Have you seen the new Terminator flick? If not, you’re in good company. Terminator: Dark Fate is a Skynet-sized bomb. There is no fate but what we make, and we’re not making this movie a financial success. There are a few reasons for this. Part of it is franchise fatigue. The audience is reluctant to get snookered by yet another subpar cash-grab sequel. It’s been almost 30 years since they made a good Terminator movie. What are the odds? The whole thing just seems pointless. It’s nice that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton are remaining active in their senior years, but it’s a little ridiculous to watch a couple of oldsters pretending to kill robots.
But the box-office failure of this movie should also serve as a warning to Hollywood: Don’t insult your audience.
Back in July, T:DF director Tim Miller said this in response to a question from Variety‘s Matt Donnelly:
An early “Dark Fate” poster received backlash, calling Davis and her co-stars “feminazis” and other chauvinist hate speech. How do you think she’ll be received in the room at Comic-Con?
If you’re at all enlightened, she’ll play like gangbusters. If you’re a closet misogynist, she’ll scare the f–k out of you, because she’s tough and strong but very feminine. We did not trade certain gender traits for others; she’s just very strong, and that frightens some dudes. You can see online the responses to some of the early s–t that’s out there, trolls on the internet. I don’t give a f–k.
This is a response to a handful of trolls on the Internet. There was no “chauvinist” backlash against this film, just as there was no “racist” backlash against Star Wars: The Force Awakens or “misogynist” backlash against The Last Jedi. Here’s what happens, every time: A small group of trolls says something stupid and bigoted. A whole bunch of people condemn those trolls, and it generates a lot of traffic. Then the backlash is interpreted as evidence that the original trolls are much more popular than they really are. It’s an illusion. There’s no such thing as the Boogeyman.
I mean, think about it for a minute: The whole Terminator franchise is based around a female character who started off as an inept waitress in a diner and ended up fighting murderous robots from the future. From the beginning, it’s been the story of a mother who’s also a warrior. It’s just ridiculous to think that any significant percentage of Terminator fans are misogynists.
It was stupid of Miller to lash out like that at a minuscule subset of trolls. Nobody would’ve paid them any mind if he’d just dismissed them. He ended up insulting a lot of fans who might’ve been open to a new Terminator movie, but now they’re not showing up in theaters.
You’d think Miller would’ve learned something from Paul Feig, who did everything he could to alienate fans after the first trailer for Ghostbusters (2016) stunk up the place:
If you didn’t like that trailer, Feig said you were a misogynist. It couldn’t be that he made a bad movie. It was the audience’s fault. The new Ghostbusters were women, so if you had any problem with the movie, that meant you hated women. No wonder audiences stayed away in droves.
At this point it’s a cliche, but it’s also true: Get woke, go broke. If you make enemies out of your own audience, they’re a lot more reluctant to part with their cash. I can get insulted anytime I want, just by turning on my TV or going on Twitter. Why would I give my money to some hack who openly hates my guts?
In the unlikely event that anybody in Hollywood is reading this, please listen to my advice: Just ignore the trolls. There are always going to be a few people who make trouble. But that’s all it is, a few people. Most of us just want to be entertained. We don’t have any agenda. We’re not the enemy.
Come with us if you want to profit!