Some time ago, I wrote a post about how I love internet Let’s Play-ers Arin Hanson and Dan Avidan, The Game Grumps (or just called Game Grumps). To break down everything in that post in a little TL;DR: the Grumps seem like genuinely nice guys, have mostly avoided controversy, and after a while – like a lot of online content creators you regularly follow – they begin to feel like your friend.
Like any self-respecting online fan community, the Game Grumps have a subreddit community where fans can talk about recent videos, share memes, and generally discuss the channel. Tangential to the main Game Grumps subreddit is R/RantGrumps, started for people to “vent and rant about Game Grumps.” Most of the posts in Rant Grumps seek to criticize some element of the business-end of the channel, the gameplay, or often, of the people themselves. To highlight a few of the sub’s standard faire:
On a sidenote, I couldn’t find the post that this was originally from, but there was a comment which referred to R/GameGrumps as a bunch of “sycophants,” and listen, I admire a good vocabulary, but if you refer to fans of an internet let’s-play series as “Sycophants,” you’re taking this stuff perhaps a little too seriously.
The whole thing is kind of bonkers when you think about it. Only in 2019 could there be a whole online sub-community whose only purpose is to complain about the way two people play video games. Imagine going back in time and trying to explain that to someone from 50-100 years ago. They’d be baffled, and rightfully so.
How does anyone think that this is level of irritation worth their time? The people on R/RantGrumps constantly mock anyone who has the audacity to ask them “if you dislike Game Grumps so much, why do you spend so much time watching them and posting in a subreddit about them? R/RantGrumps’ only answer to this is a sarcastic “IF U NO LIKE, Y U WATCH?” or some variation of that, which is equally hilarious the fiftieth time you read it as it is the first time. But like, why subject yourself to things you don’t enjoy? Life’s too short for this.
And yeah, maybe you’d point to a lot of my posts on this blog – why should I spend time writing about Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald or Game of Thrones Season 8 if R/RantGrumps shouldn’t post about something they’re dissatisfied with? Well, I would hope that my posts are different from theirs – ideally, more analytical and less vitriolic, coming from a place of rationality. (And if ever I don’t live up to that, please let me know.) I’d argue that those come out of a place of love – I love Harry Potter and Game of Thrones, and hopefully recognizing what makes later installments lackluster can help us recognize what makes the originals – and many other stories – so great. But, I doubt that most people post on R/RantGrumps with any intention of criticizing the show in any way that helps to enrich our appreciation or understanding of the genre.
The whole relationship between Game Grumps and their irritated fans make me think in general terms about online content creators, and how much they owe their fans. In this case, most fans don’t have any financial investment (and I’m willing to bet that most of R/RantGrumps doesn’t either). Should fans and “fans” have a say over the kind of content a creator produces, even though they are not financially involved?
One might say yes, because the fans made the content creators what they are through their support. But at the same time, these content creators are providing hours of entertainment per week for free – why would they owe us anything more? Why should fans complain? In theory, if fans don’t like the approach their favorite content creator is taking, it would make most sense for them to withdraw their support – financial support, or in the case of most youtubers, their viewership. After that, there’s nothing to do but move on.
I have to admit, I understand the passion behind R/RantGrumps. My first post about Game Grumps explained how certain content creators can build a connection to their audience that feels personal – they begin to feel like friends. So if your friend started to do things you didn’t like, you might be upset, or frustrated. You’d probably complain about it to others (which is where the subreddit comes in). But eventually, you’d stop hanging out with that friend.
In fact, on a recent Q&A show they’ve been doing, they answered these concerns on a general level; Arin reads, “We receive a lot of comments about people who just don’t enjoy the show anymore. There’s confusion and speculation as to why that might be – is Game Grumps too scripted and forced? Are Arin and Dan not funny anymore? Do they secretly dislike each other?” In answering the question, the duo explained:
Arin: “It’s interesting to talk about, because it does show up a lot. And they try to blame it on different things. … I think it’s important to say – it’s okay to just not like something anymore. You don’t gotta beat yourself up, you don’t gotta beat others up, it’s totally okay, and valid to have an opinion that’s different than it used to be. And also, we’ve been doing this for so long, I’m sure after a certain point it’s like ‘I get it’. … it’s totally cool. We’re not upset about it or anything.
Dan: “No, it’s like – you grow and change, and your tastes change, and we grow and change. But the thing that’s funny to me is the speculation that we don’t love doing it anymore or we don’t like each other as people anymore. That’s reading way too much into a situation that actually exists. *laughter* … We’ve been doing the exact same thing since Grumps began. … As far as us enjoying it and doing it, we’ve been doing the same thing. Nothing’s changed, other than us growing up and having different things happen in our lives.”
Arin: “Yeah, I was 26 when Dan came on the show. Now I’m 32. That’s a pretty big difference.”
Dan: “And I will say, it’s a natural part of liking anything; the part where the stuff that you were attached to in the beginning even if the quality is improving. … When [our band] got to the point where people said ‘Man, their new stuff isn’t as good as their old stuff,’ my buddy Joe was like ‘BRO! You’ve made it to they’re-not-as-good-as-they-used-to-be status! That’s like a huge thing!’ … So, thanks for being with us for so long when you could even have a changing opinion like that!”
I really admire the Grumps’ approach to the criticism; chalking it up to changes in personal taste over time and explaining that it’s a completely natural thing feels incredibly mature. All in all, it seems like they’ll just keep on doing what they’ve been doing, regardless of what the subreddits have to say.
- What do you do when you don’t love a creator’s content/TV show/franchise/etc. anymore? What lengths do you go to to make your displeasure known?