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Last night I was writing something totally unrelated to Outlander (pick your jaws up off the floor, my friends, it DOES happen), when I saw some worried tweets come through my feed that made me pause. Outlander fans were flailing all over themselves, and not in the good Jamie-Just-Came-Way. Nope, fans were confused, conflicted and downright combative over the newest bit of Outlander merch … Claire’s Wedding Ring.
Let me enlighten you, Rob.
In keeping with pretty normal and regular studio merchandising practices, Starz/Sony have added replica wedding rings to their online store. It’s made from sterling silver, so it won’t turn your right finger green like that hedgehog ring I bought from ModCloth last year did, but it will also set you back a pretty bawbie … $250 to be exact.
Personally, my first thoughts were: “I’d wear that, if they offered it in hobbit sizes.” (I wear a size 4.5 ring and it’s damn near impossible to fit my tiny fingers.) But I don’t think the fact that the replica ring doesn’t come in child size is what caused over 400 belligerent comments (to date when this was written) on the store website. Nope, that was something else altogether.
It was this tweet from an awesome person I follow (whose twitter handle I’m not showing because she’s locked and I don’t want the Wrath of Wronged Fans to come down on her) that tipped me off to the controversy brewing over this little bauble:
So OF COURSE I took a look. And I was not surprised. Outlander fans never disappoint with vehemence.
THIS TURD RIGHT HERE
But look! There were a couple of nice comments too!
But … that’s all I could find.
And the comments were, of course, not relegated to the Starz merch site. All over Facebook, Twitter and fan pages people were saying the same thing: “It’s too expensive for what it is,” and “The ring from the book is better anyway; this one looks like a dirty blacksmith made it from an old key in like, half an hour.” Or something.
DianaG even broke in with a short, but sweet “cease and desist” on her Facebook page:
Nothing To Do With It sounds like an Aretha Franklin song I want to sing at the next karaoke night.
But since Diana was so diplomatic, and didn’t go into much detail, let me do it instead. Time to break down those two objections, real quick.
I went shopping online last night for a hot minute, looking at solid sterling wedding bands from reputable sources (so, not your bunko partner’s Etsy shop), and they started at around $85. The thicker, more ornate, or more prestigious the seller, the higher the price, even up into the several thousands. So, with that in mind, $250 for a replica ring made from the same jeweler as the show, and sold on the show’s site, really doesn’t seem that much of a fleece.
Fans always pay a bigger premium for Licensed™ merch. Ever been to a concert? That band t-shirt may only have a silk-screened oak leaf on it, but you are going to pay 5 times more for it than the one you found at Forever 21.
Not to be glib, but … no shit. This isn’t the book. And they aren’t using the thistle ring in the show. They are using THIS one. And whether or not you agree with it, there are reasons for it.
1. They wanted Claire to have a ring at the ceremony, and not have to wait for the return to Leoch.
2. Giving her Jamie’s father’s ring, like in the book, was less visually appealing for the end of The Wedding episode.
3. To make up for this, they gave their ring a special significance: Jamie’s key to his home.
4. IDK for sure, but I bet Jamie will have it engraved later on.
5. Its rustic look is a beautiful contrast to the perfect gold circle of Frank’s ring.
6. You aren’t the boss of them.
I mean, I get it, Outlander fans. I think they could have worked the thistle ring in there. The blacksmith offered silver, didn’t he? Angus could have won a ring. Jamie could have had “a family ring” in his sporran. It could have worked. BUT they didn’t do that. Soooooo … this is the ring they are merchandising. I mean, you may not like it. But it is what it is.
Personally, I like this ring a lot better. I absolutely would wear something like this. The thistle ring? It’s not my bag. So you see? Different strokes for different folks. Your mileage may vary, and all that.
The thistle ring has been available to book fans for a long time. You guys that want one … can buy one. Right now. For like $50. I guess I don’t understand why you needed Starz to make you an OFFICIAL one … for the same price as the one you can ALREADY purchase elsewhere. You like thistle book ring. You can buy thistle book ring. You don’t like show ring. No one is making you buy show ring. What are you upset about?
Just this weekend, we were contemplating on Talking Outlander how great it would be if Starz would start merchandising replica items from the show. Jamie’s brooch, for instance. Because if I’m being honest, the rest of the merch in their store is pretty boring. I haven’t seen anything that I’ve wanted to own, until this ring. I hope they keep up making cool replicas of stuff from the show. Since they OBVIOUSLY watched our live recap show, made this ring and had it up on the store within 24 hours of our broadcast. OBVIOUSLY.
I don’t relish doing this, I really don’t. But a lot of the comments during this ordeal were optimistic that when Jamie and Claire (SPOILER ALERT, NON-BOOK FANS) return to Leoch, that he will ditch this imposter turd of a ring and go get her the correct canon thistle one. That isn’t going to happen. I did a little sleuthing, and in these behind the scenes pics of Caitriona in costume, she is still wearing the key-ring while filming late-season episodes.
I hear they will work the inscription into the story, so there’s something for you to grasp onto. And while it is a high and lofty ideal for those of you who really love and need that thistle ring to be fulfilled, when it comes to the show adhering to the minutiae of the books, I have something to tell you.
We’ve said it ad nauseum: Claire’s eyes are not light brown. Jamie’s hair is hobbit-esque. Her wedding dress was not yellow and brown or pre-worn. His kilt was not bright red. Dougal is not black-headed. And on and on.
LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS. Not of the series being great. It is. But of the NECESSITY that the show perfectly represent the page. I know you want to argue that these little things would make book readers happy and don’t have to be changed since all it seems to do is make them unhappy.
But think about things like: Black Brian being at Fort William. Jamie admitting that Murtagh loved his mother. Frank being a viable choice for Claire to return to. The things that they HAVE included that make the experience richer. Dwell on those.
And like I said yesterday, if you want to critique things, COME SIT BY US; we love that. Just know that if your complaint is BUT THE BOOK SAYS AND THE BOOK IS SCRIPTURE … we are going to laugh. Because that’s nonsense.
You do you. You were right to look at something cool and romantic from the show and say, “HEY, let’s make that available to fans. They’ll eat it up.” If I had $250 sitting around I would totes wear one. (Although I’m pretty sure blurtlander can make one out of some scraps he has in the shed). YOU didn’t design it or decide to throw the thistle ring down the privy. The showrunners did. So sorry your entire email inbox is now a bunch of angry trolling.
Starz Merch Dept, 9/22/14, Never Forget
Offer us some Claire Cowls*, and we’ll be cool again. Promise.
*or some Jamie-shaped sex toys that talk Gaelic to us
So … love it or hate it, the Key Ring is here to stay. Question is: Would you shank an Outlander Fan who dared to wear one to the next fan event?