Monday, April 15, 2013

This is how they troll: Firefly fans still selling Jayne hats despite official cease & desist

Firefly fans have something of a complicated relationship with Fox.

11 years after the beloved sci-fi show got the ax from a network that never really cared about it, browncoats (the fans) still cling to the few vestiges of their fandom almost as desperately as they cling to the vanishing hope of a revival of the series.

For years, the most iconic and recognizable piece of Firefly fandom was the "Jayne hat" - which appeared in one episode and has since been replicated by a host of crafty knitters on Etsy.  This gloriously garrish chapeau became one of the easiest ways to identify a Firefly fan and served as a rallying point at conventions since they were only made for fans by fans.

Recently, however, ThinkGeek blew this all to hell by adding an officially licensed version of the hat to their shop and Fox began serving cease and desist letters to Etsy sellers (many, Firefly fans themselves) to stop selling the hats because - well, Fox might not Firefly... but it sure does like money.

As you can imagine, the fanbase did not take this lying down.

So strange that we would suffer so much over something so small...

The best example of how the fans have responded to Fox's cease and desist order is found in this listing for a "Controversial Hat with a backstory". The words "Jayne" and "Firefly" carefully don't appear in the amazingly tongue-in-cheek listing, but the backstory for the hat is pretty compelling.

"There once was a girl named Jane. Jane was a very simple girl. She liked simple things, like catching fireflies with her father. 

Jane's father was all she had. They lived together on a small farm with only a few animals. Other than the farm and Jane, all Jane's father had was a browncoat and a hat. 

Occasionally, after they were done catching fireflies, Jane's father would stand in the middle of the farm yard, wave his hands to point to it all and say to her, 'Someday, Jane, this will all be yours. The chickens. The sheep. My brown coat. Even this hat.'" 

Hm, I'm on board. There was a girl named Jane whose father owned a farm (e-i-e-i-ohhh!) and he had a distinctive hat.  Everything's rosy so far, but then...

"One night, Jane and her father heard the farm animals getting restless. Jane watched as her father grabbed a big stick and went out to see what was going on. 

Jane waited. She could hear the animals getting more restless. Then, she heard her father scream. 

Not knowing what else to do, not even thinking, Jane ran out the door. She was mere feet from the door when what she saw made her stop on her tracks. 

Her father laid on the ground, bloody, unmoving, dead. The thing that had killed him was still there, still hitting them with the big stick, the big stick it had taken from her father's own hands. 

It was a fox. Somehow, a fox was holding the big stick in its paws and bashing her dead father with it. 


And there you have it.  Happily, the "Controversial Hat with a backstory" has already sold which is a small - but by no means insignificant - victory for Firefly fans the world over.

Fox has yet to respond to this latest browncoat initiative, no doubt because the network is too busy trying to release a licensed version of Sheneneh's can of malt liquor from the 6th episode of Martin