Beauty and the Beast: The Classic vs. Season 3 Fandom Split

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For another example of a fandom that split over casting or production changes see the Ray Wars (Due South).

Event
Event: Beauty and the Beast: The Classic vs. Season 3 Fandom Split
Participants: everyone
Date(s): 1997-?
Type: Flame War
Fandom: Beauty and the Beast (TV)
URL:
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Catherine Chandler, art from When Angels Fall, the artist is Sue K

When Catherine's character was written out of the show, fandom split between those who liked seasons 1 and 2 and those who liked (or at least tolerated) Season 3.

Abbreviations multiplied: you were a "Classic" fan if you did not embrace the third season. You were a "S3" fan if you did. Season 3 fans would often refer to themselves as "All Seasons" fans because they felt "Third Season Fan" was misleading as it referred to a very small percentage of BATB fans: those who preferred the third season over the first two seasons.

Finding examples of Season 3 character Diana Bennett is often difficult. Some fans refuse to even look at her image, which is presumably why this artist labeled the drawing "Study of Jo" after Jo Anderson, the actress who played Diana. Artist: Jamie.

Less positive terms for Classic fans included: 'Rabid Classic Fan', 'Militant Classic Fan', "Catherinite' and 'Nay-sayer'.

One fan traced the origins of the term nay-sayer: "I'd like to touch upon a few things, starting with, specifically, the term "nay-sayer". It was used in a Pipeline editorial written by Stephanie Wiltse and it didn't ask people not to be 'nay-sayers', it had a heading that said: Attention All Nay-Sayers. It got my attention." Another fan wrote:{{Quotation|"The editor, Stephanie Wiltse was making an effort to calm people down who were ready to storm Witt-Thomas before the series had even returned. She was saying that we shouldn't be nay-sayers and should wait to see what is in store before we condemn [the third season].[1]

Passions ran high and the level of animosity towards Season 3 stories was fierce.

"Up until [season 3] things had been fine, but, when that third season came out, it became instant warfare. Instant warfare. If you dared say that you liked Diana — For example, I published an issue of a Beauty and the Beast zine after that came out, and I had a, like, three-page story which was just a Diana story? I had people send me back my flyer, which talked about this, torn to pieces. And, this didn't happen to me but it happened to Dovya, who also published a Beauty and the Beast zine at the time. She had the same situation happen, but someone—more than one person—tore the story out of the zine, ripped it up in pieces and sent it back to her. It's like, overreaction much?"[2]
A zine publisher in 1989 had some challenges in sorting fans out:
While we welcome your comments on any published work of Destiny Press, we must ask you to refrain from writing your comments on the S#3 controversy to us. A fictionzine is neither an effective clearinghouse for fan opinion concerning the series, nor a useful forum for it. Yet we must have a way to code ourmailing list so that those who would find even a flyer on Legend, for example, truly unwelcome, would not be sent one. There is only one practical way: Which SASE's you have on file with us will have to be sufficient indication of your preference. So due mainly to this Classic vs. S#3 factor, but partly also because of the rising costs of mass mailing flyers, we will have to limit all future zine announcements to only those who have sent an SASE for a specific publication.[3]
A fan writes:
I consider this to be my first *real* fandom. It's the first series I bought fanzines for ... and an astounding number of them to boot. :-) ... This was also the first time I experienced the denial that goes with decisions made on the series that I didn't like -- in this case, Catherine's death obviously. I liked Diana well enough, but nothing could ever (and never has IMO!) match the romantic relationship between Vincent and Catherine. Therefore, I tend to read only Classic stories or SND (she's not dead) stories. I'm still waiting for Ron Koslow to write ... *something* ... to bring Catherine back to Vincent. :-) [4]
A fan in 1991 writes:
For me there were not THREE but FIVE seasons of "BEAUTY AND THE BEAST"!
There are the FIRST and SECOND seasons, the classic tales of Catherine and Vincent's transcendent love. These seasons ended with the trilogy which described Vincent's agony and Catherine's efforts to help her lover survive it;
There is the THIRD season, in which Vincent's life was spared but he suffered the death of his beloved Catherine. This season "ended" with the rescue of their son and the death of Catherine's murderer, Gabriel;
There is the "FOURTH" season, which explored Vincent and little Jacob's life together, the experiences of other members of the tunnel community and the world above, and the fragile, impossible friendship of Vincent and Diana;
And, there is what I call the "FIFTH" season (interspersed throughout the series), which told stories that happened before the very first episode of "Beauty and the Beast" was aired. We met many fascinating people whom Vincent knew before he found Catherine - for example, Devin, Rolley, Paracelsus and Lisa.[5]
Another fan reports:
"I was at Tunnelcon 2 and went to a video showing for diehard fans of classic BATB (first and second season). While it was wonderful to see interviews of Linda and Ron which I had never seen, it was disconcerting to hear that people would refuse to watch even music videos with third-season shots in them. I kept thinking "they missed the kiss in the cave, they missed Vincent kissing Catherine as he left her" but they saw this as a terrible betrayal of what the show was about and I have to respect the fact that these people had a fairy tale shattered to bits by the killing of Catherine."[6]
A fan in 1990 wrote:
What's the verdict on B&B 3rd season? For me, Vincent never was "right". Father was wimpy and unfocused (until the last few). The underground Utopian culture (my favorite aspect all along) was ignored. But.. .there were some good episodes, particularly Catherine's funeral and "A Time to Heal." I loved Diana, wonderfully played by Jo Anderson, and Joe (Jay Avocone) had some of his best episodes. Not a total waste, BB, but not as good as it had been. Should they not have even bothered? For me, even watered down B&B was better than none at all.[7]
In January 1995, there was controversy regarding a con video:
...a small tempest over certain footage in the TunnelCon III video. In a recent published letter, a concerned fan objected to this footage that involved Nan and a few other all-season fans discussing the state of tolerance in this fandom. The letter-writer didn't like such a discussion being made in so public a forum as a convention video (she took it to be part of the panel session concerning Diana). What the letter-writer didn't and couldn't know, with only the tape itself to go by, is that this was a private conversation among a few friends after both the panel and the following meeting of the Jo Anderson fan club were OVER. No audience was present. The room was empty except for 4 or 5 friends who rarely get a chance to talk face to face...and a videographer way off at the other end of the room, whom Nan, at least, had completely forgotten about by that time. Although Nan is unapologetic about what was said and feels it's absurd to call the conversation "fan bashing" (as the letterwriter did) since no fan whatsoever was even so much as criticized (really, in all honesty, it's pretty dull, bland stuff with nil shock value), it's nevertheless unfortunate that the resulting footage was included on he tape since it's so easily misinterpreted, out of context. Phil Smith, like the letter-writer, assumed it was part of the session, found it interesting, and put it in; and, although surprised, Nan at first saw nothing wrong with it, not realizing it could be (and had been) interpreted as part of something public rather than one of the video's many miscellaneous "candid" sequences of fans "fanning," as it were. Nan has no criticism for Phil or his crew: they were doing what they were supposed to do, taping whatever was going on. It was only Nan's inexperience in such matters that's the culprit here, if culprit there be. She's not used to checking on whether or not she's being taped. Hereafter, at a convention, she'll try to do her own "fanning" more discreetly and more wisely.[8]
Some fans resisted openly discussing the fandom rift. One fan had this to say about:
"....a small tempest over certain footage in the TunnelCon III video. In a recent published letter, a concerned fan objected to this footage that involved Nan and a few other all-season fans discussing the state of tolerance in this fandom. The letter-writer didn't like such a discussion being made in so public a forum as a convention video..."

This is ridiculous. I've seen this tape, and the segment in question is among my favorites. It is a short, candid discussion about the rift between Classic and Third Season/All Season fans that has soured an otherwise vibrant fandom. The discussion was no more involved than the ones we've had here on OLAH in the past.

Why *shouldn't* it be on the tape? As much as many of us hate this rift, it IS a part of the fandom right now. Continually turning the other cheek and burying the subject is not going to make it go away. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that every con video should FEATURE a segment on this fandom's intolerance. We should keep shining a light on it year after year until we get it out of our fandom. Those attitudes are inconsistent with the types of values that the show tried to get across, and the con videos are a great forum for ventilating the issue."[9]

Cast and Convention Impact

The conflict even impacted the cast:
"....the Classic group seems to be larger and is certainly more vocal. The Stephen McHattie (an actor from season 3) stir happened this past winter, when Mr. McHattie expressed an interest in coming to TunnelCon III. I have a friend who was on the con committee, and she tells me that the committee received several letters saying, in effect, that if Stephen McHattie came to Las Vegas, they would not go, neither would their friends, etc. The committee would dearly have loved to say, "Fine, don't come," but at the time, registrations were very sluggish and they simply couldn't take the financial risk.[10]
The impact the dispute had on conventions did not go unnoticed:
"I'd like to say one more thing before I go. We are not a large fandom. The diminishing attendance at the conventions is proof to this. Many all-season fans have already quietly slipped away unnoticed, feeling abused and alienated. Some are now on the verge of leaving us - talented artists and writers from whom we will no longer hear. Friends we will no longer see each summer. They don't say anything in forums such as this - they just go. Is this what is really wanted? To have a fandom where everyone is of one view so that we can never be upset by someone's art, story, or opinion? Can't we be kinder to each other? Must we negate other's ideas so that ours might have validation? The movie will be whatever it will be and even though we would like to think that we have influence, I can't really say that we do. Perhaps the powers that be will find some middle ground between the just tell me it didn't happen crowd and the don't tell me that it didn't happen contingent. All I do know is that they will do whatever they think will bring in the most bucks. In the Tunnel World, all are welcome who can make a contribution to the community. This fandom is our Tunnel World. We need all who love Beauty and the Beast. The part they love most should not matter. We need to be one fandom again."[11]
Later conventions, however took a firm stand against attempts to boycott third season stars:
"In regard to the 1996 convention, Lyn Musacchio, one of the principal organizers, has repeatedly stated to Nan her (Lyn's) firm intention that that convention will be an all-season convention, one at which all fans will be welcome. It will, emphatically, NOT be a "Classic Only" event. If you hear to the contrary, know that the intention of the convention's organizers is to make the 1996 convention a fine gathering in the spirit of all those that have gone before, one at which everyone who loves Beauty and the Beast...any of it or all of it...will have a wonderful time.[12]

The Movie Rumors

When rumors of a possible movie began circulating in the early 1990s, fandom split yet again over whether the writers should include elements of the third season or should be placed in the middle of the "classic" storyline, the one before Catherine died:
I am becoming more and more uncertain about the effects of a movie on fandom if it is only going to deepen the rift in this family and destroy dreams...mine or anyone else's. ...I don't NEED a movie. What I need are more people with fertile, loving minds who see our characters (ALL of them) in all their possibilities. THAT is what keeps the dream alive. Not a movie....."[13]
These fears were not unfounded. One Classic fan wrote:
"My take on the 'movie' (yet again I'm sharing...) is that I would prefer if the entire 3rd season were a dream/premonition that Vincent had while he was unconscious in the cave. Then, as events unfolded, he could take the proper steps to save Catherine and the Tunnelworld."[14]
On the other hand, others felt it would be impossible to pretend the third season did not exist in a sequel movie:
"I, for one, hate the idea of a second season movie. I had rather third season than that. A second season movie insults my intelligence. By its very existence it tells me that the third season did occur and that it did not have a happy ending. Yet, I am expected to ignore that and enjoy - knowing what lies ahead."[15]
And another Classic fan:
"I can't even look at 3S artwork, not at all. I had to have a friend lead me through the artroom at the LA con and tell me where not to go and what not to look at to avoid any pictures of Diana."[16]

A 1994 Editorial by Nan Dibble

I'm about to commit my annual (more or less) editorial. As many of you now know, Beth Blighton of the marvelous artwork, wicked sense of humor, X-rated zines, and Lionheart, has decided to retire from fandom at the end of the year. In the most recent issue of Lionheart, she ascribes her decision to the backbiting, divisions, and general decline both in numbers and highmindneess in this fandom. I've received several calls from people seriously dismayed and depressed at the prospect of Beth's unique voice leaving us. And she definitely will be missed, by me as much as anyone. But she's entitled to go: she's certainly paid her dues with nearly five years' love and imagination invested in B&B. However, it's unfortunate that Beth felt she had to publicly do the equivalent of stomping off in a huff, blaming her departure on the fact that the good old days, when everybody was loving and numerous, are now gone.

I'm afraid I have news for Beth and for anybody else who's convinced things are going downhill at a breakneck pace. The good old days are a myth. We've always been a contentious fandom, with deep divisions born of passionate conviction leading us, too often, to declare (usually with our 20 closest friends) that this or that person isn't "really" a fan and that only a certain portion of the series, the part we happen to like, can possibly be acceptable to any right-minded person. There have been dead roses, vituperative letters, personal attacks, people spat on in elevators, conventions sabotaged, and other assorted nastiness I won't depress the new fans among us by listing. And those WERE the good old days. I've been through it all, I'm here now, and here's what I see. The fandom is changing as all living things do. Some people leave, and we're sorry to see them go and hope sometime they'll come back. Other people come, and we're astonished by the depth of their caring and ingenuity. Like Laura Hardy, who offered the use of her Florida townhouse and a free beach vacation to any fan for the asking. Like Rita Klemp, returned from Africa, taking up her old art, silk-screening, not only to make T-shirts and totes for Helpers' Network but simply, as she put it, to do something for others. Keeping the dream alive. Like Bev Liddell, another new fan, with her late night calls and hearty chuckle at romantic imaginings concerning Vincent. Like the Carousels and Caverns Community in California, putting a new group together from the fragments of an old, disbanded one, taking on the monumental task of staging next year's convention and other ambitious projects. Like Lyn Musaccio, beginning a new hotline and helping to fill the gap left by the departure of Sharon Wells several years ago. Like Lisa Howard, a new fan patiently keyboarding the Gazette and posting it on a computer network long before I knew anything about it. People like David Williams in Canada, checking back in after two years away because his life had changed and he now wanted to get back in touch. David was instrumental in providing the French videos of "In the Forests of the Night," "The Reckoning," and "Legacies" before they were broadcast in the US. So David's back, and much welcomed. Like the fans first discovering the series on the SF channel and calling in to report they thought nobody else could understand how fascinating they've found it and where did the baby come from and what do the love and roses mean???

Like everybody in this fandom, newcomer or old line, whose phone bills have gone through the roof because they can't resist sharing their lives with a pack of dippy strangers who have suddenly become friends, family...all because of a TV show. I could go on and on. Examples are endless. People go, but people also come, infusing the fandom with fresh life and enthusiasm. I see this happening, day by day, month by month. As a new fan in Washington, who'd first discovered the series on the SF channel, told me in all seriousness, It's changed her life. By golly. Imagine that. It's changed my life, too. Life is changes. And over this past year, I've seen a whole lot more coming together than falling apart. I think we're more at peace with one another, more united and committed, than we've ever been. Old hurts are healing, as well as old divisions. We are, for the first time and blessedly, becoming one fandom. We all started out as lone maniacs in front of our own TV's, convinced we were the only ones so mesmerized by this amazing series. We now know ourselves to be a worldwide fandom, increasingly united and connected with one another.

So when some development, like the resistance to Steven McHattie's appearance at a convention, or someone's decision to withdraw from the fandom, makes you feel depressed and discouraged, that's understandable...but it also should be temporary. Try to remember the happy, hopeful things that are just as true as the sad ones and should lift our hearts, not make us feel there's no use and we all might as well quit, pull down our Vincent posters, and slouch back to our now-uninteresting lone TV sets again, moaning about the good old days, when everything was rosy. Remember what brought us into the fandom to begin with. Try to be there for one another. Don't worry about what anybody else is doing: contribute what you can to keep the dream alive. Live in shared love and hope, living the best we can--not perfect, but giving help where we can, taking help where we need it: what the series was about--no less true, no less strong, than it was at the beginning. Only the grave is peaceful: as Vincent put it, while we live, we bleed. But we also renew ourselves, and the hurts heal. Whatever doesn't kill us makes us stronger. And the reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated. Good-bye, Beth. Be well. We love you. But we'll survive.[17]

An Isolated Fandom

Some fans speculate that the seasons split may have contributed to the fandom's increasing isolation from the rest of media fandom over the years:
"I was in Beauty and the Beast fandom for a while, and I never could quite understand in recent years why they've become so separate from fandom, because they used to be — I mean, when the show was on the air there was a tremendous number of zines being published, and they were at Media West, they were at New York conventions, at Shore Leave, at any conventions where there were zines, the Beauty and the Beast zines there, and then, but after the show went off, particularly after the controversy, they just kind of started heading in a different direction, and almost, like, cut ties. And I didn't stay with the fandom so I never quite understood the dynamic.[18]

Perspective, and Hope for the Future

As far as my favorite episodes, while I love them all for different reasons, I didn't really think the time would come when I would really appreciate the third season episodes, but at last I do. I think that when they first aired, fans were not prepared for the shock of Catherine's death, I know I wasn't, and unfortunately, I think we entered a period of mourning. I know that we are only talking about a TV show, but I have never gotten so caught up in characters before. Anyway, my point is, at the time of the original airings, we could not appreciate the "Diana" episodes fully.[19]
The fragmentation of fandom in this group and that group vigorously defending their positions is regretful and disheartening. Now is the time to join hands and turn our faces forward to the future — a united future.[20]

References

  1. In volume 3 Of Love and Hope
  2. Media Fandom Oral History Project Interview with CatalenaMara (accessed November 4, 2013.)
  3. "A Note to Readers" in Destiny #2
  4. Becky's Fanfiction Recommendations
  5. from the editorial in Storms
  6. Of Love and Hope Digest vol 1 (August 12, 1994).
  7. comments from a male fan in Southern Enclave #25
  8. {{source| url = https://web.archive.org/web/20061216215848/http://www.beautyandthebeast-tv.com/bluebird/archives/hng/hng9501.htm | title =Helper's Network Gazette - January 1995 | archiveurl =http://www.webcitation.org/6f9gQAms0%7C archivedate =2016-02-09
  9. Of Love and Hope Digest vol 2 (September 1994).
  10. Of Love and Hope Digest vol 1 (August 12, 1994).
  11. letter sent to Volume 3 Of Love and Hope.
  12. Of Love and Hope Digest vol 2 (September 1994).
  13. a letter in volume 3 Of Love and Hope.
  14. a letter in volume 3 Of Love and Hope.
  15. a letter in volume 3 Of Love and Hope.
  16. a letter in volume 3 Of Love and Hope.
  17. Helper's Network Gazette - June/July 1994, Archived version
  18. Media Fandom Oral History Project Interview with CatalenaMara (accessed November 4, 2013.
  19. a comment by Ann Marie in September 1993, from Of Love and Hope v.1 n.2
  20. from the editorial in A Life Without Limits #2 (June 1990)