We’ve reached a point in Degrassi’s history where it’s gone beyond just being a relatable teen drama, or a show that’s just ripping stories from the headlines. Last year, Degrassi’s team sat down to create a story about people being welcoming toward a group of others fleeing terrors we could never imagine.
We watched those stories earlier this month, as Degrassi opened its doors to Syrian refugees with open arms. This weekend we watched as President Trump’s Executive Order denied citizens from seven Muslim majority nations (including Syria) entry into America.
Linda Schuyler and Stephen Stohn have released the following statement:
My personal thoughts…
There have been so many responses to this situation that echo Linda and Stephen’s thoughts that anything I could say on it has already been said. However, I feel like there’s no better time for a message directed toward Degrassi’s own fandom and the trend of behavior within the community over the past several years.
Now more than ever, fandom is full of young people who are not only socially aware, but willing to speak out without hesitation. While it’s great that you want to be “woke” and vocal about social issues, don’t ever forget that it all starts with the basics. It’s about more than just pointing out other people’s wrongdoings and calling them out on it. We must always be aware of our own actions, and demand from ourselves that we treat fellow individuals, in real life AND online, with kindness and respect.
Degrassi’s fandom should be a place where people can have fun and enjoy a show they love without getting harassed, and they should never feel like they aren’t welcome. People shouldn’t want to leave fandom because they’re afraid of getting bullied by their peers; enough of us deal with that in our real lives as it is. It’s disheartening to see people say Degrassi’s community is a hateful place.
We can’t sit here outraged over Trump’s behavior, spouting off how awful he is and that he’s #NotMyPresident, then turn around and attack other fans over Triles/Zaya/any of the ships or characters that you love OR hate. Regardless of your position, bullying others for their preferences simply shouldn’t happen.
Two major themes in Next Class Season 3 were 1) It’s OKAY for people to do things differently and 2) kindness and acceptance. The Degrassi writers have now stated multiple times what their agenda is:
Degrassi’s fandom should never be known for being such a toxic community, not when its creators are adamant about pushing messages of love and tolerance. Someone recently asked why everyone on the show was able to get away with treating Esme so horribly in Season 3…there’s no difference between what those characters did, and the endless instances of us trashing each other in the fandom of a TV show that constantly tells us that we should be better than that.
As people, we are better than that. What you say and how you treat people online affects real-life people, whether you realize it or not, and we should always be striving to be better people. We’re seeing right now what happens when hate tries to prevail in the world. It’s not just up to Degrassi to teach us love, respect and acceptance; we should be teaching that to each other in every single aspect of our lives.