@JoanB102001 and I continue our civil discourse!
The coffee has kicked in, the baby is asleep (on me), and I think I can finally collect my thoughts.
First, thanks so much for weighing in with your views. I appreciate a good spirited discussion, so thanks for trusting that it would be received in that spirit. I am sure there are many who don't like what I said but will choose to say so far from me, so I value your boldness and your choice to respectfully share your opinion.
Regarding the morality factor, I really was not trying to shame anyone. That is why I opted not to make criticisms of specific comments, but was more interested in the atmosphere at large. I am especially interested in how social media gives us a sense of anonymity and safety in numbers that allows us to sometimes say things we wouldn't dare say out loud. This can be a great thing--one that comes to mind is the night a few months back where victims of sexual assault went on Twitter with a description of what they were wearing the night they were raped. It was heartbreaking and brave and a powerful way of demonstrating that it is not about how you are dressed. (As an aside, when the description was of children's pajamas, I wanted to simultaneously vomit and punch someone.) That moment was an example of social media at its best. Creating a sense of community, raising awareness about an important issue.
The flip side, of course, is that we can just as easily ride the momentum to an uglier place. I think that this is, in part, what I saw happening with the arse that launched a thousand memes.
I am not in any way anti-fun. Some of the non-ass memes I have seen are hilarious. I have no interest in stopping people from enjoying the show and having fun with fandom. Many fans have confessed to rewinding and pausing, and that is totally fine with me. Sam Heughan is a beautiful man. If you need to stop for a moment and appreciate that, go right ahead. What you do quietly in your own home is truly not my concern. But when we start saying increasingly objectifying things out loud in a public space, that gives me pause.
Part of why it gives me pause is for all the reasons you mention--these are real people who have done an incredible amount of work to make portraying their characters appear so seamless. It really is amazing to behold. And as you said, their work relies on an audience. I was just having this discussion with a friend yesterday, in fact. I was saying that I felt funny singing along at a friend's concert--did it seem weird to him that I was doing that? But as a performer, the audience responding to your work is not weird, it is gratifying. Seeing your work appreciated is actually the desired outcome when your chosen art is performance. (And this is why I will never be on stage. I will sit quietly in my writing corner because people are scary. Yay introversion!) So when the prevailing conversation is about your ass, not how you have woven the character's habit of drumming his fingers so effortlessly into the overall tapestry, that bothers me. Because holy hell, has that man done his homework. All those tiny details of Jamie are flawlessly executed. He really is amazing. And as I said to someone else, I do not want this to become his slo-mo running down the beach in a red one-piece swimsuit. Sam is a phenomenal actor and I want him to have a long, rich career. Preferably one where they do not ask about his backside in every interview from here on out.
Now, as for the difference between the construction worker and hollering online, we may need to respectfully disagree. I think we are in a brave new world of communication, and I find it just as creepy when people say things from behind their keyboard as when they say it to my face. Maybe even creepier, because I don't get to look in their eyes while they insult me. The same impulse drives the commentary, both in the flesh and online, the difference is perhaps the intensity of one's personal filter/sense of boundaries. You have a good one in place that would keep you from saying something inappropriate when face-to-face with the man in question. Perhaps many other commenters might bite their tongues too. But I suppose the ultimate question comes down to this: if you would be embarrassed saying it out loud to the person, would it not be a good idea to hold yourself to the same standard online? I know that battle might already be lost on the large scale, but I thought it was worth saying anyway.
Thanks again for the zesty discussion.