I am currently embroiled in a comment thread on The Nerdist's Facebook page discussing the ups and downs of the new Call of Duty: Black Ops III teaser, something I wouldn't normally give a rat's ass about except that this time they've gone full-cyberpunk, and I think it looks kinda rad.
The folks behind landmark cyberpunk video game series Deus Ex, which itself recently released at stunning new trailer for their upcoming title Mankind Divided, responded with some good-natured ribbing on Twitter.
Hey @Treyarch, Adam Jensen says welcome on the bandwagon! The liquor bar is at the back ;)Which fans proceeded to take way too seriously. Facebook has erupted like a bad rash of whining fanboys convinced that Treyarch "stole" or "ripped off" the Deus Ex setting, which would be a valid argument if we knew anything about the new CoD game beyond the deliberately vague tonality of a teaser trailer. It doesn't have a setting; it has a feeling, a suggestion of ideas, direction, and mood. In other words, it suggests a genre, and like every other piece of genre fiction ever made it is guilty of a tonal resemblance. Nobody shit on Interstellar for ripping off the Star Wars setting because they're both set in space, just like no one got mad at Beethoven for ripping off Bach when he wrote "Symphony No. 9 in D Minor": "Dude, J.S. already wrote his "Double Violin Concerto" in that key, you can't do that, man!"
— Jonathan J-B (@Jonatchoo) April 23, 2015
And as for you schmucks running around the web peddling that lachrymose "lack of originality/it's all been done before" garbage, I have news for you: we've been copying each other's work since one guy drew a buffalo on a wall and the next guy went, "Dude, I should do one like that..." There have never been any arguments for the so-called Death of Creativity that stand up to real scrutiny. You create, or you don't.
Now yesterday, something beautiful happened.
The Suicide Squad wishes you a Happy Anniversary Mr. J! #Joker75 #SuicideSquad @WarnerBrosEnt @DCComics pic.twitter.com/LZXz0x947QComics fans have been waiting for months to see what Jared Leto's Joker would look like, teased by rumours leaked from Suicide Squad production that he'd be losing his signature suit, that Leto was bulking up for the role, etc. And then they finally reveal their new, revolutionary, dynamic Mr. J...and everyone loses their minds!
— David Ayer (@DavidAyerMovies) April 25, 2015
I have seen every inch of the spectrum of opinion spewed across Twitter since that picture came out, and none of it adds up to anything sane. The same people are saying in one tweet that they hate the new design, it's too different, too weird...and following it with a complaint that DC's cinematic universe is too cliche. For crying out loud, which is it??
There's not a lot more to be said on this. It's the way it's always been with the hype machine, and it's not bound to change anytime soon. And, for that matter, I'm not bound to change either; I'm always gonna be the guy sitting off in the corner, staring at my phone behind a pint and quietly foaming at the mouth while I scroll through my Twitter feed. Because it all just pisses me off: the arrogant entitlement of consumers of culture to be spoon-fed exactly what they want by their favourite media, and the vehemence with which they lash out at people who are pouring their heart and soul into a creative vision, for not creating exactly that thing they really wanted. If you want it that badly, get off your ass and make it yourself! You create, or your don't. It's that simple.
What are we really fans of? Fans of the characters, their worlds, and their creators would support that creation, would uphold hard work and innovation and the effort that goes into bringing new design and iterations of these things into being. But we don't that. As a cultural whole we bitch and whine about changes that are made, about things that don't fit what we wanted, the way we thought it should be. More often than not, the way we wanted it was the Old Way, like wanting Jared Leto to be Jack Nicholson's Joker all over again. Hell of a lot of respect you've got for the actor there, folks, asking him to take a couple years out of his life to recreate someone else's performance. Shame on you. We're not fans of comics, or movies, or characters. We're fans of our own bleeding nostalgia, and we'll cheer for whoever most makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside by validating the things we love to consume.