GENERAL DISCUSSIONS

Serenity As Dystopia

POSTED BY: BOHEMIANTACO
UPDATED: Sunday, October 28, 2007 21:22
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Wednesday, October 24, 2007 5:41 PM

BOHEMIANTACO


Hi, it's been awhile since I've really frequented this website and I never really frequented these boards, but if I trust any fans to give me the best advice on Firefly, it's you guys, so I'm hoping one of you can lend me a hand.

I'm in a science fiction course that has a specific focus on the representation of utopias and dystopias within the genre. Our big research project for the end of the course is to pick something not on the syllabus to compare to what we have read, the course material, and utopias or dystopias in general. I of course picked Firefly/Serenity, albeit hesitantly since there's a hitch:

We need semi-scholarly sources to use in conjunction with the paper, at *least* two sources. I own the book Finding Serenity, and have found some stuff in there I could use, but I need something more, preferably outside of this book. It has to at least mention some aspect of dystopia in relation to Serenity, that is:

1) an imagined future where conditions are worse than the present
2) unexamined and unseen power structure (Alliance)
3) alienated protagonist
4) some sort of ambiguity to morals that challenges the viewer to decide what side they are on
5) some sort of qualified hope by story's end

If ANYONE knows anything that has been published, in a book or an article or even on a professional website, that discusses any combination of these elements, I would totally appreciate it.

THANK YOU!
~KG

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007 6:17 PM

ASARIAN


Quote:

Originally posted by BohemianTaco:


1) an imagined future where conditions are worse than the present



You can stop right there: mankind ain't worse off in the future 'Verse than they are now. Remember, the Alliance is a beacon of civilization. We get to see the side of it from the perspective of folks to whom unification did not exactly work out. But overall, yes, if you look like places such as Ariel, everyone is smiling. :)

And think back to young River's class room (BDM). I believe i is, for the most part, truly a civilized society. They meddle, true. And they indoctrinate. But no more so, I reckon, than having kids pledge allegiance every morning before class starts.

Even the Operative, while he does evil things, is fully aware that he has no place in regular civilization: meaning, society itself really isn't a murdering, savage bunch. And if you look at the great powers that be, in current time, they all have organizations that work off the grid some, to get the dirty job done. Which means: closed file. Which means an Operative.

But like I said, Joss chose to show us a world from the view-point of those who found themselves under the heel of what was deemed a greater good. And we love that perspective. But let's not lose perspective, either: Mal's 'Verse is, on the whole, a civilized one.


--
"Mei-mei, everything I have is right here." -- Simon Tam

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Friday, October 26, 2007 9:24 AM

CHRISISALL


Quote:

Originally posted by asarian:
Mal's 'Verse is, on the whole, a civilized one.



A 'verse where MILLIONS are murdered by accident to weed out aggression?? (Read: tame slaves)
Where KILLERS are sent after mere scavengers???
Where deadly Reavers are let to pillage whilst alliance officials balk at their very existence, putting folks in direct danger???

Dude, I hate Bush's doings too, but he ain't THAT bad (maybe he would be if he had the power, but that's another discussion).




I think you need to re-visit your assessment Chrisisall

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Friday, October 26, 2007 8:41 PM

ASARIAN


Quote:

Originally posted by chrisisall:
Quote:

Originally posted by asarian:
Mal's 'Verse is, on the whole, a civilized one.



A 'verse where MILLIONS are murdered by accident to weed out aggression?? (Read: tame slaves)
Where KILLERS are sent after mere scavengers???
Where deadly Reavers are let to pillage whilst alliance officials balk at their very existence, putting folks in direct danger???

Dude, I hate Bush's doings too, but he ain't THAT bad (maybe he would be if he had the power, but that's another discussion).

I think you need to re-visit your assessment Chrisisall



From wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alliance_(Firefly)

"Generally, the Alliance is rather authoritarian, although Joss Whedon, the series' creator, has said this is at least partly due to the fact that the show is seen from the viewpoint of those hostile to the Alliance. Whedon himself admits that sometimes, the Alliance is like the USA in World War II: doing very good things, helping people, spreading democracy. At other times the Alliance can tend towards black ops and power-grabbing, although rarely more so than any other real-world democracy."

I wholeheartedly agree with that assessment; so I feel no revisiting thereof is required. :)

Yes, Miranda was a mistake. But their purpose was not to kill millions; nor to turn people into slaves. I reckon they simply wanted a more "malleable" society. Some years back, there was call for workers to settle on Miranda. Maybe they figured some of the workers they attracted weren't well-adjusted enough? Who knows. They tried an experiment, experiment went horribly awry, and they tried to cover it up. The usual. Remember, Miranda wasn't a backwater like Jiangyin; perhaps not as wealthy as Ariel or some such, but relatively prosperous and civilized nonetheless.

The Alliance, in principle, mean well; yes, I maintain that. Heck, even Mal acknowledges it! Bushwhacked:

Jayne: "You save his gorram life. And he still takes the cargo. Hwoon dahn."
Mal: "Had to. Couldn't let us profit. Wouldn't be civilized."

See? Even Mal, though he don't exactly like being under their heel, still understands that the Alliance, from their perspective, intend the civilized thing.

Oh, and they don't exactly send killers after mere scavengers, now, do they? In fact, apart from a bulletin about a stolen firefly, they couldn't care less about Mal and his. But they're after River with a powerful will. She's considered a military asset. And they want her back; especially what with her possibly having gleaned on one or two secrets too many.

And deadly Reavers are let to pillage? Wait a tick! Miranda, that's right at the edge of the Burnham Quadrant, right? Furthest planet out? It ain't exactly a Core planet. Near the corner of no and where, it's to be expected that Alliance control is waning some. And, since Miranda officially didn't happen, Reavers officially don't exist, either. Welcome to collateral damage! So, they clean up their mess in ugly ways; or worse, don't clean it up at all. Still don't mean that what they initially tried to accomplish at Miranda was evil.

As for the USA, hmm, they didn't try radiation experiments on their own people in the sixties? And they didn't use highly toxic uranium enhanced bullets in the first Gulf War? Uh-huh. I look upon the USA, indeed, like I do on the Alliance: a benign bunch, in principle. But don't tell me the great powers don't turn all manner of ugly when they're after something with a powerful will themselves; cuz that would TRULY be a spectacle might warrant a moment's reconsideration.


--
"Mei-mei, everything I have is right here." -- Simon Tam

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Sunday, October 28, 2007 5:27 AM

CHRISISALL


That's a mighty well thought out response. I guess, upon reflection, that it pretty much is a version of things as they are now, it's just the scale that differs. Thanks for the view.

...and your FFspeak is impeccable Chrisisall



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Sunday, October 28, 2007 9:22 PM

WHITESILENCE


Quote:


1) an imagined future where conditions are worse than the present.



You could argue that this is a rather subjective requirement. Mal would probably think they're worse off than the present but someone like Simon might not.

As for scholarly sources, have you tried Whedonesque?


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