The much anticipated DC movie Justice League was released in Malaysia last week. As fans flocked to the cinemas to catch the action, TGV Cinemas posted a trio of photos of cosplayers who had dressed up for the occasion.
In the midst of the shared enjoyment of the movie experience, a slew of comments popped up on that post and the individual photos. Many were positive, but there were a few pointing out that the cosplayers didn’t fit with their mental images of how the characters should look.
Netizens were quick to point out that these comments were a form of body shaming, which is defined as “the action or practice of humiliating someone by making mocking or critical comments about their body shape or size”.
Noticing that the thread was getting heated, TGV Cinemas posted a comment.
However, the discussion eventually led TGV Cinemas to post an update, which they pinned to their wall, as of the time of writing.
It’s quite a long reply, but we’ve picked out what made this response a thoughtful and timely one as more people become aware of what constitutes appropriate dialogue online.
1. Acknowledging that there is a problem, and apologising.
With regards to our photos of costumers at our recent event, we would like to reach out and apologise to those who have been deeply affected by the hurtful body-shaming comments, this was never our intent. We understand that the damage has been done. However, rest assured we are doing everything we can to rectify this injustice.
This important first step is often neglected as businesses often try to turn a blind eye. Of course, in this era of social media connectivity and outrage, many businesses do find that the “ignore it until it goes away” strategy often does more harm than help.
TGV didn’t take that bait. The comments aren’t directly leveled towards the TGV brand, so it would have been easy for them to ignore it. Instead, they called it out as a problem, and took pains to apologise the the cosplayers who came to their event.
2. Make sure to address both sides of the problem.
To those with highly contrasting opinions, we would also like to apologise for the fact that we were unable to get the actual actors and actresses of the characters to show up and display their “film accurate” costumes. We hope you understand how impossible this can be as they are often quite busy with their own schedules and personal lives to appear at our cinema for such events
We can’t be sure if TGV is throwing a little bit of shade here, but even so, their tone was very respectful. And, it still addresses the issues that some of the commenters had with the “appearance” of the cosplayers.
By making this comment, they are also taking up a certain level of “responsibility” for their “failures” to the other side. The comment might even win them some tongue-in-cheek points with their fans, too.
3. Once the problem is addressed, highlight the positives.
We would like to give a round of applause for those who came and supported your fellow costumers, thank you for being an amazing bunch! Your words of encouragement, positive attitudes of acceptance and openness will never go unnoticed.
It doesn’t always happen, but sometimes in bad situations, real heroes step out, and these should always be taken note of. It might even help you in the long run, if these heroes remain on your page to call out any other bad behaviour that might arise.
Furthermore, it is even a good way to create higher engagement levels with their social media page from appreciative followers, and positive ones at that. That’s always a plus.
4. Explain what has been done to rectify the situation.
We understand that whatever is posted on the Internet will always receive two types of criticism, however we would strongly recommend against the negative category as it does not promote a healthy community. We are strong believers in acceptance, therefore we urge that you think extremely carefully before you comment something negative. You will be banned until further notice.
No one likes an empty apology. We need to know that sustainable and practical measures have been taken to prevent any similar incidents from happening again. This shows good faith to their fans, that their apology comes with actions too.
By clamping down in such a strict way, they’re making sure everyone knows how seriously they take this issue, which helps them cultivate a more positive culture on their Facebook page too.
5. Reiterate the company’s core values and stance.
We want to remind everyone that our efforts have been focused on building a community that shares a strong passion and love for movies; from the average moviegoer to the die-hard fans who come and dress up as their favourite characters for such events. We want to deliver nothing but the best for you and your experience at our cinemas.
Once all the previous steps have been done, this is where businesses can bring in what is important to them. This leaves readers not only with a better taste in their mouths, but also can help the company’s branding and reputation.
If a user didn’t previously associate these values with the company before, they will now. Especially since it’s clear that they actually act on their values.
I do think TGV Cinema took the right steps to address the issue that came up on its page.
Other businesses in Malaysia would do well to take this example of how to manage a social media account and keep the narrative true to the company’s values.
The language in which they wrote out their response comes across as very human and friendly, while still keeping things professional. Facebook users always appreciate official company responses that take a step above just canned, copy-pasted apologies. This genuine note in their response goes a long way into making customers believe in their sincerity.
Meanwhile, amidst all the debate about the costumes and cosplayers, we feel that the real question was lost in the fray. And we’re sure many of you agree.
Feature Image Credit: Compiled from TGV Cinemas