Genre cinema has always had the power to inspire a particularly devoted brand of fans. From the westerns and sci-fi movies of the 1950s to the epic superhero battles that populate the big screen today, stories have a unique power to bring people together in unprecedented ways. Real communities have been, and continue to be, built on a shared love of these stories. Two film properties that have been responsible for this exact type of organic and expansive fan family are the Hallowe’en Y Star Wars franchises With the ubiquity of the Internet, fandoms have been able to build powerful voices that have the ability to shape and influence the properties they love.
Hallowe’en Y Star Wars — and the respective communities that have sprung up around them — exemplify all things positive and negative within the world of fandom. The positives are clear. People like to share interests and have their passion validated in any context. But the problematic aspects are equally, if not more, evident. With the echo chamber of the internet, the backlash and abject hate get the necessary clue to amplify exponentially. Toxic fandoms aside (a real and concerning phenomenon), it’s perfectly healthy and beneficial to vent about less-than-desirable aspects of a property, even a beloved one. But a strangely common template has begun to form. This template — most notably personified by the Star Wars fandom and more recently by the Hallowe’en fandom – is the outright rejection and vitriol in response to any storytelling choice that alters the “feel” produced by the original film.
Fandom’s claim to want something new
Along with the current proliferation of IP culture at the hands of movie studios, there is a constant flood of new interpretations of old properties. This is exciting news for fandoms of all shapes and sizes in that the characters and worlds they love will never completely go away. It also, in theory, allows new creative voices to interpret those same characters and worlds in new and exciting ways, finding innovative storytelling methods using a pre-set sandbox as a springboard for bigger (and hopefully better) ideas. Unfortunately, due to the risk aversion of the studios tasked with reviving these beloved franchises, many reboots and sequels feature repetitions of old narrative beats, overuse of legacy characters, and a slavish devotion to the text of the original films. As a result, there is an all too common clamor for novelty.
With the release of end halloween, there has been a quick and vocal backlash from fans to several of his choices. This response has shed light on an increasingly prevalent pattern of fandom negativity regarding alternative perspectives within the framework of pre-established properties. Beside end halloweenTwo prime examples of similar reactionary anger toward somewhat nontraditional approaches to beloved properties are Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 and Ryan Johnson Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi. Despite persistent claims from many members of the respective fandoms that originality is the most desirable trait for a property to follow, why does the response usually seem so scathing whenever a change is made?
Halloween endings took a chance and fans rejected it
end halloween‘ The main criticism seems to be directed specifically at the decision to relegate franchise mascot/villain Michael Myers to the sidelines for much of the proceedings. Instead, the focus shifts to new character Corey Cunningham. Over the course of the film, Corey takes shape as the new main antagonist, working side by side with Michael Myers to various violent ends. end halloweenDespite the marketing heavily touting the supposed final showdown between franchise stalwart Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), it’s less Laurie or Michael’s story than Corey’s. David Gordon Green uses Corey to investigate the power of evil versus personal and community trauma: how evil can infect the most vulnerable and turn a loving community against itself. The villain is more of an abstraction, a meditation on the nature of what constitutes and creates evil than a literal battle between Michael Myers and his nemesis, Laurie. From frame one, director Gordon Green subverts fan expectations.
Rob Zombie gave Halloween a unique vision and was also rejected
Similarly, Rob Zombie Halloween 2 (despite recent flashes of critical reassessment) was, and continues to be, ridiculed and maligned by the overwhelming majority of Hallowe’en Fanaticism In Michael Myers and Laurie Strode’s vision of Zombie, there are deep dives into the psyche of the Form, asking what could drive a psycho killer like Michael. These deep dives are hinted at through wonderfully surreal and dreamlike digressions, unlike anything on the Hallowe’en series, sooner or later. Laurie is also on a unique path to anything that her character has experienced in the franchise. In a reimagining of the classic timeline lore, Laurie is Michael’s sister, and the blood bond the siblings share translates into a dark twist for the heroine. Zombie is using the sandbox which is the Hallowe’en franchise to explore the psychology of generational trauma. It is a bold and fascinating move.
The Backlash To The Last Jedi Is Fandom At Its Worst
The most famous example of fandom backlash is, of course, the one received by Rian Johnson. the last jedi. Criticism of the director Star Wars The entry quickly escalated beyond deconstructing issues with narrative direction, character motivations, or even fan expectations. Aside from the worrying elements of the backlash that emerged in certain corners of the internet, the overwhelming sentiment seemed to sum up as the last jedi I did not want to Star Wars. Which begs the question, what constitutes a sequel, a reboot, or reimagining the feel of being the property that inspired it? Why do fandoms seem to yearn for more of the same despite advocating new directions?
Nostalgia has contaminated numerous franchises like Halloween
Much of what makes up the fabric of these beloved properties has been reduced, through constant iteration without innovation, to the practice of recognition. A movie feels like the original because it contains literal elements of the original, not just locations or the lost character who makes a triumphant return. There are identical story beats. Every piece of costume or set design used in the original is treated as totemic, requiring a backstory and explanation. Sequels aren’t so much sequels as they are reworked versions of something that already existed. Easter eggs stand in for world building, and characters exist only to mirror or interact with fan favorites from past movies.
Returning to a beloved fictional universe doesn’t mean having to stay in the same place with the same people. The attachment to nostalgia is dangerous when it comes to storytelling because it blinds the audience to what made the films that launched these massive properties so successful: originality, novelty, and artistic innovation. the Hallowe’ensStar Warss, hell and even Ninja Turtles del mundo captured the imagination of viewers because they offered something exciting and new. When fandoms become indebted to the literal minutiae of the franchises they pretend to love, what is lost is the spirit.
Filmmakers must be allowed to tell new stories, even in beloved franchises
A sequel, reboot, reinvention, etc. can be familiar and take inspiration without recreating. The wondrous universes realized in each of these properties are so immersive and fantastical that they have built massive communities dedicated to acknowledging and sharing the desire to never fully break free from that imagined place. Needless to say, there’s plenty of room for new stories in their respective sandboxes. The fandoms themselves get involved in this, fan-films and fanfiction are more popular than ever. Why not let filmmakers do the same?
It’s easy to understand why receiving something new in the guise of something old can be disconcerting, even annoying. The problem, then, lies in the expectation. Studios are less likely to market or produce newer entries in pre-existing franchises when fandoms react so poorly to all attempts to do so. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The unintended consequences that arise as a result are even more problematic. Without the freedom to explore new ideas, even in the oldest intellectual property, there is no chance to continue telling stories within those beloved fictional universes. No weird characters, no wacky choices, and no opposing elements means no new stories.
That’s not to say that great risk directly correlates with good risk. There are great legacy sequels that stick very closely to the formula, just as there are sequels that make extremely bold decisions that fail. As such, the onus is not solely on the fans. Studio sponsors must have the confidence to fund compelling takes on existing material with a focus on quality. To do Hallowe’en, Star Wars, Ghostbustersthe MCU, and even transformers Do all fans have in common? A deep and resonant love for their respective franchises and a desire to see those stories continue for as long as possible. As members of these various fandoms, the responsibility is to encourage and praise bold hits, knowing that, even when they fail, it keeps the door open for those who don’t.