The audience isn’t necessarily much different or innocent in this though.
A show might struggle to find it’s footing at first, as many shows that are considered classics today did (Star Trek – The Next Generation being only one of many examples), and not only the networks but the audience too gave it a chance to find it’s unique voice.
Today the Knights of Outrage, the YouTube/social media Edgelords of media criticism, immediately pounce, whipping up as mighty a shitstorm as they possibly can.
And yes, it’s not always an innocent question of quality.
It’s not always about woke messaging either, and even if it is, it’s not like the red pilled cottage industry of conservative rage that
is every bit as real as and long predates it’s woke counterpart doesn’t have a history of seeing the evils of wokism everywhere, even on occasions where they are not or not remotely to the degree they claim.
It’s also always been common for any form of criticism of capitalism itself in entertainment to also illicit a ton of kneejerk anger and hatred, still does, often justified by claims of the anger really being directed at the criticism being not subtle and nuanced enough (which in a great many cases is no doubt true, but many of these people would be not at all opposed to the most primitive demonisation or lazy, sloppy and placative caricature of a political or economic system they disapprove of).
And corporations (woke or not) generally aren’t the only ones trying to dictate to people what they are allowed to like or not, whoever has gained a bit of social power can get in on the fun these days.
Plenty of YouTube hatemongers that very selectively and opportunistically step in and out of the role anti corporate “rebel” have internalised all the tricks of propaganda and psychological/emotional manipulation, to a degree that it would be quite worrying if what they are raging about wasn’t often so trivial.
But that might be part of the problem by itself.
And considering the fact that some of those people have a reach greater than any mainstream medium, there is if not power at the very least some serious influence.
Why might hese seeming trivialities be “problematic”?
For sure nobody will ever convince me that millions of people raging over how bad the final season of Game of Thrones or the current season of The Witcher was/is, with more fervour and virtue signalling and righteous indignation than any of them will ever be able to whip up for an actual life or death problem, is not all a massive distraction playing right into the hands of the establishment.
Fiction is everything, reality is nothing to more people than ever, fiction riles people up, gets them passionate while reality leaves them apathetic or possibly worse when it contributes to them becoming Nazi loving NAFO trolls who seriously think that reality works like Marvel (and still manage to talk and think like the villains, despite imagining themselves as the heroes).
Perhaps it’s sometimes worth remembering that even the Hollywood spectacle we personally enjoy IS likely evil, soulless propaganda, not just the stuff we personally disike.
Hell, even the idea that something can be reliably judged to be great and relevant if it has easy and immediate mass appeal, and judged to be automatically irrelevant and bad if it does not IS broadly accepted and promoted by much of this same social media discourse and shared by much of the thoroughly corporatized audience.
A large part of the YouTube crowd seems extremely eager to work towards the corporate fuhrer, even while absurdly imagining or at least pretending to rebel against him.
And, certainly if they and their function as far teaching “influencers” and “opinion makers” had already been around, plenty of today celebrated shows would never, ever have stood a chance.
A great many movies not either.
Not gonna lie, I could not care less about Barbie (and I’d like to see the world rid of more or less american pop culture in general, if I miraculously got all my wishes), and it might be the wokest propaganda that ever woked, but those clownish YouTube suckers piss me off so much that I don’t ever need to see it to be filled with a certain grim satisfaction that the Barbie movie seems to have turned out largely immune to their relentless hatemongering.