Fan Workload

8 Jan

It is hard for me to believe the latest Hobbit movie has earned so much money. I’m scratching my head. Under the guise of making a complete story, these films are exploiting all the goodwill and wonder of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Then I remember the themes of the film and see that it makes perfect sense. Obsession killed Gollum, nearly killed Frodo and surely it will kill any sense of magic left in Middle Earth.

SOWP_Hobbit_2

It’s easy to point fingers at the death of Middle Earth, Peter Jackson’s obsession with cementing his filmmaking pedigree after stumbling in non-Tolken projects is a possible culprit, or New Line and their by-their-corporate-personhood-nature obsession with money. But I think what it really comes down to is the fans. Peter Jackson and New Line are only giving the people what they want, and not only that, but they are giving it to them in exactly the right way to make everyone who’s watched the films feel that they’ve earned it. Let me explain; Society is increasingly getting worse at delayed gratification and the satisfaction of waiting for a reward instead of the gimmie-gimmie-gimmies we can easily satisfy from switching tabs in our internet browser or scrolling down our timeline/feed in our social media poison of choice, but what the marketing gurus at New Line have done is make The Hobbit films feel as if they are the actual reward for a the fan’s artificial work.

The work is just: forgetting and remembering, consuming and sharing, and waiting. Just imagine how quickly humans would have become extinct if our ancestors called that work instead of say, hunting and gathering. Fans are given enough time to let their memory of the film fade, good and bad aspects, and when it’s mostly forgotten they’re asked to remember all the good parts. Which as I said before are tied to the very calculated release date and the magic that comes from the holiday season. Then they consume the free promotion for the standard release of the Blu-ray, share their fond memories with all their friends causing people too discerning to view the film in the theaters to give the film a chance in the comfort of their own home. Then comes the waiting. More waiting and more forgetting, but just before the whole thing is forgotten again, BOOM! Special Extended Edition Blu-ray, which adds even more time to the already over blown Blu-ray, and 900 hours of special features. This Blu-ray release makes these films 100% critic proof. People that watch the extended edition have invested a minimum of 3 and half hours in the film, if they’ve only watched that version. But more likely they’ve seen it in theaters, watched the Blu-ray release in Spring and with the Extended Edition have another viewing under their belts. Spending upwards of 15-20 hours of “work” consuming the franchise. In a society where hobbies involved with creating and community have been replaced with blind, mindless consuming, a fifteen plus hour investment can drum up some feelings of familiarity that can easily be mistaken for fondness. Add the countless hours of bonus features, production dairies, rumor mill, fan fiction and other things at the bottom of the slippery slope known as fantasy fandom and fans must feel exhausted from all the hard consumption they done. After all this “work” fans feel they’ve earned the right to spend their money on more. They are rewarding themselves for the studio manufactured delayed gratification they can’t produce in themselves.

The modern era of Blockbusters and Franchises is only going to get worse with the a new Star Wars line and every other studio looking to duplicate the success of The Avengers, and the reason all of this happening is because Peter Jackson and New Line learned how to efficiently exploit fans by giving them a steady stream of something they can’t produce on their own; will power.

Rest in Peace, Middle Earth.

-C.Charles

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