The Valentines Fanboys & Fangirls Really Want 2 was last modified: February 5th, 2016 by Kris Padget
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Welcome to my regular blog series dedicated to justifying my wrestling fandom. Here I will tenuously relate the WWE universe to larger issues in the wide world of fandoms and maybe even that cold lonely place known as “reality”. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present to you: WRESTLING WITH SHAME.
In the WWE, does it matter more: what the wrestler does or why the wrestler does it?
When professional wrestling was at its apex, during the Monday Night Wars, the WWE was different. Most people assume it was because there was more sex, violence, and swearing on Raw, but this doesn’t give the average wrestling fan enough credit. Wrestling nerds have never needed wrestling to fulfill those needs…we need wrestling to be entertained. This is best done through complex, multi-layered storytelling that just happens to be resolved through feats of athleticism. It’s easy to understand why the wrestlers at the top of the card are motivated. Fame and fortune (theoretically) exist for those who reach the pinnacle of the profession and win championship titles, but in a scripted drama only so many people can be actively chasing that dream. So what does the rest of the roster do while waiting for their chance?
During the “Attitude Era” the storytelling was focused on characters being individually motivated and pursuing their goals in the way best suited to their abilities. It didn’t matter to the APA that they weren’t vying for the tag titles because they were chilling in the basement, playing poker, waiting for their next contract. The Godfather was more concerned with his “business associates” than obtaining bling, Kurt Angel (same clip) was obsessed with being the perfect example of Americana, and DX wanted to save the wrestling institution by destroying it. Heck, Mick Foley managed to have 3 different characters, plus himself, because their individual stories were developed. Motivation mattered.
Many shows have suffered from a change in focus, sitcoms being the most noticeable. Friends and The Big Bang Theory, for example, were very strong comedies for the first few years of their respective runs…until the writers became obsessed with their characters finding drama, rather than finding love. Star Wars was a fun space western until Episode 1 turned it into a (semi-racist) conspiracy theory that pleased no one. NO ONE (Fix this, JJ, you’re our only hope).
In the current WWE, the so called “mid-card” wrestlers now exist only to fill time and to create YouTube moments.
Adrian Neville has existed on the main roster for almost a year and, well, I have no idea what he’s about. Yes, he’s been involved in a bunch of matches and almost won a championship once, but his character has been mired in nothingness. Even the vague alien / superhero angle has never really be explained or explored. Adam Rose had a bunny – but then didn’t – and is now the anti-Adam Rose version of Adam Rose. This has never been explained and only barely mentioned. Wade – I mean Bad News – I mean King Barrett – just lurches from gimmick to gimmick looking and sounding great, but never doing anything interesting. This character malaise even extends to the very top of the roster. Roman Reigns is theoretically still a gun-for-hire since he got to keep The Shield’s entrance and attire, yet he immediately refused a very strong offer from the boss to get the Championship he so desperately desires. Why? I don’t know. Reasons, I guess. Randy Orton gets championship shots but is best known for the “RKO out of nowhere” meme. I’m not sure if his character is unhinged, super athletic, or an evil snake. Whichever is true, his semi-unexplained presence hasn’t been missed. <snark> John Cena hasn’t been missed nor is anyone looking for an explanation as to why </snark>.
On Sunday night Sheamus became the new WWE Champion and his reign, no matter how short it is, will be remembered as a nadir for the company. Wrestling fans will blame Sheamus for being an uninspired champion and will openly wonder why he was given the most important role in the company. Sheamus became champion by winning the Money in the Bank match (MitB is an annual multi-wrestler event where the winner of the match is given a briefcase containing a contract to enter into a WWE Championship match at any time) in June and using contract to challenge Roman Reigns to a match immediately after Roman defeated Ambrose and Del Rio in separate matches during Sunday night’s pay per view broadcast. That is the totality of what Sheamus has done this year. Theoretically the time between winning the briefcase and cashing in the contract should be an interesting journey, but sadly the WWE uses it as a crutch to explain all back story and future motivation.
The Lord of the Rings franchise is occasionally derided for being 6 movies were the characters just go on a long walk; this is true, but what a walk it is. The journey was more than the sum of its parts. The characters grew, they learned lessons about themselves and the meaning of existence, and were pushed to heights previously thought to be unimaginable. That is the journey Sheamus should have been on. Testing and preparing himself for his one moment to not just grab the brass ring but hold on to it. If I draw an analogy better LotR and MitB I’d call the former “a long walk” and the latter “a long wait for the bus.’
I blame the WWE Network and reality TV for this. Like modern politicians, the WWE is now obsessed with the 10 second soundbyte or OMG moment. Did you know they now get 90 seconds on ESPN Sports Center? I’m sure they’ll try to cram as much character development as possible into that. It doesn’t matter if a key plot point doesn’t make sense, as long as people seem excited. Was it better for the Dudley Boyz to be a surprising return or could their character & story be better explained, making their subsequent actions matter more? Had Alberto Del Rio’s firing and subsequent return to the WWE been explained in a way that made the viewer care about his journey, maybe the MexAmerica gimmick would make sense. Or maybe they would have scrapped that idea all together because enough ground work would have been done to make people realize it was dumb.
A franchise like The Hunger Games succeeded because it made people care about Katniss. Even though some people (editor’s note: one person, only one person) don’t like her because of a few absurdly written character flaws, at least I can understand what she’s fighting for and why the question of Gale or Peeta would matter to her. If it matters to the character, it will matter to the audience.
Quick Slams: Sheamus has more X-Pac heat than X-Pac ever had… Survivor Series is not officially irrelevant, it needs to be reinvented or forgotten… Someone should have consulted a vexillologist before unveiling the awful MexAmerican flag… Had I named this series today it would have been called “Monday Night Rico” – I apologize for not thinking of that sooner… Bray Wyatt has done nothing but put wrestlers over this year and now it’s time for a push… The New Day should hold every title right now… Why did Charlotte not help Becky, and vice versa, on Raw?… Mark Henry should retire, for real this time, he’s being abused right now and it’s sad… But seriously, congratulations to Sheamus, I guess.
Would you like to know more?
Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 comes out today, marking the final chapter in our journey through Panem’s revolutionary uprising. It is the end of another fangirl era. Sad…but not that sad. To be honest, until the big push to promote this last film started, I had forgotten that the Hunger Games era wasn’t already over. Until it was shoved in my face, making me remember better times, I had forgotten to care. Until I rallied with my fellow fangirls for discussions of Peeta vs Gale, I had forgotten why I even wanted to.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the Hunger Games. All of you Tributes can calm down. Put down your knives & bows & cleverly disguised bombs, and allow me to explain the reason for my oddly unfangirlish apathy. I love the Hunger Games, but I also love so many other things. Many of these things are bombarding my senses every day, bringing themselves to the forefront of my mind, and edging out fandoms that are not fighting to keep themselves relevant. I’m not saying Hunger Games is irrelevant, but it definitely isn’t pushing to stay alive like many other much-loved series. To understand this I think we have to delve into the history of the Hunger Games fandom…
Looking at this timeline I have happy memories. I remember staying up all night trying to finish Catching Fire because it was just too good to put down… only to find it plays directly into Mockingjay and you can’t possibly stop & pause between novels! I can picture Justine & I sitting on opposite ends of our couch, roommates in a shabby old basement suite. I had convinced her to read this new series I was obsessed with (Hunger Games, obviously) and, in return, I would read her new favorite series (which turned out to be the Mortal Instruments books). We both sat in utter silence, ferociously tearing through the books, only stopping to make a comment about how much we hated Gale or how shocked we were by the fact that Clary & Jace were related. I recall lining up for a midnight showing of the first movie, despite having to be up early the next morning. And then lining up again a few days later to see it again. My perceived problem with the Hunger Games franchise is not a lack of pleasant memories. We’ve had good times together.
It’s also not a criticism of the source material. They were damn good books. Yes, the third one got a bit weird but doesn’t the last book always seem a bit jarring when it breaks the rhythm that has been established throughout the series (either negatively – re: Breaking Dawn – or positively – re: The Deathly Hallows)? And they were damn good movies. Talented actors, quality directors, and ample budgets met to make true-to-book representations that seemed true to life. Not only was I entertained but the Hunger Games also made me think. Kids killing kids on television! That’s dramatic! How did society get to that point? What broke down to create this post-apocalyptic scenario? And what about the commentary it was providing on current society?! Desensitization, gluttony, class disparity… and the list goes on…
The real reason that I feel oddly removed from the Hunger Games fandom at this point falls directly on the way it sky rocketed to popularity. It became too big too fast. But it’s not how quickly something becomes popular that is the problem; it’s the franchise’s ability to maintain that status. Look back at the timeline. Do you see where things fall apart? I’ll give you a hint using other popular YA series:
– Harry Potter is arguably the biggest YA fandom in existence, ever. The novels found mass popularity between the 3rd and 4th books. In this 3-year Potter-novel-less stretch the first two movies were released. 10 years after forging a fandom large enough to populate a good-sized nation, the final film was released.
– Twilight is a close runner-up to HP in fan dedication. Popularly came almost immediately, hard & fast. Then for 7 years fans received either a new book or movie (or both!).
Do you see the connection? Hunger Games’ downfall comes in timing: the books didn’t become popular until after the trilogy was ALL released. I realize the first two books were best-sellers when they first came out, but the craziness didn’t start until right before Mockingjay’s debut. Sure, that means the movies can be hammered out quicker (no waiting around for the book to be released first) but it also makes it hard to maintain the hype. We spent years getting excited multiple times a year about whatever new Harry Potter thing was coming out (be it a book, movie, theme park, etc). Hunger Games didn’t have that. We get pumped once a year for the newest film… but it’s harder to do so now. It’s harder to find the energy to care when it’s been so long since we first read the books. Especially because we know the movies will happen. Here’s where the Maze Runner franchise & its “small” fanbase actually takes a win over the Hunger Games army: we are never quite sure the next film will happen, so we get really excited when it does! With Hunger Games we don’t have to be worried, thus losing even the nervous energy. You wouldn’t think certainty would be a downfall (and I’m not saying it will hurt attendance or box office numbers), but it can kill anticipation.
I guess Hunger Games loses a bit of traction to the Maze Runner in another area too: originality. The Hunger Games was so different when it came out. At the time we were wrapped up in magic & vampires, fairy tales & the supernatural; a post-apocalyptic setting was new & shocking. But all of the subsequent dystopian series (Maze Runner being one of them) ate away at the unique aspect that first caught our eye. Sure Hunger Games started it all, making it the diamond in the rough, but all of the copycats dulled its sparkle.
So where does that leave us? If I’m being honest, I’m not sure. I know I will go see Mockingjay Part 2. I have tickets for a Thursday premiere showing. But will I see it twice, like I did the original? Probably not. And will I think of this fandom much come next November, when there isn’t a new film? How about the November after that? And years into the future? I know I will read the novels again, but as often as I pick up Harry Potter? Only time will tell. But let’s keep fighting on Tributes…*whistles & puts 3 fingers in the air*
What do you think? Will the end of the Hunger Games films be the end of the Hunger Games fandom? Or can we keep fighting on, keeping Katniss, Peeta & Gale alive in our hearts (or more importantly, minds)? Let me know in the comments!
Love & Luck,
This week we say farewell to The Hunger Games. After 3 books and 4 movies it’s time to say goodbye to Katniss. I remember that first time I read these books, and I remember loving Peeta from day 1. I can also remember when I saw the first photos of the cast. Thank you for 5 wonderful years ? ?.
I love when a movie comes out with a good soundtrack. Not that I don’t love movie scores, but I love what I’m gonna call the ‘Twilight Effect’: soundtracks to popular movies full of songs by popular artists. Each Hunger Games soundtrack is excellent – not quite Twilight quality – but still excellent. They’re the types of albums I listen to on repeat at work every day.
So is anyone throwing a Hunger Games farewell party this weekend? Anyone going to be filming a reaction video to Mockingjay Part 2? Anyone re-reading all 3 books right now? Today I’ve taken all 3 official soundtracks and come up with the ultimate Hunger Games playlist to help you through all your Hunger Games themed activities!
The Ultimate Hunger Games Playlist
1. Abraham’s Daughter – Arcade Fire
2. Daughter’s Lament – Carolina Chocolate Drops
3. Mirrors – Ellie Goulding
4. Come Away to the Water – Maroon 5 (featuring Rozzi Crane)
5. Eyes Open – Taylor Swift
6. Kingdom Come – The Civil Wars
7. Everybody Want to Rule the World – Lorde
8. Dead Air – CHVRCHES
9. Just a Game – Birdy
10. Capitol Letter – Patti Smith
11. Elastic Heart – Sia (featuring The Weeknd & Diplo)
12. Scream My Name – Tove Lo
13. Kingdom – Charli XCX (featuring Simon Le Bon)
14. Place For Us – Mikky Ekko
15. Yellow Flicker Beat – Lorde
16. Safe & Sound – Taylor Swift (featuring The Civil Wars)
17. The Hanging Tree – Jennifer Lawrence
These soundtracks start very folk-sy and evolve into a more rebellious rock sound. They perfect describe Katniss’s journey throughout these films. I’ve tried to capture this feel with the playlist. We start with the first few songs from the original Hunger Games soundtrack and then begin to intersperse these with more powerful songs from the later albums to get you ready to lead a rebellion. But, come the end of the playlist we bring it all back to the start with Taylor Swift’s haunting song from the first album and Katniss herself’s version of “The Hanging Tree”.
Stay tuned for more Hunger Games fun in the upcoming days. We’re all excited we get to see it tonight.
Thanks for reading!
– Justine Alyssa
This weekend is the worldwide release of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. I for one am extremely excited! I’ve followed the Hunger Games since Kris introduced me to the books over 3 years ago. I remember discussing (and being skeptical at the time) of the casting of these films. I do love the Hunger Games, but Mockingjay is by far my least favourite book. Plus I still do not agree with their decision to split the book into two films.
The main reason I am excited for this film is Natalie Dormer. This woman is my ultimate girl crush. She is absolutely brilliant and I have loved her for a number of years already. Natalie plays Cressida in Mockingjay – a character I don’t really remember from the novel. But I know she will make a great addition to the already stellar cast.
My love for Natalie goes all the way back to when she stared on The Tudors. I first watched this series on my moms recommendation. I’ve always loved history – especially European history – even more specifically the monarchies. I instantly fell in love with Anne Boleyn. For those who don’t know, Anne was King Henry VIII’s second wife and mother to Queen Elizabeth I. Additionally, she was the main reason for England’s break from the Pope and the Catholic Church, ultimately founding the Church of England. She was executed on accounts of treason, adultery, incest and witchcraft (all of which are lacking concrete evidence) In short, she was a big deal.
In The Tudors, Natalie plays an Anne who is conniving and sexy and emotional and manipulative. Arguably the best part of the show. She commands every scene and with one look you can see how the King of England could have been enraptured by her.
When Kris and I were in Europe a few years ago there were more a couple occasions where our love for Anne Boleyn came up. There were multiple shoutouts to her on our blog (Anne would totally be a Slytherin, but Mary’s a Hufflepuff and Fish and Chops). She even topped both mine and Kris’s list of favourite historical figures. I think it’s a sign of a great actress when you can inspire your audience to learn more about the character you play so well.
I followed her when she joined Game of Thrones and instantly fell in love with Margaery Tyrell. I’ve always been a book behind the show so I hung on her every action and feared for her life each episode. Margaery is similar to Anne in many ways, she just wants to be queen! She’s conniving and secretive on the show and you never know exactly what she’s thinking or planning. My love for her (and Game of Thrones) inspired my latest cosplay creation. I couldn’t wait to make one of her gorgeous dresses and be Margaery Tyrell for a day. Again, I believe it’s a sign of a great actress when you’re inspired to be them and you focus your creativity and sewing skills to create screen accurate versions of their dresses.
I am thrilled she is gaining attention in Hollywood. That woman is a queen and she can do no wrong.