Sunday, January 29, 2006

Serenity Now?

So, I finally finished watching the DVD boxed set of Firefly.

It was pretty good, though I don't see myself joining up with the Browncoats any time soon.

I can geek out on sci-fi as good as most, but the whole obsessive advocate thing still creeps me out.

Anyway, a few things I've noticed:

* I keep humming the theme song, which is kind of stuck in my head. It's still better than that damn Kelly Clarkson song.

* When the show first came out, I found the literal interpretation of the "Western in space" idea kind of annoying. It's still a little annoying, but not as grating.

* The Alliance: According to some of the background material, the Alliance is the Anglo-Sino Alliance, since the U.S. and China were the two superpowers that made it into space. So there's a big Chinese cultural influence on the show.

The actors swear and slang in Chinese, there are Chinese characters written down everywhere, and they eat Chinese food with chopsticks.

So where are all the damn Chinese?

None of the main characters are Asian (Summer Glau kind of has that "is she or isn't she?" look), and there are very few characters who are any kind of Asian (even background extras).

A notable exception, of course, is the episode 'Heart of Gold', featuring a whore -- gotta have a lovely Asian whore -- though to its credit, there is also an actual Asian male as a puppet performer.

Now, I'm all for race-blind casting, but it seems kind of cheap to borrow all the Chinese elements for color, novelty, backstory and exotic flavor, then not use any actual Asian people.

Obviously, since I'm a latecomer to the show, this territory has been covered by others (some of whom are much more strident about this -- it's all "cultural appropriation" this and "inscrutable Asian" that -- throw in the usual "cultural imperialism" and "emasculated Asian male" rhetoric and you have the makings of the usual, tedious navel-gazing proclamations.

To summarize my position: Race-blind casting = good; liberally using cultural elements associated with a certain racial/ethnic group and then not including any actors from that group = not so good.

* The Alliance, Part 2: Okay, so I haven't seen the movie yet, so I'm leaving myself open, but what is it about the Alliance that's so bad?

Sure, there are the evil-bad Alliance elements that cut open River's brain and did evil, nasty X-Files conspiracy black helicopter medical experiments, as well as some mean nasty federales with their big Star Destroyer ships and Starship Troopers black uniforms, but is it actually the Empire?

Sure, there's the romance of the open range and the unfettered life, true and free, but let's face it -- very few of us are lovable rogues, living life on the open road without a care in the world.

* Lastly, I fear I will try to use the adjective "shiny" in conversation.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Once you see the movie, you will see why they are so evil. It's a major spoiler to tell you, though.