Pandering: What Does it Mean Now?

Pandering has become quite the confusing thing these days hasn’t it? The phrase in the context of fandoms refers to when a writer forces something into their story in a hollow attempt to appeal to his or her fanbase. For example, if I’m writing a popular TV series and there is a one-off character that people found tremendously funny, me contriving that character back into the show and going against its natural flow solely to appeal to the fans is an example of pandering. It is compromising the story for the sake of a shallow appeal, but unfortunately that isn’t exactly a rigid definition. What constitutes as “compromising the story”? How much “compromising” is acceptable if the result is something everyone enjoys a great deal? Is there such a thing as good pandering? What exactly is the difference between that and “fanservice”? These questions are all important, and the distinction that pandering deals with something that directly effects a story’s quality is important, because if we were to consider any time a writer including something they think their fans would like pandering, then far too many things would be classified as such. It is in these questions that people find difficulty in answering that we find the main issue with the phrase. Today, the criticism of pandering is thrown around for just about any subplot featuring a fan favourite character, any pairing they don’t support, anything even vaguely alluding to a particular political affiliation, and essentially anything “I don’t like but other people do”. Due to these reasons, the once valid and important criticism of pandering has lost all weight.

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