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Quotes / Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy

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"There are nineteen rules governing literary art in domain of romantic fiction — some say twenty-two. ... They require that the author shall make the reader feel a deep interest in the personages of his tale and in their fate; and that he shall make the reader love the good people in the tale and hate the bad ones. But the reader of the "Deerslayer" tale dislikes the good people in it, is indifferent to the others, and wishes they would all get drowned together."
Mark Twain, "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses"

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

    Tabletop Games 
It can't rain all the time. Know when to let the sun break through the clouds. Sure, an Orphan's lot is supposed to be brutal, desperate and alienated, but if that's all there is, why bother? Mage is about hope, after all; that hope is hard-won, often purchased with blood sacrifice, but it is there. If the chronicle becomes an endless parade of miserable cliches, if the characters cannot ever get a break, the game grinds down and dies. Most down-and-outers have lost hope because they cannot change their world. Mages, even Orphans, can. That fact offers the key to the urban cage. Don't throw it away.
Mage: The Ascension - The Orphan's Survival Guide

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

"But having said all that, the ending of Far Cry 5 - let's raise the Spoiler Alert Level to "Elevated" - is a bit of a downer; not disappointing, more depressing. And granted, that's why I seek out stories - to actually feel something other than the usual background radiation of slightly aroused contempt - but it's kind of killed any future inclination I might have to replay the game, knowing it's not going to turn out well. And unlike, say, God of War III, in which turning off the game is the only way to ensure that Kratos doesn't fuck the whole world up a dog's bumhole and yet we play anyway for the fun and spectacular combat, the gameplay of Far Cry 5 is just going through the same Ubisoft sandbox motions as always."

    Web Original 
"I'm pretty sick of tortured characters being depressing. Too many stories seem to revel in the second act at the moment. I'm not a fan of the second act."
Tom Taylor, IGN Comics interview on Injustice: Gods Among Us

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

"This entire show is so amoral that it had to be pulled off the air after one of the contestants murdered and dismembered a woman who later had to be identified by her breast implants. And what's crazier than that is that given a choice, he wouldn't even be the first one you execute. Megan Wants a Millionaire is a Greatest Hits of man's inhumanity to man. They probably burned down an Indian reservation to build the set, and during a few scenes you can see the altar of panda bones where Megan has congress with the Beast."

"My real issue with 'Everything Changes' isn't the childishness of its nature, but how none of the characters are especially likable. If Davies really is a fan of Joss Whedon's work, then he really hasn't taken notes on his ability as creator of an agreeable company — Whedon’s gift is giving the audience a way into an absurd premise like Buffy through hilarious, flawed but fundamentally decent characters. Davies, in comparison, fills his show to bursting with unpleasant people; morally bankrupt, egotistical, smug and self important. They aren't people that you would want to spend any amount of time with, and that is a real problem when you are trying to endorse a pilot for a longer series."

"It's like the absurdity of the '90s fucked the grittiness of the '80s and then they both doubled-teamed decency until... you know, I could go on here but then I'd be getting as graphically vile as this title itself."

"You half expected them to turn their guns on each other. Not that you'd know which cop to root for if it did come down to that, as there was zero character development and the whole thing looked like it was shot through a rusty window screen."

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

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

"By the time you get to the game itself, it's just this ugly game filled with mean things that happen to people you don't care about."

"I think most of that music scene died through their own bloated, humorless self importance. They were all basically the bastard children several branches down the family tree of Iggy & The Stooges/Ramones/Richard Hell & The Voidoids/The Heartbreakers ... except they forgot that those bands were actually funny and didn't take themselves too seriously. They basically wrote 3 minute songs about getting wasted and farking.

"By the mid-90s every video was like some afterschool PSA about childhood runaways, eating disorders, school shootings ... or childhoold [sic] runaways with eating disorders doing school shootings. They just opened the door for Spice Girls & Cali Ska Pop .. because people got tired of that depressing overwrought bullshiat on their radio all day."

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

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

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

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

Mr. Enter: This movie here is just a 30-minute heartbreaking moment with very little relief anywhere. It becomes a slog.
Leaf: [crying] I think it's about time I will be flying with the wind again.
Mr. Enter: All right, see ya! Have fun dying! Oh, what? I'm supposed to feel sorry for the leaf? Well, I can't. To protect them from being abused, my emotions have detached themselves from this animated film. I can't care about shit if I wanted to, both literally and figuratively.

"Don't have a point and be as raunchy as fuck, you'll be hated, despised, and yes, deserve to be ERASED! [...] Why should you have a point? Because when you don't have a point you go around disgusting people and BORING PEOPLE! When shows exist just to shock, they always turn out terrible. Always!"

"One of the big reasons I tend to stay away from triple-A games is their dark, gritty, and hopeless nature. These games are constantly showing you just how worthless, evil, and monstrous humanity can be, and in many circumstances, there's no hope for them, or even you. There's simply the somber and sobering story of 'life is cruel, then you die'."

"This would be much more heartwrenching if not for the fact that this series has conditioned me to expect death every five minutes."

"...[When writing a post apocalyptic story] stick to an extremely cynical outlook on human behavior, and be sure to wallow in darkness while failing to add any kind of contrast. It's not like the audience needs anyone to root for. Leave the audience hopeless, helpless, and alone. Subject them to a bleak future of silence and desperation as they struggle to make their voices heard, only to face a dark, empty and uncaring universe. There is no hope, only empty despair as one trudges pass the broken works of those who came before; the silent ruins a testament to their false pride.

"Kinda like my Facebook feed."

"While being irritated, bored or embarrassed are feelings that your art shouldn't elicit, they could at least spurn some kind of action from you. You can escape boredom by entertaining yourself. Anger can motivate you to do something other than what made you angry. But depressing misery? It just sucks the life out of you, and you just don’t know what to do with yourself other than making sure you never have to sit through that experience again, especially if it made you miserable for no narrative or artistically sound reason."
Bennett the Sage on De:vadasy

"Star Trek: Discovery...isn't fun. It's a war story with little war, it's an adventure story with little adventure, it's a science piece with idiot science and the most light-hearted character turned out to be the villain. This is no surprise, since Michael as discussed, is the focal point and Michael's journey is hardly fun in any way at all. The series is simply...devoid of joy, which wouldn't be a problem if the tragic drama were better executed".
SF Debris on Discovery Season One.

"Technically the film does have some humans that in the broadest sense of the term you might call "characters", it's just that it seems that the film has taken classes from the Friday the 13th school of film-making, in that the characters - played by uninspired teenagers - are given absolutely no backstory whatsoever, and are made to be as thoroughly unlikable and uninteresting as possible, with their only contribution to the film being to get killed off in increasingly gory ways, often only moments after being introduced. And not to scare the audience or invoke sympathy for their demise, but rather, to merely pander to the audience's lust for carnage. When I see a character die in this movie, I don't feel scared. I don't feel sympathy. I'm not even entertained. I feel nothing other than apathy. I simply do not care in the slightest whether a character lives or dies, and that's the worst thing that a movie can do: make the viewer not care when they see a human being die. It's desensitizing. If anything, I feel disturbed by the fact that when I watch another person get their head bitten off by a monster, I feel no emotion whatsoever. It is wrong to feel uninterested, indifferent, and bored when you see somebody die. But, that's what this movie does to you.

"And the darker tone is not the issue with Beast Machines. Its issue is actually keeping you invested in its darker story with characters that you care about."

    Real Life 
"Gotta have opposites. Light and dark, dark and light... You have light-on-light, you have nothing. You have dark-on-dark, you basically have nothing."

John Lasseter: It was a story...filled with the most unhappy...mean people.
Thomas Schumacher: Jeffrey [Katzenberg] said, "Well, why is this so terrible?" to me in the hallway. I said, "Well, because it's not their movie anymore. We've—it's completely not the movie that John set out to make."
— "Black Friday: the Toy Story You Never Saw", on the Katzenberg-meddled, Darker and Edgier first cut of the film and its poor appeal.

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

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

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

"When this story first appeared, the fans detested it. I read it over, perplexed by their hostility, and could see why: it is a superdowner story, and relentlessly so. Could I rewrite it, I would have it end differently. [...] Yes, but then I would have been criticized for a false upbeat ending, I guess. Still, the ending is not good. The fans were right."
Philip K. Dick on his short story Sales Pitch

"I would watch every episode, and afterward, I would just feel like I couldn’t sleep at night, it was so dark. I guess that was instructive to me. That show told me, 'Be honest with your show, make it as dark as it needs to go, but you’d better find a way to leaven it with humor, otherwise people are going to want to slit their wrists after they watch it.'"
Vince Gilligan on Millennium

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

"Many readers have told me, in writing and by word of mouth, how tired they are of the kind of story that begins "Marjorie's husband was to be hanged on Tuesday, and the children were starving", or "For seven years no ray of sunlight had penetrated the dusty room where William Grocock, a retired insurance agent, lay dying of cancer"; but I don't fancy they are more tired of them than I am myself, who have to work my way through round about twenty such stories every week."


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