If you’re anything like me, the news of Fox cancelling Brooklyn Nine Nine after five glorious seasons, probably had you looking a little something like this:
This news was met with immediate outrage from fans globally. People were so upset, that almost 40 thousand signed a petition to save the Nine Nine. But this weeping didn’t last for long: many fans held hope that the series would find new life on the streaming services Hulu or Netflix. When the streaming services decided not to revive the series, NBC swooped in to save the day.
And this literally happened in the span of 31 hours.
Now, if you’re on Facebook or Twitter, you probably would have heard something about this. Fan’s across the globe were all highly active on social media, sharing the rollercoaster of emotions of the whole ordeal. Some speculate this outcry on social media was the very reason NBC picked up the show.
You might ask yourself why did so many fans felt so emotional to Brooklyn Nine Nine cancellation? My money’s on the fact that Brooklyn Nine Nine is one of the most important series of our time when it comes to diversity and inclusivity.
The show stars two black men in leadership roles; one openly gay (and never the source of joke or homosexual stereotype), and the other, whilst physically macho and brawny, a doting father with a strong obsession for yoghurt. Two of the leading ladies are latina, who never subject to demeaning stereotypes. Brooklyn Nine Nine challenges many societal issues, such as toxic masculinity, racism, homophobia and sexism, all of which has landed itself with a very dedicated fan-base.
Social media – a tool for mass communication
Unlike any media platform before it, social media offers affordances that allow individuals to “increase [their] communication reach”, allowing for communication at a mass scale.
And with phenomena such as “live-tweeting”, media is no longer a one-way experience.Fans that engage on social media provide producers with instant feedback on content they’re broadcasting, creating a new and effective communication channel between viewer and producer.
So when news of the Nine Nine’s cancellation, it was no surprise to see many heartbroken fans expressing their dismay. Hell, even the writers and cast took to Twitter to share their grief. But how, and why, did fans of the show mobilise so quickly? Some credit the shows important representation and diversity, while others simply believe that the show is just good. So good, that it’s cult fandom mobilized and did something about it.
Social media allows for joining forces
Its unquestionable that social media plays a major role in connecting people, both domestically and internationally. But it’s also the ultimate tool for mobilizing groups of like-minded people together. Which is exactly what happened when Fox axed Brooklyn Nine Nine: they rallied together with others who felt the tragic loss of a great show, and took to social media with hashtags such as #SavetheNineNine and #RenewB99.
Many were impressed by how swiftly NBC snatched up the Nine Nine, attributing the revival to the dedicated and passionate fandom. Some speculate that fan culture, particularly cult-fans, are now driving entertainment through connection online.This newfound ability to band together online has made television networks (and the media more broadly) more democratic. You can see this with shows like Big Brother, where viewers literally vote to keep their favourite contestants.
In this case, social media facilitated such a significant outcry for Brooklyn Nine Nine’s revival, that NBC picked up the show in a matter of hours. Pretty impressive, if you ask me.
Social media tackles the power imbalance
I alluded to this earlier, but social media allows audiences to hold more power in the relationship dynamic with producers and television networks. What this means is that the power studios and networks once held is becoming increasingly decentralised.
This is hardly surprising, given that just about anyone can become an influencer with countless followers online. This newfound reach to hundreds, potentially thousands, of people grants us mere mortal individuals with the power to influence a multinational corporations, as seen with NBC and Brooklyn Nine Nine.
And even if you don’t happen to have a follower count in the thousands, many believe the collective power of an audience can have the same effect. Research actually shows that the crowd plays a more significant role in the early stages of trend creation than opinion leaders and influencers. As such, businesses now have little choice but to engage in social media and facilitate interactivity between the corporation, consumer and influencer.
So next time you’re mourning over the loss of a show you hold dear to your heart, remember the Nine Nine. Let this be a reminder that if fans come together, there’s no limit to what they can achieve.