Fan Campaign

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Synonyms: letter writing campaign
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Fan campaigns aim to influence decisions by TPTB. The are usually fan run.

A fan campaign may aim to stop the cancellation of a beloved show, bring back a particular character or release a cancelled show on DVD.

The original Star Trek fan campaign for renewal is probably one of the best known in the everyday world. It has inspired active and vocal cultures in many fandoms to protest pending cancellations and production values in their favourite sources. Another well known fan campaign took place in 1976, when Star Trek fans were credited with convincing then-U.S. President Gerald R. Ford to name the first NASA space shuttle orbiter after the starship Enterprise rather than Constitution as he had planned.

Examples of Fan Campaigns

  • Mama: Based on the novel Mama's Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes and the film I Remember Mama with Irene Dunne, Mama ran from 1949 to 1957. It was one of TV's first "institutions", with millions of families tuning in on Fridays. In 1956, CBS canceled Mama in response to sponsor Maxwell House's complaint that their ads weren't substantially increasing sales. The show's producer, Carol Irwin, headed a successful letter campaign.
  • Star Trek: TOS - 1967-68, a legendary fan campaign consisting of letters, '60s-activist-style protest demonstrations, and personal interactions, was led by producer Gene Roddenberry from behind the scenes. The second campaign in 1968-69 after re-cancellation was unsuccessful. There were subsequent campaigns pertaining to the various films.
  • Spectre (1977) -- a campaign to save Gene Roddenberry's project, at least one of the calls for fan action came from Susan Sackett (Roddenberry's assistant), see image on this page
  • Space:1999 -- starting in 1977, unsuccessful attempts to bring the show back for a third season, see: The Space:1999 Society
  • Clayton Moore and The Lone Ranger, 1980. Moore had played the Lone Ranger on television from 1949–1951 and 1954–1957 and in two theatrical films.[1] When the series was cancelled, he began making personal appearances, TV guest appearances and commercials as the Ranger, often accompanied by Jay Silverheels (Mohawk) as Tonto. To generations of children and adults, Clayton Moore was the Lone Ranger, and he always portrayed the character with the respect due to a heroic role model. However, producer Jack Wrather, who owned all rights to the character, planned a new Lone Ranger film and didn't want Moore out there "undercutting" the role or giving the impression he'd be returning to play the Ranger. He got a court order forbidding Moore from future appearances and from wearing the iconic mask. This move proved to be a public relations disaster. Moore responded by changing his costume slightly and replacing the mask with Foster Grant wraparound sunglasses. Also, he counter-sued Wrather. He eventually won and was able to resume his appearances in costume, which he continued to do until shortly before his death. Wrather's movie, Legend of the Lone Ranger, starring Klinton Spilsbury, was a complete failure, partly due to the huge amount of negative publicity around Wrather's treatment of Moore.
"A SIMPLE FLEA FOR HELP, that's all. "Who's that man behind the Foster Grants?"[2] is clever but it's also pathetic. Chances are if you're reading this zine you didn't grow up watching the Lone Ranger, but at least you've seen it. Clayton Moore provided us with endless entertainment and enjoyment. Various people have already written pounds of verbage [sic] on how and why. All I can add is that if you saw it and felt it, it should mean something to you. The least it should mean is a 15¢ stamp and 10 minutes of your time. Clayton Moore asks precious little of the Wrather Corp. that has made fortunes off of him. He's not demanding to star in the Lone Ranger remake. He's not demanding anything. All he asks is to be allowed to continue to do his Lone Ranger personal appearances (his main source of income now) in a mask which Wrather has now forbidden him to wear. One polite letter of protest would certainly help him now. Write: Wrather Corp. [address redacted] if you feel that Clayton Moore is entitled to retain at least a fragment of the dignity his characterization of the Lone Ranger was imbrued [sic] with." [3]
  • Cagney and Lacey - 1983 - letter writing campaign - successful, the show returned and ran a total of seven seasons (1982-88)
  • Beauty and the Beast -- starting in 1987, escalating a few years later -- examples: Help Save the Beast (1987, more episodes), White Roses for Catherine (the death of Catherine), many other campaigns regarding the third season
  • Twin Peaks - In 1991, near the end of the show's second season - mostly failed. ABC did air the remaining episodes of season 2, but the network would not agree to a third season, leaving fans with a cliffhanger ending forever
  • Forever Knight - 1996–? - Kickstart the Knight - unsuccessful attempt to get the show back on the air
  • The Sentinel - June 1998 - Support Our Sentinel - limited success with an 8 episode 4th season
  • Deepwater Black - January 1998 - - unsuccessful letter writing campaign [4]
  • Roswell - 2000 - Tabasco sauce campaign - success for renewal on WB for 2nd season and for UPN picking up a 3rd season after WB cancelled
  • Felicity - 2000 - successful -- a strong Internet presence [5] and an extensive letter-writing campaign helped convince the network to bring the show back for a third season
  • Stargate SG-1 - 2002 - [6] - success - Daniel came back in Season 7 (see Save SG-1)
  • Dark Angel - 2002 - Barcode Campaign - unsuccessful
  • Farscape - 2002 - letters, advertising - partial success (four hour mini-series Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars that wrapped the cliffhanger of the fourth season up)
  • Invisible Man - April 2002 - Save Invisible Man - unsuccessful
  • Angel 2004 - unsuccessful, despite the fan website, SaveAngel.org, which hit 1.5 million page views and 400,000 unique visitors only a few months later. Fans wrote letters to media and to the network, bought ads in trade publications, created message boards, rented a mobile billboard to drive around L.A. with the message “We Will Follow Angel to Hell...or Another Network" [7] and organized a rally at the WB studio in Burbank, CA
  • Arrested Development - 2005 -- success -- the well-organized Save Our Bluths campaign sent banana crates to the network and encouraged fans to write “strongly-worded” letters to Fox, which were instrumental in helping the show return for a third and final season
  • Stargate: Atlantis - October 2006 - Save Carson Beckett - efforts included a rally with a pipe band and "girls flashing Carson Beckett on their butts"[8] - success (Carson returned in Seasons 4 and 5)
  • Jericho - May/June 2007 - Nuts for Jericho - success (7 episode 2nd season)
  • Veronica Mars - 2007 - the show did not come back for a fourth season, despite fans sending the network 10,000 Mars Bars, as well as fake bills inscribed with “Veronica Mars Is Smarter Than Me”—a reference to Season 1’s “Clash of the Tritons”
  • Moonlight (TV) - 2008 - unsuccessful
  • The X-Files - I Want To Believe "Rette seine Stimme mit deiner Stimme!" petition - 2008 - unsuccessful. Petition by the German-Speaking Fandom that wanted to prevent that David Duchovny's German voice actor Benjamin Völz is replaced with another voice actor.
  • Chuck - April/May 2009 - Have a Heart, Renew Chuck - success (3rd season)
  • Due South - 2009–ongoing - Due South Lives
  • Torchwood - 2010–ongoing - Saving Ianto Jones - postcard and coffee campaign, Cardiff shrine, and many other activities [9]
  • Firefly - 2011 - After Nathan Fillion, an actor on Firefly, made a comment that if he won the lottery, he'd buy the rights to Firefly and continue the series, fans swung into action [10]
  • A-Team - 2011 - Make an A-Team movie sequel.[11]
  • Eureka - 2011 - Within hours of announcement the show would be canceled, a couple of Facebook campaigns were launched. Ongoing. Funny fan comment: Eureka has more Facebook fans than SyFy, the network canceling it. [12]
  • Glee - 2011 - Get Max Adler to sing in Season 3. Jars of Nutella were set, along with letters and a video package to the cast members in honour of this ambition. [13]
  • SWAT Kats - 2011 ongoing - SK Revival letter writing campaign.
  • Friday Night Lights - 2008/2009 - Whether it was the fan campaigns or not, the show was given three additional, though shorter, seasons. See Friday Night Lights#Keeping FNL on the air.
  • STOP the destruction of Fanfiction.net! -- (2012) -- not successful
  • XFilesNews' XF3 Army Believe in the Future Campaign
  • The X-Files Season X and Season XI "akteXSyncho" petition - 2016 -2018 - unsuccessful. Petition by the German-Speaking Fandom that wanted to prevent that David Duchovny's German voice actor Benjamin Völz is again replaced with yet another voice actor for the new episodes of the Event Series (see als 2008 "Rette seine Stimme mit deiner Stimme!" campaign).
  • #RenewSense8 or #BringBackSense8, for the Netflix series Sense8 (2017). Not successful, and fans received a strongly worded but sympathetic open letter from Netflix telling them to stop the campaign.[14]

A media depiction of a fan campaign occurs in the Belgian children's book Petite Abeille et la Television by Tamara Danblon (published January 1970). Little Bee and her friend Serge don't like the stories in the kids' show "Ugly Jojo", so Bee's mother tells them to write to the station and ask them either to improve the show or cancel it in favor of animal documentaries. She also reminds Bee that she doesn't have to watch shows she dislikes just because a good show comes on immediately after it.[15]

Reactions

Some campaigns were conducted on the personal level. Here a fan-made button reads: Bring my show back. It was most likely worn to conventions and fan gatherings. Since so many shows have been canceled over the decades, the generic button could be reused again and again.

Fans write letters to TPTB because they feel very strongly about some aspect, and sometimes emotions and tactics overtake manners and commonsense. Fans are often told, by other fans, to practice the tactics for successful letter campaigns, ones that include politeness, logical arguments, and a dearth of fannish over-wroughtness.

For an example of a letter, see these detailed instructions.

Effectiveness

It is impossible, aside from anecdotal comments, to gauge the success of the various letter and fan campaigns over the years. Information from the industry is most likely spotty and not reliable. Fans themselves were hopeful, but unsure. One Star Trek fan wrote: "I'm really proud of the fact that I was one of the ones who wrote in when Bjo Trimble asked all the viewers to send letters asking NBC not to cancel the series after the second season. Maybe my letter made a difference, maybe it didn't, but I like to think that I helped to make the third season happen." [16]

It is widely believed that the third season of Star Trek's original series was created due to fans' various letters and activities. Due to this triumph, Star Trek fans also waged numerous campaigns to alter plot points in the show (more McCoy, no dead Spock...) with varying degrees of success.

Regardless of the eventual outcome, reactions to letter-writing campaigns were not always positive and not always seen in a positive light by those on the receiving end. Some TPTB felt them intrusive, bullying, something that took up valuable time and money, and more a nuisance than anything.

At least in one instance, a Star Trek: DS9 actor counseled fans to tone it down as their pleas to bring a character back to the show was a turn-off: "The one thing I can say with fair certainty is that Vedek Bareil will not be back again. I am so sorry. There was apparently a letter-writing campaign to the writing department and as a result of that, he's definitely not coming back again. The writers were going, "this is enough, we don't want any more of this." So I would suggest a different tactic, if you were one of those people writing letters...a less vitriolic tactic, because they're really actually nailing the coffin shut right now, because of these letters. Because at the end of the day, they have the power to do that."

Joan Marie Verba also addresses this issue: "At Lunch with the Doctor, Sid [Alex Siddig, who played Bashir] confirmed what I also heard from another source at Paramount, and that is, that the producers/writers were thinking of bringing back Vedek Bareil, but due to receiving so much hostile mail on the subject, they have made a firm decision not to. Now, I am aware that many fans who want Vedek Bareil back wrote perfectly courteous letters, but apparently some did not, and, unfortunately, those letters were the ones that irritated the producers. So please remember: if you write to Paramount about Sid/Julian, or write with concerns about fourth season, be polite, be calm, be courteous!" [17]

References

  1. The show still runs on what's left of local TV, and on the "Family Entertainment Television" cable channel.
  2. A slogan for the company at that time, Moore cleverly used it in a reference to the line "Who was that masked man, anyway?" often heard in the show.
  3. from a fan's paid ad in The Clipper Trade Ship #27 (January 1980)
  4. Save the Show
  5. ...a.k.a "Operation Chia," "Operation Hair," & Operation "We deserve better than that Dawson's kid"
  6. Save Daniel Jackson
  7. [1] Scifi News
  8. Paul McGillion interview with TrekMovie 22 February 2008
  9. Saving Ianto Jones website accessed March 5, 2011
  10. Help Nathan Guy Firefly Facebook Page, accessed 3.5.2011
  11. napalmedsteak. (2011). A request from me...to you., accessed March 14, 2011.
  12. Save Eureka Facebook page, accessed August 12, 2011.
  13. Operation Free Max Adler's Voice, retrieved August 26, 2011.
  14. Matthew Desem, Netflix Wants You to Cool It with the Fan Campaigns. Slate, June 10, 2017.
  15. Tamara Danblon, Petite Abeille et la Television. Dupuis, 1970.
  16. from The K/S Press #38
  17. from Alexander Siddig in Multi-Species Medicine #20