How Did Firefly Become Libertarian?

Avatar

Vikram Bath

Vikram Bath is the pseudonym of a former business school professor living in the United States with his wife, daughter, and dog. (Dog pictured.) His current interests include amateur philosophy of science, business, and economics. Tweet at him at @vikrambath1.

Related Post Roulette

238 Responses

  1. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist
    Ignored
    says:

    Re: Kaylee – I was an excellent mechanic before I ever received any formal training from the Navy in the care & feeding of machinery (it’s why I did so well in ‘A’ school, it was all old hat to me). I kept a lot of cars running well past their ‘junk by’ date with nothing more than hand tools and the Chilton/Hanes manuals from the local library.

    Being a gifted mechanic doesn’t require school, outside of basic math & reading skills. & when you work with machinery long enough, you get a feel for it. When I would fly on my hovercraft, I often knew something was wrong with the boat, and had a pretty good idea what, before my engineer ever said anything.Report

    • I grant all that. But with Kaylee, her expertise seems to be genuinely mystical in nature. You at least did find the Chilton manuals, which don’t read themselves. There’s an actual explanation as to why you know something that involved work on your part.Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        “I grant all that. But with Kaylee, her expertise seems to be genuinely mystical in nature. ”

        It may be *expressed* that way, and Kaylee is the sort of person who’d learn things so well that ‘feeling’ might be the way she’d express it. And, of course, in a world with psionics, the idea of a mechanic ‘feeling’ things might be a more common thing.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        I just always assumed Kaylee grew up crawling around in old ships & tinkering with their fiddly bits. In the show she does demonstrate a knowledge of make/model information & idiosyncrasies which I always took as a sign she found the equivalent technical data for whatever she was working on & did her reading.Report

      • Avatar Heisenberg in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        No, it’s not mystical. She’s frequently seen talking about technical minutae (like in “Shindig” where she has enraptured half the party talking about the technical merits of different spaceships and how to fix them.) Her education was informal, so she doesn’t talk about them in a formal way most of the time. (Which would be pointless anyway, since most of the crew has no clue about how the ship works except for Wash.)Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        It’s also worth noting that this is a trope with a long and not-necessarily-sexist pedigree, especially in space opera and SF. It’s very similar to the way that Han Solo and Chewie treat the Millennium Falcon, for instance.Report

      • Avatar James K in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Instinct can be trained, in fact a lot of what it means to be an expert in many fields is training your instincts, so you have a “feel” for a problem before you try to figure it out formally.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Count me in with the others here that say that just because Kaylee has a natural feel or aptitude for machines, doesn’t mean she has never studied or received any training (and I never took it that way). It maybe just took place before we meet her or takes place offscreen.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        I just always assumed Kaylee grew up crawling around in old ships & tinkering with their fiddly bits.

        You make it sound so dirty.Report

  2. Avatar greginak
    Ignored
    says:

    I’m a bad person i never watched Firefly. However i am a fairly accomplished Star Trek nerd. ST is actually a “libertarian” show, what ever that is. Earth is pretty much a utopia where everybody has enough food, medical care,etc due to super duper advanced technology. ( so you know liberals like it.) People are free to make the most of their lives without much or any concern for maintaining their material well being. That is good.

    But if that nifty earth or the other highly developed planets in the Federation aren’t to your liking then everybody has complete freedom of exit to live with Klingon’s, Ferengi or who or whatever they want to live with. They can go start their own colony on an unexplored world and go completely anti-tech if they wish and have no contact with the Federation if they wish. What is not to like?Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to greginak
      Ignored
      says:

      Star Trek is more than a bit incoherent. The federation was filled with places where, purely for their own personal betterment, lots of citizens seemed to like to die in mines, living in poverty and sacrificing their lives so other citizens could fly around in starships hurling “nukes of peace”, full spread, at any alien species that didn’t conform to our ideals.

      Since the society was beyond money, nobody actually knew what a starship cost, what the opportunity costs were to building one, who could provide the cheapest materials, or anything else. In a crisis, a lot more people would somehow feel like building ships instead of reading poetry or something, and for some reason a lot of them liked doing the miserable welding part of the job, or running cables, and for some reason didn’t get bored with the work in just a few days, because if they did they’d just beam back down to compete in the Federation wind-surfing championships.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        Well yeah G, they didn’t actually explain every single detail of the economics of the galaxy. Fair enough criticism i guess, although it was just a tv show ( and some mediocre movies and lots of books). I can see how you might be put off by everybody having enough food and health care though.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        George, george, george,
        Oh, yes, this society without money… that still had Ferengi?
        Greg,
        Yes, they did have an economist on staff (as a writer, naturally). He had the brilliant idea that only the Ferengi didn’t know that replicators could replicate Ferengi currency. [and, like many ideas, this got about half implemented before the other writers forgot about it].Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        Well, a society without money is a barter society. That’s not an advancement, it’s a leap back to the early bronze age. Having plenty of free food, free care, and no money exactly describes living on a primitive tropical island.

        “Ha!” you might think, having bought into Star Trek’s “sophisticated” idea. All your wants are free, so why would you need money? What could you use it for?

        Well, suppose you want a genuine 1962 Thunderbird? Suppose you want an original Mickey Mantle rookie card? Suppose you want an original copy of Moby Dick? There’s a guy who has an original copy, so how do you convince him to give it to you? Do you argue that he has to give it to you because you’ve got the lead role on a network TV series? What’s the transaction there? Then you notice that he’s living in a beautiful, historic house once owned by Zephram Chochran, with a beautiful view of San Francisco Bay. How did he come to own it instead of the thousands of other people who would love to live there?

        There’s always an economy, and people are always buying, selling, or trading for things that have value to them. The idea that a replicator can fix this is as absurd as the idea that since you can access images on the Internet, original Rembrandts or Andy Warhols are free.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        Well, a society without money is a barter society.

        No, a society without money and with resource scarcity is a barter society.

        There’s not an awful lot of resource scarcity in Star Trek. Well, except for the mystical Dilithium Crystals.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        A society without money and resources coming out its ears is still a barter society, because people will still want unique items (that other people have), and still need things done. Even in the future, your roof isn’t going to replace itself. You have to somehow convince someone to climb up there and do it.

        A replicator can’t make genuine antiques no matter how good you can program it, nor can it make real estate, or historical artifacts (like an original copy of the Declaration of Independence or a D-Day invasion map). It can’t make an original work of art you want, because by definition that would just be a copy. The art world didn’t collapse as soon as someone figured out how to make prints.

        Take Hollywood, which is obviously a bunch of people who live “post scarcity”. How do they get people to clean out their gutters? They hire them. Cut off from cheap labor, how would Jay Leno convince Matt Damon to clean out his gutters, give him a classic car driven by Dean Martin?

        And that’s a glaring flaw in Star Trek. If they really were a post scarcity society, why would anyone listen to Captain Kirk or Captain Picard? Wouldn’t they instead all have their own starships? Why can’t everyone just have their own starship, dang it?Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        George,
        Not everyone’s a materialistic son of a bitch.

        If we can create antiquities nowadays (and we can), surely replicators can do better, cheaper.

        I do agree that we might need some way of making someone want to fix roofs
        (praise? kisses? god, that leak is annoying! pride?).

        Perhaps there is only one starship because that’s what the gov’t approved computer worked out as maximally efficient (aka put people on too small a starship and everyone goes bonkers without kids)Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        It’s also worth noting that at various times the Enterprise was the best starship in the fleet. But then why not replace all the other inferior starships with clones of the Enterprise?Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        Vik,
        oh, man, that’s easy. It had the best of the best. Which mean it got every damn prototype in existence, and the best damn engineers to fix ’em. Put that sort of stuff (half untested, mind) on every starship? most would be DOA.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        Kim, we already possess the technology to make women’s purses, shoes, and jewelry for a few dollars. So do they all wander down to Walmart? Some do, but a whole lot of them aren’t content with a Chinese knockoff. They have to have real Pradas, or Guchis, or whatever it is.

        Marxists had a notion that “stuff” was “stuff”, which Star Trek falls right in line with. Everybody wears the same bland, generic clothing, with ranks indicated by colors, just like the Soviet man. All were made equal, though some more equal than others, as according to their abilities and the needs of society, which is why Star Fleet has a handful of captains and lots and lots of redshirts).

        Eliminating “want” isn’t in the cards, but that’s what Star Trek pretended to eliminate. What they eliminated was basic lack. What the federation citizens acted like was a bunch of Maoists who had been hit over the head until they learned not to ask for anything that couldn’t be provided freely, and to only ask for one of them.

        So all they had was a small room with a bed, a desk, and a sink. A few occasionally had some little piece of decoration or some small token thing that held sentimental value, but that was about it. They had less things than most Americans owned back in the Great Depression.

        Yet in theory, any one of them could’ve just kept their replicator humming until their house was as packed as the Smithsonian Institution, or looked like it belonged to Donald Trump. Attached would be a garage with twice as many cars as Jay Leno.

        But unlike real people, who do like lots of stuff, they didn’t. They didn’t even have knapsacks for supplies. They didn’t even have comfortable shoes, or coats. They weren’t living post scarcity, they were truly impoverished, like world travelers whose luggage got lost in Atlanta.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        George,
        you’re not a terribly good troll are you?
        One of the best trolls in the world is to act
        like a Prince, but dress like a Pauper.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        George is right on this one Kimmie, sorry, the Federation either has some kind of genius resource allocation system that no one has thought of yet, they have some hidden form of faux currency or else their human members have ceased to be human. Even in a post scarcity environment there’re some things that are scarce, time, unique locations, antiquities and art for instance, so the economic system has to deal with that. Star Trek has always kind of whistled past that particular sticking point. There’s some system there, it works well and no they cannot tell us in detail how and why it works. It’s also not a perfectly post scarcity economy, ships take resources to build and there’re limits to how many they can field. Colonies and planets have value, mining still occurs etc… In the real world you’d need some economic system and currency to manage that. In Star Trek they have -look unicorns!- to handle it.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        Dude. It’s the holodecks.

        Everybody got one and got in there and then started humpin’.

        The 20% of the population that came out for a glass of water? They’re the ones in charge of civilization now.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        One of the complaints some of the writers like Ronald D Moore had about Star Trek was that in making it too futuristic, with the technology taking them nearly to the level of omnipotence (“Sure, we’ll stabilize your sun, and if your planet’s earthquakes continue will put a Mark III seismic dampener in a photon torpedo casing and launch it into your planet’s core.”), and then in removing money, greed (pretty much the seven deadly sins and most of human motivation), Roddenberry made it really, really hard to make the stories interesting.

        What did the Federation starships do? They went around fixing things. That gets boring. So about the first 10 minutes of an episode were spent explaining why the fix wouldn’t work (the warp core is overloading, the planet has ionic storms, the transporter can’t get a lock). So then the episode is either about fixing the part of the ship that broke or finding a workaround, … so they can fix the thing they originally came to fix. For some reason, we watched that, perhaps because it was like a bizarre form of cable TV’s more modern fix-it-yourself shows.

        But I digress. In creating his utopia, Roddenberry removed most of the elements that make people interesting, or make them do interesting things. Once you have transporters, you can’t really be in peril because they can just beam you out. So writers kept having to break the transporter. They kept having to break a lot of things on the ship, just to try and create a plausible reason for danger, action, and suspense. Coming up with a reason for two people to hate each other was even harder. “Maybe one of them is de-evolving because of a virus they picked up down on the planet!” Well, maybe one of them is just an a**hole. That works as a plot for me.

        Removing the currency gave them what, two or three stories, tops, where they found American frozen in cryo suspension and had to explain that we didn’t have money anymore? In return, they lost all sorts of opportunities to write stories that people could relate to. They couldn’t even have stories about how people joined up for a paycheck, with a long, sad story about conditions at home. You can kind of generate a motivation about why someone would join the fleet out of patriotism (a sense of adventure, staring at engine readouts? Really?), but that wouldn’t explain the motivation of everybody staring at engine readouts in ships that didn’t go into combat. I’m not sure the actors could’ve even ad-libbed an answer to “Ensign, why are you on board my ship?” other than “Because there was a casting call at Universal?”

        Anyway, they weren’t always fixing things. Often they just met new aliens and pounded them with nuclear weapons, but the audience pretended that didn’t happen every other week because the cast kept saying “we are peaceful explorers” – which says something kind of disturbing about Star Trek fans. If you repeat the right mantra you can use a hundred times more nuclear weapons in an afternoon than the entire “primitive violent Earth” used in sixty years, and do it quite frequently, and nobody is going to call you on it. Sometimes I point this out to liberal fans who can’t understand why a conservative would enjoy the show. Once I said, “Are you kidding? Captain Picard makes George W Bush look like Gandhi! Did you see how many nukes he launched in that episode?! They had to go back to a starbase just to reload. Bush hasn’t ever launched a single one.” ^_^Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        But unlike real people, who do like lots of stuff, they didn’t.

        Uh, George?

        If you can have anything you want (at least, anything smaller than your replicator’s internal capacity) with the push of a couple of buttons, why would you want to clutter up your house with crap? You don’t summon it until you need it.

        I think you’re over-estimating how much the average human is struck by Hoarders.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        Well Patrick, I’ll give you a real world test. Instead of popping a TV dinner in the microwave, you decide to cook a real meal, because you enjoy cooking. Pick a menu, nothing too fancy, nothing too simple.

        So you need a non-stick pan, two saucepans, a whisk, butter, milk, eggs, green beans, a piece of ham, a stove,, a serving spoon, a butter dish, a spatula, a chicken, and gosh, a cutting board, a chef’s knife, a bowl, some flour, a bag to put the flour in, a garbage can to throw the used flour bag into, and some candles for the table, and a table, and a tablecloth, and plates, and silverware, and glasses, and a bottle of wine.

        Start your clock, and order all those things from Amazon (just pretend), which has an extremely helpful and friendly user interface, and see how long it takes you. Then you have to sit and wait for a few moment for each item to cycle out of the replicator. And then you can start cooking, except that you keep having to go back to the replicator to look up and order all the things you forgot, like the salt.

        Can you do it in under an hour? Since you don’t keep anything around to clutter up your living quarters, you’re going to have to go through that process every time you cook a meal, or you need a replicator big enough to just spit out an entire kitchen.

        What Star Trek life is like is the 1950’s restaurant experiment (seen in movies of the period) where we’d all just walk up to what looked like a bunch of post-office boxes with clear windows on them, and just pull out a prepared plate of food. That pretty much evolved into the break-room machine filled with sandwiches and microwaveable pastas, where you hit the “rotate” button to find a selection.

        The replicator isn’t useful for doing complicated, intricate things that you do day in and day out because you have to select all the parts, every time, and you’ll often forget or pick the wrong one. It is useful as an elaborate “menu” where you order something that’s already complete, but then so is the drive-thru window where you order meal #3 – with no cheese.

        And what did Star Trek do with this amazing invention? They tried to work around it by having a real bar in ten forward, and then on Voyager just disabled it entirely so people would have a reason to cook and eat real food.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        Jaybird: my glass of water is on the keyboard. Epic space awesome!Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        If you can have anything you want (at least, anything smaller than your replicator’s internal capacity) with the push of a couple of buttons, why would you want to clutter up your house with crap? You don’t summon it until you need it.

        I agree with George, but want to take a slightly different tack. Do you order the same thing anew each time you use it, throwing it away after use? If not, your house will clutter up over time as you collect the things you use frequently (like George’s cooking utensils) as well as the things you get just because they’re decorative.

        But what if you do throw everything away? What happens to the material embedded into those things, which is a resource? Is it infinitely available at zero marginal cost? If not, you have resource scarcity. Is it recycled? That requires energy–is energy infinitely available at zero marginal cost? If not, there is an opportunity cost to using energy to recreate that frying pan anew every day–in other words, there is scarcity. (And, really, moving away from responding to Patrick for a moment, how do liberals manage to like this wasteful replicator conceptbof everything being disposable–sounds like an environmentalist’s nightmare.)

        Can energy be infinitely available at zero marginal cost? I’m no physicist, but doesn’t that violate some kind of physical laws?

        As far as I can tell, in no way does the concept of a post resource scarcity economy make sense even as a purely theoretical concept. An economy in which the cost of many needed items is low enough to be affordable to all? Sure. But no scarcity? Not until you eliminate all opportunity costs to every resource, including energy, time and attention to task.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        Welfare statism: It works great in a world where the laws of economics don’t apply!Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        Little known fact: Replicators were invented in 2159. San Francisco banned the devices for being wasteful producers of excess, unlimited disposable trash in 2160. Star Fleet Academy was founded there in 2161 as a clever way to get around San Francisco’s ban.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        I think part of the futurism of Star Trek was an unspoken upgrading of the humans and their desires. The Star Trek universe provides all the things humans on the show want. No one on the show wants an original Thunderbird, and I think that is no accident because I don’t think the creators respect desires like that. The humans on Star Trek are supposed to be fully satisfied by their ability to explore the universe to the point that they aren’t interested in owning things anymore.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        @vikram-bath – except Kirk is given antique reading glasses and books (Dickens) as birthday gifts. And illicit Romulan ale is prized over synthehol.

        I think it’s safe to say people still value things that are rare and “original” in the ST universe.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to George Turner
        Ignored
        says:

        @Vikram Bath Yeah sorry, the acquisitiveness was definitely still there. Many of the ST characters had antique/vintage items they delighted in acquiring. Sisco was a baseball obsessive, Picard was mad over antiquities, old books and horseback riding, Janeway collected children.Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to greginak
      Ignored
      says:

      I have to disagree that Star Trek is libertarian. It is as statist as they come. The institutions within Star Trek (in particular the United Federation of Planets) rarely if ever have any critiques leveled at them. If someone goes against the Federation, they are a bad guy, and if someone follows all the Federation rules, that makes them good. And the Federation has no bad rules. (All the same can be said about Starfleet.)

      I actually wonder whether it would even be possible to have a libertarian show that depicts a utopia. It would be too boring.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Freedom of exit baby. You can pick exactly as much gov as you want. There actually is almost no portrayal of what media looks like in the ST universe nor is high level government interactions shown. Of the few examples of media there are critical articles and unpleasant news displayed. The Fed is not always shown as good or correct, you are failing your nerd test.

        No utopia is ever interesting unless its a failed utopia or there is a lot of outside conflict.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        > you are failing your nerd test

        I readily admit to this possibilityprobability.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        All Space Shows are fundamentally Cowboy Shows. Substitute shiny spaceship for trusty steed. There’s Sheriff Kirk, ridin’ across the vast prairies of space, with Spock as his trusty Injun Scout, various tribes of Bad Guys and Good Guys, still loyal to the Great White Father back in Washington — or in the case of Star Trek, in the Presidio in San Francisco.

        A libertarian show. Hoo boy. Would anyone watch the damned thing? Maybe it would look like 12 Angry Men, a seriously PoMo thing, a dozen guys in a room arguing over the script for the movie. Lots of fistfights and drama though, with the capitalists choking the necks of the anarcho-syndicalists. There’s a happy ending, though, they all end up in the hospital, arguing with each other in the ICU. Fade to black.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Blaise,
        Cowboy Bebop wasn’t a cowboy show.
        Crest of the Stars wasn’t a cowboy show.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Blaise – surely only the ones with money end up in the hospital. We’re not giving no stinking free healthcare to a bunch of layabouts.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        A libertarian utopia show would indeed be boring. But what about a libertarian non-utopian show, like a reality TV show where groups compete to solve cleverly contrived social conflicts with minimal coercion?

        (E.g., today I had my environmental politics students playing a tragedy of the commons simulation, in which they had to figure out how to devise rules to solve it (without being familiar with the commons problem and without me telling them how to go about it). Resorting to authority is the easy solution (I love how a student will make a suggestion and look at me, while I studiously avoid catching their eye and refuse to be their authority figure).

        Done right, it could be interesting, or at least more watchable than Honey BooBoo.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        groups compete to solve cleverly contrived social conflicts with minimal coercion

        That would work awesomely. The libertarianism of that would be extremely subtle, but I think that might be a feature rather than a bug.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Shaz,

        You “demand” a retraction? Awesome. How are you going to enforce that demand?

        Dude, I am not comparing libertarians to oppressed groups. That’s a piss poor reading. I’m saying the logic of someone from group X explaining–and always in negative term–group Y is the same bad logic–perhaps the sane bad mindset–regardless of what groups we’re talking about. That doesn’t mean all the effects are the same, or that all explained groups are really comparable. It just means that you are in fact engaging in precisely the logic/ behavior of a racist. And although the context and effects are not as bad, if you are willing to engage in any self-reflection–willing to entertain the possibility that you might have cognitive biases like any other human–maybe consider whether that type of bias is really the type you want.

        As to the rest, it was a really stupid extrapolation from the reported data, both extremely tenuous and–predictably for you–emphasizing negative qualities about the other group. Noticeably, for example, you didn’t extrapolate from libertarians’ reputed greater interest in argumentative logic to suggest they might prefer movies incorporating logic puzzles, whodunnits and the like.

        It’s as if I wrote that the data suggests liberals like movies showing deep relationships and emotion inducing developments but didn’t care about the logic of the story. That is as well-based in the reputed data as your suggestion, and just as laughably stupid.

        Had you been some other person I might have been nicer. But you and I have gone this round before, with your claims to be able to define libertarianism in contradistinction to how lots of actual libertarians define it. I no longer give you any benefit of generous treatment because you’ve shown yourself as someone consistently biased and non-objective in your statements about libertarianism, and in this case you followed that same pattern.

        With that, I’m done. Other things to do today.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Noticeably, for example, you didn’t extrapolate from libertarians’ reputed greater interest in argumentative logic to suggest they might prefer movies incorporating logic puzzles, whodunnits and the like.

        In Shaz’s defense, he actually did (pretty much). I thought that part of his comment was actually pretty cool:

        Plots and conversations would often involve tricky moral controversies or puzzles in a way that might seem too intellectual for some.

        Report

      • Avatar Shazbot11 in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        “the logic of someone from group X explaining–and always in negative term–group Y”

        I didn’t describe the psychology of libertarians in negative terms. I used neutral terms to describe features that Haidt has argued are more present in libertarians as a group than in the general population.

        Here are the terms I used:

        “more pessimistic and less happy… less emotional and less “feminine” in their thinking. (A touch of autism?)”

        I imagine [NB: I am clearly hypothesizing and not claiming knowledge] someone fitting that profile would like ironic humor and witty conversations: less long, authentic emotional bawl-fests than artsy-fartsy liberals. Thus, relationships would be depicted [NB: I said “depicted” and am clearly not talking about the relationships libertarians actually have] a bit superficially, though generally people would reason together to treat each other well. Heroic characters would be heroic because of their ability to think things through [NB: Which is awesome. Socrates fits the bill here], more than their essential moral character or their lovingness or tenderness. A preferred setting would be something dystopian. Plots and conversations would often involve tricky moral controversies or puzzles in a way that might seem too intellectual for some. Male worries about how to deal with violence or compete with others and thoughts of self-worth would be dominant themes. (Even female characters would be worried about competing and whether they are as great or cool as the others.)”

        That you saw this as an insult is really, really, really absurd.

        I would take much of it as a compliment [likes witty intellectual puzzles and irony, values logic and thinking, and problem solving, sees the world as as dark as it is]. And the rest as neutral, and very understandably human: a touch towards autism (which fits a lot of us), more “male,” and more focused on problems and solutions than big expressions of emotion, (NB: I didn’t say incapable of emotion), more worried about competition and self-worth (NB: we all have some healthy narcissism in us. It is good to want to be the best or at least better.)

        Your refusal to take your claims back show you to be deeply uncharitable.

        To enforce my demand, if you do not take your claim back, I will release these monkeys, a la Kids in the Hall:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfv6u4An8hU

        And again, I hypothesized a possible causal connection between Haidt’s profile of libertarians as a group and a like of such and such movies. I did not say that this hypothesis was better than others, only that it was a plausible alternative of the sort that Will asked Tod for.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot11 in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Also, I described liberals as liking “artsy-fartsy movies” that are “bawl-fests.”

        I insulted my own group more than yours by using dysphemisms for liberal likes.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        You folks are just way too sensitive to all these nuances, which is why I haven’t jumped in.

        I’m a conservative who likes to debate liberals, so my world goes like this:

        “Hey, I just noticed that nobody has called me an ignorant homophobic racist Nazi redneck warmongering pedophile rapist in three hours. Did my router crash again? I’ll go reset it just in case.”Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Your refusal to take your claims back show you to be deeply uncharitable.

        Oh, dear, how deeply upsetting.

        Shaz, I already explained why you get zero charity from me on this issue. Had you not been so persistent in your efforts to define libertarians as only extremists, you might some charity from me. But that in itself was was very uncharitable interpretation of libertarianism, so I’m not sure why you think you’re deserving of better treatment.

        I’ll respond to you exactly as I choose. Nicely when I think you’re not being a dick, like this when I think you are. Deal with it. If you don’t like it, quit liberalsplainin thing you don’t understand.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        I am glad you agree that you’re reading me uncharitably.

        And so tomorrow, I’m lettin those monkeys out. I’ll do it.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        I’ll respond to you exactly as I choose. Nicely when I think you’re not being a dick, like this when I think you are. Deal with it.

        What you’re saying is that for you, a sufficient condition for acting like a dick is your perception that someone else is acting like a dick?

        Wow! What an insight into the mechanics of dialogue!Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Thanks for sharing, Still. Given how much respect you know I have for you, the value of your contribution is literally immeasurable.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Heh. Thanks for reaffirming my point that you missed the point!Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to greginak
      Ignored
      says:

      Star Trek isn’t Libertairian, it tries to be a post-scarcity statist utopia (especially TNG, with replicators – yeah! No more mining! just flash convert your nearly limitless energy into matter, easy peasy!).Report

    • Avatar Damon in reply to greginak
      Ignored
      says:

      Agree with all the comments above. No way Star Trek is libertarian.

      There is no freedom of exit. Look how the Federation treated the Maquis.
      There are rules against selling high tech material to low tech planets, not to mention the whole “prime directive” thing.
      And what about Section 31?Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Damon
        Ignored
        says:

        There is complete freedom of exit in the Federation. Complete. The series’ and books are full of groups that have gone off to form every sort of colony on unexplored planets. Some humans have gone to live with all sorts of races. That is freedom of exit; no one has to live on any planet. There is no possible way in the galaxy ( no exaggeration) to have any more freedom of exit when you can pick up and start over on a completely new uninhabited planet.

        The Maquis is a red herring since they lived on disputed lands between the Federations and Cardasia. They were allowed to stay on their planets in hopes of being treated nicely by the Cardasians.

        And why the hell doesn’t spell checker have Cardassia in it….So so wrong. Way to Space Fail Microsoft.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Damon
        Ignored
        says:

        And why the hell doesn’t spell checker have Cardassia in it….So so wrong. Way to Space Fail Microsoft.

        +1Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Damon
        Ignored
        says:

        I’ll grant you the freedom of exit thing (and it’s a big one, certainly), but I have to say, this is the ONLY way in which the Federation looks very libertarian to me.

        TOS derives much of its drama and conflict from the fact that Kirk (and even Spock, when pushed to it, per the wisdom he has gleaned from humans) are often willing to buck the Federation line in favor of individual freedom for the races they encounter, in violation of the Prime Directive. Kirk is the hero in large part because he bucks his own government when need be.

        Although it occurs to me that the Prime Directive could be viewed as a sort of Paleo-Conservative isolationism…

        (ducks out)Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Damon
        Ignored
        says:

        You’ll “grant me” something. Ahhh HAAA…who gave you the power to grant me anything, certainly not the government.

        But more seriously, or maybe less i can’t tell, drama’s need drama so Kirk did indeed swash-buckle his butt all over the galaxy spraying good ol speeches and justice like a fully charged phaser bank.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Damon
        Ignored
        says:

        That’s not ALL he was spraying…Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Damon
        Ignored
        says:

        That’s what SHE said (rimshot)Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Damon
        Ignored
        says:

        Kirk would have intervened in Syria.

        Kirk would have left Syria with a stable democracy and a handful of knocked-up Syrians as well.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Damon
        Ignored
        says:

        Freedom to exit is not sufficient for *the show* to be libertarian. Do we see people who exit generally living better lives than those who stay? Are they the more interesting or more heroic characters? Or are they the kooks?Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Damon
        Ignored
        says:

        I’ll concede there is a lack of polling on attitudes about various groups of people especially those who live on different planets compared with settlers, etc in the ST universe.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Damon
        Ignored
        says:

        greginak

        It’s not a red herring. look how officers who symphathised with the maquis and left the federation were treated.

        And i guess, by your lack of response to the other points, you agree with them.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Damon
        Ignored
        says:

        James and Will,

        1. As far as groups go, discriminated against groups like women, blacks, Jews, and LGBT people aren’t the same as other groups like whites, liberals, blonde people, beer drinkers, cat lovers, Firefly lovers, or whatever. That some conservatives and libertarians don’t seem to get this amazes the crap out of me. Saying blacks are essentially violent is different than saying liberals are essentially more emotional or Firefly lovers are essentially more anxious, or beer drinkers are essentially more silly. Please don’t ask me to explain why this is to you. (Also, reverse racism is not the same thing as racism.)

        2. Not every generalization about a group of people is morally or intellectually pernicious like racism and sexist generalizations are.

        3. Haidt has empirical evidence that there are psychological traits that typify libertarians, liberals, and conservative. “Compared to self-identified liberals and conservatives, libertarians showed 1) stronger endorsement of individual liberty as their foremost guiding principle, and weaker endorsement of all other moral principles; 2) a relatively cerebral as opposed to emotional cognitive style; and 3) lower interdependence and social relatedness. As predicted by intuitionist theories concerning the origins of moral reasoning, libertarian values showed convergent relationships with libertarian emotional dispositions and social preferences. Our findings add to a growing recognition of the role of personality differences in the organization of political attitudes.”

        http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0042366

        He might be wrong, but there is nothing offensive in saying this and it is not analogous to racist and sexist generalizations on a moral level.

        4. When I suggest that a more cognitive and less emotional style may be a possible cause of a groups’s like of a certain TV show, that isn’t offensiveor otherizing, especially when I say that I like that sor of show, too.

        5. The claim that I said libertarians don’t form deep relationships is a lie and I demand a retraction. I said they like to watch a certain kind of relationship on TV and in movies. That is different than the relationships you have.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Damon
        Ignored
        says:

        And Will,

        My claim is that your position is not offensive. However, it is false that a person who values expressions of emotion would look down on or feel superior to some character who displays emotion. Thus, the claim that liberals watch emotional movies in order to feel superior is false.

        I have no doubt that liberals have a need to feel superior. Whether that need is greater in liberals as a group than the population as a whole is unclear, but there wouldn’t be, as near as I can tell, evidence for it in their choice of movies.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Damon
        Ignored
        says:

        However, it is false that a person who values expressions of emotion would look down on or feel superior to some character who displays emotion.

        I was not trying to say that they feel superior to the characters emoting. I was saying that they feel superior to people who don’t feel as much, or as strongly, as they do. They assess their value on their ability to feel sympathy towards others, and so watching things where they can feel sympathetic to others is an exercise in self-aggrandizement. Something to make themselves to better about themselves.

        (I know you said you didn’t find it offensive and said as much in my comment. Maybe you don’t. But if I were to make this argument in a different context, I suspect I would rightfully get pushback.)Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Damon
        Ignored
        says:

        Damon- The officers who sympathized with the Maquis, Cmd Eddington for example, took part in either military action against the Federation or were directly disobeying orders. That really doesn’t fly, or warp as it were.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Damon
        Ignored
        says:

        And why the hell doesn’t spell checker have Cardassia in it

        Because we’re all sick of the Cardassians.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to greginak
      Ignored
      says:

      My biggest complaint with a lot of Star Trek is the fact that all these ships are effectively Naval ships, but they seem to be staffed almost entirely with officers. Occasionally you see a crew-person (enlisted), but they are rarely main characters, & their rank & rating are ignored.

      I can see not bothering with the lower ranks, but Navies move by the power of their chiefs & senior enlisted, yet the only Chief I ever saw was a Chief Warrant Officer. Hell, even the majority of any bridge crew is enlisted. At the very least the helmsman is enlisted.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        Wesley Crusher wasn’t an officer and he was a helmsman.

        *ducks*Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        All organizations tend to become top heavy over time. How far in the future is Star Trek set?Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        For my replicator joke I had to look that up, and Starfleet Academy was founded in 2161, the year after San Francisco banned replicators for producing too much garbage.Report

      • Avatar NoPublic in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        The Enterprise helmsman (and weapons) were originally O-1s, I think Sulu was an O2. Even today, that’s hardly “real officer” territory. Rand was a yeoman, O’Brien was an E7, later an E8 IIRC.

        I’ll grant you the enlisted folks were mostly cannon fodder/red shirts but they did exist; there were plenty of corpsmen/women in sickbay and lots of E4/E5/E6 red-shirts in security and engineering.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        O’Brien’s rank fluctuates between junior officer and senior enlisted, as he’s been called a Lt. J.G., a LT, a CWO, & a CPO, but yes, he is one of the few enlisted crew that was a regular character.

        We shall not speak of Wesley.

        Obviously there are many enlisted crew in ST, but the series has always focused excessively on the officer corps, even having them perform duties traditionally left to the enlisted crew. For example:

        Away teams would always be a combination of Marines & the necessary naval personnel for the mission. None of those people would be the CO, XO, Chief Medical Officer, CHENG, etc. Command staff stays on the ship unless absolutely needed off ship, and certainly not until the Marines had the place secured.

        The number of times I yelled at ST, “Why is Kirk/Picard leaving his ship?! That’s a Court Martialling!”

        ST was always a bit too enamored of officers.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        MRS,
        in TOS, one could actually argue, “no, there were ten people on ship”
        in TNG, you really did have a fully city (with daycare and kids and all sorts of stuff)Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        When Ronald D Moore and some of his fellow DS9 writers did Battlestar Galactica (Epic BSG battle montage, BTW), he very decidedly did things much more the navy way, based on his experience serving on a destroyer one summer in Navy ROTC. The captain does not leave the ship. He doesn’t stare at a view screen while sitting in a chair. He paces around in his CIC and tries to position his forces relative to the unfolding battle, whose outcome he can influence but can’t actually control. And they emphasized chiefs, master chiefs, snipes, and others who did things while the captain paced around in the CIC or addressed the crew.

        BSG certainly had flaws, but it was a good attempt to break out of the mold that Star Trek had set, which was being followed by far too many knockoff productions.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        I think a lot of the conceit there also comes from the fact that it’s based more on age of sail navies than the more specialized crews of modern forces. That is to say, the officers were more likely to go on things like cutting out expeditions and what would be equivalent of “away missions” in Cook/Hornblower’s era than today.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        Hrm…. Another aspect that goes directly back to the sail navies was the lack, or extremely poor performance, of their communications gear. Until radio was widely adopted by the world’s navies, when a captain left port he was the captain, loosely following his written order but making the rest up as he went along, at least when he wasn’t serving directly in a battle fleet. Navy captains put up quite a bit of resistance to radio when it first became available, because essentially it demoted them from Captain, with a capital C, to the guy who did whatever the admiralty told him to do that day, even when he was halfway around the world.

        So if Star Trek really followed that model, Captain Kirk would be the ensign Chekov to some admiral sitting back at Starfleet command staring at a map, and that might be a pretty boring show much of the time.

        Obviously, since we’re talking warp travel and light years of distance back to base, actual real-time communications should go right out the window, restoring the premise that the captain is the one and only decision maker. But I suppose by the 1960’s people were too used to the idea that the captain would get orders over the radio, so they stuck that back in when it served the story line, and most often as a way to set up each episode (we’ve born ordered to proceed to …..), after which the ability is mostly dispensed with so Kirk won’t radio back and ask what he’s supposed to do when he gets there and things aren’t as expected, keeping him relevant.

        They could probably done a better job of coherent world building, perhaps explaining that subspace doesn’t actually work the a deep gravitation well of a solar system, so the ships could get orders in between missions (traveling between stars) but often not during them.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        Well, starting in TNG and later, they were pretty explicit that subspace radio had a time lag, and you started to see that with how Starfleet Command’s orders would often be recordings from admirals that Picard couldn’t communicate with directly.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        Well, I’m just pointing out that their communications abilities seem to be rather plot dependent, though they were careful to amend or work around previously established capabilities.

        Of course, we are talking about a show where the used small walkie talkies with flip tops, and 14-pin DIP TTL circuits, didn’t label any of their buttons, and thought feeding a computer a logical contradiction would make it enter an infinite loop and explode. But thankfully, TOS also showcased the miniskirt, so it’s still watchable. Why they’d think girls would wear short short skirts in combat – I have no idea… You’d think they’d put on armored space suits or something.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
        Ignored
        says:

        Even in Age of Sail navies, upper echelon officers were not inclined to leave the ship so casually. Maybe a bit moreso than today, since the officer complement on a wooden ship would be much smaller, but they would still send out a long boat with an ensign or jig and a few enlisted for risky missions.

        The skipper stayed on the ship not out of cowardice, but because his job was to run the ship. If his away team got in trouble, he needed to be able to deploy resources from the ship, or the ship itself, to support or extract the troubled crew. Yes, officer of the watch could do this, but that is not the actual job of the OOW.

        ST always waffled between a crew so competent that they could bail the captain out of trouble, or so helpless that they could do nothing until they captain called home with information/instructions (depending on the story du jour).

        BSG did it better.Report

  3. Avatar Tod Kelly
    Ignored
    says:

    I’ve made this comment before here, but I’ll make it again: Those looking to argue that Whedon’s works are libertarian are using highly selective microscopes.

    It is true that in Firefly (as well as his other shows) the government is often the bad guy. But so are large corporations. And financially successful people. And the most well respected academics. And famous people. And the popular kids in high school.

    All of Whedon’s stories – from Buffy through Firefly and Dollhouse and Dr. Horrible – are all stories that ask us to root for the underdog. Does that mean the underdog who is going against the eeevil government? Sure, but it’s also the underdog who can’t keep a job and is going against the eeevil self-made businessmen. Even with the Avengers, he chose a story where it was just a small handful of superheroes against a huge army they could hardly hope to defeat.

    So, can you find libertarian messages in Whedon if you look for them? Yeah, but you have to be willing to block out all of the anti-capitalism messages as well if you hope to hang your hat there.Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Tod Kelly
      Ignored
      says:

      I would add, however, that it’s no accident that libertarians select Whedon and not others. If you want an anti-large-corporations show, you just need to flip on the TV. It is relatively rare for shows to admit that villains can come from multiple places. And when there are no real libertarian TV shows, they will take what they can get.

      You may need a microscope to find libertarian themes within Whedon’s works, but it at least can be found. You couldn’t do that with, say, Dexter or Grimm. (Sorry, my exposure to TV is woefully lacking.)Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Grimm comes across as more anarchist, than anything (hm. Trigun too).
        Also: Why don’t people lock their doors in Portland???!?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Even Atlas Shrugged has an anti-corporation element. Half of “the looters” they show (including some of the most prominent ones) are businesspeople!Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        I’m not sure I agree. Off the top of my head, here are the most talked about/blogged about non-Whedon/non-sit-com shows since Whedon was a thing:

        West Wing
        Breaking Bad
        Sopranos
        X-FIles
        The Wire
        Mad Men
        The Shield
        Deadwood
        24
        Lost
        Walking Dead
        Sons of Anarchy
        Homeland
        Girls
        House
        Game of Thrones

        Out of those fifteen, there are three (24, Homeland, West Wing) where the government is portrayed as the good guy. (Though in each, there are “good guys” and “bad guys” in government.) Two of them (Girls, Mad Men) don’t really have that much to say about government at all.

        The rest all portray government and government agencies is a pretty negative light. In fact, GoT, X-F, Wire, Sopranos and Lost all treat the government with at least as much antipathy as Firefly, and except for the fact that short-list doesn’t include Mad Men those are the most talked and written about TV shows of the past generation.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        The Shield might not have been statist in intent, but it was in effect. If you look at what people actually say online, they regard Vic Mackey as a hero. The irony of such shows is that no matter what they show governments doing, the fact that the shows feature criminals doing worse means that the takeaway for viewers is that what the government did was OK after all.

        I don’t remember anything anti-government in Lost though that might be my faulty memory of a forgettable show.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        So, Tod, why do you think Libertarians tend to latch onto (and declare) Firefly?Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Even something as seemingly anti-government as the X-Files, it’s worth noting that the “good” guys were FBI agents. And Mulder was never one for getting search warrants, and the viewer was meant to congratulate him for such decisions.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Will, it’s worth noting that they do latch on to The Wire as well.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        I also don’t remember anything anti-government in Lost.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Vik, I think for the same reason, actually.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        @will-truman

        That’s a damn good question, and one for which I don’t have a good answer.

        It could be that it’s such a damn great show, and when it has anti-government story lines it does them as well as anyone. (But so do a lot of other shows.)

        It could be that it incorporates tech and sci-fi with an old-west motif, all things I tend to think of as being symbolic to a lot of libertarians.

        It could be because the show does a great job of having the protagonists be antigovernment and wanting to be left alone, but also compassionate towards their fellow down-trodden,(as opposed to FYIGM), which I think is how a lot of libertarians wish the popular media viewed them.

        It could be that on national, regional and local conservative talk radio shows, the under-rated and always entertaining Adam Baldwin is kind of a rotating guest, who’s always being brought on to talk about the whole “being a libertarian-in-bablyon” schtick.

        It could be all of these things combined.

        But really, I have no idea.Report

      • Avatar Pinky in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        I don’t see how The Shield is statist, or anything -ist. It had a very specific, bleak view of human nature, but there was never even a hint that there could be a solution to it or a “best” way to act. So even if you’d argue that the show had an ideology, it didn’t have a political ideology.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        @tod-kelly

        How do we determine whether those shows are hits or not? A lot of them get talked about in the media but the viewership for a lot of them is small and hovers around the 1 million to 3 million mark especially the cable TV ones like Girls and Mad Men. Now these shows might be watched by what the media and marketers dub to be the “right kind” of people though.

        Girls seemed to be a really interesting example because I remember the lead-up and it seemed like if you wanted to write for certain branches of the media, you were obligated to defend Lena Dunham and Girls until the End of Time. I think gawker’s sardonic recaps were partially a reflexive mechanism because everyone else was saying “Isn’t Dunham great? Isn’t Dunham great?”Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Vic Mackey wasn’t The State; he was an outlaw that The State fought against for the whole show and eventually took down.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Mike, do you think most viewers cheer Vic or damn him? That’s really what matters as to what the show means.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot8 in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        So, Tod, why do you think Libertarians tend to latch onto (and declare) Firefly?”

        Maybe a cluster of facets of a person’s personality dispose that person towards Libertarianism and Fireflyism.

        Sometimes the characters themselves, even in SciFi are what draws people more than the storylines.

        Having never seen Firefly, I can’t say for sure, but it is sure true of Star Trek fans as a group.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        @vikram-bath – I think many cheered Vic – some for the wrong reasons (identifying with a charismatic protagonist no matter what), some because it’s exciting to watch a protagonist scheme his way out of a corner (even one he’s painted himself into – see also: White, Walter), despite the explicit despicableness of the characters.

        I think shows/movies like The Shield (or the first, good half of Training Day) play on our desire to believe that maybe on some level Colonel Jessup was correct, we can’t handle the truth, and that we need bad men out there on the walls keeping a lid on the chaos (in the early going of the Shield, Mackey does execute some deft maneuvers that seemingly prevent the rival gangs from going to war – though he also usually has ulterior motives too).Report

      • Avatar Shazbot8 in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        People with a history of trauma and a lack of social skills often like Star Trek (and fans as a group fit that description more than the population as a whole, IMO) precisely because the characters in Star Trek always easily deal with trauma and their interpersonal conflicts are often very minimal and always resolved. That sort of life is what traumatized and shy people want.

        I’d be interested to know what psychological conditions tend to correlate with libertarianism.

        This is interesting, if a bit vague:

        http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/libertarians-shrinks-couch

        Apparently, as a group, Libertarians are more pessimistic and less happy. They are also less emotional and less “feminine” in their thinking. (A touch of autism?)

        I imagine someone fitting that profile would like ironic humor and witty conversations: less long, authentic emotional bawl-fests than artsy-fartsy liberals. Thus, relationships would be depicted a bit superficially, though generally people would reason together to treat each other well. Heroic characters would be heroic because of their ability to think things through, more than their essential moral character or their lovingness or tenderness. A preferred setting would be something dystopian. Plots and conversations would often involve tricky moral controversies or puzzles in a way that might seem too intellectual for some. Male worries about how to deal with violence or compete with others and thoughts of self-worth would be dominant themes. (Even female characters would be worried about competing and whether they are as great or cool as the others.)

        Is Firefly like that?Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Shazbot, that’s fascinating.

        I’m in the middle of Stargate Universe; and your description here fits it perfectly:

        I imagine someone fitting that profile would like ironic humor and witty conversations: less long, authentic emotional bawl-fests than artsy-fartsy liberals. Thus, relationships would be depicted a bit superficially, though generally people would reason together to treat each other well. Heroic characters would be heroic because of their ability to think things through, more than their essential moral character or their lovingness or tenderness. A preferred setting would be something dystopian. Plots and conversations would often involve tricky moral controversies or puzzles in a way that might seem too intellectual for some. Male worries about how to deal with violence or compete with others and thoughts of self-worth would be dominant themes. (Even female characters would be worried about competing and whether they are as great or cool as the others.)

        So did Libertarians like Stargate Universe? I doubt it. Wicked dark.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot8 in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        I don’t know Zic. I didn’t see the StarGate stuff. I would be Libertarians like it significantly more than the general population, but IIRC the later StarGate stuff wasn’t so popular amongst the general population or many subgroups.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Yay, armchair psychologizing of an outside group. Just the kind of “othering” my liberal academic friends complain about…unless it’s directed at the right other, that is.

        Do I get to do liberals now?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        If you’re going to psychoanalyze liberals, we’re going to be here all night.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot8 in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        To be fair to me, which I always am, I quoted a piece from Cato doing the armchair psychologizing, that actually cited a study with (some libertarian and conservative’s) darling Haidt that actually involved getting out of the armchair. So, there’s that.

        And you all started this by assuming there was some connection between being libertarian and liking The Fireflies Show, both of which are clearly psychological states.

        But yes, I do like to hear people’s thoughts on the mindset of the median liberal. And yes, I am just guessing at possible psychological hypothesis for the love of Firefly and other sci-fi shows amongst Libertarian types. But these are all just guesses here today, not serious social science.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        True, because if a libertarian just read one brief article and then threw out an assload of baseless speculation here about liberals the outrage would burm bright enough to power the internet all by itself. Maybe that’s just their more emotional “femine” style, though.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot8 in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        I suspect that there are some interesting and true ceteris paribus generalizations that can be made about the psychological features of people who self-describe as liberal. Sure, we can’t debate that armchair, but we can hypothesize from the armchair and reference studies. Even so, it won’t be very serious, but this is a blog, after all.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Shazbot, you extrapolated a shitload from that article, like your implication that libertarians have more superficial relationships. That’s not at all what the article says. I’m not sure if you lack reading comprehension, an inability to recognize and try to mitigate your own biases when considering outgroups, or if you’re just an asshole.

        Unlike you, I’m not actually going to do a cheap armchair analysis that stereotypes liberals, because there are too many liberal folks here for whom I have real respect and affection. Not you, though. You’re not an asshole because you’re a liberal…it’s just a coincidence that you’re both.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        @jm3z-aitch I think you are doing a disservice to the power of story. Humans need stories and myths.

        I’m only supposing, but I’d suppose that the types attributes that attract us to certain political and belief systems . . . certain ways of being. . . are, to some extent, revealed by the stories we like best. I’m sure there’s a very large word to describe what I mean, I don’t know what that word might be in my current impaired state.

        But you are right on one level; the statistics of the group do not equal the characteristics of any individual within that group.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot8 in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        I didn’t say libertarians “just” accept such and such a theory to be true because of their psyches.

        I hypothesized, in response to Will, that maybe they are more likely to like a show because of their psyches.

        I am sure one can and should say the same about liberals.

        If you said this, I wouldn’t complain:

        Hanley: “Will just showed us that as a group liberals are more likely to like artsy-emotional and often tragic European movies than the population as a whole. Some people think this might because they find the political themes in such movies to be akin to their liberalism. But maybe, just maybe that isn’t correct. Maybe as a group, liberals are more likely to have a need to see larger, authentic, often dark outpourings of emotions in order to feel content in their lives. Perhaps this has something to do with Haidt’s research, quoted in this light piece, showing that there is some truth to the claim that liberals are more likely to…”

        You are way overly touchy here.

        Maybe you are a liberal, you are so emotional.

        🙂Report

      • Avatar Shazbot8 in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        I didn’t say they have more superficial relationships. Not at all. I am sorry that is the message I sent you. (Not sure how that came through.) I was talking about what kind of stories we like. There is nothing wrong with liking stories where the characters are a bit two-dimensional, but there are cool puzzles, moral dilemmas, plot twists, witty dialogue, etc. (Call these geek movies.) I like those geek movies a lot, especially when my mind is a certain place. At other times, when I feel differently psychologically, I like more emotional, authentic (call these painful human relationship stuff) type movies.

        But if there are (as the OP suggests) differences between what sorts of art or movies liberals and libertarians and conservatives prefer, then it might very well be that, for example, libertarians are a little more likely, day to day, to be in the sort of psychological state that would lead them to prefer the geek movies more often and more regularly than the painful human relationship movies.

        I don’t intend this nor do I see how it is at all insulting. I know lots of people (best friends and family) who are a mostly apolitical and prefer the geek movies almost exclusively, and they will tell me how their love of that kind of movie comes from their mindsets, what they like feeling, etc. There is no derision here.

        If you told me that liberals (as a group compared to the overall population) like overly dramatic, dark, often boring movies because of some addiction to feel empathy with others, even in cases where people don’t deserve empathy, I might agree. I ceratainly wouldn’t be offended.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        They are also less emotional and less “feminine” in their thinking. (A touch of autism?)

        This covers the gender spectrum. From Female to Autistic.

        I’m cis, for the record.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Shazbot,

        Oh, if I said the right thing you wouldn’t object. Funny, I feel the same way in regard to you. But you didn’t, so I do. Maybe if you could see beyond your League Liberal Privilege you’d get it. It would be interesting to see that once.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        True, because if a libertarian just read one brief article and then threw out an assload of baseless speculation here about liberals

        I’d say “Goddam it, how did I get redirected to Reason“?Report

      • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Well, this conversation has gone down the crapper. My fault? Who is to say, since there are no facts about morality?

        I am sorry that I used my League of Liberals Privileges (those a-holes and Woodrow Wilson down at the League office will be phoning me) to make you feel otherized, even though that doesn’t make any sense, and I explained how analogous claims about liberals wouldn’t and shouldn’t offend anyone.

        🙂Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        After I started watching Stargate I realized that liberal atheists aren’t really atheists. They’re secretly working for the Go’uld System Lords, attacking the Bible and agitating for big government so the people will be more willing to accept Apophis (or Anubis, or Osiris, or Herreur, or Hu, or Bal) as their true god.

        So now whenever I encounter an liberal “atheist” I spring “Jaffa! Cree!” on them and they assume that I’m a liberal”atheist” too, even though I’m actually fighting against the System Lords and denounce them as false gods.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        JB,

        I would be proud to have my thinking described as feminine.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        I take Haitch attacking me, and JB and George trying to tease me as evidence that I am correct.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Mike, do you think most viewers cheer Vic or damn him?

        A combination of the two, I expect, which is what made the show so compelling. But that’s not my point. My point is that Vic’s position was always precarious. In the very first episode, he has to kill a fellow cop to avoid exposure, and he spends the entire show trying to hide the truth about the Strike Team from his superiors and the rest of the department. In the last episode, he’s neutered by a state organization far more powerful than he ever was. Vic is far more like the A-team, using his smarts and skills outside the law, than he is a representative of an overly-powerful state.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        @zic,

        Not at all. I’m just not willing to respect a liberal’s assumption that libertarians will specifically want shows about masculine competition and shallow relationships. And whatever Shazbot belately tries to claim, suggesting that a group wants to see superfiial relationships in stories implies that they aren’t into deeper relationships. Surprising as it may seem, libertarians are not only capable of forming deep bonds, but they can be attracted to stories that feature deep bonds. Here’s a list one libertarian put together of what he considers great libertarian movies. We can quibble the list, but look at it and think about the relatiobships shown in these movies–lots of them feature more-than-superficial relationships, and aren’t just about competition. Whether or not the films’s creators intended to make libertarian friendly movies, they made storylines, with real relationships, that libertarians respond to.

        But of course actually finding out what storylines libertarians actually respond to would involve being more honest in regards to libertarianism than I’ve ever found Shazbot to be. Remember, he’s the guy who repeatedly insisted on defining libertarians as only the most extreme of libertarians. Any position short of an absolutist line he insisted wasn’t libertarian. This allowed him to rescue anyone he didn’t think was wholly terrible and keep libertarians as a demonized group. I see the same dynamic underlying his comment here, assuming libertarians are looking for storylines that represent just competition and shallow connections between people. Maybe he’ll unilaterally define out of the ranks of libertarianism any self-described libertarian who likes stories about true love, or people cooperating in the face of crisis instead of competing against each other for survival.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        I take Haitch attacking me, and JB and George trying to tease me as evidence that I am correct.

        If that’s what you define as “evidence,” it explains a lot about the arguments you make.

        am sorry that I used my League of Liberals Privileges…to make you feel otherized, even though that doesn’t make any sense

        Oh, lord, the irony! Go read any liberal piece on privilege and othering, and you’ll see how that comment is a near-ideal example of the display of privilege. Do you whitesplain things to black people, too?

        You really should just stop talking about libertarians, because you really do come off like a white conservative explaining the negro problem.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        There’s an interesting blind spot shown in that list:

        Wag The Dog – an anti-war movie where politicians bring in a Hollywood producer to stage a fake war in order to distract the public from other electoral problems. What seemed like a preposterous concept initially, quickly seemed plausible when folks saw Clinton’s Iraq bombing adventures in the middle of his Monica Lewinsky troubles.

        Besides the obvious misstatement (Clinton bombed Afghanistan, not Iraq), it sounds like the author has never head of Grenada.Report

      • Avatar trumwill in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Liberals prefer drama because they have a bit of a fixation on self esteem. Since they peg their self-value on their ability to feel empathy, dramas provide them an opportunity to feel superior to other people.

        There is no derision meant, of course. And if anyone is offended or feels that it’s derisive, I just take that to be evidence that I am correct.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        You’re thinking of the attack on Al Qaeda. Clinton conducted a four day bombing campaign of Iraq (operation desert fox) as the House held the vote on impeachment.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Mike, Like I said, I’m sure we could quibble the list, and no doubt it reveals this guy’s biases in lots of ways. I couldn’t say anything different without arguing against my own point. So I suspect you’re right. (For the record, I’ve never seen Wag the Dog.)Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Will, you do that with so much more stye than I.Report

      • Avatar trumwill in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Part of the problem is that Wag The Dog was used for any military action or even preparation for possible military action that Clinton made at more or less any point, because conservatives could point to something that was going on somewhere as the thing that Clinton was trying to detract us from.

        I remember a couple times that card was played, and I had to go look up whatever it was that Clinton was supposedly trying to get out of the headlines. Because, even though I was very politically informed, Once, I think, it was that Jim Guy Tucker lost an appeal.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        @george-turner

        Yes, I am thinking of the bombing of the Al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan. It’s the one I recall being compared to Wag the Dog, since it was called an attempt to get Monica off the front pages. By the time Clinton was being impeached, it was a bit late for that. (I’m sure it was an honest mistake in the author’s part but it’s amusing that he’s calling an attempt to get rid of bin Laden a “fake” war.)

        @jm3z-aitch

        Wag the Dog is a very funny film, and I suspect you’d enjoy it. Anyway, I think any list of the N best [insert ideology here] movies would be pretty dumb, because if it’s trying to push an ideology, it’s not a good movie. Q.E.D. Certainly the NR list of the 50 best conservative rock songs is idiotic. (Like, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” is conservative because their adolescent fantasy about continuous sex includes the word “marriage”.)Report

      • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        “Liberals prefer drama because they have a bit of a fixation on self esteem. Since they peg their self-value on their ability to feel empathy, dramas provide them an opportunity to feel superior to other people.
        There is no derision meant, of course. And if anyone is offended or feels that it’s derisive, I just take that to be evidence that I am correct.”

        Had you said this, I would disagree, as it doesn’t make much sense. If liberals value expressions of emotions, they would hold the characters in such movies in higher regard precisely because the characters expres sthe emotions. So, liberals wouldn’t feel superior to the characters.

        But I certainly wouldn’t be offended by the hypothesis. We all have a degree of narcissism where we want to feel like we are better (on some level or in some way) than another. And that is in some sense part of why we like certain kinds of movies. Maybe reality TV, too.

        I suppose I disagree that emption loving liberals would have a greater tendency to want to feel superior just in virtue of their emotion-loving aspect.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Mike, I don’t doubt it’s a good movie, but I avoid political movies and TV shows–the ones that are specifically about politics per se. I tend to get too irritated by any errors in their understanding of systems and processes to enjoy them, and I have a horror of finding myself accidentally referencing them as actual examples when teaching American Government.

        Shazbot, had Will seriously written something so stupid, he’d have deserved to have its stupidity pointed out to him rather bluntly, and there’s no doubt some liberal(s) here would have. And if he had a history of saying stupid things about liberals and had apparently failed to learn from experience, he’d have deserved to be called out extra harshly.

        I’ve seen what some liberals here say to Brandon and Roger. They may not be quite as blunt as me, but they make it clear what they think of those two’s understanding of liberals. And your claim that you never would is much too convenient–it’s about a hypothetical situation, and is made when you have incentive to distinguish how you would respond from how I would respond. So it’s a claim that has to be taken with a grain if salt. But if not you, then another liberal, without doubt.

        So, seriously, stop liberalsplainin’ libertarianism. You’re an ass for doing do.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        To make a more productive argument, I strongly suspect that looking for the psychological traits that typify ideologies is a lot like looking for the physical traits that define races. We can define some central tendencies probably, but what if we looked at the measures of dispersion? To say a Caucasian is typified by a particular set of traits turns out to exclude a good number of people we normally would say are Caucasian. The same will be true, I suspect, if we say a liberal (libertarian, conservative) is typified by a certain set of psychological traits.

        What I think we’d really find us that at the margins we’ll find the groups shading into each other with no discernible boundaries, just like race.

        And just as racial talk inevitably dehumanizes people, stripping away their individuality a d attributing to them solely, or at least predominantly, the presumed group characteristics (this is the ecological fallacy). In the same way, the tendency to define a person by the presumed attributed of their group is an inherently dehumanizing tendency.

        As with racism we do it be because categorization seems to be a natural human activity and helps us make sense of the world. But there’s a fine line between recognizing real categories and imposing categories only tenuously referencing any real–reliable–set of characteristics. And just as we should be wary of the motivation of anyone from racial or ethnic group X who is eager to categorize racial or ethnic group Y, for the same reason we should be suspicious of anyone who is eager to characterize some other ideological group–regardless of which ideological group the person identifies with, or what group they are categorizing.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Shaz, I have been taken to task for making much less derisive comments than the one that you say you wouldn’t take offense at. That my “observation” doesn’t make sense to you is actually telling, I think, in its own way. Because I was describing actual people. People who are disproportionately attracted to liberalism. But – and this is important – people that it is unfair to identify liberalism as a whole with. Which is why my comment was, in fact, derisive.

        What I will grant you is this (and this might put me at odds with James): I think it’s possible to make some of the sort of obligations you make without being derisive. But your comments were derisive. I believe because you have a tendency towards genuinely holding your ideological opponents in derision (in the abstract, if not always in the individual).Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        James,

        I would love to see you quote a liberal here going as apeshit over a bit noncommittal though misguided armchair psychologizing of liberals comparable to Shazbot’s transgression as you are currently going over this.Report

      • Avatar Pinky in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        do you think most viewers cheer Vic or damn him?

        I used to laugh at him. The show tried to be brutal and socially relevant, but it kept trying to outdo itself, and since it couldn’t go darker after its first episode, it tried to go more extreme. The show quickly became comical. Basically, four guys committed 10% of the crime in LA, and oversaw another 20%. It got to be an open secret – everyone knew that the Strike Team were druglords, but didn’t talk about it in polite company.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        On a sidenote, Shaz, I think the main problem with your comment was the wording. There was a way to make the argument that wouldn’t have felt as insulting to libertarians as it felt. I think that, generally speaking, when talking about broad abstractions – and especially when doing so with people that you disagree – it’s best to try to put it in as value-neutral or value-positive terms as possible. A part of it felt like you were trying to. I might even be defending your comment had you not brought autism into it.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Mike.
        I’ll get to your want as soon as I’ve fulfilled Shaz’s demand.

        I think you miss the point that the vitriol isn’t about liberals, but about one particular liberal who’s repeatedly defined libertarians in the worst light–it’s this person’s pattern of behavior.

        And once again I noticed something I noticed in the Van Dyke era: you can be as offensive and dishonest as you want as long as you don’t use vulgarity or direct insults, and almost nobody will call you on it; but no matter how true and accurate an argument might be, people immediately clutch their pearls and stumble to the fainting couch. People are funny that way. Maybe I only notice it because we libertarians are proven to be more focused on argumentative logic, while liberals are always–al. ways–too emotionally reactive to follow an argument’s logic. ( /snark, for the sarcasm impaired)Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        If you’re satisfied that those are all the relevant ins and outs of this sorry-ass exchange, then I don’t have a quibble with that. I was just curious if you could actually point to the precedent you referred to or not. I’d be interested to see what you’re talking about.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot11 in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Will,

        What specifically was too negative or too much of a dysphemism?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Honestly, I think the reference to autism lead me to read the rest of it (including “superficial”) in a less charitable light than I otherwise might have.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot11 in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Will,

        Lots of great movies and books -some of the greatest- have superficial characters. They are just deeper in other ways: plot, themes, content of dialogue, etc.

        I love “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” and think it is true perfection (my favorite, along with Moby Dick), but the characters are devoid of almost any depth at all.

        And I never ever said that libertarians were superficial, only the characters in movies that they might be more prone to like.

        I did speculate by asking “a touch of autism?” I don’t think being a bit on the autism spectrum is at all an insult. (My best friend is way more than a touch autistic, and most of my favorite profs sure showed symptoms of being way out there on the spectrum.) And I used a question mark and the phrase “a touch” to suggest not an assertion, but a question, and to suggest we are talking about one end of the spectrum.

        I can see how someone could take “you are autistic” as an insult in certain contexts, though maybe they shouldn’t since there is nothing wrong with being autistic, per se. However, I didn’t do that. By analogy, I would be willing to say that as a group, hard-core geeks are more likely to be a bit on the autism spectrum. Not an insult at all. Just true.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        To make a more productive argument, I strongly suspect that looking for the psychological traits that typify ideologies is a lot like looking for the physical traits that define races.

        http://escholarship.org/uc/item/49j1d42k#page-10Report

    • Avatar Heisenberg in reply to Tod Kelly
      Ignored
      says:

      The entire point of Serenity is that Mal’s view of freedom is fundamentally flawed. That his rogue’s life is meaningless precisely because he gives it no meaning save for trying to survive. Mal’s goal in Serenity – which he accomplishes – isn’t to get revenge on the Alliance. It isn’t to be a vigilante. It’s to be a JOURNALIST. To expose the crimes of the Alliance to the public so that the bastards in Parliament can be dealt with.

      Serenity is about Mal’s journey from libertarian criminal to an active participant in civil society. That’s about as anti-libertarian as it gets.Report

      • Avatar Jeff Lipton in reply to Heisenberg
        Ignored
        says:

        What is this Serenity of which you speak? There were plans to make a movie, but when they saw just how crappy the script was, it was quickly ditched.

        Yes, I’m VERY happy in my own little universe, thankuverymuch.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Heisenberg
        Ignored
        says:

        I dunno that Mal’s actively anti-government in general. He’s anti-THIS government, but he was a soldier in an army fighting against them. They had ranks, and upper brass, and it had all the earmarks of, you know, a competing government.

        It’s a stretch to go from “I hate THIS government” to “I hate all governments”.

        It’s human nature to resent the government intrusions that negatively impact you, and applaud the ones you approve of.

        I think seeing Firefly as libertarian is simply seeing what you want to see. Look at the plucky man, standing up to the Big Bad Fascist Government! Well yes, but nowhere does he say he’d replace it with “small government” or “no government” — it’s left unsaid what he’d replace it with.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Heisenberg
        Ignored
        says:

        From http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0003809/quotes:

        Simon: So does it happen a lot? Government commandeering your ship, telling you where to go?
        Mal: That’s what governments are for… get in a man’s way.

        Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Heisenberg
        Ignored
        says:

        @heisenberg, I watched Serenity last night with your comment in mind. I do see the journalist angle. That is his ultimate function. Thank you for sharing that insight.

        That said, I could see other endings in which he hurts the Alliance in other ways that would have still fit his character and the overall theme of both the movie and the show.Report

      • Avatar Heisenberg in reply to Heisenberg
        Ignored
        says:

        @vikram-bath It’s his choice to be a journalist that defines his growth, in my opinion. He doesn’t act against the Alliance as a rebel or a solider. He acts against the Alliance as a citizen. It’s a rejection of who he used to be and how he used to define himself!

        That, to me, is the most fascinating thing about Serenity.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Heisenberg
        Ignored
        says:

        [Spoilers]

        I would see that more clearly if there were multiple things that Mal found on the planet and he *decided* to take the hologram message. For example, if there was this message *and* a button that would blow up Alliance headquarters and he chose to not press the button, then it would clearly be his choice to go the way of the journalist rather than the way of the outlaw. I think it’s worth noting that Mal’s biggest choice happens early on when he chooses to help River and Simon after her episode at the bar. From then on, he’s really just running and hiding until he finds the hologram. And what else can you do with such a hologram other than distribute it?Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Tod Kelly
      Ignored
      says:

      I know a leftie-Canadian fan who refuses to watch Firefly because he sees it as Confederate apologia. He sees the Browncoats as being like the Confederates who refused to surrender to Reconstruction. And this is morally wrong to him.

      What do you make of that line of analogy?Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        It’s not a bad analogy, so far as any rebellion/conflict/civil war is going to have a losing side that may not be too keen on assimilating nicely.

        The question is, why are such dissenters obligated to assimilate happily? Or rather, if they are not out there sowing dissent & sedition, why is it wrong to let them be?Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        Eh. I can see it, but I disagree with the interpretation. In Firefly, the Browncoats may not be the good guys, but the Alliance is definitely bad.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Tod Kelly
      Ignored
      says:

      @george-turner, one should not judge Stargate Universe by the earlier stargate shows. It is one of the darkest shows I’ve ever watched, and perfectly fits the description @shazbot11 originally offered, which I blockquoted.

      Disclaimer: I admit to not watching much TV; but I’ve read most of the dystopian fiction published. Something of a fetish of mine, despite my liberal tendencies. Emoticon fiction bothers me as much as emoticons flashing on a screen.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to zic
        Ignored
        says:

        I never watched any of the other SG shows so I can’t compare to those, but I watched about 75% of SGU. I like Robert Carlyle a lot, but he wasn’t enough to keep me going all the way to the end.

        It wasn’t that it was dark; it was that it borrowed so heavily from the (also pretty dark, but to me superior) BSG reboot without bringing anything new to the table, and fewer compelling characters (or really good actors playing them, save Carlyle).Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic
        Ignored
        says:

        Glyph, I’m just at the end of season 1, and don’t know if I’ll get to the end of the series, either.

        But it is dark. Darkly void of moments of joy.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to zic
        Ignored
        says:

        @zic,

        I greatly enjoyed SGU, and wish it had continued.

        Over on the Star Trek board (TrekBBS) I posted lots of SG reboot ideas in a 9 page thread.

        The premise still has a lot that could be mined. In fact, in many ways they’ve hardly scratched the possibilities. Some of the reboot ideas I tossed out should cut the production costs.Report

  4. Avatar Barry
    Ignored
    says:

    For Star Trek, there were a number of series, with different baseline ideas, written by a large number of writers. For example, in TOS I don’t believe that the idea of ‘no money’ was ever mentioned, and there are examples of commerce. In some cases (‘The Cloud Miners’), where there was clearly an oppressive governmental system, I believe that that planet was *not* part of the Federation; Kirk was dealing with them as outsiders. Albeit as Kirk usually did, violating the Prime Directive like it had green skin 🙂Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Barry
      Ignored
      says:

      Very true. The no money idea was tossed in a bit in TNG and DS9 but never fully fleshed out. There was clearly lots of trade so there was obviously some sort of currency or barter going on.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        Well outside the Federation it seemed very strongly implied that there was a lot of money and economics.
        The Ferengi had latinum (an unreplicatable substance, a goldbugs dream- clad in gold natch) which most of the non-great powers seemed to traffic in pretty commonly.

        The Klingon Empire had some kind of primitive system of guilds with their great houses commanding most economic activity. It was strongly implied that this was one facet of the Empire’s general state of decline beginning with undiscovered country and carried loyally through all of the succeeding films, TNG and DS9.

        The Romulans seemed to operate some kind of very strict command economy with a significant black market. They’ve had a serious problem with coups (Nemesis) and, if we accept contnuity from the reboot they were mostly destroyed by a supernova. (But then if we accepted that then they all ceased to exist when Spock and Nemo went back in time).

        The Federation ostensibly had some kind of post economic system that operates on the basis of -hey unicorn! But humans seemed to be motivated by self actualization mostly: the patriots go to Starfleet, the nerds go to the sciences (or science wings of Star Fleet), the liberals go in politics and the conservatives fly off on rickety colony ships, get lost, refuse to ask directions from “those people” (aliens), and crash on planets to found dystopias for Starfleet to stumble across a few generations later.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        The Federation’s economic system is well explained as ” hey look over there a shiny sparkle unicorn.” That being said one thing i’ve never missed from any great sci fi book i’ve ever read was a detailed treatise on every aspect of the economic, legal, governmental and bureaucratic structures of the setting.Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        @north As someone who would be first in line for a rickety-old colony ship, I at first took umbrage at your comment; then thought, well, yeah… but in Firefly our dystopia’s were much cooler.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        The Federation ostensibly had some kind of post economic system that operates on the basis of -hey unicorn!

        As the resident Trekspert (new term here!), I would say that so far as we can tell it’s a post-resource scarcity economy with some form of labor and prestige scarcity. We know there’s at least intellectual property rights (Author, Author and at least as many cases where scientists make big claims to owning some concept or the other), that the crew do have some form of “working” for a living (Worf’s adopted father and O’Brian make a big point of pointing out that they’re not Academy trained geeks, but REAL working men), that there’s still costs associated with building ships and scarce resources in terms of labor, and that artists are still rewarded for whatever it is they do, whether it be culinary arts (Joseph Sisko), or say music (Libby Webber). Further the Federation explicitly bids on property rights or use of planetary environments using a unit called “credits” (bidding on the Barzan wormhole, “The Price” TNG), operate corporations (TNG “Conspiracy”, DS9 “Prodigal Daughter” plus numerous novels), and have to buy goods using some form of currency and that even Vulcans weren’t above gouging a Starfleet officer. (VOY “The Gift”)Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        I don’t agree about the post-resource scarcity economy, Nob. All the examples you give point to continuing resource scarcity. And absent resource scarcity there’s little role for Ferenghi business mindedness. Keep in mind that about everything we ever see is within the military setting–we don’t really get much sense of what’s going on in the purely civilian private sector. (Is it even clear that there still is much of a civilian private sector in the Trekverse?)Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        Resource scarcity in what sense? Human labor? Skilled technical labor? Intellectual labor?

        There’s lots of resources — the Federation doesn’t seem to struggle with the basics — food, energy, entertainment, health care — in short, there seems to be an abundance enough that “work” is a matter of “doing what you love” rather than “earning a living”.

        Some people’s “doing what they love” might be the amassing of riches. Others science.

        You might say the Federation comes off as post-scarcity in the “human needs” — basically leaving just the top of Maslow’s hierarchy where things might be scarce in any sense (there can only be a limited number of Starship captains, a limited number of top dancers, whatnot).

        There’s also undoubtedly scarcity with training enough crew (and training them well enough) to run an all-volunteer fleet, building ships, etc. But I doubt the materials for starships (or the skills) are the same as, say, having food and basic healthcare easily available.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        Given that Starfleet consists of a miniscule fraction of the Federation’s overall resource base, it’s pretty clear there’s SOME sort of non-governmental set of agencies. Everything from the Daystrom Institute to the various mining corporations and in references to “Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems” and other private sector organizations, the existence of private establishments ranging from Joseph Sisko’s restaurant to “Justine’s” in Paris, etc. all suggest that there’s a pretty big non-governmental set of institutions.

        There’s no question of a subsistence economy, everything is basically stuff that you can do without, but you work for because you want to. There’s not a material resource scarcity, but there does seem to be a labor/intellectual resource scarcity. Hell, the post-Destiny novels tell us that one of the big things holding Starfleet’s rebuilding efforts back is simply a lack of qualified personnel. (Supposedly they lost something like 40% of their fleet to a Borg invasion…)Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        I have my doubts that that people really work at things they love. Heck, the Federation’s most advanced ship doesn’t even have automatic dialing. The captain has to tell a black lady to do that for him. He can’t steer his own ship with a mouse, he has to tell a Russian immigrant to do that for him. He can’t even magnify his own screen. He has to tell a random temp to do that for him. In fact, very little on the ship seems to be automated except for the sliding doors. That’s why the crew is so large even though you never see them doing anything but rushing back and forth. They’re probably delivering messages because only six or seven people seem authorized to use the ship’s sole communication channel. Or maybe they’re running around emptying bed pans because the ship doesn’t seem to have toilets.

        Obviously the civilian service sector must be huge, and those tend to be jobs that people aren’t doing just because they like working all day at the hotel front desk connecting people’s phone calls for them.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        @ Marchmaine No offense, just a little joke. Of course many of the lost human colonies looked like 1950’s-60’s towns in TOS so of course they must have been founded by conservatives. Personally if I was confronted with a colony ship that’d carry me to planet 1950’s America I’d pay good money to get my ass –off- that ship.

        J@m3z/Nob: I don’t think you can accurately say that any of the ‘Treks were purely post scarcity. Clearly there was resource bottlenecks and labor issues throughout the Federation’s history. It keenly presented when the Borg showed up in TNG (much was discussed about the practical impacts of the loss of the fleet and personnel at Wolf 359) and then presenting more and more frequently as TNG progressed to DS9. The Dominion War, for instance, was one giant paean to resource scarcity.

        I think it’s accurate to say the Federation is a quasi-post resource scarcity environment. Replicators can produce foods, consumer goods and many other luxuries at the touch of a button. Energy appears to be cleanly and abundantly producible pretty much without limit but large industrial or military devices and apparently certain materials and substances appear to be unreplicatable and represent old fashion resource scarcity (otherwise we’d just see giant orbiting replicators around Earth and they’d be Xeroxing themselves starships as needed).Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        @greginak “That being said one thing i’ve never missed from any great sci fi book i’ve ever read was a detailed treatise on every aspect of the economic, legal, governmental and bureaucratic structures of the setting.”

        Dune wouldn’t have worked without this, but it’s certainly one of a kind.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        Come now, I’m a Trekkie myself and I think the Star Trek Universe would be a pretty awesome one to live in but we must be honest here. Star Trek is somewhat uniquely vague in their economic system re: the Federation.

        Your average sci-fi novel/world what have you operates on an unspoken rule of sorts. If you don’t discuss some aspect of the world then it can be assumed to be conventional and you don’t have to spend much to any time fleshing it out.

        Star Trek violates that rule: They state flat out “We’ve evolved beyond currency (and they imply they’re past ownership models of society)” but they never detail, even in the most general terms, how it works.

        This is understandable; well meaning humans are always going on about how we have to get past money and stop viewing things in a materialistic way but no one has nailed down a concrete method of actually doing such. That’s because getting rid of money/materialism is HARD… we’re material creatures and our entire evolutionary makeup is designed to game the natural order to get our hands on material we need/want (well and to get laid). Saying you’ve overcome that challenge as a race in your future society but never actually showing/telling us how it supposedly works (and generally showing a background society that looks very much like it is operating in the old familiar money/market manner) is I’d say one of Star Trek’s most glaring plot holes.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        Well, there’s a minor plot hole in the assumption that the rest of the world has risen to US standards, other planets have joined, and everybody seems to be in Star Fleet. Even if we posit that the actual numbers in Star Fleet, as a percentage of the population, are the same as the modern US military, that’s still a whole lot of people.

        Currently the US probably has about 15,000 military cadets. If the rest of the world did the same, we would have 350,000 cadets. But in the far future, the Earth’s population is much larger, so there’s probably a million cadets – just from Earth. Toss in the Federation and you’re probably looking at ten to fifty million cadets.

        And they all go to college in San Francisco? How do they even fit?Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        @north none taken… though I’ll note for many conservatives, the 1950s are a symptom of the disease, not something we’d pine for — other than to wonder what might have been if we’d zigged instead of zagged.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        George, it is highly possible that Earth’s population in Federation times is much smaller. It’s a futuristic liberal society which emerged after a series of devastating wars. The population could be considerably lower.

        That said, Starfleet’s cadet population does seem… oddly.. small.

        Marchmaine: Oh so stipulated but I was thinking more socialcons than economic conservatives and as I understand it they consider the mid 1900’s to have been the golden age of God fearing family life.Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        @north come now friend, we’re perfectly capable of coming up with our own forward looking dystopias without copying those of the past. We’re all of us flying blind into the future.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Barry
      Ignored
      says:

      Gene Rodenberry was about a true believer in Kennedy-esque liberalism as one can be. He was also a very big supporter of the United Nations and Star Trek was intended to show what the world could be like “if we all worked together.” I can’t think of another show that was more filled with mid-century liberalism.Report

  5. Avatar zic
    Ignored
    says:

    Since I don’t watch much TV, I found out about Firefly from reading TNC’s blog. Watched it on Netflix instant download.

    I interpreted the themes as libertarian, lower case. And was sort of amazed that the Upper Case commenters int TNC’s horde loved the show as much as they did. But I think Tod’s hit the nail on the head here: it’s the Underdog theme that plays out, not political themes.

    As for Kaylee; my family is filled with people who have a seemingly intuitive sense for things mechanical. It is a form of intelligence; like having a natural inclination for music, drawing, math, language. I’d assumed she’d grown up with it, used it all her life, and immersed herself in it as an adult, like a fish to water.Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to zic
      Ignored
      says:

      >amazed that [they] loved the show as much as they did

      Well, it really is a great show! I love plenty of shows whose politics I hate. And a great show with compelling characters will be given more slack.

      >it’s the Underdog theme that plays out, not political themes.

      I should note that I agree with Tod and you on that. It’s just that since there are no *actually* libertarian shows but there are libertarian viewers, they latched onto Whedon and Dave Simon of the Wire as close enough.Report

      • Avatar Jeff Lipton in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        Vikram Bath:
        I love plenty of shows whose politics I hate. And a great show with compelling characters will be given more slack.

        Not so much politics, but I hated and loathed Vic Mackey on The Shield. The maneuvering around Aceveda and Wyms (oh, how I loved Ms Wyms) was so fascinating that I couldn’t stop watching.Report

  6. Avatar j r
    Ignored
    says:

    I’ve always been a literature nerd and not much of a sci-fi/comic book geek. Right now, it’s fashionable to tie those things up into one “big hipster/nerd/geek I heart books/comics/science/black plastic glasses” identity, but they are different. For that reason, I’ve never been able to get into Joss Whedon. A lot of it has to do with his love of junior high school diction.

    As for how libertarian he is, the feminism topic might serve to best highlight this issue. There are two somewhat competing conceptions of feminism: the classically liberal and the progressive. What you define here, especially with regards to the companions is absolutely the progressive ideal.Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to j r
      Ignored
      says:

      And I meant to add that the primary reason that libertarians are attracted to Whedon is that lots of libertarians are comic book geeks (and i mean this as descriptive, not pejorative.)Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        There’s a lot of comic book and science fiction stuff out there. But they chose Firefly. Moreso than any other show if its kind that I am aware of. Moreso than most shows. Which tells me – as a bad person that hasn’t seen the show – that it has at least enough elements of libertarianism that it’s the most libertarian of what may be a not-very-libertarian lot.

        I consider the latter part of that more interesting than the former.Report

      • Avatar Heisenberg in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        It’s mostly because the main character, Mal, is a libertarian. But libertarians don’t quite get that the show is highly critical of those libertarian aspects of his character. And the movie flat out has him growing past them.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        @will-truman

        Serenity & crew are, essentially, a single-proprietor owned business, perhaps one could consider it a family business since they cast functions like a family for the purposes of the show. Morality is based on individual sense, not on rules from authoritarians, and those rules and enforcement of those rules is often the key to the plot twist. Survival is based on wits, on skill, on luck, on connections; not on outside aid from others (for the most part), particularly aid from government. The show basically takes place on the fringes of society and in the black markets.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        Will: how in the hell is it that you haven’t seen the show?Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to j r
      Ignored
      says:

      ” A lot of it has to do with his love of junior high school diction.”
      … avoid Hemmingway and Steinbeck, then.Report

  7. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    Okay. From here:

    There are a couple of things that come together to put the whole libertarian thing together.

    First off, it’s the operating off the books, outside of the law… but it’s set up in such a way that we can’t believe that the books are held to account to that degree. That the law is *THAT* intrusive.

    I mean, if you want to look at, oh, The A-Team (AWESOME), you’ll see that the opening narration begins: “In 1972 a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit.”

    “A crime they didn’t commit.” Ugh. You want to make this libertarian, you change it to “for a breaking an unjust law, and committing a ‘crime’ that never should have been under the jurisdiction of the government to pass laws against in the first place.”

    Which is a bit of a mouthful for opening narration. But that’s one of the things that Libertarians latch onto like a wolf on a baby.

    Secondly, there’s the whole big “implacable government that cannot be reasoned with” thing. The Wire was good at showing how a bureaucracy (one, presumably, set up with the best of intentions) turns into just a machine and then, worse, a machine where the worst actors receive benefits and the best actors get squeezed out… but that’s a bit of a downer week after week.

    Libertarians like showing what it’s like when these things are around but people succeed on the margins despite it. Yay. It’s happy. (It also flatters the viewer who, presumably, sees themselves on the side of Mal rather than on the side of The Operative (as sympathetic as he is).)

    You mix in a handful of the tropes that show up pretty much everywhere else (One Man With Courage Makes A Majority, Family By Choice) that all lean heavily toward “Moral Agent Chooses Own Fate”, and you’ve got a formula that Libertarians would like a lot.

    Also: nobody watched it at the time but only in retrospect did they say “yeah, we should have paid more attention.”Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      I hadn’t thought about that for the A-team. Thanks for sharing that point (in addition to your others).

      On the other hand, wasn’t the A-Team setup just a plot device? They need to have an excuse for the A-Team to be competent and good but still interesting. The ex-commando thing makes them competent and good, but being falsely convicted allows them to be interesting by not having the government backing every little thing they do.Report

  8. Avatar Pinky
    Ignored
    says:

    Libertarianism is obsessed with an idealized past and an idealized future – although in both cases, “idealized” doesn’t necessarily mean “good”. It’s only natural that libertarians would gravitate toward steampunk, and Firefly is the closest thing to it that’s been on network TV. I think if you look at any quirky subculture, there are going to be a good number of libertarians in it, partially because libertarians tend to be childless and have the kind of free time it takes to commit to a subculture.Report

  9. Avatar Russell Saunders
    Ignored
    says:

    The most libertarian theme in the show actually, IMHO, comes from “Serenity.” In it, we learn that *AHOY, SPOILERS BE BELOW!!!!* the government, in an attempt to keep a planet’s population docile, used a chemical that either rendered them so docile as to allow themselves to waste to death or had the opposite effect and turned them into psychotic cannibal killer rapists.

    *shudders* Reavers. *shudders*Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Russell Saunders
      Ignored
      says:

      They didn’t work for me, other than being gross. Space flight, even in Firefly, seems complicated and requires a great deal of skill and cooperation. I can’t understand how Reavers could ever achieve let alone sustain space capabilities in the psychotic insane state of agression they are perpetually in.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to North
        Ignored
        says:

        Well, that’s the conceit of the story, which is always more grand in science fiction and fantasy than in any other genre.

        Really, given what we know now, the jump between no one being capable of faster-than-light travel and someone being capable of faster-than-light travel is much bigger than the jump between intelligent people being capable of faster-than-light travel and crazy people being capable of it. It’s just that we’ve seen enough iterations of various warp drives that we excuse it as an explanation.Report

      • Avatar Russell Saunders in reply to North
        Ignored
        says:

        I certainly agree that the ability to maintain their spacecraft, rig those complicated booby traps, etc, requires communication other than subhuman shrieks. Logically, there’s a big breakdown, a fact on which I focused as I attempted to stave off nightmares.

        But man, they give me the fantods.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to North
        Ignored
        says:

        @north – I agree it seems improbable, but here’s some handwaving I do:

        1: For whatever reason, the aggressiveness doesn’t override the parts of the brain needed for technical tasks (the same sort of handwaving you have to do with zombies, just leaving different parts of the brain/mind intact)

        2: Their irrationality is *somewhat* overstated by popular legend and gov’t propaganda (since the gov’t would have an interest in Othering them, and keeping them feared and hated).

        3: They possibly keep human slaves to perform mechanical tasks (we’ve never seen the inside of their ships).Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to North
        Ignored
        says:

        From all I can tell there’s actually no FTL travel in the ‘verse. It’s all located in a single star system.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to North
        Ignored
        says:

        @ Glyph I’ll grant you that but it just especially doesn’t work for the Reavers for me. The idea that, when they have some quiet time, some Reaver cheerfully sits down to, say, metholodically re-caulk the windows on his space jalopy so he and his rape crew don’t depressurize and die while shoving bolts through his arm with his free hand just… doesn’t… parse…. for me.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Russell Saunders
      Ignored
      says:

      This lead to another of my breaks with fandom.

      On another community, someone asked a hypothetical about what if it were possible to reform criminals with some kind of drug and the ethics of using such a drug? Or a similar hypothetical? I don’t remember it exactly.

      I DO remember that a lot of people were opposed to such a concept and their justification was the Reavers and they seemed to take it as a sincere and seriously possibility that the Reavers were possible to create.

      I was very annoyed by this for some reason. Inexplicably and couldn’t humor them annoyed.Report

  10. Avatar Jim Heffman
    Ignored
    says:

    Do take into account that “Firefly” was as much Tim Minear’s creation as it was Joss Whedon’s. This explains some of the dissonance in philosophy between “Firefly” and the other things that Whedon has been involved in.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jim Heffman
      Ignored
      says:

      I hadn’t even thought of that, good point.

      What else has Minear done?Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Tod Kelly
        Ignored
        says:

        According to Wikipedia, he did a screenplay for “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress”.

        So, um, yeah.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Tod Kelly
        Ignored
        says:

        I’ve been trying to find the quote and failing (and it wouldn’t detract from the Minear thing even if I found it) but I seem to recall that Whedon has explicitly stated that although he doesn’t agree with Mal’s politics, he wanted to write that character that way, and he loves that character. I don’t see why the universe Mal exists in would be any different.

        It’s a libertarian-ish piece of fiction that was written by a non-libertarian. A good writer should be able to write characters and stories from POVs ultimately divergent from his own IRL.Report

  11. Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto
    Ignored
    says:

    I do think part of some elements of Browncoat-libertarianism are implicitly from a stand-point of neoconfederate apologia. In particular, Firefly presents a very idealized vision of the Civil War, completely playing up the “state’s rights” trope while also presenting the Alliance as being an evil all-encompassing state that was out to put all of humanity under its aegis. I think the lack of moral ambiguity, at least so far as we can tell in the Alliance vs. Browncoat war, plus the fact that everything we see is filtered through the eyes of Mal Reynolds we really get the cop out, romanticized version of the “War of Northern Aggression” with none of the monstrousness of the real life Confederacy.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Nob Akimoto
      Ignored
      says:

      The lack of moral ambiguity? In one of the shows, we see Mal drinking at a bar when one of the bar patrons hoists a toast to the anniversary of kicking the butts of those Browncoats… at which point Mal starts a fight.

      And, apparently, this is something he does every year.

      Which means that, every year, someone in the bar (several different bars, now) starts hoisting drinks to winning the war against the Browncoats.

      There are *SOME* people out there who are thrilled that the Browncoats got their asses kicked. There are hints that there are a lot.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        But we don’t follow those people. We follow the Browncoats and the toasters are never treated sympathetically.

        A lot of people were also glad that the South lost the civil war but A Birth of a Nation was clearly made for those who thought otherwise. Same with Gone with the Wind.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        The people celebrating the browncoats losing aren’t portrayed as particularly sympathetic, even as being jackasses that Our Hero Mal is right to beat up.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        Is there a point at which we might be able to stop making parallels? Or should we assume that Zoe was fighting alongside of Mal because he owned her, like Thomas Jefferson owned Sally Hemmings?

        So focusing on how the government created the reapers is like focusing on the Tuskegee syphilis experiment while not exploring the cultural attitudes that the government couldn’t eradicate from backwater planets that probably made the medical testing of the Reaver drugs possible in the first place?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        The people celebrating the browncoats losing aren’t portrayed as particularly sympathetic, even as being jackasses that Our Hero Mal is right to beat up.

        From what I remember, Mal was chased out of the bar by pretty much *EVERYBODY* in the bar and Wash complained about Mal doing this every year… while the guy who might have called for the original toast came across like a Ravens fan, I’ve got to say that there’s enough there to see that we only don’t like him because we’ve been hanging with Broncos fans for the last couple of shows.

        We saw a situation where a Broncos fan beat up a Ravens fan in a Ravens bar and started a riot and then got chewed out for doing so. The fact that the original Ravens fan was a bit jerky isn’t quite enough for me to say that there was no ambiguity there. Hey. They won.Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        So, this Armenian walks into a Turkish bar…

        Not every resistance to assimilation into the centralized winning power is a confederate apology. In fact the episode “Shindig” is a pretty resounding attack on any sort of ante-bellum nostalgia. Firefly seems to wonder what it means if the good guys win and win hard.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        One more episode that would seem to be relevant is Jaynestown, in which there are actual slaves. The slaveowner is portrayed in a very harsh light. There is no Gone-With-the-Wind nostalgia for that way of life in the episode. http://firefly.wikia.com/wiki/JaynestownReport

    • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Nob Akimoto
      Ignored
      says:

      Considering the creator, I find it highly unlikely that this is neoconfederate apologia. It would be more likely to be Revolutionary War apologia (though I don’t think it is that either.Report

  12. Avatar Chris
    Ignored
    says:

    A lot of libertarians are Geeks. Geeks like Firefly. Q.E.D.Report

  13. Avatar dhex
    Ignored
    says:

    “and you are a bad person if you don’t watch it.”

    if i must be forced to watch something wheadon related, it’d be roseanne. fer rilla. (no pomo: i love roseanne) i don’t care about space or vampires or love or superheroes or any of that noise.Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *