Toxic Fandom

Last weekend Deadline posted an interview with a producer on Jordan Peele's Candyman remake. A beloved cult classic film based on the short story by Clive Barker. In it, the topic of fandom came up as being “problematic” and even “toxic”. Now let me start by saying I have no real opinion about Peele's work one way or the other. I didn't have TV when Key and Peele was a thing and the interview is with a producer and not Jordan Peele himself. But, it got me thinking…

 

Something Hollywood doesn't seem to really comprehend, they're not entitled to make money off of the fans of a character or property… neither are publishers if we're being honest. Regardless, it's a privilege, not a right. Fans do get out of control to some degree. So I do understand, I mean let's face it, paying $40 for an autograph from someone who died 3 seasons ago on Walking Dead isn't exactly rational behavior. Just look at the final season of Game of Thrones. People are upset with how it ended. While I do understand their disappointment, I think trying to get the final season remade is absurd. It's not going to happen,  It's done, move on.
Movies, comics, video games are all forms of entertainment. So for the sake of argument, let's say that's a true statement. However, these forms of entertainment are not free. Meaning, they cost money to produce and cost money for people to enjoy… well, as we've seen, enjoyment is not always the case. Hence the bigger problem. Fans may not own the rights to the properties, but it's important to point out, fans are the only reason Hollywood wants to make movies of these properties in the first place. I don't see Hollywood getting the rights to intellectual properties that nobody cares about. Netflix and Hulu seem to do that. Nobody's screaming bloody murder about Cloak and Dagger… or maybe they are, I avoid social media so I really have no idea.
The point is “Toxic Fandom” doesn't start in a vacuum. It's the overwhelmingly strong reaction to something, because nothing doesn't spark people to post vile nasty hate filled venomous rants on Twitter.
Speaking of Venom, there's a movie that should have had a more toxic response from fans… but I guess Venom fans were just so thankful for a movie at all. They didn't even seem to care that we don't see a fully venomized Tom Hardy until exactly the 59 minute mark!
Let's look at something even closer to home for us as fans, more specifically comic fans. Batman #24-50. As I've talked about before. DC Comics, Tom King or whomever you want to point a finger at, constructed a story that many thought was intentionally misleading.
Had the story cost Batman fans nothing to read, the disappointment would not have been a big deal. Because, at the buy in price of “Free”, all fans are out is time. But that wasn't the case, it cost nearly $80 to read that story arc, plus sales tax, which varies from state to state. In the case of monthly or by-weekly comic reading, fans are often disappointed with stories and simply stop buying the book. Eventually, when enough fans stop buying the book, it's cancelled and a new creative team is put on. Rinse and repeat.
With movies, things are a little different. Millions of dollars are invested and thousands of people are employed to create a movie that provides a few hours of entertainment.
For me anyways, it's more like being held captive going to the theater. I'm bombarded with 20 minutes of movie previews I've already seen on YouTube. I'm extorted more money for stale popcorn and flat soda… not to mention I can not even pause the movie that I paid $14 for, when I relieve myself of the aforementioned flat soda. So for me, personally, I rarely enjoy going to the movies in the first place. I only do so because some assclown can't keep their mouth shut and will do everything possible to spoil a movie online. And for what? Just 30 second of attention in their pathetic existence.
Here's an idea that's sure to upset people. What if someone wanted to make a Martin Luther King Jr movie, except they took some creative liberties with it… for dramatic effect of course. Let's say producers decided to make MLK a drag queen who drove around the country in a pink cadillac selling LSD to school kids with his life partner Butch… you know, because visually that would probably be more exciting and wouldn't be just the same old story. He'd still ends up being a leading figure in the civil rights movement. But now he'll be a little more modernized… instead of following the story verbatim because that's “already been done”.
Man, people would be pissed… No, that's a gross understatement. People would lose their F'n minds with outrage… and rightfully so. Because that has nothing to do with who and what MLK was about.
I'm not trying to compare MLK to a fictional character like say… Batman. However, people do feel a strong connection to both. So when Hollywood starts trying to fix something that isn't broke, it's partly because they lack the fundamental understanding of what makes it what it is. So they do deserve to get blasted with both barrels on Twitter. If you don't want to be criticized, don't have your livelihood directly connected to people's wallets… or say off social media.
Maybe someone or many someones would be upset that you cast the guy from Twilight as Batman. However if the guy can actually pull it off, you have nothing to worry about. People seem to have forgotten what it was like when Michael Keaton was cast as Batman back in the 80's or the first photos leaked of Health Ledger as the Joker decades later.
I've said this before,  Batman doesn't kill or use guns, because when you change that about him, it's not Batman anymore. It's now something else… the Grim Knight as it turns out. Who happens to be a Batman from another universe. If someone wants to make a Grim Knight movie, great! I have no issue with that, but you don't get to just call it Batman. Because that's would not be accurate or honest.
In the movies, it takes writers, directors, producers, actors, concept artist, carpenters, costume designers, 3d artists, compositors, stunt people… and a whole lot of other positions I've neglected to mention. Just go on IMDB and see the full crew lists for movies, which barely scratches the surface of the true number of people involved in making a movie come to life. It's a lot of work, and I'm fully aware of the skill and dedication it takes.
Which makes this whole topic all the more infuriating. If you have so many people's livelihoods on the line, you'd think there'd be a sense of responsibility to do whatever is going to get the best reaction… rather than what's clearly a self indulgence. Yup, looking at you mechanical 80 foot tarantula.

 

This doesn't always happen, sometimes the changes are for the better. The issue isn't people being stuck in their ways or BS like that. It's that the changes can dramatically alter the source material and turn it into something completely unrecognizable. If your just going to do that, why bother paying to license it in the first place?

Look at the Fantastic Four's last outing. With the hundreds of things that they could do with the FF to modernize them, making Johnny black, Sue adopted so she could stay white and Doom… well whatever nonsense he was supposed to be. That was the best they could come up with? It's no wonder there was outrage! I don't have a problem with Johnny being black, I have a problem with Sue being white and whatever the hell they did to poor Doctor Doom! Just give him a damn toaster for a head if you can't do any better! Seriously, this is worse than Mr Conceptartist!

 

 

Anyways, let's get back to Peele's Candyman. I'm not going to lie. There's a lot of room to improve and update Candyman. Hell, depending, turning Candyman into… oh i don't know, something like maybe… a drag queen who sells LSD to school children might be an improvement, if nothing else, the title Candyman would probably make a little more sense.

Till next week!

 

11 comments

  • Avatar

    Nothing about Jordan Peele saying he won’t cast a white male lead in any of his future movies was “TOXIC” ?

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    Ughhhh… One reason I visit this site so often and enjoy it, is the lack of social commentary like this. That being said I’ve always found some of these complaints useless. Just vote with your dollars and market forces will eventually prevail (hopefully). If not and if this “fiction” veers too far from your nostalgic expectations, then just collect/pursue the old versions of it you like. What other option is there?

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    … And you know what’s really annoying as a black “fanboy” who has never ever bitched over the lack of diversity in comics/movies throughout a lifetime of interest? These absurd arguments like, what if MLK was depicted as such and such…MLK is a real person, Candyman isn’t jeezus, lmao. Oh and I’ll go cry now because one black horror director in the history of 99% white lead horror movies, says he won’t cast a white lead…boo hoo hoo. Then don’t watch his films! You have the freedom to do that. Trust me, he doesn’t need your dollars.

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      You don’t have a problem with a person in a position of power openly discriminating against someone based solely on race and gender?……and as far as JP needing my money…. it’s a good thing he don’t need it….LMAO….. Just out of curiosity what comics are you reading?

      • Avatar

        I wouldn’t consider this discrimination by a person in a place of power… Just a filmmaker making films to serve a historically underserved market. There are plenty of options available for non-black actors…fair? I wasn’t trying to diss anyone, I just find it rather annoying these type of complaints when history has mostly been one sided.

        You would probably find my comic tastes varied and relatively diverse…

        https://leagueofcomicgeeks.com/profile/agonyofvictory/collection

  • Avatar

    Toxic fan Intitlement is also a thing.

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    “I’m not trying to compare MLK to a fictional character like say… Batman. However, people do feel a strong connection to both”
    Seriously?

    • Avatar

      To be fair, I missed that…But if that’s the case why even bring it up? It’s a ridiculous example that totally undermines an argument regardless if you immediately acknowledge that. Pure Reductio ad absurdum…reduction to absurdity.

  • CountZeroInterrupt
    Avatar

    I get what you’re going for here Skot. I don’t agree (more on that in a moment) but I support you and your perspective on all things comics and appreciate your thought on these issues.

    That said, I think the issue of toxic fandom is a relevant one that really needs someone to shine a light on it. I’m old enough to remember a time before the internet (yeah, I’m ancient!) where if you didn’t like something you just dealt with it and moved on to other things. For all the people casually accusing JP of racism, this includes having little to no representation in films. Don’t get me started on horror films. As a black boy growing up in America I knew that when a black person showed up in a horror film, they would be one of the first, if not the very first person to die. We never made it to the end! It’s depressing to think about how normalized that became— not seeing any black people or seeing one knowing they would be played out as an idiot, thug or jive-talking comedy relief. You just accepted it because that was the reality. Now obviously that’s not okay and I’m not drawing a straight line of comparison between how black people dealt with things like that and how fans should comport themselves today (on the other hand– yeah, really…suck it up) but dude, people are sending death threats to creators and harassing them off of social media because they didn’t like a creative decision about a fictional character. I don’t care how much money you spent on movie tickets, books, cable bills or whatever. That shit is OUT OF CONTROL. But also, this goes to the point of JP saying that he probably won’t be casting white leads in his films. If you’re white and this bothers you, you lack perspective and should kick rocks.

    You (you generally, not you specifically Skot) are not entitled to the story that you want. You’re entitled to the story. Period. That is the social contract we all silently agree to when we give money to creators. Hopefully you have an awareness of that creator’s work and are basing your decision to give them money on the fact that you like what you’ve seen. But that’s all you’re promised…a product. That’s it: we give them money, they give us a product. If you don’t like the product, don’t give them anymore money. The end. Capitalism 101. The idea that people owe you anything more is something that needs to be shouted down at every opportunity until it’s too shameful to contemplate speaking of in polite company.

    This type of fandom has created a serious imbalance where creators are afraid to create. This is art, man. Art should be challenging and a work of art shouldn’t be something that everyone likes or agrees on. It’s been that way since the first cave paintings. But if those cave-dwellers murdered the one doing the painting because they didn’t like the picture, well none of us would be here to complain about anything.

    One last thing, you should probably not equate a fandom of Batman with appreciating the contributions to society (and ultimate sacrifice) of someone like Martin Luther King Jr. It’s not about making people angry (likely), but it invalidates your argument and is unlikely to sway anyone.

    I hope that this doesn’t come across as a direct assault on you/your perspective. I respect you as a fellow collector and wouldn’t want you to view this in that light. I guess I just needed to get this off my chest. We should probably take this up in person over a few beers.

    Cheers!

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