Why is this so amazingly cool?
Look at the crud Hollywood is producing. Most of the characters are Norman McBoring with all mainstream traits. If there's a black guy, he's more likely to die than to survive. If there's a lesbian, she usually dies or goes insane or evil. If there's a strong female character, she's likely to get raped or stuffed into a refrigerator or depowered. Et cetera ad nauseam. I am tired of this nonsense. It makes me want some other kind of entertainment. It makes me want to spend my money somewhere else.
Aether Dancer is something else. It starts out with a mixed cast of characters including strong women and people of color. The airship captain is a woman; the clockwork girl is Asian. They don't stay in one place; they travel around making deliveries, getting into and out of trouble.
And then ... it's your turn. Who do you want in a future populated by the descendants of people who survived rocks falling from the sky? Do you want a hero of African, Hispanic, Native American, Australian, multiracial, or whatever other descent? Make one. Do you want more strong women? Make some. Do you want characters who are poor, homeless, handicapped, homosexual, or possessed of some other feature that usually gets ignored in past and future histories alike? Make them. Write about them. Film them, if you're into indie film production. Every world has some kind of evil; every story has antagonists. But when a fight goes down, this time let's stuff the villain into the refrigerator instead of the hera, or the black guy, or the queer person. Because that will be new, and fresh stories are more exciting than things we've seen dozens of times already.
Do you have friends who complain about the sexist/racist/classist/generally discriminatory and narrow-minded dreck in television, movies, books, comics, etc.? Point them at this project. Hustle them to donate. Do you know people who act in or produce indie film? Urge them to get involved here. Do you know people who do podcasts? Those have scripts too. So pass the word. Turn the complaints into action. Because as long as people keep buying the dreck, mainstream producers will make more of it. They will only care about your cultural identity or ideals when you put your folding vote in your butt pocket and walk away from their products.
When you put your money into independent projects like Aether Dancer, that says you want entertainment that reflects your identity, your perspective, your diversity, your friends, and generally a wider world than what the mainstream offers. It says you insist on new stories, not old hats. And it says that you're willing to put your money where your morals are. Not only will that make the indie projects possible, it will encourage diversity in the mainstream as well.
But wait! There is even more awesome sauce. Think for a moment about the impact of major entertainment franchises on our culture. Remember Star Trek, Star Wars, superheroes, and The Mouse That Ate Copyright. These are our modern myths, which means people want to share them, hence all the fanfic. Now imagine what would happen if those had been open source from the beginning. What would it be like if the creators shared the setting, if everyone could play, if that cultural material was free to grow instead of being locked up? What would it be like if no character type was told go home, you can't play? What would it be like if the folks creating fanfic full of richly aspected characters and innovative plots could connect that stuff to the original canon? What would it be like if actors, writers, artists, and other creative people could make their own characters and jump on board ... each bringing their own audience along for the ride? Because that's what the open source aspect of Aether Dancer is all about. It lets people pool their creative resources and make something more momentous than any one person, or closed group, could make alone. That's magic.
This is the second attempt at funding Aether Dancer. Maybe it will happen this time, maybe not. I'm throwing my weight behind it because this is the kind of entertainment I want, in terms of both diversity and storytelling. This is the kind of project I want, in terms of both creative structure and business model. By getting involved, I'm not just doing what I can to make this specific project successful, I'm also sending a message about my consumer direction in general. That part works whether or not this project funds this time; there will be more of these. I'm not a passive consumer. And I'm learning that there's a very sweet spot where creativity, collaboration, and profit all converge more effectively than other models offer. So let's go there. Let's see what happens when everybody gets to play.