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Hart Hanson of Bones Reflects on (Anti)Social Media

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Hart Hanson has a lot of reasons to be grateful for Bones fans. They helped turn the show he created into an indisputable, if unassuming, hit: it was FOX’s number one scripted series for the 2010/11 season, and its spinoff, The Finder has been picked up for next season. But there’s also a downside to success, especially on social media sites where some of the most passionate fans can be less than sociable.

Hart HansonHanson joined the microblogging site Twitter after encouragement from Bones guest star Stephen Fry, as well as from a desire to be on the vanguard of “how the world was going to digest content in the future,” he said in a recent interview conducted before the news that both The Finder and Bones were picked up for next season.

Did he find that vanguard? “Not at all. My overwhelming impression of Twitter became it’s like being shouted at all the time by about 32,000 people.”

After getting into 140-character battles with fans — and finding himself despairing of humanity — Hanson stopped looking at his replies page, reading only the tweets of the 375 or so people he chooses to follow. “I just don’t look at it at all anymore because it was crazy-ass people shouting at me.”

He doesn’t shy away from expressing his annoyance either on Twitter or in an interview. “The trait I came up against that I could not stand, that I could not deal with in a humorous way, was the number of people out there who believe that what they feel is what everyone feels. They’re humorless, slightly dim, maybe a little insane, and they don’t understand that there are alternate views of the universe.”

He did the math, calculating the tiny percentage of a percentage of Bones viewers who follow him on Twitter. And of those followers, only a fraction of a percent actually respond to him. “It becomes a very, very small portion of the viewers and they stop being representative of the fans, both statistically — under a certain size a sample is not valid — and even emotionally.”

“These people do not represent the average fan. They might in some cases represent the superfan, or someone who has invested more in Bones than the average viewer does,” he posited, before adding: “Or they’re nuts.”

“I know many other showrunners on Twitter who have had the same or worse experiences than I have. In essence you are exposing yourself to a certain kind of stalker. Where you would say you’re listening to the fans — no, you’re listening to your stalkers.”

He found the fawning fans difficult to take, too, shaking off claims of his genius or comparisons to Shakespeare. “I’d do anything to have much less attention. That’s why I became a writer instead of an actor.”

Despite the negative experiences, Hanson remains an active Twitter user. “I am very interested in social networking and what it means, and I’m interested in other people’s opinions,” he explained, saying he’ll follow any TV writer he can find, from creators to critics.

Now that he’s filtered out some of the noise, he finds Twitter has become a clearinghouse of interesting links and, sadly, an obituary channel. For example, he discovered one of his favourite singer/songwriters, John Bottomley, died — news he suspects wouldn’t have reached him for months otherwise.

“Let’s call it an illusion of knowing what’s going on that I like,” he added, saying he checks in on Twitter five or six times a day.

“And let’s say there’s a couple hundred people who holler at me on Twitter. I have thousands and thousands who might be interested in photos from the set, or musings on what happened this day on Bones, or what it’s like to be a TV writer in LA, or what it’s like to be a Canadian living in LA. That’s generally what I tweet about for that quiet audience of 32,000 who are interested for whatever reason in what I have to say about what my day-to-day life is like.”

If The Finder is a success he may find his quiet audience numbers burgeoning even further — and find himself being hollered at by two shows’ fanbases. But that seems a better alternative than having no shows at all. That was a remote possibility in the weeks leading up to the network upfronts, when the renewals of seemingly sure-thing Bones and FOX-mate House were held up by licensing issues.

About Diane Kristine Wild

  • john

    that my name john/bamabelle is the one that started calling people batshitcrazies.

  • BamaBelle

    Thank you, Diane Kristine. I see that john/gordon/samuels/etc’s original “bamabelle is telling everyone she’s batshit crazy” comment above my response was deleted. What misfortune.

    To the multiple personality poster: the term batshit crazy wasn’t directed at you or any other poster. It was in reference to the collective crazies who launched twitter attacks on HH. john/gordon/samuels/etc, I assure you, I would not call anyone with ‘multiple intelligences’ batshit crazy because here in the South, instead of namecalling, we learn the art of polite ambiguity.

  • Alex

    Hart is a bad example of a show runner on twitter. Possibly because Bones is a show that’s been known to have nutty fans, especially the “shippers”, but to get so upset over fans expressing their sometimes negative opinions is a little bit ridiculous.
    Bill Prady, creator of The Big Bang Theory is a GOOD example of a show runner on twitter. He evidently reads his @ replies- I personally have gotten a response to him, and I know others that have as well. He ignores the stupidity, and just interacts with the fans that have legitimate questions, or positive feedback. And I think that’s the way to do it.
    Twitter can be a useful tool in networking, but anyone should know to stay off the internet if they don’t like their feelings hurt.

  • Me

    Denis, You obviously missed my point. I did not say that he should listen to everything that fans say and change the show. No, I said to listen to their critiques. A lot of fans and Reviewers LOVE Bones. None of them are bashing the show. A lot of things they are saying might actually improve the show. Maybe Bones could eventually be recognized by the Emmy’s. People who can’t take criticism are too sensitive or are just too arrogant and think their work doesn’t need improving. Hart has the number 1 show for now. In a few years, there will be other shows. That’s just the truth. Why get so defensive when someone critiques your art when it can help in the long run?

    Bamabelle, I agree. I don’t think he should stress himself over those fans. Certain fans think they are entitled to something and they aren’t. I just think that he seems to generalize online fans. Some are overzealous for sure but the sane ones, worship and love the show and I honestly think he could treat them with a little more respect. I can find 5 or more articles of Hart complaining about the insane fans and not one of him thanking the online fans for their dedication. Right now they are raising 4,000 dollars for charities in honor of Bones. I have yet to see an article with Hart Hanson commenting on that.

  • Denis McGrath

    Thirty. Eight. Thousand. Let me know when you finish counting.

  • BamaBelle

    Me-from Hart’s article, he did not seem to generalize fans, nor did he seem to get defensive. He pointed out that, in spite of the small percentage of crazies, the majority of fans just want to see pictures of the show, etc. No one should get offended unless they are part of that socially retarded minority.

    The problem I’m having with your logic is that Hart Hanson does not owe the fans anything. It’s not as if we sign a contract saying that we are entitled to constant attention from the show’s creator in exchange for our loyalty. People CHOOSE to watch Bones because Bones is a great show. Do we watch a show because of the mad social media skills of a show’s creator? Not sure about you, but I don’t. I could care less about twitter, and I think I’m probably representative of the majority of the fans who just want to see a good hour of Bones on Thursday night. I don’t see why this has turned into such an issue.

  • Osteon

    Me, If you have yet to read an interview of Hart praising the fans, could it be because in these articles that you have read, the writers/reporters who have written on Hart’s reaction to the crazies CHOSE to highlight the negative side of fans-showrunners interaction in their articles?

    And when you say that he should listen to critiques, it’s as though you’re saying that he does not do that all. You make some sweeping statements as if you have knowledge of everything that goes on behind the scenes. Shows and networks have teams/groups that basically do that – gather feedback from viewers not just through the internet platform.

    Hart is very much aware that there are really supportive fans out there. Remember his appreciation for those who traveled from different parts of the world just to be at the Paley Center? In case you missed it, he follows and retweets project_bones.

  • Mary T

    Who cares? Bones may be heading into its final
    The plots have become lame… Now that Brennan
    is pregnant. Hart can end the series on a
    high note.
    He already has his new project…. The Finder.
    So, Bones fans enjoy the final season. The
    Finder will be replacing Bones if HH can
    swing it.

  • BuffaloluvsBoreanaz

    I’m not surprised that Hart has chosen to block out the number of fans who have either expressed extreme displeasure with his work, or extreme worship of it. I am one of those very many that follows his tweets quietly, because I have an interest in the medium he works in, and as you can tell from my user-name, an interest in the actors that he has created characters for. I only feel a bit saddened though, for those of us who could offer a more sane perspective to him, that the few times we might choose to comment might never be viewed amidst all the “clutter” of others replies.

  • Me

    Denis, Since you aren’t willing to accept other’s opinions, why are you even bothering to post?

    Bamabelle, I’m talking about other articles and comments Hart has made about the online fandom. He does tend to generalize and dismiss their opinions like they don’t even matter since they are a part of the minority. I know that he doesn’t owe the fans anything. It just doesn’t look well to me to see someone constantly complaining about their fans. Every celeb or show creator has a number of “haters” on twitter. They don’t constantly talk about it. Bones is not Mad Men or The Good Wife. It’s fun but I have a few issues with it. Hart has The Finder coming out in next season but I’ve seen more than a few fans say they won’t be watching because of Hart. Do they matter in the long run? Probably not. I just think for a creator of a show that wasn’t even suppose to last, he could shift his focus on the positive fans. The ones who followed him when the show kept changing timeslots, who sat through the bad storylines and still love it. Osteon just made a great point that maybe the authors just wanted his opinion on the negative fans.

    Osteon, I know he follows and re-tweets Project Bones and I said was there an interview with Hart talking about that? Where did I say I know anything about behind the scenes stuff? I’ve seen interviews with Marisa and interviews with Hart at Comic Con and others where he gets really defensive towards people when they make comments about the show he disagrees with. You do have a point though. Maybe the writers just want to get his opinion on the negative fans and how that makes him feel.

  • BamaBelle

    Hart is not the only show creator to take issue with the immature atmosphere of twitter. Grey’s Anatomy and Community creators vocalized their feelings about such fans in an article back in October or November. They were of the same opinion as Hart. Why are they not getting yelled at?

    Probably because, at the moment, crazy ass Bones fans are mad that they didn’t get to have kinky vicarious sex with Booth and/or Bones. They’re likely too dim to understand that the intimacy of the moment was sexier than full-blown porn. These folks didn’t get what they wanted, so they’re lashing out their frustrations on Hart. I’m sorry, but if a person gets that bent out of shape over fictional sex or lack thereof, they deserve to be called batshit crazy.

    In addition, when you said that fans are saying they won’t watch The Finder because of Hart, I think we’re talking about the same small group of VOCAL fans who do not represent what the majority of Bones fans truly think. I for one am excited about The Finder.

  • Shirley Chiarini

    I love BONES-everything about it from A to Z. My only wish is that B&B would be more
    loving toward each other. She treats him like a donor who did his job and doesn’t have to be involved in what is happening.
    He treats her like a roommate who is an old friend. Where is the love and warmth that grew between them over the years.