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I don’t like Firefly. Big part of the reason for that is the… - Me myself and I
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liliaeth
liliaeth

I don’t like Firefly.

Big part of the reason for that is the lack of memorable characters, and the shitty worldbuilding.

But it’s not just that, it’s the whole premise of the series.

By the very rules of the series, the Browncoats, aka Mal’s group who lost the war and the people we’re supposed to see as the good guys, are basically coded as confederates.

Think about that for a second

Now I do agree that Whedon was limited due to the series getting cancelled so soon, but if, as I would have hoped, we’d eventually be lead to come to realize that the browncoats were in the wrong, like the people they were modeled after, then you’d think that Whedon would have used the opportunity of the movie to show just that. Instead,he  wasted that chance on making the Alliance even more clearly the bad guys.

And the thing is, Whedon is a liberal, so why didn’t he realize that his very concept of his series sent some damn unfortunate implications. Did he really not realize what message that his very premise was sending?

(and that doesn’t even get me  started on how a world setting supposedly build on the idea of Asian and American cultures meshing, up to the point of them regularly using Chinese in every day conversation, did not have a single regular Chinese character. )

I don’t hate Whedon, but looking back at pretty much most of Whedon’s work, I do think he needs to work on his race issues.

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Comments
sinanju From: sinanju Date: July 12th, 2015 09:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't think you're wrong that the Browncoats read as Confederates, given that they fought a (losing) war against the central government, but that's a framework with a lot of wiggle room in it. There's nothing in the show to suggest that slavery was an issue in any sense--and that makes a big difference. I think that idea (an overbearing central government demanding complete allegiance and obedience, and a population who resist that demand) can resonate with a lot of people who would nonetheless condemn the Confederate cause.

But while I enjoy the show, yes, the worldbuilding was crap. They left Earth That Was behind...which suggests the ability to reach other star systems, but then apparently EVERYONE went to this ONE star system and found (or terraformed) a zillion worlds all within a few days or weeks of one another. Say what? If any other human colonized worlds exist, they're never mentioned, and the existence of such--and the tech to reach them--would seem to be something that we'd expect to hear about if that were the case.

Plus, the notion that "horses don't need spare parts" so colonies are started with low tech because spare parts won't be available for a long, long time doens't mesh with a world where ordinary not-rich folks (like those who've lost a brutal war recently) can obtain (and can AFFORD) spaceships and make a living (thin, perhaps, but a living) ferrying passengers and cargo from planet to planet. Why don't all those colonists get a Sears & Roebuck catalog of all the glorious things available from the prosperous, high-tech core worlds on credit, or layaway or something? Those grasping corporations wouldn't hesitate to try to open all those potential markets when the means to reach them (cheap, affordable space travel) clearly exists.

Instead of dirt farmers (or in addition to them), the colonies would be mining and doing other resource extraction of raw materials to trade to the core worlds for finished goods.
paratti From: paratti Date: July 12th, 2015 10:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Whedon's economics is a shaky as his grasp of history.
liliaeth From: liliaeth Date: July 12th, 2015 10:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't think you're wrong that the Browncoats read as Confederates, given that they fought a (losing) war against the central government, but that's a framework with a lot of wiggle room in it. There's nothing in the show to suggest that slavery was an issue in any sense--and that makes a big difference. I think that idea (an overbearing central government demanding complete allegiance and obedience, and a population who resist that demand) can resonate with a lot of people who would nonetheless condemn the Confederate cause.

I get what you're saying, but unlike you, I think that's exactly the problem. It's because that's the exact romanticized version of the confederates that somehow has slipped into the general cultural hivemind. It's why the confederate battle flag is known as the rebel flag and used by people who completely ignore it's actual background and what it stands for.

I actually would have had less of an issue with the Browncoats being coded as confederates, if we'd gotten hints that that idea about fighting for freedom from an overbearing government is just an excuse for a darker cause.

Personally I would have given the show a lot more credit if it turned out the Browncoats were repsonsible for that disaster that ended up causing the Reavers. Instead of making the Alliance look even more like the bad guys. Because it says that the guys coded as the confederates were right all along and that their 'cause' was true. Which is something a lot of people in the south still claim as well.
liliaeth From: liliaeth Date: July 12th, 2015 10:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
To give an example of a show that took this idea and handled it right, you should look up Continuum.

In that series we have a female corporate cop who travels back in time to hunt down a group of terrorists. Only from the first ep on, and clearer and clearer as the series continues we come to realize that Kiera, though she herself is a good person, is fighting for the wrong cause, that the government she's fighting for is evil and that the terrorists though their methods are wrong, are actually in the right as far as their cause is concerned.

enigmaticblues From: enigmaticblues Date: July 12th, 2015 10:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I actually agree with you wholeheartedly. I read an article recently that talked about why the characters in Firefly were fairly terrible people, and that there are parts of the Alliance that could be read as a progressive utopia. Ah, here it is.

But, while I agree, I think it's important to recognize that the US started as a rebellion, and rebels against authority is a dearly loved myth of ours. I would bet that, if asked, Whedon would say that he was hearkening more towards our country's roots rather than the Confederacy, even if that doesn't actually come through in the story itself. The Old West is also a beloved myth, and there was certainly some callbacks to that, what with the space cowboys and all.

That doesn't mean, however, that those touchstones are without problems. There were massive problems with the world building, and when I learned what Whedon had eventually planned for Inara's storyline, I was appalled. (There are also serious problems with Inara's portrayal in general, since the narrative is at once accepting of her profession and very derogatory.)
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