Since the advent of the digital age – the Internet, to be specific – it’s become increasingly easier for fans to voice their opinions, express their love (or lack thereof), and even connect with the stars, writers and directors of their favorite media. Are you an avid Batman reader with a passion for drawing? You can share your Batman fan art with the world through sites such as Tumblr or DeviantArt. Did you think last night’s episode of Arrow was the best one yet? You can send a Tweet to Stephen Amell to tell him, and chances are, he’ll get an alert directly on his cell phone to let him know.
Therein lies a problem, though. The streamlined manner in which fandoms can project their opinions, questions and desires directly to “those in charge” has created a false sense of entitlement, unlike anything that’s ever existed before. As such, many fans have resorted to creating petitions on free and easy-to-use platforms such as Change.org as a means of quickly rounding up thousands of like-minded individuals to support their cause, be it altruistic or unrealistic.
Let’s look back at some of the recent fan petitions to make headlines.
When Justice League failed to live up to expectations, both critically and financially, many fans assumed it was due to Joss Whedon, who was brought on to oversee a series of extensive reshoots after director Zack Snyder stepped down due to a family tragedy. That being said, it didn’t take long for an online petition to surface, with fans demanding that Warner Bros. release a Zack Snyder director’s cut of the film, which – depending on who you ask – may or may not even exist. Plus, even if it does exist, it’s still possible that it’s merely a rough cut, far removed from the level of quality any studio would deem acceptable to release in theaters. (Then again, look at Henry Cavill’s mustache.)
Another petition to attract a lot of attention lately actually called for Walt Disney to remove The Last Jedi from official Star Wars canon in light of the negative fan response to many of writer/director Rian Johnson’s creative decisions. The creator of the petition even went as far as to request that Disney and Lucasfilm “push back Episode IX and re-make Episode VIII properly to redeem Luke Skywalker's legacy, integrity, and character.”
Why don’t we let that sink in for a moment?
Nearly 100k fans signed a petition demanding a major movie studio remake an entire $150 million-budget film and delay progress on the next one – a decision that would cost Disney hundreds of millions of dollars – just because they didn’t like it.
That’s not to take away from any of the actual, valid criticisms buried within the petition. These fans were legitimately disappointed because, for many of them, Star Wars has been a part of their lives for 40 years, so to see the franchise go in a direction they don’t like is understandably upsetting. But whatever happened to just admitting that you don’t like something and then moving on? When did fans go from saying, “That wasn’t really for me,” to launching petty petitions, such as a subsequent one in which fans are demanding Rian Johnson admit The Last Jedi is awful?
Narrow-minded as that last one may be, it’s hardly the most egregious.