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THE MALcontent MANIFESTO : Firefly / Star Wars

Saturday 24 June 2006, by Webmaster

Firefly (episode: Serenity) Mal: "Just a little while longer, our angels are gonna be soaring overhead raining fire on those arrogant cod, so you hold! You hold!...Zoe?"

Zoe: "They’re not coming. Command says it’s too hot. We’ve been ordered to lay down arms."

A New Hope.

Although it was not titled as such in 1977, Star Wars - Episode IV is now forever known as A New Hope (ANH for us bloggers). It’s not surprising nor is it inappropriate. Star Wars is not only about the resurgence of hope in a galaxy terrorized by a villainous government, it’s also about the hopes of a young man to become an adult and live independent of his family and the life he’s tied to.

In fact, it could be said that the entire Star Wars saga is a statement on hope and the resurgence of faith in a dark time. Given the prequel trilogy, and the fall of Anakin Skywalker, the original series of films truly look like a battle for hope among the stars. Culminating in the ignition of a green lightsaber in Return of the Jedi, we see not only the resurgence of hope, but also it’s resultant victory and reward, that being the liberation of a galaxy and the penultimate lost soul, Anakin Skywalker.

The saga is inspiring to me and millions of others because it asks us to believe there is hope in the universe despite dark times - hope in ourselves, our friends, and that goodness and justice will prevail. However, in some places, hope is mere fantasy - there is no hope, or very little remains. And for some folks, all hope is lost and all faith shattered. We can debate the reasons for it, but lost hope is a reality in this life, real and imagined. It’s what happens when the goodness we want to believe in, is shielded from our eyes, or worse, is extinguished entirely.

Now, imagine a show that could touch on that subject without pounding you over the head with it. It’s not really the antithesis of Star Wars, but it’s close. I’m talking about a show that asks what happens to the Luke Skywalkers of the universe that see not only their families destroyed, but their friends shot, and their cause utterly wiped out. What if the Falcon had failed to show when Luke needed Han most, or the rebel fleet not appeared above Endor after the shield generator had exploded? What do you do when everything you believed in is gone? Where do you seek solace when the hopes you had are driven from your heart in a hail of gunfire and governmental decrees?

It’s not a simple area to explore - that of lost faith - but it’s exactly the theme the Firefly television series touches on. Done with a casual wit and style, this action adventure series begins at an end - the end of a war, the end of faith, and the end one man’s independence. With his comrades dying around him, and his beliefs shackled by an oppressive government, Sgt. Malcolm Reynolds is asked to accept a world he fought so desperately against. Seen kissing a cross for hope and luck before the final onslaught of this enemy, Mal quickly sees the results of his prayer: failure, loss, and surrender. Although he survives the battle and the war, his soul has not. And though he is allowed to walk away, he is still a prisoner. For a life that does not allow for independence of action, of experience, and of spirit, there can be no freedom.

However, like any prisoner, or any survivor, the battle is never truly over. The war that existed outside of prison is now taken inside, hidden and protected beneath the toughened scars that cover every wound. Though Malcolm Reynolds has seen his cause die, the war is not over, not for him, not ever - even if he can’t admit it. Purchasing an aged cargo hauler, a Firefly-class ship from another era named Serenity, he knits together a motley group of characters that not only help Mal make a new life among the stars, but allow him to parse out what care and love are still buried beneath his darkened heart. It doesn’t sound like much, but "it’s enough" for him, and his crew.

Now, here we are, taking the figural battle of a beleaguered soldier and his fight for independence, to another battlefield, a real one, that of the internet. Just as Mal watched his beloved ’browncoats’ fall beneath the sword of the repressive Alliance, so to have Firefly fans watched the fall of this story to the sword of poor corporate strategies. Shown out of order and with little marketing, Firefly never had much of chance to grow beyond a small band of dedicated viewers. Cancelled before completing one full season, Fox and others assumed the series was KIA and put it to rest.

They were wrong.

Pulled from near obscurity by it’s creator, Joss Whedon, his cast and crew, and, most importantly, the fans, Serenity was made ready for flight once again in a movie of the same name. Despite the odds and the obstacles, Firefly fans (known as ’browncoats’) showed Hollywood "just what kind of people we are". Released last year, ’Serenity’ succeeded at the impossible. As Capt. Mal Reynolds would say, "...that makes us mighty". It has emboldened this growing group of devotees to fight for the renewal of this saga in some form. Like Star Wars fans, and Anakin himself: WE WANT MORE. There are many questions that remain unanswered about the greedy Alliance, the cannibalistic Reavers, the valiant Browncoats, as well as Mal and his crew...and we deserve to know those answers and so do you.

We know it’s a long shot, we know it’s not likely, but like the nerve cluster in Mal’s back, we just don’t feel the pain anymore - we fight on. By way of Darth Vicomte’s inspired blog, we are encouraging you to purchase Serenity today, June 23rd, to show your support for this highly entertaining and action-oriented adventure. Obviously, we love it, but we believe you will too. With a spike in sales and interest, we hope this little bright bug will catch the eye of the right folks and swing ’em our way. It’s just a hope. I know it’s not much, but maybe it’ll be enough.