The Fanbase Conundrum

What a time to be alive! Social media has given everyone a stage to express their opinions about pretty much every subject and this has become all the more clear with the release of the latest Star Wars movie, Episode VIII “The Last Jedi”. Many hardcore fans are angry with Rian Johnson for ruining their beloved franchise. A lot has already been said about this movie, so I’ll not get into that specific subject too much. There’s a trend going on in fan base country and there are a lot of angry fans who feel their childhood has been ruined by remakes, reboots, sequels and prequels. It’s something I’ve been observing for some time now and I would like to share some insights with you.

Why so serious?

Let’s start off with saying that this whole thing isn’t something new. There was a time almost a decade ago where I found myself bored with every single movie release, because all there was to see in the cinemas was sequels of uninteresting movies, reboots, remakes and what have you. I found myself the “victim” of Michael Bay’s interpretations of my beloved childhood cartoons. So, to all those who feel like their beloved franchise is ruined, I know how you feel. I’ve been there. I’ve just never been that vocal about it, and rather cherished the good memories I had, while leaving the re-imagined garbage where it belonged.

Angry (Star Trek) fans aren’t anything new, as you can see from this old article when “The Next Generation” came out.

The same thing has been going on in the video game industry. When you look at certain IPs you can really see what I mean. One of the best examples I can possibly give is the Assassin’s Creed series from Ubisoft. When the first two games proved to be a huge success Ubisoft started to really milk it. They even went as far as saying they could release games in the series annually. The result was a whole bunch of mediocre entries in the series with little to no replay value and a repetitiveness in the gameplay that ultimately caused the games to bore me to tears. Which is also why they (Ubisoft) eventually decided to wait with the release of new games a bit longer, because they saw their income decrease.

Cash cows

Speaking of revenue, this is exactly why most of the IPs we know exist. They make money. It really is as plain and simple as that. Mark Hamill himself said this during an interview, although he never meant for it to be on camera. As you can see in this clip:

That is also why the companies behind the franchises we love so much are often seen as the root of all evil. They make choices that we as fans can’t comprehend, or choices that will please the large crowd, but not that very small group of hardcore fans who embraced it before it was cool. I’ve played World of Warcraft from the game’s launch until the Mists of Pandaria expansion. During those years I was mostly part of casual raiding guilds, and always active on the official forums. I mostly read the comments and rarely replied to topics myself, but what I saw was how the hardcore minority was always unhappy about Blizzard’s decision to nerf (simplify) the game. This was done deliberately to ensure that everyone, including casual players, could enjoy the game’s content. What I never really understood was why these hardcore players were so angry at Blizzard for nerfing the game. Was it because they felt entitled, because they were part of an “elite” group whose achievements were suddenly less prestigious, because the casual players were now capable of defeating bosses they weren’t able to handle earlier? I never really found out, nor did I care, I was happy that my guild was able to progress, because we played the game for entertainment.

You don’t own the franchise

This is where I really want to make a point that I feel a lot of fans seem to miss. That’s because they grew up loving Star Wars, Star Trek, or any other franchise. I used to have a far going love for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when I was young. I had all the toys, watched the cartoons and the real life action movies, and played the video games too on my Nintendo. Then there was some sort of reboot cartoon, which I thought completely missed the mark, and later Michael Bay ruined the Turtles even more for me. Well, perhaps not just for me. I found out they pulled the plug after the second movie, so it’s highly unlikely we’ll ever see another one. In other words, it flopped.

At any rate, I digress. My point is that I loved those mutant turtles so much, that I was blinded by nostalgia and how the old cartoons used to make me feel. My expectations of what a movie in this day and age would look like were so vastly different from what was produced that I was disappointed from the get go. And that is something I believe many other fans experience too when something new pops up from a franchise they love. The fact of the matter is that you don’t own the franchise, so you can expect that whoever has been granted an opportunity to make something new will have vastly different creative ideas than you do.

One other good example is the latest Star Trek: Discovery series. Many fans who watched the original series claim that Discovery has nothing to do with Star Trek. The Klingons look like space orcs and why the hell to they even look like that? Who even approved of this? They should be fired immediately. Because what fans really want is something that feels familiar, but should be different. They want change, but not too much. In other words, they all have different opinions of what it should be, but what it boils down to is that it will never please everyone.

Warning: Over-analysing may cause severe brain injuries

One sickness that we suffer from these days is that everything has to be explained. Another is that everyone over-analyses everything that’s thrown in front of them. I rarely talk to people after seeing a movie without them having a ton of comments. In other words, I believe we may have forgotten how to simply enjoy watching a movie. One thing that really tires me is how people want a background story for every single character, even the minor ones. One major complaint I’ve seen pop up about “The Last Jedi” was that the audience was never given any proper background for Supreme Leader Snoke, but then I started to think how much we really knew about Emperor Palpatine from the original trilogy. We were never given any clues about his origin until the prequels. So why is it such a big deal now?

Don’t let the hate flow through you

In summation, I would like to call all people who feel they’ve been wronged in some way or another to review why they really are so angry. I know I was angry when “they” ruined the Turtles for me, but I gave it a place, and upon reflection, if new things pop up that I don’t like, I am not as vocal about it any more. Why? Because whoever you’re writing this for won’t read it, and those that will agree with you will agree regardless. It’s preaching to the choir, and the only thing you’ll ever get out of that is the sympathy of others who feel as robbed of anything that was never theirs in the first place. I’m not saying you may not be angry about it, all I’m saying is that you are ruining the fun for those who did enjoy it by being spiteful like some spoiled kid who didn’t get what he wanted. No one likes those kids. So try not to be one. In fact, don’t be one, because there is no try. 😉

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