I started seeing this a lot with the Lost finale, which I'll probably talk about tomorrow, having waited long enough for people to calm down about it. I think it's particularly indefensible when applied to Lost, but it's becoming a shining shield for content creators everywhere. Ready? Here it is.
The author/director/creator told the story he/she/they wanted to tell.
Well...of course they did. I mean, presumably, that's the entire point of making a movie or TV show or writing a book. No one said: well, obviously that wasn't the story they wanted to tell. It's practically a meaningless phrase. When I write books, I also tell the stories I want to tell. But the implicit and sometimes explicit working-out of this statement is:
You can't get mad or criticize them for not telling the story you, poor, selfish, crappy viewer/reader wanted. So, really, you can't criticize them at all! Profit!
As I said, this was particularly egregious with the Lost finale, when I heard that damn argument all over the place. Yes, they told the story they wanted to tell (I mean, sort of, obviously in six years some things change). I am still allowed to say that it wasn't a good story, nor did it pay out the narrative promises made by the rest of the text. Given that I am pretty good with this whole narrative thing, I believe it is utterly fair of me to point out that the "story they wanted to tell" was not the "story they told the audience they were telling" and thus, a certain amount of feeling cheated is to be expected.
With any book or film or show, that they told the story they wanted to tell IS BESIDES THE POINT OF COURSE THAT'S WH
The audience has the right to comment upon art. Not only that, but authorial credit is a tricky thing--if you set them up in the first half to expect a certain kind of story, using all kinds of markers and signs and systems to indicate that kind of story, and then change it around at intermission, while it still may be the story you wanted to tell, some of the audience is going to feel like you short-changed them, and that is their right. You cannot whine about the story you wanted to tell as if that's a defense against bad writing, and get mad at
The only defense that upsets me more is when Doctor Who suddenly claims to be a kids' show whenever someone points out that the writing was bad this week. Ditto when Lucas backs off the prequels and claims it was always only for children forever ha ha olly olly oxen free no one can tell me anything! Anyway. Doctor Who. A kids' show full of violence, sexuality, genocide, sociopaths, and way over a child's head cultural references. When someone praises Doctor Who they never talk about it being a kids' show and how they hoped the Jack/Rose/Nine kiss would open up the small children in the audience to alternative sexualities or whatever. Lucas and RTD/Moffat happily accept the adulation of adults and the respect of high literary culture when they can get it. They trot out the kids as a shield when they can't. They only say it's for kids when it's bad, because somehow it's ok if children get bad media, because they don't know any better--and the phrase is wielded like a cudgel against adults who don't unthinkingly accept poor product. How dare you. It's only a kids' show. It's not meant to be taken seriously. Now buy everything involved with it and give it Hugos.
Everyone is allowed to critically engage with the art they enjoy. Or don't enjoyt. But neither of these phrases is fair play.