Every now and again, something will come along and capture the attention of the world. 2016's first big thing was Making a Murderer. First airing on Netflix in December 2015, the documentary telling the story of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey quickly picked up a following, and subsequently highlighted the huge amount of flaws in the US criminal justice system.
The natural side effect of anything that becomes well known to the public is the creation of a "fandom". Look at any trend over the years: LOST, Harry Potter, Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries, Twilight... every one of those things gripped people and created debates and discussions. Whether it was the question about whether Professor Snape was working for good or evil, or if you were Team Edward or Team Jacob, or... who on earth is A? These things set people talking. Inevitably, you get people bickering amongst themselves, but the very positive plus side is that in amongst all this discussion, friends can be made.
The obvious difference with those things in comparison to Making a Murderer is they are all fictional. When I first got involved with voicing my thoughts and opinions about MaM, I did so with the intention of being fair to all parties - even the ones that are unpopular. Why? Because as much as they are on our screens and viewed as such, they are NOT characters. They are real people. Real people with real things to lose.
I very quickly found like-minded Making a Murderer fans. By like-minded I mean, people who were kept awake at night by the injustice. People who had very few people to discuss the documentary with. People who felt helpless. And on the lighter side, people who eased some of those feelings by sharing memes, giggling over things like the Simpsons parody, and having a joke about the now infamous love the world has for Jerry Buting and Dean Strang.
When I started writing about MaM, the last thing I expected was to make friends. I've made friends through other fandoms, but it genuinely never crossed my mind that I would make more because of Making a Murderer. Much of it happened after my last blog post - the very tongue-in-cheek post about Jerry Buting's Twitter. Imagine the shock when the man himself tweeted that he thought the post and following conversation was funny!
But here's the thing. Whilst we were having a bit of fun, and no doubt will continue to do so, real friendships began to form. And that's amazing to me.
Following on from that though, as much as we enjoy the JButes banter, we're all united in the fact that we want to do something that will help. We want to ask questions. We want to learn about all the ways things went wrong for Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey. You could be forgiven for thinking that just because I focus on the lighter areas when I can, that I don't take this seriously. That I'm not smart. But I do. And I am (well...relatively :p).
And then comes the making a difference part. Not just amongst the real friends I've made, but amongst those I've encountered and had short discussions with, people ARE trying to make a difference. Megan McGuinness and Megan Leigh Prather (apologies if I missed someone!) were involved in a protest outside the Manitowoc County Court House, and a protest is now also being planned in London. People are selling merchandise to raise money for the Innocence Project. People are selling merchandise to help the Avery/Dassey families. People are eager to study law, or they are looking other injustices that have happened. Garrett M. Scott has become an advocate for Valentino Dixon, yet another wrongly accused man sitting in prison for a crime he didn't commit(watch that video - it'll blow your mind).
My point is, when something like MaM comes along, it DOES bring people together and however slowly, it WILL make a difference. And I guess that was the point of the documentary in the first place.