It's All About the Story
The most important aspect of a story: the story.
As an aspiring fiction writer, I tend to gravitate to all forms of fiction. Books, movies, games, anything with a story in it is up for my perusal and consideration. However, I don’t judge a story based on its quality, nuances, themes, or anything that professional critics place in high regard; all of that can come later. To me, what makes a story or series either “good” or “bad” is my initial response, my gut reaction (and with me having the physique of an anorexic sumo wrestler, that’s saying a lot).
That being said, I am a product of a generation raised by the internet. I spend probably more time than I need to, and as a consequence, I’ve learned a startling truth: people who like the same stories I do seem to have no respect for them at all.
Take, for example, Star Wars. I could write a book on this topic alone, but there’s a word limit, so I’ll keep it brief. The main point that Star Wars “fans” seem to argue is that George Lucas, the creator of these movies, has been ruining them after Return of the Jedi. The rereleases, the prequels, the recent buyout from Disney can all be blamed on this man, who is made out to be a jerk, to put it mildly. However, everything Lucas has done has only helped the movies. After all, you know Han Solo is awesome when he dodges a blaster shot at point-blank range and fires his own in retaliation in the span of one second. Jar-Jar Binks was made to be a comic relief character and ended up shifting the mythology of the series to its inevitable conclusion in Attack of the Clones. And while fans were looking for a gung-ho, Han Solo-esque Anakin Skywalker, I actually preferred a character with a “life is unfair” mentality that made his transition into Darth Vader that much more believable.
The Pokémon anime series also isn’t safe from the criticizing eye of its fanbase. They claim that the series has become formulaic, predictable, and lacking in quality. I will concede to these points. Heck, I remember watching two different episodes from two different seasons from two different generations of the franchise that played out so similarly that even I had to wonder if the writing team was running out of ideas that day. The series has become somewhat dated, having started in the late 90s and continuing to this day. But this is a kid’s show, based on a popular video game; I think quality is the last thing they, the target audience, care about. And then there’s the usual debate of whether anime that has been dubbed into English is any good compared to the original Japanese. Well, considering I don’t speak Japanese and, from what I understand, the language could stand to include a few more emotional inflections, I’ll not only watch the English dub, but also enjoy it since it’s still the same basic story.
If it hasn’t been made clear by now, I don’t agree with any of these dissenting opinions. In fact, I tend to be a sucker for lost causes. The Green Lantern movie is heavily underappreciated and I honestly do not see why. The movie adaptation of Janet Evanovich’s One for the Money is a great movie, but one of my teachers had complained that they “got the shower scene wrong” and therefore, the movie as a whole is bad. And don’t get me started on the fanbase for the Sonic the Hedgehog video game series; that could take longer than the book on Star Wars.
Some of you reading this might call my accept-anything-that-I-see-mentality something along the lines of naïveté; I might call that obvious. I might also call it focusing on the most important aspect of a story: the story. I try to focus more on the plot unfolding before me, not the technical stuff that should only be used in hindsight. I’m not saying such aspects can’t be useful, especially in determining what it is exactly that makes the story good, but to me, a gut reaction to the story itself is much more important. After all, why should something like whether the character was likable or not affect the overall point of why you went to watch the movie in the first place?