We’re all hopelessly devoted to at least one thing that’s in the giant grab bag of pop culture. Whether you devour anything related to video games, comic books, movies, sports or perhaps it’s a more narrowed focus such as collecting all of the Zelda games, Doctor Who memorabilia, or Sonic the Hedgehog comics. The question isn’t about how devoted you are, we all have different levels.
The question I’m posing is: does there exist a point that you can become so fed up with the quality of the product that you altogether lose interest in your obsession forever?
A couple of short examples to illustrate. I recently commented about the avalanche of comics coming in April and May concerning the Convergence and Secret Wars events. Put on your hypothetical hats and imagine if those two stories were so bad and changed the continuity so much that you loathed ever reading another story. Is that even possible?
Another real example. Last night at the Royal Rumble in Philadelphia, the fans clearly had an agenda that they wanted to happen, but the higher-ups created a result that was the exact opposite. The immediate reaction was a loud and enduring chorus of boos. The number one trend on Twitter the next day was #CancelWWENetwork, ostensibly a consequence of the undesired results of the latest pay-per-view. But is this a legitimate threat from fans or just hot air?
I’m going to be completely transparent; with my hobbies, I don’t know that I would ever reach that point. I haven’t agreed 100% with all of the decisions from Marvel and DC, but I still soldier on with devotedly collecting and reading their output. Even after playing Castlevania: Lords of Shadow I had a sour taste from the new direction and gameplay, but I still haven’t sold my stock of future Castlevania games yet.
Any IP with multiple entries or iterations undoubtedly needs to make changes in order for the content to remain fresh. Capcom didn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater when shifting from the Mega Man series to the Mega Man X series, but they made changes in order to keep the experience fresh, to add something new. Marvel swapped out some of their iconic characters and replaced them with different characters in those roles. They’re all essentially the same character archetype, but they’re new players in those roles. Again, creating new ideas for long-running properties.
The interesting trend began, in my own opinion, probably in the early 2000’s. For a long time, the creators typically acquiesced to the desires of the fans in order to sell more units. Fans clamored for years about a mega-showdown pitting every hero against every villain, and they finally received that in the original Secret Wars back in 1984. But then a curious reversal happened. Now it seems as though some creators take liberty with their creations and expect that potential customers will just accept the result. This isn’t true with all things, in fact for a majority of properties it isn’t. We (as the customers) still do the talking with our wallets. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare didn’t sell nearly the number of units a Call of Duty game should, but it was still the top selling retail game of 2014. Even with the decline in sales, there isn’t much incentive for creators to make radical changes. Could this ennui resulting from a stale franchise be a breaking point?
Trust me, I am pointing fingers at no one and I am very guilty of mindlessly handing over my money. This exercise was more a question of introspection as to if such a thing as a breaking point exists. We love these things that have completely taken over our minds, our lives, and our wallets. Could we really live in a world that we’ve become so disgusted with the quality of our obsession that we lose future interest forever?
It’s a game similar to asking “would you do X for a million dollars?” and gradually changing the monetary compensation to find the point in which a person would complete the task. As a fun experiment, take your hobby and start at some basic change they could make that wouldn’t sit well with you. Do you disengage after that? No? Up the ante, rinse, and repeat. Does a realistic breaking point exist?
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