May 28, 2008
Soap Fans Looking for a New Home: The General Hospital Nomads

Who owns the media property? Is it the copyright holder? Or is it the audience, the group that makes that product popular? These are questions at the core in tension between media producers and media audiences and at stake in discussions about relationships between producers or consumers or what consumer "can do" with texts out of the ausipices or interests of the producers.

A reader forwarded me some threads from the official ABC Daytime boards for General Hospital, where fans are upset about the way they are treated and the technical attributes of their board as opposed to message boards for ABC primetime shows. Rather than just complain, though, they have taken to invading the boards of other spaces in order to make their problems and presence more well known.

See this thread, in which fans are organizing 5 minute invasions of various other boards.

That didn't go over as well with the Lost fans, but attention has been directed instead toward the official board for Notes from the Underbelly, a cancelled ABC show that still has an active board, and a board that some GH fans feel are better than what they've been given.

Rather than continue to post on a board they are unhappy with, some of these fans are taking over the primarily dormant NFTU board, and they plan to stay there until their longstanding complaints about the GH board have been addressed. Fans are posting about these issues, apparently trying to avoid being banned and jumping from avatar to avatar. See more here.

This situation intrigues me in particular because we have both tensions between the desire of the fan community and the interests of the network and tensions amongst fan communities.

The soap fans say they are tired of technical glitches, an aesthetically unpleasing board, a lack of sufficient emoticons, and a need for better moderators. This of course, is tied into longstanding gender biases in both media and society and a feeling that soap operas have been ghettoized in part because of the genre's feminine roots in a masculine media world. So, when the fan of another television board makes a comment about housewives going back to the soap opera board, there's a politically charged tension, especially if it's a fanboy-heavy media property such as Lost.

In the case of ABC, it's clear that this answering the complaints of GH fans is not of primary interest, which is why fans ended up moving to other boards, in hope of getting what they felt were more valued fans in the eyes of the network angry enough to get changes implemented on their GH board. That this campaign has been happening this week without much in the way of intervention is a sign to fans that their feelings of marginalization are at least somewhat justified.

For GH fans, posting on the board of another show isn't the most satisfying answer, but it does create the feeling of autonomy when it's clear those who hold a higher power position--in this case being the official ABC site--are not prioritizing your problems. But I think it's quite important that these fans see it as important to continue this fight on the official ABC space, rather than simply find a space of their own, free from the constraints of ABC. Clearly, this is about more than discussing their show but rather about a need for greater respect from "TPTB," whether that be those who write the show they follow or those who govern the "official home" of ABC soaps fans.

It'll be worth keeping an eye on...


On June 1, 2008 at 8:43 PM, ghboardtrollssuck Author Profile Page said:


Thank you SO much for recognizing and editorializing our plight! You have given us some recognition. Now if we could get the ABC people to notice that would be great! Thank you again!


On June 1, 2008 at 8:50 PM, Mokey Author Profile Page said:

Thank you SO much for recognizing us and our plight! Finally, it feels like we, as loyal ABC and General Hospital viewers are getting noticed and listened to. Now if only ABC would open their eyes and fix the problem. While they are at it, they need to fix General Hospital as well. Fire Frons, Guza and the band of typing monkeys they currently have and get us some decent writers who can write something other than doom and gloom.

Again, thank you for the write up!


On June 1, 2008 at 10:10 PM, love4myhappymorganfamily Author Profile Page said:

its very cool to see that our efforts are recognized!! thanks for helping us to get the work out!


THANK YOU for posting this and bringing it to people's attention. We are so sick of the GH boards, we thought that by invading unused boards, they would notice, sadly they do not care about our concerns, since they don't care what board we post on as long as its owned by ABC. SO, I created a gathering place for my fellow boardies OUTSIDE of ABC on google groups, and we love it.

Even if 1 person posts something on the new group called that's 1 post NOT going on the crappy board ABC has.

Hopefully in time, more members will join and stray away from the GH board and than when they see the diminishing traffic, maybe they will provide DAYTIME with nice working boards.


Thanks for your comments, boo, and everyone else. I'm interested that the movement eventually shifted away from ABC, as I saw at first that you all saw interest in remaining on "the official site." I'd be interested to know how the mentality shifted to start to move to private sites away from the ABC boards...and I'd love to have an update at some point.