I’ve given out a lot of tough talk about the not-goodness of a lot of things for Unwinnable dot com. I’m not shy about it. I even relish in the not-goodness of some things. I’m incredibly skeptical and not afraid to drop an “it’s not good” on a popular show, game, movie or comic.
The thing that comes long before “it’s not good” is the effort of actually watching, playing, reading or generally experiencing something. As a genre fan, I’ve watched more absolute dreck than gems. For every minute of good, great or excellent there are hours of mediocre, poor, or awful.
But no matter how out of balance that ratio gets, I still try new things. I watch new shows, play new games, read new books and just generally have new experiences. I’ll finish out a bad show because I want to be fair to it. Sometimes, I’m rewarded for it.
So when I hear or see fans poop themselves with anger over a game being announced I laugh. What is there even to be mad about? Sometimes that anger is vindicated but here’s the thing about vindication: it begins with you sounding completely unreasonable and unjustified. There’s nothing wrong with having feelings, strong ones even, but there is something wrong with being unwilling to see if something is for you or not.
That’s the dark and unfortunate state of fandoms. They’re entitled, cloistered groups that don’t believe that the wishes or desires of anyone outside of their sphere exists. They’re unwilling to try something and reel back and say that it isn’t good. Adherence to some kind of imaginary purity that they’re somehow owed reveals that what might have started out as love and passion has turned to bile in their veins.
I decried mobile games for often being a surface level scratch in the past but you know what, I was wrong. I was wrong because for millions of people, that’s enough. Especially now as I increasingly find demands on my time, I prefer quick and easy satisfaction to hours and hours of something. I love getting into the nitty gritty of systems but sometimes I just don’t have the time.
It’s easy to forget that new things can be nice and that there should be new things.
There’s another funny thing about getting older that seems so broken in an age where we have access to so many different forms of media and culture: people don’t seem to understand that there are other different people with different tastes. As things like Ready Player One enforce a kind of retrospective monoculture and Netflix helps people to only reengage with the familiar, it’s easy to forget that new things can be nice and that there should be new things.
To bemoan something new and different without any firsthand experience is foolishness. I’ve said plenty of things look bad from just seeing a trailer and I’ve definitely been loudly skeptical when an announcement is just some placeholder title card. Sometimes I’ve been rude about it. But the increasing frothiness with which The Fans increasingly scream and yell is frightening. You’re entitled to nothing. Companies don’t owe you anything. Games do not belong to only you. Movies are not made solely for you. Comics are not directly sold to just you for your specific desires.
It’s okay to not like something. It’s okay to think it’s bad. It’s uncomfortable to realize that your fandom isn’t going to be rewarded by massive companies who do not care about you specifically and want make new money. But it’s silly to forget that since the beginning of “consumable culture” there have been things that were not meant for you, that you did not enjoy and that were made without you in mind.