Ponderings from a Procrastinating Prognosticator

WHAT MAKES ME A BROWNCOAT?

Posted by samatwitch on March 12, 2012

I wrote this for a challenge on the Serenity Board in September 2005, before the movie Serenity came out, but lived up to my name as the Primary Procrastinating Prognosticator of our crew and left it about 1/2 hour too late, so I posted on my blog at the time.

What makes me a Browncoat? To me a Browncoat isn’t just a fan of the television series Firefly. A Browncoat embodies certain strengths and values, such as those portrayed by Captain Malcolm Reynolds and his first mate, Zoë. Strengths and values such as fighting with everything you have when you believe in a cause, never leaving anyone behind, and protecting the innocent and downtrodden. This was portrayed very well by Mal in “The Train Job”, which was the first episode shown on TV. When Mal discovers that what they were hired to steal were medications for a town suffering from a chronic illness, he and Zoë return the stolen goods. In what was for me the defining moment of the episode, the sheriff suggests that Mal had a choice as to whether to keep the goods or return them, and Mal says he didn’t. That scene was what made me a fan of the series.

 I started watching Firefly because I read about it in “TV Guide” and thought the premise sounded interesting, I liked Nathan Fillion, Jewel Staite and of course Ron Glass in other roles, and I am interested in different types of science fiction TV. Most of all, I am interested in watching TV shows – and reading books – about people. I don’t really care what the setting is if the characters are interesting, well-developed and true to themselves. This means you need a good writer who knows and loves his/her characters and is willing, even eager, for them to grow and change, as well as allow them to have flaws. Nobody in real life is perfect, so why would we want to watch characters who are? It isn’t even so much the decisions they make, as it is how and why they reach that decision, and what effect it will have on their lives.

Joss Whedon’s Firefly universe is unique, yet believable. It is certainly within the realm of possibility that China and the United States will be the two major powers from Earth and that they will work together to create a powerful controlling entity. And it is certainly conceivable, some may say inevitable, that we will one day have to leave Earth to find a new home, due to our mismanagement. I don’t have any problems with a science fiction world that does not have aliens in it – the Reavers are terrifying as is the Alliance is a different way. And one of the details I really appreciate in the series is that there is no sound in space. I work in a space science facility and that fact alone made some fans of our staff.

Firefly is an easy series to which to convert fans, especially if they are able to start at the beginning with the original pilot. I have three lending copies of the DVDs, as well as one copy I keep for me, and sometimes all three are out at once. I believe that most intelligent people, and people who are interested in science fiction, become hooked on this series because of the excellent writing, the stories and the wonderful characters that inhabit the Firefly world. Once again, Joss has written about a diverse group of people who come together as a family. It turns out this is one of his recurring themes. (I was a late comer to Buffy and Angel – becoming a fan only after I watched Firefly.) Characters who come together to back each other up, even if they fight among themselves, are characters we want to see more of, to stand up and cheer for, and to wish we could be a part of their universe.

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2 Responses to “WHAT MAKES ME A BROWNCOAT?”

  1. I love reading how friends came into their Fandom of Choice, since so many of those stories lead at least indirectly into how we became friends. While my route went through Buffy and (most especially) Angel, our roads all eventually crossed. The fact that Firefly seemed so doomed out of the gate held me back a bit from becoming the fan of it I would have been otherwise, but there was something really special about its take on the genre, and I fell in love with Mal more quickly than almost any television main character.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • samatwitch said

      It was when I heard that they were making a movie that I really became involved in the Whedonverse, especially online which I’d never done before. I have met some of my closest friends through Joss’s shows and it would not be an exaggeration to say that my life has changed as a result of his influence.

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