Friday, September 20, 2002

If We Build It, They Will Come..

DK and company want that 2.0 rating, we'll get 'em a 2.3 if we play it right. First, learn about the Nielsens, if you're not sure how the ratings system works:

With Farscape's current audience, we can't get that 2.0, but with the power of this movement behind us, we can bring a half a million more eyeballs to the television come January.

So your homework, for the next two or three months, is Publicity. For us, for the movement, for Farscape, for quality television. Go ahead and target the networks, SFC, UPN, Showtime, whoever -- but also target (and use!) local and national media to get our cry out there.

In the coming weeks, we're going to set up templates for "letters to the editor" over on the site, for you to use to write to your local papers, industry magazines, webzines, blogs, whatever. Talking about Farscape, why you love it, why you'd miss it, why it's an important show.

Also, for the journalists among us -- try to write articles, reviews, blurbs about Farscape for any magazine that will publish you. Talk about the fan movement, and talk about what the show has done for television and for audiences everywhere. While some Scapers are deluging SFC with mail and faxes, we'll stay here and write about them, write about US, what we've done.

Or if we can't write, we'll find sympathetic journalists who will -- Renay San Miguel, for example. Caitlin Kiernan. Others.

As long as we keep "Farscape" in the media's popular vocabulary, and as long as we make a spectacle out of our crusade, come January, the half-season premiere can be nothing BUT Must-See TV. Everyone'll tune in, just to see what the fuss was all about. And we'll get them hooked. And we'll get our 2.0 with room to spare.

Start even earlier, get new fans recruited by the Christmas marathon. Use a buddy system, find a friend, convert him, make him convert one more. Spread the word.

And we'll write about that, in our letters to the editor, and we'll have our letters written about in articles and our articles covered on CNN. We're in the pot, here, we're doing the stirring.

So that's the homework, from now until the marathon, and until that next ep premieres in January.

Make FARSCAPE a household word -- a scandal, even. Make our experiences known. Whisper that SFC broke ineffable contracts with their viewers, make a big noise about what happened now.

And oh, they'll watch. If wind of our campaign gets out -- the lengths we're willing to go to, and fight -- oh, they'll cluster around their televisions in January because they just gotta know what all the fuss was all about. What show could be SO SPECTACULAR that it would cause its fans to take on this kind of crusade.

We know, already, of course.

The show was great, it brought great fans together. Great fans say great things, make great noises, and the people will come. And they'll see that the show is great, they'll agree, and in February sweeps the numbers won't lie.

We can save this show.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

You know, it's not that I was counting on Farscape, or Henson, to be my meal ticket. They never have been before.

It's just that with all the fighting this week, all the passion and energy directed at a's just that someday, I hope beyond hope ("beyond hope") that I'll be able to work for a living at something I believe in this much.

Because the believing is accidental -- it comes naturally from the pens of Farscape's writers and the stories the cast and crew bring to life. So, yeah, I'd believe anyhow.

The thing is -- I'd move halfway across the world to work on a project I cared about this much, and I'll do so from the comfort of my computer anyway. Still, you know. I'll keep writing, and maybe. Someday. Maybe we revolutionize television and I'll get to tell the stories I want to hear told.

Mmm, rallying cry blog entry is below. But I'm tired and wired now, and wondering, like Bartlet does, What's Next?
“It is now a time for us to step back. Stay a community. Maintain your Farscape friends.” – DK, September 19th, IRC chat

Those who were waiting for a deus ex machine to come from Oz tonight, in the form of Farscape being renewed on SFC or picked up by another channel, we know how you feel. Easy to see our campaign as a failure, but look again, because that’s not what David’s telling us, and that’s not what we should be telling ourselves.

If we’d come here with the single goal of getting SFC to change its mind about Farscape, we wouldn’t be many thousand strong here now, to talk about it.

Might have looked like that, at the beginning. But that’s not what we’re here for. And that’s not what David, and Ricky, and Rockne -- and anyone else out there with a story to tell -- need from us now.

This is only the beginning, for them, and for us. Because there’s something in the wind now, something new that’s only starting to take form, something the savvier folks at CNN and TV Guide and the LA Times have recognized and are willing to explain to the world.

Forty years ago, a letter-writing campaign saved Star Trek at NBC, but those were gentler times. And in an era where the world has enough technology to destroy itself a thousand times over, and where millionaires pale beside their multi-billionaire cousins, we need to make an even louder noise to be heard.

And we have.

With the internet as our soapbox, our water cooler, our town meeting hall, we’ve gathered together in the greatest force EVER to take a stand for quality television. We’ve made more noise and gotten more publicity than any save-our-show campaign in the past, and we’re still growing.

So Farscape is on the bench at the moment. Sweating it off. Doesn’t mean we’re out of the game.

The world only spins forward, and our actions and our words here will create a new era for television programming, where the media content comes straight from the mouths of the folk, where we’re back around our caveman campfires again, telling the stories WE want to hear told.

Writers of fanfiction have known this for ages, even if they didn’t know they knew.

Media belongs to the masses. Viewers of the world, unite! We keep speaking in one voice, we keep challenging the opinions of network executives who don’t have respect for us now, and soon enough they’ll have no choice but to listen. We have the money, the numbers, the power. And the internet, to keep us together.

David Kemper came to talk to us tonight, not to tell us we failed, but to tell us we succeeded in making a noise, in getting people to pay attention. And when it comes down to it, Michael Jackson at SFC is one man, and if we put the fear of god in him for five minutes, we’ve done our job.

So, you ask, what next? For Farscape, for us?

Keep fighting. Keep the websites updated, share information, get smarter. The more intelligent voices we can add to our plea, the stronger we’ll grow, every day. Network execs listen to Nielson homes, not “gaggles,” but that’s the old school regime and we’ll throw it in their faces if it takes all year.

It’s gaggle time. It’s audience time. The old regime doesn’t work anymore.

In this century already, unions formed, to show lot bosses that the workers wouldn’t stand to be stepped on anymore. The United States learned a similar lesson when the electoral college failed us during the 2000 election. Napster shook the very foundation of the music industry. It’s our turn now. Let’s get together and make a big-ass change, for television, forever.

For Farscape? Wait until January, and then rock SFC with the best ratings they’ve ever seen for the remainder of Season 4. Place ads, take to the streets, make noise and let them know we’re still here. Keep sending letters and making calls, but don’t burn yourselves out. Do research so we can bombard them with real information.

For us? Stick together. Organize. Let TPTB know we’re not a flash in the pan, confined to one show, one project, one dismissable group of fans. Let them know that the old methods don’t work anymore.

I’ve worked in the television industry for a lot of years now, and in those back offices they’re mired in the old ways. So let’s get ‘em to open their windows, let’s show ‘em we’re standing outside, railing and shouting and singing in one great voice. Let’s show ‘em we won’t stand to see what happened to Farscape happen again.

Trust me, they’ll listen. We do our jobs, and Farscape will return. David and Rockne and Ricky and the rest of them will return, and they’ll get a chance to tell their stories, and new stories, for as long as we’re out here listening.

And I plan to be out here listening for a long, long time.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

I quit my job at PBS after only a handful of months, because I hated it, because I didn't care about the show we were working on and couldn't stomach the bureaucracy.

I quit working at the SCI FI Channel when they stopped letting me work on good shows like Farscape, and when I couldn't stomach the bureaucracy.

Sad thing is that bureaucracy's everywhere, and in this industry it seems that the better the content, the more difficult it is to find right-minded people in positions of power.

At SFC it was my job to respond to fan mail, and in that very first March when Farscape premiered, one of the best things I got to do was send a package of posters and light-up pens and network toys to Kiki and Perri, widely acknowledged as Farscape's first fans.

Common sense says you can't always get what you want, but for a long time there I had it -- I got to be connected, however tangentially, to one of the finest shows on television, and I got to work, however tangentially, with folks like Rockne O'Bannon and David Kemper, who cared about quality, and content, and knew how to tell a damned good story.

So hell yeah, it was my show, and it still is. And even if I didn't know these guys I'd still be fighting for it, because like is drawn to like, and the television industry is a wasteland save for those shimmering oases that come along every few seasons and remind us that there are marvelous stories to be told.

In college I majored in media and cultural studies, and wrote my thesis on television even though my professors came from the art world of classical Hollywood film. I said I liked the serial nature of television, the sprawling narratives, the longevity of characters to grow old and fat and bald with, to watch fall in and out of drama and love. Not just a fan, also a client, dem's de breaks. Which is to say, TV brought me here, but it's still who I am, still what I look for on that drop-down menu under "employment": Television, broadcasting, media. I'm a nerd, I'm a junkie, I'm a flunky, I'm a businesswoman.

So what's my pep talk for this evening? Listen to my team at wdsection, listen to Maayan and Fi, listen to your heart, listen to each other. Talk, the way we do, each night, to figure out what it is exactly we want out of all this, what we're here for, what the nature of this currency is.

Because what we have to offer to the cause is ourselves, in force and in number, in passion and in intellect. Enough of us shout and they can't help but listen -- we're the music makers, the fundraisers, the consumers, the reporters, the listeners, the thinkers, the choir.

They'd mock the hell out of the fans over at SFC, another reason I left. Another reason they dumped the fan letters on my desk where they never made it to the eyes of the highers-up. But it's their own fool fault, because they've forgotten we built them, and we can break them, buddy, and even if we don't, we're still speaking in one voice -- louder than ever in the history of television, think about that, louder than ever! -- saying we do care about quality, we do care about stories, and characters, and passion, stop jerking us around, stop treating us like children, listen!

And David, Rockne, Ricky, Ben, the rest, they're the ones that do listen. The ones that will arise from this revolution stronger because they treat the viewers like family. Because they know they're only half of the relationship.

So today, I'm down with the working class. Proudly aligning myself with the fans who are fighting, not for money, not for nepotism or power or bragging rights, but for story, and for quality, and for our right to choose what we want to be exposed to. Call it PTA moms railing against violence in cartoons and it's a movement -- call it sci-fi fans pounding the sidewalks for Farscape and we're wasting our time. But I don't see the difference, not really. Money is power, power is power, hard to defend a position when public opinion says we don't "get anything" out of it.

But I don't work for SFC anymore, I'm just an audience member today and I'm still fighting just as hard. And anyone who tries to tell me Farscape doesn't exist in my world too has another thing coming.

With all that, a word to the Save Farscape campaign:

Make a big noise. In the direction of SFC, toward Michael Jackson, toward the advertisers, toward the marketeers and executives who don't think we're out here. Be loud and proud and don't forget you're as much a part of this show as they are, and, in number, far greater.

Remember what you're fighting for. This isn't about vitriol, or about pointing fingers or placing blame. This is about our quest for quality storytelling and the right to have a say in what's on television. This isn't about who knew before who, or what kind of pissing contests go on in executive conference rooms. It's about us, and if we don't get this one, we'll get the next one, but damn it, we're gonna be heard.

Learn. Rumors don't help, and neither does being alarmist. Research the key figures we're fighting about, SFC, Henson, Vivendi, EM-TV. Research the advertisers, the competitors, the business behind the business. Play by their rules, or if you don't like them, figure out a way to change them. We won't get anywhere without direction, and we have to make sure we're taken seriously. Write good letters. Ask around. Make friends. My folks at wdsection know what they're talking about. Listen to them. Ask good questions. Share what you know.

At the risk of sounding like an armchair psychologist, that's what I've got, as a pep talk to myself and the rest of you. Because folks keep asking if this is over, when it's gonna be over, how we'll know when to stop. But why does it have to end, just because Farscape goes one way or another? There's still a need to challenge the decision makers, the executives with about as much contempt for fans as we have for them, right about now. Enough from us, down the line, and the Davids and Rickys of the world will have a safe place to tell their stories. And how happy will we be then!