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Artist Disillusionment

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"You people out there give us something more than just record sales
You give us something to hate
And we hate you
You brainless mutants"
Dethklok, "Fansong"

Creative jobs (acting, writing, making music or films, etc) are often seen by their fans as some kind of utopian ideal; you're creating art, using your imagination, and are apparently freed from the nine-to-five wage slave grind. Writers, actors, voice actors, and artists seem to have an edge over the rest of us; they're doing something they enjoy, something really creative, something that makes people happy. How could you not enjoy a job like that?

Oh, it's possible. Fact is, creative jobs remain just that: jobs. And while they can be fun and interesting, like any job they can also be draining; factor in deadlines, editing, Executive Meddling, rejection letters, failed auditions, tedious PR drives and, of course, the dreaded Fan Dumb, and it's apparent that there are things that can make what may have been a dream job seem more like a nightmare. Whilst many artists cope admirably with all of this, others can suffer and become quite disillusioned.

Sometimes this can result in an artist disillusionment farewell, where the character publicly ends his career - often with a heavy dose of Take That, Audience!.

Sometimes, however, it's only temporary. The artist might simply be having a bad day. Sometimes they might just be a bit shaken by their circumstances and surroundings; whilst some thrive in the limelight, others, particularly more behind-the-scenes figures such as writers and directors, may find being faced with crowds of fans and interviewers unsettling and nerve-wracking, which can make their mood sharper than it otherwise would be. In either case, meet them when they're in a better mood or in more comfortable circumstances, they're fine.

True artist disillusionment is when the artist just isn't having any fun at all anymore and is making no secret of that fact. They've given up being a Slave to PR, and as such are rude and dismissive in public appearances and interviews, snap the head off fans who manage to fray their one remaining nerve, and generally come across as a grouchy, impatient jackass. Their work may even begin to suffer. They just don't care anymore. And this lack of caring tends to express itself through insults toward their audience and fans.

Overfamiliarity can play a part; some artists have been doing their job for decades, which is easily long enough for boredom to kick in. They might be sick of all the executive meddling they have to face or have achieved Protection from Editors to such a degree that anyone daring to raise a word of criticism is going to rub them up the wrong way. And sometimes the artist is just naturally a bit grouchy, intolerant and impatient, or is a Small Name, Big Ego type. All of which is going to make an unpleasant experience for the poor sap who happens to get on the wrong side of their temper.

It's not all one way, however; unfortunately, the artist's fans can play a not-insignificant role in their idol's disillusionment. There's a reason some of them are called Fan Dumb, after all. Too many obnoxious or arrogant fans can turn the artist off their fanbase entirely, fairly or not. Where the artist sees their creativity as just a job, the fan may see it as a holy way of life, which can create tension if the artist isn't treating the property as seriously as the fan would like. The fan may believe that their devotion to the product means that they have part or even full ownership over it, and if they have no hesitation in bluntly expressing their views about it to the artist, this is going to grate even if the artist doesn't have Protection from Editors; the artist is the one who has to make the thing, after all. A Broken or Unpleasable Fanbase can also have this effect, since no matter what the artist does they're still going to have to listen to someone whine about it.

In either case, Artist Disillusionment and Fan Disillusionment may have a circular relationship; the fan might suffer disillusionment after their idol was cruel or dismissive towards them, but the artist might have only been that way because they'd been disillusioned from having to deal with the many obnoxious examples of fan dumb before them and had run out of patience.

As a coping strategy, some artists adopt Alter-Ego Acting to counter possible artist disillusionment. Others simply don't bother with public appearances and disappear from public scrutiny. May lead to Creator Breakdown or Creator Backlash. It may also result from the artist discovering that Celebrity Is Overrated. When artists take away something from their fans, often in response to fan dumb, that is Why Fandom Can't Have Nice Things. If the artist expresses these sentiments in a public writing or speech, it's Dear Negative Reader.

Note that Artist Disillusionment is against fans. Creator Backlash is against works.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Hideaki Anno was reputed to be resentful of the Misaimed Fandom of Neon Genesis Evangelion as well as the death threats his fans sent him after the Gainax Ending of the series that he created a film that more or less replaced the last two episodes as the true ending. Without giving anything away, it was the exact opposite of what many fans of the series wanted and, in some cases, expected. The truth is this was the original ending before executive meddling, and with the exception of one or two scenes, the work was not intended as a jab against the fans. He did show the death threats sent to him on-screen after the movie was over, and a certain scene of Fan Disservice is interpreted to target some of the fans. However, according to various translations of the quick-flashing letters in the live-action sequence, most of them are actually fairly supportive letters, some from middle-schoolers (the same age range as the main character) telling Anno how much Evangelion inspired them and helped them in their own lives. Only two of these, the more negative and threatening of the lot, can really be considered "death threats".

    Comic Books 

  • The late science fiction author Harlan Ellison had developed something of a notorious reputation for being somewhat... crabby, due to a combination of a willingness to speak his mind and an unwillingness to tolerate fools gladly (and a willingness of fans and other writers to prank him for this), which led to some interesting confrontations both with fans and professionals alike. Ellison insisted, however, that this element of his personality was exaggerated, and that he was not nearly as mean-spirited and unpleasant as the stories about him would have you believe. On the other hand, he's called people he didn't like, "Niggers with attitude." Though maybe he was just a N.W.A fan.
    • When Michael Krahulik and Jerry Holkins were guests of honor at an event with Ellison, Ellison mocked Krahulik (Gabe) in front of the entire crowd merely for not having gone to college. Holkins (Tycho) summed it up like this:
      Let's be clear here: We're talking about a person that a couple of total assholes find rude.
      • Mike got him back with this line.
        "While I've got you here, I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the Star Wars stuff you wrote."
    • Neil Gaiman described him as "A cranky, old Jew who is in love with his cranky-old-Jew-ness", in the documentary Dreams with Sharp Teeth.
  • Arthur Conan Doyle eventually became sick and tired of writing Sherlock Holmes stories, to the point where he eventually killed the character off in The Adventure of the Final Problem. Fans were horrified and outraged, but Conan Doyle was initially unmoved. He had a change of heart, however, when magazine editors began offering him absurd amounts of money and when his mother asked him to restart writing about him. It seems that Conan Doyle simply needed some time to recharge his creative batteries, as post-revival adventures like The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans, The Adventure of the Dancing Men and The Adventure of the Devil's Foot are all excellent stories that rival or even exceed some of the early works.
    • In a prologue to the final set of stories, Conan Doyle mentioned how adult men who came up to him and said that his Holmes stories were some of their favorite stories as children didn't get the response from him that they'd anticipated. On the other hand, he also noted that writing Holmes stories hadn't prevented him from flexing his literary muscle in other areas. Even if the general public only associated him with his Holmes stories, The Lost World (1912) and Professor Challenger would both develop their own followings, and his non-fiction historical writing won him great praise in high society and even led him to be knighted by King Edward VII. In fact, Conan Doyle very nearly turned down the knighthood, suspecting that it was for Sherlock Holmes and not for his recent book on the Boer War.
  • Similar to Arthur Conan Doyle, L. Frank Baum, the author of the Wizard of Oz books, grew exhausted with the series and ended many of his stories with elaborate explanations as to why it would be impossible for him, as the "historian of Oz" to ever learn anything more about the place, because they had erected some sort of magic forcefield or whatever to prevent contact with the outside world. These books proved his only money-making work as an author, however, so he always came crawling back, retconning away his old excuses.
  • The author of Re:Zero, Tappei Nagatsuki, is a unique case in that not only does he despise modern-day NEET otaku, but he also despises the light novel industry itself, particularly generic Isekai stories, in general, hence many of Re:Zero's jabs toward the audience being the result of this. Nagatsuki has even stated outright that the reason his characters suffer great pain that is a little too close to home for many of these Otaku is that he feels modern Isekai LN authors aren't gutsy enough to put their main characters through real hardships.
  • Annie Proulx has had a very negative reaction to Brokeback Mountain fanfiction, for multiple reasons, and says it makes her now regret having written the short story.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Craig Charles (Lister in Red Dwarf) has expressed his exasperation at spending "half (his) adult life at Red Dwarf conventions" on the DVD documentaries of the series. Given that Red Dwarf has been on the go since 1988...that's a lot of conventions.
  • Star Trek:
    • Robert Beltran, the actor who played Commander Chakotay on Star Trek: Voyager. If he ever had a nice thing to say about the show (tripe), its creators (hacks), its fans (losers), or his co-stars (prima donnas), he's kept it under his hat. Midway through the show's run, Beltran started giving interviews to Trek fansites critiquing the rabid fanbase, the ridiculous Technobabble, and the contrived writing. There have been stories of fans actually breaking into tears at conventions after listening to his rants, and he's never shown any indication of mellowing out over the years (an online promo shot in 2008 for a play Beltran was starring in at a Los Angeles theatre had him passive-aggressively mocking his fans and telling them to support him by buying tickets). Reportedly, Beltran was angling to be let go from the show, but Paramount exacted revenge by keeping Chakotay alive for all seven seasons - when he demanded an enormous raise in a deliberate bid to get fired, they simply handed over the cash.
    • The shooting of VOY was extremely taxing and frustrating for nearly everyone involved. Beltran was probably the least tactful of the participants, but by no means is he alone in those opinions. Probably for this reason, the DVD box sets include very little behind-the-scenes footage or interviews with the cast, such as Tim Russ (who doesn't even bother to hide his fatigue). Mostly, they are puff pieces featuring (some) of the writers and producers.
    • For many years, the cast of Star Trek: The Original Series showed signs of this, as they were angered over the constant pressure from fans and executives who only saw them as the characters they played on the show. This came to the forefront in the 1980s for several of them, including William Shatner's notable anti-Trek rant on an episode of Saturday Night Live, and Leonard Nimoy's famous tell-all book I Am Not Spock (where he categorically stated that there was much more to his life than a character he played for three seasons and a handful of movies). Notably, the 80's book Trek Memories went into detail about the crew's hatred of their fame and fanbase, but eventually, they all came around and acknowledged their characters again, and Nimoy published a follow-up, I Am Spock, addressing this turnaround. These days, of course, the TOS crew consider themselves custodians of Gene's legacy and are very territorial about it.
    • A notable aversion was James Doohan, who absolutely loved the convention circuit and went out of his way to accommodate fans. On numerous occasions he has told a story about a fan who wrote him a letter that was basically a suicide note. So Doohan called her and invited her to a convention in Indianapolis. He then pulled a Scheherazade and told her that he expected to see her at the next convention, and the next, and the next, and it apparently worked. It worked so well that he had struck up a correspondence with her and acted as her mentor. After a while, he stopped receiving letters from her and was concerned that she had fallen into depression and suicide, and he hadn't kept hold of her address to reach out to her. Eight years later, he received another letter from her apologizing for the silence — she had returned to college and had gotten her Master's degree in Electronic Engineering.
      • A similar one was related by the author of Basic Instructions, who had a cousin with muscular dystrophy attending a fundraiser, and Doohan, despite being at the height of his popularity, took it upon himself to spend the entire evening pushing her wheelchair and keeping her company.
        Scott: In that one evening, Mr. Doohan made lifelong fans out of many of my relatives... It's spoiled by the fact that many of them think he was in Star Wars, and some others believe he was an astronaut.
    • Gene Roddenberry himself reportedly did not want to be involved with Star Trek: The Next Generation because of all the stress involved with the original series, most notably playing referee between The Shat and Nimoy, each vying to be the star.
    • Be careful about mentioning Star Trek: The Next Generation to Patrick Stewart though. He's apparently heard enough about it that he now takes a rather dim view of fans gushing about his Picard. He's defended the show itself on several occasions though, so his disillusionment is purely with answering the same questions over and over.
  • Tracey Torme, the creator of Sliders, had to deal with a whole ton of Executive Meddling, and according to the fan site Earth, he hated what the show turned into. Go to the pages about the double episode "Exodus", and read the part about what he thought of it, you'll see.
  • The cast of the second season of War of the Worlds (1988) were subject to this. When the second season premiered, viewers were reportedly incensed that the entire framework of the series had changed (including the deaths of main characters and the changing of several plot-related elements) that they decided to make their displeasure known with hateful letters written to the cast and crew. Their biggest targets were actor Denis Forest and actress Catherine Disher (who played the leaders of the Morthrai on the show). Disher was so angered by the derogatory and negative letters she received (both during and after the show) that, to this day, she won't talk about it at fan conventions.
  • This was a major factor why Dave Chappelle pulled the plug on Chappelle's Show despite being offered $50 million to return, as he'd grown sick of all the people who would walk up to him saying lines like "I'm Rick James, bitch!" (once, while he was with his wife and children!). In particular, he believed that they missed the point of the show's racial humor, and that they were using it as an excuse to parrot harmful racial stereotypes. In one live concert, Dave chewed his fans out:
    Chappelle: You know why my show is good? Because the network officials say you're not smart enough to get what I'm doing, and every day I fight for you. I tell them how smart you are. Turns out I was wrong. You people are stupid.
  • David Simon got himself in some hot water when he voiced his displeasure with new fans of The Wire who seemed to only latch onto the show because "Omar is so cool" rather than the deep, intricate storylines about very real social problems. But he did quickly say in another interview that his statement was perhaps too harsh, and he certainly doesn't want to tell people who enjoy his work that they can only do so in the way he wants.
  • Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan has openly criticized people that throw pizzas on the roof of the house which was used for filming Walter White's residence, pointing out that a retired couple have lived there for some forty-odd years and doesn't deserve to be rudely harassed. Though reportedly the couple themselves are pretty gracious about it, so long as you ask them first.
  • Martin Freeman harshly criticized overzealous Sherlock fans in 2018, comparing them to Lennie from Of Mice and Men stroking something he loves so hard that he kills it. He also accused them of being the reason for the show's infamous constant Schedule Slip, as everyone just needs a break from them.
  • RuPaul's Drag Race: Many former contestants have spoken against the show's rabid fanbase. For instance, any time a queen gets the "Bitch Edit" where she's made out to be the villain of the season, viewers will flood her social media with hatemail (including racial slurs if she's non-white) even if the other contestants come out and say she's actually a wonderful person 99% of the time and doesn't deserve such ire. Queens also criticize fans who only go to local shows when a "Ru Girl" is in town and don't bother to support their city's drag scene the rest of the time.
  • The failure of The Jim Henson Hour, then the latest in a string of flops, combined with the stress of managing his own production companies, keeping an eagle eye on quality control and issues in his personal life (he had separated from his wife a few years prior), left Jim Henson seriously burned out in its aftermath. The result was him nearly selling the Muppets franchise to Disney so he could focus solely on creating and performing, which only didn't go through because he died during the negotiations.

  • The most well-known example in music history: Kurt Cobain. So much that it, among other things (depression, drug addiction, physical ailments), Drove Him to Suicide.
  • Perhaps the second most famous example of this is Lauryn Hill. As the most notable member of The Fugees she became a star thanks to their album The Score. When her solo debut The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill came out, it was both a critical and commercial success. Even when listened to today, it hasn't aged that bad, mostly because Hill made it more of a Soul album than a Hip-Hop album. But Lauryn didn't like the way the music industry worked, putting a ridiculous amount of effort into maintaining a personal vision without the burden of Executive Meddling, and in the end, decided that she wanted to focus more on her family. Not helping matters is that, in 2013, she was convicted of tax evasion and has had quite a few financial setbacks as a result. Barring an Unplugged album that was released in 2002 and the occasional tour, she doesn't seem all that interested in bringing out new material, making a revival of her music pretty unlikely nowadays.
  • The Beatles famously dealt with this. They stopped touring in 1966 due to several factors, most of which can be traced to disillusionment with touring (due to issues from protests about the famous "Bigger Than Jesus" comment to being unable to hear themselves play at venues). George Harrison in particular suffered a serious case of this when it came to the Beatles, having publicly acknowledged on numerous occasions that the allure had worn well off for him by about 1965 or thereabouts. The fact that John Lennon and Paul McCartney were for the most part rather dismissive of his songwriting efforts and tended to treat him as the baby of the group because he was the youngest didn't help matters much.
  • Pink Floyd suffered from two major bouts of this. The first affected Syd Barrett, who found himself increasingly uneasy with their growing exposure, audience sizes, and TV appearances, and didn't want the group to become any more famous. None of the others agreed with this, their rising fame was impossible to halt, and Syd sought greater and greater refuge in drugs, leading to his downward spiral into paranoia and insanity. (This was later commemorated in the album Wish You Were Here (1975).) Roger Waters also suffered from the vast audiences and changed audience composition brought by their mainstream success following The Dark Side of the Moon. While their old psychedelic fans tended to be quiet during the numbers and appreciative at the end of them, the new mainstream fans, though very appreciative, were also very loud and rowdy, and usually spent the whole set calling for "Money". This culminated in the infamous incident during the Animals tour where Roger spat on a particularly loud and rowdy fan (and the fan loved it). This led to the jokey suggestion that they needed a wall between him and the audience, which led to The Wall.
  • Varg Vikernes has a lot to say about modern Black Metal fandom and the new BM bands too, nothing nice.
  • As the '70s progressed, 10cc became increasingly disillusioned with everything about international touring. The 1978 album Bloody Tourists is most certainly not intended as a Take That! against holidaymakers, and the Hipgnosis sleeve image, of a man on a beach with a map plastered over his face, was commissioned to "Sum up in one image how we feel on tour."
  • When the Carpenters first began performing, Karen Carpenter, who had been drumming since school, took charge of the drum kit but also sang. As her amazing voice made its mark on the growing audiences, she came under increasing pressure from managers and promoters to stop hiding behind her drums, glam up, and become the lead singer and frontwoman - none of which she wanted to do, and all of which made her uneasy. When her hand was eventually forced, the resulting stress, and the various stage fright coping methods she tried, all contributed to her mental and physical health issues and, ultimately, her untimely death in 1983.
  • Satirist Tom Lehrer grew to hate touring so much he retired to academia after releasing only a handful of records. Ongoing political events only further decreased his desire to perform again, although he did rack up a little "Sesame Street" Cred.
  • Narrowly averted by David Bowie. By the end of The '80s, he was deeply unhappy with his work. His Newbie Boom after the deliberately radio-friendly Let's Dance led him to bigger audiences and more income than he'd ever known before, but also to two albums that just followed on from that style, whereas before he had followed his muse. Critics picked on him, longtime fans labeled him a sell-out, and trying to please newer fans brought him little lasting satisfaction. After the Glass Spider Tour, he considered retiring from music to focus on painting. Guitarist Reeves Gabrels convinced him that he just needed to break away from pleasing others and rediscover his muse. While Tin Machine, the Hard Rock group Bowie and Gabrels formed with Hunt and Tony Sales in the process, is widely regarded as an Audience-Alienating Era by fans and critics, it did rekindle his love of performing and paved the way for an artistic comeback in The '90s as a solo artist. And the whole concept of his breakthrough album ''The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars" was about the angst of being a rock performer.
  • Keane went through a phase of major infighting, during which one member developed drug problems. They came close to breaking up, but managed to recover...and the fact that their arguing helped create the popular Darker and Edgier album Under The Iron Sea didn't hurt.
  • George Michael emerged from 1980s British Boy Band Wham! in 1986, releasing his debut solo album Faith a year later. Though critically acclaimed and one of the top albums in 1987-89, making Michael a megastar as his own artist, he still felt his image as a sex symbol (a holdover from his Wham! days, but slightly more geared to an adult image) belied the artistry and craft he put into Faith, and he longed to be taken as a serious, even topical artist. Moreover, he was discovering his homosexuality in private, which contradicted the macho, girl-crazy image he projected since the Wham! days, his parents and gay lover were both dying and he was having troubles with his label Sony. Soon, more serious-minded, less danceable and pop-friendly albums like Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1 and Older emerged. Michael also appeared less and less in his own music videos, one of which, "Freedom '90", symbolically showed an image of his Faith-era leather jacket, blue jeans, and archtop acoustic guitar burning in a closet. His arrest for "lewd conduct" (i.e. exposing himself to an undercover police officer) in a public toilet in Beverly Hills in 1998 led to his eventual self-outing. This, and his consistent arrests for drunk driving and/or drug possession stunted his career, and he ended up never reaching the heights of his Faith days again.
  • When The KLF found commercial success with their stadium house tracks, Cauty and Drummond quickly grew sick of dealing with the pop music industry. In particular, they got pissed at the number of washed-up former stars who contacted them in hopes of a collaboration (since The KLF's track with Tammy Wynette had revived her flagging career). Their final, troll-tastic performance was a clear attempt to burn as many bridges as possible on their way out.
  • Country Music singer David Kersh, who had a few hits between 1996 and 1998, quit the biz in 2006 because his "heart is just not in the music business anymore".
  • Ben Harclerode left Whitechapel (Band) and music in general because he was tired of touring for a living, was burned out on heavy music, and had wanted to quit for some time, but had stuck around solely because Whitechapel paid his bills and gave him a comfortable standard of living. It wasn't until he got serious with his then-girlfriend (who owned a gym) that he could afford to leave the band, and he stated in no uncertain terms that he was at the point where he was so tired of being a professional musician that he was doing a disservice to both the fans and his bandmates by staying in the band.
  • Porter Robinson first established his fame through the electronic dance music boom at the start of The New '10s, considered a pioneer and codifier of the "complextro" subgenre. However, following his debut Spitfire EP, he ended up quickly moving on from the scene because he became exhausted by the bombastic, party-driven culture, wanting to venture into a more introspective, indietronica-inspired direction, marked by his New Sound Album Worlds. He's since almost never performed or acknowledged his Spitfire-era music, only ever mentioning it in interviews to remind his audience just how tired he is of it.
    • Porter largely got his groove back after the release of Nurture, which continued his introspective, indietronica direction and served as the end of a creative drought he experienced from 2015 to 2017. Much of Nurture was inspired by him rediscovering how to make music for himself to express honest feelings instead of doing it to be productive or successful. This change in perspective was also aided by his work with Madeon on Shelter, nostalgic late-'90s/early 2000s dance music side project Virtual Self, and the start of his curated music festival Second Sky, all in 2017. During the 2020 version of Secret Sky, the virtual counterpart to Second Sky, he threw a bone to Spitfire-era fans by performing a full electro house set as his mascot character Potaro complete with some of his deep cut remixes and an unreleased song from that era.
  • Horrorcore artist Sematary began building up scorn for his fanbase after his mixtape "Rainbow Bridge" attracted attention of Drainers and 4chan's /mu/, neither of whom he is fond of. This disdain forced him to go further and further away from RB's original aesthetic, and eventually resulted in more loud and aggressive "Haunted Mound Sematary" we know today.
  • Indie Canadian Noise Pop duo Black Dresses (ostensibly) broke up due to a sudden Newbie Boom that they weren't comfortable receiving, leading to a public fiasco that they wanted even less. Their 2018 debut album, Wasteisolation, went viral on TikTok in 2020 despite the heavily personal lyrics dealing with much of their various traumas. Their discomfort at such personal material being casually circulated (especially among minors) ironically launched a campaign of fan harassment that was eventually the cited reason for why they decided to disband (in their statement, Ada Rook particularly called out those blaming the duo for putting said music in the world to begin with, despite Wasteisolation being released independently without any prior audience and their later music being consciously less intimate). Strangely enough, the duo has very quietly released two albums in 2021 and 2022 under the Black Dresses name, but they continue to insist they have not reunited, presumably because they don't want to deal with headaches of dealing with a fandom they didn't want to begin with.
  • Frank Mertens of German pop trio Alphaville left the group in December 1984, not even a year after their debut single released that January, and just three months after the September release of their first album. One major reason was anxiety brought on by the fame and attention. Frank barely speaks in any interview footage from 1984, and one of the only written interviews with him available on the Internet in English is from a Swedish music magazine called Okej, in which he explains, "I am shy and I don't like to talk. I prefer to look and listen. Marian and Bernhard talk quite enough." According to lead singer Marian Gold, Frank approached him during a stop at Frankfurt Airport and told him that being constantly recognized by strangers was too much for him to handle, and that he would quit the band as a result.note  Frank would later form a band called Lonely Boys with his girlfriend Martina Richter but continued to shun interviews, and Marian has suggested that Lonely Boys' few single releases were more to honor Frank's recording contract than to generate commercially successful material. Lonely Boys disbanded in 1987 and Frank Mertens gave up being a professional musician, focusing on art and sculpture instead.

  • In the 19th century, Russian playwright Nikolai Gogol wrote an often-cited letter about how he was disappointed by the way the actors played the characters in Ревизоръ (The Government Inspector, aka The Inspector General), completely misinterpreting his intentions and failing to give them proper depth. He was generally quite prone to such breakdowns, though.

    Video Games 
  • American Mcgee of American McGee's Alice and Alice: Madness Returns fame tried for years to get the prequel game, Alice: Asylum, off the ground. In early 2023, license holder Electronic Arts passed on it, and he grew so disillusioned that he gave up on the franchise and quit game development altogether.
  • Quite a lot of veteran M.U.G.E.N content creators/converters aren't too attached to the engine itself and its community either.
  • A few notable RPG Maker content creators and scripters clearly dislike the community and newbies and tend to react very harshly if people ask them questions about their content.
  • There are those who have theorized that this may have been the case with Hideo Kojima toward the Metal Gear series after having received death threats. Considering how the fourth game turned out this is entirely possible and people have written quite a lot about it.
  • Some people involved in the Game Modding communities have been driven away from fans for varying reasons.
  • Phil Fish of FEZ fame quit the games industry a short way into development of "Fez II", as a result, years of rage and insults being hurled at him, with Marcus Beer's remarks being the final straw. It should be noted that certain developers and journalists who saw first-hand what he was put through by the gaming community tend to be amazed he held on as long as he did. Phil was very vocal about slinging vitriol and seemed to almost encourage it coming his way, seeming to feed off the trolls. At some point, though, it seemed to hit a tipping point, and he lost all interest in dealing with the drama. Unfortunately, one can't just turn the internet off like that, and it never stopped coming in, leading to overload and total disillusionment.
  • Ichiro Mihara, the designer of the Tetris: The Grand Master series, hates the Western TGM community for using emulators and clones rather than legitimate hardware, and is very vocal about it. This is despite the series being Japan-only and having no re-releases or consumer ports (partially due to The Tetris Company's iron-fisted view on games carrying the Tetris name), thereby making playing the series in a form that doesn't violate copyright nearly impossible without spending copious amounts of cash on hardware that is not as mass-produced as consumer games. This seems to have changed in 2015, with Mihara opening up a bilingual official TGM Twitter account and taking feedback for an upcoming TGM location test in the United States, as well as encouraging fans, Japanese and otherwise, to use the #tgm_series hashtag when discussing TGM on social media.
  • Due to building Values Dissonance between young American gamers (who like action-packed, violent, and cinematic games) and Nintendo (who prefer simple games that are fun for the whole family) which ended up hurting sales of the Nintendo GameCube, Nintendo began to feel contempt for Western gamers toward the end of the GameCube era. One of the biggest factors in this was the infamous reaction to the reveal of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and its harshly divisive cel-shaded art style.
  • Scott Cawthon went through a lot of this due to fan pressure towards Five Nights at Freddy's, to the point where he made himself a boss in Five Nights at Freddy's World to show just how upset he was with the fandom.
  • Just stick around on Hideki Kamiya's Twitter account and you're bound to see his irritation in a good fraction of his tweets. Asking him questions he has been asked repeatedly will often be met with a link to a tweet asking followers to check and search his tweet log, and pestering him with fan dumb comments (e.g. complaining about Bayonetta 2 being on the Wii U or questioning his English skills, never mind that English is not his native language) will be met with a "fuck off" at best and a derogatory comment in Japanese followed by a block at worst. Furthermore, all of his replies are public, so being a nuisance to him is a one-way trip to being humiliated by other followers. He makes it no secret that some of his fans piss him off, and whenever a major news site reports on him or his games, which is when his account takes a big jump in replies from followers, you can expect tweets along the lines of "Idiots rushing in..."
  • Friday Night Funkin' has caused quite a few controversies within its' own fanbase, most prominently within the modding community:
  • Markus "Notch" Persson has had a notoriously fraught relationship with his one man project-turned-global phenomenon, Minecraft. In the lead-up to him selling Mojang to Microsoft in 2014, Notch admitted he'd become increasingly distant from the game due to the stresses of keeping up with its sudden and ever-increasing popularity, as well as its increasingly vocal fanbase with a myriad of opinions, claiming that starting from 2011, he mostly let other Mojang developers take care of the game while he focused on his own personal projects. After the acquisition (fully relinquishing all developmental involvement with the game), he admitted that the move was done in part to preserve his sanity, and vowed to abandon any future project he worked on that looked like it was going to start getting popular the way Minecraft did. Starting from early 2020, he found himself more at peace with the game and able to view it as just an audience member rather than its creator, though this hasn't stopped him from being critical of the game and its direction since his departure (including tweeting in response to the Sonic the Hedgehog DLC in 2021 "Minecraft's a little bit dead.")

    Web Animation 

  • It's been obvious on the The Order of the Stick forums that Rich Burlew has become thoroughly sick of people questioning whether something that happened is in the comic is within the rules of Dungeons & Dragons. It's a bit hard to blame him for this as 1) this has been happening for years; 2) it's always been made clear that the story has priority over the rules; 3) many of the times he's accused of breaking the rules the actual rule is heavily debated and how it works in the comic is a legitimate interpretation of the written rule; or 4) the accusation is just wrong.
    Rich Burlew: The only thing worse than the usual irrelevant rules pedantry is incorrect irrelevant rules pedantry.
  • The authors of Gone with the Blastwave have clearly stated that they're doing the comics for themselves and not the fans, they even went as far as to actively discourage the fan translations the comic was getting. Though, as of late, it seems that they are slowly changing their posture with all the attention they're getting.
  • Part of the reason why Ian J. quit RPG World. He hated fans who kept harping on him about the comic when it didn't please them of his decisions and, along with both studying animation, a breakup with his girlfriend and dissatisfaction with the story. Just up and quit the comic altogether..when it was in its final arc Thankfully it did get a proper conclusion but on another series.
  • Gigi Digi (formerly Hiimdaisy) was not particularly pleased to find out that there was a Kickstarter launched for an unauthorized Fan Sequel of one of her works. She's also vented that she's been tired of her past comics for a long time and particularly annoyed by the memes that have spawned from them.

    Web Original 
  • The reason why Walrusguy retired from pooping is that he feared that was what he was becoming best known for, rather than flash animation where his real passion was.
  • Tucker Max began suffering from this during his last few years as a "fratire" writer, having run into a combination of having his target audience outgrow him, and finding his current audience childish and stupid.
  • Glee spoofers SIMGM are quick to come down on fans asking them when the next video will be out, to the degree that when a fan asks they are blocked by their Tumblr, Twitter, and YouTube channel.
  • Some artists have refused to do artwork within the Furry Fandom because fans have created a lot of drama around artwork. This has notably led to artists that clearly do furry artwork denying being a furry and insisting they're either cartoonists or fantasy artists to avoid the association with the fandom.
  • Lewis Brindley, in response to constant badgering about Shadow of Israphel, has said that he's really tired of it and that he actually feels demotivated to do it. This, on top of a lot of the old creation team no longer being available and the Yogscast in general being busier, means that the show's hiatus is unlikely to end anytime soon.
  • Hannah Rutherford has fairly openly bashed more vocal parts of the Yogscast fandom that reside mostly on Tumblr. This is partly due to some disturbing fanworks about her real-life relationship, which she quite understandably is not amused by. The other peeve of hers are various blogs that accuse her of being problematic for reasons that are not always valid, most notably with her playthrough of Outlast.
  • After a backlash with regards to his Garry's Mod content, Sips openly referred to the YouTube comments section as a "cesspool of hate". He was a bit kinder about his subreddit, on the other hand.
  • CaptainSparklez is mostly positive about his fandom, but had a fairly annoyed reaction towards "Stop Having Fun" Guys criticising him for not being able to memorise over one hundred Minecraft mods. He admitted that these complaints were really starting to get on his nerves, and very nearly cancelled the "Ultra-Modded Survival" series as a result.
  • The state of the Hat Films subreddit has gotten to the point that the Sirs have expressed their irritation; while admins are now working to tidy it up, the trio are a bit fed up with people posting walrus pics and going "this looks like Trott" note , ignoring their AMA and asking the same questions repeatedly and behaving in a slightly stalker-ish manner by reposting all their Tweets. They've also expressed their irritation at people genuinely insulting Trott, failing to realise that Trott's The Chew Toy because the group are Vitriolic Best Buds; they are, however, aware that people are just copying what they see and not genuinely trying to be mean, so this is a Downplayed Trope.
  • Justin "Amnaeon" Bonitz Was a very talented Metal Vocalist and YouTube performer, his rise to fame was in part due to the song covers he would do on request. However, as of April 11th, 2015, he experienced a massive Creator Breakdown, in which he mocked and insulted his Fan Dumb and in fact all of his subscribers, due to the constant stream of cover requests overshadowing his other work. He then removed over 3 or 4 years' worth of content and left only the breakdown video and another one titled "I quit" and changed his channel banner to a collection of insults aimed at anyone viewing.
    • As of October 2015, Justin has returned with a new channel, "Hungry Lights". It would seem he has apologized for his past behavior, with the Amnaeon channel.
  • Ben Singer, member of ScrewAttack and creator of DEATH BATTLE! has expressed dislike for certain members of the Death Battle fandom. The Death Battle crew has called out these people for not caring about the work they put into and only caring about who wins without context during "Mega Man vs. Astro Boy" and the fandom's annoyance over "Samus Aran vs. Boba Fett" when they complained over Fett's cold-resistance armor not equaling to cold-immunity. There's also the fact that these people seem to absolutely hate Rooster Teeth as there was heavy backlash towards "Yang Xiao Long vs. Tifa Lockhart" and the Red vs. Blue crossover with "The Meta vs. Agent Carolina". Ben called out the fandom with a heavy snarking message "thanking" them for their "support" for making the crossover.
  • YouTuber and Sidemen member KSI seemingly underwent this in 2017. He blacked out all of his profile pictures and banners across both YouTube and social media, took down some of his videos, and uploaded a series of tweets where he explained that he had become disillusioned with his status as a "celebrity" and the extra privileges he got as a result, even though everyone is created equal. He then "left" the Sidemen group he co-founded in August 2017, but came back the following month.
  • The Mysterious Mr. Enter admitted in a video post that he wants to take a break from reviewing animation. While he has no ire towards his fans, he's emotionally burnt-out over having the flaws of his older videos (including those that were made years ago and he had apologized over) constantly brought up even when he's trying to improve himself as a content creator; the situation went as far as losing a friend over the videos.
  • pannenkoek2012 has left a series of comments on his UncommentatedPannen vids that explain why he hasn't uploaded anything on his main channel in 2 years. One of the reasons is that the commentated Watch for Rolling Rocks in 0.5 A Presses video led to a lot of new viewers coming in who would expect future videos to live up to the same quality standard of that. pannenkoek states that this is something that simply can't happen due to the fact that making commentated videos is tough and takes more time than an UncommentatedPannen vid, which are much simpler and (usually) shorter due to things like text commentary (where applicable) and less explaining, as videos on the latter channel often assume that you already have a grasp of the tricks that are being used. Another is that koek had gotten into a fight with his parents before the release of WFRR in 0.5 A Presses, which left him in a very bad mood. Since he wasn't using his free time for anything else, he invested it all into improving the WFRR video, and even when he could've gotten rid of the bad mood, he didn't because it was helping his productivity at the time. And yet another reason is that people are still repeating some of the memes spawned in the WFRR video, which he still hasn't mentally recovered from making.
  • Bonus Stage creator Matt Wilson ended the cartoon one "season" earlier than he originally intended, citing at first his desire to make money from his animations, then changing his mind and saying that he just got sick of making video-game references and the cartoon's trademark self-deprecatory humor. After pitching some ideas for a new series of his, Wilson seems to have cut off connection with the internet. He is currently working on Pencilmation as a director.
  • Lindsay Ellis retired from YouTube and content creation as a whole at the end of 2021, citing this and her increasingly confrontational viewer base as to why. Ellis had very publicly held her earliest landmark work as The Nostalgia Chick with contempt ever since she retired the title in 2014, having disliked Channel Awesome's management and the "criticism via angry ranting" format it helped propagate. However, with her venture into content under her own name, her coverage of more overtly political topics drew increasing controversy, with her subject to a massive targeted harassment campaign by Neo-Nazi sympathizers in 2019, and a tweet of her criticizing Raya and the Last Dragon sparked up a similar smear campaign in 2021 that attempted to paint her as anti-Asian. In her announcement of retirement, she concluded that being in the public eye was ultimately a losing game and that the most recent experiences convinced her she was "eminently expendable."

    Western Animation 

  • It's debatable as to whether or not he still loves the work he's done over his decades-long career, but Frank Oz, the Muppeteer from Jim Henson's show and long-time comedy partner, never does any public appearances except for a few every several years, insists that fans see him as just another guy who happened to get lucky instead of a dazzling super-star, and publicly bashed Disney's revival after reading the script and turned down the offer to work on it. When he is in a public event, he is very gracious to fans, thankfully.
  • Follow Jhonen Vasquez on Twitter for a while and it becomes abundantly clear that his fans really irritate him. Of course, he has been known in public to be very gracious and good-humored and friendly, so this may more be just a case of the fans who pester him to bring back Invader Zim. Vasquez addresses this rumor in this video. He only really hates his fan dumb and even then, he's only even expressed displeasure for a few fan dumb behaviors.

In-Universe (Take That, Audience/Us Included):

Anime and Manga

  • In the American manga Dramacon, famous fictional artist Lida Zeff has shades of this. When talking to a hopeful with dreams of becoming a manga artist, Lida lists all the difficulties of being an artist: finances, inconsistent job flow, criticism, self-doubt, and the difficulties of the business end of things. Nonetheless, she still seems to find enjoyment in her job even with the disillusionment.
  • In Bakuman。, Kazuya Hiramaru, an overworked businessman, picked up a copy of Weekly Shonen Jump on the way to work, decided he could draw manga for a living, and quit his job that day. He's now so overworked that he often does not sleep, drinks himself silly, and the only thing keeping him drawing is the fact that his editor knows a lot of pretty girls and promises to introduce him to them if he does well.
  • In the Little Witch Academia (2017) series, the author of the Nightfall book series is revealed to be a Legacy Character, with the most recent one wishing to pass on the role due to being a target of internet trolls. Lotte (the one who she tries to pass the role on) convinces her instead that for all the people who insult and mock her, there are many more who love her writing and genuinely appreciate her, which leads to her continuing the role.

Comic Books

  • In the graphic novels about Johanna and Helena, Helena becomes a successful stand-up comedian, but really hates it. The worst part is that her inane babble is considered deep and true art and all that kind of bullshit. The emperor is indeed naked, but in this case, the emperor and the child are the same person. Eventually, she publicly denounces it all, pretty much claiming that the world must be a Crapsack World after all since people obviously actually like a show such as hers.
  • In one issue of Riskhospitalet, a news anchorman is saying all kinds of nasty things during a show broadcast in real time. As he finishes his speech by mooning the camera, his staff receives a phone call from the hospital - explaining that they mixed up the lab results and that the anchorman is in fact not dying.
  • My Little Pony Micro Series has an in-universe example with Jade Singer, who felt she couldn't top her novel "The Canter in the Rye". She's still writing, but she lacks the courage to continue, at least until Twilight's visit.
  • Spider Jerusalem, of Transmetropolitan, has something of a hate/loathe/disgust/contempt/pity complex regarding his fans. They read his journalism (which is good enough to be art, by any means) and find his exploits entertaining, and occasionally they listen to him if he shouts loud enough. On the other hand, they don't care enough, they don't get the message, and generally let him down. The volume "The New Scum" ends with him chucking grenades off a roof because, despite his column, the public finally followed his advice and booted out the corrupt president "the Beast," but elected a president that Jerusalem found even more loathsome.
  • In the Finder story "Dream Sequence", the protagonist Magri White is the creator and, via brain-computer connection, human main server, of a popular MMORPG. Due to this, his repressed anger at fans who do things like pestering him in his private life, or showing him the real-person slash fic they wrote about him, manifests in the MMORPG as a monster that starts attacking and mutilating players.

Films — Live-Action

  • The Agony and the Ecstasy: Michelangelo starts painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling the way Pope Julius said he wanted but Michelangelo quickly becomes disillusioned with how the work is turning out. He destroys what he completed and goes into hiding for a time, during which he comes up with a much better design for the ceiling.
  • In Groundhog Day, the protagonist really despises his fanbase, but normally keeps it off-camera. As he's stuck in a "Groundhog Day" Loop, he sometimes starts to bitch publicly as a way of venting his frustration. Luckily for him, the time loop didn't end on any of those particular days.
  • The film Galaxy Quest is all about this phenomenon and about the disillusionment and sense of lost opportunity that can result when an actor has to spend a large chunk of his/her life trapped by the popularity of a single role. The Shakespearean-trained Alexander Dane (Alan Rickman) seemed to suffer the most out of all the title show's cast members since he had given up a respectable stage career to play a Rubber Forehead Alien. Of course, the experience is revitalized for all of them, and the illusion restored by the end of the movie.
  • Billy Mack from Love Actually is a former big-name rock star who's fallen on hard times, and he just has stopped giving a damn and completely snaps when his newest desperate attempt to climb back to the top is an album full of song covers with slightly altered lyrics to make them Christmas-themed. At every public appearance, he gleefully lambastes the album while still asking people to buy it, just so the number one Christmas album won't be a cookie-cutter boy band. It works.
  • Mike Connor in The Philadelphia Story is a poet whose book netted him something in the range of $700, and so puts on a cynical front working as a tabloid reporter to pay the bills. Upper-class Tracy Lord, who he's spying on for material, reads his work and offers to sponsor his artistic endeavours only to have him shoot it down as old-fashioned and patronising of her to think she can just make him her "kept artist".
  • The documentary Teenage Paparazzo discusses this concept. A main point of the film is that celebrities in Los Angeles are just doing a job like everyone else, but face constant harassment from fans and paparazzi - so much so that they've become disillusioned and insular from the majority of society. Several examples of celebrities (including Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan) who've gone down a self-destructive path due to the pressures of fame and a demanding legion of photographers trying to get their photograph are shown to prove this point.


  • Appin Dungannon from Bimbos of the Death Sun. Though definitely an Asshole Victim, the novel does reflect on how Dungannon's anger comes from his inability to escape the series of pulpy, Conan the Barbarian-esque novels that made him famous and be recognized as a serious writer who put a lot of effort into some parts, such as the mythology. It also crosses over with Creator Backlash, as at one point he compares himself to Jacob Marley, forever chained to a series of cheesy fantasy novels. Of course, the guy is an egotistical Jerkass regardless of the motivation, but it keeps him from being 100% unsympathetic. Dungannon has quite a bit in common with Harlan Ellison, to the point where fans believed that author Sharyn McCrumb wrote him as a Take That!; seemingly in order to defuse these accusations, she included a part where someone suggests getting Ellison to write Dungannon's eulogy (and it's noted that the two men despised each other). Amusingly, in the forward for a later edition of the Bimbos, McCrumb noted that she always knew which authors were "on the outs" with the fandom because people would ask her "Was (this guy) the inspiration for Dungannon?".


  • The "fame sucks" song has a long-standing place in rock and roll. One example is "Across the Sea" by Weezer, which details Rivers Cuomo's dissatisfaction with the music business while singing about a fan letter from Japan.
    • Another example is "Energy Vampires" by Peter Hammill, which describes various incidents and encounters involving some of his more loony fans.
  • Barenaked Ladies go into this in "Testing 1, 2, 3". They cover it again in "Running Out of Ink" which is all about a songwriter in the midst of a break-down.
  • Counting Crows practically made their entire second album, Recovering The Satellites, about this, although "Have You Seen Me Lately" and "Monkey" particularly stand out. Ironically, their first hit "Mr. Jones" is about a struggling musician's wish for fame; their first live album Across a Wire contains a somber acoustic version of the song, about how fame is "as fucked up as you can be".
  • ABBA wrote two songs about this, "I'm a Marionette" and the live-only "Get on the Carousel". Both songs are from an unfinished musical called "The Girl with the Golden Hair," a story more than loosely based on Agnetha's life, and how she went from being an enthusiastic young singer excited to begin her career ("Thank You for the Music" and "I Wonder") to being an exploited media-puppet trapped in a cycle of terror and despair ("I'm a Marionette" and "Get on the Carousel"). Some lines of "Super Trouper" also address the disillusionment and isolation experienced by everyone in the band.
  • Several Reel Big Fish songs, in a "story" told over several albums about a band's rise and fall through the limelight that paralleled their own experiences at the time (for example, a song about selling out called, appropriately, Sell Out ending up their big hit). One Hit Wonderful was about both this and Creator Backlash - "they don't love you, they just love that one song" - followed by Don't Start a Band about how much the music business sucks even with success.
  • The very first track on Marilyn Manson's fifth full-length album The Golden Age of the Grotesque is titled "This is the New Shit" and pretty explicitly chastises fans for just being attracted to the sexual and violent content of his lyrics while not caring about any meaning and themes behind them. That this was the album that followed up Manson's artistically ambitious "Tryptich" (the trilogy of rock opera albums including Antichrist Superstar, Mechanical Animals, and Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death)) was probably not a coincidence.
  • Pearl Jam dealt with this on almost every album after Ten. "Blood", "Leash", "Rats", "", "Corduroy", "Hitchhiker", "In Hiding"... the Vs. album was especially charged with that. It WAS named Five Against One for a short while, after all.

Professional Wrestling


  • The Cabin Pressure episode "Cremona" features an actress who is hounded everywhere she goes by adoring nerdy fans of her minor role in an Arthurian fantasy epic. She despises them, bitter at the fact that she gets no such recognition for her more serious work. It doesn't help that Arthur the steward is one such fan...


  • A big plot element in Megatokyo is actor/fan relations. Among the main characters is former idol (and Broken Bird) Erika, who found that her idealistic dream of being a voice actress was destroyed by fan obsessiveness, the negative impact her job had on her personal life, and her own disillusionment - which resulted in nearly killing her best friend. Her experience at the height of her fame has only left her aloof and cynical (until Largo comes along...)
  • A Writer on Board arc of Living with Insanity deals with David's disillusionment after years of attempts not resulting in much success. This strip's note shows it wasn't just for him.
  • Jeph Jacques generally likes his fans... But he would really appreciate it if they quit that whole "Shipping" business. Though he admits that it's more amusing than genuinely angering, and he has a bit of fun reacting to it — not to mention trolling the shippers.

Web Original

  • Occurs in Commentary! The Musical, halfway between parody and Self-Deprecation: Joss Whedon's song, Heart (Broken) is a meditation on postmodernism and fan interaction so depressing it makes everyone else flee the room. Also has a killer refrain.
  • Sword Art Online Abridged:
    • Kayaba Akihiko references this after people start talking trash about SAO; of course, not that the players could do much more, given they were locked in because the boss' buggy death glitched the exit shutters.
      Kabaya: Alright now that I have your ears as well as your spines; allow me to indulge myself for a moment and tell you all what every content creator has always wanted to say to their audience: FUCK ALL Y'ALL!!
    • The guy writing the blurb on the back of the Alfheim Online box was exceedingly disillusioned with the game after several months working on it, and clearly wants to wash his hands of this "weeping anal fissure of a 'game'".

Western Animation

  • The band Dethklok from Metalocalypse qualify. While they love their music, they dislike working on new albums, hate their fans with a passion (as best seen in the song "Fansong" for the members of their fan club who showed up for fan appreciation day). They also dislike other people who work in the music industry with them (Nathan sighing at another "douchebag industry party" at the launch of their new album).
  • The Simpsons: In "The Otto Show", Bart imagines life as a rock star performing a hit song called "Me Fans are Stupid Pigs". The audience loves it. He also dealt with artist disillusionment in "Bart Gets Famous" when hired on to the Krusty the Clown show as a one-line wonder, complaining about the hollowness of his catchphrase.
  • An episode of Fillmore! deals with two mega-fans of a book series called Vampirita trying to win a fan contest to become characters in the latest installment. The latest book in the series is so bad that it drives one of the girls to sabotage all their efforts to keep them from being immortalized in a lousy book. The author is shown to be jaded and dismissive of her fans, only still involved with the series due to contractual obligation. Her fans call her out on this attitude, citing that she at least should respect them enough to provide them with a coherent, satisfying story.

Alternative Title(s): Artist Disillusionment Farewell