‘Firefly’ showcased discrimination in a relatively peaceful time in US politics. However, in the turbulent years that have since followed, it has become more relevant than ever.
‘Firefly’ was the ‘00s show that should’ve foretold us all of Whedon’s brilliance. However, the show got sidelined into nothingness because of the network intervention. Now, almost two decades later, the story about the revolution resonates more than ever.
- How does ‘Firefly’ showcase real-world politics?
- The revolution in ‘Firefly’.
- How does Joss Whedon show protest?
Long live the Browncoats
‘Firefly’ landed with a thud when it did. Network executives had mistreated it, and it went off with terrible ratings.
Yet, Joss Whedon was the creator to bank on at the time. He had helmed successful projects in ‘Buffy: The Vampire Slayer’ and ‘Angel’ was waiting to drop in a few years. It appeared that whatever Whedon would touch would become pop-culture iconography.
However, ‘Firefly’ disappeared without a trace. Only to be rediscovered through the years. Now, two decades later, fans still wait for a ‘Firefly’ reboot confirmation. What made this show so compelling? Arguably, the western space story, the genuinely intriguing characters, and the story was great. ‘Firefly’ was refreshingly politically incorrect and was filled with imagery of protests.
Browncoats are the ‘Firefly’ fans who, throughout the years, have written thousands of pages about the show. Even though the show ended thematically with Serenity, fans have waited for a ‘Firefly’ reboot confirmation for years. The wait keeps getting more desperate because of how relevant ‘Firefly’ has remained throughout the years. The connective tissue trying to fight against the state which has made him and his partners into outcasts resonates with everybody.
But, perhaps, it is more relevant now than ever when it comes to the world being in genuine turmoil.
Illegalism in America?
America is enamoured with cops. Westerners portrayed every police officer as a lone ranger, but there was also the other story: the legendary ou+tlaw, who broke the rules and kept adherence to a strict moral code. ‘Firefly’ capitalized on a tale that is as old as time, the story of the underdog winning against all the odds.
2020 was the year of protests in the USA, and it was filled with activist movements taking to the streets and violence erupting across the country. In ‘Firefly,’ the violence is ever-present. It forms the core of the functioning of the entire story. Summer Glau played a character going through extreme turmoil just because of the government. Nathan Fillion had participated in the revolution and been defeated.
The story of ‘Firefly’ was echoed in the George Floyd rebellion in 2020. Illegalism plays a crucial part in ‘Firefly’s’ conflict. The people have to steal and feud in ‘Firefly’ to survive. It raises essential questions two decades later, like, what is acceptable when you’re fighting against a corrupt government? And how do you fight an entire army alone?
Summer Glau is an essential part of all this. With the story of a tortured child being the show’s central focus, you’re forced to sympathize. The show’s emotional core rests on a cat and mouse chase that sends these outlaws into dangerous territories, fighting against the same system that defeated them and turned them into outcasts.
So, it’s not a surprise when the opening song, with the bluesy revolution vibe, still resonates with so many people, you can give a listen to it here.
If someone called ‘Firefly’ refreshingly politically incorrect, it would probably be met with a frown. However, on a second look, it was politically incorrect. The idea of people who run smuggling rings as heroes and a prostitute playing a major part in a series being released in the 2000s was fairly revolutionary at the time. To put it in context, ‘Firefly’ discussed issues related to legality and sex work at a time when shows like ‘FRIENDS’ and ‘90210’ ate up much of the airtime.
Complex moral questions like these require more storytelling than the usual three-art structure allowed for traditional screenwriting. Whedon used this to create separate narratives wrapped around the central struggle of survivalism.
Today’s protests raise the same questions about morality, and perhaps the ‘Firefly’ approach of being politically incorrect and trying out new solutions might be necessary to look back at. No questions can be answered without experiments and failures, and ‘Firefly’ showed a way to the way you can interact with these complex questions.
Protests have gotten more and more intense, and as we step into 2021, we need to look back to see where we went wrong. ‘Firefly’ follows a central conflict similar to ours and answers it with complex moral fabrics that play into its story. In doing so, it provides an insight into how we might deal with the terrifying reality of today.