Menu Close

Thinking pop culture

Neptune. It’s Better In Your Head

For a handful of years in the mid-2000s, Veronica Mars was on our screens.

A sassy teen sleuth (played by Kristen Bell) solved crimes in a Californian town named Neptune. It was cute, clever and just a little bit edgy. A show I really enjoyed and one I never ever thought about again.

In one of Kickstarter’s most successful campaigns, fans - proper ones, devoted ones, not just fly-by-nighters like me - chipped in to give the series a proper cinematic send-off.

The project became Kickstarter’s first project to bring in $1m, the first, then, to bring in $2m, and the Mars project currently holds the record for the most backers of any project on the site.

The crowd-funding success story angle has garnered the lion’s share of attention. It is undoubtedly, a very sweet, grassroots, bottom-up, power-to-the-people kind of tale. Equally of course, it’s a perfect example of contemporary let-the-market-decide capitalism in the Internet age. Fans want a Veronica Mars movie? Fans willing to pay for its production? Ta daa!

It’s the end result, alas, that I’m less sold on.

As always, the proof of the pudding is in the eating and the Veronica Mars Movie left me with a couple of pithy thoughts, neither being wow that was worth the $5 iTunes rental fee!

I enjoyed the show when it first aired. Since the 2007 finale however, so much brilliant television has screened that the idea of genuinely caring about this one good-but-not-life/game-changing show seems a tad hyperbolic. Ten minutes into my rental and I was quite convinced that the time for Veronica had past.

But I do like the task of scouring for a silver lining.

Accidentally, sure, but the Veronica Mars film does provide an importance lesson on the pleasure and pain of wanting, of waiting.

To the Mars(h)-mallows - the name fans bestowed upon themselves - a movie sounded good, sounded great. A little Mars is pleasurable, so surely movie-length Mars will be orgasmic, right?

Even with my sketchy understanding of economics, I know too well that this principle is flawed. Diminishing marginal utility: chocolate doesn’t get better the more you consume. More Mars - movie-length Mars - is unlikely to be twice as satisfying as any single episode.

There’s a couple of uncomfortable realities that this film spotlights. 1. That nearly everything is better in our heads than in real life. 2. Most end results can never proffer enough pleasure to balance the weight of our waiting/aching/angst.

Let me, of course, loudly acknowledge the pleasure found in waiting. In aching. In angst. I’ve had more than one relationship where the pain of pining for him was so much more pleasurable than being in a room with him. The having-something-to-look-forward to (“something to hunt”, as The National might sing) is, equally, an established cornerstone of happiness.

The imaginings of a Veronica Mars film undoubtedly boasted pleasure for fans. Contributors to the Kickstarter campaign were treated to photos and clips and scuttlebutt as production progressed. Fans undoubtedly revelled in their what-if journey.

It’s the getting what we wish for when it all falls apart.

There, as a plot thinner than even the crappiest CSI/Law and Order episode plays out, hearts sink. Prior to hearing those telltale We Used to Be Friends chords, there was hope that it could turn out okay; that the film could do justice to our fandom. Scenes later however, and all hope is gone.

There’s a take-home though, for all the Seinfeld devotees wanting a little something more. Or, in my case, my just-one-more-series fantasy centered on The Riches. Getting a second bite of the cherry might not merely turn out sub-par, but in fact, might completely sully fond memories.

By all means, dabble in the fan fiction, read the fake Twitter accounts, revel in the hope and the wanting. It’s almost always more satisfying than actually getting what you wish for.

Veronica Mars Movie - trailer.

Want to write?

Write an article and join a growing community of more than 184,200 academics and researchers from 4,969 institutions.

Register now