Hot Take Hotter Take is a column with takes hotter than the trails of pure supersonic speed that Sonic the Hedgehog leaves behind when he’s running.
When Paramount Pictures debuted the first trailer for their live action Sonic The Hedgehog, fans of the brand were greeted by a Sonic completely unfamiliar to them. Cartoonish and cute Sonic was replaced by a weird blue rat thing, with bizarre human teeth and beady eyes. He was glorious in his grotesquity, a horrifying reminder of the dangers of CGI. Fans, of course, were outraged at what had become of their idol. The backlash was so strong Paramount was forced to cave into the pressure, promising a redesign to the character. Months later, a new trailer with an authentic, cute and charming Sonic is out in the world. I hate it.
Hot Take: Forcing redesigns is bad precedent
In the era of the update, everything is just begging to be fixed. Software and games come out with broken features and get patched out later if enough people complain. Artists like Kanye West retroactively change the mixing on songs, other artists add features days after release. Sonic’s design was bad, and people complained until the studio made it better. After a while, it feels like the sanctity of getting things right the first time is lost. Any product or piece of art released can be reduced to being a platform for fixes, ready to be reshaped at the mercy of whoever on the internet screams the loudest. Changing Sonic’s design sets a dangerous precedent, establishing justification for teaser trailers to be used as focus groups. If things don’t resonate on first glance, scrap all of it and start again until the people are satisfied.
HOTTER TAKE: I WANTED THE FIRST SONIC DESIGN
People are too afraid to let things be bad. Sometimes, the best things are bad: Furbies, Gremlins and E.T are all gross and ugly and I love them. When I first laid eyes on the Sonic design, I too was shocked at its failure to look cute or even remotely like Sonic. Yet the more I stared at him, the more endearing it became. He looked so wrong—so off-putting—like he belonged in an Ari Aster film. Yet, he also looked so risky. He looked cute in the dumb sort of way a real hedgehog does, but also monsterous in the way an unnatural super-fast bipedal creature should. He was the opposite of the overly saccharine, perfectly manufactured, exactly-what-we-wanted offerings Hollywood assumes we want. Perhaps I do sometimes want my things to be perfect, but occasionally it’s nice to get surprised by something more akin to coffee: bitter but in a way you can appreciate.
Vincent Rendon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @VinceSagebrush.