"Fan Service"

I've been noticing over the last year a significant increase in the use of the term "fan service" in not only Bald Move casts, but most TV podcasts. Most recently, @Jim and @A_Ron_Hubbard have been using it in several of the Stranger Things casts. In the 2.01 cast, they said that the arcade scene, with Dragon's Lair and Dig Dug video games, was fan service. I don't understand how this is fan service. My question is this: What's the difference between world building, homage, and fan service? What kinds of things qualify as fan service? 
GredalBee

Comments

  • I would say that homage is just a type of fan service. It can be a simple small gratuitous easter egg (e.g. Reese's Pieces name drop in ST2 E1 or 2 I forget which) or service the plot (e.g. dressing Eleven as E.T.) or a bit more meta like casting Paul Reiser in an '80s period piece.

    To me all of those things are different types of fan service, things that didn't necessarily need to be done or done they way they were but were intentionally done so as a sort of nod to the audience.

    I think world building can certainly involve fan service but is really the adding of layers of details to the world to make it seem more lived in/real/relatable. I'm not sure I'd call the iconic Atari and Coca-cola ads in Blade Runner fan service, but it's certainly world-building.
  • pavlovsbellpavlovsbell Brooklyn, NY
    The way I understand "fan service" is that it is something written into the script to service the fans that would not otherwise logically happen (either something inorganic to the plot or something a character would not normally say). It's supposed to be the writers prioritizing the fans (sometimes themselves) over the story. Game of Thrones' Davos cracking a rowing joke to Gendry is fan service-y because it's referring to a meme, and it really doesn't make sense to Davos to say that.

    The original trope was something more sexual or exploitative. There are many examples in Game of Thrones, from the sexposition scenes to the scene in "Blackwater" where a producer told Neil Marshall to shoot full female nudity even though it made no sense for the scene.

    It was pretty surreal. I’d not done anything like that in my films before. But the weirdest part was when you have one of the exec producers leaning over your shoulder, going, “You can go full frontal, you know. This is television, you can do whatever you want! And do it! I urge you to do it.” So I was like, “Okay, well, if you— you’re the boss.”

    Marshall further elaborated:

    This particular exec took me to one side and said, “Look, I represent the pervert side of the audience, okay? Everybody else is the serious drama side—I represent the perv side of the audience, and I’m saying I want full frontal nudity in this scene.” So you go ahead and do it.

    "Blackwater Director Neil Marshall on Nudity and Creating the Battle"
    Now I think many people use it when referring to things are simply crowd/fan pleasing but not necessarily inorganic to the show's fictional world. I don't care for the dilution of the term because it's supposed to be derisive or pandering.
    GredalBeeDeehypergenesbDaveyMac
  • It's pandering by nature but why does it have to be derisive? I don't see why it's important to only have a negative connotation.
  • pavlovsbellpavlovsbell Brooklyn, NY
    ghm3 said:
    It's pandering by nature but why does it have to be derisive? I don't see why it's important to only have a negative connotation.
    For me, because the trope is not a good one, and diluting the definition leads to confusion, which I think is what @hypergenesb was getting it. Not unlike how "literally" can now mean either literally or figuratively, or it's also used to convey emphasis. "Literally" has become a meaningless term that you now have to depend on context to grasp the speaker's intent.

    When I use "fan service," I am criticizing the writers. When someone else uses it, I don't know if they mean it as a critique or appreciation.
  • MurderbearMurderbear Cold Spring, Ky
    The worst fan service of all time was Mulder and Scully getting together. Should have never happened.
    aberry89GredalBeeDee
  • You shut your goddamn mouth, @Murderbear!
    MurderbearpavlovsbellKingKobra
  • "Fan service" just sounds demeaning. It's literally giving the fans a cheap, under-the-table blow job.
  • @pavlovsbell Ah see I've never understood it to specifically be a negative, to me it's always been a neutral thing that can be done well or poorly. If I'd always known it as a specifically negative thing then yeah I'd agree it would be annoying to see it starting to be used more broadly.
    pavlovsbell
  • aberry89aberry89 California
    edited November 2017
    It comes across to me as a little lazy, but not detrimental to the film. It's sort like skipping in line to make us relate and care for our characters. I also find the less mainstream the reference, the better it can work as not seeming desperate...when the boys mention "Mirkwood" in season one, I was fine with that because it's from an old book, and it was in service to the story. And hey, knowing Tolkien in the 80's was a pretty good nerd badge. When there is a scene of the boys playing Dragon's Lair, it was pretty blatant what the scene was accomplishing. Remember this?   Yeah, I do.....aaaaaand?

    The two things that actually pissed me off the most about stranger things were some visuals/atmosphere that were straight up stolen. The look of the upside down is ripped directly from "Under The Skin" and the other dimension that the demi gorgons come from is basically Silent Hill. The ash, the darkness, the decomposing interiors that change.  

    I understand art is always going to influenced by what came before it, but at least give it your own spin. Don't just copy and paste peoples hard work - that now, if you are not familiar with Under the Skin or Silent Hill, people will credit toward Stranger Things.  And that's not cool.
  • A_Ron_HubbardA_Ron_Hubbard Cincinnati, OH
    I guess the problem with fan service is that it's original connotation was explicitly about gratifying the male gaze.  Marvel's annual swimsuit issue, anime shows that would throw in a beach party scene for no other reason than to let men look at characters in skimpy clothes.  Just pure titillation/objectification. 

    However, increasingly it's being used to describe anything that a show runner or creator does to make fans happy at the expense of plot.  But like other specific terms; literally, hack, trope, or "high concept",  "pot boiler", it's being borrowed to mean tangential things that get further and further from it's original meaning one step and shift at a time.  I'm as guilty as any and more so than most.
  • I think we're talking more about variations of Pandering to the base. Like most things, it can be good in moderation. Something like Hopper grabbing his hat Indy style is pretty benign. Davos' rowing dialogue was a little more creaky on the suspension of disbelief, but it's in service of a pretty good joke. It's a trade-off and a creator's ability to walk that line is the difference between good and bad "fan service."
  • Is Dragon's Lair any more mainstream than other arcade games of that era? Is talking about the high score on Dig Dug too mainstream?  If Dragon's Lair had been Zaxxon, would that have been better?   It it had been Pole Position, would that have been worse than Zaxxon?  It's good to use Dragon's Lair because it's super cinematic for a TV show (and incredibly difficult to control).

    aberry89 said:
     I also find the less mainstream the reference, the better it can work as not seeming desperate...when the boys mention "Mirkwood" in season one, I was fine with that because it's from an old book, and it was in service to the story. And hey, knowing Tolkien in the 80's was a pretty good nerd badge. When there is a scene of the boys playing Dragon's Lair, it was pretty blatant what the scene was accomplishing. Remember this?   Yeah, I do.....aaaaaand?



  • A_Ron_HubbardA_Ron_Hubbard Cincinnati, OH
    Also, Dragon's Lair was sly foreshadowing, because Lucas and Dustin's rivalry to "get the princess" modeled their rivalry for Max's affections.  
    Doctor_Nick
  • As @joschman and others have said, I interpret the phrase "fan service" as demeaning/negative. So my confusion stems from this: Stranger Things is set in the early to mid 80s and focuses on a bunch of 12-13 year-old D&D playing nerds. How does a scene with them playing Dragon's Lair & Dig Dug at an arcade constitute pandering to the audience?

    I could have been one of the kids on this show. Me and my friends played D&D, idolized Venkman and went to arcades to play these exact video games (I was the MadMax of my crew when it came to Dig Dug). When Dragon's Lair came to my local arcade, it was all we talked about for quite a while. It very different from other games of that era: 1) it had high production values because it didn't use sprites/pixels, it used hi-resolution animation played off of a LaserDisc; 2) it was a choose-your-adventure gameplay narrative, and 3) it cost 50 cents per play, a relatively new concept for arcade games. As for Dig Dug, it was a popular game in that time, but certainly wasn't a Donkey Kong, Galaga or Centipede, meaning it wasn't everyone's favorite. All of this to say: These games were perfectly chosen, as was having a scene at an arcade. This is exactly what these kids would have done. I know, because I was one of them, shitty haircut and all. 
  • If we stop looking at “fan service” as negative all of the time (it isn’t) then maybe it wouldn’t be such a big deal. This is especially true since the phrase has taken on different meanings. So many things these days point to the negative aspect of something, sometimes it’s good to have positive twists on these things. 
    Murderbear
  • Was having Spock in the Abrams Star Trek films fan service?
  • No doubt @KingKobra. I always interpreted this term to have a negative connotation (probably because that's why the term was created). And it seems like others had that understanding as well. But if that's not what is meant, maybe we should consider different terminology to make the point more clearly, or at the very least, less easily misunderstood. 
  • edited November 2017
    No doubt @KingKobra. I always interpreted this term to have a negative connotation (probably because that's why the term was created). And it seems like others had that understanding as well. But if that's not what is meant, maybe we should consider different terminology to make the point more clearly, or at the very least, less easily misunderstood. 

    I get that the definition shifting to a broadening meaning would be a bit annoying, but who cares? The term itself, "fan service", is itself a neutral name that can be logically applied positively or negatively. If you can't tell which in any given example then you're either not paying enough attention or the person using it isn't expressing a cogent point. Words and phrases gain and shift meaning all the time. 
  • edited November 2017
    "Fan service" has an undeserved negative connotation these days.

    Like A. Ron said, fan service used to deserve this negative perception because it was almost always scantily women in movies, tv, manga, anime, etc.

    Nowadays, I think it should be a neutral term. Having the Millennium Falcon appear in Ep. VII was fan service, and I loved that shit.
  • @ghm3 If a podcaster says, "That scene was just a bunch of a fan service" – and does not elaborate – I wouldn't have the slightest clue how to interpret that commentary. I heard it used 3 times in the first 6 episodes of the Stranger Things Season 2 casts and in two of those cases, I couldn't tell whether their point was that the "fan service" was a good or bad thing. Maybe I just wasn't paying attention. Wouldn't be the first time....
  • I feel like if they had some sort of Ceglene Bowl in season 8 that would be a positive fan service
    darwinfeeshy
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