Fandom and entitlement


  • Admin

    Any thoughts on this interview? I think it can spark a debate on a nerdy forum like ours.

    https://slate.com/culture/2019/05/game-of-thrones-finale-backlash-battlestar-galactica-showrunner-interview.html



  • I try to keep that out of my writers’ offices as much as possible—don’t start a pitch or a conversation in the story room by saying, “I was reading this fan reaction on Twitter where the fans don’t like this, or the fans do like that.” Again, it’s not a democracy. I don’t give a shit. Like, what do we think is the best? We’re being paid to use our creative instincts and our creative ideas. We’re not being paid to do a survey and try to marry our material to what we think the Twitterverse is interested in.

    He's right.

    I'm only now well and truly working on a novel. I've had fits and starts. I've had two I've finished and shelved (well, one is shelved-ish as it's the backstory for a world and thus it's a novel for me). Part of why it has taken so long is that having been in MUs as long as I have, I've been very, very close to the 'fan culture.' There is a reason I do not play on games where 'canon characters' are allowed play anymore (comic games are different: comic characters get rebooted and reimagined so many times over that they are their own beasts IMO and I am setting them aside for the purposes of this discussion).

    I hate fan fiction.

    There, I said it.

    For years I have looked at things I have written and been working on and had this utter terror of 'how much would it crush and destroy me if I had some sniveling asshole come up to me and say 'I think that these two characters who you wrote as hating one another are secretly in love and I wrote five fanfics about their affair''

    It has taken me years to overcome that discomfort. And I think some showrunners, some authors (I believe some of Rowling's, ah, behavior on Twitter can be attributed to this same breed of anxiety) never quite get past it. Your creation is your brain child. It is yours. I personally did not like the direction that GoT-the-Show went at all starting around season 2. I stopped watching. The books are 'my fandom' as it were. However, I respect what the showrunners did. They were given the Extreme Cliffnotes by GRRM and had to work within it. THAT IS HARD SHIT. GRRM has it all in his mind, he has every nitty-gritty detail and on top of that in the books you get a first-person view and you know every single motivation for these characters as a result. You know their personalities, their motivations, their...

    The anger and frustration that people have and have had at TV shows is both upsetting (to creators) and flattering and I think Moore understands it well and I think he has a very healthy approach to it.

    It's flattering because it shows just how deeply your work has touched people. It's upsetting because my fucking god people can be so entitled. They think they are owed, they think things like 'THIS ENTIRE SEASON NEEDS TO BE COMPLETELY REDONE TO OUR WHIMS AND WHIMSY' (most examples of a creator providing to a fan's 'desire' has backfired terribly because you cannot please everyone).

    Moore is right: this is not a democracy.

    You will enjoy it or you won't.

    I, for one, realized I was not enjoying GoT-the-Show so I stepped away. I've never minded when people want to talk to me about it because they clearly enjoy it. But in the end, I do still respect the showrunners and writers. They put a lot of work and effort into something that clearly meant a lot to them and was clearly very impactful for them. You need only view behind-the-scenes clips to see that so much of themselves went into it. They didn't approach it flippantly or without respect.

    I think, as a whole, 'fandom culture' needs to take a big ol' chill pill and respect the creators more and respect the work they are putting into what they are giving us.


  • Pitcrew

    I have many and varied Thoughts about this, and was actually just discussing it with some friends.

    Moore is certainly right about many things. Art is not a democracy. It is dumb and stupid to expect anyone to remake the last season of Game of Thrones just because you hated it. Artists are there to serve the story and the characters. It is impossible to make something that will please all the fans, and that shouldn't be the goal.

    THAT SAID. I do think that shows set themselves up and establish expectations. They tell the viewers what kind of show they are. Battlestar Galactica and LOST are two pretty infamous examples of shows that built their popularity in large part on the idea of intricate mystery. This was baked into their DNA. It was set up purposefully by the writers to get people invested in what was going to happen. For the people who hated their finale episodes, part of the reason for the reaction was the feeling that they had been asked to invest in the show based on a certain premise, and then that premise seemed to be largely set aside for the ending. The writers decided, in the end, that most of these mysteries didn't matter. They weren't the important core of the show. Which is, obviously, their right! But I don't care for the sense of "it was silly of you to invest so much into the answers of these mysteries that we built as the centerpiece of the series." If you want to leave your plot pieces open for flexibility, which I understand, it is probably better to not do that in a show that is built on mystery and mystique. Like, if that is your style of writing, it is just...probably a bad fit for those particular pieces.

    But if you're unhappy with a piece of art, you can write out your feelings on the internet, you can write fanfiction (which I think is a hugely awesome thing as a part of transformative fandom and can be an incredibly healthy and creative way for fans to show appreciation), and you can -- you know, say you hated it. You can even take it apart for a think piece! No, you can't reasonably demand anyone to remake it. You definitely can't send anything that even smells of being abusive to the creators. You react to the art, and then you move on.

    I am not super impressed with some of the sentiment I get from Moore. But I think the overall answer is somewhere in the middle.


  • Admin

    @Roz said in Fandom and entitlement:

    But I don't care for the sense of "it was silly of you to invest so much into the answers of these mysteries that we built as the centerpiece of the series." If you want to leave your plot pieces open for flexibility, which I understand, it is probably better to not do that in a show that is built on mystery and mystique. Like, if that is your style of writing, it is just...probably a bad fit for those particular pieces.

    I agree. Imagine if Agatha Christie wrote a mystery novel at the end of which the murderer isn't revealed, and her explanation was "it's not really about the whodunnit but the friends Hercule Poirot made along the way". Would that have played well even in a pre-internet era? Because I doubt it.

    Artists need to occasionally break the rules and bail themselves out of their own genre's rotes, that's absolutely part of the game... but the rules are there for a reason and breaking them shouldn't be its own justification. There still needs to be a payoff, which a "let's look back X years and see how many cool moments we had" outlook really is not. Dangling plotlines, subplots are a weakness, not a strength.

    Which isn't to say everything should be explained because that, too, is stupid. Some of the complaints I read about Game of Thrones' ending (for example) were utterly idiotic; some people wanted an explanation of why seasons are so long. What? Or how Valyrian steel is made. Why would that be required for the show - or books - to be complete?



  • @Roz said in Fandom and entitlement:

    But I think the overall answer is somewhere in the middle.

    That's how I feel.

    Battlestar and Falling Skies are two Moore-involved productions where they (according to interviews and such) basically admit they made big shifts in the show's direction without respecting the foundation that had been laid out previously. While that's certainly their right as artists, it's pretty universally recognized as poor storytelling across the industry. Dismissing the criticism as "oh the fans are just being rabid" is a cop-out.

    On the flip side, the fans often are rabid and disrespectful to both the creators and to each other. If somebody likes something that you don't (or vice-versa), it's like they're the enemy in some bitter pop culture war of Everything Wrong With Media. It's pretty disheartening at times, honestly.


  • Pitcrew

    It's kind of a case of an asshole having a good point. I loathe Moore's fascist apologia opus, in the form of the Battlestar Galactica reboot. But he is right that if you write 'for the fans', you get drivel.


  • Pitcrew

    @Arkandel said in Fandom and entitlement:

    Which isn't to say everything should be explained because that, too, is stupid. Some of the complaints I read about Game of Thrones' ending (for example) were utterly idiotic; some people wanted an explanation of why seasons are so long. What? Or how Valyrian steel is made. Why would that be required for the show - or books - to be complete?

    Oh yeah, agreed. The sense of "EVERY single question must be answered or it's TERRIBLE" is not really feasible. Or the makings of interesting story.



  • @faraday said in Fandom and entitlement:

    If somebody likes something that you don't (or vice-versa)

    This is a thing that drives me mad.

    I have had people literally end friendships with me because I won't like something they do.

    Part of why I got rid of my Facebook is I was tired of being bullied for enjoying sports. Which, can I just take a moment to say that I love that we're some super hella nerdy folks around here and I like the fact that we have threads dedicated to sports? It's actually a large part of why I stick around MSB. For all the vitriol we can have sometimes, it's one of the few spaces I've found where I can nerd out but also discuss sportsball.


  • Admin

    @faraday said in Fandom and entitlement:

    On the flip side, the fans often are rabid and disrespectful to both the creators and to each other. If somebody likes something that you don't (or vice-versa), it's like they're the enemy in some bitter pop culture war of Everything Wrong With Media. It's pretty disheartening at times, honestly.

    You know what's really bizarre? Some shows are just immune to criticism and I can't tell why. For example I was watching Breaking Bad in 'real time' and there was so little backlash about even the most daring twists the writing team took while new episodes were coming out. Hell, Ozymandias - the penultimate episode - was considered amazing at the time it aired.

    Perhaps the answer is "well, some writers are better" or maybe their material is just easier to write for. I can't tell. But for most creative teams around popular productions I can't imagine being online because there are fans out there who will trash them completely, and very personally, pretty much no matter what choices they make for their characters or plot. Because what do you tell the guy who literally tattooed the show's lines on his body, named his firstborn after a character and basically lives for your show when you have to do something he doesn't approve of?



  • @Auspice said in Fandom and entitlement:

    Part of why I got rid of my Facebook is I was tired of being bullied for enjoying sports.

    Not to derail, but who the fuck bullied you for enjoying sports? As far as I know, if you're into dudes, have breasts, and like sports, you're a fucking unicorn that every man would want to saddle up and take for a ride.

    As for fandom, I'm of the opinion of fuck fans you don't owe them shit. Fans may give you a base from which to vault your creative IP into fame, but that's not why Game of Thrones did well whereas The Shannara Chronicles did not.


  • Admin



  • @Ganymede said in Fandom and entitlement:

    Not to derail, but who the fuck bullied you for enjoying sports? As far as I know, if you're into dudes, have breasts, and like sports, you're a fucking unicorn that every man would want to saddle up and take for a ride.

    There are plenty of people who hate sports to such an extreme (particularly football) that every winter they will take to Facebook every Sunday to whine and bemoan its mere existence while trying to threaten anyone who dares sully their 'walls' with talk of it.

    When I asked one friend about it, his reasoning was: 'Well when I was in school, the jocks bullied me so now it's my turn'

    ...I was really not happy about that and promptly did not speak to him for quite a while.


  • Admin

    @Auspice said in Fandom and entitlement:

    When I asked one friend about it, his reasoning was: 'Well when I was in school, the jocks bullied me so now it's my turn'

    I mean obviously your friend was being an asshole. But also some people are very weird about stuff others like; I have folks on Facebook who take a weird kind of pride in the fact they don't watch Game of Thrones, or don't care about basketball.

    Like... if I made a list of all the things I don't like but others do it'd be as long as it is irrelevant. And, hell, shouldn't I want to like more things in life?



  • @Arkandel said in Fandom and entitlement:

    But also some people are very weird about stuff others like; I have folks on Facebook who take a weird kind of pride in the fact they don't watch Game of Thrones, or don't care about basketball.

    We have a word for people who hate things that others enjoy, but which they don't understand: evangelist Christians.



  • @Auspice What you're describing is one of the reasons that, even if I'm not writing (or planning to) or creating anything of this kind, I avoid getting into fandoms, and prefer to quietly enjoy a thing with a few RL friends, my husband, or my folks, or chat about it in a general 'all the things' topic here.

    I'm not even someone who may be directly affected, and this behavior makes me really uncomfortable to watch.

    If I was ever going to write/create anything, it was going to be a game. It was something designed for other people to tell their stories in it, and provide a framework for doing precisely that. I am so down with that; I think that's great, I'm in full support of people running with properties created for this purpose, or with collaborative creative writing and world-building projects like SCP/etc.

    I am hoping the fact that 'people want to create once they see a cool reference to do it with' evolves into more of the latter -- intentionally shared worlds of one kind or another -- over time. I am glad they're catching on.

    I'm still dismayed by the level of ownership others take over work not designed for this purpose, and the way some folks behave when things don't go the way they hoped.



  • @Arkandel said in Fandom and entitlement:

    Perhaps the answer is "well, some writers are better" or maybe their material is just easier to write for. I can't tell. But for most creative teams around popular productions I can't imagine being online because there are fans out there who will trash them completely, and very personally, pretty much no matter what choices they make for their characters or plot. Because what do you tell the guy who literally tattooed the show's lines on his body, named his firstborn after a character and basically lives for your show when you have to do something he doesn't approve of?

    There were two advantages that Breaking Bad had that many shows do not have.

    1. It was properly planned from the very start with a clear overarching story-arc that was never milked for more seasons. You can compare this to House of Cards where it's obvious that Seasons 3-6 were in no way planned ahead of time.
    2. Breaking Bad never had a complicated plot or unsolved mysteries for fans to get angry about. It was always just a rollercoaster ride of one mans crazy journey of self-destruction and the writers just had to deliver on that.


  • 'Breaking Bad' was also more character-based than plot-based. It didn't really matter how Walter White decayed morally, just that he did decay morally and became more of a gangster/druglord than suburban high school teacher. It was all about what happened to that one guy and the supporting cast around him, there wasn't an over-arching mystery to solve or questions to answer (up until the last season introduced some flash-forwards that I don't think totally worked, but the ride was so good nobody cares about minor missteps). I'm really digging 'Better Call Saul' for the character journey and similar moral deconstruction of its protagonist, even if it doesn't have the ZOMG action most of the time that BB did.

    Reading that Slate article, I think Moore's perspective of 'haters gonna hate' is more or less the sane approach, though I would've been more interested in what he thought worked/didn't work about the finale and final season of BSG overall now that there's more distance from it. As a viewer, I was generally fine with the finale of Game of Thrones, and BSG, and even Lost, but had larger, holistic problems with the final seasons and how they got there. It would be interesting to see the writers break down the challenges of landing a plane like those shows and what didn't work.

    Mostly what I thought while reading that article is that I'm super interested in what Damon Lindelof is going to do with 'Watchmen,' because I think he's internalized the reaction to Lost in kind of interesting ways and (based on what he did on 'The Leftovers,' which I really dug in its second and third seasons and also dwelled on the idea of 'searching for answers to unanswerable questions will tear you apart' in occasionally pretty meta ways) become a better writer out of it. Which I guess suggests what Benioff & Weiss do next, with their Star Wars stuff or whatever, might be pretty good, even if my expectations after the last couple GoT seasons are kinda low.



  • Didn't one of the show runners say they had Arya kill the night king specifically because nobody had called that, and they just wanted to surprise people? Like, if that's how you write your stories, you should totally brace for impact and not complain.


  • Pitcrew

    Oh they don't care?

    I guess I'll stop hating on it then...

    🙄


  • Pitcrew

    Does anyone else get flashbacks to The Producers? "YOU ARE THE AUDIENCE! I OUTRANK YOU!"

    I'm not saying that fans aren't terrible, but, y'know, the finales of GoT and BSG had problems and trying to dismiss dissatisfaction with those problems as fan entitlement is almost as arrogant and entitled as the guy who got the "REMAKE SEASON 8" skywriting.

    BSG had written itself into the corner because, while the Cylons might have had a plan, the writers clearly didn't; they'd spent years introducing Portentous Elements without the faintest clue as to what they were portents of, and dear Lord were the seams showing by the end. GoT had almost the opposite problem, where the last season was desperately ticking boxes at an increasingly breakneck pace to reach the predetermined conclusion at the expense of the characters, messiness, and ambiguity that made the show a success in the first place. Both of the shows suffered, badly, from writers getting excited by "nobody would expect this!" without wondering if the reason nobody would expect it is because it is a terrible idea.

    And yeah, people complain about the media we consume. We care about the media we consume. I get how awful it must be to have people coming out of the woodwork to shit on your creative work--I really do. But unless we want to be Kafka, dying with a stack of unpublished works and instructions for our executor to burn them sight unseen, the point is to be consumed and to get a reaction. And yeah, sometimes that reaction, en masse, is going to be "that was horseshit."


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