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Audiences & Ownership OR The REAL Reason You Reacted Badly To News of TOY STORY 4


I love sausages (quiet at the back).

Seriously, I do. TBH I’m fairly ambivalent about eating them myself (arf) but as the working mother of three kids, sausages are handy as hell: they’re relatively cheap (always handy when you’re a broke writer) and during the week my brain is invariably distracted by the Bang2writers and their stories, so I nearly always forget to defrost meat in time (I haaaate microwave defrosting). But you can cook these little beauties from frozen and whip up some mash and boil some veg in no time. What’s more, sausages are pretty much the only thing **all three** of the pesky little blighters like. My kids will eat all different kinds of sausages too, including vegetarian ones. There is, quite literally, a sausage for all seasons and though sausages and mash might be a staple in *my* house, there’s no limit to what you can do with them, check out these recipes. Oh, and here’s some more. And some more. Fill your boots, people.

Evil_Sausage_by_FancyFerret.pngBut sausages are much maligned. Whether posh or veggie or cheapo, people tend to look on down on them. Various places being likened to “sausage factories” arguably mean that sausages in general now have the connotation that sausages in general are bad, or evil like this chap on the left. Supersadface.

So when I say I feed my kids sausages, I’ll often get a lecture on how I should be feeding them something else BECAUSE C’MON I must be a terrible parent for feeding them meat / not feeding them meat / feeding them processed meat / not varying their diet with every single meal, 365 days of the year / not challenging their palates sufficiently / PS. Fuck off.

And yet, everyone eats sausages … that I know, anyway. Maybe if you’re some super deluxe raw vegan with the teeth of an industrial beaver (double snarf) you don’t, but hey each to his own and all that. But anyway, I would wager real actual money you have eaten some kind of sausage in the last month and LIKED IT (double entendre MELTDOWN!!!).

Hollywood is often called a “sausage factory”: it consists largely of males; has a high turnover of people and has been known to indulge in abusive, or at least questionable, manners towards its employees as defined in THIS DEFINITION of the phrase.

However, both writers and audience members alike don’t tend to call Hollywood a sausage factory in the above way: instead, they appear to suggest there is some sort of super homogenisation of content going on, as if Hollywood produces only one movie, over and over, with the argument usually (and yawnsomely) focusing on reboots, sequels and particular franchises, as we saw only this week with some people reacting in dismay on social media, with the announcement of TOY STORY 4 in 2017 from Pixar.


The major issue for many aggrieved Tweeps appears to be a sense of OWNERSHIP: the trilogy is aparently ended “perfectly” and anything further will somehow diminish that perfection. Do note, my notion of ownership is not necessarily bad: I even have a sense of ownership towards TOY STORY, too! I was 16 when that first movie was released and it was the first time I had ever (knowingly) seen 3D animation. It blew me away and was a pivotal moment for me and my career aspirations; it quite literally solidified my desire to work in the entertainment industry. I am a hardcore fan of ALL the Toy Story movies and I cannot decide which one is my favourite; every time I think I have, I remember something I love just as much in one of the others that influenced me in some way re: storytelling. That’s amazing filmmaking and something we can all aspire to. 

So TOY STORY’s major target might be families and Pixar may even have rebooted that audience completely back in 1995, but ultimately the movie is for children, not adults: grown ups came along for the ride and still do. Psychologically, this links to the aggrieved Tweeps again: looking at profiles, many appear to be thirty or under, so the automatic interpretation the franchise will be “ruined” by a fourth movie is not that surprising: these people would have been small children in 1995 or maybe not even born! They will have literally grown up with the franchise. Some older people who also expressed anger will have watched these movies with their own children, so will no doubt have a similar affection (and thus fear regarding a fourth movie) on this basis. Others still will have their own reasons for liking all three movies so much – and why the hell not. As I’ve said over and over on this site, our responses are our responses.

Ownership only becomes a problem then when hardcore fans believe movies or franchises are JUST for them and that any changes actually spoil the story (COUGH – DOCTOR WHO – COUGH); ownership also becomes a problem when hardcore fans forget or even attempt to sideline any potential audiences of the future. Again, it’s worth remembering many of the children in the main demographic for Toy Story 4 will not even have been BORN yet, plus the first movie in 2017 will be a whopping twenty two years after the first one.

Four movies in the same franchise over two decades doesn’t really strike me as that excessive, but even if you do, Hollywood is about the money. If your kids watched the last one, there’s a strong chance they’ll watch the next one. Plus, for all the lampooning of franchises, people go and watch them just to slag them off too, thus ending up with more because ooooh! MONEY. Quelle surprise.

As we know, sausages might still BE sausages, but they DO come in all shapes, sizes and types. There is not a better model for this sausage analogy than Pixar, IMHO. Comfort food meet comfort viewing!!

Perhaps most perplexing then about the issue of ownership – for me, anyway – is the idea that if Hollywood is about the money (and it is), why do people imagine that if people PAY MONEY for certain stuff (like Toy Story movies), why companies like Pixar would suddenly just say, “Hey, this is working! LET’S STOP!”?? Pixar can now presumably do whatever they want (I don’t think another studio on the planet could have greenlit stories as weird as UP and WALL-E), but that’s only because they have made so much cash with other stories they can do this (though crucially within the perimeters of still working in Hollywood and appealing to an audience that likes Hollywood movies).

Which is why I wonder why people ASK for sausages from an actual sausage maker like Pixar (remember, we all love sausages), yet think they’re getting THIS:


Who doesn’t like a good steak?? (Apart from vegetarians and people who don’t like steak, with or without political and religious reasons, of course).

Steak is expensive and a treat for most people’s budgets, because each piece is INDIVIDUAL. How it’s cut, how it’s seasoned and cooked, makes all the difference. You may like what has been done to that steak; you may not. It’s up in the air, dependent on the quality of the cook and the bent of your own tastebuds.

In comparison, sausages are that ultimate “comfort food” because we know EXACTLY what we’re getting. Short of burning the shit out of the pan, there’s a stronger than average chance you’ll enjoy sausages pretty much every time. And this is again illustrated by Pixar brilliantly: when I think of the many movies they’ve made, sure I’ve found some a bit dull and even actively disliked a couple.  But it’s not affected the canon of their work overall in any way for me. I will let them cook my sausages for me, again and again: I KNOW what I’m getting and I’ll know I’ll (generally) like it.

So, if Pixar is a sausage factory then, indie filmmakers are the steak providers.

On this basis then, I have to ask: if you DO want something totally original, that takes risks, that has characters we wouldn’t normally see and challenges you in way you’ve not seen before, why the hell are you going for sausages from Hollywood when you could have steak from an indie film????

As writers, we HAVE to get real and appreciate what AUDIENCE is. Just as you might prefer a spicy sausage (OKKKKKK), someone else might prefer Lincolnshire or Cumberland or vegetarian or NOT HAVING SAUSAGES AT ALL and skipping straight to a big juicy slab of steak …. Which may be blue, rare, medium or well done (God forbid, the weirdoes … What??).

What different audiences want, expect and need VARIES. If that sounds obvious, that’s because IT IS, but is too often forgotten. If we don’t respect that as writers and makers, then we really WILL get the homogenisation of content everyone on Twitter says they’re  worried about every five seconds, assumptions which can often be assuaged from even the most bombastic of stories within a few tweets. Here’s the mighty @ellardent with some general uber-TRUTH when it comes to audience:
Sausages versus steak: are you expecting TOO MUCH?

Look. No one says you have to like everything, that’s just silly. But equally silly is the notion there’s any BIG BAD CABAL who are actively trying to destroy people’s lives via the medium of ENTERTAINMENT. WTF?

So, ask yourself next time you’re annoyed by movie news, or you’ve just watched something that gave you RAGE:  am I in the target audience? Is my assumption/interpretation LIKELY?

Or better still, ask the filmmakers. They’re often just a tweet away.


Burnt Sausages & Badly Cooked Steaks: WTF? On Film

Hollywood: Mighty (Sausage) Machine

6 Ways To Make Hollywood Fall In Love With Your Pitch by Genevieve Jolliffe

4 Reasons It’s About Entertainment, Not Theory

14 Things I Learnt Pitching In Hollywood by Tim John

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