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There Is No See Saw

Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, May 23, 2020

(I'm writing this after a very long and hard day of mental and physical work so if it sounds ranty or convoluted…. eh, you've been warned :P )

Humans are competitive by nature. Somehow we have to rank everything- all things, from the most concrete to the most abstract are better than something else, or worse. Even parents- who hasn't been asked as a child “who do you love the most, mom or dad?” or “who is better, mom or dad?” Sometimes in less flippant situations than others.

Somehow, the concept that not all things can be ranked on an ordinal scale and sometimes, frequently, things should not be ranked, is less popular than vomit, especially lately.

In the entertainment industry, and especially when it comes to animation or comics, the general go-to strategy in promoting remakes or sequels of established IPs is to attempt to talk up the new version or new sequel by taking shots at the original or previous ones.

It's not a strategy that's new in general- people have been doing it since time immemorial when they felt the only way to look good to someone is to make sure everyone else looks ugly. It's like they think appeal works like a see saw, if one goes down, the other goes up by default. (It doesn't, of course)

It is, however, to my knowledge, new in the animation and comics sector.

And it's really bad.

From She-Ra (new vs old) to Thundercats (Roar vs the others) to Star Wars (Disney vs the others) to now Avatar: The Last Airbender vs Korra vs which was better, which type of sequel should be made, and so on, the all get the same approach: diss the original IP, attack the fans for liking the original IP, blackmail emotionally to strongarm them into ‘liking’ or ‘accepting’ or …I've no idea, maybe just not voice their opinions on the newest installments.

Now, I want to be transparent. Most of such franchises that end up getting an installment that is promoted in that manner have produced sequels that I personally do not like. Some I just don't like an don't care, others I don't like and feel somewhat sorry for having seen what has been produced. There are some that I like- like the latest Jumanji movie, or King Fu Panda's trilogy.

Often though, the ones I like do not come packaged in this toxic kind of PR. They simply build on the original and give their own spin, or own expansion of the universe.

The point I'm trying to make is that badgering the old source material comes across as lacking confidence in the new material. It also puts a burden on the new material, in that it often puts off people that might have been more open to the new iterations or the way things are developed going forward.

I'm glad that when Korra came out, none of this compulsive and undermining comparison to the original Avatar existed. I was happy to explore on my own without being preemptively told what I should think about it. Granted, I didn't like it much, with a few exceptions of some episodes, but I wasn't threatened with ad hominems on the chance I voiced that. And overall I was glad I watched it.

Watching She Ra, after all the raging attacks from either side, I felt unhappy. Not only because I didn't like it and found its premise had considerably weakened compared to the original (but also didn't stand well as a stand alone either in my opinion) but because whether I liked it or not, I would be unable to talk about it without getting into some debate that would quickly get in tangents and heightened emotions.

When I didn't like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, talking about not liking it was FUN. It wasn't a line in the sand where people had to sort themselves into opposing armies and then fight. And talking with others that liked it about the scenes they did like gave me insights about things I would have overlooked.

I feel we have lost this, because everything goes on that see saw of talking down to be talked up by comparison. Everything must be put on an ordinal scale, compete about which is better.

And everyone loses. The original IP loses as people lose enthusiasm for it, the new addition loses because it guarantees itself a part of the fandom will despise it, and the fandom loses because they will miss out on good things that might exist to be enjoyed even in things they like.

There is no see saw.

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Banes at 8:45PM, May 24, 2020

So well said, all around. Loved it, and the different spin you put on it. Ordinal scale! That's a new term for me.

ShaRose49 at 8:41PM, May 24, 2020

It IS really sad that it’s so friggin’ hard for people to just agree to disagree anymore, even on things that ultimately don’t matter that much, like fictional shows. Will people 40 years from now still be worrying about some of these things? Also I’m happy that you liked the Kung Fu Panda sequels, I certainly did, even the third one. I wasn’t too fond of the HTTYD sequels, but I’m not about to make a big deal out of them either, again—it’s not that important in the long run.

Andreas_Helixfinger at 1:37AM, May 24, 2020

Honestly, I don't really have any opinion of my own on this. I'm way too out of touch with the IP's that comes out of the mainstream these days to really have one. I do like to hear commentators give their opinions on it from time to time. That's the only way I keep myself updated about it these days. But from the way you describe it here, the whole, damn PR game, and the way its being played out these days, sure sounds depressing. It's not for reasons like this that I avoid content from the mainstream though, I'm just not all that interested in it, that's all^^

usedbooks at 4:41AM, May 23, 2020

Nothing has ever been a bigger let-down than when they tried to make a new Get Smart series -- starring Andy Dick (and with easily the worst written female lead in all of history). But I digress. Remakes and new spins don't replace originals. It can be annoying to have to qualify which you are talking about once something new is made. (Like The Producers. The Gene Wilder one wasn't very good, imo.) No need to compare. You can hate things on their own standalone merits.

Ozoneocean at 3:42AM, May 23, 2020

I like it when it's fun to take a side. But these days it can become so un-fun that it's often best not to talk about stuff at all. The newer Jumanji fi, was something I enjoyed too- not done as a stupid re-boot but simply another Jumanji adventure in that world. That's generally how you SHOULD do this sort of thing. There are exceptions of course.

marcorossi at 2:34AM, May 23, 2020

It seems to me that being a "fan" of some fiction is similar to being a fan of a football club or being a partisan of a political party: it gives a strong emotional identity but as this identity is largely based on tribalism it works only against other parties or football teams.I'm not sure on why this work for fiction, but for example in music and in the generational aspects of music this is very evident.

El Cid at 2:28AM, May 23, 2020

You can always build a bigger tent, to let in more people. No need to leave anyone out. I feel exhausted at this point trying to make sense of some of the decisions I see being made in the entertainments industry. As much as we all like to make fun of the big studios for being callous and money hungry, a lot of the things they do don't even make sound financial sense. I sort of wish they *would* go back to just trying to make money! (maybe they've gotten so big at this point, that they take that for granted, so they just do what they want?)

bravo1102 at 1:29AM, May 23, 2020

The old zero sum assumption. You see just because one thing goes up doesn't mean something else has to go down. Fandom is not a closed system. So long as anyone can make something new things can expand. There's a quantum concept of a particle actually borrowing energy seemingly out of nowhere. Allowing that into your head the see saw flies out the window, smashes into the monkey bars and falls into a heap with the slide and swings.

plymayer at 12:34AM, May 23, 2020

Are there monkey bars?

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