Respect the Fans
I will be the first to admit that there is a minority of fans that take their fandom to the extreme. They are highly emotional, and sometimes volatile. Yet, the majority of fans are good people who enjoy works of fiction and are loyal to the creators, companies and brands that have brought them enjoyment throughout their lifetime.
I do believe that in the highly corporate environment that exists today an understanding has been lost of what fandom wants; executives rely far too much on inaccurate focus groups and their ilk to provide data that inform corporate business decisions.
Most fans do not want a remake or reboot of what they’ve seen before. They do not want more of the same. What they want is to see those characters and worlds they love to thrive and prosper. They want the intellectual properties, whether Doctor Who, Star Wars or Spider-man to be shown respect, the canon to be upheld; the right creative individuals to helm projects, and stories that excite and entertain them, devoid of useless political agenda.
Fans want to be blown away by creativity. Fans are happy to buy tickets to movies, clothing and all sorts of tie-in merchandise to things that make them joyful and ignite their imagination. Fans are among the most giving and loyal people of any market. However, they become vocal when CEOs and other executives ruin the franchises they love with radical, unnecessary changes to content and characters, and ridiculous virtue signalling.
Fans are keenly aware that it is with their support, their money that a franchise prospered. They understand they helped build the company that pays the salaries of the CEOs and other executives who hold the keys to their beloved characters. And fans have had enough of the people in power not listening to their concerns, complaints and criticisms of the direction many, if not all, franchises are going.
Fans are tired of being called sexist or racist. These are the very people who accepted Carrie Fisher, Sigorney Weaver and Linda Hamilton into their family. They are the very people who have kept the legend of Bruce Lee alive to this very day. They just dislike spurious changes, like making Doctor Who a woman or giving Princess Leia Mary Poppins-like force powers.
After years of disregard by executives, fans are beginning to rebel; taking to twitter and YouTube to vent their frustration, no longer enthusiastically rushing to the theater or comic book store to give away their money in blind trust to corporations who have a long track record of disservice to both the fans, and the intellectual property they are selling.
Corporations need to get ears to the ground, listen to the fans, take notes and implement change. Agendas do not serve your bottom line. Fandom does. Pay attention. Hire new, creative writers and directors and let the creative folk do their work. Business people should not block and divert the stream of creative processes.
It’s time to stop seeing fans as the enemy – an unsavoury group of people who exist in their parents’ basements. Fans want to be your allies; they are not an anti-corporate fringe element. They want to see the likes of Marvel, Disney, Lucasfilm and Warner Brothers thrive and continue to grow. They just want companies to understand that they are very much invested stakeholders, and they will continue to happily invest in your companies and pay your salaries if you respect their simple wishes –– quality entertainment, made by truly creative individuals, for the fans.
Kaja Blackley is the author of Maggie MacCormack and the Witches’ Wheel now on sale: maggiemaccormack.com