If anyone underestimated the power of social media in modern society, they should look no further than a current campaign on Twitter.
It surrounds the reboot of the cult TV series ‘Twin Peaks‘ (for those not familiar, its creator is offbeat director David Lynch and Mark Frost – it’s a seminal piece of early 90s television which explored the gulf between the veneer of small-town respectability and the seedier layers of life lurking beneath it (with added weirdness in the form of surreal dreams of dancing dwarves who talk backwards thrown in for good measure).
It was a fabulous series. I loved it at the time and still adore it now. Fans like me were ecstatic when, last October, US Cable TV network Showtime announced a third season to air in 2016 to continue the story.
But sadly Lynch used Twitter to announce last weekend that he’s pulled out, citing budget concerns:
I believe Lynch’s use of social media to make the announcement was a calculated decision. One he knew would lead to a huge public outcry which would put Showtime under considerable pressure to save face.
On cue, fans immediately freaked out, directing most of their ire at Showtime for seeming to pinch pennies. A #savetwinpeaks hashtag was trending worldwide on Sunday. A @savetwinpeaks account started to co-ordinate a campaign to save the series.
(OK, that one’s mine, but it makes the point well!)
The Twin Peaks cast joined the #SaveTwinPeaks campaign, and posted a video asking fans to tell them “Twin Peaks without David Lynch is like…” Actress Madchen Amick Tweeted:
Cast members posted the video on a Facebook campaign page:
Here’s the video, posted on a whosay.com page. You can also find it on YouTube:
Fans also started an online petition, which at the time of writing had almost 20,000 signatures.
At the 10,000 mark they posted their own video on Youtube:
Fans were also encouraged to email Showtime execs to show their anger. Showtime PR people already had a stock email reply (based on their press statement) when I emailed on Sunday.
Could fans’ and cast members’ efforts via a variety of social and digital media platforms actually pay off? According to entertainment website Variety, Showtime and others are apparently intensifying their efforts to get Lynch back on board.
Of course fan campaigns are nothing new. Star Trek fans famously undertook a letter-writing campaign in 1968 led by super-fan Bjo Trimble. They successfully campaigned for the series to be saved from the axe after its second season.
Today’s multimedia Twin Peaks efforts may even seem a bit sci-fi to those Star Trek fans of nearly 50 years ago.
They’re a good example of how such a campaign can exert influence (even if the subject is what some would argue is ‘only’ a TV series). It will be interesting to see Showtime’s ultimate reaction following its very public kicking. Will people-power via social media win through? Will we finally find out the answer to the question: ‘How’s Annie?’…