Sometimes mob rule works
Can we just stop for a second and appreciate that in group situations people want to be good, and moral and right? For a shining, solitary moment, the internet was at its moral best.
What the hell am I talking about, you ask? Only about how Neil Gaiman - and the internet - were saved from a potential leak of his latest Doctor Who script which was accidentally left in the back of a taxi. An absent-minded actress had reportedly been reading it in a cab and presumably left it sitting in the back seat while she was paying and forgot to pick it up again.
The script was found by a non-Whovian (non Doctor Who fan - to those not in the know) who posted a photo of it on her Facebook page. Her friend, a Whovian and Redditor (editor on social news website, Reddit), known as “Shrimpdude” posted the image on Reddit and pondered over what to do.
Instead of demanding that they be provided the script in full and immediately so that they could find what fate was to befall the Doctor and his new companion, the internet seized on the post and insisted it be returned to the BBC unsullied and unleaked.
The most upvoted comment on the thread reads: “Listen, that needs to go right back to the BBC Wales offices. A lot of people are excited about Neil Gaiman’s return to DW and Steven Moffat put a LOT into casting it.please do the right thing and tell your friend not to spoil it or let it fall into the wrong hands.
[EDIT] I am literally sick thinking about how bad it would be if that were leaked. As a Doctor Who fan and the TARDIS, I implore* you to steal that from whomever happens to have it and just march it into the BBC. I’m sure they’ll be most appreciative. As would every whovian that doesn’t want what is sure to be a fantastic episode to be spoiled.”
People gave their two cents about who to speak to, pondered over whether Gaiman should write another meta episode about the whole incident. Few, if any disagreed that it should be returned.
Neil Gaiman tweeted that he was willing to help out (though from the tweet he wasn’t confident about how he could).
Within a few days Shrimpdude had written that he had succesfully arranged a return of the script.
“Been in touch with various members of the production team (Nerdgasm) and we’ve arranged a return of the script,” Shrimpdude wrote. “Thank you everyone that upvoted this post so it got the attention of the BBC. This thread has made my life - I never would have believed I could help out the Doctor Who production team!”
Can we just stop and appreciate for a moment how rare, and beautiful a moment this was for the internet?
This moment was a test of moral character. It was an opportunity for any and all who were interested to see how people behaved in group situations.
Keep in mind people on Reddit are mostly anonymous. There was nothing stopping them from letting their curiosity get the better of them except for their own conscience, and possibly the fear of judgement from others. It’s nice being in the know. People enjoy being the first to discover a new band, or new tv episode or have the inside scoop.
Doctor Who is not only one of the UK’s most popular TV shows but in Australia too. The first episode of the new series was the most viewed program on ABC’s iView app EVER.
The Sandman author has only written one other script for the series, so the episode has been hotly anticipated. Desperate though many people may be to find out what happens - they resisted.
Really this was a test between good and evil - or at least right and wrong. (Not sure I would really classify the leaking of a TV script online as evil).
And good won out.
In an era where the future Queen’s lady parts were splashed all and sundry over the covers of magazines, where music, TV series and films are downloaded illegally due to people’s incapacity for patience, where the right to know, to watch, to consume is put above almost everything barring oxygen, food and sleep, I’m just putting it out there that this act of kindness is pretty rare.
I’m sure Neil Gaiman’s generosity in his writing certainly played a part. On top of the countless film scripts, books, comics and graphic novels he has written, he also blogs constantly on Tumblr and his personal website, he tweets, he gives inspiring speeches to classes of aspiring students. As far as content goes, Gaiman gives A LOT away for free, and for this we should all feel incredibly grateful.
I’m not sure whether the same courtesy would have been extended to other writers or directors, but there’s something quite lovely that by paying it forward, he has encouraged others to do so too.
It warms my heart that things like this still happen.
Despite all the burn books and the bullying that we hear about all too often, let’s stop to remember that given the opportunity people are good and they want to be.
That is all.
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