Talking Back

This last week has been a rough one. I’ve been in touch with all of my post-pro posse and they’ve all informed me that they’re not even close to being done with their work. That’s everyone. VFX and music. This distressed me given that our original upload dates for episode 6 were this week. So I’m holding off on all of my finishing work, color correction and sound effects to work on as many VFX as I can to help get this thing to completion. At the same time we’re still looking at shooting episode 7 starting in late-May, early-June, so I’ve been sending out emails to locations and Eliza (my wife/co-producer) is going to start shuffling around shoot dates that don’t work for our actors and writing up character descriptions for the auditions we still need to hold.

So, while all of that is happening, our subscribership is getting more and more antsy. I certainly don’t blame them. We’re looking at 9 months without a new episode. We did a whole bunch of things to try and condense the time between episodes and it just made the process longer with everything we tried. Not great. Frankly, I’m surprised more people haven’t unsubscribed, but it brings me to what I want to talk about today.

It feels impossible to talk about this without seeming ungrateful, but I live on the edge, so here we go…

If a certain amount of time goes by without a new episode I start to get comments from people in the updates along these lines:

“SO MANY UPDATES, SO FEW EPISODES! Unsubscribed. You must suck at editing if it takes you this long.”

or

“If you don’t upload an episode soon, I’m going to unsubscribe. I didn’t sub for the updates, why don’t you put them on another channel?”

or, in one extreme example, someone posted on my YouTube channel comments saying something pretty close to this:

“You probably never even thought about making a new episode, just took everyone’s donations and sat on your ass wasting everyone’s time and money. What a waste of time. I hate your stupid f***ing show, I hope you get cancer.”

Now, sure, the last one must have had something else going on at which they couldn’t direct their rage, and just decided to throw it in my direction, because there’s NO WAY anyone could be that upset about a low budget show on the internet, but for the other ones I have a pretty standard response:

“You should probably unsubscribe.”

If they feel the need to threaten me with their subscription, I don’t want them around. Plain and simple. If they donated to the show on one of our fundraisers I feel like I really let them down, because they’re contributing to the show and wanted to actually help us, but most of these people are simply subscribers. Don’t misunderstand; I appreciate every single person who’s interested enough in what we’re doing to subscribe to it. I read every comment that comes in and I’ve taken to heart constructive criticism and genuine appreciation, but I also take the rest of it to heart. The people who think I’m jumping through these production hoops for their one subscription can take a hike. These guys seem to think if they unsubscribe, we’ll stop making the show. It’s the same jags who subscribe with a comment like, “That video just earned my subscription.” It’s like, “Finally! GarageArsonist5342 finally subscribed to us, guys! We did it! I gotta call my mom and tell her!”

A lot of other people on the boards back me up when I tell them to just unsubscribe, so I figure that’s pretty fair game. But sometimes someone just says something flat out like a hit and run. These ones are like:

“That fight scene suuuuucked.”

or

“This show could be great if it had a different director.”

or, even the people who are really nice can do it, like:

“I love the show! Great writing and I love all the characters, especially Donald, but can’t you guys make it faster? It can’t possibly take 7 months to make a half hour show.”

Most of the time, I just pretend to let these slide. Notice I say PRETEND, because every one of them bursts through the creative pride ventricle in my heart and out my back in a perfect, hollow-point, through and through. Even the low caliber negative comments are armor piercing. But if I can’t take it and I have to say something…like if someone insults a fight scene I’ll say:

“I went to your channel, where were all the fight scenes?”

or

“Give it a shot. I look forward to seeing what you come up with.”

It all basically amounts to: I’d like to see you try better. And whenever I leave that kind of response there’s at least one random commenter (not even the person I responded to) who comes back with:

“Hey, that’s not cool. You’ve got to let this stuff slide off your back, man. Learn to ignore it.”

And to that I say–Why? Why do I have to ignore it? They get to criticize me, I can’t criticize their critical expertise? They seemed to have it all figured out when they were talking about what I was doing wrong, they should be able to discuss their opinion a little further. That or learn to ignore my response.

People don’t like having the fact that they’re not creating something thrown in their face when they’ve played critic. We critique everything around us every second of the day, it’s built into who we are. Therefore, people think they should be able to criticize without any repercussion whatsoever; they’ve had their say, mischief managed. The idea that they have to be able to better accomplish the thing they’ve just criticized becomes offensive enough that even strangers who happen upon the conversation feel like they’re being attacked, enough so that they’ll chime in a defend a random internet troll. I think it’s because we essentially become experts in anything we consume enough of. If we watch a ton of fight scenes, we have a high personal standard that any fight scene has to meet; it doesn’t mean we can choreograph and shoot one, just that we know what a good one looks like. That’s absolutely fair. If we were only allowed to judge the things we can do, we’d hardly be able to comment on anything, so maybe it is a little unfair of me, but sometimes I can’t help it. Drawing their attention to the difference between watching something and accomplishing it is sometimes the only card a lashing out entertainer has to hold on to. It always makes the critic feel a little worthless. And sometimes that’s the only way I can return the favor.

I guess what it comes down to is my desire to be treated the way I treat others. If I don’t like something, I don’t leave a comment or I don’t give it a good rating. If I stop being interested in a channel, I unsubscribe. I don’t tell them I’m unsubscribing. I should take solace in the fact that so many of my comments are good. I go to the comments section of Ain’t It Cool News and the unmitigated bastards in that comments section are unbelieveable. Every post has an outpouring of the worst kind of bile and hate that humanity has to offer. Good grief. Why do they even keep going to the site if they hate everything on it?

This is super long. Sorry. Blog-vent complete. Internet critics just need to accept that the comments section goes both ways.

Still working on the episode. I never stopped, no matter what they think.

Thanks for reading, guys.

–Jarvi

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8 Responses to “Talking Back”

  1. I know how frustrating that can be. In all honesty, I don’t think I am subscribed, largely because the video updates would clutter my feed. But I’m also eagerly awaiting the next episode and am keeping track of your progress on the blog here. Not subscribed, but still a loyal viewer. And because of that, I’ve seen that you’ve definitely been working–and working to make sure that the product you put out is quality. The effort you’re putting into the script alone gives me high hopes for the next episode.

    It’s a shame what people do when they’re limited to a paragraph or two to comment and have near-complete anonymity. That I can understand. What I can’t understand is the hatred you’re getting–or that anyone gets, for that matter. If they don’t care enough about the product to throw a fit and give up, why do they act so passionately? It’s offensive and incredibly rude, but if they’re interested enough in the final product that they’re going to vent their rage at you about it, chances are they’re still curious, and they’ll be back.

    Anyway, good luck. Like I said, I’m looking forward to the next episode, and a bit of a wait isn’t going to bother me, since I know it’ll make things worth it in the long run. Don’t let the haters get you down 🙂

    • Dude! That’s what I’m talking about! Right on! Thank you for watching and for not subscribing! That’s what I keep telling everybody else, if you don’t want the updates cluttering up the feed, unusub. You’ll find out the new episode is up eventually and watch it then. Thank you!

  2. I’ve always thought that someone like you is super impervious to anything that criticises (non-constructive, I might add) their work, simply because you’re so invested in it, that it just doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks.

    Hell I don’t even like publishing anything, just for the possibility of negative reactions – even the simplest things like a comment. It’s sure a relieve to know that even someone with your conviction lets these things get to them sometimes.

    I’ve got to say though, I think comments like “You’ve got to let this stuff slide off your back, man. Learn to ignore it.” don’t intend to protect the troller, I think what they mean to say is that the majority of your audience knows how much effort you put in and they don’t like you taking a hit from some internet-tumour. You said it yourself in another post: someone who’s leaving negative comments all night can’t be out there fulfilling his ambitions – so “suck it random commenter – my work makes a lot of people happy every 6-9 months”.

    Looking forward to the next episode and some sleep.
    toodlez

    • Of course that’s what “learn to ignore it” means. Thank you for pointing that out. Why couldn’t I see that? I guess I’ve just been stressed out a little bit. Thanks for that, dude.

  3. Gaylesking Says:

    It’s funny how built in the critical response is to us. We really do think ourselves experts on anything we’ve watched enough of; while I was reading this post I realized I was thinking to myself, “oh, boy, it’s that time during post-production when Jake’s getting frustrated”. Part of this is the wonderful bit of the internet that allows me to connect you as creator that I enjoy but have never met, the bad part is how easily it lets me judge you. I’ve watched you make videos for long enough that I think I know you, which makes it easy for me to belittle the things you say.
    So let me say this instead:
    I, as one of the people that enjoy the updates, want to thank you for doing them. You get a lot of unjust crap for putting up so many of them in between episodes, when I’m pretty sure you yourself would rather not do them. I seem to remember you mentioning as much, and on behalf of the appreciative (and apparently more soft-spoken) side of your viewers, I’d like to thank you for keeping us updated every week so dutifully. We appreciate and enjoy it.

    • Apparently you do know me pretty well. I’m right on schedule for my post production frustration.Actually, reading your comment this morning helped me get my perspective sorted out, made for a productive day of VFX creating, and made me upbeat for my video update, so thanks.

  4. Hey Jake,

    I’ve been a huge supporter of the series PoPS. I heard about y’all though Wheezywaiter’s channel and I was hooked from the beginning. Anytime y’all would set up a donations page I would scape up the money to donate…something, anything to show that I support your wonderful creativity and writing and support the great actors that you hired. I love the updates because its shows me that it was money well spent. Sometimes things happen and you fall short of deadlines but that doesn’t bother me because I know that you are putting quality before quantity. I love the show and I’m introducing it to all my friends and family members. Keep on doing what you are doing and just know that you have a lot of loyal fans!

    Thanks for reading,

    Zoe

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