Fate of the "F(r)anchise"

By Jonathan Q. Hoidn

An Introduction

Greetings, fellow classmates and/or random stranger I've never met and probably will never meet.  It appears you have stumbled upon my blog for a podcast I’m writing.  Here you will find my pitch, which is in both audio and text-based form, that describes what kind of podcast it will be.  Within the pitch I go over the content my podcast will be comprised of, as well as an opinion piece that addresses an issue that will likely grab your attention. The podcast is in response to that opinion piece, but it's mainly about the different perspectives and angles based on that issue, as well as looking at the bigger picture at hand, so you (the listener) can gain an opinion on it. Below the pitch is each source I have found so far as well as it’s bibliographic information.  It’s organized in a reverse-chronological format so the most up-to-date information will be at the top for all your viewing pleasures.  Feel free to give it all a read and keep up with my most recent work, as well as listen to and/read my pitch in order to get a gist of what I'm doing.

I hope you enjoy!

— Jonathan Q. Hoidn


We’re all a fan of something.  For a lot of folks out there, its Game of Thrones.  For some, its Harry Potter.  Every franchise be it in film or literature, has some sort of fanbase where people can collectively enjoy and discuss the content in that given franchise.  But have you ever felt betrayed by your favourite movie franchise?  So betrayed that you took it upon yourself to try and change it? 

Imagine your favourite franchise, lets use Harry Potter as an example, produced a movie that was set before Fantastic Beasts but after The Deathly Hollows.  The movie features the same characters from the Harry Potter novels, but doesn’t exactly use the source material in the way that YOU and a bunch of other fans would have wanted.  That would just outrage you, would it not?  But would you create a petition directed towards JK Rowling to take it out of canonicity?  

Whether you would or would not, somebody already has.  Except, not with Harry Potter.  Instead, a “hardcore” Star Wars fan was so upset with The Last Jedi that he created a petition directed towards the director Rian Johnson in order to take it out of canonicity.  

This petition has reached multiple news sites, and has sparked multiple opinions.  One of those opinions is by Erna Mahyuni of the company called Stuff, in which they explain why they believe the petition is wrong..

They believe that if the petition is a success, the franchise will start producing “carbon copies” of the original trilogy, which to those who don’t know, is the Holy Grail to many Star Wars fans. 

Now, you’re probably thinking, “why would carbon copies of great movies be a bad thing.

Mahyuni argues that in doing so, the company will not produce any content that strays from the path of those golden films.  And I think their opinion is very clear: That fans should have no right to decide what is canon and what is not.

But I think this raises just a few questions: Should franchises listen to their fans?  If so, to what extent?  Should they cater towards the hardcore fans or the general public?  Is there room for change in an established franchise?  And is the current trend of resurrecting old franchises a good thing?

In this podcast will look at all of those questions and more, while delving into the film medium itself, as well as television, video games and even comic books.

And who knows, each medium might produce differing outcomes to franchises listening to their hardcore viewers.  By the end of it, you’ll be able to decide for yourself whether you believe that fans should have the ability to turn a franchise into a “fanchise.” 

Bibliographic Sources

Week 6

Nicole Drum. “How 'The Last Jedi' Changes 'Star Wars' Forever.” ComicBook.com,17 Dec, 2017, http://comicbook.com/starwars/2017/12/18/star-wars-the-last-jedi-franchise-changed-forever/. Accessed 24 Feb. 2018

In Drum’s popular article posted on ComicBook.com  she discusses how the most recent Star Wars film has changed the franchise forever. The Last Jedi, in a way, reinvents Star Wars in its most modern take yet.  In a franchise that is built upon its classics, modernization is exactly what is needed in light of much newer times.  Drum talks about what specifically is modernizing the franchise, emphasizing on the inclusion diversity, redefining the force, and letting the past die.  

This article is helpful for my podcast because it looks at how The Last Jedi is changing the name of Star Wars, which will help me when I analyze the negative reaction from fans towards the movie.

Bryan Bishop. “The women of The Last Jedi on Carrie Fisher and making a more modern Star Wars.” The Verge, 7 Dec. 2017, https://www.theverge.com/2017/12/7/16743670/star-wars-the-last-jedi-women-carrie-fisher-laura-dern-representation. Accessed 24 Feb. 2018

This popular article written by Bishop for The Verge discusses the modernization of Star Wars in The Last Jedi, specifically with its use of strong female characters.  Bishop includes excerpts from a press conference in which the cast of The Last Jedi discuss the films “progressive [and] modern portrayal of women.”  Bishop includes quotes from Kelly Marie Tran (who plays Rose Tico), Laura Dern (Admiral Holdo), Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma), Daisy Ridley (Rey) and Andy Serkis (Supreme Leader Snoke) as they talk about how they feel about the focus on female characters, as well as delving into their own characters breaking stereotypes.

Also in this article is a focus on Carrie Fisher and how she and the character she portrayed has influenced the women of Star Wars, as well as contribute to the modern look of the franchise.

This article is helpful towards my podcast as it looks at the modernization of the franchise and how women play a role in making it more relatable to todays standards.

Week 5

John C. Lyden. “Whose Film Is It, Anyway? Canonicity and Authority in Star Wars Fandom.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Volume 80, Issue 3, 1 September 2012, Pages 775–786, https://doi.org/10.1093/jaarel/lfs037

This scholarly article written by John C. Lyden is divided into two parts: “Star Wars as Religion”, and “Fandom and Religion.”  The article discusses how the hardcore Star Wars fandom in a way can be seen as a religion, where fans swear by the “holy texts,” implying the original trilogy, and try to involve Star Wars in every aspect of their life.  This, in a way, has sparked the creation of “Jediism,” which, although not an official religion, thousands of people claim to fall under it.  According to multiple articles, around 20 000 Canadians have put that they are a Jedi on the Canadian Census of 2001.  However when I looked online at the records for said census, no relevant data was found (I’ll try the Scott Library to see if they have it so I’ll update this when I find out more).  The article delves into how die-hard fans are so attached to the original trilogy, how they were originally made, that fans backlashed when the founding father George Lucas altered them in the “special editions” in 1999, which included deleted scenes as well as digital alterations.  Fans argued that this “altered the canon.”  The most notable one, which I’m sure you’ve heard of, actually sparked lots of merchandise including t-shirts with the phrase “Han shot first.”  In the re-released special editions Greedo is seen taking a shot at Han in the Mos Eisley cantina, while it misses, Han retaliates with “killer” reflexes and shoots Greedo.  Lucas wanted to make it clear that Han is not a cold-blooded killer, and that he did it in self-defence to appeal to a more child-free audience, while fans prefer the original take because it builds to Han’s character as a rogue smuggler.  Lucas makes his defences in favour of the re-releases but fans disagree for obvious reasons. But in correlation to religion and fandom as a whole, there is a comparison to the holy texts for Christianity.  Lyden argues that not all Christians follow all Ten Commandments, so it’s okay to not like every single piece of text from the fandom you love.  For example, most fans argue that not all Star Trek movies are great, but rather that every other one is, specifically the even numbered ones (example, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan).  An example for Star Wars would be how fans adore and obsess over the original trilogy, but despise the prequel trilogy.

This article will prove useful to my podcast as it helps me gain a better understanding of the history of the Star Wars fandom, as well as the details on why they feel this way about certain things towards the series.  

“Trope Namers / Star Wars.” TV Tropes. n.d. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/TropeNamers/StarWars

This article is a database listing all (and I mean ALL) of the tropes that are included within the Star Wars film series.  The page starts off by saying that Star Wars has one of the highest amount of tropes in all of media.  Just by looking under Episode IV: A New Hope one can see that there is a massive amount in that one movie alone.

Why is this important?  How will it help my podcast?  Those questions were inevitable, but this will actually help me a lot.  One thing that Erna Mahyuni (the author of the article in which I am responding to) argues is that The Last Jedi relies on a lot of old tropes that hooked audiences back in the day, but may not be as effective in these modern times.  By knowing what the tropes are, I’ll be able to gain a better understanding of the backbone of her argument.

Week 4

Shepherd, Jack. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi petition creator backtracks: 'It was a bad idea'.” Independent , 21 Dec. 2017, www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/star-wars-last-jedi-petition-backlash-luke-skywalker-canon-a8121851.html.v

In this popular news article written within the Independent, Jack Shepherd discusses the petition in focus, specifically on the creator’s remarks.  Henry Walsh, the mind behind the infamous petition, was quick to step back from his conquest for change shortly after he made it.  Walsh claims he was heavily medicated when he created the petition, and only did it in an act of passion and hatred towards the film. Walsh was not happy about the direction that Rian Johnson took with he film, considering all of the material he had to work with, in reference to the remaining cast from the original trilogy.  In stepping back, he says “It was a bad idea at the time and I feel that we are pooling our efforts in not a healthy direction.”  However, some fans are taking this as form of a gag order from Disney, possibly involving Hush money.  He says that the petition “can't achieve the goal that was set for it.”

This article will help me write some background on the case of the petition. Acting as a continuation of everybody’s initial reaction, this article concludes the petition’s story, but continues to raise questions.  Is Walsh relying on his drug-induced state as a crutch to justify his actions? Sure it’s not relevant to my podcast, but it got my attention nonetheless.

 This idea of a darker Disney is not new.  Star Wars legend himself Mark Hamill expressed how he disliked the direction Johnson went with his character (Luke Skywalker) and said something along the lines of “he’s not my Luke,” and I mean, he IS Luke, so that really says a lot.

DeLong, Thomas J. “Should you listen to the customer.” Harvard Business Review, Sept. 2012, hbr.org/2012/09/should-you-listen-to-the-customer.

Now this is an interesting piece of writing that I really liked, because it is full, and I mean FULL, of amazing quotes.  The Harvard Business Review has fictionalized an actual case study in the format of a story, and boy does it ever help my podcast.  This narrative focuses on issues within the employees at Cirque de Soleil, specifically a new-hire’s fight for what she thinks would benefit the company: a survey of it’s audience.  Elizabeth, the newbie, wants to survey the audience in order to hear what they think could improve the show.  She thinks that a little feedback can go a long way, considering the company’s history with never asking the fans anything about its content.  In the past, younger audience members were scared of the big masks the show presented, but instead of removing the large scary masks, they merely put up a warning saying “may frighten younger viewers” or something of that sort.  Henry, the artistic director and founder said that they dont care what the audience thinks, he he has to trust the creative expertise of the artists.  “How can people tell you what they want if they haven’t ever seen it before? If we ask them what they want, we’ll end up doing Swan Lake every year!”  This quote really hit me hard, as it just makes a lot of sense and is a reasonable defence.  There’s also this good quote that Henry says, “We can’t keep our artists inspired and innovative if we start letting customers tell us what to do.”  “But if we ask what they think and then don’t give it to them, we’ll alienate them.”  The narrative finishes with an industry professional’s opinion on the matter, Marco Di’Amico, the Marketing Director at Cirque de Soleil.  He mentions Henry Ford’s famous line: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses,” implying that you can’t trust the customers with creating your next product.  Di’Amico talks about using customer data from a survey in a different way, where they would adjust the show to the demographic, not the peoples choices.  His example of this is when Cirque had a show in China.  He notes how it was no coincidence the show opened on November 8th, 2008, because of the significance of the number 8 in Chinese culture.  Jens Martin Skibsted, cofounder of KiBiSi said, “Creative and noncreative companies alike succeed when they are guided by a clear vision, a unique set of values, and a culture that no customer insights could ever change,” later saying “There is no shame in creating a product that not everyone will enjoy or understand.”

I’m just in awe over the amount of intriguing quotes that help me understand my topic at hand…it’s incredible.  I don’t think I need to go further into how this will help my podcast.  This might have been the best source I have found so far.  10/10, would recommend.

Week 3

Comicbooknostalgia. “Who Really Killed Jason Todd.” The GWW, 20 Oct. 2016, thegww.com/who-really-killed-jason-todd/.

In this popular editorial, the author discusses the death of Jason Todd.  In the late 1980s, Jason Todd was Robin, the sidekick to the stoic Dark Knight himself, Batman.  But Todd didn’t live up to the title, and fans hated how different he was from the previous Robin, Dick Grayson, and the writers knew it.  DC Comics then created a new form of interaction between the comics they produce and the fans who read them.  They set up a 900 dial-in system, with two numbers: one number killing Todd, one number saving him.  Over 10 000 readers voted, and when it came down to it, the fans finally saw the downfall of the second Robin.  One of the editors at DC said that one reader rigged his computer to call the number every 90 seconds for 8 hours, implying it was that one fan who swayed the votes in a way.  This information proves very useful to my podcast, as it discusses what happens when you let fans decide on the content.  

Ksanborn. “Who Killed Jason Todd: The Joker, Himself, His Writer, or The Fans?” The Graphic Novel, 18 Oct. 2015, graphicnovel.umwblogs.org/2015/10/18/who-killed-jason-todd-the-joker-himself-his-writer-or-the-fans/.

Building from the previous article/editorial, this popular article goes into detail about what happened after Todd’s death, and its effect on the comic industry.  The issues leading up to and containing the heavily graphic scene was titled “A Death in the Family” and ran from issue #426-429.  Upon its release and even to this day, the storyline remains one of the most popular and pivotal moments in the Batman mythos, sitting amongst the greats of The Killing Joke, The Long Halloween, and Hush.  Around the year 2002, Batman fans changed their opinion yet again, and Jason Todd was brought back (because comics have great logic) and went by the anti- alter ego the Red Hood.  All grown up and looking for revenge, Red Hood is one of the more well-known Batman villains, especially considering his prior acquaintance with Batman.  This information is important to my podcast as it gives a brilliant example of what happens when fans get what they want.  Years later they might change their mind, but if the writers deem it so, the fan’s get what they want.  In this example, both A Death in the Family storyline and the Red Hood character were very integral and important characters to the DC universe, and are thanks to nobody else but the fans. 

Week 2

“The Importance Of A Fan Base & How To Grow One.” Kissmetrics Blog, blog.kissmetrics.com/fan-base/.

In this statistical blog by the corporation Kissmetrics, there is a focus on consumers, and some information pertaining to their extent of loyalty.  The blog hosts a large infographic with stats about the different reactions from regular consumers (non-fans) and hardcore fans of a product.  In the infographic it says that fans tend to have a higher approval rating than the average run-of-the-mill consumer.  But this also ties into how fans, compared to non-fans, tend to be more passionate about a product.  So if its a good product, they’ll feel passionately for it.  If its a bad product, they’ll feel passionately against it, while the average consumer will likely lie in the middle instead of being radical.  Thanks to this information I can better understand the importance of a companies fanbase, as the title suggests, in which I can further analyze the fan’s place as a consumer.

V, Vinay. “What Super Fans Can Do for Your Business.” DrumUp, 26 June 2017, blog.drumup.io/blog/what-super-fans-can-do-for-your-business/.

In this DrumUp blog post written by Vinay V, lots of detail is given in how a hardcore fanbase can benefit a company.  Instead of comparing fans to non-fans like the other article I have listed above, the author talks about the hardcore fans specifically.  One thing that caught my eye was the bit on “User Generated Content,” which I hypothesize has a direct impact on their passion for the product or company due to their investment in time and/or other resources.  This blog will definitely prove useful for me as I delve into the idea of “the fan.”

Week 1

Lane, Carly. “The Last Jedi and the Problem With Fan Theories.” Syfy, 17 Dec. 2017, www.syfy.com/syfywire/the-last-jedi-and-the-problem-with-fan-theories.

In this Syfy article written by Carly Lane will prove very useful to my podcast.  Here’s what I learned, which confirmed what I already knew, but gives me some concrete ideas to work with.  After The Force Awakens was released, a multitude of fans created their own theories in hopes that what they wanted would potentially become true.  Whether it’s a more fleshed out look at Rey’s lineage or the true identity of Supreme Leader Snoke, the fans took it upon themselves to decide before the movie was even made.  But when The Last Jedi released in December 2017, the Star Wars fanbase became divided, from those who loved the film and those who despised it.  Normally this wouldn’t be that big of an issue because everybody has their own opinion, but compared to other entries in the Star Wars series, The Last Jedi is the most polarizing.  The information within the article will help formulate one of the multitude of ideas I will explore: fan theories.

Johnson, Benjamin K, and Judith E Rosenbaum. “(Don’t) Tell Me How It Ends: Spoilers, Enjoyment, and Involvement in Television and Film.” Media Psychology, 17 July 2017, pp. 1–31. Taylor & Francis Online, www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15213269.2017.1338964?scroll=top&needAccess=true.

In this scholarly journal written by Johnson and Rosenbaum, they discuss consumer’s interaction with television and film, and how it impacts their experience.  The journal goes into depth with 3 studies, each coming to an interesting conclusion.  This piece will give me more of a background on user interactions to this form of media in general, as they also dive into spoilers and how those effect an audience.  With examples from the HBO show Game of Thrones to Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, this journal will give me access to the minds of the audience, and a more in-depth look at what could quite possibly change the future of the movie industry.