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04 June 2016 @ 11:15 am
Some ruminations about fandom and the creators who make the canon of any given fandom...  
Okay, so I've been seeing, here and there, diatribes on the responsibility creators have when writing characters, that said characters need to be the sort of 'people' fans take inspiration from. And "how can you trust an actor's charity works if the show treats 'x' issue so irresponsibly"? I...just don't know. What sort of onus does a creator or performer have towards their audience to be inspirational? I know art does not exist in a vacuum and we never truly create simply for our own benefit (nor is anyone exempt from criticism), but I'm having trouble with the notion that we must curtail our expression or creativity because someone somewhere might not like it...that maybe it might not be a paragon of The Right Stuff.

Just having a little pondering spell on a Saturday morning...
 
 
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: the music of a keyboard clacking away
 
 
 
unplugged32unplugged32 on June 4th, 2016 04:06 pm (UTC)
I can't wrap my head around the fact that people can't separate the show from the actors. According to what you read, a guy or gal who plays a serial killer on TV can't be trusted to be a good and charitable person in real life. That kind of discussion come from people who either take the show way too seriously or people who need to get out of the house more!! Also, the showrunners and writers have no responsibility to make the characters reflect who the actors are in real or what charities or causes they represent. If that was the case we'd be watching The Real Lives of J2 (which of course we'd all watch LOL) and not a show about a fictional family from Kansas. Although I fully understand that it's the fans that keep a show going, fan 'entitlement' is going to be the ruin of TV!!
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffin: Badass Samquickreaver on June 4th, 2016 11:58 pm (UTC)
I would totally watch The Real Lives of J2. TOTALLY.

That being said, I don't necessarily think 'entitlement' will be the ruin of TV, but it sure makes navigating fandom a challenge sometimes. Part of me is fascinated by how the TV industry works, how shows come into being, the behind-the-scenes choices, but seeing fandom believe that they have a right get exactly what they want is ... yeah, undoable. Even if you think you've got a crap-ton of fandom support, fandom doesn't grock that they are not the entirety of the viewing audience, not even 50%, I'd guess. When fandom says it deserves better? I'm apt to respond "But which part of fandom?"
borgmama1of5borgmama1of5 on June 4th, 2016 04:31 pm (UTC)
how can you trust an actor's charity works if the show treats 'x' issue so irresponsibly

Huh? That makes no sense...

I know I'm a bit naive, but isn't there a very basic point at which the creator of something is inspired to generate something he or she wants to see in the world?

Then it is birthed, the world reacts, and the creator can hold to the original vision or choose to be influenced by the recipients--but the original vision belongs to its originator.

If the consumers don't like it they can walk away. (Or write fanfic.) If the art is rejected then the creator may decide to do something different next time or may continue in the same vein. The consumers get to choose how they react but since they aren't the creator they don't own it and can't demand change. Request politely that the creator consider other options for the future, point out areas where the creator may not have thought through the impact of the work on parts of the audience, start a dialog over the merits and failings of the art--but it is not theirs.

And how can a creator possibly satisfy all the divergent desires of hundreds of thousands of consumers? Someone will always be unhappy.

However the artist also needs to do an honest evaluation of the feedback to see if there was something that unintentionally did create pain to a segment of the audience and acknowledge it. Doesn't mean they have to change it, just admit they see the problem could exist.

Imagine if we had gotten this from TPTB last year:

"I'm sorry we killed Charlie...I know she was a special character to many viewers and that she had taken on extra significance to a portion of the audience who saw her as representing them. And it is gratifying that a character we created to be fun for the audience grew to have much more meaning to them than just being a tv character. However, serial storytelling requires that changes must continuously be made to keep viewers watching, and Carver decided that Charlie's death was needed to incite Dean's descent into darkness. The decision was made from a dramatic storytelling point, it was never a 'let's kill the lesbian chick' casual decision, it was thoroughly discussed and it was hard because we loved her. But the choice was made that sacrificing Charlie would advance the story. Could that have happened in another way? Possibly. But it was the way Carver wanted to go, and it is his vision that we all are sharing. We were stunned at the reaction, and will certainly remember how fans felt when we kill off the next beloved character. This is Supernatural, however, and sadly, characters are going to continue to die."

Oops, I think I just kind of blew up all over your post this morning...sorry. Going to chill out now...
Amber: Bumamberdreams on June 4th, 2016 05:26 pm (UTC)
You know, I think we kind of did get that feedback about Charlie, albeit in tiny pieces and from different people involved with the show...

I don't understand this all-pervading sense of entitlement that some 'fans' seem to have about their shows. At the end of the day, however invested we are in these characters and their stories, it's just entertainment. Story telling needs to be independent of the audience or it will no longer be able to stir up our emotions in the way that we want - all stories will be the same, bland fare and we, the audience will simply fall asleep from boredom...
siennavie: Cookies!siennavie on June 4th, 2016 05:40 pm (UTC)
However the artist also needs to do an honest evaluation of the feedback to see if there was something that unintentionally did create pain to a segment of the audience and acknowledge it. Doesn't mean they have to change it, just admit they see the problem could exist.

I feel a little unsettled by this statement, and I'm not exactly sure why. My initial thoughts are...I don't think the artist has to acknowledge their audience's reactions/feelings, nor should they have to explain themselves and their choices--not if they don't want to. I mean, it depends on what the artist wants from their audience (what kind of experience/interaction/cooperation/collaboration). If an artist wants to have an open and constructive dialogue with their audience, then yeah, an explanation can go a long way. But to be required to give one? Seems like entitlement to me (i.e. you caused me pain and I need you to acknowledge it), even if the motivation behind it is to advance some greater social cause.

I'm not saying the audience should be silent though--opinions/criticism need to be said and heard to create dialogue and affect change. But the audience shouldn't expect/demand an artist to respond (not even to do an honest evaluation of the feedback they've received).
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffin: Badass Samquickreaver on June 5th, 2016 01:03 am (UTC)
I have to admit, I agree. A creator can decline to apologize, and they have to be mature enough to deal with those consequences. But as someone who has worked many a year in the service industry (What? Art doesn't pay all the bills?), I can vouch for the fact that really, people just want to be heard. Not necessarily apologized too, in truth, just acknowledged. Which is what borgmama was saying, I think?

You don't even have to say anything more than "I hear you." And actually, I wouldn't apologize. But nor would I necessarily change my mind based on people hounding me, even politely. (I might, I might not, depending upon the nature of the 'infraction'.) But they have the right to speak as much as I do. And I have the right to march to my own muse, not theirs.
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffin: Badass Samquickreaver on June 5th, 2016 12:24 am (UTC)
No no, explode all over my post! IT'S DELICIOUS!

I know exactly what you mean. The 'apology' debate is a fresh one too. If I recall, the showrunner of The 100 recently chose to apologize for killing a character. (I don't follow the show, so I'm not sure what the details are exactly, but I believe it involved a gay character whose actress was leaving the show, so they killed the character in random violence.) But around that same time period, Tina Fae refused to apologize for writing a joke where a blonde woman claimed to be Native American. Is humor the difference?

I guess it's up to every creator where to draw the line, how much they're going to cater to their audience, and which part of the audience will get that catering. The second they killed Charlie, I remember thinking "Oh, CRAP. There is gonna be hell to pay." YES, it would've been better if they'd addressed the death as you suggested. Carver has not been the most, um, eloquent showrunner on record. I absolutely think the show has gotten more sensitive to their queer (and female) audience since then.

To address another one of your points, we could name a bunch of great movies that explore something the creator would NOT like to see in the world. Recently, I really enjoyed Gone Girl and Nightcrawler, both of which were horrifying in insidious (and believable) ways, and our protagonists were thoroughly unlikable AND they got away with murder. Literally. But I was entertained like WHOA and I couldn't look away. These things have merits too.

So, hmmm! Not sure where I'm going with my reciprocating blow-up, but you're welcomed to vent here anytime. I expect no less of you, B! :D
Amber: Bumamberdreams on June 4th, 2016 05:19 pm (UTC)
Someone seriously said how can you trust an artist's charity work because a show they act in might be edgy in some way? What are these people on? To be honest, I think the kind of people who shout out loudest about these ridiculous notions are a very small minority and are also intellectually challenged.
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffin: Badass Samquickreaver on June 5th, 2016 12:30 am (UTC)
The exact quote was "I can't deal with all the akf/yana from actors/fandom while the show is so irresponsible how it handles these issue." And while I didn't wanna challenge the person on this line of thinking (because I actually don't like butting heads), it still bugged me. So this is my journal and I'll whinge about it here. Ha HA!
Sophia Prester: candle and stonessophiap on June 4th, 2016 05:45 pm (UTC)
characters need to be the sort of 'people' fans take inspiration from

That sounds like the sort of crap that landed us with all those hideous, moralizing Victorian children's books (e.g. Elsie Dinsmore). More and more, it seems as if fandom has become infected with a kind of self-righteous neo-Puritanism.

My fear when I see something trying to be 'inspirational' is that it's going to become something that's only a few steps removed from propaganda. I'd rather see creators portray characters who are realistic and complex and flawed in a way that makes us think and examine our own beliefs, behaviors, etc.
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffin: Badass Samquickreaver on June 5th, 2016 12:42 am (UTC)
Bingo.
siennavie: Cookies!siennavie on June 4th, 2016 05:59 pm (UTC)
What sort of onus does a creator or performer have towards their audience to be inspirational?

None. Though I would hope as a creator, you create *in order to* inspire and that you *want* your work to inspire.
And, among the audience, even if the reaction is negative--I'd say that was "inspired" :)
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffin: Badass Samquickreaver on June 5th, 2016 12:43 am (UTC)
Art's job is to make us FEEL. Not just feel good...
tifaching: alastair deantifaching on June 5th, 2016 01:14 am (UTC)
So much this. Supernatural has made me feel so much anxiety and fear and horror over the years. But also joy and love and feelings of family. It can't all be happy kitten moments that are perfectly solved at the end of every episode. In fact, it can never be that and still be the show we are so addicted to. It would be like going to a museum where every piece of art was a sunny field of daisies. No, no, no.
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffin: Badass Samquickreaver on June 5th, 2016 01:29 am (UTC)
And it's not just THAT. The show is full of characters with flawed views on the world. The show reflects those characters. And if that hurts you? Insults you? Disappoints you? If you find it too misogynistic or doesn't represent you enough? You are free to watch other shows. You may also critique it, but if your idea of critique and 'fun' is pissing on other people's enjoyment, you might need to take a step back and consider the degree of horribleness the show is actually committing. And the degree to which you're bringing your own baggage into the situation.

The show ain't perfect--HELL, no--but is it the most awful thing to have ever awfulled? Nah. I'm not always happy with the way the show has done things, but there are absolutely worse shows out there. This is my ONE fandom; nothing else has snagged me like SPN, and I've made marvelous friends. I'm okay with this. :)
Umai Hoshifairyniamh on June 4th, 2016 08:25 pm (UTC)
I don't care if a 'character' is homophobic/womanizer/murderer/insane (though I put forward that all creators/actor/writers/artists are, at least, a little insane.)

I know that the actors are different. Jensen has been 'evil' and was a 'killer', but I know he is a nice guy. (Insane, but nice.) Tom Hiddleston has played some fairly evil characters, but he is a perfect gentleman. (A TRUE gentleman. A rare commodity in this day and age.)

I think that the people who cannot differentiate between fact and fiction, should be put in a special room or on a special island. This way they cannot inflict humanity with their special breed of insanity. (I fear people like that, because those are the type of people who might snap and go postal.)
The indefatigable Mrs. Griffin: Badass Samquickreaver on June 5th, 2016 12:50 am (UTC)
I fear them because they are dogmatic. They believe so ardently in their own rightness that there is no compromise, no understanding that maybe ... just maybe ... they might be mistaken.
tifaching: alastair deantifaching on June 5th, 2016 01:07 am (UTC)
I just don't understand that point of view. I watch fictional tv or movies to be entertained. If they were just the actors real lives I wouldn't be half as interested. Even Jared and Jensen. The show runners, writers and actors have absolutely no obligation to follow fandom's (and as others have pointed out, which part of fandom gets their way?) lead on anything. It is a television show about pitch black subject matter (except when it hilariously isn't then smacks you in the face) and it should follow its own dictates not those of any portion of the viewing audience. Don't like the morals or views of the not real television show you're watching? Don't watch it. It's not going to change just for you just like most things in this world aren't going to. The entitlement in some parts of fandom is astounding. And to say they're sick of the actors' charity work because those values aren't reflected in their acting jobs is just so mind blowing. How can people really not get the difference?
I'm Mulder, She's Scully: realrunedgirl on June 5th, 2016 02:40 am (UTC)
Such excellent comments here. I think one of the problems with the many articles flying around out there about 'entitlement' is that many conflate all sorts of different fannish voices, lumping them all together into one problematic category. Fans have alot to say, and that's fine. Asking for creative works to change, or to address problematic portrayals (or lack of portrayals) is fine. Sometimes there will be a dialogue and change actually will happen. Other times it won't. Some stories will inspire, some will horrify, some will challenge, some will entertain. Sometimes we'll need alot of fix-it fic to get through. There is such diversity in story telling, and that's part of its richness!

I've never heard the contention that actors' charity work can't be genuine if there's something problematic in the television show/studio/corporation that employs them though! If only we could all 100% control everything our employer does 100% of the time!
milly_gal: SPN CON Richard!milly_gal on June 5th, 2016 07:46 am (UTC)
*shakes head* I've never understood the lasses and lads that feel it's their right to whine and complain and expect a specific storyline to come to fruition. We write here because of what *we* want to see, how are TV show writers any different? Why should they be expected to live up to our expectations when we only live up to our own?

Someone seriously said they can't trust an actor's charitable works because of their character?! That is ludicrous! Also completely idiotic, just as WE don't have input into a show, neither does the actor. They aren't consulted on most story lines and yes as the J's have said they may well get a few moments of, "Hey Bob that doesn't sound like Sam." but they don't get any where near the influence on the story that people think they do. So they aren't responsible for the way a subject is handled, they simply work the words they're given the best way they can!

Everyone who puts themselves out there as an actor is open to criticism, but that criticism is ridiculous!

What bugs me most here is that it isn't all fans that have this view. Such as bad teens are the ones in the press, all teens get tarred with that brush. The quiet content ones are left alone and unheard of BECAUSE they're quiet. Same works for fans of shows.

Edited at 2016-06-05 07:47 am (UTC)
gluedwithgold: pic#126228413gluedwithgold on June 5th, 2016 03:39 pm (UTC)
I've been half-heartedly following the discussion going around about "broken fandom" and fan entitlement - and what I keep coming back to is that no matter the media (be it television, fiction, art, what have you) it all comes down to storytelling. That seems, to me, to be what people aren't understanding, and in my opinion, the only responsibility any creator has is that of telling the story.

For example - Charlie. I loved the character, and I cried when she died. During that portion of the season, I was seriously questioning the storyline - who the hell are these Stynes, how are they going to affect change for the Winchesters, are they going to be the next big fight? At the end of the season, with the whole story in place, it became clear that they were a device used to move the bigger story along - they created the conflict that was needed for Dean to reach the apex of his inner struggle and finally act - they killed Charlie. At that point in the story, I don't think anything else (short of Sam dying - which wouldn't have worked for the remainder of the story) would have pushed Dean to do what he did, and had they tried to get Dean there in any other way, the story would not have felt authentic.

So, even though I don't like that Charlie is gone, I understand that the show creators were being responsible - they were telling the story. And how boring would the story be if it was all lollipops and candy canes? How much longer would the show go on if all we were given was happy endings tied up neatly in a pretty, pretty bow? The story would no longer be compelling, would no longer have us waiting with baited breath for months for the next season to begin, or discussing our theories about what we think may happen next. How boring would the show be if we were never put through a gauntlet of emotions connected to these characters we've come to love?

If the creators were to kowtow to the whims of the fans instead of focusing on telling the story, we'd end up with a show comparable to "the cat sat on the mat." So, no, I don't believe the creators should in any way feel an obligation to address what that portion of the fandom, who in my opinion don't see the big picture, are so vehemently lobbying for. In this connected age there is a dialogue between the creators and the consumers, and if the creators choose to do so, they could glean some inspiration from the fans - and that's great, it's exciting as hell - but they would be doing the story a disservice if they attempted to incorporate things that maybe don't make sense for the overall story, for the universe that has been created and refined over so many years.

It would also be a disservice to the story to in any way alter the characters - who have grown and changed and developed immensely over the course of the story - to accommodate what the audience feels is the show's "responsibility." The characters have a depth to them that makes them real to us, they are flawed and have histories that effect how they interact with their world. To take away any of that realism would alter the story, it would cheapen it. How awful would it be if suddenly Dean didn't like pie because the fandom told the show creators that it was irresponsible to glorify pie because it's unhealthy? It wouldn't be Dean anymore.

Which has me thinking - when was the last time Dean had any damn pie?? :-D
There's a scientific explanation for that: Dean - OMGhugemind on June 5th, 2016 10:50 pm (UTC)
It'd be great if we could change the actual real world by making all tv shows contain only happy, non-problematic stuff. Because if it isn't on tv, it doesn't exist, right? But nope, changing the world does take more than changing a script on a tv show. It sounds like this is just another form of slacktivism. Stories should challenge us to think for ourselves and show us different views and worlds - getting to the best option always requires going through alternative options.

And maybe a part of the problem is that some people seem to have lost the ability to interpret tone and gestures in a face-to-face conversation. I've seen talk where things said on a con video have been taken at face value even though the sarcasm/joking/whatever was obvious. It's not a long way from that to wanting an actor to apologize for their work because obviously the actor is the character. Ugh. *rolls eyes*
Thunder cats, assemble!: hollykettle_o_fish on June 6th, 2016 04:58 am (UTC)
Hello. I like you so much. XOXO
madebyme_x: Defaultmadebyme_x on June 6th, 2016 12:24 pm (UTC)
People actually think that actors can't do charity work because the character they play on a particular TV show treats said issue irresponsibly? Wow, that's so disheartening to read, and I really can't understand that viewpoint at all.

Creators create; they're here to make us think, to make us question, to entertain, to make us feel. Putting boundaries on what you can and cannot say is always a hot topic, and there's been many high profile examples of that. But at the end of the day, I don't think we can please everyone 100% of the time, I guess you can only create something that you believe in, that you like or feel passionate about. But yes, such a complex issue.

Thank you for sharing this here; it's always a pleasure having these intelligent and thoughtful conversations in an open forum that welcomes viewpoints. Take care :)
mangacat201mangacat201 on June 6th, 2016 08:53 pm (UTC)
I can only second the opinion, so many great comments here. What I haven't really seen reflected upon - and thus, would like to add - is the question of how fandom (but really any consumer audience that expresses these kinds of entitled remarks about having their culture "content" tailored to their every wish, be it inspriational or otherwise) has a even the slightest bloody clue of what it actually wants. How often have I thought I knew exactly where I wanted a particular storyline or character arc to go until the creators put a fast one on me and gave me something I hadn't even known I needed until I was presented with a particular ingenius twist?
Culture and creation move us exactly BECAUSE they do the unexpected and challenge us in ways we hadn't anticipated when approaching them. You can't bottle inspiration like a commercial formula of I want x-plot to go like y because it represents z... that doesn't only lead to creative impoverishment down the line, it's ALSO FUCKING BORING (pardon my French).
I can like a story, I can love a story, I can hate it and even loath it. I can critizise its structure and the authenticity of it, I can let myself be entertained in the shallowest ways possible. All that is legitimate because it means I engage with the story of stuff. And up to a point, the inclusiveness and interactivity of the new media do have their place in modern storytelling. Still, you have to respect the product of creativity first of all and you don't do that by demanding of creators to shape their powerful imagination by the very narrow margin of your own world. It just doesn't work.
blythechild: dead artistblythechild on June 7th, 2016 03:17 pm (UTC)
That's just stupid, fan entitlement. Creators are not obligated to do ANYTHING to please a potential audience. Would Cubism have been born if Picasso and Matisse thought about whether folks would buy deconstructed paintings instead of pretty water lily studies? Would punk rock have been born if young musicians thought "Nah, disco will last forever, man, and I want to win a Grammy someday..."? Art gets created and the audience comes to it. Art created for tv is even less responsible to the viewer because the content isn't the end product - the viewer is. Tv content is a tool to deliver viewers to ad content streams - that's the endgame. Believing that tv show writers are crafting things for the sake of story integrity or character exploration is a little naive. I think that your only responsibility as an artist is to look at what you're creating and ask yourself hard questions about WHAT you want to say to the world and HOW you are saying it. But if you're an artist working for a commercial entity, you aren't creating for yourself. Fans need to wake up and figure this out.