Me, I'm a Browncoat. That means I was and am a fan of the late, lamented science fiction TV show Firefly.
(I'm also on the global frequency, a refugee from Caprica, always carry
a towel, and proudly call myself a smeghead, to say nothing of being a
Trekkie, a DM, a GM, and a DC fanboy. Extra points to anybody who can
identify what loyalties each of those statements imply; one of them
will be revealed at the end of this entry).
For those who've never heard of it, Firefly has been described as "Star Wars,
if Han Solo were the main character, and he still shot Greedo first."
Pretty accurate, and it does a concise job of explaining the show's
What's wild is that those accolades came from The Weekly Standard, a neoconservative policy magazine. Their take is that the upcoming Serenity movie, which resurrects Firefly for the big screen, represents the latest trend in consumer audience empowerment and major entertainment marketing.
Much like the animated sitcom Family Guy was recently revived five years after cancellation due to the strength of its DVD sales and replays on Cartoon Network, Firefly
is coming back stronger than ever because it was a good product that
inspired loyalty both by fans and creators, even if the network (FOX)
didn't know it. The same thing is happening with a show that never made
it past the roughcut stage: Global Frequency, which itself was based on a niche comic book by Warren Ellis.
UPN commissioned a GF pilot that never made it through full
post-production before being axed, but the anticipatory buzz was so
loyal and organized that pirated copies of the semi-pilot are now the hottest items on illegal P2P networks.
Essentially, there is demand for a product that never existed, and
supply is reaching that demand against the producers' will.
The Web has allowed communities of common interest to organize and be
heard faster and more effectively than ever before. Of course, the
early adopters are TV fanatics--especially sci-fi fans--who are voicing
their passions and are familiar enough with the online infrastructure
to do it first. This will change. More communities of interest will
form and be heard beyond television, and the producers of content
better take heed, because the consumers won't take no for an answer.
Quite frankly, they don't have to.
The Browncoats are coming. Are you ready?
Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger -- amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can also follow him on his personal blog.