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Kickstarter Jumps the Shark, Offers Campaign to Fund a Death Star

Fifty years from now, when we all look back at what once was, and we fondly remember how Kickstarter used to be a great way for artists and inventors to fund projects that might not otherwise be possible, we could very well remember this campaign as Kickstarter’s jump-the-shark moment. After the White House refused to build a Death Star, someone started a joke Kickstarter campaign to build one anyway, and it already has more than 1,000 supporters.

The Kickstarter campaign was started as by user “www.gnut.co.uk“, a website that hosts a game called Pirates vs. Ninjas. They’re seeking £20,000,000, which they purposefully set high enough to prove that this is a ridiculous prank. They claim the money is for initial research into how to go about building a Death Star, because this is currently the design they’re working with:

Looks like it could use some fleshing out. Beyond the goal for the research there’s also a stretch goal of the full $850,000,000,000,000,000 estimated price tag on a Death Star. They’re already at £191,300 and 1,043 backers, which is 38 more people than when I started writing this.

Kickstarter is known for the rewards users are offered for supporting projects. Normally one can expect first crack at a new product, or have a copy signed by the creator. The more creative and desirable the reward, the better a campaign tends to do. That’s why I’m particularly underwhelmed by the rewards being offered for the Death Star. For £1, you get “Our thanks and the knowledge that we’re one step towards a safer planet,” and for £10 you get that and “your name etched onto the underneath of one of the MSE-6 series repair droids used on the finished station.”

That’s it?

There’s so much opportunity to make more Star Wars jokes in that rewards section. It’s not like you’re going to have to come through with any of them. You’re asking for millions of dollars to research something that would require more money and resources than exist on Earth. Get creative. Why not offer to blow up someone’s planet of choice if they donate $1,000,000,000? They probably won’t pick Earth.

The petition on the White House’s We the People site that asked the government to build a Death Star received over 34,435 signatures. That’s well beyond the 10,000 signatures required for a response at the time. It should be noted that the number of signatures needed for a response has been raised to 100,000 because people keep doing dumb stuff like asking the government to build a Death Star.

Paul Shawcross, Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget wrote the official response to the petition. His reasons for saying no include:

  • The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We’re working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
  • The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
  • Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?

Those are all great reasons, but he forgot to mention the most important reason of all: It’s stupid.

But when government fails to come through for its citizens, no matter how idiotic their request, there’s always the private sector. With 52 days left in the campaign they’re pretty close to reaching one percent of their goal, and that’s actually a lot more than I would have guessed.

The site blatantly acknowledges that it’s a joke, and says their biggest challenge besides the power of the Force is making it clear to Kickstarter that the campaign isn’t real. I guess because they think that means Kickstarter won’t delete the campaign? That’s absolutely what should happen. If Kickstarter starts letting stuff like this through then it’s going to quickly spiral down into madness.

Is this Kickstarter’s jump-the-shark moment? It may be, but not everyone thinks that’s necessarily a bad thing.

I’m real excited for Community tonight.

(via Kickstarter, image via Andres Rueda)

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