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It is time for toxic fan boys to go

tv column

By Constantinos Psillides

Caution: Spoilers for the Masters of the Universe: Revelations series

The backlash to Masters of the Universe: Revelations was anticipated. In fact, Netflix’s PR team was so sure that the series would cause an uproar that they scheduled an interview with showrunner Kevin Smith responding to the criticism before the series aired!

Some background: A year ago Netflix announced that a He-Man: Masters of the Universe animation series was in the works. The series would pick up where the original 1983 series left off and it would be helmed by universally loved director Kevin Smith. Director of cult classics such as Dogma, Clerks and Mallrats, Smith was ideal for the part: his nerd credentials are well established, he has true respect for the source material and is adored by the community.

And to his credit, Smith delivered. The series is amazing, breathing new life to a stale franchise, with a subversive narrative that often catches you by surprise providing actual backstories and motivation to characters who at first appear ridiculous. Seriously, how much depth could one give a character named Evil-Lyn? Turns out, a great deal.

But upon release the problems started. Angry fan reviews bombed the series on Rotten Tomatoes, a practice where a large group of people intentionally give a one-star review for a film/series so it would appear that fans, in general, hated it. People took to Twitter posting screenshots of their canceled Netflix subscriptions and screaming that Smith destroyed their childhood. Things got so bad Smith had to go on a two-and-a-half-hour podcast, where he broke down every decision he made and how that was actually covered in the existing lore. Imagine the audacity of not liking something and demanding the creator come out and explain why he did what he did. The level of entitlement makes one shudder.

But this is all too familiar for anyone in the business.

These are the same people who screamed bloody murder when a Ghostbusters all-female reboot was announced, trashing the film before it even made it to the editing room. The same people who started a campaign to get Captain Marvel star Brie Larson to step down because “she wasn’t smiling enough” or when they attacked JJ Abrams for the audacity of having a Stormtrooper of colour. Studios live in fear of these fans and walk on eggshells to not invite their wrath. They go to ridiculous lengths to make sure their movie/series is as close to the source material as possible so they don’t find themselves on the receiving end of a review bombing.

Studios’ appeasement efforts though are a chokehold for creators. They operate under very strict guidelines and are not allowed to challenge viewers in any way or take them on a journey. We, as fans, are missing out on amazing content simply because there is a vocal minority who demand the entertainment industry cater to their needs.

It is time for them to go. Studios should take a page out of Netflix’s book and trust people to be creative, standing by them when they are made a target. And if anyone doesn’t like what they see, well they can simply move on.

If you are interested in more subversive animated series on Netflix you can also check out The Dragon Prince or if you want a closer look at Mattel, the toy company which launched He-Man watch the amazing documentary The Toys That Made Us.

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