Chris Metzen Interview with Scott Johnson On Art and Toxic Fandom
Scott Johnson, cartoonist and podcaster for
, conducted a powerful interview with Chris Metzen on artists and the toxic elements of fandom. His first interview with Metzen, conducted
nearly two years ago
after the former Senior Vice President of Story and Franchise Development stepped down, was also remarkable in its candor on mental health, anxiety, and fear of failure—topics considered taboo in the industry.
The whole interview is worth a listen, which we've embedded in this article, and here's a summary below of the highlights:
The interview starts off talking about the backlash towards
The Last Jedi
's director Rian Johnson, who took
in directions which challenged audience perceptions. You can read a good summary of the controversy
. Metzen talks about the mob mentality of anonymous internet crowds ripping people apart, unconstructively expressing criticism, and lacking empathy—all things which can turn off future generations of creators into sharing their works.
As the interview progresses, one can start to sense parallels to the most-extreme fan reactions to the Burning of Teldrassil, with the discussion explicitly moving towards WoW around the 30 minute mark. We're reminded that story arcs are started years in advance, and raking one employee over the coals, like Christie Golden, is unfair and unjust. Big decisions like Teldrassil are made way in advance by the game team, only later brought to members of the story team to dramatize the plot, not to actually create the plot.
Overall, Metzen doesn't shy away from stern language, expressing embarassment for the behavior of the nerd community. He's concerned with the community's mentality to throw stones online, and worries that some players cannot differentiate between being mad at an upsetting character within a work of fiction, and being mad at creators tasked to bring a story to life. He also pointed out the hypocrisy of people losing their minds over Teldrassil, completely writing the story off, and then a few days later gushing about how Saurfang's cinematic and story are absolutely perfect.
Metzen also revealed that he has no insights into how Teldrassil plays out—the last thing he worked on for WoW was Anduin's resurrection at the end of the Lordaeron cinematic. He's shocked at the story, and wonders where it could go next...he also wants Saurfang to take Sylvanas out, and stand up for the Horde. He also loves Jaina's flying ghostship. The interview wraps up with him stating that he is enjoying his retirement, anxiety issues mostly cleared up.
As his past interview on mental health sparked a lot of conversations and introspection within the community, perhaps this most recent interview can do the same. While we personally feel Teldrassil's story could have been improved by including more details from the novellas in the quests, we've respectfully explained our opinion and moved on. We do not support hate mobs or harassment of Blizzard employees over the pre-patch story.
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