March 28, 2013
TV shows have the biggest and craziest fans because there are online communities that allow them to speculate, dream, and create more of the realities that were pre-made for them on the screen. They are interacting with the show to a certain extent because they are pulling for certain characters, they create communities that talk about certain events and speculate story lines, and they talk about how they wish something would have ended. That being said, the Veronica Mars Kickstarter campaign is the ultimate example of how audiences can react and interact with a text.
It’s ingenious, really. Have fans fund a long awaited movie that won’t be able to be made without their help. There are rewards for donating, such as t-shirts, DVDS, a voicemail recorded by Kristen Bell, and even a chance to briefly appear in the movie, among many others. However, fans are essentially donating money to a huge project in which there will be no monetary return for them since they are not investors. Their sole reason to donate, besides the “rewards”, is to see their beloved Veronica Mars and gang up on the big screen. The more money one donates to the project, the more one gets out of it. However, nothing compares to what Warner Brothers will essentially make from this fan-funded movie. So, why do it? What in the world is the point to throw money at Hollywood that doesn’t want to waste their millions on what they think could potentially be a flop? Bottom line, it’s exciting to be a part of something that you want to see happen. Honestly, people pay to go to Broadway and baseball games (Screenrant). What’s the difference to pay to see The Lion King on Broadway and paying to see
Veronica Mars on the big screen? It gives the fans a chance to be a part of their fandom in the most extreme way. Would it be more beneficial to donate money to save endangered animals or educate children in impoverished countries? Of course, it would! But then you couldn’t say that you were a part of the largest Kickstarter campaign (in the film category) and got your favorite canceled TV show to become a movie.
Michel de Certeau’s article entitled “Reading As Poaching” talks about how reading is an active activity. Through the things we read we are seeing things through different perspectives. People can get wrapped up in a whole new world that they didn’t know existed. We can transform the original meaning of a text into anything that we want it to be. Through multiple viewings of the text, we can have different experiences because our perspectives can change from time to time since it is an active experience. The Veronica Mars fandom has waited years for a movie to be released about the beloved people of Neptune, CA. The Kickstarter campaign and Rob Thomas, the creator of the show, promise updates about the movie that will start filming this summer and have its limited theatrical debut in early 2014. In one day, the fans raised the initial two million dollars needed in order to film the movie in the summer. The fans desperately want to know what has happened to Veronica after college, her career, and all the other wonderful people in her life. They want to know so badly that they are willing to donate money to make it happen. This has become the ultimate active experience. Not only are people helping to create what they want to see, they are going beyond just engaging with the work to making it happen.
This audience is going above and beyond what de Certeau could have ever imagined. Not only can people interact with something they read, but they can also
interact with something they watch. Arguably, watching a TV show cannot be as active as reading since the image of the characters is filled with an actor who portrays that character a certain way. However, audiences can still create meaning by interpreting an acting style to have subliminal meaning. Rob Thomas is telling fans he’ll follow them back on twitter (Thomas). He is also offering incentives to donate money such as allowing a certain character to be in the movie or threatening to kill off a character in the movie if they don’t reach a certain goal (Thomas). Even though that probably won’t happen, it entices the fandom to donate money so they achieve a certain outcome in the movie. It gives the audience power that they have never had. Since the WB canceled Veronica Mars, it has only grown more popular. During the show’s run, ratings made the WB tell Rob Thomas to stop writing as many season-wide story arcs and just focus on episodal story arcs instead. This did not go over well with fans who enjoyed the structure of the first two seasons. Ultimately, the lack of an audience made the WB decide to cancel the show after its third season. Now, the audience is making a comeback. They raised over twice the amount needed for the creation of the movie. The power of the audience truly makes or breaks a show.
Through gift-sets, fan -made videos, quotes and every thing else from Tumblr, it’s clear to see that Veronica Mars has a devoted following. Not only are fans behind this movie, it seems as though the cast wants to be in the movie and back in character just as much, if not more, than the fans do! In the video posted on Kickstarter, Enrico Colantoni is shown in character as Keith Mars and it’s joked that he hasn’t broken character in eight years. That’s how dedicated he is! (veronicamarsmovie) “Almost since Veronica Mars went off the air, there’s been talk of making a movie. In that span, I’ve taken different
tactics in dealing with the question of whether it might happen. To be clear, I’ve always wanted to make a Veronica Mars movie. I love writing these characters and working with these actors. Kristen Bell has always wanted to make the movie” (Thomas). These are people that are dedicated to their craft. It’s inspiring. It comes across on the screen. The show is so well written, you can tell there is heart involved. Seeing the actors’ enthusiasm for the movie make the fans even more excited.
In an article found on Buzzfeed, the author explains, “In the best of circumstances, the fans are but a small percentage of the total audience for almost any work. The 57,000 people who have contributed to date to the Mars Kickstarter account for about 2% of the 2.5 million who watched the show in its final season on the air. It was never more than a sliver of a Trek film’s audience that donned fake ears for a Star Trek convention. But this sliver of people have become the shock troops of the modern blockbuster age, drumming up the enthusiasm that fuels a marketing campaign while enforcing fidelity to the original texts” (Buzzfeed). I guess every series has its die-hards and Veronica Mars was blessed with an extremely dedicated fandom. The movie is probably directed towards a fan base that they currently have. The casual viewer may not be as excited for the upcoming show and likewise someone who has never seen the show may not go to see the movie in theaters. This is okay because the fans who are paying for the movie to be made, may not even see it in theaters. With a pledge of $35 or more, one can receive a digital copy of the movie days after it’s initial theatrical release. Not only that, but the movie looks to only have a limited theater engagement (The Daily Beast).
Richard Rushfield also says, “On another level, the rise of the fans is just an extreme symbol of our “like” culture, where people are constantly spurred on to declare
their allegiance and list their favorites. On Twitter, the medium demands that individuals come out with all the exclamation points they can muster for (or against) whatever has passed through them. The result is a pass/fail culture, where nuance and moderation are drowned out, where the search for meaning in a work becomes secondary to cataloging its articles of cool” (Buzzfeed). There are some points that I strongly agree with, however, there are some that make society seem uneducated. People are smart! Normal people in today’s society are given far less credit than they deserve. Fans don’t just like something because it’s “cool”. Fans do find meaning in works. Fans are creating their own meaning that the creator may not have intended. They’re finding something to connect to even if they are just watching something because it’s popular. No one can pay attention to something unless they have a reason to watch it, even if it’s a reason that no one else has.
Just seeing some of the characters back together in the video got fans excited and eager to donate. The WB has even released all three seasons on their website so fans can re-watch the series or new fans can join in this groundbreaking Kickstarter campaign. Typical Marshmallows, the term given to Veronica Mars fans, watch the show for the epic romance of LoVe, Logan and Veronica. Many of them are propelled to donate by the fact that Logan’s character will return for the movie. Veronica Mars has been off the air for 6 years. Marshmallows have waited a long time to see where their relationship has ended up. Everyone knows LoVe is meant to be, but they are just waiting for the confirmation from Rob Thomas. With the teaser of their romance in the Kickstarter video, fans are gung-ho to donate to the cause. With Rob Thomas egging them on and
threatening to kill Logan on twitter if a certain amount of money isn’t raised, who knows what could happen? (Thomas).
Fallon, Kevin. “The ‘Veronica Mars’ Kickstarter Smash: 5 Burning Questions.” The Daily Beast. Newsweek/Daily Beast, 15 Mar. 2013. Web. 28 Mar. 2013. <http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/03/15/the-veronica-mars- kickstarter-smash-5-burning-questions.html>.
Moore, Ben. “Joss Whedon: What the ‘Veronica Mars’ Kickstarter Means for ‘Firefly’.” Screen Rant. N.p., 17 Mar. 2013. Web. 27 Mar. 2013. <http://screenrant.com/joss- whedon-firefly-serenity-2-veronica-mars-kickstarter/>.
Rushfield, Richard. “The Case Against Fans.” BuzzFeed. N.p., 22 Mar. 2013. Web. 28 Mar. 2013. <http://www.buzzfeed.com/richardrushfield/the-case-against-fans>.
Thomas, Rob (@RobThomas). “Okay, here it is! $3 Million or Logan Echolls
doesn’t survive the movie! #VeronicaMars, @IMKristenBell”. 13 March 2013, 3:12pm. Tweet.
Thomas, Rob (@RobThomas). “Okay. Logan lives. Bad idea. I was accosted by ‘Shippers on my way to Starbucks. Instead, Backup won’t survive unless we get $3M.” 13 March 2013, 3:45pm. Tweet.
Thomas, Rob (@RobThomas). “Did you make a #veronicamarsmovie pledge? Tweet me a screenshot- I’ll follow the first three people.”
Thomas, Rob. “The Veronica Mars Movie Project.” Kickstarter. N.p., 13 Mar. 2013. Web. 24 Mar. 2013. <http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/559914737/the- veronica-mars-movie-project>.
Thomas, Rob. “The Veronica Mars Project.” Online video clip. Youtube. Youtube, 15 Mar. 2013. Web. 24. Mar. 2013.