Depending on who you ask, this final season of Game of Thrones has been an emotional roller coaster of radical character developments and genuinely exciting plot twists, or an unorganized sloppy mess of a story that fumbles pretty much everything that initially made the series great when it closely followed the written works of George R.R. Martin.
If you were to take the pulse of the Internet right now, you’d probably be convinced that this disdain for the finale is pretty much universal. It seems like everywhere, fans are calling for the very public crucifixion of show runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss due to unanticipated character arcs, story developments that don’t quite make sense, and non-traditional Westerosi beverages being left out in the open.
All of this dragon-based disgruntlement came to a fever pitch when nearly half a million ‘fans’ signed an online petition for HBO to remake the final season.
The original author of the petition, Dylan, says that Benioff and Weiss “have proven themselves to be woefully incompetent writers when they have no source material (Martin’s books) to fall back on.”
And with 500,000 signatures, it seems Dylan’s ire is ringing true with a significant number of Thrones fans, with many writing in their similar feelings of disappointment.
“This series has been so good and then it got dumped into a trash fire this season. The characters deserve better, the actors deserve better, George RR Martin deserves better and frankly the fans deserve better.”
“I have loved GoT since the beginning. All the twists and turns. But this season is the worst yet. It’s too rushed. Needs MORE episodes. Ugh so disappointed.”
Here’s the thing, though. This petition shouldn’t exist in the first place.
We’ve increasingly accepted an environment where the audience feels entitled to receive the exact story they want.
Tell me if this sounds familiar: a studio releases a sample of content out into the world. Maybe it’s an adaptation, or maybe it’s the continuation of an ongoing story. People don’t like it so they immediately head to Twitter and online forums to call for its removal. A petition is made and forces studio execs or the creators themselves to make a statement like “we hear your concerns but still stand behind our vision/story.”
Game of Thrones is simply the latest in a long line of pissed off fan bases.
2017’s The Last Jedi took new risks by director Rian Johnson to tear down the Star Wars status quo and try some radical new story beats. Yet, it wasn’t the story some fans were anticipating and the backlash grew so toxic that several cast members left their personal social media platforms and even saw ‘fans’ going so far as to create fundraising to shoot ta feature-length “Episode 8 that fans deserve.”
This year, Aladdin is facing tough crowds upset over Will Smith’s genie and the CGI used to create him. Fans of the classic Disney animation have decided to write off the film before it hits theaters.
Yet, it was Sonic the Hedgehog changed things.
This is perhaps the first instance of a studio releasing a trailer that was instantly bombarded with tweets and memes crying foul over a CGI character’s design choice and actually turning around to tell people that they will completely redo the character to align with what fans want.
Thank you for the support. And the criticism. The message is loud and clear… you aren't happy with the design & you want changes. It's going to happen. Everyone at Paramount & Sega are fully committed to making this character the BEST he can be… #sonicmovie #gottafixfast 🔧✌️
— Jeff Fowler (@fowltown) May 2, 2019
Sonic the Hedgehog has not been delayed. It still comes out in 2019, but now dozens (if not hundreds) of VFX artists need to work frame by frame to give Sonic a new look that may or may not be accepted by audience members. It’s never been done and it sets a bad precedent.
Let’s get this out of the way: Creators don’t owe you the story you want.
It’s perfectly okay to not like a show or movie’s story. Honestly, I’m not 100% thrilled with a lot of the final season of Game of Thrones. Yet, acting like the show owes me the exact outcomes I’ve theorized and wanted is completely nonsensical.
Entertainment isn’t and shouldn’t be crowd-sourced to please the biggest amount of people possible. As soon as “don’t take risks and make as many people happy” becomes the status quo, we’ll see fewer and fewer genuinely good stories down the road.
Writing a book, a show, or a movie is incredibly hard and sometimes the finished product isn’t something that you’re going to like. That’s just the way of it, and it’s alright.
The bottom line is that half a million people took the time out of their day to sign a petition because they didn’t like the actions of a fictional dragon queen while Alabama signed forced-birth legislation into law.
I get that Game of Thrones has been a part of many of our lives for nearly a decade and it can be difficult to watch something you’ve adored seemingly fall apart on its home stretch, but at the end of the day, it’s just a story.
I highly encourage those upset with a beloved series’ turn of events to try their hand at writing an alternate ending fan fiction. Hell, be like the Remake The Last Jedi people and shoot your own version. Get out there and create! But whining about a fictional story not going exactly how you imagined it isn’t helping. In fact, it’s hurting future story-telling.
h/t: USA Today