For the past year I’ve watched the Degrassi online community explode beyond the beautiful point it was back during the days of Seasons 3, 4 and 5.  At one point last year there were literally only a handful of Degrassi-related blogs/websites out there; Degrassi-Fans and DegrassiBlog were the go-to sites because there were simply no other active sites around.

It started off with others forming their own blogs to chronicle the Degrassi universe from their perspective.  Now most Degrassi fans have a twitter and tumblr of their own.  Now every Degrassi fan has become a Degrassi news source.

It was a huge deal when Stephen Stohn joined twitter, after spending years posting updates in the legendary “Shooting Season 3” thread at the official Degrassi message board.  Now Degrassi cast members having a twitter account is borderline mandatory.

This social media surge has allowed for not only more Degrassi information to be shared, but for said information to be spread quickly.

On April 16th, we watched the advantage of having 24-hour access to Degrassi information backfire.  Badly.

Who’s at fault for that situation getting out of hand?  Everyone.  The person at MTV who decided to use that clip made a dumb decision.  The fans who decided to directly quote the clip on twitter and post screencaps of it on tumblr also made dumb decisions that day. Despite traces of the spoiler disappearing by afternoon, it was too late.

Several days later, DegrassiBlog posted spoiler promo pics from the DTW Part 2. They were twice as spoilerish as the MTV clip, but because I urged fans to re-post the pics with discretion only the people who wanted to see the pics saw them (for the most part), avoiding an MTV-like disaster that would’ve happened had some random, overly-excited fan on tumblr found and posted them first.

There will always be three layers of responsibility: the responsibility of Epitome, the media and the fans.  As fans it’s our job to not act like an extreme fangirl or fanboy over every single thing, to the point where we can’t rationally think when it comes to posting sensitive or spoiler information.  Epitome and the media go hand in hand; Epitome has to do a better job of making sure the media doesn’t blow it by revealing too much information.

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How do we go about creating a Degrassi online environment that’s exciting and suspenseful, without basically giving away everything?

1) USE *SPOILER TAGS* people.
It’s a really simple concept, but seldom used (and seldom needed until NOW). Degrassi fans are under the naive impression that if someone in a position of power decides to do something about it, spoilers will completely go away.  Reality check: spoilers will NEVER go away, and they will ALWAYS be a mouse-click away. Saying “If you don’t wanna know, then don’t get online” is a stupid, unreasonable response to those who don’t want to view spoilers.

The solution is to always give people the OPTION to see the spoiler or not.  Don’t just post it right in their face (it’s a far bigger problem on tumblr than twitter).  Fans are now in a paranoid state of mind, initially assuming that every new piece of information is a leak or spoiler, even if they’re not.  If you have something that could be deemed a spoiler, how about doing everyone a favor and letting them know it might contain spoilers? That way if they view it and get pissed because something’s been ruined for them, it’s their own fault.

2) Enough with the sneak peeks and exclusive clips.
“Sneak peek” is the most overused word in the Degrassi universe these days. This may work on the teenie bopper fans that browse the TeenNick forums, but the sneak peeks they release every week are overrated because of their predicatbility.  It’s the opening scene of the upcoming episode…which is generally the most boring part of any given episode.  For that reason alone I don’t see the point in them.  I also find it ironic that many fans will complain about things being leaked because they’re afraid of things being spoiled for them, but will jump to see a sneak peek in a heartbeat.

In 2010 we saw Epitome starting to use social media to its advantage.  They created fictional character twitters that tweet about their lives on the show.  They reached out to Degrassi fansites to have them release information. Their biggest misstep in my opinion was releasing extended clips from episodes.

With Degrassi Take Manhattan, they had the people making cameos release clips of their appearances on twitter. This was a smart, ambitious idea, promoting the show organically.  However, skip forward to last week, and we’ve got some random gossip magazine posting two different clips (totaling almost 2 minutes) from Drop The World Part 1 the morning before it aired. Why? Why is this random guy on a random celebrity gossip website giving away stuff about the most-anticipated episode of the season? Combine that with the TeenNick sneak peek and any other footage that might’ve been released (legitimately by the way), and we’re talking several MINUTES of the episode were out there, released with permission. At that point, why not just go ahead and let the few Degrassi fans with the ability to do so leak the full episode?  To be honest, I’m just fine with seeing nothing more than a promo each week.

3) Produce better promos.
TeenNick’s promos are fast-paced and exciting, but normally give away too much. MuchMusic’s promos are less revealing, but it’s to the point where they’re boring. I wish someone could consistently come up with promos that combine the best attributes of both networks: make a promo that builds suspense without being overdramatic, or being overly obscure.  It’s all about telling a story in 30 seconds. One of the best Degrassi episode promos ever:

4) Extra content.
Remember the days when after you watched an episode, you could go to TeenNick.com and watch Degrassi Minis, On-The-Sets and other behind-the-scenes videos? Those days are long gone, and are now replaced by an overload of cast interviews (interesting, but nowhere near as interesting as minis or on-the-sets).

Degrassi Minis, one of the best ideas ever come up with as far as extra content, have been dwindled down by the networks to virtually the length of a promo.  Epitome has yet to fully unlock their full potential through social media.  Last year Stefan brilliantly posted pics of him and cast hanging out on set while they filmed Season 10.  It made us, the fans, feel like we were there, and the pics gave nothing away about the season.  But after a while that stopped. And once the filming was done so was this interaction we were used to.

The Art Department creates so much work that’s used to make the Degrassi world so incredibly detailed, but it’s rarely acknowledged.  Recently @RealEli (Degrassi’s Eli twitter account) posted a picture of the comic book that Stalker Angel is featured in. I loved that they finally posted it, but it would’ve been even more fantastic had “Eli” posted it on the day Dropped The World Part 1 aired as opposed to posting it several days later. I think back to the beginning of the season when Holly J and Sav were running against each other for class president.  I think about how amazing it would’ve been if something like iron-ons were available (The-N had tons of them years ago) that fans could print out to create t-shirts for the person they’d want to vote for.

All of this might come off as nitpicking, but I’m convinced small details like that can have a huge impact on a fanbase as enthusiastic as Degrassi’s.  I look for little enjoyable moments like that, when I look online one day and I see that I can download the Three Tenners’ song.  It was fun watching people asking Stephen for months if Munro was ever going to sign up for twitter; then the day Munro finally joined the twitterverse it was so huge they made an event out of it. These are things that couldn’t happen when I first started watching the Degrassi; social media has blurred the line between us (the fans) and them (Degrassi’s cast and crew). But we all have to make sure that that line doesn’t become so ambiguous that it starts affecting our enjoyment of this show we love in the way it has recently.

Posted by Kary

17 Comments

  1. […] 22 Apr For the past year I’ve watched the Degrassi online community explode beyond the beautiful point it was back during the days of Seasons 3, 4 and 5.  At one point last year there were literally only a handful of Degrassi-related blogs/websites out there; Degrassi-Fans and DegrassiBlog were the go-to sites because there were simply no other active sites around. It started off with others forming their own blogs to chronicle the Degrassi universe fro … Read More […]

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  2. Amen!!

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  3. This is one of the most well written articles Ive ever read and I agree with you completely. We have gotten out of control with the need to know everything. Ive managed to stay away from spoilers for the time being. It was hard but I did it. And another thing. Im on my phone so I cant see the promo, but was it for the episode Turned Out?

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  4. PREACH IT KARY! PREACH IT!

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  5. Umm. Wow. A disaster is what happened in New Orleans after Katrina, in Haiti following the earthquake, in Japan after the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear reactor problems. Millions of people are killed or injured, displaced from their homes, and the aftermath continues to effect their populations if not the whole world.

    Those are disasters. You know what’s NOT a disaster? MTV spoiling part of an episode of a teenage melodrama.

    I don’t mean to sound like a troll. I enjoy Degrassi, obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t come to this blog, and I understand that most Degrassi fans feel a strong connection to the show and its characters. I agree with virtually all your points, Kary, and I think it’s great that you’re encouraging community responsbility. But let’s try to keep things in perspective — at the end of the day, Degrassi is still just a TV show.

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    1. Andy, way to overreact, man. You need to keep things in context. Do you ever complain about having a bad day Andy, or are you always content because you always keep everything in perspective and realize that someone is obviously worse off than you?
      This is a degrassi blog where we talk about the degrassi universe. When you’re talking about fiction, you don’t normally consider everything else that happens in the world. For example, many works of fiction are referred to as “tragedies.” They are not real tragedies of course, because no one is really dying and there are much more devastating things happening in the real world, but no one argues labeling it a “tragedy” because everyone understands that we are just talking about fiction. It’s not like this is a general blog where Kary also keeps us up to date on world events and stuff. He’s just trying to write about degrassi. We are all aware that it’s just a t.v. show. Kary shouldn’t have to cut a bunch of words out of his vocabulary just to hammer in the point that degrassi isn’t as important as other things in life. That’s unreasonable.

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  6. I’ve only recently entered degrassi-land (season 8 and beyond) and became a follower of Kary’s blog since the summer, but, curious, was there a bigger spoiler-palooza since season 1?

    also my main two accusations are on teenick’s irresistable and tres revealing promos, and the almost non-realistic instability of Eli Goldsworthy. As Kary mentioned before, plot-lines that are simplistic and deal with the real world (Anya and Owen, Chasing Pavements) better represent the show than some soap opera of clingy-ness and “feel bad for me” characters. I can’t take Degrassi’s drive to inspire seriously if this is what it will come to.

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  7. I remember, back when Degrassi aired on CTV, that the network aired a very The N-like (ie. misleading) promo before Foolin’ aired. It showed JT and Liberty in JT’s car when he whips out the strip of condoms. Liberty then said, “I don’t want to be pregnant”. So I assumed that the two had not been sexually active. I figured that the episode would be about JT pressuring Lib into having sex with him.

    Then when the actual episode aired, and Liberty told JT that she WAS pregnant, I was like, “WHOA, WHAAA!?”

    CTV was not known for being sneaky with its promos like that.

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  8. I have been watching Degrassi since 2003. It’s been 8 YEARS!!! (They absolutely flew BTW) and I have never agreed so much as I do with this post. The first episode I ever watched was Pride with my big sis, who was 11 at the time. Kudos to her. If we had not shared the same room back then, I can honestly say that I would never have come across Degrassi until they changed The-N to Teennick in 2009, as I was 7 and PBS Kids, Playhouse Disney and Nick Jr. were my main television havens at the time. Thank GOD that did not happen, because without this show I would have thought I was a straight-up FREAK.

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  9. The first promo I remember clearly was for Mercy Street. It showed JT and Manny kissing, then Craig came and interrupted. Cue the awkward silence… Why can’t we go back to those days? The epic days when they didn’t actually show us the whole shooting in a promo. They simply showed a gun. Remember how Aubrey’s PSA was released BEFORE Time Stands Still? That’s a proper hint. Why can’t we just have the subtle promos back? You know, the one where Craig trashed the hotel room while wearing a tux and the phone was ringing, but we had no idea what the hell was going on.

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  10. Or how about the one where it showed a wall inside of a hospital? There was a room behind it where a woman was giving birth. We could hear screaming, but we didn’t know who it was. All the seasonal promos for Seasons 6&7 were great, plus the ‘It’s About To Get Real’ times of Season 9. All great promos with revealing too much.

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  11. Shouldn’t baldy be bitching at Teenick for essentially spoiling the entire episode with pics anyhow?

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  12. I wish teennick was still called the-n :/ calling it teennick feels like it’s one of those kid networks. Like whenever I’m watching it then an older person walks in when they’re talking about sex or drugs, they say ” ohhh my gosh this is on a nickelodeon network I’m never letting my kids watch nick again!” plus it’s different from the original network all together :/

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  13. Well I was just utterly pissed off after watching DTW part 2. Talk about a promo that gets you excited about something that is thrown totally out of context. I was so let down (yet again), that i didn’t care if degrassi ended. I was actually glad there was no promo for next season after the show. I wish we could go back to promos like “its about to get real'”

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    1. The “its about to get real” promos were hella underrated. I remember people hating them when they came out because they had next to no actual show footage, but I liked how they introduced the characters and gave subtle hints to their stories.

      NOTHING compares to the early season 7 promos though. Those were godly, especially considering it was the worst season.

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  14. I completely agree. The promo you posted above was amazing because it was to an amazing episode. But is it just me, or is that promo great because it’s from The N? I don’t know, TeenNick just doesn’t seem to work for me, The N seemed like such a great network, which explains why the promos were good too. But that’s just my opinion.

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  15. […] It didn’t even occur to any of the fans posting and reblogging that this info was a major spoiler, and it’s really no different than the people working at MTV spoiling the crash in Drop The World.  But once something hits the Degrassi fandom, it’s impossible to stop.  In this day and age, fans are equally as capable of spoiling episodes as the networks are…probably moreso because t…. […]

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