Terry Dresbach

Outlander Costume Designer

Reply To: On the Objectification of Sam, et al. PART II (added per the request of Terry)

Home Outlander Costuming Discussion Forums General Outlander Discussion On the Objectification of Sam, et al. PART II (added per the request of Terry) Reply To: On the Objectification of Sam, et al. PART II (added per the request of Terry)


As far as I can tell, we’re discussing two different things here in terms of Sam Heughan.

1. The Objectification of Sam Heughan
There are two subcategories here:
a) The marketing of Sam as the sex object of the TV show, via Starz Marketing who has released few, if any images of Tobias Menzies or Caitriona Balfe in the same manner
b) How the TV show itself has invited the viewer to objectify Sam Heughan the actor (as opposed to the character of Jamie) with the lingering shots of his naked torso, his buttocks, etc.

2. The Harassment of Sam Heughan
Has the selling of Sam Heughan as the sexy male lead of the TV show, with so many revealing photos and scenes and cheeky interviews, created this online deluge of inappropriate behavior by some fans? Has social media contributed to this and made the harassment worse? Has Diana Gabaldon?

And here’s where I’m going to get slapped on this board. Objectification is defined as treating a person as an object rather than a person. I would argue that we’ve been invited many times to objectify Sam Heughan, to gaze, to ogle, to enjoy his physicality. Within the context of the TV show, I’m fine with this. Because it’s happening within the TV show, and the objectification comes with an appreciation of Sam’s talents in bringing the character of Jamie to life, along with the talents of the directors and writers and costume designers and the production team. They’ve worked to create a piece of art to be admired and Sam Heughan and the other actors are a part of this piece of art.

Now for the Harassment of Sam Heughan. This is not okay. We were invited to look and admire, we were not invited to touch, to even attempt to touch, or to directly speak with this man. We can say that social media brings us closer to the actors than ever before but that doesn’t mean we are entitled to know them off-screen as we would our friends and lovers in real life. For all that’s been said on here about Diana’s comments and how they impacted the fan reaction to Sam, she’s also said many more loving and supportive things about him, his craft and his work as an actor, and I find it odd that people are hanging onto one thing she said and accusing her of starting a firestorm.

I find it silly to say that you must separate the character from the actor, but it seems a few bad apples have a hard time understanding what the separation really is. Yes, I objectified Sam on my TV screen. No, I don’t think that because he was naked on my TV screen I am allowed to send him direct messages and participate in sharing of doctored photos of him. I don’t think that because he entertains me and that I’ve paid good money for a cable subscription that he must interact with me.

I know most of you, if not all, share this feeling regarding the harassment of Sam Heughan, and I’m attempting to break down within the context of this particular actor and this show why it’s gotten out of hand, to the point where the marketing makes me downright uncomfortable. I personally feel this show is about more than sex. Within the 8 hours we’ve seen, there’s been very little actual sex (well, we’ve seen zero actual sex, as this isn’t porn). There’s been sexual tension and build-up, but mostly there’s been an amazing story. Does Starz have so little faith in this show that they feel they can’t market it otherwise?

Sorry if this disjointed, it’s a lot of thoughts to sort out, and I’m hoping you smart people can help sort it out.