Thursday, August 18, 2005

FIREFLY: a "liberal" checks in

Sunni Maravillosa alerted me to Anders Monsen’s terrific Liberty and Culture blog. And Anders in turn pointed me toward a wonderfully twisted “liberal Democrat” critique of Joss Whedon’s TV series Firefly, now popular among so many of us sci-fi lovin’ radical libertarians.

The critique comes from Daraka Kenric’s hoverbike blog, which is appropriately subtitled “Politics is to want something.” Kenric writes that “the entire framework of [Firefly] is a bizarre masculine-libertarian fantasy, even worse than the original Star Wars trilogy.” Since the show’s characters are veterans of a galaxy-wide civil war, Kenric insists the series is a “nice sanitized right-wing allegory” of the U.S. Civil War, “so the world of Firefly is built around a dynamic of federal growth and defeated localist bitterness. What is creepy, intensely so, is that the heroes are the Confederates.” Now listen to this:

“And then there is the Indian thing. In order to complete the Old West picture, they had to have Indians. Because this is not a race thing ... they made the Indians insane people-eating pirates. Lest you forget that they are Indians, however, there is the drum music and phrases like ‘they’ll chase after you if you try to run, that is their way.’ Christ.”
Kenric describes the series’ lead character, Captain Mal Reynolds:

“...the ultimate alpha male, a straight-talking silent type who is driven to honorable criminality by the oppressive federal government. He hates their rules. He just wants to be left alone. Leave him alone. You’ll take his spaceship out of his cold, dead hands.”
Well...yeah.

Kenric admits to missing the original Star Trek series and is even depressed by “how much better as narrative and entertainment Firefly is than the latest Star Trek offerings.” But the Star Trek universe is so much nicer! Writes Kenric:

“In Star Trek, we are treated to a vision of a positive future, one in which politics focuses on an expansive defense of peace and justice, rather than individual glorification.”
Wait a minute! Is Daraka Kenric a liberal Democrat or — shudder — a hawkish Bushian neoconservative?

Check out the entire post at the link above. It’s a hoot and a half.

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21 Comments:

At 3:08 PM, Anonymous Tom Ender said...

> Is Daraka Kenric a
> liberal Democrat or
> — shudder — a hawkish
> Bushian neoconservative?

Is the difference more than rhetorical? (I guess that question is rhetorical.)

However, based on his blog's trappings, I'd guess he would probably claim to be a "lefty."

Like you, I also found Anders' blog to be a great find. I doubt I will visit Daraka's as often, if ever.

Sunni's Salon is full of good stuff this month. (Shameless plug.)

 
At 4:11 PM, Blogger Wally Conger said...

My question -- liberal or neocon? -- was purely rhetorical. I'm sure, judging from Daraka's blog and its collectivist "trappings" (as you call them), he'd be horrified to be labelled a "hawkish Bushian neoconservative." So I couldn't resist asking...

 
At 6:56 AM, Anonymous Sunni said...

Happy to have been of service, Wally. And I, too, followed that link from Anders' blog and found the post particularly amusing.

 
At 11:12 AM, Blogger Warren Bluhm said...

Actually, since "neoconservative" by definition means "new conservative," it's just a small jump from lib to con -- which would probably horrify most neocons but it helps explain why neocons are so gung-ho about the government running our lives: They're too new to conservatism to understand its tradition, and their template has always been to find the solution in government.

 
At 11:16 AM, Blogger Warren Bluhm said...

Oops, and another thing: I've watched these shows all about three times since buying the set a month or so ago, and it never occurred to me that the Rievers are "Indians." I think that says more about Kenric's assumptions about Native Americans than about Joss Whedon's. To see a connection between the Rievers and Native Americans, you have to believe Indians are/were barbaric cannibal savages. Living about 10 miles from a reservation, that has never been my perception. I think his prejudices are showing.

 
At 11:29 PM, Anonymous Julius said...

It does not matter.

What is needed is the realisation that the Neocons and far lefties are all Control Freaks.

There should be a new paradigm.

Control Freaks on one side including Republicans, Democrats, Neoconnazis and Watergate Libertatians.

And folk who don't need em on the other side.

 
At 8:01 AM, Anonymous Curt Howland said...

I, too, greatly enjoyed the original StarTrek, but for the same reason I can enjoy fiction in military or government settings and still be a raving anarcho-capitalist. The original StarTrek was a near continuous series of violations of the rules, and was certainly about individuals solving problems. The Federation was usually represented by incompetent bureaucrats. I like FireFly because, first, it tells good stories. I introduced my mother to the series by playing "Out Of Gas", and her reaction at the end was "Thank you."

 
At 12:05 PM, Blogger Anders Monsen said...

Greetings from the source of this link. (Part of me is shocked that anyone ever found this blog, as I've been writing it mainly for myself since 2002. I now need to be more careful with that I write there...) I used to grudgingly like Star Trek, as it was the only sf show on TV for a long time. Yet in the back of my mind the show always irked me in many ways. A few years ago J. Neil Schulman wrote a scathing and brilliant screed against Star Trek, called "Does Star Trek Even Make Sense?" As far as Firefly goes, I had a hard time figuring out why so many libertarians, myself included, could like a show created by a Democrat Liberal like Joss Whedon, who despises guns. Evidence now points to Tim Minear, plus the internal logical consistent constraints of the Firefly universe, as the probably libertarian influences.

 
At 12:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found the slams on firefly's diversity interesting. Aren't liberals supposed to be in favor of diversity? The "Injuns" reference has already been discussed. He refers to Zoe as a "masculinized black woman who's (sic) husband loves her big butt". Wait a minute--I thought liberals were in agreement with the feminist ideal of equal involvement in the military! What gives on this slam? Then he refers to a "precocious nerdy virgin". Is he talking about Kaylee? Well, he did say he had only seen 4 episodes. But Kaylee's no virgin, nor would I call her "nerdy". And is the "frat boy" Jayne? Ha! Although Jayne's preoccupation with sex might be a commonality with some frat boys, that's about all Jayne's character would have in common with a typical frat rat.

I would also take issue with his idea that "revisionist history" says that "the Civil War is not about slavery". Um, do some research, dude--it wasn't.

In addition, I'm not entirely sure that Star Trek is a "positive vision of the future". There were plenty of pitfalls in the Enterprise's travels.

The use of guns is explained well in the special features section. But another aspect of the guns vs. high-tech weapons thing is shown clearly in several instances where the high-tech gadgets didn't work. Again, this guy only saw 4 episodes, so maybe he missed that.

Another comment was that firefly is set in an "English-only world". Guess he missed the Chinese signs and dual use of Chinese and English.

A sigh is required here, I think. I mean, can one really expect a liberal to "get" firefly? This dude seems bent on scratching out any possible argument against even enjoying a second of the series.

 
At 3:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But... but... Whedon is a huge liberal who held a "Vote Kerry!" party... and he's a massive feminist....

He's said in interviews that he wouldn't trust anyone but Tim Minear to tell Firefly stories, but the show is definitely Whedon's show. I think it's a sign of his incredible storytelling ability that he can write a series that can be analyzed so many different ways... and if he truly did write it as a "sanitized right-wing allegory," then it's a tribute that he could write it that way while still being a liberal himself.

Yes? No?

It's a great show. Shut up and enjoy it.

 
At 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Important to distinguish between an author's personal views and those implied by his creations. Whedon may indeed be an atheist liberal who dislikes private firearms ownership, but all the more credit to him for conceiving Firefly. By any standard, it is a ripping yarn, which explains why it has still a devoted following, after the commercial failures of both the original TV series and subsequent Movie.

 
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At 7:49 PM, Blogger WNY Liberal said...

I'm not sure how anyone, taking the entire series as a whole, can see this as anything but a critique of libertarianism gone awry.

Blue Son Corp able to capture and experiment on anyone at will...

Outlying planets govern themselves as they see fit; garnering crazy ass diseases, or executing people as witches, et al.

The entire series should be seen as what happens when Libertarianism is let loose.

 
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