Contempt for your fans

#1

It seems to be a more and more common thing, as adaptations and re-makes of beloved nostalgic properties keep getting greenlit, that the creators keep getting confronted with opinions that they’re getting the character wrong.

And if the creator disagrees with that, that’s fair enough. And sometimes the criticisms themselves are problematic (e.g. when criticisms of the Ghostbusters reboot were based around fact that it had a female cast rather than any actual problems with the film).

But some adaptors go far past that, and get upset that the fans have expectations of their characters, and go on tirades about how the fans are being ridiculous for wanting the films to be faithful adaptations.

This thread is for that kind of creator.

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#2

First example:

I mean, look. Snyder could point out that Nolan’s Batman is at least guilty of reckless homicide on a massive level, or that what he did to Ra’s al-Ghul was murder by almost any definition. Or that Keaton’s Batman gleefully killed bad guys, left, right and centre, and the Kilmer/Clooney movies, which stuck to a more traditional no-killing Batman (except when it came to Two-Face) are rightly derided. It’s a fair argument that a Batman who doesn’t kill can’t be portrayed realistically on screen.

The problem is when the creator demands that fans of the Batman discard most of the 80 years’ worth of that character’s history, screaming, “No, it’s the children who are wrong.

Batman doesn’t kill. It’s one of his defining traits. If you don’t feel you can adopt that in your version without compromising the character, fine. But you should expect to be criticized for it, just like if you had created a dystopian future and called it Star Trek, or adapted a 310 page avuncular, whimsical adventure into three two-and-a-half-hour war movies.

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#3

Contempt for fans doesn’t even need blowback to fan criticism. I’m not a superhero fan particularly, but what was done to the movie version of Asimov’s “Nightfall” (for example) was itself contempt for fans, on a massive degree.

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#4

Once could say the same about I, Robot. The themes of “But what about not-Three-Laws-compliant robots?” and “But what about protecting not just individual humans, but humanity as a whole?” both came up in Asimov’s works, and the movie took positions exactly opposite to the ones that Asimov himself wrote.

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#5

Yup. And Bicentennial Man had a different ending. In the novelette, Andrew decides to die at the end, to become mortal and thus fully human, a fabulous, dramatic ending. In the movie (IIRC), he decides to have a sex life, which just seemed tacky.

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#6

I’m pretty sure that happened in the movie, too.

Eh. I think that’s more a YMMV thing than contempt for the original story or its fans. An argument can be made that sexuality and the desire for companionship are part of being human.

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#7

Faulty memory – you’re probably right.

Asimov felt no need to include anything else, so I was annoyed they took the extra step.

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#8

There’s going to be some of that when adapting a short story to a full length movie, but, judging from what I’m seeing based on reviews, it looks like the second half of the movie is regarded as being saccharine, so you may be right. It’s been a long time since I’ve watched the movie, so I only have the vaguest memories of it.

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#9

Faithful to what? To whom?

Last summer I saw a version of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar that focused on the friendship between Caesar’s and Brutus’ wives, and how their lives are torn apart by the men in their lives practising politics – an endeavour they’re not even allowed to participate in. It made a well-trod story fresh, and reflected the larger implications of the power games thought of as the “main plot”.

Then there’s films like Twelve Monkeys and the original Blade Runner film – both radical takes on the original material, neither of which would please fans obsessed with “faithfulness”, yet amazing works in their own right.

Hell, compare the first Star Wars film to the Japanese films it was inspired by, or The Magnificent Seven to Seven Samurai. Both are “unfaithful”, though still clearly linked to the source material.

Insisting on only “faithful” adaptations gives us a smaller creative culture. If you don’t like the reboot, remake, fresh take, then don’t. As a fan you’re not obliged to like everything.

I love Star Trek. I don’t like what JJ Abrams did with the reboot films. I still love Star Trek anyhow. I don’t think JJ Abrams ruined my childhood.

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#10

You make good points. My gripe is when they change things but do a horrible job. Asimov’s stories for example tend to be so tightly woven and to the point, that it’s really difficult to change them without poking holes in the fabric. I do wonder what they will do to Foundation (if it ever gets put to film).

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#11

I think you’re misreading my post. Or I am not communicating my point very well.

My problem isn’t with the creators who “unfaithfully” adapt the property, and I’ve even pointed out several reasons why such criticisms of “unfaithfulness” might be disingenuous, or might be attacking elements which are necessary to an adaptation.

My problem is with the creators who, when confronted with such criticisms, turn around and blame the fans, rather than making the simple argument that the characters that the fans wanted to see wouldn’t work with the story the author was trying to tell.

This is what Abrams said about Star Trek fans.:

In an interview with The Associated Press, Abrams said: "The whole point was to try to make this movie for fans of movies, not fans of Star Trek, necessarily.
“If you’re a fan, we’ve got one of the writers who’s a devout Trekker, so we were able to make sure we were serving the people who are completely enamoured with Star Trek. But we are not making the movie for that contingent alone.”
Abrams added that making a film solely for devout Trekkers could alienate mainstream moviegoers.
“You can’t really make a movie for [Trekkers],” Abrams commented. “As soon as you start to guess what you think they are going to want to see, you’re in trouble.”

…That’s fair.

This is what Snyder said about DC fans:

“Someone says to me: Batman killed a guy. I’m like ‘F***, really? Wake the f*** up,’” he said. "Once you’ve lost your virginity to this f***ing movie and then you come and say to me something about like, ‘my superhero wouldn’t do that.’ I’m like, ‘Are you serious?’ I’m like down the f***ing road on that.
“It’s a cool point of view to be like ‘my heroes are still innocent. My heroes didn’t f***ing lie to America. My heroes didn’t embezzle money from their corporations. My heroes didn’t commit any atrocities.’ That’s cool. But you’re living in a f***ing dream world.”

There’s a big difference between Abrams’ “I’m not going to write a story just to please Trek fans,” and Snyder’s “How dare you disagree with my portrayal of your favourite superhero?”

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#12

A lot of this kind of thing is over “properties” that should really be in the public domain by now.

Twenty years would be plenty. Fifty would be excessive. Ninety-five – what we actually have – is nuts.

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#13
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#14

Agreed.

But this kind of contempt for the fans even happens with works already in the public domain (cued up to the appropriate point in case you don’t want to watch two hours of Sherlock hate):

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#15

No, it’s my fault. I took liberties with your thread, and commented on cases where my problem is with the creators who “unfaithfully” adapted the property. Sorry about that.

Yeah, I’ve been worrying about that.

PC --> Mac
Foundation --> ?

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#16

I keep hoping someone will buy the rights to the Dominic Flandry novels (Poul Anderson), but then, they’d probably screw them up.

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#17

posting these just because it took some effort to dig them up

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#18

Having sat through the director’s commentary from Abrams on the first ST reboot (er, which a fan is more likely to do), I’d say he’s pretty contemptuous. It’s hard to come back from ignoring female ST fans exist and claiming you had to put special birth scenes in your film to keep the women interested. He says some pretty shitty things about SF in general and ST in particular, claiming they’re all bigger-budget versions of the submarine adventure B films of the late 40s and early 50s. He mocks the actors, the actors from TOS, and just generally comes across as an asshole and most definitely not a fellow fan traveller the way, say, Kevin Smith is.

I’d say he goes one further than Snyder, namely “you’re too dumb to know I messed with your favourite characters, and anyhow you’ll watch this just to be a completionist”. He’s not just contemptuous of the fans; he’s contemptuous of anyone who saw the film. He just waited for the commentary, which only fans will hear, and only safely between the press junkets for theatrical releases when no-one in the mainstream media is paying attention.

Because I have bad news: except for the Kevin Smiths and perhaps Ridley Scotts of the world, all of Hollywood has contempt for the fans.

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#20

…I think I remember you mentioning this before.

Yeah, that’s kind of the feeling I got from watching the Abrams Star Trek movies, but I didn’t want to call him on that without evidence.

Anyway, yes. That’s the kind of thing I wanted to highlight with this thread. I don’t care so much that they adapt these iconic stories in a way the fans don’t like. They’re never going to please everyone, and no studio is going to fund a movie for just the super-fans to watch (Deadpool being the exception, after years of Reynolds pressuring them into it, and a strong positive response to leaked test footage, and even then, they gave that movie a quarter of the budget of Days of Future Past). The focus is always going to be on making a good movie, more than on making a faithful adaptation, and that’s how it should be.

I just hate how they act as if they’re above criticism because of an attitude of “genre films are stupid and genre fans are stupid.”

[RANT ABOUT HOW MUCH MONEY GENRE FANS SPEND DELETED]

No doubt. Marvel Studios, at least, brought Kevin Feige in, who keeps up at least the appearance of caring what the fans think.

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#21

Deadpool is an interesting example, because honestly, I didn’t know much about the character before the film, but I loved it. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.

But that just supports your point, really. Very few people controlling the purse strings at the studios know what movie lovers actually like, strongly genre films even less so.

I remember meeting a woman who was hardcore into The Fifth Element, and other SF films too, the less franchise-y the better. She was a working class mother finishing her high school diploma at am adult education centre, and I bet her demographic didn’t get considered at all in the marketing of any of the films she loved.

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