You can count me among the legions of viewers who found themselves disappointed with Game of Thrones this past weekend. It wasn’t so much the violence or the evil depicted, as the abrupt, cheap-feeling reversal. In response, I did what any good, 21st-century cultural critic does: I took to Twitter to whine and cuss about it, along with about half of my timeline.
It is part and parcel of what it means to consume entertainment and art in the 2010s. The interactive, participatory nature of the Web has turned pop culture into an event, and moments like Game of Thrones’ denouement are among the few remaining collective popular experiences we have.
But if the reactive nature of online culture is one aspect of the fun, it also has a tendency to take on a life of its own. The latest example: there is now an angry Change.org petition titled “Remake Game of Thrones Season 8 with competent writers.” As of writing, it has 588,000 signatures.
Such fan rage has become normal in the last decade. It emerged out of more traditionally “nerdy” corners of the Web, particularly video games, a field which has since become notorious for fans harassing creators. And somewhere in between the sense of democratic participation and petulant, angry dissatisfaction is the lingering sense that the Web may be doing something terrible to art — at once commodifying it and stultifying it.
It’s not that the ability of fans to make their voices heard is unequivocally a bad thing. In many cases it has allowed previously marginalized voices to make themselves heard. Girls creator Lena Dunham, for example, reacted to vociferous criticism of her show by trying to diversify its cast and its concerns. There is also the more straightforward fact that fans can let creators know things they have overlooked, from plot holes in Star Wars to unfair design in video games.
What’s more, criticism is essential to art. Film as a medium developed in conjunction with film criticism, and it is hard to find an author these days who is not also a literary critic. There is a healthy dynamic between entertainment and its interpretation that, at its best, can be mutually productive.
But what is happening online these days seems far from best. Instead, when hundreds of thousands of people sign a petition demanding that a TV show be changed to suit their whims, it …read more
Source:: The Week – Tech