Lately, I have noticed a disturbing trend, especially on YouTube but also on tumblr. I call it the “Cinema Sins” culture, where you forcefully focus on all the negative elements in a movie, and all the mistakes, to call them out and mock that movie for them within an inch of its life.
Admittedly, it can be fun. But eventually the need to find more and more mistakes turns into a hate fest, and after a particularly disturbing incident on Cinema Sins’ channel I quit and never went back. It’s when you turn things that aren’t mistakes into something to mock that you have a problem.
This culture has moved to tumblr, and I had a first row seat when some of the blogs I followed started to do exactly that to Shadowhunters. (Note: Keyword is followed, as in, past tense)
In the beginning, it was fun. There were small inconsistencies and so on, that made me giggle, like suddenly missing props or that sort of thing. Then it went to writing, and that’s where it started. The terms ‘shoddy’ and ‘bullshit’ and ‘crap’ and all those words became more and more prevalent. I openly admit, I did some of that myself. Until I discovered that I stopped enjoying watching the episodes and suddenly was only looking for the bits to complain about.
I leaned back, took a deep breath, and unfollowed half a dozen blogs in one go.
Important Notice: This is NOT an attack on those blogs. Everyone is free to blog about what they want and what they like or don’t like. I joined, I realised it’s not for me, and that’s what the unfollow button is for.
Does the show have its issues?
It sure has. I won’t deny that there are a lot of incidents of inconsistent or even lazy writing. A lot of scenes that deal insensitively or dismissively with a character’s arc or situation. But at the end of the day, what movie, what show, has ever been without that? I have never, in my four decades of life, seen any show or movie where I enjoyed every moment, or where I didn’t roll my eyes at least once or twice.
The point I want to make is not to pretend that Shadowhunters is perfect, although it scored high in LGBTQA+ representation and racial diversity, and did even good in the Bechdel test. (x)
But there are reasons we love the show and its characters that go beyond numbers. There is so much to love about Shadowhunters: Lots of heroes, and villains, and ships. Because that’s the thing with this show. It offers so much. You can find a character of your sexuality, your skin colour, your history, your religion.
We want to see ourselves, or part of ourselves, in fictional characters. We see the bad things and the good things, and we want to focus on the good things because fiction is an escape from reality into a better world, a world in which we can suddenly be a hero and overcome all our problems and difficulties and obstacles.
That’s what loving this show (or any other work of fiction) is all about. We dream. We want to be heroes in a story. We want to be like them.
And the world of Shadowhunters is close enough to our own to be able to easily imagine yourself in it, and yet supernatural enough to be a safe escape from reality in our dreams. The characters face so many problems that we face as well, and so much more that remains as fuel for our fantasies. And I’m talking about both characters and relationships.
So, we love Shadowhunters because maybe we want some of Clary’s talent, her stubborn courage, or maybe just such a loving relationship with our own mum.
We want some (a sliver would be enough) of Jace’s self-confidence.
Some of Magnus’ flair and elegance.
Some of Alec’s courage to face and change the world for his love.
Some of Simon’s incredible perseverance.
Some of Izzy’s comfort with her own body, even if we don’t look like her.
Some of Maia’s Take No Bullshit attitude.
Some of the strength that enabled Maryse to admit that she was wrong, made her strive to do better, and become a better person.
And of course, aren’t most of us dreaming about a love like the one Magnus and Alec have?
There is so much to love about our show, so don’t let anyone tell you it’s not worth your time or your devotion. Stay strong, ShadowFam. Because true love cannot die.
Written by @lakritzwolf