The Veronica Mars Movie Kickstarter Campaign: Don't You Dare Feel Bad About Chipping In

VeronicaMars_SadSometime between 10:30 am Wednesday — when the Veronica Mars movie Kickstarter campaign was announced — and 11 am, something unfortunate, but perhaps inevitable, happened. People started getting kicked for kicking their money in.

What started off as a celebration of the impassioned TV fan turned into a condemnation of those who, I like to think, have a say in how their own money gets spent.

Hell, even I was left to feel “dirty” about writing a story about it, the outcry, criticisms and finger-wagging blogging came flowing so hard. But in the end, as I donated my $[SPOILER] just minutes before the tote board ticked past the important $2 million mark, I achieved peace with my pledge.

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Wouldn’t that money have been better donated to a charity? This was an early refrain from those who questioned this Kickstarter project. First speaking for myself: I donate throughout the year to assorted medical research and animal welfare causes. I also chipped in for the “loftier” Showrunners documentary’s Kickstarter campaign (as well as to the fundraiser for the way-cool Spike keyboard for iPhone). And who’s to say that a meaningful portion of the tens of thousands of Veronica Mars backers don’t also give to worthy causes, to the extent they are able or willing? No one ever went to bed feeling better about themselves because they spent their day assuming the worst about humanity.

But perhaps the most echoed criticism came in the form of: Why are you donating your hard-earned money to get a studio film made? When Warner Bros. will kick back and reap any profit?

The short answer: Because this was a time for the little guy to make a difference.

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Television is an impactful medium. Quality and/or ambitious shows get cancelled too quickly, far too often. (People are even mourning Zero Hour, after two episodes.) And 99 percent of the time, once the Nielsen Ratings Gods have spoken, we are left to do nothing, to feel without resource.

But this time… this time, the little guy was heard. Some 30,000 people who will never brush up blurbagainst celebrity, Regular Joes who will not once see their name in an end credits crawl, were afforded — and passionately seized — the opportunity to produce a piece of entertainment. I ask: When does that ever happen?

Movie studio executives greenlight any and whatever projects they like, and in this instance, Veronica Mars: The Motion Picture simply was not going to happen. Yet when put in the hands of the fans (and their friends) who have steadfastly and long-anticipated this unlikelihood, that excited mob rallied to secure their piece of happiness.

A lot of the time, the Internet is used to tear things down. To mock Smash, to snark about red carpet fashions, to hurt. All from the cozy, oft-anonymous comfort of everyone’s couches.

For 10 thrilling hours on Wednesday, though, 30,000 strangers banded together online to create something.

No, the Veronica Mars Kickstarters will never see even a fraction of a back-end point if the movie happens to turn a profit. But they will smile knowing that they were a part of something rather historical. A gone-too-soon series was plucked from the ashes not by a struggling network anxious to plug a scheduling hole, but by the very people who loved and were left to mourn it. Stand on a soap box and question the dissemination of discretionary income all you want, but do not dare rob other people of their self-defined joy.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Dee says:

    There’s a backlash? What the?
    I cannot wait for this movie to be released and looking forward to when the VM movie campaign starts accepting international contributions.
    So in the meantime thank you to all those wonderful U.S. fans who made the $2 mill. so quickly! Sincerely, Aussie Marshmallow fanatic!

  2. RUTH PERRY says:

    I give to charity when I can but I had to give to this campaign, I discovered Veronica Mars when it was ending in the USA, I live in Ireland so series 1 was only starting to be aired at a ridicolous 2am time, I own the 3 box sets and its my fav prog, so when this came up even though I cant get any of the DVD/ bluray / t-shirts / etc which are incentives to donate,
    I will buy the movie on dvd when it comes available, so the way i see it is, if i was a resident in the US, i would be pre-purchasing my copy / merchandise, which i’d buy anyway. but without the campaign on kickstarter, no fans would be getting the movie,
    win, win for the fans

  3. Sarah says:

    Thank you for this article Matt! I haven’t donated yet to VM Kickstarter but I probably will. So while I was feeling so happy and proud for the hundreds of loyal VM fans and what they accomplished I started to read all the negative feedback and started thinking twice. I needed to read your article to slap me out of the silliness.

  4. digitalred93 says:

    For me, contributing to the VM campaign was liken to contributing to the arts. Pop Culture IS modern art and a vital form of storytelling. I contribute throughout the year to the Autism Science Foundation, animal welfare groups, and a few political campaigns, but I also am a big fan of Kickstarter and in the past year have contributed to 4 different campaigns — campaigns in which I’ll end up with a resulting product that I would have bought anyway – be it a graphic novel, a book, or in this case a DVD and t-shirt.

    I applaud Rob Thomas for what he’s doing — not just for VM, but also for what it means to storytellers of all venues.

    (And yes, I contributed to the Hurricane Sandy victims as well)

  5. otpHalo says:

    Okay to grab the bull by the horns!

    Will it mean that this new avenue for gaining money for a Movie/TV project will be abused? Yes. Of course.

    BUT! Everything that has the potential of gaining money, power or fame will get exploited by someone in some way eventually! That’s part of human nature.

    There will come a day when some of that money goes missing and someone vanishes to never be recognized on an exotic island. There will be scams, there will be bookkeeping errors. At some point… eventually… there will be a scandal about this.

    But once more “BUT”!

    Veronica Mars the Movie isn’t that case. It’s a valid last ditch effort that managed to succeed and is resurrecting an incredibly well written, well loved show. And it’s opening the doors for future shows to have that same opportunity.

    This is a GOOD thing.

    A few bad apples that will inevitably follow is a small price to pay for that hope.

    P.S. and also… even if Kickstarter WAS a charity (which as some people have correctly pointed out IT’S NOT!) – it isn’t taking food from a starving child’s mouth. The backers who contribute to charity will still do so and the ones who don’t wouldn’t have even if this new project had never reared its head!

  6. MarianaH says:

    I’m not ‘donating’ my money. I’m buying something that I like! I pay a lot more for dvd boxed sets, posters, t-shirts… in this case, I’m buying a movie that I want to watch, and helping to make that happen. I’ll get the copy, the shirt, the pdf as perks… therefore, there is a retribution, so, it’s not a mere donation!!!
    Long Live Veronica Mars!!

  7. dottiff says:

    AMEN!!!!!!! I’m sooooo excited for the movie if there were more red carpet options left I would have totally gotten one!!! I’m 29 years old and finding out a Veronica Mars movie could possibly happen I squealed with joy!!! Same for the rest of my friends!! I also work in the VFX industry and we are dealing with a lot of problems as far as people loosing jobs due to poor studio relations. This was a chance for me to feel good in proving in a different way that the Studios are jerks. And say HAH! You push the lil guys down hard enough….we will come back more fierce than ever!! VERONICA MARS FOREVER!!!!!!!!!

  8. I totally agree with the statement “Quality and/or ambitious shows get cancelled too quickly, far too often”…I was mourning VM for the longest time, and I am sooo happy to see it back :)

  9. De says:

    Well written, Matt. I don’t feel one bit guilty. I plan on enjoying the movie, whatever the case. :)

  10. Asashii says:

    It is called investing, people with at least an 85 IQ should look into and the world would be a better place, and people wonder why they cant afford health insurance. Durrrrrr, I just gave Oculus Rift 5 thousand dollars and I should own that much stake in the company, but I don’t. So they just sold it for 2 Billion dollars to Facebook, Durrrr, me so smart. Could have had a wonderful return with my money now I just get a mention in the credits. Wow that will help me retire. Durrrr, stop giving your hard earned money away to scumbags who make Billions and give you peanuts in return please. Kickstarters are a SCAM!!!!!!!!