People I can do without:

Okay, computer. Time for an actual rant. After all, that's what title says. And this one's about a particular breed of Newgrounds user. This is the type who thinks it's all about him.

Here's the thing. My personal creative works are not designed with a mass market appeal in mind. Yes, some people flame me for my art style, not because of the technical skill, but because in their minds I'm just trying to cash in on the recent popularity of anime. Never mind the fact that I've been drawing anime-style since the mid-1980s, long before the recent surge in anime's popularity, even before most of these people had been born, and that my strongest influences are a wide range of artists that even many hardcore anime fans have never heard of. Ebi Fry, anyone? Ramiya Ryo? Amagi Kei?

But that's not the main rant. The type I'm talking about is the type who ignores my descriptions of what audience one of my works is intended for, and insists on watching it himself -- only to angrily complain about the fact that he doesn't understand it. Indeed, many flames amount to "I don't understand the point, therefore there is no point."

First taking as an example the Pink Lemonade Valentine's Day card: It is obvious that this card was intended for lesbian women to send to their loved ones on Valentine's Day. How could anyone take it any other way? Yet, time after time I got reviews from guys saying "I can't send that to my girlfriend -- she'd hit me!" Well, that's because it's not meant for you, genius. I even got such complaints after I spelled out in clear language in the description who the intended audience is.

The second, and more major example is Cutethulhu, recently resurrected in Newgrounds consciousness thanks to it being featured on the front page as part of a promotion for the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival contest (which incidentally I don't think Cutethulhu can enter, since it's already been shown there at least once).

I stated very clearly in its description that it was not meant for a wide audience, and that only literary-minded people (specifically fans of the writings of H.P. Lovecraft) would get it. Incredibly, a statistically significant number of angry people were of the harshly-worded opinion that I should write stories that everyone can understand. That is, I should not give my intended crowd the specific material that they can appreciate -- that which is lacking in mass entertainment in general. Why are Hollywood movies so trite and cliché, you may ask? I believe it's precisely because of this attitude.

As Joel Hodgson said regarding MST3K, "The right people will get this." That is the kind of writing that I applaud. No pandering to the masses, but being true to oneself. I write for my sort of people. People who think like me, and appreciate the things I appreciate. In my opinion, there is not enough entertainment for people like me -- and it's clear from the enthusiasm of the many positive reviews that there are plenty of people like me who feel the same way. They -- you, if you're reading this -- are my audience. As for anyone else...my analogy went like this: If I'm performing a rock concert, should a classical music magazine review it? I would say not.

And yet even though I take pains to ensure that viewers are aware what my work is like, there are people who actively seek it out for the express purpose of loudly complaining and insulting it, as if they can't stand the idea that other people like what they hate. This is akin to someone who hates a particular standup comedian (let's say George Carlin) going and attending every George Carlin show in the area, just so he can heckle and raise a fuss. This is sad. Such people's insults have no bite, no weight, because they are simply irrelevant.

And the right audience will understand that.


Anonymous said...

Shawn, I've visited Newgrounds several times. This is one thing that cheeses me off too. It's like PL and people saying "Stop using lesbians" - that's what the story is about, a love story mainly between four girls. If they don't like that sort of humour or theme they shouldn't view it. It's not for everyone.

Some people are just very ignorant of things no matter how clearly you explain why you've done things the way you are. Don't let them get you down, Shawn.

Keep up the good work!

Peace out!

Diana Artemis

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you found a specific audience to cater to... thats wonderful. But there's no need to make people who have not read this authors work feel so much like an outsider. Getting hate-mail is not so much fun, and I think this negative response from people who "don't get it" could easily be prevented if you gave a reference or a short description of whatever story or character you were trying to parody.
just a suggestion.
great animation though.

Amala Sluaghan

Shawn said...

Greetings, Amala. Well, as for what you suggest, I had already provided a link to a site all about Lovecraft and his works, in the Author's Comments for it on Newgrounds. In my experiences that spurred me to write about this, people don't stop to read before they complain.

Yes, I could have also included a "Don't get it? Click here!" link in the movie itself, but come on... Explaining a joke does not make it suddenly funny. You have to get it on your own. That, and too few people would care to research a subject just to get a joke. All I can realistically do is warn people not to watch it if they're not in the target audience. If people would only heed the warnings, no harm's done to anyone.