In the age of social media, the power dynamic has shifted in correlation to the rise of technology. Fans of movies and TV shows have more power today than at any other point in history, and everyone is now able to voice their opinion on anything they seem fit.
Responding to direct content used to require sending fan mail, figuring out where famous stars lived or searching throughout your favorite stores to buy merchandise.
Now, every voice is amplified at the push of a button, and this has changed the dynamic of consuming media in the 21st century.
The power and influence that consumers have over the media they receive was seen during the hype surrounding the live-action “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie. When the trailer released, many fans were outraged over the character design and artwork direction.
The main character, Sonic, was shown with a set of human teeth and small, beady eyes, which made his appearance look quite terrifying and unsettling. The outrage was so widespread that the movie was forced to be delayed so that the studio could redo its animation.
The new trailer to the movie shows a redone Sonic with bigger eyes and less elongated CGI. He looks much more like the video game "Sonic the Hedgehog," which makes him much more appealing to hardcore fans and other people.
Typically, fan outrage over minuscule things is not enough to compel a studio to redo an entire movie. While this situation is not the norm, it shows the power and influence a fanbase has over received content.
Understandably, it’s difficult for a studio to have to redo all the time, money, manpower and advertisements put into a movie just to please a small number of people. It’s more profitable for studios to just release content anyway, simply because the undeniable fact is that studios have to follow deadlines and heed to the business side of creativity.
This influence of fans changing the development cycle of a movie is a fairly new phenomenon, and outrage directed toward a movie is usually apparent after it has been released to the public.
People can debate for hours over endings of movies, the meaning of certain scenes and discuss whether a movie was good enough for their standards, but all of these topics happen after the movie has been released. Rarely has this anger been seen at such an early stage of development.
It signals a willingness on the studio’s side to listen to criticisms toward its work and showcases the power a unified voice has over a media conglomerate.
This change of authority is gradual as technology becomes more and more accessible to people. The more people use social media, the more people are able to voice how they feel about social issues and topics they care about.
These new developments have mostly been positive because people finally feel as though their voices are heard and taken into consideration. Usually, studios simply wash their hands clean of the situation and continue to pump out movies without a regard for how people feel about them.
When people are uninformed, they can make sweeping statements that are simply not true. Misinformation within media is a subject with real side effects, and the internet can take incorrect information and blow it out of proportion. There is both a positive and negative side which can go either way according to the internet and the information that is provided.
The outcry over Sonic’s trailer shows the increasing shift of the balance of power between studio executives and fans. No longer are people able to receive content mindlessly. Now, the effect and influence of the content is seen on the individuals to a much greater extent.
Parametrics and data are unable to read human minds, and this power is bound to continue to shift as technology becomes more and more entrenched in our daily lives. While this situation is not the norm now, perhaps it signals that our role as consumers is shifting to a more active participant in the content we receive.