Have you ever had that moment before when you see or hear something that sounds so promising that you can’t possibly imagine how it could go wrong?
Have you ever had the horrible moment of realization when you see that project come to fruition and you see all of the ways that it could and has gone wrong? Unfortunately, most of us have experienced the crushing disappointment of a good idea that is approached in the wrong way and executed just as poorly. But when most people experience this type of disillusionment, it’s met with a casual air of disappointment or disgust, but never warrants any real discussion about what went wrong in getting the project Point A to Point B. perhaps it is my position as a pop culture fanatic or as a true believer in the power of entertainment to speak to more pressing matters, but whatever it is, it seems to me that where these ideas go wrong is a important question to ask.
It’s difficult to assign blame to a certain individual because, well, it takes a number of people to read a text and a number of people to interpret it before it can be categorized as “bad” or “good”, both loaded terms that I use with some hesitation. Still, there are key figures whose roles in development and reception must be accounted for in terms of movies and television.
The most obvious title is that of the creator. Obviously more than one person creates a show, but for the purpose of this argument, we will refer to the creator as one entity. Now, the creator may create for a number of reasons. in this day and age, one of the most undeniable explanations is the possibility of profit. In a hyper-capitalistic society, this is the most obvious, but perhaps most frequent reason cited for creation. Other elements may include their own personal interest as well as them wanting to speak to a larger issue in the only way they know how, through the entertainment medium. like I said, it’s almost impossible to predict the reason why something is created when it is or why the story unfolds as it does. This is uniquely the creators and as spectators, we can only offer conjecture as to why they do things the way that they do.
The other role that is given considerable weight in the world of entertainment is the role of the viewer. While viewers may not have much say in the actual execution of the story, they do hold considerable power in the eyes of teh creator. For instance, although it is not as common, there have been some showrunners who have taken to the fans’ ideas and written them into the show itself, but they hold a power even more obvious than that. If they stop watching, the show loses ratings and usually gets dumped by the network. Quite literally, the life of these shows and movies lies in the hands of the viewer.
Now, the two previously outlined schools of thought “creator as power” and “viewer as power” are two opposing viewpoints, but fundamentally, it seems necessary in figuring out where a show or movie goes wrong. For instance, if the creator is only doing it for the money, it tends to show in the final product. But a show can also fail when viewers have too high of expectations for the show. So who is to blame for the failure of a show or movie? Does it lie in the hands of the creator or is it the adoring public that decides who lives or dies in the gladiator arena of network television and movie production?