We saw it happen with Twilight: media editors strongly encouraging their reporters to positively report on anything Twilight so as to encourage traffic. I’ve heard that some reviewers were asked specifically not to sh-t on the Twilight movies in fear of fan mobilisation against their outlets.

The same seems to be happening with The Dark Knight Rises. Rotten Tomatoes suspended commenting yesterday after a few critics gave the film a less than glowing assessment. Fans exploded in rage, issuing threats to those who dared to not like the movie. Marshall Fine who writes on his site Hollywood & Fine was attacked for his analysis and his website crashed as a result. Click here to read his comments on the situation.

Before we get to the fans though, let’s not entirely absolve the studios from these situations. Summit (Twilight) has given preferential treatment to press online and print who’ve been particularly favourable to their franchise. So what? They’re allowed, right? Sure. But then what you get is only one point of view.

Is that what we want?

Is that what the fans want?

If the (increasingly archaic) responsibility of the movie critic is supposed to be objective criticism, what is the responsibility of the fan?

Support, I suppose.

Advocacy too.

Support and advocacy at the expense of objectivity?

This case would suggest that it’s no longer possible to be a Fan but also accept that what the fans love might not be perfect; the Fan must also be militant. The Fan must do his/her duty to defend, even if it means resorting to unsavoury behavior. And bullying.

Marshall Fine was bullied. Bullied under the guise of “Fan Loyalty”.

What is the consequence of this new Fan, the one who rallies on Facebook and Twitter, calling for boycotts and takedowns?

Sanitisation, naturally.

Everything is just so... sanitised. Everything is happy happy exclamation point exclamation point. There’s no opinion anymore. Especially not when websites and blogs have to issue public apologies for saying something sh-tty about your favourite actress for fear of retribution. Especially not when film sites are suspended for posting honest reviews.

Not all fans are this aggressive. Of course not. But the aggressive ones are louder and more damaging. It’s like the angry customer. There are always more complaints than there are compliments. People often react then to the complaints. The complaints effect change.

What will be the change? Change can be good, obviously. What good can come of the Fan demanding a critical response that’s in line with theirs?

Everyone in agreement.

When we all agree, we are happy.

It’s the safe way to go.