It was announced last month that the Sonic the Hedgehog movie would be pushed back three months to 2/14/2020. The movie is being put on hold due to the viewers’ backlash at the movie’s trailer. Viewers were very vocal about their dissatisfaction with the design and look of Sonic himself. The director and studio came out and stated that due to the opinions voiced by fans that the character’s design would be changed.
The film industry is a huge business that involves a lot of people and money. A film is also a form of art though. There has to be some creativity and creation when making a movie or show. Each and every one of us has the ability to create our own art just as every one of us has our own opinion. They are both subjective and individually unique to each of us.
I voice my opinion regularly in this blog. When I see a movie or a trailer, I may write my thoughts and opinions on it whether they’re good or bad. I don’t expect my opinion to change the art that the writers or directors have created. I have a right to have and voice my opinion, but it’s simply just my opinion. They have the right to create the art as they envision it. This new situation is a part of a scary trend created by the power of social media. The question it creates is do we want the power to change the art of others?
Everyone involved obviously wants the movie to be successful and make money. The creators of the film also want their work to be seen and received well. When it comes to this current situation though I feel the studio and artists may end up at odds. Artists have a vision and do their best to put the work out there according to that vision. If you are tasked with creating a character design, then you have creative control of what that character looks like. The design you come up with is your artistic interpretation, which is what you are being paid to provide. The studios are the ones that pay the artists to make the movies, so they in a sense have creative control of the artists. Now, in the case of Sonic, we are bringing in “fans” as a third party who haven’t contributed anything to the movie, but who now have some creative control.
This takes artists power away from them. Why write that story or design that character if it’s just going to be corrected by people you’ve never met? Shouldn’t the artists have control over their work and be responsible for it? In the future are we going to use the first trailer as a final edit/first screening of the film? At the end of the first trailer, there can be a link to a website to go to and vote on what should be changed about the movie before it’s released. Yes, the artist is hired for a job and the employer needs to be satisfied with the job being done. This situation though is like drawing a picture, showing it to a friend(your audience or consumer) and then when they don’t like it doing it over the way you think they will. This process seems like it’s sucking the creativity away from the art. No matter what is written or drawn, it will be judged and have to pass by the initial opinions of the “fans” to actually be used. In the future will someone with the artistic ability be hired or just someone who can perform a task according to the will of the voting internet?
Similarly, fans have been calling for the 8th season of Game of Thrones to be remade with different writers because they didn’t like the result. This situation is a bit different for a couple of reasons, but it’s still in the same arena. The fans of Game of Thrones have actually already seen the final product. Season 8 has already aired and there are no plans for any more Game of Thrones right now, while Sonic hasn’t even hit movie theaters. The only consequences here would be that two season eights would be made. This would give people more work and give fans more material. Yes, the original writer or director may have their feelings hurt, but that’s part of art and they still got their work out there. In my previous scenario, it would be the friend asking someone else to draw them a picture of the same thing you did, resulting in two drawings for the friend to compare.
The fans of Game of Thrones also really have more of a right to say something. They have watched the show for 8 years. The shows continued existence as well as strong ratings are due to the fans. The show wouldn’t be what it is without fans dedication and appreciation. This gives them more right than the Sonic fans, but is it enough?
If HBO were to redo season 8 then it would open the floodgates. Any project could be changed or redone according to the demands of people on social media. This is dangerous territory. This takes the art out of movies and TV and replaces it with business. This makes anything created much more temporary because it still has to pass the fans’ opinion. Actors could end up being asked back again and again to redo scenes or episodes that fans don’t particularly like.
On one hand there are movies out there that it’d be great if we could change part of, but on the other hand, those people had their shot, work was already put in and now that art is out there forever. Isn’t the art succeeding or not part of the process? If we would have voted on Back to the Future maybe we’d have a Camaro time machine instead of a Delorean. Voting on an initial Ghostbusters trailer may have changed the concept completely as it was the first comedy of it’s kind. Yes, I wish that season 8 would have gone differently, but it’s not my show. I am a consumer. If there was a Kickstarter, then perhaps I could donate money if I really felt that passionate about getting the season remade. Then it would be on my own dime to have something changed, rather than just a faceless comment.
It will be interesting to see how both of these situations play out. Will Sonic the Hedgehog be a huge success because of the changes the fans influenced? Will Game of Thrones forever go down as a bad show with no chance of any sequels now? The scary thing is that however these situations play out will likely affect how this situation will be handled by others in the future. Maybe filmmaking will be better with the public involved? It likely will take longer to produce the final accepted product, but maybe there will be more guaranteed success. Should we be able to have a say in the art created by others?