Well folks, good news and bad news.
Good news: the ABTV interview on March 4th confirmed for us that WEP is the reason for the last-minute changes and that certain things were fought tooth and nail for until they came down and axed it.
Bad news: WEP is still using the EPs as their meat shields to hide behind, and despite not being really able to refuse, Joaquim Dos Santos and Lauren Montgomery still said some fucked up shit in this interview and the one before. And we probably should gird our loins for the next interview with Let’s Voltron!
But Yang, why in the fuck are we not going after the EPs, then?
The answer to that and why this is happening is three little letters, my friends.
AKA the bane of your existence. And ours. And almost certainly JDS, LM, voice actors, animators, and literally anybody who has to comply with the season 8 we got back in December and the resulting fallout.
These are fairly standard in lots of situations where you’ll be working with confidential material, stuff like stories, military paperwork, movie production, that sort of thing. They generally tell you that you can’t spill the beans until a certain date when the contract expires, or when the information becomes public knowledge and the need for secrecy is lifted. Pretty standard in the entertainment business, keeps people from getting spoiled to trade secrets or important plotlines and ensures that you can trust your employees with whatever you need done for the project in question.
One other thing that these pesky little pieces of paper do is give your employer (say, the owner of a franchise or a superior officer), the ability to order you what to say just as easily as what not to. Don’t believe me? Look up interviews with the people who were in The Last Airbender (yeah… THAT movie). During production and when it was new, they all said how excited they were to work on the movie and be a part of it, but once those magical dates came by to free them of their legal obligations, they spilled more tea than the American revolutionaries did back in Boston. As soon as they wouldn’t get sued, they changed their tune about working on TLA.
Sometimes you just don’t like a project, sometimes your boss is a dick, whatever, but the fact is, if you sign one of those little things titled “Non-Disclosure Agreement”, you are bound by law to say whatever your boss tells you to. It’s very much a “they say ‘jump’, you say ‘how high’” situation. The only time this sort of shit doesn’t apply is if it implicates you in a crime. So like, your boss can’t embezzle money and then tell you to say you did it, or that you helped, or whatever. If it means you’ll get pressed charges, then you’re free to stand up and say “fuck this noise” and leave.
But JDS and LM aren’t being forced to admit to a crime, as heinous as some of what they’ve said in the past two ABTV interviews was. I’ll admit, I saw red the first time I heard the interviews on February 25 and March 4, but ya know fuckin’ what? That was the goal. Those interviews were meant to be a targeted blow against those of us in the VLD fandom who want the real s8 and for the characters to get their stories told correctly, rather than the slipshod stoic nonsense that ultimately created a story with zero meaning.
WEP/World Events Productions/Bob Koplar holds the Voltron intellectual property. JDS and LM are their puppets right now because unless they’re ordered to admit to a crime or otherwise break the law, they could be ruined legally, financially, and closed off from their trade. Would it be nice if they stuck to the scruples they displayed back when the show first started? Fuck yeah. I’d love it if they said, “screw it, here’s the real s8 with the heroine’s journey and the parallel storylines and the ending you deserved to see and get catharsis with.”
Fact is, they can’t, but we, who have never signed an NDA with WEP, DreamWorks, or Netflix or whoever the fuck else is involved, can.
They’re lying, yes, and they said despicable things that would make anybody’s blood boil, but the fact is they’re just the unfortunate human shields that will let WEP get away scot-free and it sets a very dangerous precedent about what happens when a story is being told and someone up top doesn’t like what they see. The narrative LM and JDS are being told to spin is that when the writers left, they went ham and ruined the story and that the real season 8 would be worse than the concoction we got on December 14. LM and JDS have said awful shit as WEP tries to demoralize fans and chase them off from going after the original season 8 and deflecting blame off where it should be aimed. But why would they have to write a story that’s animated and would have been completed before the writers left? LM said it herself that animation is extremely ahead of schedule compared to releases, and if you’re a fan of HTTYD like myself, you’ll know that the third movie’s release date had to be pushed back multiple times to account for the animation schedule because they failed to accurately project when it would be complete, and so pushed it back as opposed to releasing a shoddy product.
It’s simple enough to realize that the story being spun is just logically fallible and factually untrue, but because so much of what’s been said has been attacking the fandom, it’s easy to believe it. I almost wanted to believe that, too. It’s easy when there’s already a face and a name to blame. It’s harder to dig through stinging nettles, even if you know there’s a pot of gold under it all. Luckily I brought work gloves and have friends who know how to wield gardening shears.
We knew before that there was last minute edits to season 8, and @leakinghate did an excellent breakdown of that here in case you want to settle in for a nice read to see what should have been. But the interview on March 4th confirmed multiple times that the problem with the changes and story didn’t come from the EPs or even Dreamworks. The pushback came from the IP owners. JDS says so right toward the beginning, about 12 minutes in when he’s talking about Adam and Shiro’s romance. JDS and LM both discuss how it was the IP owners who gave the order to change an already-storyboarded and approved plotline for Shiro, which directly negates their tweet on March 1 claiming that the store has no creative control and the letter Bob Koplar wrote to a few fans, also written March 1, which claimed the same thing and seemed intent on absolving him as a responsible party for s8. Sure, the person tweeting and the person handling orders might not have to approve things, but that account and the store are both owned by WEP, which is easily proven if you dial WEP’s number. But the IP holders got discussed multiple times throughout the entire episode, more towards the first half than the second, which is when what they’re saying gets really screwy in terms of logic and what they’ve said before and general bullfuckery. Until JDS and LM are thanking the hosts for the unprecedented two hour interview and JDS says, “I don’t agree with myself” at 43:03, they were thanking the fans and apologizing for what happened and explaining that it wasn’t them or Dreamworks, but rather the IP holders who were pushing back.
Don’t believe me?
Click to 12:10 of the March 4 interview. JDS talks about Adam and Shiro’s relationship and how it was originally meant to be portrayed, and at the 12:50 mark he says that they got pushback about their relationship, not from Dreamworks, but from “other controlling parties with Voltron.”
Click to 18:52, where JDS mentions how they didn’t have the position as being creators of the IP. He also points out that, “We were, for all intents and purposes, like, started as a show for boys 6 to 11 to sell as much toys as possible.”
Does that phrase bother you as much as it bothers me?
Because it should.
Ever since VLD ended and the fans started pushing back against what got published as season 8, the EPs have been silent, at least for the first two-ish months. They didn’t say a word anywhere publicly about the show or if they liked it, because their NDAs probably had an “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” clause. Generally, that’s the case because part of your job is to build good PR and hype up your project. Don’t believe me? Look at how they were after literally every other season, they came out immediately saying how much they loved it and how much they hoped the fans would too, and when there was pushback about Lotor’s abuse and the colony plot they were like, “please trust us, we want to do his story justice” even when it probably would have served them better to remain silent.
Not with S8.
Until these interviews, nobody talked. And when they finally did start talking?
They all kept saying the same things.
“This is a show for boys and their dads” and “this is a show meant to sell toys to little boys.”
At no point before this did anybody on the production team say anything even remotely related.
You can look for yourself, but I guarantee you won’t find anything. “Boy toy show” has been the go-to phrase for everybody ever since the silence around season 8 broke, and it’s not their words.
It is, without a doubt, from the IP holder.
We were promised that Lotor’s arc would continue and that “there’s a lot that is at play in his brain and his mind,” in the GeekDad article about him. Narratively, Lotor and Allura were meant to foil Zarkon and Honerva/Haggar. We should’ve gotten an alchemist-versus-alchemist showdown and a cool Lotor and Lance arc. Many things that were built up in seasons 1 through 6 were dropped, and if you refer back to Hate’s meta “Seeking Truth in Darkness”, you’ll find her analysis on what was cut, why, and the plot she pieced together based on the inconsistencies in the details of the season 8 that got released. In the latest interview, JDS said, “We were just trying to break the trope, our own trope. You know what I mean? Like Voltron was its own trope and the sort of little nook that we inhabited was, like, sort of boys toys was its own weird tropey situation.”
And despite all this talk of family and love and complexity and breaking barriers, we received two things from December 14 and on: VLD season 8, and silence.
Complete and utter silence.
The VAs were trotted out to face the wrath of the fans at SAC Anime 2019 and there was nary a word to be heard from the EPs, Dreamworks, WEP, Netflix… Nobody had anything to say about the final season of Voltron. The VAs even commented that there were things they were and weren’t allowed to say. And if they wanted to say anything, their NDAs and general social etiquette prevented them from saying whatever was actually on their mind, because I guarantee you nobody happy about the season would have kept silent. Even when all the season 7 backlash happened, JDS and LM asked us as a fandom to please wait and see, because there would be narrative payoff.
Which is why the latest two interviews with ABTV are all the more rightfully infuriating.
In the February 25 interview, LM specifically says that the initial pitch was to kill everybody, everybody would die and that would be the end of it, and that they had to back off from that. After the broken promises of season 8, that’s pretty damn believable to a fandom who’s rightfully hurting and grieving what could have finished a great show. But then with this March 4 interview, she says that she wanted to go Sailor Moon with it and have Allura come back as a baby after sacrificing herself. Kind of hard for those two stories to mesh when the person LM says would raise Allura would also have been one of the ones to die in the initial pitch.
So what exactly is the truth there?
Frankly, I think neither of those ideas is the truth. At least completely.
Why? A) It sounds like a super early pitch idea and B) because their general behavior disagrees with every interview leading up to season 8. Because if LM and JDS were proud of this product that got released, they would have said so and behaved as normal, if maybe a little more reserved due to fandom backlash. Because they wouldn’t be silent and only coming out with interviews after two months and several of #TeamPurpleLion metas that poke massive holes in what exists of season 8, CallVoltron has been sending letters, and #FREEVLDS8 garnered over 30,000 signatures. WEP has been trying to do damage control ever since we as a fandom started putting two and two together about where these disastrous last-minute changes came from, and only when the petition got updated to include WEP as a point of focus did WEP start trying to discredit the fans and meta writers who were coming too close to the truth. Here is a complete list of everything that’s happened since December 14, to give you an idea of just how wild of a ride this has been.
One main consistent thing throughout everything that’s happened since season 8 dropped is that everybody from the EPs up is lying, whether by omission or outright or through someone else, people have been lying like mad. WEP doesn’t want you to know that they own the IP and have strong input, despite confirming it by liking a tweet on February 13 and how you can be directed to their store if you call WEP’s phone number. WEP doesn’t want you to know that they gave the original season 8 the axe. WEP got scared that we got close and so they trotted out their EPs after two months of silence to try and break those of us hunting for the truth. These two interviews, which, mind you, came after what was scheduled to be the last one.
The official story continues to fall apart with every word of these last two interviews, too. JDS says that they were crafting the epilogue for season 8 during the aftermath of season 7, but according to him they completed season 8 back in June.
Again: which is the truth?
I stand with @leakinghate and the rest of #TeamPurpleLion and think that the original season 8 was completed back in June, but that the backlash from s7 and the general disapproval of a story of empowerment caused the truly-eleventh-hour edits to s8. The EPs are being forced to lie to you due to their contracts, WEP wants to keep hiding and lying and calling their customers liars and mocking them. But the funny thing is that the more intricate the lie, the harder it is to keep it straight versus the truth, as evidenced by how JDS and LM seem to be confusing what was in s8 versus what was pitched versus what they were told to say.
So what’s it all mean, then?
It means you should be watching and writing letters and calling WEP and calling them out publicly whenever WEP and Bob Koplar lie to the consumers and customers that express dissatisfaction with their service and their products.
WEP forgets that there is more to fandom than diehard dads and young boys.
The more they ignore the majority of their consumers, the more money they lose, the more faith they lose, and the less people will want to follow their future projects (like if they decide to do an MFE spinoff). Let’s Voltron is coming up with a new episode with JDS and LM, and they’re hoping to get it up soon. I’d just like to remind y’all that it’s scripted and pre-recorded, it’s not live, and it benefits from being the official Voltron podcast and has to keep good relations with WEP in order to retain that status. So don’t stop calling, write letters, hell just leave a Facebook or Twitter review of the business to express your satisfaction or lack thereof with how WEP treats customers and its show and everything. After all, the road to s8 is paved with honesty.
EDIT: Minor correction: I originally wrote that Let’s Voltron! is semi-official when they are, in fact, the official Voltron podcast! Please do with that information as you see fit, and please keep in mind that we at #TeamPurpleLion will only continue to advocate for researching, analyzing, and producing factually true and evidence-based arguments to peacefully protest against the executive meddling in VLDS8.