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September 21, 2002

Joss Whedon Worship

I'm pointing to this New York Times Magazine piece on Joss Whedon and his new show, Firefly, partly out of pure fandom. I admit it; I'm a complete Buffy junkie and think it is the most brilliant show on television. Jump in with negative comments to get the full argument.

But I also just watched the first episode of Firefly and the article highlights why this show could end up being one of the most interesting political shows in years. Set in the far future in the wake of a consolidation of a corporatist Alliance government, the heroes are the roughneck losers from the civil war. But the kicker is that Whedon doesn't necessarily see their politics as clear-blue true-- it's all a bit more complicated. Speaking of the hero, he says:

''Mal's politics are very reactionary and 'Big government is bad' and 'Don't interfere with my life,''' Whedon explains. ''And sometimes he's wrong -- because sometimes the Alliance is America, this beautiful shining light of democracy. But sometimes the Alliance is America in Vietnam: we have a lot of petty politics, we are way out of our league and we have no right to control these people. And yet Sometimes the Alliance is America in Nazi Germany. And Mal can't see that, because he was a Vietnamese.''
And in an era of globalization and a sometimes confused Left dealing with the contradictions of Pax Americana, the best political debates on where we go from here may very well be set in these debates 500 years in the future. Just as some of the best anguished engagements with the tribulations of adolescence were set amidst the vampires of Buffy week after week over the years.

We'll see if Whedon can live up to that promise, with his weird western-scifi mixture, but I have a lot of faith that he can make it work.

Posted by Nathan at September 21, 2002 01:02 AM

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I, too, am a huge Joss Wheedon fan -- which may be why I was disappointed with the first episode of "Firefly." The last 5 minutes gave me some hope, but I summarized the rest of the episode for a friend as "the South's gonna do it again -- in space." Maybe it's because Wheedon chose that quasi-western motif, and the western has been abused for sooooo many years (most recently in "American Outlaws," which was as fine a piece of crap as I've seen in a good while) as a vehicle for treacly Southern revisionism. But my first reaction was that I'd seen this sort of idea before -- on "Dukes of Hazzard."

On the basis of the last 5 minutes of the show, I'll give it another chance. But the show's on probation with me.

Posted by: nolo at September 25, 2002 01:19 PM

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