Outlander fans were quick to defend Sam Heughan when fan videos from this weekend's Wizard World convention started making the rounds. Heughan was on stage with a fan behind him, and she appeared to make a grab for his arse. The panel moderator was heard saying "no, no, no" as several people in the audience laughed.
One of the posted videos was captioned "this isn’t okay ???" and it was met with a lot of agreement, with fans calling the woman's actions inappropriate. However, that video has since been deleted in the wake of Sam Heughan speaking up.
The Outlander star was quick to step into the backlash to defend the fan, saying they were just messing around on stage. She never touched him. It was just a fun joke.
This all played out during Saturday’s Wizard World convention in New Orleans. As you can see in this fan's tweet, she never made contact on stage:
Sam Heughan also shared a shot of the angle to emphasize that it wasn't a big deal, he's fine, fans can stop bashing this woman to defend him:
That was enough for some Outlander fans, while others still found her grab gesture inappropriate and felt that if a man had done the same to a woman the reactions would be different.
So where is the line when it comes to a joke? Should actions be judged by how the person involved takes them or for their own merits? There's no one way to handle anything, and just because Sam Heughan took it as a light-hearted joke with his reply doesn't mean another person would be wrong to turn around and say "that's not OK." Heughan seems to have a good sense of humor about everything, including how Jamie is sexualized by fans.
But fans can and do cross the line sometimes, and even if this is not considered an instance, it's good to establish where that line is.
It's an interesting debate that's playing out across multiple contexts. It's always best practice to keep your hands to yourself, and unfortunately fans across the globe have been notoriously bad at observing stars' privacy. There's groping, there's stalking, there's just inappropriate behavior that often does not get called out because of the mutually beneficial fan-star balance.
In this case, she didn't actually touch Sam Heughan and, in the moment, it seemed to be interpreted by everyone has a harmless joke. I'm not surprised there's a debate about it, though, and I actually think it's good that it "blew up" because these are important things to talk about.
What a weird way to welcome Outlander Season 5, eh? It's been a long wait, but Sam Heughan's Jamie Fraser and Caitriona Balfe's Claire Randall are returning on February 16 on Starz. Here's more of what we know so far about the new season. Keep up with everything premiering in early 2020 with our handy TV schedule.