"We Made It For Fans, Not Critics" Is a BS Response to Negative Reviews and Always Will Be
The critical drubbing of Marvel’s Iron Fist has coincided with star Finn Jones having close to a goddamn meltdown on the press tour. The latest: Jones responding to a question about how he’s different from his character, Danny Rand, by talking about how he, Finn Jones, has had so much sex.
“Let me think - I mean, the character is a virgin. [Laughing] That’s definitely something that I don’t share with him, just to put that out there.”
Mmm-hmm. Sounds like something a virgin would say. Marvel PR, come collect your man! Clearly the media training didn’t take.
But for all that Jones offering out of nowhere that he’s toooootally had sex before is hilarious and weird (“I’m not a regular interview subject! I’m a cool interview subject!”), there are other elements of the Great Iron First Press Tour Tire Fire of 2017 that are actively irritating. There’s his unsatisfying response to whitewashing concerns and his, uh, blaming the show’s poor reception on Trump. And then there’s this little nugget, which is what I want to talk about today. Via Metro.co.uk:
“‘Well I think there’s multiple factors. What I will say is these shows are not made for critics, they are first and foremost made for the fans. I also think some of the reviews we saw were seeing the show through a very specific lens, and I think when the fans of the Marvel Netflix world and fans of the comic books view the show through the lens of just wanting to enjoy a superhero show, then they will really enjoy what they see.
Finn. Buttercup. Heed. The “we made it for fans, not critics!” defense is bullshit. It has always been bullshit. It will always be bullshit. It was bullshit when David Ayer did it, it was bullshit when Henry Cavill and Amy Adams (nooooooo, Amy!) did it, and it’s bullshit now.
Here’s the thing. I know that to have something you’ve worked hard on, something you believe in, get stepped on by critics must absolutely suck. It must hurt. And it’s natural to get defensive. But to default to the old “yeah, but we didn’t make it for you, nyah nyah, I am rubber you are glue!” approach insults critics and fans alike.
What are you really saying here? That you can churn out any old shit, and “real” fans will like it, just because they like the source material? News flash, bucko: Fans are some of the most opinionated, nitpicky critics out there.” That’s precisely because they do love the source material and have strong opinions about how it should be handled. You’re from Game of Thrones, Finny my boy. You should know this.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban changed the color of Hermione’s dress during one scene and fans lost. their. shit. I remember it. I still have flasbacks.
And what does “making something for the fans” mean, anyway? Presumably you’re still trying to make something good. You know a movie that came from a place of earnest, wide-eyed love of the culture that inspired it? That was “made for the fans,” as much as any movie can be, as much as that statement even means anything? Pacific Rim. And Pacific Rim was good. You don’t get to pull out “bu-bu-but, the fans” every time a critic says something you don’t like.
What’s really frustrating to me about the “we made this for the fans, not the critics” argument, as someone who writes about movies for a living, is that it assumes “critics” and “fans” are two separate groups. They’re not. People get into media criticism because they are fans. Not fans of each individual property a film or TV show is based on, sure. But fans of storytelling. When the underpaid legion of critics spends their evening and weekend hours watching something—wait for it—we generally want it to be good. Sometimes, yes, we go in with preconceptions, as does every viewer, critic or not, because that’s what marketing and PR—something Jones himself participates in—are there for. But critics, all but a few rotten apples anyway, go in with a generally open mind and a desire to enjoy what it is they’re watching.
Our pitchforks aren’t sharpened, Finn. We also want to “enjoy a superhero show.” On balance, critics enjoyed Jessica Jones. They enjoyed Daredevil and Luke Cage. Were those shows made for critics, not fans? Or is your entire explanation for why your show’s not getting good reviews just kneejerk codswallop that you need to get out of your system via a drunken vent sesh with your old Throne buddies? I’ll bet Natalie Dormer would be really good at that.
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