back to list

Ban Fan Plan?

Banes at 12:00AM, May 11, 2023

I watched an interview with Ira Behr, the writer and showrunner on Star Trek Deep Space Nine. He talked about his days in the DS9 writer's room. It was the 90's, and the early days of the Internet. Even in those days, Star Trek discussion was flourishing online.

Behr said the writers would come in talking about fan forums, and about complaints the fans had about the show. Behr told them to ignore it, and forget the fans. Behr went on to lament the fandom (though not fans as individuals, who he said he's had positive interactions with) and proclaimed that it was not for the fans to tell the writers what to do. He said something that I've heard from other franchise writers: that it's not the job of the writers to give fans what they want - it's to give them what they need.

It was challenging to hear this, even though I'm sure I've heard it in years past and probably agreed with it. But it did fly in the face of so much criticism I've heard of modern franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek in recent years. The fandom, who now have a loud voice online, are often complaining about the Franchises not delivering for the fandom, and even fighting with fans on social media and possibly criticizing/insulting them in the print media.

(I say “possibly” criticizing fans in the media because I think the print media will make headlines out of the most attention-getting stuff and the words of creators can have their meaning distorted or exaggerated out of context. But that's a whole other discussion).

So many fan critics have called for more FANS to be in the writers' rooms of these Franchises - as the studios seem to be turning away from this idea, and hiring writers who know nothing about the Franchises they'll be writing. How can these writers deliver quality stories for these brands when they know nothing about the brands or what appeals to people about them? It's a fair question!

Still, hiring writers who are fans - or more likely, pandering to fans can be a losing strategy as well. If any franchise surveyed the top superfans of whatever series they're working on and included their top 20 wants for the next sequel or season, you could easily end up with a mess.

Just as bad could be delivering the most recognizable surface elements of a Franchise - recognizable to general audiences, that is. See Star Trek Into Darkness for an example of this.

Sticking with Star Trek, Nicholas Meyer is the celebrated director of two of the best/most beloved Star Trek films (Wrath of Kahn and The Undiscovered Country). He has said that he knew nothing about Star Trek when he developed the scripts and directed the movies. He said he had scifi/Star Trek scripts but directed them as if they were submarine movies.

It worked!

Meanwhile, Terry Matalas delivered a fanservice-heavy Picard season three with great success.

I believe the fanservice in Picard has a strong foundation of understanding the characters and world of Star Trek deeply, and delivering on a deeper level with the characters. That's the true fan service of that season in my opinion - the surface level stuff is nice, but would have been empty without that deeper knowledge - Matalas is a big Trek fan himself.

The early X-Men movies worked in a similar way - the creators may not have been fans of the comics, but they dug deeply into the comics to understand the fundamentals of those characters and that series. Same with several of the early Marvel movies.

I guess GOOD writers can ignore the fans because they will know what they're doing far better than most fans.
Bad writers who arrogantly snub the fans…and the franchises they're writing…will be less successful.

How many people are fans of seeing this lengthy article come to an end?

I'm with you!

See you next time!

Don’t forget you can now advertise on DrunkDuck for just $2 in whichever ad spot you like! The money goes straight into running the site. Want to know more? Click this link here! Or, if you want to help us keep the lights on you can sponsor us on Patreon. Every bit helps us!

Special thanks to our patrons!!

Justnopoint - Banes - RMccool - Abt_Nihil - Gunwallace - PaulEberhardt - Emma_Clare - FunctionCreep - SinJinsoku - Smkinoshita - jerrie - Chickfighter - Andreas_Helixfinger - Tantz_Aerine - Genejoke - Davey Do - Gullas - Roma - NanoCritters - Teh Andeh - Peipei - Digital_Genesis - Hushicho - Palouka - cheeko - Paneltastic - L.C.Stein - dpat57 - Bravo1102 - The Jagged - LoliGen - OrcGirl - Miss Judged - Fallopiancrusader - arborcides - ChipperChartreuse - Mogtrost - InkyMoondrop - Jgib99 - Hirokari - Orgivemedeath Ind - Mks Monsters - GregJ - HawkandFloAdventures



hushicho at 6:16PM, May 12, 2023

Picard is shaping up like crap, but the writers were openly hostile to the fans and even the actors in the day. I walked away from Star Trek primarily because of its extremely bad, extremely toxic production. DS9 was where it came to a tipping point for even members of the cast. I don't think catering completely to fan demand is the answer, but neither is putting one's hands on one's proverbial ears and willfully shutting out anything they have to say. Ultimately, this is entertainment for those fans, and if you intend to profit as these shows do, you cannot ignore what their expectations are, even if you make the choice not to meet them or to meet them in an unexpected way.

marcorossi at 10:07AM, May 11, 2023

"hiring writers who are fans - or more likely, pandering to fans" these are two very different things: the first is OK but the second is not. Imagine watching a mistery story, and at some point you realize that the writers have no idea of who is the murderer, they are just AB testing to see what the fans would prefer. If you realize something like this you'll lose all the interest in the story, because it will not look "real" anymore. But this is true in general if you perceive "pandering": it destroys the suspension of disbelief.

Kou the Mad at 6:06AM, May 11, 2023

I do feel it's probably a good idea to at least try to get a feel for a Franchise and it's fanbase a bit, you DEFINITELY shouldn't try to antagonize them (Which has become rather worryingly frequent nowadays.....Which tends to end poorly in terms of financial success.). But to listen to every single fan and their complaints is also a bad idea.

Ozoneocean at 5:42AM, May 11, 2023

Remember, the quote is "what fans need". They didn't need the new Star Wars movies. Oh those had ingredients to be good! It's such a shame... all good actors, interesting setups, old cast and new really interesting ones... But then you get a story written like it was dictated by a 13 year old with poor story writing skills and no idea of what starwars is or even scifi and fantasy in general. The plots and stories are just weirdly stupid.

TheJagged at 5:23AM, May 11, 2023

The lesson here: Never write for franchises. Especially franchises with religiously dedicated fanbases. Nah i agree with that guy, fans don't know what they want. Of course they don't, they're not the ones with the professional career in writing. Just focus on writing a good story, and the fans will love it anyway.

PaulEberhardt at 2:03AM, May 11, 2023

"Opinions are like a...holes: everybody's got one." as the old saying (and/or Dirty Harry quote) goes. It's not a nice adage, but sometimes writers - all kinds of creators - have to act in the way it suggests if they really want to keep the show from disintegrating into a jumbled mess. It takes balls to do that, and not everyone's got them. (Don't worry, I'm done with body metaphors for today now. 😁) On the other hand, most of the problems with fandoms seem to occur with franchises that have run on longer than what would normally be compatible with good storytelling. That's why I prefer to see it the other way round: if they can actually produce anything watchable at all after all these years and with that backlog, their writers and directors deserve big praise.

skyangel at 1:49AM, May 11, 2023

Lovely article and very thought provoking so I'm all for a much anticipated sequel, and another and another.. and maybe some more but only if still written by your good self as I'm already very comfortable with your writing! This I think is often the problem with fan service, people want another 'hit' of the same adrenalin rush they have been delivered in the past and that can mean fiercely defending a formula that worked so well they are loathe to let go of it. But the very essence of Sci-fi is about seeking out new worlds and exploring them, which is something that requires much more thought and imagination and where it can be easier to just listen to the fans and give them what they want. When we think about the best episodes and storylines of any show we've loved it will always be those that differed greatly from the norm in some way and were written with an enthusiastic imagination yet still respected the core of what kept their fans comfortably satisfied.

InkyMoondrop at 12:20AM, May 11, 2023

I stopped caring about what fandoms say when I draw my conclusions a long time ago. If writers don't please the crowds these days, they can expect ppl review bombing the show, starting petitions to cancel and reshoot the whole thing and of course some harassment as well, because everyone is entitled to their opinions and to rubbing it in your face. Just because they put enough pressure on studios sometimes to change things, it's still toxic af. Sure, everyone has their preferences about what they want to see on the screen and sometimes they could write a better fanfic than what gets to be canon, but I still prefer something bad, but original to something good that takes 0 risks in order to please the fans.

Forgot Password
©2011 WOWIO, Inc. All Rights Reserved Mastodon