As a self-diagnosed hypochondriac, a lot of thoughts and worries go through your head daily. It’s a good topic to discuss with other hypochondriacs since it can make you feel a tad more normal. Personally, I was glad to find out that I wasn’t alone in having this sort of worry – what if something bad happens to me before I see the ending of Lost?
Now, love or loathe the Lost finale (the former, for me: hate mail to qmunicate’s email address), it did serve as a conclusion for an impressive array of plotlines. Okay, so those who followed behind-the-scenes developments would know that, at one time, the powers that be said there would be a scientific explanation for everything that happened on The Island; yet, I don’t really recall an explanation for the Black Smoke other than it being both a security system and the villainous Man in Black. Not scientific, but it worked for me.
Did we as an audience, as a fiercely devoted fanbase, deserve better? After following the show for six years, racking up over 20,000 posts on an internet forum discussing plotlines and plotholes (proof can be provided on request), ought we to have been supplied a finish that left no loose ends?
There were complaints. Some people didn’t quite “get” the ending. Some were satisfied, some enjoyed the journey for what it was, and some didn’t make it til the end anyway. But it is what it is, and the ending of Lost remains the canon ending of Lost, despite any fan reaction. On the season six DVD boxset there are additional scenes that follow Hurley and Ben post-finale, but they’re not necessary, and they don’t alter what those who followed the show exclusively on TV know.
Consider Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut. Critically acclaimed and commercially successful, Mass Effect 3 served as the concluding part of a trilogy of video games. Except people weren’t happy with the ending, complaining that it was confusing and lacked closure. Upset fans bought 402 cupcakes, coloured red, green, and blue to correspond with the game’s three different endings, but all had the same vanilla flavour to express their disappointment with the game’s overall conclusion, and sent them to BioWare’s main office. As a result, Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut was released as free downloadable content to offer up a more rewarding finale.
Up until now, I would have distanced myself from this kind of behaviour. I go to a lot of gigs, I listen to a lot of music, and I believe that an artist’s performance is their own and that we go to them, they don’t come to us. If I go to see Green Day and they don’t play Basket Case, that’s their choice, and I don’t get to boo them for not playing one of their biggest songs.
Then again, if I pay money to see Wheatus, they bloody better play Teenage Dirtbag.
I’m a WWE fan (stick with me here). The nature of having a live audience who pay to come to your shows for 52 weeks a year means that 10,000 people in attendance have no real problem showing their support or distaste for something that is happening. Indeed, in a theatre, it’s possible to show protest by leaving a performance halfway through. Whether that’s loud enough for the performers or director to hear is debatable, but you are free to show that you expected something better, something more.
So, for the last six or so months, the WWE product has not been pushing the guys to the forefront the fans want to see, while they continue to shove the same old shtick in our faces. This trend has been happening for a number of years, but fans have become more vocal after it became even more apparent at Summerslam 2013 in August. It came to a head during January’s Royal Rumble pay per view. When Daniel Bryan did not appear in the main event, the event turned sour.
Suddenly, boos were ringing throughout the arena for the concluding 30 minutes of the show. Fans had invested so much time and so much emotion into Daniel Bryan’s character that they finally thought they would have a payoff at what is arguably the second biggest pay per view of the year, but no, he did not show. Suddenly, every character in the event became a baddie. The good guys were being booed, the bad guys were being booed, the product was being booed.
The live environment means that the WWE product can receive real-time feedback. I said “until now” earlier in the article because I sympathise with that crowd, but I also fear for future WWE pay per views if they do not listening to fan reaction. It’s possible that their biggest event of the year, Wrestlemania 30 this April, could be an embarrassing disaster due to “smart fans” booing the hell out of it. They market this event as wrestling’s Superbowl; it’s something they can’t afford to get wrong.
Just this week, news leaked online that the plans for Wrestlemania 30, which ought to have been set and secured for months, are now up in the air with only one match being absolutely secure (an obvious one at that, which isn’t interfering with the fan backlash). We won’t know until the nearer the time, but it seems that the company are having to bend to fan reaction.
Maybe lulls in products are trends we ought to expect, and in the case of a constantly on-the-road theatre like WWE, having a few bad weeks out of an entire year’s output can actually be considered fairly successful and something fans should stick by and endure, rather than kick up a fuss over. Then again, their live environment, along with Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, forums, blogs, emails, letters all provide the consumer with ways to express distaste over anything. Maybe we do deserve more, a certain closure like in Mass Effect, a highly in demand character getting more screentime, a more fan-pleasing ending. Maybe we pick and choose our interests and we take from them what we’re given without demanding more. With the amount of social platforms open to us, either way, you’re damn sure gonna hear what we have to think about what we get. Whether the company, or artist, or TV producers listen and take note, that’s up to them.