Sunday, February 11, 2018

Record of Lodoss War and Toxic Fan Entitlement

I've talked a great deal on social media about just how toxic fandom has become. Negativity has poisoned everything we love, from Star Wars to Dungeons & Dragons to Marvel, cosplay and beyond. What's worse is that this negativity is accompanied by a frankly disgusting sense of entitlement that has come with the easy access of information the Internet provides. People think that somehow they deserve the very best in everything, and they not only have the right, but somehow a responsibility to make it known that they hate....well, everything.

I once had someone online, when I called them out on their bullshit, say to me, "Why does your right to celebrate something outweigh my right to criticize it? What makes you god?"

I can actually answer that question, and it's a very simple answer: celebrating things is positive. It makes people feel good. It brings joy into the world. Criticism--at least the kind of criticism levied constantly in fandom--is negativity which brings misery, unhappiness and makes the whole world a darker place.

I had someone claim that it's our responsibility to complain so media producers hear it and do better in the future. Not only is this frankly a bullshit intellectualization of your desire to spread hate, it's astoundingly (and, I suspect, deliberately) naive as well. Take Star Wars, for example. A very vocal minority have thrown a temper tantrum about the latest film, going so far as to review bomb and hack Rotten Tomatoes, and create petitions on change.org (one of the most stupidly hilarious tactics I've yet seen, incidentally), because they think it'll somehow force Disney to change their approach.

Folks, the Last Jedi has so far pulled in $1.322 BILLION worldwide and is still in theaters. Disney doesn't care that you didn't like it.

Image source: Amazon.com

Record of Lodoss War

My most recent encounter with toxic fandom has come in the form of Record of Lodoss War. Recently (well, apparently about 6 months ago, but I just found out about it), a brand new Blu-Ray/DVD combo set was released by Funimation. It features the entire OVA in Blu Ray and DVD formats, and the Chronicles of the Heroic Knight in DVD-only format (though for ease of packaging, both series are in Blu Ray boxes). Both are packaged in a basic cardboard sleeve, and there are minimal special features--previews, TV spots, text-less opening and closing sequences, and trailers. It's priced at $79.99 on Amazon (I do my purchasing at brick-and-mortar stores deliberately so I paid about $85 at FYE). 

Of course, the Intarwebz are awash with fan outrage, largely focused on the following three complaints: 

1. The box is just cardboard! HOW DARE THEY?
2. There are no special features, like documentaries! HOW DARE THEY? 
3. (the big one) OMG HOW DARE THEY ONLY PUT HEROIC KNIGHT IN DVD ONLY! I ALREADY OWN THAT ON DVD! WHY DID I EVEN BUY THIS?? WHY DID THEY LIE AND CLAIM IT'S BLU RAY??
4. I can't believe they're charging so much for this bare-bones package! They should've dumped the DVD versions of the OVA and knocked 20 bucks off of it. Why do I need DVD and Blu Ray, anyway?

Addressing the Complaints

Anyone who reads these closely will discover a couple things. First, most of these complaints are coming from completists who already own the show and are pissed that they're somehow being FORCED to buy the same thing they already own. Like Funimation came to their house and put a gun to their head. 

Second? The whiners are, in fact, lazy as well as self-entitled. It took me an actual 20 minutes of research online to discover that there are no HD masters of the television series in existence, thus making a Blu Ray release of it physically impossible. 

Your complaint about this, thus, is completely invalid. Yes, your opinion on this is wrong. Sometimes, just sometimes, an opinion can, in fact, be wrong when it's based on incomplete information that you didn't bother to research. 

The whiners are also complaining that Funimation should've been clear that the Heroic Knight is DVD only. Well, folks, if you'd get up off your ass and go to a store once in awhile, you'd realize that they did. On the package itself, it clearly states, "40 episodes on 6 DVDs and 13 episodes on 2 Blu-Ray discs." 

But that's what happens when you're too lazy to go to a store, and you buy everything sight-unseen online. 

Next, and this one really gets me: the complaints that boil down to, "I, personally, didn't want this, and Funimation should consider that." Look, YOU may not want both Blu Ray and DVD in one package, but guess what? There's a lot of people out there who go out of their way to buy these combo packages. Your personal preference? It doesn't count next to the legions of people who hold the opposite preference. 

All you're doing is shitting all over other people's ability to enjoy this, and worst of all? You're doing it on purpose because you don't think they have the right to enjoy it.

Regarding the price: let's be fair, $80 is not an unrealistic price for an 8-disc set. That you don't like that things are more costly these days doesn't offset the fact that it's just what the market is right now. You don't get to complain about the cost after you buy it. If you don't like the price, vote with your wallet. Period. 

Dislike vs. Negativity

Nobody's saying you have to love everything. But there's a difference between saying, "I didn't like it," and attempting to intellectualize your disdain in such a long and detailed way as to present yourself as trying to convince other people that their enjoyment is wrong. Nobody is forcing you to buy into something you don't like--and if you buy a product that isn't what you wanted, 99% of retailers will take it back. 

Ranting and trying to convince other people to walk away as well, however? That doesn't force companies to change their ways. What it can do, however, is force them to just stop. It can put companies out of business. It can convince them not to try anymore or that such efforts aren't financially viable. 

Then you'll complain because nobody's putting out sci-fi and fantasy products anymore. But whose fault is that? Not yours, naturally. You'd never admit to that. You deserved better and they didn't deliver. They shouldn't have just quit. They should've called you up, personally, and asked how to do it right, and gone bankrupt trying to live up to your personal expectations and demands. 

The Bottom Line

The new Record of Lodoss War Blu-Ray DVD set is making a seminal and classic series that many say is the single best Dungeons & Dragons adaptation ever, available for the first time in something like two decades, it having been out of print for many years. It's making it available for a whole new generation of people to watch and appreciate, but the entitled collector's market thinks they deserve more. 

It's the same entitled toxic crap that leads people to complain about Marvel being "sellouts" for producing a multi-billion-dollar franchise of wildly entertaining and well-written movies based on comics, but appealing to a broad audience instead of a tiny minority of people who have been into comics since the 1960s and consider themselves unappreciated scholars. 

Not only is this attitude self-entitled...it's stupid. There is not a media company in the entire world that says, "You know what? I want to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a property to appeal to a small minority of viewers who aren't enough to make the money back, let alone turn a profit." 

Quit crying. Be happy that geek culture has gone mainstream. If you'd have told 10-year-old me in 1984 that some day I'd have the X-Men and the Avengers on the big screen looking staggeringly good with a wild ride that's totally in the spirit of the comics, or that some day there would be ten Star Wars films, with at least eight more on the way, I would've thought you were nuts. 

Get over yourselves, folks. It's a golden age for us, and it's largely because of people who are new to embracing these properties. Shut up and enjoy the ride. There's a reason why your mom taught you that if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. 

Incidentally, Record of Lodoss War, which began as an adaptation of an actual D&D game, was later turned into its own RPG, Sword World. It's never been released outside of Japan, but an intrepid group of translators have done a stellar job of making it available to all

What are your thoughts on the current toxic environment among fandom? Comment below!


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