Tuesday, November 01, 2005

More "Serenity" thoughts. A lot of people saw political themes in it, and it would be hard to deny that they didn't exist. And of course, people are seeing what they want or expect to see. Liberals focus on the gender equality and lack of prudery, reactionaries focus on the oppressive government and the gunplay, bla bla bla. It reminds me of "The Incredibles." I had urged a friend to go see it but he refused for a while because he had heard that it had some heavy-handed right-wing messages, but when he finally did see it he was struck by how every unsympathetic character in the movie was motivated by greed and had found or made a place in the "free market" system to prey on the weak.

But on the other hand, as I said before, the protagonists of "Serenity" are the veterans of a war analogous to the Civil War, on the losing side. So does it have a right-wing slant?

Well first of all, I don't think it matters. I've read a few people - not many, but here and there - rejecting the movie for its political message(s), which strikes me as cutting off their nose to spite their face. Whedon and the other creators were trying to tell a compelling story and be entertaining, the work stands on its own, and any moralizing was secondary to that if intentionally created at all. And second of all, it's not clear-cut partisan at all. Just for example, in "Firefly" an interracial marriage was at least as important to the plots as the evil empire, and economic hardship was brought up much more often than political actions - if the Confederate elements are political, should we take political messages from those facts as well?

Also, it doesn't appear in the link I posted above, but I've read and read about similar analyses that were just insane. Of Whedon's other work especially. People saying that "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and its spinoff "Angel" are deeply conservative in tone because they're about a fundemental, sharply divided conflict between good and evil. Well, it one big problem with that is obvious, namely that right-wingers don't have a monopoly on morality. But also, and on behalf of the non-Buffy fans who make up a majority of my friends: the show was liberal in most if not every sense of the word. Three lesbian main characters, all of whom were [intended to be] sympathetic and even admirable protagonists? A title character (and despite having human flaws, she's as close as the show gets to a paragon of virtue) who has sex in her junior year of high school? Guns appearing rarely by any standard but especially rarely for the action/fantasy genre, and always either ineffectively or negatively? And even the "sharply divided" part reveals ignorance, with the lines changing all the time between good and evil in the Buffyverse. In order to see a conservative message in that, you have to be completely nuts.

Edited for typos.

1 comment:

Nitpicker said...

In order to twist Serenity toward a pro-Southern view of history, you would have to believe that every rebellion was morally equal.

I think Whedon like the idea of making a western in space. Period.