For the last few decades, there has been a war developing in pop culture. This war is between the creators of said pop culture and those who keep these properties alive — their fans.
Now it looks like the fans might actually be winning the war.
Things are worse than ever — take a look at Mass Effect 3. The Mass Effect trilogy is known for the ability to create your own Commander Shepard, the hero of the game, whose appearance and decisions made in the games are carried over from the first game to the last. Everyone was happy with the series up until the climax in Mass Effect 3 where (spoiler alert!) no matter what decisions you made, everything came down to three choices. And let’s just say fans were not happy with this ending.
Fans even started a “Retake Mass Effect 3” Facebook petition to demand for a better ending. As of 10 p.m. last night, the movement has 59,672 likes and even rose more than $80,000 for charity.
Nothing here is exactly new until Bioware, the studio behind Mass Effect, announced that downloadable content was in the works to give more closure. Though these downloadable content were probably already in development, the “Retake Mass Effect 3” saw this as a victory.
Admittedly, I was tremulously disappointed by the ending of Mass Effect 3 but this entire movement is incredibly silly. The point of the game is to entertain, which it successfully did for countless hours. That is what really should matter but fans are notoriously short-sighted.
Letting the fans change what they don’t like is a dangerous path to go down. Art is from the vision of its creators and no one else’s. You might not like it but you have to respect it, or else you can’t really call it art.
And Mass Effect isn’t the only thing to upset a fan community recently.
The new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie in the works has already sparked outrage after producer Michael Bay revealed that the turtles are aliens. This contradicts the story of their original origin, where they were mutated from a chemical spill.
The backlash has lead to the creators of the Turtles, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, having to release statements telling everyone to calm down. At this point, when the film comes out it can be advertised as the most controversial of the year.
The idea to make the turtles aliens is extremely odd but as long as they are four kick-butt turtles who love pizza and speak like teenagers from the 80s and 90s, none of this really matters.
That is the problem with fans, the tiniest change upsets them but they never seem to care if the product is good or not. And as long as the film is entertaining it accomplished its goals.
Drew McWeeny, editor at HitFix.com, has named this movement “fantrums” and they can be more powerful than you think.
“When one person throws a tantrum, it’s unseemly, but it’s hardly something to worry about,” said McWeeny on his site. “When one million people throw tantrums in unison, companies start getting worried calls from stockholders … They (fantrums) can change endings. They can derail entire productions.”
It’s this kind of attitude that give fans a bad name. Stephen King’s Misery came out of these kind of reactions fans have. Annie Wilkes was the personification of all King’s whiny, entitled fans. She goes so crazy over what her favorite writer does to his lead character that she breaks his legs when he refuses to change it.
The best explanation of where this fan entitlement comes from is probably from the rise of fan fiction since the explosion of the internet. Fans have been able to tell their own stories where the characters they love that can be read by wide audiences because of the Internet, giving them a sense of ownership that, in reality, they do not have.
And that is not even mentioning that most fan fiction is dreadful. There are some amazing writers who have done it. Comic book writers have been known to write terrible stories on their favorite characters when they were younger. I wouldn’t trust most of these people to write a one-word synopsis, let alone have control of my beloved franchises.
We at are at a point where if any property goes off what you expected to happen it is considered a betrayal and decried as the destruction of their beloved franchise.
Look, we have all been upset over something from the things we love. Be it the end of Lost, the DC Comics relaunch, or whatever Lucas has done or will do to the Star Wars franchise.
All these things have left countless people frustrated, including myself, but this is the way the creators wanted it to happen. They are not our slaves here to amuse us. They are artists and you don’t have to consume it.