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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Kickstarter campaign resuscitates Veronica Mars

Published: April 12, 2013
Section: Opinions

On March 13, Rob Thomas, the executive producer and visionary behind the bygone show “Veronica Mars,” created what is now one of the largest Kickstarter projects of all time. “Veronica Mars,” a hit show that ran from 2004-2007 on UPN and later on the CW, has been clamoring to get a movie made, virtually since the day it was dropped after the third season. A deal was finally cut that if the fans could fund $2 million to create the movie, Warner Brothers would take care of all the distribution and advertising costs.

For those who don’t know, “Veronica Mars” stars Kristen Bell as the protagonist—a 17-year-old high school student at the Neptune High in the fictional town of Neptune, California. Since the murder of her best friend, Lily, Veronica has been helping her father, a private investigator, solve crimes. Her ultimate motive, however, is to find the true killer of her best friend. The first season takes us through solving this case and the second season involves the mystery of a horrific school bus crash that killed all the students on board. “Veronica Mars” incorporates feminist themes, demonstrating that girls can be detectives just as well as boys. The show broke gender norms and was saturated with fiery banter and snarky wit.

Kickstarter is a website, founded in 2009 used to fundraise for projects through crowdsourcing. The website allows the public to fund projects, sometimes in exchange for rewards provided by the project’s originators. The “Veronica Mars” Movie Project Kickstarter shattered records as the $2 million funding goal was met in only 11 hours. The 30-day project will on Friday, and as of early Wednesday, raised upward of $5 million with more than 78,000 backers participating. Rewards for this project range widely, with prizes such as updates on production, a PDF of the script, an exclusive t-shirt, recorded voicemail messages from the stars, tickets to the premiere and the after party and even a speaking role in the film. All of these prizes come at different price points, ranging anywhere from $1 to $10,000.

This project is what some would consider the epitome of independent film. The making of this movie is a product purely of the fans’ desire to see it happen and the executive producer’s and actors’ desire to deliver. This is a method of making creative projects with a big name studio that has not been previously explored. This Kickstarter project is giving fans of other canceled TV shows hope for film adaptations, which sometimes provide much needed closure in series that are abruptly dropped. Fans of “Firefly” are hoping for a second movie to follow up the first movie, “Serenity.” Fans of “Chuck,” canceled in early 2012, are hoping that the decision to make a “Veronica Mars” movie will spell good news for their much-desired motion picture.

While I think that this is a great avenue for providing the big-shot executives with proof that fans support movies that follow up on our favorite shows, the amount of money and support that this project has garnered in such a short amount of time is a bit unnerving. While I’m sure that very important charity causes could not raise $2 million in 11 hours, fans are willing to throw money at a 90-110 minute movie that furthers the stories of their favorite characters. How many more significant causes could this money go to? How many people could have access to clean water with this money? How many people could be clothed? How many people could have food to eat, or a roof over their heads? While it is indeed very important to plenty of people to see a movie centered around characters in whom they are emotionally invested, how many people’s lives could benefit from this money?

I think what we’re willing to put our money toward says something about our culture. Perhaps we of the developed world are as self-serving as others claim we are. It’s a sad day when a campaign to make a movie can garner $2 million of support, but a charity to help those in need cannot earn even half of that. I won’t say that donating to a project to make a motion picture is bad—it’s not at all! Those who earn money have the right to spend it how they choose. However, the moral and ethical considerations behind where we put our money might have cause for examination. I’m a “Veronica Mars” fan—I’m on the bandwagon. Yet, I can’t help but feel all that money might have a better use than wrapping up the plot lines of a television show.