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6 May, 2020 15:23

The assassination of entertainment: ‘The Last Of Us 2’ leaks are part of a bigger problem

The assassination of entertainment: ‘The Last Of Us 2’ leaks are part of a bigger problem

Nowadays, creators seem more concerned with preaching to audiences instead of entertaining them. What will it take to keep Hollywood from killing beloved franchises by turning them political?

Recently, the internet was taken by storm with detailed story leaks from the highly anticipated video game The Last Of Us 2. Meant to be the next big-budget AAA title from renowned videogame developer Naughty Dog Studios, The Last Of Us 2 was eagerly awaited by the first game’s rabid fanbase. That initial game created a legion of loyal fans who often laud The Last Of Us as being one of the best games ever made, and the sequel to it garnered a lot of interest.

But not anymore.

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As details of the game’s plot leaked onto the internet, almost overnight the fanbase revolted. Numerous pre-orders were canceled as criticism of the game reached fever pitch, causing both Naughty Dog and their publisher, Sony Interactive Entertainment, to try squash all the criticism by blanketing YouTube with copyright takedowns aimed at anyone who even mentioned the leaks (whether their videos contained copywritten material or not).

In an era where AAA game releases take years to develop and cost hundreds of millions of dollars, both Naughty Dog and Sony have a right to be concerned. What was meant to be the second installment of a huge, blockbuster franchise is now shaping up to be a multimillion-dollar disaster.  But this disaster isn’t due to the details of the game’s plot leaking online. Rather, it is about what the game’s plot itself consists of.

Plot spoilers aren’t typically a driving factor for video gamers to decide not to buy a particular game. But the plot of The Last Of Us 2 has apparently been injected with copious amounts of virtue signaling and “woke culture.” The game’s director, Neil Druckmann, has publicly stated he’d had an “awakening” about the inherent misogyny in video games, inspired by hyper-feminist YouTuber Anita Sarkeesian, and has used his position as the game’s director to put this viewpoint front-and-center in the game’s plot.

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Story elements like a transgender playable character, turning one of the legacy characters into a lesbian, and making “homophobic” Christians the game’s primary bad guys (instead of the zombies) are just a few of the issues the game’s fans are rebelling against.  And no, it is not because these gamers are intolerant bigots. It is because artists like Druckmann are systematically ruining beloved franchises by injecting their politics into what is meant to be broad-based entertainment.

For years now, the entertainment Industry has made a concerted effort to try to move beloved mega-franchises away from enjoyable fiction and toward political propaganda. It is a movement that has affected movies, TV shows, and video games.  Once “fool-proof” franchises, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Terminator, and many more, have been derailed thanks to the creative forces behind them choosing to prioritize political messaging over a good story.

And though this movement has its defenders on social media, the general public is starting to resent being so obviously preached to through the medium in which they turn to escape the stress of daily life. After all, people don’t like being preached to – particularly if what’s being preached to them doesn’t align with their particular point of view.

Entertainment is meant to be accessible to the widest potential audience. It is meant to cross geographic borders, political affiliations, race, gender, and religious beliefs. Unless the entertainment in question is meant to appeal to a specific niche audience, the winning formula is to make it appeal to as many people as possible.

But as artists and entertainers grow more “woke,” they move away from this concept and see their forms of entertainment as a way to push their own political agendas on those who are not interested in them. They effectively sacrifice the entertainment value of the product they are creating in favor of making a piece of propaganda.

In every instance in which this strategy is put into practice, it never yields the desired results. Not only are hearts and minds not changed within the established fanbases of these franchises (and in most cases, it actually solidifies resistance to these “woke” ideas), but these projects end up being financial failures to boot – sometimes to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, as was the case with films like Terminator: Dark Fate and Birds of Prey.

Yet despite its track record of failure, creatives in the entertainment industry continue to follow this flawed strategy – and worse yet, when the strategy inevitably fails, they accuse the consumer who rejected their product as being bigoted instead of blaming themselves for trying to sell a sub-standard product that was ruined by the injection of political messaging into it. And though the ‘get woke go broke’ mantra seems to have been repeatedly validated by this point, those in the entertainment sphere apparently haven’t caught onto this notion yet. In fact, some of them seem to be doubling-down on this losing strategy, to the point of unintentional comedy.

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One simply needs to look at comic book writer Daniel Kibblesmith, who recently revamped Marvel’s New Warriors comic with a bevy of “woke” characters, including non-binary twins literally named ‘Snowflake’ and ‘Safe Space’, a decision that saw comic book fans roll their eyes when they weren’t laughing at the ridiculousness of the creative choices Kibblesmith made. Indeed, the ‘Woke Warriors’ (as some have called them) garnered almost universal ridicule from fans and media alike, with even podcaster Joe Rogan ranting about the logic behind making such ridiculous creative decisions.

The notion that established entertainment franchises, some with over 30 years’ worth of material, can be co-opted to change people’s political opinions only seems to succeed in ruining people’s enjoyment of these franchises. All the major sci-fi and action franchises, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, Terminator, James Bond, and Ghostbusters, to name a few, have all fallen prey to this ‘woke’ mentality, and in the end, it’s their fanbases that suffer. The shift of these franchises toward political propaganda doesn’t actually bring in new audiences, and it only serves to alienate current audiences, leaving the fanbase feeling bitter and disaffected as opposed to “enlightened.”

Gone are the days where movies, TV shows, comic books, and literature were meant to entertain the masses. Now it’s meant to re-educate them, and if they dare voice their complaints about it, they are demonized for rejecting “wokeness.”

Until the creatives behind our entertainment wake up to the idea that they must cater to their audiences, and not the other way around, they will continue to assassinate our enjoyment of long-established franchises.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.