It was proven this week that even in the digital age there is a barrier between fans and creators. Three weeks or so ago Nathan Fillion made an offhand comment about buying the rights to Firefly if he had the money, and suddenly the fandom lit up. He’d put a pricetag on more Big Damn Heroes. How much money have Browncoats donated to charity? Couldn’t the rights be wrested from Fox for that amount?
I can’t say if the people behind HelpNathanBuyFirefly.com took him dead serious or not, but the fact remains that his comment set wheels turning in the minds of many fans. Fox is not making new content. No other production company is licensing the property. But if an interested company could get hold of those rights, a company that cared less about profit than about making themselves and other fans happy…
Yes, several involved parties said it was a bad idea, but why exactly? I grant that there’s a trust gap when giving money to strangers, but there are methods of closing that gap. Help Nathan Buy Firefly’s plan involved Kickstarter, a service by which people pledge money, but don’t send it until what they were promised can be delivered. It’s been pointed out that the rights to Firefly are not for sale. But if an organization walked in with the right bid, would Fox really say no? Those involved in Firefly publicly made it clear they have no involvement in the HNBF project, but if a fan-owned production company was able to get to a place where they could offer jobs, who would turn down the chance to come back?
Ultimately, there is one person who must be involved to get other people on board: Joss Whedon himself. I don’t blame the others for not wanting a part of a Whedonless Firefly. And while I can understand wanting to publicly distance himself from an untried, unaffiliated business venture, why wouldn’t he wait to see if it could get legs? I can’t speak to his motives on that. Hopefully the fact that the group got this far will give him something to consider in his own endeavors.
The ultimate injustice is how the news was handed down. There was no official statement from Joss Whedon. There was no official statement at all. A hundred thousand fans were told to kindly back off by Whedon’s sister-in-law in less than 140 characters. Thousands of dreams were crushed with one tweet. It hardly seems appropriate.
This is the part where some of the more die-hard Browncoats might quote from the episode “The Message.” I’m not that hardcore. But the message from the Whedonverse is clear: “you cannot do the impossible. You are not mighty.”