Most modern content made for entertainment is far too focused on the opinion of its audience. Whether it’s a TV show, YouTube video, movie or novel, fans often have more control than the creators themselves thanks to the power of social media.
Of course ‘sellability’ has always been at the forefront of the minds of those commissioning entertainment, but we’re now at a point in time whereby the fan can hinder the quality and success of something simply by demanding that they get more of what they want. It’s no longer a question of whether something will sell but whether it will accumulate impassioned and obsessive enthusiasts who can drive the content they love far beyond its means.
Western society has become impatient and highly critical. We want more, we want it now and we want it to be interactive. There is nothing wrong with being a fan of something and vocally expressing your appreciation or criticism of the thing you’re into, nor is it wrong to be inspired to create a homage to it in the form of fan fic, but it frightens me that so much importance is held on comments concerned with ‘shipping’, nostalgia and petitions to bring characters or plot lines back that should have been dead and buried long ago.
Fantasy and fiction are not the same thing. To create art that is considered unique and interesting is challenging and admirable, but daydreaming about two male TV show characters having a secret sexual relationship is dull and will undoubtedly be disappointing if actualised – even to those who fantasised about it. This sort of opinion from fangirls unfortunately holds far more weight than the concept of creating something compelling.
The greatest stories of all time involve narrow misses, unrequited love, injustice and tragedy. At what point did we forget our love for anticipation? Was it when we could watch a whole TV series in a day rather than be forced to wait for weekly episodes? The fans may think they know what they want but the way to grip them is to do the exact opposite.
After all, who would be interested in a story where the good people live happily ever after and the bad people get what’s coming to them? Not me, that’s for sure, but maybe I’m just melancholic.