Last summer, for a short time, a little after the premiere of Mad Men’s second season, Twittering under the guise of a fictional Sterling Cooper employee (or appliance) became the coolest thing one could possibly do. For days we were entertained by the fan-fictionalized exploits of @don_draper and @peggyolson — until the litigious suits at AMC crapped the party and had everyone’s account disabled. But eventually, sanity prevailed, Tweets were restored, and everyone forgot that any of this had even happened (though we still follow @Xerox914 religiously). But now, months later, one Mad Men Twitterer gives a definitive account of the explosive saga (in long form, for once).
Bud Caddell, the guy behind @Bud_Melman (authored from the perspective of a made-up mail-room employee) and WeAreSterlingCooper.com (which aggregates all the fake Mad Men Tweets), has posted an eleven-page essay (warning: PDF) in which he chronicles his adventures dealing with the long arm of AMC’s legal department. He makes a bunch of interesting points about marketing, new media, and fan fiction, but we particularly enjoyed this funny passage about the fighting and resentment between him and his fellow fake Twitterers on a private wiki:
We were still a crowd, and not a community. While we shared a common purpose, we suffered from a good deal of infighting. The wiki was littered with arguments between the two people twittering as Betty Draper, each one asserting that they were the true and original character or that they had a greater right to assume that character. My own participation in any group activity was questioned because I was not a character that had appeared on the show. Main characters (Don and Peggy) wielded a greater following, and with that, more power. Also, because multiple characters were being written by the same individual, there was a fair amount of accusations and paranoia that any agreement by characters in the wiki were merely fabricated by that one lone individual. Some were quite concerned that any attempt at creating story arcs between episodes could ultimately hurt their careers if they were to be outed; they saw our activities as an annoyance to AMC. One character in particular was consistently worried that someone would out everyone at any opportunity. Trust was indeed missing, and that was what inevitably doomed our collective participation at that time. In the world of fan fiction, none of these fights or concerns were novel. And if any of us had understood that better, we could have worked to overcome our lack of trust. I certainly take responsibility for not leading us better and it was apparent that I failed to build trust with the group.
Maybe it’s not as dramatic as an actual episode of Mad Men, but it’ll do for the off-season, we guess.