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Creator Backlash

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"I've come to hate my own creation. Now I know how God feels."
Homer Simpson (on his song "Everybody Hates Ned Flanders"), The Simpsons, "Dude, Where's My Ranch?"
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Fandom is an interesting entity. Nobody can quite tell how people will react to anything, making the creation of a popular work a crapshoot. However, it's assumed that most creators hold an equal or greater amount of affection for their work than their fans. After all, they had to actually make it in the first place. So obviously, anything that's popular must be something the creator likes, right?

Not quite. See, the creators are people too, and even if they're the origin of a particular work, that doesn't stop them from holding a negative opinion about it. This is what is referred to as creator backlash. It's the most high profile form of hatedom possible, since it's the very creator(s) of the work denouncing it. As they bring up their feelings of hatred for their work in interviews, public forums, and their other creations, it brings a certain amount of discord into being a fan when the very source has denounced it. It might even trigger feelings of betrayal, or resentment that the author has (apparently) become a holier-than-thou hypocrite.

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It can take on many forms and for many reasons. Many creators feel their work has been ruined by executive meddling. Perhaps the creator didn't really intend for it to become so popular, only making it to pay the bills and fund their more serious work (perhaps even getting forced into continuing it). Perhaps people completely miss the point. Perhaps it has them typecast to a sickening level. Perhaps the project that he puts a lot of effort on gets pathetic reactions from fans. Perhaps they were going through a rough time while making it. Perhaps they thought it was great at the time but, in hindsight and with a more "mature" perspective, think otherwise. Perhaps it has become their only work that is generally known, casting them as a "one hit wonder" in the eyes of the majority. Maybe they thought they could have done better. Maybe they begin to think The World Is Not Ready. Perhaps it's all of the above.

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It is quite common for creators who start early to simply grow out of their early work. Added to which is the common artistic trait of always wanting to move on: the criticism is just an expression of boredom; been there, done that.

Or perhaps they just really do hate the work they created after all this time; maybe their personality (or the effect the work has on today's society) really has changed that much. The reasons are as myriad as the reasons a fan might choose to like their work in the first place.

Not all creator backlash is permanent, though. They can just as easily choose to later embrace their work when they get over whatever was troubling them in the first place. This seems to be quite rare, however. When it does happen, it usually seems to occur after a lengthy period of time has passed between appearing on the show and the present.

And, of course, no matter how bad the backlash is, the artists rarely return any of the cash they've made from a work.

Compare Old Shame, where the work in question neither caught on nor has many redeeming qualities in the first place; compare and contrast Bleached Underpants, where the work in question has questionable history which its creators would like to dispose of.

Not be confused with Creator Breakdown or Artist Disillusionment, though they can definitely overlap with this. Artist disillusionment is against fans while this is against works. Magnum Opus Dissonance is a Sister Trope, as is Disowned Adaptation. And definitely not to be confused with creators getting their backs lashed.

This can sometimes result in creators going uncredited for their part in the work, with some going as far as removing their name from the credits.


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Other examples:

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    Arts 
  • While on his death bed, British illustrator Aubrey Beardsley begged friends to destroy his large oeuvre of pornographic line drawings. Thankfully they did not comply.
  • Despite being one of his most famous paintings, Vincent van Gogh considered "The Starry Night" to be a failure. Some of his critiques can be found in his letters to his brother, Theo, and to contemporary artist Émile Bernard.

    Music Videos 
  • To this day Sammy Hagar is practically alone in disliking Van Halen's video for "Right Now". He wanted it to be less of a concept and more of a straightforward interpretation of the lyrics, since he had worked hard on them and wanted listeners to hear them. In fact, he was so angry that he refused to sing most of the lyrics in the video, even when the titles say "right now, we should pay attention to the lyrics." The director liked that take anyway and kept it.
  • No Doubt have made a official statement apologizing for their questionable video to "Looking Hot" for its politically incorrect undertones. It's actually been deleted from their VEVO channel and all subsequent videos of it deleted for a rather stereotypical portrayal of Native Americans.
  • Fred Durst was so embarrassed by the video for "Take A Look Around" that he banned it in the US.
  • Journey was highly dissatisfied with their music video for "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)"; to the point that they refused to do any videos for their next album, Raised On Radio.
  • Billy Squier has forever blamed the music video for his hit song "Rock Me Tonite" for bringing about the downfall of his music career, as the then-questionable and erotic content within did much to destroy his public image. Squier was so disgusted with the final product that he and his colleagues attempted to prevent the video's release, but it was too little, too late and Squier has since blamed the director for allegedly tampering with his original concept.
  • Phil Collins reportedly finds the Genesis video for the title track of A Trick Of The Tail, featuring a miniature Phil dancing on an upright piano while Tony Banks plays the song and the other members of the band gather around, to be the most embarrassing one of his career. A bit of Special Effects Failure (this was 1976) didn't help matters.
  • George Strait hated his first music video, for "You Look So Good in Love", so much that he had it withdrawn from rotation. He also largely refused to do music videos at all, to the point that only about 15 of his 100+ singles have videos, and most of the ones that do are live performances.

    Myths and Religion 
"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them." (Genesis 6:5-7)
  • As far as Bible translations in general, Eugene Peterson, the main translator behind the paraphrase edition called The Message, isn't very fond of that translation being used and read aloud by pastors in the pulpits during sermons. He intended for his translation to be the first translation for beginners of the Christian faith to read and then be weaned away from to other translations.

    Podcasts 
  • The McElroy brothers of My Brother, My Brother and Me have expressed some vitriolic distaste for the earlier episodes of their own podcast, at times suggesting that new listeners skip the first hundred or so. Aside from the natural awkwardness, lower quality and underdetermined direction that any improvised media suffers starting out, the brothers believe they were more ignorant then, which resulted in what they consider some offensive or even meanspirited humor. They blame this partly on their limited worldviews at the time and partly on not having yet realized the audience they would reach and the impact their words would have. Their earnest efforts to communicate with listeners and willingness to apologize and do better have made up for past mistakes in their fans' eyes, but the brothers themselves are still quick to denounce their earlier work.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Longtime Sesame Street writer and puppeteer Joey Mazzarino (most famous for performing Murray Monster) left the show after its 46th season, unsatisfied with the changes that the show was going through.
    • While neither Jim Henson nor Frank Oz dislike Sesame Street (both devoted at least a few weeks a year, Jim until he died and Frank until the late 1990s, to shooting new material with their respective characters), Henson disliked how it typecast him as a children's performer, even telling creator Joan Ganz Cooney over the phone that "[she] ruined [his] life." Similarly, Oz was very hesitant to discuss it or his Muppet projects until recently, as he was worried that it would overshadow the work he has done as a director.
  • Some longtime puppeteers (including some no longer affiliated with the chief group of Muppets, such as Frank Oz and Kevin Clash) supposedly expressed dissatisfaction during the production of The Muppets, feeling that it was too serious for the Muppets. Rumor has it that former Kermit the Frog performer Steve Whitmire threatened to have his name taken off the film if the original ending (Tex Richman being revealed to be Kermit in disguise the whole time, as a way to bring the crew back together) had been used.
  • Kevin Clash had some major problems with Muppets Tonight. When his character, Clifford became the host, he went through some big changes. The most particular thing he hated was that Clifford's sunglasses were removed and replaced with regular Muppet eyes. He hated it so much, that he refused to perform as Clifford again unless he had his sunglasses on. Unlike other examples, the producers did listen to this and returned Clifford to his old look after the show ended.

    Radio 
  • In-universe example in a sketch on John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme, which portrays Johann Pachelbel as utterly sick of his Canon in D, and constantly protesting that he has written other works. (This is Rule of Funny; in Real Life, Pachelbel's opinion of the Canon is unknown, and it only achieved its current popularity in The '70s, some 270 years after his death, following a 1968 recording by the Jean-François Paillard Chamber Orchestra.)note 

    Theater 
  • Henrik Ibsen was not happy about having to change the ending of A Doll's House. The term he used was "barbaric atrocity". Ironically, due to changing values, the original ending is now perfectly acceptable. The redo is something of a Writer Cop Out. He also did not react well when feminists began lauding him for the play's support of their movement, which he denied.
  • A similar thing happened with Pygmalion - higher-ups wanted to change the ending to one in which Eliza and Higgins got married, so it could have a standard happy ending, rather than letting Eliza leave Higgins to marry Freddy. Needless to say, George Bernard Shaw would not be happy about the musical adaptation.
  • The Broadway flop 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue by Leonard Bernstein and Alan Jay Lerner was Bernstein's last and least successful musical; he was so ashamed of it that he didn't let it be recorded in his lifetime. As with Saint-Saëns and "Carnival of the Animals," one number escaped the ban: "Take Care of This House." Years after Bernstein's death, a concert version was issued titled A White House Cantata.
  • Love Life, a vaguely similar (and somewhat more successful) musical Alan Jay Lerner wrote with Kurt Weill, could not be revived in Lerner's lifetime because of his personal disdain for it.
  • Older Than Radio: William Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan really came to resent their trademark comic operettas, claiming they would have liked to have been remembered for their serious works, too.
  • A despairing outburst by Richard Wagner from 1878 (while he was working on Parsifal), as recorded by his wife Cosima in her diary:
    Oh! I shudder at all this ado of costumes and make-up; when I reflect how characters like Kundry shall be mummed now, I'm put in mind of these disgusting artists' parties, and after creating the invisible orchestra I want to invent the invisible theatre! And the inaudible orchestra.

    Web Animation 
  • Matt Wilson, creator of Bonus Stage, seems to hate his most famous creation, or at least, all of the fans. He had stated after the end of the series that he hardly, if ever, plays video games any more. Also, he is embarassed by the poor animation quality of many of the episodes, and doesn't find a lot of the jokes funny anymore.
  • Alvin-Earthworm, creator of Super Mario Bros. Z, has been incredibly annoyed by fans constantly asking him to work on new episodes, to the point where he has completely stopped working on the series. He claims that it's not forever. He wasn't lying. He's started making him again and most of his fans are listening, seeing as it seemed like they made him quit the internet. He still updates his DeviantArt account, although you may wish to be cautious before observing it. The comments sections still partially consist of SMBZ fans asking for more. He created a second account as well. His first post stated that so much as mentioning SMBZ on that account is a blockable offense.
  • Not the straightest example, but Brian Kendall has apparently a love/hate relationship with that one flash movie he made, The Demented Cartoon Movie. Much of the "hate" part comes from the amount of effort he thought he could put more into this movie.
  • Homestar Runner parodies it with this comment:
    Strong Bad: You internet types ruined Trogdor! Just like you did zombies, pirates, ninjas, and Strong Bad! Er, wait, no. Yeah!
  • Benthelooney pretty much disowns every video that he has made during the first season of his Rant series. Before he started using a script, and also disowns a fair amount of his pre-cancellation rants.
  • Jon Graham, creator of Arby 'n' the Chief, stated on his blog while working on Season 6 that since learning some things in film school, he now looks back on the first 3 seasons of the series with regret due to how unrealistic and overly-silly they are in comparison to his work on the more drama-based series it became towards its end. As a result, he implored fans to simply disregard the events of the earlier season for said reason. This however made the series's abundant plotholes that much more confusing and unexplainable.
  • Robert Benfer seems to have grown into this as his KlayWorld series drew to a close. While it was clear he enjoyed doing it for a number of years, he eventually changed the name of his youtube channel and stopped producing these videos completely, despite their popularity. In a video he released explaining that the series was going to end, he sounds exhausted with the Klay World series and even mentions that the only reason he kept making them was to fund his other projects.
  • Misteroo of Arfenhouse fame had the message "I despise my creations" plastered all over the Disaster Labs website.
  • Jacob Lenard, creator of Mugman, suffered from creative burnout in the series' final years and grew to dislike much of the earlier episodes. Several changes were made in the final episodes, such as the removal of longtime characters Teanna, Johnny and Papa, complete retooling of character designs and character dynamics and even a re-make of an earlier episode. Eventually, after growing tired of the aimless direction of the series and fan backlash, brought the series to a close. Mugman would briefly be brought back in "Welcome to Wedgewood" shortly after the original series' cancellation, but that show would also be cancelled just after one episode due to Lenard's dissatisfaction with it.

    Miscellaneous 
  • Vincent Connare, designer of the "Comic Sans" typeface, sympathizes with its detractors. Interestingly, he "credits" the lettering on Watchmen (done by artist Dave Gibbons) with part of the inspiration for the font. Dave Gibbons is... conflicted about it.
  • Charles Schulz grew to dislike the character "Pig-Pen" over the years, due to his one-joke nature and his difficult character design. What prevented the character from being written out of Peanuts like so many other characters that Schulz had grown bored with was the huge amount of fan-mail that he consistently received for him. Though it's telling that "Pig-Pen"'s final appearance in the strip shortly before it ended had the usually proud character show embarrassment for his dirty nature.
  • One of the primary reasons Bill Watterson decided to stop drawing Calvin and Hobbes in 1995 was pressure from Universal Press Syndicate to commercialize his work, with Watterson noting that if Universal wanted to, they could have licensed his characters without his permission or continue drawing Calvin and Hobbes with a new artist, so he decided to discontinue Calvin and Hobbes because he had achieved all he could in the comic strip business. Nevertheless, in spite of his efforts, numerous unauthorized products have made their way into the market, with window decals depicting Calvin praying before a cross, and taking a whizz on various automobiles' and sports teams' logos.
  • DeviantArt
    • There's at least one example of an artist being rather disappointed that they got a Daily Deviation... on a joke piece they made ABOUT Daily Deviations. Understandable in that they had so many examples of attractive, interesting art in their journal that had always been overlooked.
    • Moderately-popular DeviantArt cartoonist BrokenTeapot initially used to draw comics and characters involving kink-driven material, mostly related to Hypnofetishism as either his own pieces or fan-commissions. Somewhere along the line he has since become ashamed of them in general, criticized the attraction and attention he had gotten from said fetishes, and went on to draw almost predominantly video game-related parody one-page comics. Later, he would begin a Castlevania-inspired spoof called "Nosfera" which become relatively popular. Soon after eventually finishing the ongoing comic, he would go on to write a surprising post about how it "sucked" and stated he would begin doing it over. He's currently in the process of doing just this.
    • Similar to BrokenTeapot, cartoonist Tom Preston (creator of So... You're a Cartoonist? fame) used to go under the pseudonym "Catty N" and drew a lot of inflation fetish art during his early years. Preston has since distanced himself from the inflation fetishist community and instead sticks to humor comics, even once saying "yes I was once Catty N, lets just forget that ever happened." His past has become a major Never Live It Down among his detractors though, who often reference his Catty N years in art mocking him. Even some artists in the inflation fetishist community have been vocal about their dislike of Preston, saying Preston did not leave the community on good terms and was supposedly a real Jerkass to other fetish artists in his early years. The fact Preston has become infamous for issuing DMCA takedowns of his Catty N art on imageboards and other sites has only contributed to his Hatedom.
  • Dom Fera, of The Lazer Collection fame. The series often completely overshadows the rest of his work. He expressed this sentiment in Lazer Collection 4. That said, he doesn't hate the Lazer Collection, he just thought it was ridiculous that people expected him to put out 4 so soon after 3.
  • Illusionist David Copperfield is reportedly not happy with his 10th TV special "The Bermuda Triangle." On a DVD commentary he mentioned that he didn't like the final illusion (to be fair it is VERY hokey) and that it came "during a very rough part of my career." However, the special did feature one of Copperfield's signature tricks... The Death Saw.
  • Albert Einstein:
    • He considered the cosmological constant term he added to his theory of general relativity to be his "biggest blunder", as he put it in in an attempt to make his theory consistent with a static universe. Shortly after, Edwin Hubble published observations that the universe was in fact expanding, in accordance with the original theory of general relativity… However, as of circa 2000, a nonzero cosmological constant has become part of the standard model for cosmology, as there are stars that are older than the age of the universe as computed using original general relativity (if expansion is accelerating, then it was previously slower, and it would therefore have taken a longer time than predicted by original general relativity for the universe to expand to its present size).
    • Also relevant is Einstein's involvement in quantum mechanics. He expanded on Max Planck's ideas, wrote a paper in 1905 on the photoelectric effect, won a Nobel Prize for his breakthrough, and out of that, the whole field of quantum mechanics was born, which is influential in science and computing to this day. However, once Erwin Schrödinger and Max Born realized that probability and randomness were major factors in quantum mechanics, Einstein turned his back on the whole field, trying to debunk it to his dying day, refusing to accept it long after it had become useful to the rest of the scientific community.
  • Cracked's articles named "6 Classics Despised by the People Who Created Them" and "5 Famous Actors Who Hate Their Most Iconic Roles" detail some examples.
  • Charles Spencer "Spen" King, the designer of the Range Rover, said in an interview in 2004 that his creations had become "oversized toys for pretentious city slickers" and that people who drive 4x4s in town were "pompous and stupid". He added that the Range Rover was "never intended as a status symbol, but later incarnations of my design seem to be intended for that purpose", and that he now drives a Mini Cooper out of frustration with all the 4x4s on the road.
  • For Microsoft:
  • Surrealist artist René Magritte once titled a painting of a pretty blue sky with clouds "The Curse". Scholars have debated what kind of "curse" may have prompted that title, but some believe that it refers to Magritte being thoroughly sick of how his other works featuring pretty blue skies with clouds were the ones that were most popular.
  • Vince Lombardi once said "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing." He later said "I wish I'd never said the thing. I meant the effort... I meant having a goal... I sure didn't mean for people to crush human values and morality."
  • Anna Jarvis created Mother's Day to protest the First World War. She resented the commercialization the holiday brought, and was even arrested protesting it.
  • There are people who create trope terms, and then come to regret it.
    • Gail Simone hates the term Stuffed into the Fridge and regrets coining it, largely because she feels it's been horribly distorted and over-applied by feminists ever since its creation, being used to insult any work in which a female character gets hurt or dies. It really doesn't help that when she started working for DC Comics, she became friends with Ron Marz (the writer the trope is named in reference to), and was promptly insulted by some "fans" for being nice to him.
    • Likewise, Nathan Rabin, who coined the term "Manic Pixie Dream Girl," wrote an apology for coining it, citing how the term quickly flooded the pop culture discussion, and how critics applied it even where it didn't fit until it lost most of its meaning.
    • Alison Bechdel, namesake of The Bechdel Test, has expressed reservations with the way that it's taken as a simplistic measure of whether or not a work is sexist.
    • Hikaru Ijiun who coined the word Chuunibyou has lost interest in it (note: Tweet in Japanese) due to people online misappropriating its original meaning.
  • Lauren Faust doesn't hate Milky Way and the Galaxy Girls (far from it, actually), but she dislikes their designs and has expressed a desire to redesign them (they were created in the early 2000s, and she's developed as an artist since then).
  • One of the pioneers of television was Philo Farnsworth, who had high hopes of the device being used as an educational tool by society. He eventually came to openly despise television, seeing it used primarily for entertainment, and practically went to his grave wishing he'd never worked on the thing.
  • Chris Rock came to regret his "Black People vs. Niggas" rant due to the Stop Being Stereotypical implications, as well as the fact that a lot of actual racists were using his words to justify their bigotry, claiming to only hate "those" black people.
  • John McAfee, the creator of McAfee antivirus software, has eventually grown to hate the pioneering software that bears his name. He even released a video telling users how to uninstall the software. When McAfee (the company that he is no longer involved with ever since his resignation in 1994) was acquired by Intel in 2010 and was re-branded four years later as Intel Security, he said "I am now everlastingly grateful to Intel for freeing me from this terrible association with the worst software on the planet. These are not my words, but the words of millions of irate users."
  • While Hasbro was trying an experiment with Transformers Aligned Universe, many of the people involved in the various entries didn't want to be part of it, hence the number of Broad Strokes and Continuity Snarls that happened, to the point the Universe Bible was ignored entirely.
  • Some people that cause a Memetic Mutation, either by accident or on purpose, may sometimes regret it and speak out against it. An example of this comes from the Ugandan Knuckles meme where it involves an Off-Model of Knuckles appearing in VRChat speaking in a terrible Ugandan accent asking people if they "know de way", name a random female player as their queen, and making lots of clicking noises. The person who uploaded the model for people to use regrets making the model open to the public and feels responsible for people not being able to enjoy VRChat without others abusing the meme everywhere.
  • As reported by the book Brick by Brick, certain unnamed higher-ups at LEGO felt this way about their non-traditional series like BIONICLE, feeling its story-driven nature, ball joint-based building system and at times overly dark and violent story stood against everything the company represented (some of these were also major concerns regarding their Star Wars sets). Within the BIONICLE franchise itself, writer Greg Farshtey hated Vakama's forced betrayal-arc in the 2005 plot, which was pushed by the team producing that year's Direct-to-Video movie. Greg allegedly yelled at them, but his arguments were ignored, and he had to somehow fit the arc into his book series.
  • In 1988 an Australian breeder named Wally Conron created the "Labradoodle" (Labrador Retriever x Standard Poodle mix) as we know it. He intended to make a new service dog-geared breed meant to be low-maintence, friendly, and easily trainable. However, the popularity of the mix led to others breeding their own Labradoodles and other similar mixes with cute names (Goldendoodles, Cockapoos, etc). Since then, numerous other Poodle mixes have popped up and Labradoodles are still not any closer to being a "real breed" than they were in the 1980s. Wally Conron no longer breeds them and says he regrets starting the "designer dog" fad. He says that he created "a Frankenstein" and that Labradoodles (and similar mixes) are generally poorly bred, having many problems and no breed standard instead of the original intention of fixing the "flaws" of Poodles and Labradors.
  • Parenting blogger Jenna Karvunidis, who created (or at least popularized) gender-reveal partiesnote , has come to regret her contribution to pop culture. When her eldest daughter (for whom Karvunidis threw the first of these parties and blogged about it) started exhibiting tomboyish traits including a preference for suits, Karvunidis realized it's unfair to a baby to place so much emphasis on their biological sex since it could potentially hamper their development as individuals.
  • Voice actor Matthew Mercer said in an interview that he has gotten tired of being The Other Darrin for many of Troy Baker's old roles. After Baker became high in demand, Mercer took over for him in many instances since the two have a similar vocal range. He was offered to replace Baker as Yuri Lowell in Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition, but turned it down, feeling that someone else should have the role instead.
  • Eddie Murphy came to regret his 1987 standup special Raw due to the misogynist and homophobic jokes throughout the set (as well as other stand-up sets his did during the 80's). He chalked up the misogyny to relationship woes, and he admitted that the homophobia and AIDS jokes were pure ignorance. To his credit, he apologized for those jokes as early as 1996 and has donated to the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
    "Just like the rest of the world, I am more educated about AIDS in 1996 than I was in 1981. I think it is unfair to take the words of a misinformed 21-year-old and apply them to an informed 35-year-old man. I know how serious an issue AIDS is the world over. I know that AIDS isn’t funny. It’s 1996 and I’m a lot smarter about AIDS now."
  • John Sylvan, the inventor of the Keurig coffee machine, regretted creating it due to the Plastic waste of the K-cup coffee pods, saying that he didn't even own one.


 
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Barbie talks about how she hates the films she has to make as part of her 'Barbie' contractual obligation.

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