Saturday, March 6, 2010

Joss Whedon and Firefly


I was late to 2002's "Firefly," catching the television series well after its initial release on DVD. It was a fun, sometimes clever, space opera, depicting the exploits of the crew of the spacecraft, "Serenity." It was occasionally too cutesy, but when it was entertaining, it was entertaining. But it never found its footing, and it was canceled in December of 2002, after only 11 episodes.

I generally enjoy the work of its creator, Joss Whedon, but I do not worship him. (This makes me somewhat unique among the viewers of his television programs.). I have seen most, if not all, of the episodes of his "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel" television series. I saw Serenity, the 2005 film based on "Firefly," at the theatres. But there exists around Whedon a puzzling and worshipful cult that forgives even the fact that he perpetrated the recent and awful "Dollhouse."

Fans, particularly science fiction fans in the Internet age, have become apologists and sycophants for their favorite shows. They so desperately want to become a part of a mythos - any mythos - that they don costumes, write fan fiction, and do anything and everything they can to insert themselves into the fictive universe that they adore. They maintain a personal stake in their fandom; if you look at their beloved program with anything approaching a critical eye, they take personal offense. They cannot respond well to such criticism, because their very identify is questioned by anything other than an obsequious review. They so identify with the shows they love that it becomes for them, in effect, a would-be ethnicity. I love "Lost," but hey . . .


This is not new. Certainly, there were and still are rapid fans of Star Wars and Star Trek and Lord of the Rings. (There are even some who pardon George Lucas for all of his post-1983 offenses, of which there are many.). But those were massive movie franchises, the first two of which have been around for decades. How is it, then, that a short-lived, albeit entertaining, television show like "Firefly", which lasted but eleven episodes, could gain such a cultish following? How is it that there are partisans of this show who still refer to actor Nathan Fillion as "the Captain," when he played that role for less than half of a full television season on a program that was canceled nearly eight years ago? The ensuing film was entertaining and fun, which is a rarity these days, but should a fun flick and a handful of TV episodes a subculture make?

I think not.

1 comment:

Ryan S. said...

Certainly the early demise of Firefly seems to have given Whedon/ the show a bit of martyrdom. "If only they'd seen it!" And, in truth, people really didn't get to give it a chance with the Friday timeslot in an era when DVRs were just becoming common.

But, yes, as someone living on the edge of internet fandom, the "Browncoats" (as the Firefly nuts dub themselves) are a little tiresome, finding ways to bring up the injustice of the show's cancellation and overblown opinion of its merits at every opportunity.

But I thought Gina Torres was pretty awesome on that show.