This has been a subject I've been interested in for years, and one which I personally struggle with on a near constant basis: Artist's intent versus fan criticisms. Before we begin I just want to make this clear that this journal is NOT about "ignoring criticisms" or any sort of endorsement of such an action. I'm gonna be accused of it, of course, but I just wanted to get that out of the way right now.
As I've been observing fan interactions over the years I've noticed a severe increase in a sense of entitlement: IE: that if you love something enough you have a "right" to force the creators to change their content to suit your personal preferences. We saw this play out to the extremes this past summer with the Mass Effect 3 ending debacle, and we see it play out to a much lesser extent here on DA quite a bit.
Artists need feedback and criticisms to grow and improve their work, but at what point does it move beyond offering suggestions to help an artist improve to outright demanding things be changed?
As a creator I've always felt that the voice of the artist should always be considered. If someone looks at your work and wants to know why you chose to do something a certain way, you should be allowed to explain yourself without fear of being attacked or seen as being defensive. Yet I've noticed that artists who do speak about their work are often criticized for trying to censor the fans, or can't handle criticism, or that they're being too defensive. It's happened to me, but It's also happened to many of my artistic colleagues, usually with predictable and similar results.
Using Mass Effect 3's ending as an example, the fan's outrage and intensity was like nothing I've ever seen before. No matter how shitty the ending was (and believe me, it was shitty), there was no need to file a complaint with the FTC over it. Being a fan of something doesn't mean you're always gonna get what you want. Part of being a fan means you need to accept the risk that you might get a downer ending, or a bad plot twist, or a character you don't like, etc. You have every right to be disappointed or annoyed at such changes/plots/characters... but going from being disappointed to demanding companies/artists "fix" and "change" things crosses the line in my opinion.
This does not mean that fan input is not important. Fan input is very important, and fan input is one of the reasons why there have been a number of really successful comics/shows/movies recently. But there's a fine line between offering suggestions because you're a fan and want to help, and expecting the creators to follow everything you dictate because you "know better" than them.
Being a fan of something doesn't mean you own it. You can love a series, a character, a property, a movie, etc. But if the creators chose to go in a direction you don't personally enjoy, you are not "entitled" to demand change. You can suggest it, and the creators are free to listen and even accept it... but offering criticism and advice is not a contract you are signing with the creators. They are not bound to please you, however right or justified you might be.
Again, artists need feedback both positive and negative to grow and improve. However, artists also need to feel that they're allowed to take creative risks, and fans need to learn that there is a time and a place for demanding change. You can offer your criticisms and advice, but after that it's up to the artist to use advice. If they chose not to, that doesn't necessarily mean that what you had to say was invalidated or wrong, and you shouldn't become angry or upset over it. Right?
That's my take on the situation, but I'm curious to know what you all think: At what point does it cross the line from being a fan giving criticism and feedback, to a fan expecting changes because of their criticisms and feedback? Do artists have any say in the matter? How much of their original intent should be considered? Do fans have more power over a creator's work? What's your opinion on this subject, I am very eager to hear your responses.