the latter is just TK's job, and your job is to pick apart the finer nuances of the adaptation with nothing but scorn and a superiority complex, then go ahead, but I think the feedback of the readers indicates we're not really interested in that.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    The thread that follows from this post is turning into an amazing meta-criticism/cry-fest. I love that blunt critical analysis of someone else's blunt critical analysis is yielding these un-self-aware comments of everyone's right to voice (or not) opinions.

  • Marry me.

  • competitivenonfiction

    After watching Arrested Development, I always read "Marry Me!" in Maeby's voice.

    So thank you for making me smile.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Aw, my first comment proposal. Check it off the bucket list.

  • L.O.V.E.

    I wholeheartedly disagree with everything you just said. Or I totally agree with it? Um... what she said.

    Now, where are the muffins? I was told there would be muffins.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Only an idiot would concern himself with the muffins when the meta is what's important. Never put finger to keyboard again.

  • L.O.V.E.

    First of all, DEFIANCE!

    Secondly, you said nothing of using my pen to type, so Hah!


  • Sara_Tonin00

    I was expecting a nose or a wang, so I'll accept a pen & a pug.

  • AdmiralTubington

    You and me both.

  • TK

    OK, you've got some valid points, but Jesus man, could your approach be any shittier? In a post where the objective is to try to come to some sort of solution, or failing that, some sort of understanding to an issue that is clearly affecting both the writer and the readers, in a variety of different ways, just reductively calling SLW "butthurt" (which you've now done twice) kind of shoots that goal in the foot.

  • lowercase_ryan

    I'm not ripping on your post, I just genuinely don't want to lose the ability to dismiss the artists involved. Not so much with this show but the GD Following and Megan Boone and so many others.

  • lowercase_ryan

    we can't be dismissive of the creators? On this show or all shows? because I'm pretty sure nobody has a problem when Michael Bay gets dismissed as a pyro-hack without a second thought.

  • AdmiralTubington

    Michael Bay has been dismissed as a Pyro Hack at least since "Armageddon," and he just keeps building on that reputation with each new film. Are Benioff and Weiss on the same footing as Bay because SLW disagrees with their changes? They're "objectively" wrong?

  • lowercase_ryan

    I don't think we can make that distinction. I don't think we're allowed. You're only as good as what you made last. M Night Shyamalan had a pretty good reputation going for a while. The thing is, you have to be prepared for someone that once made something great to make something shitty. If and when they do, we have every right to call them out for it. There's no lifetime pass for two guys with a few seasons of a great show under their belt.

    Great example: McConaughey was dismissed as a non-artist for years and rightly so. The onus was on him to prove otherwise. Now that he has, If he signs on to make "Failure Two Launch" next year then I get to judge him for that.

  • Jezzer

    I must have missed the big Burger King "have it your way" sign hanging up at the entrance.

  • AdmiralTubington

    And I must have misread the "join the discussion" prompt up there. Pardon me for not kissing SLW's ass. Go on about your day.

  • No, you seem to have missed the part where a discussion means we get to have opinions too.

  • AdmiralTubington

    No, I believe Jezzer did. Down below he tells SLW to disregard what the others think, and here he mocks me for disagreeing with Steven with a dumb quip. SLW himself is rather dismissive in this email, building up a straw man of a totally unreasonable reader base, so I'm not sure who is dismissing what.

    Either way, this has gotten entirely too meta for me. Keep doing your thing, SLW, we'll keep either agreeing or disagreeing with it. It really doesn't matter.

  • Jezzer

    "Um, I distinctly said 'no pickles' when I ordered this review, Steven. I want to speak to your manager."

  • Jezzer

    I just can't even with this "You not liking the things I like threatens my specialness!" millennial thinking.

  • That's what I don't get. WHY DO PEOPLE GET SO ANGRY when SLW disagrees with them?? So angry that they just HAVE to post a response bitching him out? Disagree all you want, but once you get personal you're not contributing a goddamn thing and you're just being a petulant child who wants the other kids off the playground.

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth

    By that same token, why is he so angry when they disagree with him?

  • JJ

    Can you throw in more overstated, inapplicable complaints like getting off your lawn, hipsters, and/or Buzzfeed? This is so very close to winning Internet Troll Generalization Bingo.

  • Jezzer

    Only if you're prepared to serve up more butthurt when I hit too close to home.

  • JJ

    Ooooh! That's another one on the list. You ARE good at this game.

  • Jezzer

    I'm still waiting for you to whine about how the word "hipster" is meaningless so I can complete my own Bingo card.

  • JJ

    No no. Not when I'm within a Godwin's Law whisper of winning.

  • Aubenabee

    Oh my. I don't even know where to start.

    I was just thinking to myself "Wow, this thread reflects on Pajiba so well! It hasn't sunk into internet-message-board generalizations and name calling in the least!"

    I guess 130-131 comments before something like this isn't bad.

  • Jezzer

    Upvoting your own posts is a hallmark of millennial thinking too. :3

  • Aubenabee

    Lol :-) You have a good point. I mostly do it so that I can see my posts in blue as I scroll up and down through the comments, but I won't lie, it may give me a little burst of esteem.

    Seriously, though, in order to determinel if you were a troll or not, I looked through some of your old comments. You seem like a pretty bitter and angry dude. That's fine. To each his own. But if the alternative to being a millennial is being so embittered, I'll take the self-up-votes.

  • TK

    I'm upvoting this just to spite Jezzer.

  • Jezzer

    I'm just reeling in shock that you came out against bitterness.

  • TK

    Not against bitterness. Against you.

  • Jezzer


  • Aubenabee

    I am, too.

  • Aubenabee

    And I'll gladly accept my spite up-votes.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Spite upvotes are the BEST!

  • Mrs. Julien

    Was it the horn going off or the flashing light that you noticed first?

  • Jezzer

    I actually get a heavenly light and chorus when millennials are getting their fee fees threatened on the internet.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Dude, that's a book light and someone listening to Adele on earbuds.

  • Jezzer


  • John W

    1. I like your posts (probably because I agree with most of what you write).

    2. I like the show, I love it when they stick closely to the source material and hate it when they veer away from it. For example we've now had back to back eps where it looks like two characters are going to reunite, (Bran+Jon & Theon+Yara), only for circumstances to keep them apart. These events never happened in the books and I'm left with the question what was the point to all that? Don't even get me started on all the scenes between Arya and Tywin.

    3. I love the books but I've resigned myself to the fact that they're never going to be 100% represented on screen.

    4. Don't stop writing your posts.

  • lurker_erin

    I agree with 99% of your book reader posts, and I often forward them along to friends. I seldom read the comments, so I was surprised to see that things have become so unpleasant. If you don't want to keep doing these posts because of the haters, that's totally understandable and entirely your call. I just wanted you to know that there are people out there who appreciate your posts.

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