By Kent R. Kroeger (October 26, 2022)
Disclaimer: In the following essay, I use the pejorative term ‘trolls’ to represent a group online podcasters (primarily on YouTube) who are persistent critics of the content produced by mainstream Hollywood studios — particularly movies with overt social justice agendas. The term like most mainstream media descriptions of people outside elite circles, is unfair and unhelpful in understanding internet critics of the major Hollywood studios and movies that promote political agendas. I use the term ‘troll’ merely out of literary convenience and not as a judgment about this group. They are also known by another name: fans.
When the writers and producers of Disney+’s TV show She-Hulk recently told Variety that the show’s final episode in its inaugural season deliberately broke the fourth wall when its lead character (Jennifer Walters, played by Tatiana Maslany) cheekily admits that her superhero character exists in a TV show which, apparently on purpose, is a storytelling mess.
“None of these storylines make any sense!” Jennifer says to the viewing audience. “Is this working for you?”
No, Jennifer, it doesn’t work. For what purpose, beyond the click-bait value of its news coverage in the Hollywood press, would She-Hulk’s producers risk their own show’s storytelling credibility?
The answer represents what may be becoming the norm in Hollywood: Making TV shows and movies that are openly hostile to a large segment of the TV-watching, moviegoing public.
Maslany told Variety about the rationale behind She-Hulk’s final episode:
“Jessica Gao (She-Hulk’s creator and head writer) is a genius and knows about the culture we’re living in and her position in it when she’s writing these stories about a woman superhero. She knows what that response is going to be. As a cast, it was delightful sending each other these troll responses, like ‘Oh my god, give them a week and then they’re going to literally see this pop up verbatim in the show and become the villains of the show.’ It was thrilling.
Reading the script, it was so true. There’s so much resistance to a woman just existing in that space of superheroes.”