I wasn’t aware of the idea of the fan campaign until 1999 when the quest to save the science fiction show “Farscape” made a ton of headlines. I soon realized that what happened wasn’t an isolated incident, especially as “Firefly” earned a ton of fan support. While fan campaigns like petitions and mail in campaigns have become common place on the internet, fan campaigns reach far back before even home computers were ever made available. “United We Fan” is an original and quite fantastic look at the birth of fan campaigns, how the entire concept represents the best of fandom and the fan community, and the destruction of stereotypes that’s followed the concept of fan campaigns for years.
“United We Fan,” directed by Michael Sparaga, chronicles the birth of fan campaigns and their evolution from write ins, to parties, right over to online petitions and other wildly radical and inventive forms of saving various television shows across the board. “United We Fan” doesn’t just chronicle the birth of fan campaigns, but also what caused them, why the shows were cancelled and what the series’ often meant to the fans themselves. For some fans like those of “Star Trek,” it often involved their love for the genre, as well as their adoration of the cast, and there’s the brutally loyal “Veronica Mars” following which helped engineer a long requested feature film through Kickstarter, making history.
Director Sparaga even looks at what the campaigns meant to various actors, featuring interviews with folks like Zachary Levi, Amy Acker, Skeet Ulrich, and Scott Bakula, respectively. Director Sparaga covers every known topic concerning fan campaigns ranging from the very effective to the baffling. There is a look at how fans convinced NASA to name one of their ships the “Enterprise,” an extensive list of what kind of odd objects fans mailed en masse to various studios, as well as the movement to save “Person of Interest.” The story of the latter is one of the most entertaining and interesting segments as Sparaga interviews cast members of the series, the fans journey to save it from cancellation, and how much the LGBTQ storyline within the series meant to fans of the LGBTQ community.
There’s also a much needed and fascinating look at the trend of murdering LGBTQ characters in popular series for the sake of a dramatic twist, and how many vocal fans campaigned to end what became a shockingly recurring and painfully cheap device in the vein of the “Women in Refrigerators” trope. “United We Fan” is a fun and informative documentary that explores the birth of the fan campaign, their immense influence (the story of VQT is worthy of its own documentary), and why they’ve become so common in the digital age. It’s a great tribute to the power of the fan, and how their love helped creators and artists realize their visions to the very end.