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One of organizers of the Big Damn Thank You website - Syfyportal.com Interview

Saturday 16 September 2006, by Webmaster

Emotional Resonance & Rocket Launchers With Scott Nance

(September 15 2006) - The year 2006 has become one for scifi anniversaries.

Anyone who’s visited this site for more than a nanosecond knows we have been in full swing celebrating Star Trek’s 40th. And folks probably know this is also the 10th anniversary for "Stargate SG-1."

This month we arrive at yet another milestone, as well: Sept. 30 marks one year since Universal released "Serenity," Joss Whedon’s eagerly awaited big screen adaptation of his short-lived science fiction western TV series, "Firefly."

A group of "Serenity" fans, known as Browncoats, haven’t forgotten and have ginned up an online campaign to mark the occasion.

This campaign, though, is a little different.

Usually, fans come together to mount one of their famous campaigns — whether it’s mailing little bottles of hot sauce to executives, renting a mobile billboard to drive by network offices each day, or taking out full page ads in the trades — usually because they want something.

They want their favorite TV series saved from cancellation, they want it recognized with an Emmy statue, or something along those lines.

These "Serenity" fans, however, all they want is to say, "Thank you."

No more than that, one of their organizers told me.

It’s called the Big Damn Thank You (BDTY) site, taking its name from "Big Damn Movie," the nickname that fans gave "Serenity."

"Our goal with BDTY is very simple. We just want to say thank you," Vanessa Lauburg told me. "Universal took a big chance by making a movie out of a canceled TV show, and it took a lot of perseverance on the part of the studio executives, Joss Whedon, the cast, the crew, and the fans, none of whom would rest until they saw the continuation of this story."

The idea behind BDTY is that fans contribute images that thank Universal Studios for making "Serenity." The details of each image are up to the individual; for example, it can simply be a picture of the person holding a sign that says thanks, or it can be as complicated as a photo mosaic made of stills from the movie. For those who don’t wish to post an image, there’s a page devoted to posting messages, says Lauburg, who emphasizes that she has many friends and cohorts working with her on her endeavor.

"The creators of BDTY want to give fans all over the world the chance to say thanks, and to express what seeing the crew of ’Serenity’ fly again means to them," she said. "If we have an ulterior motive, it is just to provide a place for old and new fans alike to show their creativity and interact in pictures. Like many fandoms, we get to know each other primarily through message boards and blogs, so it’s fun to actually see each other for a change."

And no, this apparently really isn’t just some back-door/reverse-psychology attempt to pressure Universal into producing a sequel movie, despite the first film’s middling-at-best box office.

The folks at BDTY put just two restrictions on fan submissions for the site. The only off-limits submissions are those deemed offensive and those that "veer off topic by requesting that Universal greenlight a sequel," Lauburg said.

"I know it’s hard for fans not to clamor for more, especially when we hold something so dear, like ’Firefly’ and ’Serenity.’ But the BDTY site is really meant to be unique in this respect: we just want to focus on saying thanks," she said. "Invariably, asking for more really means that, while you claim you’re satisfied, you’re also saying that you’re not. It’s not that the site creators, or our visitors, would be unhappy if there is a sequel, but we feel there’s something refreshing about pausing long enough to just express our gratitude."

BDTY won’t end on the anniversary and in that way will help keep the ’verse alive regardless of whether Universal greenlights that sequel or not.

"We hope that fans of ’Serenity’ and ’Firefly’ will continue to upload their messages of gratitude for a long time, since new fans are discovering the series and the movie every day," Lauburg says.

Lauburg and her friends ought to be proud. We fans (this fan wholeheartedly included) spend what sometimes seems like an inordinate amount of time criticizing TV networks and movie studios, bemoaning what’s gone wrong.

What BDTY may teach us is that perhaps instead of focusing on what’s gone wrong, we should celebrate those things that have gone right in scifi.

And, you know what else? Unlike most fan campaigns, BDTY is almost guaranteed to succeed.