I've been a Browncoat for what feels like a lifetime now. I wasn't a "first gen" who got into it when it aired, but I came in before the movie. Basically, that means I've seen a vast amount of the evolution of the Browncoats community from “who’s Josh Weedon?” to being a dominant presence at all the scifi conventions. I was never one just to sit in the audience, so I was there in the thick of it as a formalized group formed. I take no credit for the formation of the Arizona Browncoats or our various achievements, but I've been there through most of it.
Most prominent of our achievements is that for seven years we've held our annual Can't Stop The Serenity charity screenings in both Tucson and Phoenix. I've been involved in almost every one of those events. I say all this not to boast, but to lead you to what should probably be your obvious question: Why in the sphincter of hell would you do that?
Hopefully, when you attend our events, it feels special. It's really not about the movie. There are easier and cheaper ways to see it. It's on dvd, Bluray, Netflix, Amazon, I even have it downloaded on my tablet for emergency viewing. It's not really so much about the charities in the end either. If we wanted to raise money for charities we could have a car wash or post on one of those Internet fund raising sites. Nope, it's about celebrating what we, as a community, can accomplish when we unite even with a cancelled tv show and a movie that failed to impress the box office.
On the night before the event when we're pounding out buttons, arranging Raffle baskets, editing the intro video, balancing the budget, painting parasols, counting mini-Jayne hats for inventory... And you wind up with little to no relevant sleep before cramming the car full of boxes in order to drive to another city to set up an event that will last 8 hours, during which you probably won't eat, and you forget how nice sitting is... But after a last dash to sell off your merch after the movie, it's back to packing up the car with empty boxes and driving home at midnight feeling a truck hit you... There are times when you ask yourself that "why" question.
But then there's the audience. The cheers when the intro video I edited together over hours at my computer hits the big crescendo, the awe as they see our ship entering atmo, the gasp when... you know... happens as if they've never seen it before. I love the glee when they find some piece of merch they never even knew existed. I meet interesting people and everyone is instantly a best friend. There was a young girl after the most recent show that quietly came over to look at my buttons after the movie with a wistful look. I asked "was it your first time seeing the movie?" "Yeah." "It's always kind of rough seeing it the first time." Then another young lady who was standing there revealed she had to write a letter to make herself feel better when she first saw it. But when I asked if it was still a good movie, the little girl smiled. That's what I think makes this movie and this community so special. It can legitimately change you and brings people together in a way that only powerful shared experiences can.
The friends I’ve made through the Browncoats, including my wife, are most of my closest friends now. The experiences I’ve had and folks I’ve met through Cons and other Browncoat things, be it Marian Call, the Bedlam Bards, Michelle Dockery, Michael Daughtery and the crew of Browncoats:Redemption, Laura Penny from the Womens Foundation of Southern Arizona, the Debbie and Denice and PJ Haarsma at Kids Need To Read; or just the normal people who come up to our booth at Phoenix Comicon or CSTS, the countless Kaylees, the elaborate Mals, my all time favorite costume was a beautiful dress a girl wore at Phoenix Comicon that (artistically) represented Serenity herself... Being a browncoat has been an absolutely amazing experience I wouldn’t trade for the world.
So is it worth all the blood, sweat, and tears to put together a CSTS; to bring together Browncoats so they can have the joy of experiences like I’ve had; to represent our fandom as more than just “nerds with an obsession with a cancelled tv show”? Well, you should join up to help work next year’s event and find out for yourself!