Posted by: hellonhairylegs | October 11, 2008

To achieve Serenity I would have to kill off most of the characters

I watched Firefly and I am now very much part of the allecto school of thought in regard to that crap. People who make rape jokes are not feminists.

The Zoe and Jayne characters were the most annoying. Zoe is a supposedly kickass black woman who takes orders from Mal, the standard pale male main character, even though she is more intelligent and the better fighter. Jayne is represented as the lovable misogynist who is just-so-cute (gag). He takes advantage of women repeatedly throughout the first (and mercifully only) season of the show, actions which are played for laughs.

Next time I will refuse curiosity and when a radfem tells me that a TV show is horrible, I will not “check it out for myself.” Silly silly HHL.

(Oh, and BTW hordes of white dudeliness, Joss Whedon is so not my god. Take your “works of genius” and shove ’em where the sun don’t shine.)



  1. Joss Whedon is so not my god. Take your “works of genius” and shove ‘em where the sun don’t shine.

    Firefly/Serenity is more like works of maybe-not-as-bad-as-everything-else, a.k.a. pseudo-feminist-sci-fi.

    There are women. There are people of color. There are women of color. But the portrayal of these characters comes awfully* close to stereotypes (i.e. whore with the heart of gold, the magical negro)

    Also, the het-normativity gets in my craw. And Simon and River? Supposed to be Chinese, people. Get with the program, o you casting agents.

    *figuratively and literally.

  2. If the Tams had been Chinese and Mal female the show would have been much more watchable. (I define watchable as not needing a hot shower and/or not wanting to throw up after seeing an episode.) As for the heteronormativity, the one time Inara’s rapist is female it is sexualised and Jayne masturbates to the thought of them together.

    I didn’t think about those stereotypes in conjunction with this show, but you’re absolutely right. Lazy thinking and writing on the part of Whedon.

  3. I couldn’t agree more, HHL! I’m still quite enamoured of “Buffy”, but “Angel” wasn’t anywhere near as witty or inventive (and I think that David what’s-his-name is a terrible actor). I’ just started being able to receive “Firefly”, and its blatant sexism is nauseating. Bleh! Bleh! Bleh!

  4. Thanks for the link to the alecto breakdown — it’s good reading.

  5. Yay! I was wondering which side you would come out on. I’ve had so, so many feminists tell me I was seeing it all wrong, etc, etc.

    (I define watchable as not needing a hot shower and/or not wanting to throw up after seeing an episode.)


    Hey did you manage to watch the whole series though? I do think that it was worth watching because sometimes I insulate myself from the world and then I second guess myself. You know I think stuff like, “no, the world isn’t that bad, I must be imagining it.” And then I watch Firefly and I go “oh my gosh so not imagining anything the world is even more fucked up than I thought it was.”

    But apparently the sexism is all in my head. Because, you know Joss is a feminist. In fact I have it on good authority that Joss Whedon is a better feminist than I am. And also I must add that I am crazy. The Feminist SF bloggers said so, it must be true.

  6. I watched almost all the series, I fast forwarded some of the bits (especially the episode with the brothel) and I didn’t watch the first episode because I got bored ten minutes in.

    I don’t really think Firefly is that much worse than mainstream American television, I just think pretending that it is feminist is kinda stupid. The entire time watching I felt conflicted: initially I was happy there were four female characters in the main cast but then I noticed that they didn’t get a proportional amount of the screentime/ lines.

    Admittedly, I appreciate some stylistic elements of the show. The thing about Firefly is that it has a very pretty shell that you can slide over happily, but once you put any weight on the shell it caves in, revealing a honeycombed network of the usual crap.

    And no, Joss Whedon is not a better feminist than you are. If he is considered a feminist then that bar is laughably low.

  7. I too rented it to find out what peeps were talking about. I should have taken Allecto’s word and spared myself.
    Aside from his deep commitment to racist and sexist stereotypes, what struck me most forcefully was his use of hackneyed plot devices.

  8. I didn’t think anyone would think it a feminist show given the fantastically gratuitous fan service spongebath montage in the pilot. It was so bizarrely out of place, using a pause-and-linger style used nowhere else in the entire series.

    That pretty much set the tone for me when I watched it, and I never expected anything other than drooling-fanboy-pleasing irrationality, with hopefully some decent scifi element squeezed in between.

    If you ever want to find your coffee shooting out your nose, listen to the commentary on that one and get Whedon’s justification of the spongebath scene. Those few minutes of him speaking prove that this guy wouldn’t know feminism if it walked up and bit him.

  9. Yeah, I’m not bothering to jump tha bar anymore. If the white God Joss is better at feminism than I am then I am most certainly not a feminist.

    I wasn’t arguing that it was worse than most American TV. I reckon it is on par with it. But it really sucks that the fucker who made it calls himself a feminist and ‘campaigns’ for ‘women’s rights’. Now he has whole hoards of women duped into defending him. Going on and on about how he is SOOO much better than the other male producers/writers out there. Meanwhile there are tones of real female feminist writers out there, who will never get well-known and there books will never be made into movies because they are female, and actually know what feminism is.

    I would love to make a rip off of the Firefly show, but reverse all of the actors. Ie the woman who plays Zoe should play Mal and Mal should play Zoe. Inara should play Simon and Simon Inara, etc etc. So then the Black woman would be the one going around and yelling at the white men and telling them she will lock them in the hold etc. But exaggerated so that it was making a mockery of traditional gender relations.

    Also I had this unfan-fic planned out, where Inara, Zoe, Kaylee and River conspire together to steal the ship and chuck the men out on there asses on some planet somewhere, and they go off to find this distant planet inhabited by women. A lesbian separatist planet. I really want to write that story. It would be fun.

  10. thebewilderness- it did play out like a blending of a lot of popular science-fiction sometimes. The stereotypes make in anything but visionary.

    Helen, I think some people are so glad to have female characters that they say it is feminist. Whedon on feminism seems to vary with the context, but it is pretty clear he just doesn’t get it.

    I agree with you allecto, that there is dude director giving lip service to feminism doesn’t mean a whole lot. It adds injury to insult when genuine feminists are finding difficulty getting their work out there.

    I laughed when I read the latter part of your post, I also have an unfanfic plotted out. Kaylee invented loads of cool things, patented them all and created a lesbian separatist fleet. Inara invested in Kaylees inventions, got really rich and tooks loads of ex-Companions with her on the voyage. Zoe works as security head and River is just awesome. It is pretty cool in my mind, and I still randomly let loose a manical laugh thinking about the reactions of the male characters.

  11. I also have an unfanfic plotted out.

    Awesome. You should write it then! I don’t have the time. 😀

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