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Author Topic: Ghostbusters, Frozen, and the strange entitlement of fan culture  (Read 1082 times)

Tova

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A thoughtful article about fan culture. This touches on topics that have appeared in more than one place on these forums, but I settled on posting it here.

http://www.avclub.com/article/ghostbusters-frozen-and-strange-entitlement-fan-cu-237139

Here is my favourite quote:

Fans don’t need to get what they want, and much of the time, they probably shouldn’t. Sometimes, they will; it’s unrealistic to expect that every piece of art or pop culture with any kind of dedicated following can find a way to satisfyingly sidestep or subvert the expectations of every person in that following. But the more often that can happen—the more often movies can assert themselves as creative works made by directors and writers and editors and actors and cinematographers, not in service of fans—the better.

In the Star Wars thread, I have a couple of times expressed a hope that the most frequently expressed predictions and wishes about what will happen next turn out to be off the mark. It makes me happy to read an article that expresses my feelings on the topic so well.
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BenRG

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It's not as simple as that, of course. Producers, especially when working with a property with an existing fan base, have to be very careful to appease said fan base. Most of the predicted revenue from the piece will come from said fan-base and, if they're not happy, revenue could go way down. You could double-down and hope that positive word-of-mouth will create a new and unique fan-base for this latest work but that's always a gamble.
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Tova

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Yes, of course, the aim is to please the existing fans (and hopefully attract new ones). But that does not equate to simply giving them exactly what they ask for. The creator must be more creative than that - and surely must be, seeing as they've attracted that fan base to begin with.

The best way for the artist to continue to appeal to their fans is to carry on doing exactly what they did to appeal to those fans in the first place. Simple fan service does not great art make. If they start doing something different, even if that's doing what fans ask for, they will lose the spark that gave them their popularity. They must stay true to themselves.

In the words of Henry Ford: "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses."

Creating new art is always a gamble. That's art.
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As an art creator myself, I think listening to your fans can be death for many artists, not that I have any fans. It isn't always though.

The truly pathetic relationship Metallica had with its fans throughout the 90s until they just backslid into making a rehash of their old albums on Death Magnetic depresses me.

Anyway the reason I say this is because when I write, I don't really feel like I am choosing what happens with it, I feel like it just sort of... occurs based on what naturally should happen.
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An important detail is the fact that you cant please all of your fans. Unless your fan base is an extremely small group of like minded individuals, you are going to run into differences of opinion which will make it impossible to cater to everyone. And the larger a fan base is, the more fractured they are going to be over details. Let us consider one small recent example in a popular movie, The Force Awakens. Specifically Poe and Finn. Broadly speaking fans of the movie and Star Wars in general like these characters. Yet there is a big schism in that group over whether there should be a romantic sub-plot between the two. There is quite literally no way to make both sides of this divide in the fan base happy. Including doing nothing and just trying to drop hints that maybe, maybe not there is something there and having neither of them have a real romantic plot line. That would only mildly irritate both group because no definitive answer was given.

Even if they dropped hints throughout the next two movies and then gave a definitive answer in interviews afterwards people would still be upset. Look at the Korra/Asami relationship from Legend of Korra. There were plenty of strong hints the two were growing closer together through the third and fourth seasons, and to many people's minds the finale left no doubt about it many other people said no, it didn't mean anything. Even when the creators after then end said clearly 'Yes, they have been falling in love and started dating at this moment' people still resisted and refused to believe, because it didn't match what they wanted.

So the short answer is that you can't please all of the people all of the time. You can stick to your vision and hope enough people appreciate what you wanted to make. You can try to focus group your way through a piece of art, but then it tends to come out bland and lifeless. Most creators try to find a happy medium between the two, weighted somewhat heavier towards vision. While a lot of big producers would rather go the safe route most of the time. Whatever will make them the most money.
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As an artist, I find the idea of fans attempting to dictate how I create to be irritating at best. As a fan, I can understand the impulse. Personally, I would never demand a writer, filmmaker, or show runner cave to my demands. As a queer WOC I've made polite requests and suggestions to the media in general in relation to more diversity and positive representation, but that's it. In the end, a real creator has to follow thier vision. They can listen to feedback and decide if it warrants making adjustments to better communicate the ideas they are attempting to convey, but ultimately the art is theirs and they should do as thier creative impulse demands.
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Tova

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Great article. I remember reading that King novel, not quite appreciating just how close to reality it was.

And on the subject of death threats from feral fans. This article is recent as well.

I Got Death Threats For Reporting On A Video Game Delay

What in the actual fuck is going on in these people's heads?
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The internet provides a sense of perceived anonymity. More importantly, it breaks down our sense of empathy. It's easier to ignore another person's essential humanity when you only ever experience them as words on a screen. Plus, people are pretty much bastards anyway, the internet just makes it easier to be so without consequences.
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Being 'anonymous' emboldens the worst of us. There are plenty in the world who are only as polite as they are to people's faces for fear of what could happen to them if they said what they wanted to say. Which is just a fancy way of saying they don't wanna get punched in the face. None of this is new. People talk behind other people's backs all the time. The internet just adds several layers of insulation, and lets the truly sociopath types get lots of attention when they feel death threats are an appropriate reaction to something.
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The dehumanizing impact of experiencing people at a technological remove has often times been demonstrated by the shock and remorse shown when those who perpetrate some of the more heinous online behavior are confronted in real space by the people they victimized. They often really didn't realize their words had an impact. The internet makes it so easy to just throw words out there without thought and just walk away without ever seeing the results.
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Even when the creators after then end said clearly 'Yes, they have been falling in love and started dating at this moment' people still resisted and refused to believe, because it didn't match what they wanted
I haven't seen that show, but it's not always dismissing creators' words because you disagree, you can agree with their interpretation and still think anything outside of the work itself isn't canon.
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Even when the creators after then end said clearly 'Yes, they have been falling in love and started dating at this moment' people still resisted and refused to believe, because it didn't match what they wanted
I haven't seen that show, but it's not always dismissing creators' words because you disagree, you can agree with their interpretation and still think anything outside of the work itself isn't canon.

In this case, the creators stated after the show closed that Korra and Asami dating was canon. All the subtext that people were 'imagining' up to that point was deliberately put in to show their feelings for each other. It's just that, as a cartoon on Nick (technically on the Nick web site at the time but still), they could not show expressly more than them holding hands at the end.
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the creators stated after the show closed that Korra and Asami dating was canon
I get why they couldn't show it directly on Nickelodeon, and I'm sure it makes sense as an interpretation considering that, but that doesn't undo what I said before. The creators may have said it, but that's still outside the work.
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Tova

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Even when the creators after then end said clearly 'Yes, they have been falling in love and started dating at this moment' people still resisted and refused to believe, because it didn't match what they wanted
I haven't seen that show, but it's not always dismissing creators' words because you disagree, you can agree with their interpretation and still think anything outside of the work itself isn't canon.

I'm not sure I understand what you're saying.

You can agree with their interpretation but refuse to believe their interpretation? Aren't you contradicting yourself?

Unless you believe that absolutely anything outside the canon must not have happened, which is patently untrue. There's an entire world of stuff not described by the canon, we just can't say for certain whether it is true. There's nothing stopping you from believing it (as pointed out by Mark Hamill recently, as I'm sure you're aware).
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I'm saying I can agree with their interpretation, but that it's only an interpretation. If it's outside the work, it's not canon, but it can still be a reasonable interpretation of the work. My point is that the author saying something isn't inherently more valuable than my own interpretation of the work, or anyone else's.

Anyway, death of the author/word of god has been discussed to death elsewhere, I shouldn't have brought it up here.
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I don't actually think death of the author is relevant. What if some random fan had said those words. Can you agree with the interpretation and dismiss it at the same time?
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Neko_Ali

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The point I am making is that Korra and Asami falling in love is not outside the work. It was a subtle sub-plot that had been running through the last two seasons. It is absolutely canon, there is no avoiding that. It's not an interpretation. People just don't want to accept it for a variety of reasons, mostly 'ew, gay'. If they would have been allowed to show it, they would have been more obvious about it, but the network funding them telling them no.

This isn't a case of JK Rowling bringing up that Dumbledore was gay years after the final book. This was people asking the creators "Hey, did the final scene mean those two are dating now" and them going "Yes, that's exactly what it means". So by even your own definition, It is canon. It happened in the work itself. It is not an 'interpretation', it is what the writers and creators were saying in the episode. They were just forbidden from having them say 'I love you".
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BenRG

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The point I am making is that Korra and Asami falling in love is not outside the work. It was a subtle sub-plot that had been running through the last two seasons. It is absolutely canon, there is no avoiding that. It's not an interpretation. People just don't want to accept it for a variety of reasons, mostly 'ew, gay'.

Given the history of shipping in the Avatar fandom, I think it is more likely that the problem was: "NOOO! She can't be with Asami, she's meant to be with [$Preferred_Partner]!" :-P

Avatards take their shipping seriously. So seriously that drawn out on-line wars have been fought and entire subsections of the fandom have issued dire demands to the creators to 'clarify' and 'correct' broadcast episodes. Yes, you read that right: They actually stated that the creators misinterpreted their own characters' relationships, as written by them and that they needed to redo whole episodes so that the 'right' ship appeared instead.
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Yes, a lot of Makkora shippers were quite upset that they didn't get together in the end. Despite the fact that ship left dock, immediately caught fire and quickly sank in the first two seasons. They were probably about half the anti-Korrasami crowd and you know.. I can see that. As unreasonable as I saw that ship, people are reluctant to give up their vision. The other half being the anti-gay or at least the status quo crowd. That they couldn't be together because they were girls, or because it wasn't beat over the audience's heads it must be overthinking.
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Fanshipping has been around for years, Canon or not.

Trailing right back to the Granddaddy of all Fanships, Kirk/Spock, right through to M/M, M/F or F/F (and even combinations of such) in whatever Story/TV Show/Movie/Comic etc you follow.  I don't think that that's ever going to change regardless of whether the Authors or Creators say this or that is Canon or not.
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Tova

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This is a bit of a sidetrack, but I just got reminded of one of my favourite films. Possibly one of yours also. :)

Grandson:  Y-you read that wrong. She doesn't marry Humperdinck, she marries Westley. I'm just sure of it. After all that Westley did for her, if she didn't marry him, it wouldn't be fair.
Grandfather:  Well, who says life is fair? Where is that written? Life isn't always fair.
Grandson:  I'm telling you, you're messing up the story, now get it right!
Grandfather:  Do you want me to go on with this?
Grandson:  Yes. Bows head.
Grandfather:  All right, then. No more interruptions.

People get a bit upset when their wishes aren't fulfilled by fiction, I guess.
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Fanshipping has been around for years, Canon or not.

Trailing right back to the Granddaddy of all Fanships, Kirk/Spock, right through to M/M, M/F or F/F (and even combinations of such) in whatever Story/TV Show/Movie/Comic etc you follow.  I don't think that that's ever going to change regardless of whether the Authors or Creators say this or that is Canon or not.

My pet theory is that a lot of the "alternate" stories of early Christianity that became essentially the Apocrypha make perfect sense when seen through the filter as fan fiction about the major story being spread throughout the region of Jesus and the Resurrection. Jesus hooking up with Mary Magdalene is the "first ship". And another fan-fiction trope of reforming the villain explains the stories of Judas as hero. And of course, just like modern days, the curators of the original story had a vested interest in burying and discrediting non-canon versions of the story.  :police:
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Akima

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Trailing right back to the Granddaddy of all Fanships, Kirk/Spock
Granddaddy? What about the Lois Lane/Lana Lang thing in Superman comics?

Personally, I rather wish that creators wouldn't go around after the fact telling people what their work really meant, especially when it is years after the work was released, since the work itself should do that. Taking Blade Runner as an example, was Ridley Scott's inserting/emphasising, in the director's cut, the idea that Deckard is a replicant, any different from George Lucas' "Greedo shot first" thing*, except for being less clumsily executed? Both essentially involved telling a large proportion of their audience that they were wrong and stupid.

*I declare my interests: Han shot first. Deckard is human. ;)
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Sometimes when fans clamour for the answer to a question left unanswered by a story, I wonder whether the fans understood the story at all.

Blade Runner is a classic example. Was Deckard a replicant? The ambiguity is the whole point. It's good to wonder about it, and even to have an opinion on it, but the story shouldn't answer it.

At least in the case of Ridley Scott's director's cut, the question is still not answered definitively (though I admit that it makes the 'human' interpretation a lot harder to justify). Interpretations of Deckard's thought process in those last moments are interesting to think about in themselves.

I don't even want to talk about the Lucas example. It just annoys me to no end. Even though I do see what the two examples have in common.
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Neko_Ali

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Was there any fanship between Lois Lane and Lana Lang? I thought it was pretty much just competition over Superman. If you wanted comics, there was certainly the whole Batman and Robin thing. Which was certainly supported by a bunch of scenes, even if the writers insisted they were innocent and there was nothing going on between them. Eventually they had to insert more female characters to split them apart and go 'See, they're not gay!"
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*I declare my interests: Han shot first.

*pedantic rant about that phrase *

I know what everyone means when they say that, but it still irks me that Han shooting first implies that Greedo ever got a shot off in the first place. He never pulled the trigger, Han (rightly) never gave him a chance to, since not even the worst shot in the bright centered Galaxy could possibly miss from that far away.
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Technically, the phrase is still correct. Just not in a numerical sense. At that point in the conversation, Han knew for sure that Greedo was planning on just killing him. So he shot first, before Greedo could go any further with the plan. It was a preemptive shot.
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True, we know that because most of us here have seen the original versions, but for the new people who have only seen the modified versions the phrase changes the conversation from "Why were the changes made in the first place?" to "Who was the faster gunman?" (because in the first "special edition" Greedo shoots way before Han, in the Blu-rays the scence was changed even more so Han and Greedo shoot almost at the same time)
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I know what everyone means when they say that, but it still irks me that Han shooting first implies that Greedo ever got a shot off in the first place.
I mainly wrote "Han shot first" because that is normal way the meme is quoted, but does it really imply an order in which more than one shot was fired? Is it not a fairly standard construction to write: "Han Solo knew Greedo was there to kill him, so he shot him first"?

Was there any fanship between Lois Lane and Lana Lang? I thought it was pretty much just competition over Superman.
Yes, and some fans shipped Lois with Superman, and others shipped Lana with Superman. At least, as I understand it. I'd be the first to admit that I hardly know anything about comics.
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I know what everyone means when they say that, but it still irks me that Han shooting first implies that Greedo ever got a shot off in the first place.
I mainly wrote "Han shot first" because that is normal way the meme is quoted, but does it really imply an order in which more than one shot was fired? Is it not a fairly standard construction to write: "Han Solo knew Greedo was there to kill him, so he shot him first"?

I was going to say much the same thing, but Akima said it first.  :-D
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You will find a subsegment of a fandom that ships any character with any character no matter of utterly bizarre or improbable. This is one of the reasons I try to avoid going out of my comfort zone when reading fan-fiction; some of those places are... disturbing. Remember Rule 36.
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My pet theory is that a lot of the "alternate" stories of early Christianity that became essentially the Apocrypha make perfect sense when seen through the filter as fan fiction about the major story being spread throughout the region of Jesus and the Resurrection. Jesus hooking up with Mary Magdalene is the "first ship". And another fan-fiction trope of reforming the villain explains the stories of Judas as hero. And of course, just like modern days, the curators of the original story had a vested interest in burying and discrediting non-canon versions of the story.  :police:

I remember reading somewhere that compared to what fragments we have that predate it, the standard version of the epic of Gilgamesh uses noticeably more intimate language to describe his relationship with Enkidu...

Yes, and some fans shipped Lois with Superman, and others shipped Lana with Superman. At least, as I understand it. I'd be the first to admit that I hardly know anything about comics.

The difference is, that's sort of canon, whereas Kirk/Spock (unless you ask Theodore Sturgeon) isn't.  What's more, I'm led to understand that "slash fic" was originally the ultraspecific subgenre concerned with the relationship between those two, the same way "fuku fic" meant Ranma joining the Sailor Scouts.
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Right, Superman's relationships with Lois and Lana were not in the realm of shipping. He was romantically involved in the comics with both of them. It was sadly a defining characteristic when they first were created, they were Supes' love interests. Sometimes ships to turn out to be accurate though. Or a relationship started in canon because of popular ships.
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Regarding Blade Runner, you could answer the Deckard question with "human in the theatrical, replicant in the director's cut"*. I don't see any contradiction there, because they are two different movies. Yes, they are mostly similar, and they have the same title, but that doesn't make them the same movie.

*Or you could still have different interpretations of either cut, that's not the point
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Well, I haven't seen the first one myself.  :-D

I don't personally see how the addition of that dream sequence would change one's interpretation. Maybe someone could enlighten me.

It's not the key thing anyway, from my perspective. The key thing is his journey from seeing replicants as being something other than human that can be destroyed without a second thought, to being people who are ethically at least his equal if not his superior. His contempation of whether he is a replicant (initially his apparent refusal to seriously consider it) is key to this journey. Whether he actually is or not is unimportant.
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The irony is, the book the film is based on had the exact opposite message.
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It's not the key thing anyway, from my perspective. The key thing is his journey from seeing replicants as being something other than human that can be destroyed without a second thought, to being people who are ethically at least his equal if not his superior.
Suppose you had a character whose job was to hunt down and kill runaway slaves in the antebellum south of the USA, and the story depicted his journey from seeing them as something other than human that could be destroyed without a second thought, to realising that they were just as human and worthy of life as he. Would it really make no difference to the story if he were white or black?

This isn't a wholly satisfactory comparison, because you don't need elaborate tests to detect a skin-colour, but I think it still illustrates the point. The realisation that people like you are just as human as you, and recognising that people who are not like you are as just human as you, are not equivalent moral judgements, in my opinion. The latter requires a greater stretch of emotional imagination, and that is why I think the moral core of the film is weakened if Deckard is not human, but Ridley Scott says I'm wrong.

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I don't personally see how the addition of that dream sequence would change one's interpretation. Maybe someone could enlighten me.
The canonical explanation is that the dream is ties into the little origami unicorns that Gaff makes and leaves around. The implication is that Gaff knows about the unicorn dream because it is part of memories implanted into Deckard in the same way that the memories of Tyrell's niece were implanted into Rachel.
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Tova

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Yes, I understand that canonical explanation.

But how anyone could fail to see that even without explicitly being shown the dream is beyond me.
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Method of Madness

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Ridley Scott says I'm wrong.
That doesn't mean you are.
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MR ARCHIVE-FU MADNESS
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Tova

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I read this comic and thought of this thread.

http://zenpencils.com/comic/bowie/
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