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Author Topic: Fandom & Outrage; the lethal backlash effect  (Read 1936 times)
ZeronHitaro
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« on: March 30, 2012, 10:37:04 AM »

Recent events have led me to mull over something potentially sinister on the horizon in the word of creative arts; and I wish to hear the community's opinion on it to see if this theory is me being overly pessimistic or unusually keen in the foresight department.

To the point: The disproportionate retribution 'fans' are inflicting about the mediums and artists that they 'care for' is escalating to the point where it will kill new works before they even begin.

The Mass Effect 3 Ending Fiasco

Fan Uproars before TNMT movie details are even released outside of one sentence.

Impatient and entitled fans chasing off Alvin (in addition to IRL factors) from his SMBZ Flash series and proceeding to spout bile and abhorrent remarks right to the artist's 'face'

There's no denying it; fandom, as an entity, is becoming a hateful creature that spits corrosive venom at anything displeasing before it's 'all encompassing majesty'. In the past it took years of consistent disappointment to produce reactions of this scale towards any one particular source; now it takes as little as 48 hours to amass more hate mail than any one individual should have to read in a lifetime. As a fledgling author in the process of attempting to turn my desire to write into a career I find myself having to admit a truth I never would of considered even last week- I don't think I want any 'fans', ever. I'll be quite happy to pass through history as a footnote so long as the bills are paid and my work is enjoyed. But the moment even a hint of spotlight comes my direction I'm going to be three shades of nervous wondering out of which patch of tall grass a snake is going to take a lunge from.

Now while this might not sound all that detrimental at first; let me put some context behind that remark. I am a very jaded individual when it comes to receiving hatred. In my Junior High years I made some extremely poor choices in how to react to my surroundings and circumstances; the 'reward' I reaped, and I exaggerate not, was earning the ire of nearly every adult and child in that small Kansas town. Quite literally to the point where it wouldn't be a typical day if some adult (yes, adult) didn't shout ill-wishes and a desire for my erased existence on the way home from school. As an end point; it takes a lot more than the typical individual for me to react negatively towards unfounded rage and disdain.

And yet even with that level of conditioning, as presenting my creative works does open a point of lesser invulnerability, the very thought of what fandom entails these days makes me feel unwanting of any such following.

With that in mind; I take this a step forward as the central point of my theory: What about your average writer, singer, game designer, ect? What about the people who've led normal, or even privileged lives and haven't grown the thicker skin I had to in order to adapt?

Presenting your works to the world at large when all you have to worry about is 'Will they like it or not?" is a nerve-wracking experience and one that already chases some people away at the bar of entry. Now imagine how much greater that problem is going to be with the way 'fandom' has mutated over the past decade alone. 'Fans' have proven themselves more than willing not only to throw hordes of deconstructive, misleading criticisms just because things aren't catered to their specific tastes; but they take their attacks beyond simply ripping someone's hard work to shreds (which can be traumatizing enough). These days it is a virtual guarantee that once you draw hatred from a 'fanbase' the attacks will become personal, sometimes even to stalkerish levels; and often unrelenting if the mob is whipped into a frothing enough frenzy.

Faced with the situation as it currently exists, and with the high possibility that 'fandom' as a whole is only going to entrench itself in it's behavior and become more radical and intense in its reaction is trends continue; is it not beyond the realm of possibility that the next 'great author' or 'great actor' (or 'great -anything-' will pick up the tools of their trade, look out into the sea of unforgiving masses waiting to devour them, and simply turn away without trying?

In summation: By creating an environment where the expected outcome of any submission into the creative fields will result in abusive attacks, completely out of line for the situation, against one's work and oneself; many creative potentials will simply 'stop' before they even begin. As I dub it, the 'lethal backlash'.

_______________________________

Final Note: This is more me getting my thoughts off my mind and wanting to see what other people think rather than trying to present the opinion above as any form of absolute outcome for the future; or even an 'educated' one by modern standards. If anything I'm hoping to be proven wrong. XP
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Yoda
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« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2012, 11:02:17 AM »

I personally think it's great that the fan is closer to the company now and direct feedback is received and taken in a variety of ways. Besides direct contact like email there's twitter, youtube, blogs, facebook, forums and probably a few more elite and cool things i'm not aware of.

In this day I think it's remarkable that a company would even consider implementing a change to an ending, or releasing more content or whatever bioware has planned, to respond to criticism. In the good ole days if you spent a ton of money a game and didn't like it... that's too fucking bad. Granted not every detail of every game can or will be changed, but the possibilities are out there.

However with all the communication outlets at their disposal the vocal, rabid, mouthbreathing, basement dwelling loser who takes everything way to seriously and can't find enjoyment in something that was not what they expected can be heard loud and clear very easily. I think the people crying over ME3's ending are probably in the minority of how people actually feel, but because they're so vocal about it bioware has to do something.

I just hope that incidents like this don't cause developers to play it more safe instead of taking creative license. ME3 could've have a 45min ending movie where every character from the series shows up in a grand LoTR finale... but instead they assumed their fans had some imagination.


Within reason I take a game for what it is. I can become attached to a character or story, I have done so w/ ME-series more than any ever, but if it isn't exactly what I hoped I take it in stride. The only time I get mad at a game is when I feel it's not polished or put together right. I feel that way w/ El Shaddai actually. It seems just "messy" the way it flows from cinematics to cutscenes to gameplay.
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Dincrest
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« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2012, 11:49:27 AM »

I think a lot of that has to do with the Internet age and how we're conditioned to instant gratification and a lack of consequences if we hate-rage on something.  

And it's like that in other mediums too, like in schools.  Remember back in the day when the teacher was an authority figure and was right with regards to what his/her student was doing?  Nowadays, teachers have to kowtow to parents even when the parents are vehemently wrong.  

I play in a local punk band.  There's no way in hell our music would be picked up by any mainstream outlets (since we're loud, brash, socio-politically outspoken, and actually think for ourselves unlike the brainless puppets the music industry puts on pedestals) but we like it that way.  We sure don't want to have to kowtow to some marketing machine telling us what to do and how to do it.  We want our full creative freedom and artistic integrity.  I remember once being asked if I preferred small clubs or large venues and I responded, "Basement shows are best!"

But then, what defines selling out?  Is selling out kowtowing to the record label to make the record they want?  Is selling out kowtowing to the fans and being in danger of repeating yourself with little artistic growth?  And so what if you make the record that fans backlash to?  Maybe they'll come back to it and hail it as brilliant.  A lot of Sonata Arctica fans turned on them because the Unia album sounded different than what they usually do, but I loved it.  

EDIT: But despite all that, I still LOVE being an educator and playing in bands. 
« Last Edit: March 30, 2012, 11:54:26 AM by Dincrest » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2012, 11:54:17 AM »

I think this is just the nature of dealing with commercial entertainment, honestly.

I absolutely believe it's going to cause developers to be safe. Unfortunately, it's just one of those thing that happens when you have these colossal sums of money involved. They don't want to jeopardize that and, in playing it cautiously, risk (heh) stagnation.

Edit: To answer your question regarding selling out, Dincrest, I define it as such: when you make something you know will make money for no other purpose than that and don't really believe in it beyond that purpose.
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MeshGearFox
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« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2012, 10:24:53 PM »

Fans don't know what they want and should just be ignored.
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Dincrest
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« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2012, 10:37:30 PM »

And then there's the tangent where reasonable people who really like/enjoy something do so clandestinely ("closet fans") because they don't want to be associated with "them" (referring to an oh-you've-got-to-be-kidding! fanbase).
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Agent D.
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« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2012, 10:56:17 PM »

But you know, on the reverse side of this arguement, perhaps not the artist or creator of the intellectual property themselves, but the money behind the piece of work likes to shade our view of said piece.

Lemme try that again.

In the video game world, publishers are killing developers for quicker monetary returns. In the art and book worlds, investors pressure artists and writers to bring out new material harder and faster every day. Fans like to blame the creators of everything, not realizing that they have deadlines. We as consumers don't want to hear this, it's not our problem. However, deadline isn't met->money is pulled from project->project is scrapped->inbound crappy sequel to moderately successful title/book/piece. It basically boils down to the blame game, everyone is part of the problem.

That being said, I accept my part in this hate triangle, knowing full well that I bitch furiously about bad stuff.
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Ashton
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« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2012, 11:02:29 PM »

Etc

This is why I rarely ever whine and moan when something's delayed or whatever. People this generation are a bunch of ADD addled manchildren who want satisfaction now, every day, and if you fail you will commit seppuku for failing to please them.

THey should've been weaned on fucking Dragonball Z, then they'd have learned some patience.
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MeshGearFox
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« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2012, 02:01:56 AM »

Man, time for a semi-serious response.

And by semi-serious I mean I am BSing as per usual but I kind of mean this.

I've stated recently that, partially as a mixture of observations and partially as a mixture of my own work in the IT industry (god do I wish I majored in grocery stores), the software industry is trying to move from a goods industry to a service industry.

DLC is part of this -- you buy the base game, and you purchase DLC as part of the continuing service. Or the devs provided DLC as a continuing service -- for a price. I think, however, that this behavior from fanbases is also coming out of this approach to software development.

When you are in the service profession, you are, to an extent, beholden to the people you are serving if you want their continued service. This leads to a "The customer is always right" mentality in the people giving the service, which often translates to bending to whatever stupid whims your consumers have.

This also creates a mindset in the customers where they realize they can act like dicks because doing so will make the people providing the service bend over backwards to keep getting their money.

I think this is ultimately why I dislike DLC so much. It let's the creators to keep fucking with their product, not to improve it, but to satisfy the demands of a hostile fanbase.
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« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2012, 09:23:05 AM »

I'm reminded of a story about how Glen Benton wanted to terminate Deicide's contract with Roadrunner but they still had to do two more albums for them (in a pretty short time frame) so Glen and the boys intentionally made two terrible albums. 

Then again, I generally don't listen to artists on big record labels because 9 times out of 10, the music produced is what the label wants (because it will sell) and not what the artist wants.  Local music for the win! 

"Every song sounds the same, but the labels just don't care, just as long as these dumbass kids, keep shelling out their money"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmBk9rxu2Lk
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« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2012, 06:51:14 PM »

Etc

This is why I rarely ever whine and moan when something's delayed or whatever. People this generation are a bunch of ADD addled manchildren who want satisfaction now, every day, and if you fail you will commit seppuku for failing to please them.

THey should've been weaned on fucking Dragonball Z, then they'd have learned some patience.

100% agree.  The whole instant gratification mentality annoys the shit out of me.
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cj_iwakura
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« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2012, 11:57:48 AM »

I agree that overentitlement is becoming a bigger issue, but I also believe that if a company tries to deceive or mislead fans, they deserve to get called on their BS.

I was way more upset over Atlus USA's screwup with removing Innocent Sin's DLC/customizable content than the ME3 debacle. They didn't say a word about it until someone quietly admitted to it a few days before it released via an email, and I'd been asking about it at their MB for months.

That and Capcom's DLC on the disc stupidity. Stuff like that, fans are entitled to be watchdogs for.

Comparatively petty issues, not so much.
(Heck, Nocturne's ending was all of 30 seconds long, and it's still one of the greatest RPGs ever made.)
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Dincrest
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« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2012, 01:01:41 PM »

Ash- I'm with you in that delays don't necessarily bother me.  I'd rather wait and have a product come to me fully-tested, bug free, and basically perfect out of the box than a half-baked product that was rushed out.   

And as far as endings go, does an ending need to be super long to be satisfying?  Final Fantasy VIII's ending was, and still is, one of the most visually stunning pieces of visual media I've ever seen.  But the ending itself was just plain wacky, nonsensical, and felt like smoke and mirrors to me.  Beyond the "wow cool!" flashiness factor and it being really long, the ending didn't resonate with me.  On the other hand, Phantasy Star II's ending was crazy short, nowhere near as visually stunning, but it was an absolute sucker punch and still one of the most twisted and memorable RPG endings I can think of. 

Remember the backlash with how The Sopranos ended?  Personally, I thought it was a brilliant ending and super tasteful.  It really left things up to the viewer's imagination and retained the mysterious and unpredictable nature of suburban mafiosos.  What did people want?  A final scene with tons of blood splatter and gore?  Sure, perhaps viewers felt "blue-balled" at the time, but let it digest and think about it... yeah brilliant.  Kinda like how I didn't like the Motley Crue album with John Corabi that much because it wasn't the Crue I knew, but after I read "The Dirt" I gained a TON of respect for Crab (probably one of my most respected musicians), listened to the album again, and I LOVED it!  I couldn't believe how narrow-minded and immature I was to dismiss the album because of childish pettiness. 
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« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2012, 05:56:17 PM »

That's another thing that irritates me about this generation. They need everything spelled out for them. Nothing is left up to our imaginations anymore. If you think back on 1997 and FF7's ending - the main storyline was considered resolved but the ending was left up to the player's interpretation; did Holy decide humans were not worthy of living on the planet? Did Midgar get destroyed because humans were no longer there or because they just abandoned it? Then came Advent CHildren and all of FF7's ridiculous spin offs. People lost their fucking shit at Mass Effect 3 because it didn't give closure. I liked it for leaving things open; there were definite problems with it, but artistically and philosophically it was an amazing experience, but because of people's "I NEED EVERYTHING EXPLAINED TO ME" mentality, it all got ignored.

Zero fucking imagination.
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« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2012, 11:23:33 PM »

This topic is so timely. I just, a week ago, sat through a two hour seminar on conflict resolution, which I can sum up in one brief sentence. Give the customer what they want, be it free now or free later.....because after all, they are always right, and if they're not make them think they are so they'll come back.
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