Snakes on a Plane

Judging by the lead-up to 2006's Snakes On a Plane, the movie was clearly going to be a huge success. It was discussed online in great detail every day, and garnered legions of fans based on the almost impossibly straightforward title alone. After Chris Rohan of Bethesda, Maryland made a remarkable audio trailer for the movie that inserted a Samuel L. Jackson sound-alike shouting, "I want these motherfucking snakes off the motherfucking plane!" there was a vocal outcry from other fans online to get that line into the movie. Eventually, the studio took the hint. When the director of the movie reassembled the cast for some reshoots, a short scene was filmed that included the immortal line. In the end, the evocative title and the online conversation around it proved more interesting that the film itself, but it was proof-positive that fans voices will now be heard, if they make enough noise online.

Betty White Hosts "Saturday Night Live"

In January of 2010, one David Matthews of San Antonio launched the Facebook page "Betty White to Host SNL (please?)!" after the former Golden Girl appeared in a popular Super Bowl ad for Snickers. By March, Matthews’ Facebook page was several hundred thousand people strong. Soon it was announced that Betty White would share hosting duties on a special Mother’s Day episode of Saturday Night Live with former cast members, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Molly Shannon, Maya Rudolph, Ana Gasteyer, and Rachel Dratch, and OF COURSE musical guest Jay-Z.

Chuck got renewed

Although Chuck is in its final season right now, without an amazingly dedicated and well-organized fan base, the show would’ve likely disappeared years earlier. When the show was on the bubble in 2009 and a third season seemed unlikely, fans of the show launched into action. They started a "Save Chuck" campaign on Facebook and Twitter, which included extensive tweets aimed directly at the show’s sponsors and advertisers. Many of these Twitter pleas took great care to mention that they were not Nielsen families, but supported the show anyway--a reference to the fact that ratings are not always indicative of actual viewers. After basically bribing the sponsor Subway by mobilizing enough fans to feast on footlongs each Monday the show aired, Subway and NBC noticed and struck a product integration deal that helped get the show renewed.

Similar efforts have worked for shows like Jericho and Roswell, although those shows didn’t have a very long shelf-life after they were rescued. The fate of Donald Glover’s show Community has also benefitted from the efforts of its online, um, community.

Chuck got renewed

The recently released video game, Mass Effect 3, sold well and garnered wide praise initially. But then fans started to beat the game, and slowly their outrage began to take shape. If you are unfamiliar with the game, it would be pointless to spell out the particulars, but it’ll suffice to say that fans felt betrayed by the ending of the final game in the series. A campaign for an alternate ending by U.K.-based boutique owner Sebastion Sobcyzk called for fans of the cause to donate to Child’s Play, a charity that raised money to give toys to children. Although the game’s developer, Bioware, has stood by the ending, they hinted that extra material might be made available to download. "We’ll keep listening, because your insights and constructive feedback will help determine what that content should be," executive producer Casey Hudson wrote in a forum online.

Another fan campaign, entitled Operation Rainfall, used social media to encourage fans of Japanese Nintendo game Xenoblade Chronicles to write letters demanding a North American release after Nintendo initially announced one would not be forthcoming. Operation Rainfall was coordinated with such precision that the fans involved used zone shipping maps to ensure that all the letters arrived at Nintendo of America headquarters on the same day. A Facebook group for the campaign quickly amassed 11,500 members. Last December, Nintendo announced the game would be released in North America in 2012.

Chuck got renewed

The generally crowd-pleasing hit comedy, Modern Family, raised some eyebrows in the spring of 2010 when a scene showed a married couple played by Ed O’Neill and Sofia Vergara kissing while the married gay couple played by Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson were regulated to more chaste hugging. Fans of the show (and equality in general) flocked to Facebook to voice their outrage, making a page called "Let Cam and Mitchell Kiss." Although executives at ABC claimed that an episode with the two lovebirds kissing was already in the works before the Facebook campaign, when it finally aired in the fall, the kiss was rather arbitrary and not a big moment in the episode (which itself was entitled "The Kiss").


#donald4spiderman and 5 Other Social Media Efforts That Changed The Course Of Entertainment

Social media makes it easier than ever to make entertainment dreams a reality. Here are some examples of fan-generated ideas that made a difference (in some cases, a small one) to what appears on TV and movie screens.

"You can’t always get what you want, but if you tweet sometimes, you might be surprised at what you get."

Those are almost the lyrics to a famous Rolling Stones song. Mick Jagger would probably be sick inside of a garbage can if he heard them. Were some ambitious soul with a lot of time and organizational savvy to rally enough Internet troops, though, the venerable blues-rockers could hypothetically release a special fan edition of the song on iTunes with altered lyrics. Stranger things have happened lately.

One by-product of social media’s recent omnipresence in entertainment is that fan demands can now be thoroughly heard, measured, and sometimes delivered upon. Pop culture has become participatory and it’s entirely possible that some of your favorite musicians/movies/video games are open to taking requests. Their gatekeepers are listening too.

In 2010, Donald Glover mentioned his desire to audition as Peter Parker in the new big screen iteration of the Spider-Man franchise. Fans of the Community co-star cottoned to the idea in a big way, and thus the #donald4spiderman hashtag, and a sizable social media campaign, were born. Although the web-slinging role eventually went to actor Andrew Garfield, the campaign yielded tangible results, first by getting Glover that audition, then by inspiring a Marvel artist to create an alternate Spider-Man character based on the performer, and now with last week’s news that Glover will indeed show up in some form in the movie, which comes out this summer.

While fan-generated social media campaigns designed to work against an artist seem destined to fail, there are many examples of fans rallying digitally and influencing--even minimally--the course of their favorite show or artist’s career. Read through the slideshow above for five more examples of the fan effect.

Add New Comment