Quotes: Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy

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That things happen as they do in Shuttle I suppose is true, however rarely. But a film can have an opinion about them. This one simply serves them up in hard merciless detail. There is no release for the audience, no "entertainment," not even much action excitement. Just a remorseless march into the dark.
Roger Ebert on Shuttle.

    Web Animation 

The characters have achieved nothing, learned nothing, and will hopefully now jump into a big black hole and RETURN to nothing! Just as the visuals succeed too well at being deliberately hideous, the protagonists succeed too well at being deliberately wankers! There's nothing fun about the game, no light relief; just one piece of nauseating unpleasantness after another, like a roadside café breakfast special by Jeffrey Dahmer!

    Web Original 

IGN Comics: This series has a fair amount of humor to it despite the increasingly grim circumstances. Do you find it important to temper the darkness with a little levity?
Tom Taylor: Absolutely. What’s the point of anything without levity? Great drama is made greater with moments of humor. Without humor, I don’t have fun. I don’t understand writing without humor. I also hate watching anything without humor. I’m pretty sick of tortured characters being depressing. Too many stories seem to revel in the second act at the moment. I’m not a fan of the second act. If you want to cry about your dead parents and beat something up, fine, just so long as you remember to throw some comedy in afterwards.
—An interview regarding the Injustice: Gods Among Us comic

By all means, writers, let your story wander around the dank, twisty little passages. You may even permit that journey to come to a bad end. But without some light source, your story will be eaten by the Grue of Indifference.
The dePlume Dimension, "Always Keep a Door Open"

Megan is another girl from Rock of Love who got her own show, only on this one, wealthy douchebags battle for the opportunity to buy her. Try to imagine how bad a millionaire has to be with women that he has to go on TV and humiliate himself for the CHANCE at paying for sex with a six. That's how awkward these guys are around girls. They couldn't get laid if their wangs cured yeast infections. I've seen Christopher Walken play games of Russian Roulette that were less nerve-wracking than watching these creepy assholes talk to a girl...One contestant built his fortune stripping; another wasn't even rich—he was just trying to buy Megan with the money he'll probably have when his dumb, stupid grandpa finally dies. This entire show is so amoral that it had to be pulled off the air after one of the contestants murdered and dismembered a woman who later had to be identified by her breast implants. And what's crazier than that is that given a choice, he wouldn't even be the first one you execute. Megan Wants a Millionaire is a Greatest Hits of man's inhumanity to man. They probably burned down an Indian reservation to build the set, and during a few scenes you can see the altar of panda bones where Megan has congress with the Beast.

If you thought the all-heel commentary team and ring announcer mocking the babyfaces all night was juvenile, wait until you saw the matches themselves. The #1 problem with this pay-per-view, and probably the reason it had the lowest buy-rate of the nWo era, was that it featured crooked referee Nick Patrick in each match. To the surprise of Eric Bischoff, few people wanted to plunk down money to see a faction, no matter how cool or popular, be handed victories in three hours’ worth of farcical matches... The nWo, the badasses who had taken WCW by storm, were apparently no better than kids who played video games alone on two-player Vs. mode just so they could win every time. Now, the prospect of a glorified nWo circle-jerk still didn’t stop 5000 fans from buying tickets, but once the live audience figured out that the nWo was going to win every match, they pretty much gave up cheering… or booing for that matter. If you think wins and losses don’t matter in wrestling, watch what happens when you take away any semblance of competition. When you realize that the action in the ring won’t affect the outcome, you’re left to simply watch two guys trade moves with no rhyme or reason.

So many terrible things happen in this comic: Roy ranking how good the girls he dated are in bed, beating a woman with an extension cord because 'she likes it rough,' impotence, heroin, and beating up junkies to protect a dead cat that Roy thought was his dead daughter. It's like the absurdity of the '90s fucked the grittiness of the '80s and then they both doubled-teamed decency until... you know, I could go on here but then I'd be getting as graphically vile as this title itself.

I’m not sure how it happened but there is nothing wonderful in the world of the New Adventures at this point – it has taken far too many steps into the adult world and is reveling in human (and now animal) misery for me to take any enjoyment from it. Being a Doctor Who fan during this period is just no fun...Here we have got the joys of coke being snorted from a porn magazine, drug dealers being spiked with an alien drug which ends in a horrific bloodbath of a shootout, a 3 year old covered in sores surrounded by dead needles, a character who enjoys torturing and murdering animals, a character attempting to resist the seductive powers of a Warlock pill, faked incest and child abuse, a mouse baby’s head jutting from the side of its mothers ruptured side, a bin full of baby mouse heads, a moment when a human character cannot resist humping a dog up the backside, 'Kill her baby and put her to work in the heavy S&M section', Chick being tortured and injected to death, 'scraping out the lining of your womb', smashing a cat's head on a bench, the destruction of a happy marriage and a devastated husband abandoned by his wife…it is a relentless stream of human misery. Quite unsuited to a series about a character who travels around time and space in a police box.

The death of Miracle Day is a death of a thousand little blows. There isn’t one big, resounding moment that can be pointed at to explain where the death narrative went off the rails.... In 'Categories of Life,' words like 'vivisection' and living 'petri dishes' are tossed around and we are meant to be horrified and disgusted that the governments would do this to living people but even the damn story doesn’t treat them as living people, they’re more props than anything else...And the one person who actually recognizes the personhood of the victims of the Miracle is Oswald fucking Danes. The goddamn pedophile and child murderer. The one whose glorious end involves calling out to all 'the bad little girls' that he is following to hell. He is the one goddamn person who actually speaks to the Category Ones or soon to be Category Ones with any shred of respect for their autonomy as a human being, with any sort of compassion or empathy for the pain and trauma they are going through only to end his goddamn speech exalting that they will all live forever. The only person who attempts to empathize with them is a sociopathic narcissist who is spitting out a byline to recover some modicum of popularity...
Jill Burrato on Torchwood: Miracle Day

I get that we are establishing this to be a brutal world where no weakness can be shown. Fine. But you're still trying to create drama that appeals to an audience that does not live in that world. When a character kills like it's goin' out of style, do not ask me to sympathize when they themselves - or someone close to them - is being threatened with death. 'Cos that just makes them hypocrites. They're saying "This is the only death anyone should care about because this one adversely affects me."

People generally remember two things about the show Miami Vice: ridiculous, now-hilarious pastel suit jackets, and the warm, sometimes homoerotic, chemistry between Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas. Not only were the pastels removed, but thanks to Michael Mann's "style," the entire movie was so fucking dark and gritty, you could barely tell who was Crockett and who was Tubbs. Speaking of whom, the reassuring "buddy" feel that accompanied the show was completely absent from the movie Vice, and you got the impression that Farrell and Foxx genuinely hated each other. They didn't enjoy one another's company on screen and rarely made eye contact. You half expected them to turn their guns on each other. Not that you'd know which cop to root for if it did come down to that, as there was zero character development and the whole thing looked like it was shot through a rusty window screen.

A bullet to the brain and an unmarked grave was so sadly predictable and depressing that when I finished Worm and while earlier chapters literally left me shaking with excitement and sweating at their climax- I felt nothing when reading the ending. I completely lost my emotional investment in the series. And while my investment is no doubt less than yours, I definitely noticed the loss.

I suspect the ten thousand incidents where generosity and kindness and genuine heroism were spat on, leading up to the ending, just finally struck me all at once... I just hated every single member of the cast.
— Commenter Fantastico on Worm's ending note 

Thunt hasn't shown much ability to make the audience sympathize with the characters by fleshing them out (certainly not with the "main" group of characters), so his only recourse is to constantly shit on them so that the audience sympathizes with their plight. In fact, Thunt is so adamant on this tack that he pursues it even when it results in phenomenally bad narrative decisions, like killing off a main character for no reason at all and with no payoff or flushing several months of character development down the toilet... And if the characters keep getting the rug pulled out from under them, what reason do I have to remain invested in their plight?

Watching cardboard characters meet horrible fates can be entertaining, but where's the fun in watching real human beings die in what you thought was going to be light entertainment? A certain plot development in one of the films mentioned here made me sob so convulsively it almost washed my contact lenses away, and, honestly, I'm not sure how much of that level of cinematic trauma I could take. The better-written the characters, the harder their deaths are going to hit us – but how grief-stricken do we really want to be?

    Web Video 

Making every hero on earth as dark as Batman? That was your master plan? Great. So, after the audience gets bored to tears by every hero being just like every other hero, they'll be so depressed over how freakin' BLEAK they are, they'll KILL THEMSELVES!

The thing is, Wrath of Khan was a smarter movie. It was about Kirk dealin' with changes in life; realizin' he was gettin' older. It was also about Kirk never having to face the "no-win scenario". For Kirk, things usually turned out alright in the end! But not this time. This time, Spock died. Y'see, Kirk grew as a character. Nemesis lacked all these elements, except for people dying.

All that happens is that Picard discovers that if he grew up in a space mine, he'd just turn into a raging psychopath that pulls a spike through his guts. Gee, how uplifting. But couldn't they've ended it like the show ended? with a nice game of Pinochle? somethin' where ya don't feel like slitting your wife's wrists?

(oh and in related news: Bambi killed herself in the bathroom after I found out she was TAKIN' MONEY OUTTA MY WALLET I guess she felt guilty about it.)

Is every single character in the film a loathsome cad?! Did Governor Schwarzenegger just designate Visalia as a haven for assholes that were too assholian for greater Los Angeles? Is the town built over a hellmouth that attracts people who are less appealing than Richard III?! I don't want to sound callous, but... I want to see this place become a crater!

    Real Life 

Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke.

And what are we left with? Monsters killing monsters?
Todd MacFarlane, on Spawn's depiction of Heaven.

It's the monotone crapness of everything — governments, cultures, people, Exalts, gods, the cosmos, everything. No redeeming features, nothing worth fighting for, nobody who'd bother to get up off their ass or stop filling their pockets to do the fighting even if there were. Dark and shitty.
Exalted freelancer Holden Shearer, defining the term "shitdark"

I learned a long time ago when I was on The X-Files, we had our sister show, which was also created by Chris Carter, called Millennium. And it was one show that I felt was very worthy, but it was so very dark, because it was about one very haunted man hunting serial killers week in and week out. There was really no honestly derived humor that you could attain with a show like that...I would watch every episode, and afterward, I would just feel like I couldn’t sleep at night, it was so dark. I guess that was instructive to me. That show told me, “Be honest with your show, make it as dark as it needs to go, but you’d better find a way to leaven it with humor, otherwise people are going to want to slit their wrists after they watch it.”
Vince Gilligan

Both the story and the score were deliberately nerve-jangling and harsh; Grind was a show about violence, and it was frequently ugly and unpleasant. So Grind was not the kind of musical audiences took to their hearts.
Ken Mandelbaum, Not Since Carrie