Your Favorite Media Is Not Yours

By: Dylan Hysen

 

Welcome to 2016, where it only takes one click to find legions of other people more “passionate” about your favorite television shows, movies, and any other forms of media than you are. We live in a new internet age, one where it doesn’t take extensive searching for a specialized forum for a show. All you have to do is visit your favorite show’s tag on your already-existing social media account to have instant access to thousands of other posts about your favorite show, character, or pairing.

Nevermind the obvious and immediately apparent degradation of discussion quality you’ll now find from your quick foray into the movie-you-just-saw’s tag. Because there’s something much more sinister, and yet also as obviously apparent that you’ll find: ownership. Yes, fans of shows and movies now think they control the characters and relationships that they see on screen. It’s now apparently their right to decide what happens to their “fav” or their “ship”.

Here’s a sampling of opinions (portrayed as facts) that you’ll find on a journey into tumblr (and even comments sections of news sites now!):

  • “They better not hurt my baby!”
  • “If my ship doesn’t happen by the end of this season I am going to stop watching”.
  • “I can’t believe they killed off my favorite character. How dare they! They meant so much more to me than anyone else and I’m harmed by their death!”

All of these assertions are obviously absurd and go against everything that’s great about content creation. Here’s the obvious reason why: they intend to take ownership of media away from that content’s creator.

This is so obviously destructive that I can’t believe I even have to say it. You watch a show to see the creator and crew’s story being told across the span of episodes and seasons. That is how television works. It’s the definition of television. If you take that away, we have nothing. Nothing.

Yes, I get the passion and I get how much media can mean to people these days. And it’s great. I love that media has the power to empower a person to believe in themselves and their identity in a way in which every other aspect of society fails them. A gay teen seeing someone like them portrayed on their favorite show can be life-changing in the best possible way and that’s so, so good. And it maybe even takes a meaning beyond the show itself.

But it doesn’t supersede the show itself. Because if it did, we would have nothing and be back to square one. Media can be life-changing because storytelling itself is empowering and incredible. Storytelling is the reason someone can see someone like them on screen and be more assured of their identity. They’re consuming a story about someone like them. And the one telling that story is the content creator. If they decide to kill off the character which meant so much to that gay teen… so be it. It’s their decision, because it’s their content. Maybe they’re misguided, maybe they approached it all wrong, but it’s their story. Inherently. Taking stories away from our content creators destroys the very essence of creative content itself, and if that happens, there can be no more life-changing stories. So let content creators tell their stories. Start your own stories! But don’t be apart of this unintentional attempt to destroy storytelling.

 

6 Comments

  1. Peter Coghill March 21, 2016 at 11:26 pm

    A great case study may be coming up in your sometime podcast Star Wars Rebels (its improved recently- have another go).

    A character (Ahsoka) is being ritually lined up for the chop, including all the cliches this season
    -her own kicking ass action scene
    -she mentors the main characters
    -promotional clip of her past interactions with DV
    Fandom reaction to her demise will be interesting as she has a wide spectrum from hate to love of reactions and a long history from 2008 with the fans.

     
    • Dylan Hysen March 22, 2016 at 7:02 am

      Interesting, interesting. Yeah I definitely need to catch up on that show.

       
  2. Vid March 22, 2016 at 2:12 am

    As someone with a strong dislike of ‘fandom culture’ I thought I would like this article, but I find it alarmist and silly. People have the right to criticize media, to vote with their dollar and to stop watching things they no longer enjoy. This is not novel. Criticism is important, if not essential, to understanding media at large.

    The idea of the niche minority that is Tumblr users somehow taking media away from a content creator is bizarre and so improbable that I’m not sure it’s worth entertaining, but, if some sort of media is really losing its audience to such a significant extent, chances are it IS doing something wrong and the criticism is deserved.

     
    • Dylan Hysen March 22, 2016 at 7:05 am

      I mean, I’m obviously not trying to argue against criticizing media.. That’s half of what I do on this site and podcast. I’m basically criticizing people putting their emotional connections to characters and ships above the show itself, and then acting like the show committed some great travesty when it decided not to go with their favorite ship.

       
  3. Beck March 26, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    I think I have to disagree…

    We are in a really sensitive time, representation in media has never been this good. Obviously we have a tremendous way to go, so naturally the characters and pairings that we do have are acting as a symbol: they are, of course, themselves, but also representations of “x” marginalized group- or many marginalized groups, so the fans are wary. On one hand, this is a content creator’s vision, their work, their art, their livelihood. However, on the other hand you have fans sick of being shown in one way. Doesn’t matter how cleverly it was portrayed. Fans are sick of it. These character belong to creator, but these characters are also the fans. Fans have the right to be insulted and deeply hurt with how they get portrayed.

    However, I would be really idiotic to not acknowledge the other side, though. Let’s go down memory lane- remember makorra after the LoK finally. Most systematically refused to see the facts: the creators hinted at romantic feelings/potential for Korrasami. The backlash was still ridiculous. I understand that, but media has so much power and negative representation is so much worse than no representation. (i’m sure you know this, but i wrote all of this just in case it was a response to lexa in the 100, also i don’t mean to sound angry, i’m just passionate lol)

     
    • Dylan Hysen March 26, 2016 at 8:02 pm

      This is definitely not meant to be specifically about The 100, although I completely think it applies to it. Recently I saw ClexaIsOurs or something trending on Twitter, and that’s just so incredibly dumb. Characters can take on special meaning to people, and it’s great when they do, but you don’t get to claim ownership of someone’s characters. It flies in the face of creative content making inherently, which is what I’m arguing here. It’s the same thing as when Makorra fans say they deserved to have their ship happen. Neither is true, the content is the content.

      Which isn’t to disqualify feelings. People can be upset, especially when shows portray bigoted things. In terms of The 100, fans had a right to be upset when that scene was done that way it was in the context of other media in our society, and I was upset too! “I don’t like how that was done” and even “I don’t want to watch anymore because of it” are completely different from “You were not allowed to do that”, which is what I’m talking about here, irrationally claiming ownership of content that belongs to a creator.

       

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