Why We Should All Care Less

Illustration for article titled Why We Should All Care Less

Truly there are people in this world far too invested in the media they consume - I should know, I've been there. On more than one occasion I've found myself fuming with a pathologically stupid rage at a review - but I happen to be an idiot, and I'm of the crazy opinion that reasonable human beings should know better.

I used to wonder if the shitstorms that follow negative reviews were a phenomenon exclusive to video games - the result of console tribalism, a byproduct of the money we invest in them. But thanks to the release of The Dark Knight Rises, we have proof that is not the case. It's simply the end result of collective stupidity, and every form of entertainment is susceptible. It doesn't matter if the product is interactive, it doesn't matter if it's played on a costly device. If people are passionately invested in something, they will react badly to criticism of that product. If that passion is lathered to a dense, frothy fervour, it can become destructive and innocent people get hurt.

On Rotten Tomatoes today, Editor in Chief Matt Atchity was forced to make this post, a short address to those who had bombarded the first negative review of The Dark Knight Rises with threats, hate speech, all the good stuff. The whole situation, as someone who used to write reviews for a living, was completely painful to watch - it's this sort of silliness that contributed heavily to my decision to not review games on Kotaku Australia. I want no part of this mob, and I have no interest in adding my own voice to that pointless drone of white noise.


But I do have a little suggestion - maybe we should start caring a little less about the media we consume?

As a teenager, and even into my early 20s, I was utterly guilty of allowing the movies I watched, the music I listened to and the video games I played, to define me. In a sense I think that is - if not the endgame - definitely a touching point for the complicated process of fandom. It is for this reason that, as a 19 year old I, without a single shred of irony, believed that The Phantom Menace was a decent movie. It's the reason why I was negative reviews of Wind Waker made me angry.

Illustration for article titled Why We Should All Care Less

But at some point I - sensibly - decided to stop giving a shit about someone else's opinion of the things I loved.


At its base root, extreme fandom - the kind that motivates a normally lucid human being to verbally attack another person over the internet - is the end result of insecurity. Is this thing that I am so heavily invested in truly worth that investment? Am I secure in my own opinions about this thing? These are the questions you ask yourself and for some weird reason the answers are important to you. Your opinions must be reaffirmed in others. You must target the strange rage you feel towards those with dissenting opinions. And it must be done en masse, alongside those who feel the same way as you.

Why not save yourself that angst? Why not simply care less?

Just care less. Matt Atchity correctly stated there are more important things to get angry about; shouting down reviewers who didn't like the thing you love is petty in the grand scheme of things. But I say that's just a symptom; the root-cause is far deeper. It's the end result of allowing the products you consume, or the hobby you engage with, to define you.


I've been there, and it felt good to just let it go. It's pretty painful to continue taking negativity personally, and it's exhausting to continue being an ‘angry person on the internet'. You are more than the video games you play; the movies you watch and the music you listen to should be of little consequence to others, and you shouldn't take it personally when others feel differently about the things you love.

Just let it go. Kill your darlings. We should simply care less about the media we are invested in. The internet, and the world, will be a much nicer place as a result.


Mark Serrels is the EIC for Kotaku Australia. You can follow him on Twitter!

Republished from Kotaku Australia.

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I could agree, and for the most part, I do. It's just that....

lol...I mean it always starts out that way, right? "It's just that...."...."Yeah, BUT...." "Not exaaaactly...."

So yes, as shameful as it may be to point out a retort that defends complete assholes, people get emotionally invested in things BECAUSE they loved something so much. It's a double edged sword. Just go look at Spoony's Ultima 9 thrashing that's going on right now.

On the one hand, we should be grateful that we got the original Star Wars, the classic Final Fantasy games, the original Fallouts, yata yata the list could go on forever. We really shouldn't be tainted. We can ALWAYS throw one of games back into the discussion. They're not going away, and they can't be taken from you. Well, except Star Wars on Blu Ray....

It's the other side. The "and then what?" side. People have legitimate reasons for hating the new SW trilogy, Fallout 3, Final Fantasy XIII, Resident Evil 5, etc. Those franchises got off light. Look at other franchises. I'm still waiting for a real Star Control 3 (don't get me started). It seems like a good King's Quest sequel is never going to happen. Burnout is turning into NFS. Indy 5 may never come out now because of 4.

There's almost no way that TDKR can completely suck, but people have this legitimate fear of how a franchise is handled. Even THAT goes both ways. Take Prometheus. Terrible excuse for a movie, but it made it's money back and then some and the Blu-Ray isn't even out yet. Fans are terrified that the Alien universe is never going to get back to its former glory because what if the sequel pays attention to the $$$ and not the criticisms? Reviewers threw praise on that movie but I have yet to actually meet a real person that thinks it was anything less than insulting to watch. Fans are scared shitless that Ridley has forgotten how to tell a proper story and that he might take it out on Blade Runner next. We might never see a good Alien movie or a proper Blade Runner story (at least the universe) because we're rewarding failure.

On the other hand, fans are also terrified if you throw a bad review at their favorite franchise because it might mean they never get to see it again. Batman is especially sensitive. We saw Forever, and knew the franchise would spring back somehow. Batman and Robin? Shelved the franchise for years and it took Nolan to make a masterpiece trilogy to almost wipe the shame off the series. We want to see our loved things continue. We like someone else being in charge of the storytelling with those franchises because they stimulated you the first time. We just hate seeing things get butchered, because it does impact the future.

Hate language should have its limits, especially from an ignorant group of fans that ruin it for everyone else, but sometimes people really feel like they have to scream to be heard. They have their reasons for it. I've never outright bashed a reviewer for what they think unless they were rock-stupid to begin with (it's happened. All with IGN). Reviewers are in a tough spot because they have to answer for what media was put out there to begin with. Would you want to be the reviewer that gives Halo 4 a 2/10? I'm just happy that there are developers out there who are starting to listen these days. And that whole Mass Effect 3 ending ordeal? I actually feel kinda bad for Bioware, because this was going to happen with someone eventually. They walked right into that bullseye and got spanked for it. People have a right to get passionate, but until there's a way to get to the creators directly, that means the reviewers end up being fodder.

It all comes down to this:

"You rated this 9/10? That shitty thing? You deserve to be slapped! EA might hear you and get the wrong f***ing idea!!!!"


"You rated this 2/10? It might've been lacking, but it was still awesome and now you just killed my franchise! You piece of s***!!!!"