Creator Backlash

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"Ah, yes, I wrote 'The Purple Cow'
I'm sorry, now, I wrote it
But I can tell you anyhow
I'll kill you if you quote it!"

Gelett Burgess

Fandom is an interesting entity. Nobody can quite tell how people will react to anything, making the creation of a popular work a crapshoot. However, it's assumed that most creators hold an equal or greater amount of affection for their work than their fans. After all, they had to actually make it in the first place. So obviously, anything that's popular must be something the creator likes, right?

Not quite. See, the creators are just as human as everybody else and even if they're the origin of a particular work, that doesn't stop them from holding a negative opinion about it. This is what is referred to as Creator Backlash. It's the most high profile form of hatedom possible, since it's the very creator(s) of the work denouncing it. As they bring up their feelings of hatred for their work in interviews, public forums, and their other creations, it brings a certain amount of discord into being a fan when the very source has denounced it.

It can take on many forms and for many reasons. Many creators feel their work has been ruined by Executive Meddling. Perhaps the creator didn't really intend for it to become so popular, only making it to pay the bills and fund their more serious work (perhaps even getting forced into continuing it). Perhaps people completely miss the point. Perhaps it has them typecast to a sickening level. Perhaps they were going through a rough time while making it. Perhaps it has become their only work that is generally known, casting them as a "One-Hit Wonder" in the eyes of the majority. Perhaps it's all of the above.

It is quite common for creators who start early to simply grow out of their early work. Added to which is the common artistic trait of always wanting to move on: the criticism is just an expression of boredom; been there, done that.

Or perhaps they just really do hate the work they created after all this time. The reasons are as myriad as the reasons a fan might choose to like their work in the first place.

Not all Creator Backlash is permanent, though. They can just as easily choose to later embrace their work when they get over whatever was troubling them in the first place. This seems to be quite rare, however. When it does happen, it usually seems to occur after a lengthy period of time has passed between appearing on the show and the present.

Compare Old Shame, where the work in question neither caught on nor has many redeeming qualities in the first place; compare and contrast Bleached Underpants, where the work in question has... questionable history which its creators would like to dispose of. And then there's Alan Smithee, the famed director who lost creative control of his work. His filmography is a long one.

Not be confused with Creator Breakdown or Artist Disillusionment, though they can definitely overlap with this. Artist Disillusionment is against fans while this trope is against works. Magnum Opus Dissonance is a Sister Trope, as is Disowned Adaptation. And definitely not to be confused with creators getting their backs lashed.

Examples of Creator Backlash are listed on these subpages: