Thursday, February 22, 2007

Aiming to Misbehave

Joss Whedon's Firefly was, and still is, the most perfect television show ever.

I will not tolerate argument about this. I cannot express how deeply I love this show. If I ever have the chance to travel back in time, I am taking my boxed set of the series and the motion picture and I will find a way to get into the Fox Network boardroom circa 2002 and, if logic fails, I will re-enact Dogma on their asses if that's what it takes to get them to un-cancel it.

Pardon me. I seem to be foaming at the mouth.

A brief summary for those unable or unwilling to follow links: 500 years in the future, humanity has colonized a new solar system. In the wake of a civil war called "Unification", the Central Planets (think typical high-tech sci-fi society) has imposed its will upon the Rim Worlds (think hardscrabble pioneers, miners, and settlers). In the midst of all this is Malcolm Reynolds, captain of the Firefly-class mid-bulk transport Serenity. Mal fought on the Independent (i.e., losing) side of Unification, and now lives a shadowy and frequently illegal existence wherein his main goal is to exist outside the control of central authority.

Mal doesn't know it, but he lives the Discordian dream. He has a ship, and that means freedom. He has a crew who are loyal to him, and that means family. His plans, brilliant as they are, never ever go smoothly, and that's because he's blessed by Eris Herself. Heck, he even shares a name with one of the founders of the Discordian movement: Malaclypse the Younger, aka Mal-2.

In fact, the entire show can be seen as a giant Discordian Manifesto. I never realized it until I saw the picture on Monday, and then found this jewel of a quote in my well-worn Principia:
There is Serenity in Chaos. Seek ye the Eye of the Hurricane.

Serenity, the ship, travels the Chaos of space. But at the same time, there is Chaos within Serenity, as the crew squabble and fight with each other as families are wont to do. They are all seeking that center of calm within themselves, that unconquerable feeling of "I am me; I have done the impossible; that makes me mighty" which, though the world surrounding them may thrash and wail, cannot break them. And all of this is done aboard Serenity.

There is Serenity in Chaos. Seek ye the Eye of the Hurricane. It's practically a syllogistic koan.

An oft-recurring quote within the series is, "No power in the 'Verse can stop me." This is a fierce statement of independence and empowerment, and was taken up by the fans when the series was cancelled back in 2002. It worked: when the series was released on DVD in 2003, it shot to the top of's bestsellers, and as of today -- four years later -- it is #12 on the Top 100 Bestseller List. Because of this voracious demand, Serenity was released as a major motion picture in 2005.

Failed TV shows don't get made into movies. But the fans didn't listen. No power in the 'verse could stop them.

So let's look at the picture again:
  • Gold, for faithfulness.
  • "No power in the 'verse can stop us."
  • Why an apple? Well, in the episode "War Stories", reference is made to "griswalds", tiny pressure-sensitive grenades that were embedded in apples by enemy troops.
Faith. Stubbornness. Hidden power. These are the qualities of a Firefly fan (aka Browncoat), and they are also the qualities of a Discordian (aka Erisian).

Tomorrow: Tying it all together, aka 'Tis an ill wind that blows no minds.

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