Mar 13, 2014

The Veronica Mars Movie Is Upon Us, And It's Important

March 14th might well go down as one of the most important dates in cinematic history, and nothing major is happening. Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt aren't sitting down with Oprah to discuss their (seemingly decades-spanning) divorce. George Clooney won't reveal that his whole career has been one long prank, and he's really a married father of two from Topeka. Alfred Hitchcock probably isn't coming back from the dead, ready to declare war on the blondes and homosexuals that he loves and hates so much. No, Friday, March 14th is the official premiere date for the little Kickstarter movie that could: Veronica Mars.

Now, I don't mean to be hyperbolic, but the Veronica Mars movie is a genuinely important touchstone in film and television history. Over the last decade or so, there has been a power shift in the way fans of shows are treated by the general public and by the very people and shows that they are fans of. It used to be that die-hard fans were relegated to the sticky floors of Conference Room B, desperate for a view of a C-List actor at whatever half-hearted convention was being thrown.  Filmmakers like George Lucas derided the fans' input (he has since  wisely  recanted on his earlier beliefs), and there was shame even among the fans themselves. Carefully homemade Star Trek uniforms were shoved to the back of closets, their owners frightened that anyone outside of a 'con' know of their existence (requisite
KHAAANN! joke here).
Sometimes you have to hide your light.
But now, fans and anti-fans have instant access to the creators of our favorite shows and films, and that power has helped to shape storylines, kill and redeem characters, and even completely change the trajectory of a show or franchise. LOST is the most obvious example of this interplay between fan and artist, but television auteurs like Bryan Fuller and Joss Whedon have similarly embraced their fan communities. Even seemingly innocuous shows like How I Met Your Mother are completely built around the idea that the opinions of fans are valid.

We wanted this to happen, and it did.
With Veronica Mars, this was taken a step further. After its cancellation in 2007, Marshmallows (fans of the show) rallied in support, trying to get the show back in some form, but to no avail. However, they kept on trucking, spurred on in no small part by Mars creator Rob Thomas and star Kristen Bell. And then, jump-started in part by fans and the new wave of Buzzfeed/Tumblr-esque insta-nostalgia, the Kickstarter campaign happened, and then the national freakout happen, and now, almost a year later, the movie is set to premiere. Not only that, but novels are in the works, dormant fans (myself included) are getting back into the conversation, and people are talking about Veronica Mars in a way that nobody – shy of television critics and a few die-hards  has before. Somehow, suddenly, this series is a big freaking deal.

I don't know what to expect from the Veronica Mars movie. I get my digital download in my inbox tomorrow morning, and, at this point, I'm afraid I might be expecting too much. I'm possibly too excited to see Veronica and her band of miscreants saddle up for another ride on the mystery carousel. I'll be watching for special Veronica moments: meaningful, chemistry-filled glances with Logan, father-daughter time with Keith, friendship hugs with Wallace and Mac, and asshole moments from Dick, Madison, and pretty much every side character on the show. I'll even look forward to Piz, because I think that guy got a bad rap. Still, as a fan of the show (like, a big, "hundreds of dollars donated to the Kickstarter when I can barely make rent" fan), what the movie ends up being is immaterial. Regardless of the quality of the movie or its (probably numerous) moments of fan-service, this moment in time is important for what this film represents. It's a moment where fans raised their collective voices and were heard in a way that they hadn't before. This movie tells the world that fans matter, that we're an important cog in the creative machine, and that we're not to be messed with. We got the power. Now let's see what else we can do with it.

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