Fanbase entitlement


  • Admin

    I was reading an article on Joss Whedon's views regarding fanbase entitlement and I thought maybe it's something we should discuss here.

    We're all fans of one genre or other, and many of us have been on either end of seeing a creation being nudged into a direction its players desired. Perhaps there is some debate to be had.

    If so, please have at it.



  • As applies to this online RP hobby, no. No you aren't entitled to anything. You stay and play because you enjoy the venue and what it is designed to offer. That itself may include the chance to contribute some or a great deal.

    Your popularity as an RPer doesn't matter.
    Your popularity as a player-ST doesn't matter.

    Yes, you can leave. You can point out what impairs your ability to enjoy or create and contribute. You may even end the game.

    The creators do not owe you that venue.
    You do not have any right to threaten anyone.

    You aren't paying for it, and you are free to go create your own such place. Then you can be the person making the offering and listening to someone bitch about how its not what they would do were they in charge.


  • Pitcrew

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  • Coder

    Prediction: This thread will be about how entitlement is bad and specific examples about how people have acted in an entitled manner. No debate about if entitlement is bad will take place.

    Exception: Ganymede will make a probative statement about either definition or practice, and will largely be ignored.



  • I would be interested in hearing any credible argument in favour of fan entitlement. I cannot think of any, but this doesn't mean they don't exist.


  • Politics

    @WTFE said in Fanbase entitlement:

    I would be interested in hearing any credible argument in favour of fan entitlement. I cannot think of any, but this doesn't mean they don't exist.

    Depends on what we refer to when we talk about entitlement, but I will give an example I think at least edges into the topic:

    Spoiler Alert in case you haven't watch Wynonna Earp and plan to.

    On Wynonna Earp, Wynonna's sister, Waverly, goes from dating a total dickswab to falling in love with a girl. The object of her affections, Officer Haught, (yes, pronounced hot), is a lesbian--they use the specific word, and she doesn't contest it!--is totally down with this and they develop a relationship over the course of several episodes.

    And then Officer Haught is shot. BANG BANG. Urk.

    Waverly runs to her. OH NO, said every Earper (that's the fans!) ever, not another dead lesbian in television god dammit!

    And so, we get this scene.

    Now, this scene was huge, because it essentially established Wynonna Earp as a show where those tropes that so many people who watch these types of shows hate are broken, molded, and used in unexpected and interesting ways, and where characters--and more importantly, types of characters--are respected and treated with some amount of social conscience regarding what representation means for the fans.

    You're asking yourself where the entitlement comes in. Hold on. I'm getting to it.

    This scene (and a few others, but mostly this one, led to a ridiculously effective and long-lasting movement on social media, because Syfy and NBCUniversal had not renewed the show yet. #RenewWynonnaEarp, by the way. For over a month, easy, my phone exploded with Twitter beeping as the fandom flooded NBCUniversal and Syfy with #RenewWynonnaEarp, citing this specific scene, as well as other aspects of the show that are progressive and fly against the common, usual eye-rolly script-writing we're all used to, especially regarding the treatment of women, LGBTQ, and people of color, as the reason why they love the show and it should be renewed, yadda-yadda-yadda.

    During their ComicCon panel, the show announced that Wynonna Earp is indeed getting a second season (and we all rejoiced, yaaaaaay)! That's GREAT!

    You're still waiting for the entitlement. That's okay. Hang on.

    The producers and writers cited the fandom's unwavering dilligence when it came to getting this show renewed as the reason it got renewed. Without the flooding of social media, etc., there were no guarantees. Not because it's a bad show, but just because--well--Syfy, NBCUniversal, and television executives in general, y'know? It would hardly have been the first good show to die because executives didn't get it.

    In any case--the show is renewed thanks in large part to the fans.

    The fans deserve for the show to continue on with this sort of treatment of its characters. I don't know if I would say they're entitled to it, but I think at this point, if next season we get a fridging, or we bury some gays for the dramz, then that's definitely a betrayal of the fandom who uplifted, defended, and got the show renewed based on those aspects they loved.

    In this case, I think the fans are "entitled" (and I only use the word because that's the word we're talking about, really) to the characters getting a certain type of treatment in season 2 (and onwards).

    I don't know if this example is the sort of thing you were looking for. But it's nice to get it out there because it was such a pleasant surprise.

    And if you haven't watched the show and you think you might like a progressive show centering around a pair of sisters that kick demon ass with a magical gun--well, give it a shot. First few episodes are a little iffy, but it gets so much better.



  • This is, in fact, the kind of thing I was looking for. And, in general, I would agree that if it was specifically the mass movement of fans that led to a show/movie/book/game/whatever existing at all then yes, the fans are entitled to a certain say in how it continues. (Not as much say, perhaps, as the more fanatical elements think, but definitely some say.)

    This also exists as a fine counterpoint to the "HOW THE FUCK DARE YOU DO <X> WITH <CHARACTER Y>!? GO KILL YOURSELF YOU COCKSUCKING BASTARD" style of entitlement that is so clearly wrong that anybody trying to defend it is either an idiot or a troll.


  • Coder

    I think the thing @Coin and really Gaiman talks about is fan interaction, fan support, fan conversation, and not fan entitlement. In the article (yes, I read the article), Gaiman and Wheedon are talking about a matter of extremes, and my take-away was that there is a point where ones investment becomes entitlement. Investment good. Entitlement bad. Fire bad, tree pretty.


  • Admin

    And yet entitlement exists and it doesn't always take nasty forms. For instance just this morning I saw this article from the Boston Globe written by someone who's coming from a good place; it's her childhood memories she's defending, at least in her mind, from all this new stuff. It's not even that the stuff is necessarily bad mind you, even according to her; it's just different, and so it has to stop!

    In our hobby though it applies differently because who has the 'right' to set the overall pace and direction? It's not always (in fact not even typically once a MU* has been running for a while) that an original content creator is being confronted by their players who want something different; typically it's closer to 'a revolving door of changing staff' dealing with 'long-time players'; is it entitlement when Bob Staffer (who wants a Mage sphere based on Consilium politics) retires and gives way to Tim Staffer (who wants a Mage sphere modelled after exploration) and people in the sphere take exception?

    It's not a rhetorical question.


  • Politics

    @Thenomain said in Fanbase entitlement:

    Exception: Ganymede will make a probative statement about either definition or practice, and will largely be ignored.

    You wound me, sir.


  • Pitcrew Banned

    I've been lurking on these forums for a couple of days but I think I'm going to chime in on this one.

    What always gets me about "fan entitlement" is how it always seeks to meddle in the affairs of a content creator. They act as though content is some kind of truly finite resource, and so, we need to supplant the existing content with content that we approve of, since like land, God isn't making any more of it.

    I think this is seen most dramatically with people who push to recreate characters under their special snowflake demographics, and conversely, the people who vehemently oppose such reimagining. Just look at the Ghostbusters remake to see this in action; on the one hand, Hollywood was trying to sell a movie people weren't buying and throwing a tantrum over them not buying it (which is like content creator entitlement, if such a thing exists), but on the other, "anti-PC" lunatics were throwing their own tantrum about how Ghostbusters is now SJW trash. Another example is making James Bond a black guy by casting Idris Elba. I don't mind it, and look forward to seeing Elba in that role, since I know his performance in The Wire was top notch, but people were freaking out because the figured it some kind of conspiracy to supplant the white man from his rightful place in make-believe spy shit cinema.

    I live in a country (the United States) with really rock solid freedom of speech policy. There are very few things you aren't allowed to say. The only things I can think of that you couldn't put into fiction are child pornography and explicit plans to kill the President or overthrow the government, and even then, the former only applies if it involves depictions of actual children. So basically, we're allowed to say whatever we want in our fiction, and we're all allowed to make our own.

    I think we would do well as a community if we made an effort to detach ourselves from the perceived legitimacy of certain sources. For example, Onyx Path does not own urban fantasy; World of Darkness is one of many interpretations of a modern world with supernatural horrors. Another example is Hasbro doesn't own high fantasy.

    I think fanbase entitlement would be severely undermined if we changed our attitude about "third party" content. I think the concept of "canon" exacerbates the issue, as if the things one person makes-up are somehow more valid than the things some other person makes-up. If we got rid of that, there probably wouldn't be any (or at the very least, not as much) fan entitlement. This isn't the Catholic Church. All fiction (especially in roleplaying) is based at least loosely on past fiction. Nobody's opinion really matters. There is no "canon." Just make something up and hope you've got the raw talent to make it exciting for whoever happens upon it.



  • @Third-Eye said in Fanbase entitlement:

    So basically, we're allowed to say whatever we want in our fiction, and we're all allowed to make our own.

    Well, no. Copyright and good taste need to be taken into consideration. If I wanted to make a book about vampires that come from five different lineages and so on and so forth... I think Paradox (or whoever owns the rights these days) would be mildly peeved if I started making money off of it.

    There is no "canon."

    If someone is writing, or creating, something in an established 'universe' - such as Star Wars, or James Bond, or Transformers... you can ignore canon all you like, if you really want to. But the kinds of people that read/play/otherwise absorb such content are likely going to be people that like, or at the very least understand, the 'canon' as presented in the 'official' media of those subjects. So, sure.

    You can make whatever you like. People can also think what you made is shit.


  • Pitcrew Banned

    @Tinuviel You're right about copyright law. There is something to be said for that. I think you can get sued if you make "fan fiction" and it pisses off the original creators.

    I don't know about "good taste," though. "Good taste" is pretty subjective, though. Like you said, everybody is free to find anybody else's shit to be just gobbledygook, but that doesn't mean we're all not free to make it. Most content is gobbledygook. Most content from established, popular authors is gobbledygook.

    Also, I don't think taking ideas and recreating them qualifies as copyright infringement. Onyx Path not only doesn't have a copyright on urban fantasy in general, but I can go a step farther and say that they don't have a copyright on there being five Clans or Paradox on there being five Lineages or whatever else. Anne Rice doesn't own the concept of the Embrace even though she popularized it (and may have even invented it outright).

    I think you're trying to legitimize this idea that there's something magical about being a content creator, which is what motivates people to get so uppity on social media in the first place. Anybody can be a content creator. In a way, we're both content creators now by dint of commenting on this on this very forum.



  • @Third-Eye My point was that if I took something that was obviously heavily based on someone else's creation, they'd be right to call me out on it. Or sue me. Or send Blorg friendship squads after me.

    Secondly, you're grossly misunderstanding what I'm saying if you think I believe that there's "something magical" about being a creator of things. I'm a creator of things, every character I make (or... more realistically every time I retool the same character for everything) is a piece of 'content'.

    I'm saying that if you want to rehash over ground that someone else has already trod and found popularity from, a la Star Trek reboots, Disney's Star Wars, etcetera, I believe that fans have the right to a level of expectation, whether you'd call that entitlement or not, as to how things are going to go. Kirk is a dick, Spock is a nerd, lightsabers go brrrrrrm, and Thrawn matters.

    If you take a thing someone else has made, without copyright being an issue, and people like the original... expect kickback if yours is radically different.


  • Admin

    @Tinuviel Here's a thing though - let's work with copyright.

    Let's say Harry Potter's rights are legally transferred to HBO, and they make an ultra-violent sexy take on the world of Harry Potter. For the purposes of this we can also assume the show is good - it's perfectly watchable, it's just not traditional Potterverse. There are heads exploding, body parts are getting exposed and all that adult stuff.

    Would fans be right to be upset about it? Is that the wrong kind of entitlement?



  • @Arkandel I think my last sentence answered that one: If you take a thing someone else has made [...] and people like the original... expect kickback if yours is radically different.

    I'll admit, the only real "right" an absorber of content has in the case of them not liking something is, simply, not to absorb it. Complain, critique, and spread the word if one must, sure. But ultimately, nobody is under an obligation to do anything about a content absorber's dislike.

    So, yes. If HBO turned Harry Potter into Sin City meets Generation Kill, Potter fans would be within their rights to be upset. I would also be right to call HBO stupid for doing so (until viewing/financial information proved me wrong). But HBO would also be right to make that, if they wanted - they would not be right in making it and acting surprised when fans of the IP voiced concerns or criticisms of the content they created.


  • Admin

    See, that still doesn't satisfy me @Tinuviel. Let me be more clear on why.

    I think my last sentence answered that one: If you take a thing someone else has made [...] and people like the original... expect kickback if yours is radically different.

    Just because we know kickback is expected it doesn't make it justified. For instance George Martin delaying Winds of Winter for years was guaranteed to cause the fanbase to grumble but it's perfectly within his rights to not work (which is what it is) if he doesn't want to. Those are separate things.

    I'll admit, the only real "right" an absorber of content has in the case of them not liking something is, simply, not to absorb it. Complain, critique, and spread the word if one must, sure. But ultimately, nobody is under an obligation to do anything about a content absorber's dislike.

    We agree there.

    I would also be right to call HBO stupid for doing so (until viewing/financial information proved me wrong).

    So does fiscal viability play a role (and what kind of role)? For example the Star Wars prequels were quite successful financial but the common consensus is that those movies were shit; does the number of tickets sold alter the premise? Was Lucas less stupid for doing them the way he did because it still made money?


  • Pitcrew

    @Arkandel said in Fanbase entitlement:

    Would fans be right to be upset about it? Is that the wrong kind of entitlement?

    Yes they would, but the fans that liked it would also be right to say it is awesome.
    I might be a minority but I have zero sympathy for creators that fans bitch to for various things. If you put something out for public consumption people who consume it and are dissatisfied for some reason will complain. Creative content is just another consumer good.
    The biggest difference to me is that Gaiman and Weedon etc are handsomely compensated for their troubles where as for most good people end up complaining to some poor bastard stuck working behind a customer service desk.

    One thing I do think is that fan entitlement has become a term like SJW that get tossed into any conversation near the topic as a weapon. To use the New Ghostbusters I was accused of fan entitlement when I said I wasn't going to see it, the reason I stated for not wanting to see it was that I hadn't enjoyed Melissa McCarthy in any role since Gilmore Girls. Not sure how that makes me "entitled" instead so someone not fond of performances but there you have it. I found this more amusing then anything else since for this particular franchise any good childhood memories have already been sufficiently tainted by Ghostbusters 2, which happened back in my childhood as well.



  • @Arkandel said in Fanbase entitlement:

    See, that still doesn't satisfy me @Tinuviel. Let me be more clear on why.
    Just because we know kickback is expected it doesn't make it justified. For instance George Martin delaying Winds of Winter for years was guaranteed to cause the fanbase to grumble but it's perfectly within his rights to not work (which is what it is) if he doesn't want to. Those are separate things.

    Sure, and I hold that (at least roughly) one entity's rights end when another entity's rights begin. Thus if something doesn't meet expectations, then the expector has the right to complain. They do not have the right to react in a way that the average person would consider over the top. Your football team doesn't win? You can be angry, but you can't riot and raise hell, for example.

    So does fiscal viability play a role (and what kind of role)? For example the Star Wars prequels were quite successful financial but the common consensus is that those movies were shit; does the number of tickets sold alter the premise? Was Lucas less stupid for doing them the way he did because it still made money?

    It depends entirely on the goal of releasing the content in question. Making the prequels might well have been a passion project yadda yadda, but the ultimate goal of a film-maker of such a scale as Lucas is to make money. He made money, therefore he wasn't stupid in my view. His creative decisions may have been stupid (I didn't actually mind the prequals), but he wasn't. I was, however, more intending on making a flippant remark about money being more important than quality.

    Making a MU*, on the other hand, is generally about creating an environment for others to do things with. Creating a toolset, as it were. If Bob Staffer, per your example above, gave a certain toolset to the sphere and people enjoyed using it they'd certainly be right to complain when Tim Staffer replaced their tools with something they didn't want to use. Therefore Tim has failed to create the environment that others wanted.

    Movies are about one generally static group making a thing, with the rest of us absorbing it. That's it.
    MUs are about one sometimes changing group making a thing, another variable group taking that thing and playing with it, and giving it back to be played with again, and again. There is a process of evolution and change that happens on a MU, and will eventually (ideally) work itself into a place where the majority like it. If someone then comes in to upset that equilibrium, then naturally the people that worked for the status quo, and those that came in with the intention of experiencing same, will be annoyed. And I'd say they'd be right to do so.


  • Pitcrew

    I immediately thought of the fanbase of Teen Wolf when I saw this thread. Romantic relationships are a core element of the show that the fandom latches onto, particularly the "Sterek" and "Stydia" types. Sterek shippers tend to adamantly insist the chemistry between the two characters in question is and has always been there and often get angry about it not being pushed into overt presentation and actual canon; Stydia types go into a flurry of "this is our year!" prior to every season. (Final season coming in Nov: THIS IS OUR YEAR!)

    It actually got me thinking a lot about mushes that are based on media and how we approach canon on games. I love playing in the canon settings of media based worlds that I love, but I also find I have to be very careful and remind myself to be patient when it comes to how others view canon, and the necessity of canon. It is an acknowledged sense of entitlement, and an awareness that I have to curb my own urge of telling someone UR DOIN IT WRONG.


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