As someone who has written a blog of lies for the past five and half years featuring a half-cyborg cat, a Wiccan pimp, a crippled superhero, and a ninja with personal issues, it is safe to say that I am a peculiar person. And as a peculiar person, I run in a few peculiar social circles, smaller than most, but that gravitate toward certain topics of interest, one of them being “sci-fi.”
However, even in these smaller circles, I can still find myself on the outside because of stances I have regarding certain dogmatic issues that if broached may cause disagreements that could call into question my membership to the circle. Not that these opinions are anything significant like introducing a “hunt the homeless for sport” plan to my social worker friends, but I still feel these minor stances would be held against me in a petty way. But my personal standards, low as they are, compel me to properly defend the positions I take, and the best venue for such inconsequential venting is – as always – the Internet.
So here’s the first in an intermittent (and likely to be abandoned) series of meaningless things that keep me on the social fringe (other than my social anxiety, streaks of depression, inability to connect with humanity, general misanthropy, and malnourished social skill set).
1) Firefly wasn’t that good and Joss Whedon’s writing irritates me
Your opening theme is supposed to hook me in, not keep me company in a dentist’s waiting room. Buck Rogers knew how to get shit pumping…
For 90% of the sci-fi fans I know, the fact that Firefly only lasted one season is their 9/11, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why. I missed its original airing on FOX in 2002, likely because I was watching the superior sci-fi show Farscape which did everything Firefly did but better, but I caught Firefly later and really didn’t see why this show got its dick sucked so hard by sci-fi fans. In fact, it got its dick sucked so hard 20th Century Fox made a Firefly movie (Serenity), which ended up being outgrossed by 99 other movies that year (like Sharkboy and Lavagirl and one of Tyler Perry’s Madea films) and didn’t make back it’s 40 million dollar budget (at least not domestically during its theater run, it probably did better on DVD).
Fuck, Snakes on a Plane grossed more domestically than Serenity and all that movie had going for it was Samuel L. Jackson saying “I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!” I know, I saw it in the theater, and I got my nine bucks worth (or however much it cost to see movies six years ago).
One of the great movie lines of the 21st century… aliens will find this in humanity’s rubble and say “That’s bad-ass.”
I’ve had people tell me it was about Firefly’s concept, a western in space, but it’s hardly a novel premise. I already knew that combo from a direct-to-video movie in the 90′s called Oblivion that had George Takei in it before everyone remembered how cool he was (but I always knew, you fuckers!). And our parents knew all about the sci-fi western from seeing Yul Brenner in Westworld. So no, space-westerns are not as fresh as you were led to believe, and all it really lends itself to is doing a sci-fi show with a lower costume, prop, and set budget.
To be fair, Firefly and Serenity aren’t bad, but they’re hardly the special snowflakes of pure joy they’ve been made out to be by others, and this overwrought devotion sucks the oxygen from more deserving fare like Farscape and Babylon 5. Shit, the same Firefly knob-gobblers will look at you askance if you bring up Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I liken my feelings toward Firefly and Farscape to that of soccer and hockey. In Firefly, just like in soccer, I’m being asked to like less as more. Whereas in hockey, I get to enjoy more as more.
Reason #10 why hockey is better than soccer: goalie fights…
My cool reception to Firefly is also due to my annoyance with Joss Whedon as a writer. When every character talks in the same smart-ass way, it grates on me because it seems like he’s having a contest with himself to see how cheeky-cute and clever he can be with the audience (which is one problem I had with The Avengers movie – not everyone needs to have a plethora of smart-ass lines for every occasion). It’s like every character’s winking at me while they deliver their dialogue. “Nudge nudge wink wink – we’re being clever and we’re aware of it, do you see it? Say no more, say no more.”
Worse is when Whedon decides it’s time to bring in the drama and pathos – usually in the form of someone dying – and then all of a sudden everyone puts on their concerned face and gets grim, which after all the smart-assness comes across to me as overwrought and gimmicky. “Uh oh, this is the part where everyone has a sad. Everyone look forlorn and turn on the gentle piano and move in slow motion so the audience knows we’re being totally serious now.” Eventually this lull passes and everyone’s back to being a smart-ass again, and people try to sell me on how moving the lull was when it was really trying way too hard to invoke sorrow, like a bully holding you down, punching you in the stomach, and yelling “FEEL SAD NOW!”
This picture makes me feel sadder than Wash’s death in Serenity…
Whedon also sucks at writing antagonists. Loki was sub-par in The Avengers and no one during the run of Firefly or Serenity hooked me as a decent villain either (The Alliance and most of the other bad guys came across as inept, weak, and ineffective, even with those guys in the blue gloves who made people bleed out of their eyes – how do you fuck up guys who make people bleed from their eyes?). As a fucking bastard myself, I want to see a fucking bastard going against the protagonist, someone who will make you question whether or not anyone can take this motherfucker down. Farscape, Babylon 5, Deep Space Nine… rife with magnificent bastards. With Whedon, they’re in short supply and I can’t get behind that.
On top of all that there’s Whedon’s pattern of having women with no muscle-tone being unstoppable karate machines. Look, I could buy Kristi Swanson in the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie as a legitimate killer of vampires because she had an athletic build to her, but Sarah Michelle Gellar’s twig form in the TV version couldn’t breach my suspension of disbelief (and that’s not a hard thing to do considering the sizable section of Takashi Miike films in my DVD collection). Lucy Lawless as Xena: Warrior Princess worked great because Lucy looked like she could whoop people’s asses. Summer Glau clearing out entire rooms like she’s Chuck Norris – not so much.
Leg muscles make all the difference…
And the fix to this is an easy one – 1) have a kick-ass female with some damn muscle tone like Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2 or Gina Carano in Haywire, or 2) if your fighter is smaller, they have to fight like the smaller fighter. Watch a lightweight Ultimate Fighter match compared to a heavyweight one. Lightweights move around more, land more combos, and don’t take solid hits so well. Heavyweights can land one-hit KO’s, absorb general punishment better, and aren’t as agile. The rail-thin waif is not going to take people out like she’s Mike Tyson, so adjust the way she metes out damage accordingly and I can buy her as a legitimate ass-kicker, not just another manifestation of Whedon’s fetish for skinny women beating the shit out of him. At least Tarantino’s foot fetish is only a secondary component of his films – easily recognizable but ultimately subordinate to the other parts of the movie.
This explanation is easy to convey in a blog post, but not so much when you’re in conversation with people, especially when the starting point for my explanation has to springboard from the incredulous outburst “What? You don’t like Firefly?” spoken to me as if I claimed chocolate should be made illegal and its possession punishable by crucifixion. It puts me on the defensive and I have to justify why I’m deviating from the norms of the circle.
Then again, I’ve written a blog about drinking with a half-cyborg cat for half a decade. I’ve been deviating from reality for quite some time now.
But a good cock joke, that brings everyone together.