Maybe it's time to stop with petitions when it comes to shaping the creative decisions concerning entertainment endeavours.
What really is the efficacy rate on them? The petition to have the eighth season of 'Game of Thrones' rewritten and remade has hit 1 million signatures. Any chance of that happening? Not a hope. DC fans have been campaigning for years for Warner Bros. to release the so-called Snyder Cut of 'Justice League'. Did it work? Of course it didn't.
In fact, in the history of petitions regarding pop culture, there are precious few examples of them actually working. 'Star Trek', back in the '60s, was the subject of a major write-in campaign that helped to save it from cancellation during the second season. The campaign was spearheaded with the help of Gene Roddeberry, the show's creator, and writer Harlan Ellison. 'Family Guy', in the days before it became a cult phenomenon, was saved on the back of DVD sales after being cancelled in 2002.
More recently, petitions have taken on a slightly more pointed edge where fans and consumers demand substantive changes to what they're seeing. Robert Pattinson, for example, has been the subject of a petition to have him removed from Matt Reeves' upcoming iteration of Batman. Michael Keaton endured a similar petition in 1989 with Tim Burton's 'Batman'.
In the case of saving a TV series, yes, fan petitions can have a positive effect. But recasting characters, or changing fundamental creative decisions? No, never.
It takes a special kind of entitlement to think that a consumer, however rabid and loyal they may be, to think that they deserve to have their needs met. Yet, for all of this, TV shows and movie franches engender that kind of thinking. How many press junkets have there been where movie stars bite their way through clawing responses of "doing it for the fans" and making creative choices because they're "giving the fans what they want"?
Studios are in the business of delivering what people want, when they want it, and how they want it. Artistic merit and credibility, whether we like to admit it or not, doesn't always run ahead of this. There's almost always a interplay between the two conflicting ideas, but very often, the bottom line is the only line that matters.
As much as anyone, studios have to own a certain amount of responsibility for the plethora of petitions that are doing the rounds online. When you give people a stake in the affairs of a show or a franchise, it's not unreasonable for them to assume they get a say in the way that it plays out. Fan-service isn't anything new. Arthur Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes in 'The Final Problem', only to bring him back to life after a public outcry and reader demand.
Yet, nobody ever thought that Doyle should rewrite Holmes' character to suit their own beliefs or ideas of what the character should be. Even if they did, it certainly didn't take on any kind of momentum for anyone to take notice of it. It's only in recent years, with the proliferation of the internet and mass-market entertainment, that it's become an issue.
There's no real solution to any of it, because by pandering to popular tastes or servicing people's expectations, you're going to get something that has no real value or impact. It would simply reflect back whatever prejudices, or inept readings and understandings of a character or a story.
We place values in characters, stories, TV shows and movies because of how they make us feel and what they tell us about the world and ourselves. It's not for anyone else but those who create them to decide what happens in them.