question of the day: Is it a good idea for TV and film writers to incorporate fan input into their projects?

Since the 1990s and the rise of rehashing TV and film online, it’s been obvious that creators of certain fan-favorite franchises have been paying attention to what the fans are saying. Fan service showed up sporadically in later episodes of The X-Files; it seemed to influence too much later episodes of Lost (though that could be because no one in charge knew where the story was going anyway). Perhaps my favorite example of a show responding to fan reaction is the Stargate: SG-1 episode “Citizen Joe,” in which an ordinary guy (played by Dan Castellaneta) has been, via an Ancient device he accidentally stumbled across, living all the adventures of SG-1 through Jack O’Neill’s eyes. Because Joe had a similar perspective on those events as a TV viewer did, his observations were pure fan service: he said the things that we had all been saying for years from the other side of the screen.

Now, Star Trek writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman have said at a panel at WonderCon that they plan to heed some suggestions from fans as they write the sequels (via Dark Horizons):

The surprising news is that the pair have been reading a lot of the online feedback to the first film and plan to acknowledge the nitpicks people had with the first film in the sequel. One big issue? The ease with which Kirk became Captain – “Everyone said [Kirk] is too young to become Captain. So maybe in the next movie, somebody goes, ‘Man, you sure became Captain young and fast.’ You start to incorporate people’s opinions… If it’s organic to the story and you find someone who doesn’t think too highly of Kirk because he maybe skipped a few steps, that’s maybe a fun thing to consider. That comes from a fan reaction and maybe gives you a story point” Orci tells Coming Soon.

He goes on to say “[Fans] wanted more character time with everybody, and because that was an origin story for ‘Star Trek,’ everyone had to come in at a certain point. Now everyone is going to be there from the beginning, so they’re going to get that. Everyone sure hated engineering. They thought it looked like a brewery, which it was. I’ll pass that on to J.J. [Abrams] and see what he says.”

Oh, dear. I’m not sure how wise this is.

Is it a good idea for TV and film writers to incorporate fan input into their projects?

Does the degree of incorporation matter? A line here or there seems perfectly fine to me: much more than that can threaten the integrity of a story and turn it into masturbatory fan fiction, which hardly ever offers a real story.

Your thoughts?

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