‘Fan Service’ – The Buzzword Everyone Loves
‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ (I’ve had to look up the title four times now) is now sold out for the next 5,000 years at the weirdly cramped Palace Theatre, and has had wonderful reviews for its theatricality. Critics says it’s a magic show with a decent story – it should be considering how much a night out with the kids will set you back, assuming you have the kind of pull that gets you a ticket. Perhaps you’re the Pope or next in line to the throne, or you’re a big-boned lonely woman living in one of America’s oblong states who has read all the the books eleventy three times and seen all the films and wears a Harry Potter hat to the actual theatre. As they do.
What I know about Harry Potter:
The author seems very nice.
The queue to be photographed with a trolley at Platform 9 3/4 snakes right across my route home and is like Lourdes, if Lourdes is popular with schoolgirls from emerging nations.
I didn’t get past the fifth chapter of the first book and that’s fine, they’re not aimed at me. I saw some of the films but remember nothing about them. I think Robbie Coltrane was in one.
It all seems very enjoyable and harmless in a rather ‘Oh, we’re back in 1945’ way.
It’s probably led to a rise in the popularity of boarding schools.
One of my best friends now sells wands for a living, so I guess it’s created an industry.
It is making people love the buzzword ‘fan service’.
‘Fan service’ is what you want entertainment to give you. Now, this is entirely appropriate and brilliant for Harry Potter fans, and exactly what they’ll love and want – apparently every character gets a round of applause as they arrive onstage, and why not? Kids grew up with the books and films, and must love seeing it live. The good news is that while reviews use the phrase repeatedly, the shows apparently have a storyline which could be called controversial. That has to be a good thing.
The problem arises when fan service stops. In her book ‘Sleepless In Hollywood’, Linda Obst points out that precognition is now required for any tentpole movie. More than that, it needs to give the fans exactly what they want.
You know it when you don’t get it; think of ‘Star Wars: The Phantom Menace’ (as opposed to a real menace, but let’s not go there). It failed to provide fan service or any service at all, as it was mostly about councils holding end-of-year accounts meetings.
It can work the other way too. ‘Entourage’ and ‘Warcraft’ provided nothing but fan service, and both flopped. We live in a time when anything you make had better do exactly what fans want and not an ounce more, otherwise you’re doomed.
It’s fun to get what you want but not challenging. Life needs an experimental, untried side. Trends in music, movies, literature, sex, art, politics, fashion all came from left-field, but when big bucks are riding on the outcome we’re all subject to focus groups.
It will be interesting to see where fan service extends. Can you have too much of a good thing? These are frightening, unsettled times, the worst I can remember in my lifetime. We want something reliable. Anyway, you can’t fight the weight of a gazillion internet posts. The majority rules.
But then, with the exception of a few wonderful blips in history, it has always done so.