Friday, September 27, 2013

The Neverending Story

Ironically, I'm responding to comments!

Lee Thomson writes:
I agree with everything you've written here, even the part about me being an IDIOT.

As you say, people do not know how television works, and I'm trying to provide an insight over in my own little hovel, by posting scripts, outlines, pitches and bibles. I'd hoped people would find the Lost document interesting, even educational (by the way, I didn't leak the document; it has been online already for the better part of a year, but adding it to my site is what caused this mess).

I wasn't expecting what happened, at all. I seriously (naively) underestimated the effect a nine year old document for a series that ended three years ago would have, and just how deep misplaced senses of entitlement and ownership ran. I was disappointed by headlines at Boing Boing and io9, who created their own context for the document by linking directly to it rather than to my site (not that I want the hits; I couldn't care less, but at least I present it without judgments of "self-delusion" or "lies"), and mortified that Mr Lindelof was personally inconvenienced and had to explain matters on Slashfilm. He and I have had a very brief Twitter exchange, where I have apologised for messing with his week, and I hope that, now this particular online tsunami has finished washing over us all, all can be forgiven.  

Aw, buddy! You're right. You DO just present the material and it's Boing Boing (SERIOUSLY disappointed in Doctorow) and io9 (not at all surprised) who added their own context. I get the thirst for information. It used to be really hard to find TV scripts and I see that you have a pretty good library of them on your site. Unfortunately, you can't control who links to you. And the problem is that anyone can ascribe their own context. Since it's apparently common knowledge that Damon Lindelof is the devil (I don't get it), the only way you could have known is if you'd been ranting on forums. Which you weren't, so you got caught up in this nonsense.

exastra23 writes:
"You do not get to know everything about a television show. You get the show, you get the people who make the show talking about the show. THAT'S IT."
YES!!! George RR Martin is not our bitch!
I strongly agree with everything you said about entitlement culture, negativity culture, poor blogger journalism, irresponsible blogging, people commenting ignorantly about tv/film without context, not watching stuff you hate, focusing on the positive, and even Trek not being completely conflict free.
I also agree that it is your prerogative to like Abrams NuTrek, and dismiss criticisms; if you insist.
There is a lot in these reboot movies to like —but it is held together with flimsy thread that falls apart under scrutiny.
I adore Cumberbatch as Khan, despite the white washing. Greenwood as Pike is wonderful. If you ignore all the legitimate complaints, I can see how these movies might seem good.
But I can not accept the premise that Abrams Trek really is good, or that the majority of fans think so. The reasons you gave (or were given) for people hating these Treks are not the actual reasons why the movies are or should be hated. Having heard fans attack NuTrek at conventions and in various articles, that's not why we hate it. Those reasons you mention ARE dumb, invalid and miss the point. It has little to do with entitlement ego.(although I dread the painful and herculean task) I could give several narrative examples why this is bad storytelling (and bad Trek), but I might be misinterpreted as negative—which is not intended to be hating, but critiquing logically.
I’m dismayed no one apparently has provided you a list of what these movies did wrong--. logic holes, plot holes, poor character utilization, contrivances and cotton candy superficiality. I suspect no one is going to care about these movies in 10 years, and will still be watching Roddenberry’s Trek. 

This is the only negative Trek comment I'm going to post here, because I'm going to make an example of you!

There is nothing more irritating in the world of entertainment than someone saying, "If you ignore all the legitimate complaints, I can see how these movies might seem good." If you can't recognize that you're being a patronizing dickwad, I have lost all hope for humanity. As for accepting the premise that the movies are good, nobody's making you accept anything. As I said previously, this post isn't FOR you. It's for the people who liked the movies. Not everything on the Internet is for everyone. But maybe the concept of enjoying something with like-minded people is lost on you. And who's the dummy who saw the second movie after hating the first one? Why do people do that? Those who got totally furious with the first movie still saw the second one in 3D. Um, why would you subject yourself to that?

I am not required to argue with you, and you are not required to argue with me. So why do you feel the compulsive need to post your dissenting opinion? I am honestly curious about this. No anger here. I really want to know. Do you have something you hoped you would achieve? What makes you post a comment on a blog where the crazy person who runs it (me) is adamant about loving these movies? What is the end game?

I am serious here. Please tell me. Because I'd like to understand the psychology.
I don't know if you read my post through your white-hot rage of "oh shit, another moron who is deluded into liking these movies," but I DID scrutinize the films. Just not in the accepted manner, I suppose. You can say it's bad storytelling all you want, but I don't agree. Because I don't agree, I have no interest in wading through the snark to read your theories about why it's bad storytelling. At the end of the day, it's not going to convince me. I simply don't agree and reading people being dicks about something I like isn't how I'd like to spend my day. Someone asked me (in a private message, of course, and then didn't bother to respond to my response) why it's so important to me that I convince people this movie's great. Well, it's not. I am not out to do that. I haven't gone ANYWHERE to post my opinion about loving the movies. I haven't visited any forums or message boards or waded into any discussions that involve people hating on these movies. So obviously, I have NO interest in convincing anybody who hates the movies to change their opinions. But YOU have come here to offer dissent, which must mean you're trying to convince me. Why is it so important to YOU that the people who like this movie come around to your point of view? How is my love for this movie ruining your hate for it, or your love for TOS?

It's weird, man.

You've heard fans attack the movie at conventions and in articles and I'd gather in forums, too. So part of the issue here is that there's a fan community, and then there are outliers. I don't happen to read forums or message boards. I used to, a long time ago, but I got weary of feeling like I was being forced to defend my opinion. So I stopped. When you use the word "attack" when talking about the movies, doesn't that indicate something far more serious than just dissent? "Attack" is such a violent word. How does that foster an environment where ANYBODY who isn't as vitriolic as you will speak out? It doesn't. There IS no environment in which people who have differing viewpoints on entertainment (or on anything, really) can feel safe to discuss them. Everyone's already furious before the first post. Sides have been taken. Battle lines have been drawn. Thanks to the anonymity of the Internet and the idea that you screaming at someone isn't ever gonna come back to bite you in the ass, this is how things are.

When fans who are a part of that type of community respond to me, say about this Star Trek business, they try to force me into the middle of an argument that I haven't even been a part of because I don't read your forums. God, I can only imagine the vitriol that gets slung around in there! I think that happened to Lee, too. And he had to make nice with Damon Lindelof, which none of you guys will ever have to do. So Lee acted like a real, responsible, grown-up human, and not the idiot I said he was initially.

The larger issue, though, has to do with how we tell stories, and how we respond to the different ways of telling them. We all have unique logical waterloos, what we will accept before we're taken out of the story. If you've ever been in a writer's room, you would understand that. There's usually someone who can't move forward unless the logic is established, and then there are people who can't move forward until the character's emotional life is solidified. Some stories are more character-driven than plot-driven, and vice versa. Some stories are puzzles, and some aren't. Some stories eschew cold hard logic for character or action sequences, and some don't. The bottom line is, you don't grok the kind of storytelling in these movies. I do. Why you can't just leave it at that is a total mystery to me. Again, ad infinitum, I did not write the Into Darkness post for you. You don't have to take up arms across the Internet, slashing and burning anyone who doesn't see things your way.

I understand, in a way, why you are probably going to be surprised that I took such issue with your comment. Because in the world of forums and message boards, your comment probably IS considered polite and tame. But in the real world, it's insulting. Those of us who liked the movies are just tired of being beaten on by people like you. I just wanted to tell you that.

Brian says:
Where is that clip of Charles Foster Kane applauding at the opera in "Citizen Kane", cause that's my feeling here!

I have had the same thoughts when I read the fan rants online and in articles, noting the sense of entitlement and the insane expectation that every person in entertainment should somehow be a mind-reader of that one person. I am fan of some movies and shows that aren't always that popular, but it seems that in today's fandom everyone is expected to tow the line and hate together. It's weird and scary and I don't think studios and filmmakers should seek out fan approval anymore. In fact, just cancel Comic Con altogether!

And regarding TNG (it's my favorite Trek series, actually), I remember reading an interview in Starlog magazine around 1988 where a minor actor on TOS stated he felt TNG would barely last 2 seasons, never being accepted by fans. So yes, even actors from the original show were hating on TNG! 

Interesting that this attitude was around in 1988, before Internet 2.0 and the morass we find ourselves in now. I suppose I understand a 1988 point of view where someone hasn't truly been exposed to the larger world of varied opinion. So to this guy, the twelve people he knows who feels the same way constitute general opinion. And in 1988, there wasn't the access to information about the TV business. So it stood to reason that because the fanbase played a hand in bringing Star Trek to the big screen by keeping Trek alive since TOS was canceled, the success of a new Star Trek series would hinge on fan interest. I totally understand that mindset. 

However, the TV business isn't driven by fan interest. So when TNG became the most successful syndicated show of all time (hell, I don't know. I'm too lazy to check) and even got Emmy nominations (the type of nominations that are given to genre shows in the "it's an honor just to be nominated" category, but still), it wasn't due to fan interest. It was because lots of other people were introduced to Star Trek, and that became THEIR Trek. When you're getting eight, nine, ten million viewers, an awful lot of those aren't just fans of TOS.

Now, however, there really isn't an excuse for the EXACT SAME POINT OF VIEW as that guy had in 1988. It's 25 years later. The Internet is a monstrous thing. There's more access to more things that ever before, yet people seem even dumber and more clueless. I suppose part of that could be because when you're exposed to a lot of information, you just think you know more than you do? Is the entitlement of people who think they know how television works more now than it was back then? I think it has to be. When faced with people who DO work in the business, fans will shit all over them. This has been proven over and over again, not just with television and film, but comics and books. 

Fans want to protect their ideal of how things work, of what a writer thinks. It's a stalker mentality, actually. Stalkers create a fantasy world where their victim is a part of their lives, where everything their victim does has an interpretation on the part of the stalker. The problems really start if the stalker has a personal encounter with the victim, and the victim doesn't act the way they do in the fantasy. When you ruin a stalker's fantasy world, they get very angry. That worship, that obsession, turns into hate and violence. And it turns on a dime. That's why I think stalking isn't taken nearly as seriously as it should be, because that broken fantasy never stops. The new obsession is to either force the victim to enter the fantasy, or destroy the victim. It does not stop. 

Although fans aren't (usually) physically violent, it's the same psychology. Someone who runs a website for a TV show is the kingpin of that website. It's their pond. They will fan all over the object of their affection. They'll defend that person to the others who post on the site. Flame wars ensue over it, and then the Kingfan gets to kick them off if they want. But sometimes, the Object interacts directly. This never goes well. It may not happen right away but they will all eventually turn on the Object. Sometimes the Object is even banned from a website that is dedicated to them. Because the Object's narrative probably isn't going to align with the narrative the Kingfan has created. And one of them has to go.

To wit, the most perfect filmed example that will ever exist:

 And then today, this little beauty from io9's Morning Spoilers:
Writer David S. Goyer says he can't worry too much about what the fans will think of this film:
“One of the things that has been fun for us, is we’re a bit a further along than what I think people realize. From a fan point of view, we’re conscious of that when you’re working on these things, but you can’t let yourself be paralyzed by that. At the end of the day you still have to create something. And if you try and think, ‘Well what would the fans like’ then you stop being creative. It’s sort of like where does it end? You have to write the story that you want to write, and hope that people want to see it.”
His healthy disdain for fan input aside – in all seriousness, this probably is the right approach, but I doubt he’d be giving quotes like this if fan reaction to Man of Steel weren’t quite so polarized – Goyer also says he doesn’t see how Batman could really defeat Superman, so I guess keep that in mind in case this film does feature conflict between the two heroes.

I read Goyer's comment and went, "Yeah, exactly." And the io9 nerd thinks this is "healthy disdain?" Pray tell, how? Because David Goyer didn't contact the writer of io9's Morning Spoilers to ask how he should do it? It's not at all disdainful. What do you want him to do? Take a sampling of suggestions from the io9 commenters and then write a script? Should he just be a translating monkey for the fans? Which fan faction does he listen to? Those who liked Man of Steel? Those who hated it? Those who love the idea of Ben Affleck as Batman? Those who hate it? Those who think Batman would kick Superman's ass? Those who don't? WHICH ONES?

At which point in time did we all get the memo that fans are royalty who must have input into entertainment? Could that make any LESS sense? There is NO SERIES OR MOVIE that would have been improved with fan input. None. Even the bad ones would have just been worse. Because I know it seems super easy and stuff, but making entertainment is WORK, and it requires CRAFT and KNOWLEDGE and EXPERIENCE. You know, like JOBS DO. Watching something doesn't magically give you the ability to make it.

And that's even beyond the real issue, which is that a writer needs to know what input is valid and helpful. How many notes can you take before you destroy the thing? Learning to filter criticism and notes is an enormous part of being a writer. EVERY writer has been through this. They have to be selective. Do you really think David Goyer is going to listen to the fans before he listens to the people who are giving him the money to write the thing? Before he listens to the director? To the producers? Are you INSANE? Your input as a fan comes when the movie comes out. Either you pay to go see it, or you don't. If you don't like what they did, then you can bitch about it to your heart's content. But what does abusing the filmmakers get you? Why has it gotten that personal? So now people are already pissed off because David Goyer showed a "healthy disdain" for the fans by saying something incredibly reasonable. They'll all still go see it in 3D IMAX anyway. And that's on YOU guys, by the way. That's nutty.

There is not one "fan opinion," no matter how each special snowflake believes their opinion is the Best Opinion. This isn't math. This is speculative fiction. SPECULATIVE. FICTION. There are many different ways to go. If this were not true, then there would be one book. One movie. One television show. But entertainment contains multitudes.  What Goyer said here is EXACTLY why writers shouldn't listen to fans. It has nothing to do with disdain, or with writers thinking they're better than the fans. But the writer has to WRITE the thing. 

God. I can't believe I'm STILL talking about this shit so many years later.


afg1 said...

Thank you thank you thank you.

and re: I am serious here. Please tell me. Because I'd like to
understand the psychology.

If you ever find this out, please share.

exastra23 said...

I come in peace. I do NOT think you are a moron. If I did, I would not still be here, as if you are a rational, intelligent person. I wouldn’t waste my time with your blog. If I thought you were a moron, I wouldn’t have agreed with all your other points.
I wouldn’t be so confused/ annoyed how you could defend these movies. How does a person who wrote brilliant Millennium scripts think these Trek films are not problematic?
I do recognize I was patronizing. So keep hope alive. ;-)
Maybe that was uncalled for, so I apologize. If my intent was to belittle or beat on you for liking these Treks, then, yes, that would be insulting. but considering all the abuse you typically get from haters, I should have anticipated how you can assume such. I’m not opposing you, just your opinion. And calling me Dickwad is a prevarication also uncalled for and juvenile. My dissent is not necessarily to convince you (if that happens, bonus), but to express my befuddlement at the supporters. That’s why I challenge you. I don’t understand, but want to.
I don’t see what you see, but am curious to. Maybe it’s just my (non-existent) white hot rage blinding me?
You’ve wrongly stereotyped me. I would appreciate you not jumping to conclusions that I’m just another hater full of vitriol and looking for a fight or to demean you. Nor to make me feel superior.
I’m not looking for an argument.
I don’t care if you find things to enjoy about it, and you don’t need my permission. But why? I am merely pointing out that the liking of these movies is questionable/ confusing to me.
Red Letter Media covered about 80% of the fail in this movie.
This gives examples of why I contend this movie is bad.
Like the movies. Fine. But WHY/ HOW do you like it? As with people who don’t like chocolate, it makes no sense to me. This isn't about hate for you (or people like you?).
I don’t understand the psychology of people who don’t/won’t/ can’t see these flaws as ruinous.
I also realize the post isn’t for me.
I saw the second film after "hating" the first because I’m an optimist, hoping they learned from the first movie. I saw it out of curiosity, because I love Trek and wanted it to be good. Maybe it would be better than the first. That could happen. Just like Wrath of Khan was better than Motion Picture.
You say you have no anger towards me (or those like me, who you assume I am), but clearly you do.
which is sad. And if I were that kind of person, your anger would be justified.
I have to wonder if your reactionary defensiveness keeps you from inspecting or caring about the opposing view.
And if you don’t care, that’s your choice, and I let it go.
If you can put aside you own vitriol for what you wrongly assume are my motives and personality, if you can be objective and curious to understand why there is much hate for these films, watch Red Letter. And if you still disagree, then so be it. You are not required or expected to convince me.
I still like you, and no hard feelings.
Thanks for the feed back. Stuff to consider. I apologize in advance if I insulted you again.

Mad Fashionista said...

The commenter above amuses me, more so because I've never seen any of these movies or shows, only ST TOS.

I remember arguing hotly with a friend about a movie she liked and I hated. Somewhere in there it struck me: "What is the point of this? You can't change someone else's level of enjoyment by arguing with them."

Were her eyes supposed to bug out in amazement as she said, "My God! You've convinced me! I'm a deluded fool! Thank you, oh wondrous one, you have convinced me to hate the movie!"

Thank you for your wonderful entries on fan entitlement. I've enjoyed them tremendously.