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November 30, 2005, at 04:29 AM MST by Atlasbugged -
Changed line 5 from:

http://www.fireflywiki.org/Profiles/Atlasbugged Friendly Neighborhood Atlas Bugged

to:

Friendly Neighborhood Profiles/{{Atlasbugged}}

November 29, 2005, at 06:24 PM MST by Atlas Bugged -
Changed lines 3-5 from:

You can find a good discussion of the normative aspects of Firefly http://www.affbrainwash.com/archives/020132.php here and a fascinating look at some of the philosophy - with extensive linking - http://www.reason.com/hod/js093005.shtml here.

to:

You can find a good external discussion of the normative aspects of Firefly http://www.affbrainwash.com/archives/020132.php here and a fascinating look at some of Joss Whedon 's philosophy (though not Tim Minear 's) - with extensive linking - http://www.reason.com/hod/js093005.shtml here.

http://www.fireflywiki.org/Profiles/Atlasbugged Friendly Neighborhood Atlas Bugged

November 29, 2005, at 06:18 PM MST by Atlas Bugged -
Changed lines 1-3 from:

This section has required some updating, and is identical to the last section of the Brief FAQ. So instead of updating two documents, please see the Brief FAQ for the most updated comments. You can find a good discussion of the normative aspects of Firefly http://www.affbrainwash.com/archives/020132.php here and a fascinating look at some of the philosophy - with extensive linking - http://www.reason.com/hod/js093005.shtml here.

to:

This section has required some updating, and is identical to the last section of the Brief FAQ. So instead of me having to update two documents, please do me the kindness of going to the Brief FAQ for the most updated comments.

You can find a good discussion of the normative aspects of Firefly http://www.affbrainwash.com/archives/020132.php here and a fascinating look at some of the philosophy - with extensive linking - http://www.reason.com/hod/js093005.shtml here.

November 26, 2005, at 06:50 PM MST by Atlasbugged -
Changed line 1 from:

This section has required some updating, and is identical to the last section of the Brief FAQ. So instead of updating two documents, please see the Brief FAQ for the most updated comments. You can find a good discussion of the normative aspects of Firefly http://www.affbrainwash.com/archives/020132.php here] and a fascinating look at some of the philosophy - with extensive linking - [[http://www.reason.com/hod/js093005.shtml here.

to:

This section has required some updating, and is identical to the last section of the Brief FAQ. So instead of updating two documents, please see the Brief FAQ for the most updated comments. You can find a good discussion of the normative aspects of Firefly http://www.affbrainwash.com/archives/020132.php here and a fascinating look at some of the philosophy - with extensive linking - http://www.reason.com/hod/js093005.shtml here.

November 26, 2005, at 06:48 PM MST by Atlasbugged -
Changed line 1 from:

This section has required some updating, and is identical to the last section of the Brief FAQ. So instead of updating two documents, please see the Brief FAQ for the most updated comments. You can find a good discussion of the normative aspects of Firefly http://www.affbrainwash.com/archives/020132.php here] and a fscinating look at some of the philosophy - with extensive linking - [http://www.reason.com/hod/js093005.shtml here.

to:

This section has required some updating, and is identical to the last section of the Brief FAQ. So instead of updating two documents, please see the Brief FAQ for the most updated comments. You can find a good discussion of the normative aspects of Firefly http://www.affbrainwash.com/archives/020132.php here] and a fascinating look at some of the philosophy - with extensive linking - [[http://www.reason.com/hod/js093005.shtml here.

November 26, 2005, at 06:47 PM MST by Atlasbugged -
Changed line 1 from:

This section has required some updating, and is identical to the last section of the Brief FAQ. So instead of updating two documents, please see the Brief FAQ for the most updated comments.

to:

This section has required some updating, and is identical to the last section of the Brief FAQ. So instead of updating two documents, please see the Brief FAQ for the most updated comments. You can find a good discussion of the normative aspects of Firefly http://www.affbrainwash.com/archives/020132.php here] and a fscinating look at some of the philosophy - with extensive linking - [http://www.reason.com/hod/js093005.shtml here.

November 26, 2005, at 06:43 PM MST by Atlasbugged -
Changed lines 1-35 from:

RELIGION AND POLITICS IN FIREFLY

They say you should never discuss religion or politics. Firefly dealt with both in very explicit ways. Both were arguably at the heart of the entire show. And we don't have the show anymore.

RELIGION:

In terms of religion, Captain Reynolds is an explicit atheist. If this were Seventh Heaven, you might see him regularly suffering for this fact, but a fair reading of Firefly's intent suggests Reynolds made the right choice, the rational hero. Looked at this way, the show was a success for having aired 11 episodes, instead of 3.

I will note that some religious fans see it differently, and see Shepherd Book as the true spokesperson for the show's POV. The best evidence for their view is the fact that Reynolds becomes an atheist out of anger and betrayal when his troops are slaughtered then abandoned at the Battle of Serenity. Also, Whedon confirms that Book is the message-bearer in the BDM's unfortunate and misunderstood "...Believe something..." dialogue, though this is not quite what religious fans want to hear, either. It is a misunderstood "message" of the BDM, one of two, the other encapsulated in Mal's (and Kaylee's similar) comment, "I mean to live!" Life is the central theme, if there is one, throughout Firefly.

Still, there is no question about the atheism. Mal tells The Shepherd to keep religion, proselytizing, and even out-loud prayers off the ship. Shepherd Book himself ultimately appears to go against his religion, utilizing massive deadly force in defense of himself and his own (which he refused to do in "Heart Of Gold.") And the Shepherd has a mysterious, possibly evil, past, and he too may have become what he now is in reaction. Book later seems to advocate faith without content (in the BDM, see above.)

Finally, the creator of the series is unequivocal both about his own atheism and the atheism of the character Malcom Reynolds. Whedon often says conflicting things about the show, and what a creator says is not necessarily canon, but there has been absolutely no equivocation about this. "...Mal is an atheist..." Whedon says. Nor any question that Mal is the hero. I am placing links to this information at the end solely because many fans find some of this too much to accept, even though it ought to be obvious that Mal is both atheist and hero. The *indisputable* atheism in FIREFLY is - no surprise - the thing that causes the most apoplexy among many fans. Some of Whedon's statements in this regard appear to be in his own voice, as commentary tracks on the DVD set. In print, Whedon tells us, "I'm a very hard-line, angry atheist."

POLITICS:

In terms of politics, it's even more explicit. Whedon has said without qualification that Reynolds is a libertarian, though it was obvious long before Whedon spoke. In fairness, Whedon has also stated that he, Whedon, was not a libertarian, and cohort Tim Minear may have been responsible (Minear is at work adapting a Robert Heinlein story for the screen, so he's likely the real lib.) An interesting question might be whether Mal is, or is becoming, an Objectivist (the philosophy of novelist Ayn Rand which gave birth to libertarianism.)

But no matter what, Mal adheres to libertarian principles, including non-aggression, and Objectivist morality, which demands self-reliance and independent thought. This too has infuriated a number of fans who love the show, but carry conventional politics and ethics. They take glee in pointing out that Mal and company do self-described "thieving," which, if true, would certainly be inconsistent with either libertarianism or Objectivism. But close examination of the show easily demonstrates that the "thieving" always occurs against people who are mass murderers ("Trash") or government thugs ("Ariel") or the like. In "The Train Job," we actually see Mal returning the "stolen" goods - in the face of torture and death - when he discovers that they belong to deserving parties who don't even have perfect title. (Mal there says, "We're not thieves - but we are thieves.")

Again, it's probably a stroke of luck that average fans don't necessarily understand the politics, and the sexual libertarianism alone may have helped kill the show in the first instance. But in the end, even if folks don't understand the details, it's clear that Malcom Reynolds is a powerful man of principle, an impossibly appealing package that undoubtedly turns FIREFLY's fans into fanatics. Many may see Mal as a handsome bad boy, even if he's the most moral character ever to appear on TV. If that's how they want to enjoy him, and it gets more shows made, the rest of us will live with that.

In the end, I used my POV early on to make predictions about later episodes and they were confirmed almost without exception, all the way through to the film, then through to follow-on research about Whedon's explicit comments.

Atlas Bugged

http://www.fireflywiki.org/Profiles/Atlasbugged

REFERENCES:

A number of things in this entry have been challenged by various fans, some honestly, others simply disagree with anything you say. But the facts are the facts, so the following links, mostly interviews with the creator, Joss Whedon, are designed to silence the senseless objections, while arguable ones have been noted in the text.

"Mal is an atheist" says Whedon, also referring to him as the "hero." This is a 9/2005 press conference, not even an interview. (http://shorl.com/fobygynastudra Here or http://www.joblo.com/index.php?id=8725 here.)

In this New York Times interview, Whedon makes it awfully plain: "I'm a very hard-line, angry atheist." (http://shorl.com/defrejytrefrahe Here or http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F60912FE3C540C718EDDA00894DA404482 here.)

"Mal is... certainly a libertarian..." says Whedon in this interview, while also suggesting he, JW, is not. (http://shorl.com/hihuhejoruste Here or http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1127384288085&call_pageid=968867495754&col=969483191630&DPL=IvsNDS%2f7ChAX&tacodalogin=yes here.)

This is just a huge online interview with Whedon. (http://shorl.com/hokafodrystaby Here or http://homepage.mac.com/merussell/iblog/B835531044/C1592678312/E20050916182427/index.html here.)

to:

This section has required some updating, and is identical to the last section of the Brief FAQ. So instead of updating two documents, please see the Brief FAQ for the most updated comments.

November 09, 2005, at 01:07 PM MST by SomeGuy -
Changed line 16 from:

But no matter what, Mal adheres to libertarian principles, including non-aggression, and Objectivist morality, which demands self-reliance and independent thought. This too has infuriated a number of fans who love the show, but carry conventional (and irrational) politics and ethics. They take glee in pointing out that Mal and company do self-described "thieving," which, if true, would certainly be inconsistent with either libertarianism or Objectivism. But close examination of the show easily demonstrates that the "thieving" always occurs against people who are mass murderers ("Trash") or government thugs ("Ariel") or the like. In "The Train Job," we actually see Mal returning the "stolen" goods - in the face of torture and death - when he discovers that they belong to deserving parties who don't even have perfect title. (Mal there says, "We're not thieves - but we are thieves.")

to:

But no matter what, Mal adheres to libertarian principles, including non-aggression, and Objectivist morality, which demands self-reliance and independent thought. This too has infuriated a number of fans who love the show, but carry conventional politics and ethics. They take glee in pointing out that Mal and company do self-described "thieving," which, if true, would certainly be inconsistent with either libertarianism or Objectivism. But close examination of the show easily demonstrates that the "thieving" always occurs against people who are mass murderers ("Trash") or government thugs ("Ariel") or the like. In "The Train Job," we actually see Mal returning the "stolen" goods - in the face of torture and death - when he discovers that they belong to deserving parties who don't even have perfect title. (Mal there says, "We're not thieves - but we are thieves.")

November 06, 2005, at 06:45 PM MST by Atlas Bugged -
Changed lines 22-24 from:
to:

Atlas Bugged

http://www.fireflywiki.org/Profiles/Atlasbugged

November 05, 2005, at 01:51 PM MST by Atlas Bugged -
Added lines 22-23:
October 24, 2005, at 09:48 AM MST by DoyceTesterman -
Changed line 27 from:

In this New York Times interview, Whedon makes it awfully plain: "I'm a very hard-line, angry atheist." (http://shorl.com/defrejytrefrahe Here or http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F60912FE3C540C718EDDA00894DA404482 here.

to:

In this New York Times interview, Whedon makes it awfully plain: "I'm a very hard-line, angry atheist." (http://shorl.com/defrejytrefrahe Here or http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F60912FE3C540C718EDDA00894DA404482 here.)

October 24, 2005, at 09:47 AM MST by DoyceTesterman -
Changed lines 31-33 from:

This is just a huge online interview with Whedon.

http://shorl.com/hokafodrystaby here or http://homepage.mac.com/merussell/iblog/B835531044/C1592678312/E20050916182427/index.html here.)

to:

This is just a huge online interview with Whedon. (http://shorl.com/hokafodrystaby Here or http://homepage.mac.com/merussell/iblog/B835531044/C1592678312/E20050916182427/index.html here.)

October 24, 2005, at 09:47 AM MST by DoyceTesterman -
Changed line 25 from:

"Mal is an atheist" says Whedon, also referring to him as the "hero." This is a 9/2005 press conference, not even an interview. ([http://shorl.com/fobygynastudra Here] or [http://www.joblo.com/index.php?id=8725 here].)

to:

"Mal is an atheist" says Whedon, also referring to him as the "hero." This is a 9/2005 press conference, not even an interview. (http://shorl.com/fobygynastudra Here or http://www.joblo.com/index.php?id=8725 here.)

Changed line 27 from:

In this New York Times interview, Whedon makes it awfully plain: "I'm a very hard-line, angry atheist." ([http://shorl.com/defrejytrefrahe Here] or [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F60912FE3C540C718EDDA00894DA404482 here].

to:

In this New York Times interview, Whedon makes it awfully plain: "I'm a very hard-line, angry atheist." (http://shorl.com/defrejytrefrahe Here or http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F60912FE3C540C718EDDA00894DA404482 here.

Changed line 29 from:

"Mal is... certainly a libertarian..." says Whedon in this interview, while also suggesting he, JW, is not. ([http://shorl.com/hihuhejoruste Here] or [http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1127384288085&call_pageid=968867495754&col=969483191630&DPL=IvsNDS%2f7ChAX&tacodalogin=yes here].)

to:

"Mal is... certainly a libertarian..." says Whedon in this interview, while also suggesting he, JW, is not. (http://shorl.com/hihuhejoruste Here or http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1127384288085&call_pageid=968867495754&col=969483191630&DPL=IvsNDS%2f7ChAX&tacodalogin=yes here.)

Changed line 33 from:

[http://shorl.com/hokafodrystaby here] or [http://homepage.mac.com/merussell/iblog/B835531044/C1592678312/E20050916182427/index.html here].)

to:

http://shorl.com/hokafodrystaby here or http://homepage.mac.com/merussell/iblog/B835531044/C1592678312/E20050916182427/index.html here.)

October 24, 2005, at 09:46 AM MST by DoyceTesterman -
Changed line 25 from:

["Mal is an atheist" says Whedon, also referring to him as the "hero." This is a 9/2005 press conference, not even an interview.]

to:

"Mal is an atheist" says Whedon, also referring to him as the "hero." This is a 9/2005 press conference, not even an interview. ([http://shorl.com/fobygynastudra Here] or [http://www.joblo.com/index.php?id=8725 here].)

Changed line 27 from:

<http://shorl.com/fobygynastudra> or <http://www.joblo.com/index.php?id=8725>

to:

In this New York Times interview, Whedon makes it awfully plain: "I'm a very hard-line, angry atheist." ([http://shorl.com/defrejytrefrahe Here] or [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F60912FE3C540C718EDDA00894DA404482 here].

Changed lines 29-31 from:

[In this New York Times interview, Whedon makes it awfully plain: "I'm a very hard-line, angry atheist."]

<http://shorl.com/defrejytrefrahe> ($ link) or <http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F60912FE3C540C718EDDA00894DA404482>

to:

"Mal is... certainly a libertarian..." says Whedon in this interview, while also suggesting he, JW, is not. ([http://shorl.com/hihuhejoruste Here] or [http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1127384288085&call_pageid=968867495754&col=969483191630&DPL=IvsNDS%2f7ChAX&tacodalogin=yes here].)

Changed lines 31-37 from:

["Mal is...certainly a libertarian..." says Whedon in this interview, while also suggesting he, JW, is not.]

<http://shorl.com/hihuhejoruste> or <http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1127384288085&call_pageid=968867495754&col=969483191630&DPL=IvsNDS%2f7ChAX&tacodalogin=yes>

[This is just a huge online interview with Whedon.]

<http://shorl.com/hokafodrystaby> or <http://homepage.mac.com/merussell/iblog/B835531044/C1592678312/E20050916182427/index.html>

to:

This is just a huge online interview with Whedon.

Added line 33:

[http://shorl.com/hokafodrystaby here] or [http://homepage.mac.com/merussell/iblog/B835531044/C1592678312/E20050916182427/index.html here].)

October 23, 2005, at 12:44 AM MST by Atlas Bugged -
Changed lines 1-40 from:

Describe Religion And Politics here.

to:

RELIGION AND POLITICS IN FIREFLY

They say you should never discuss religion or politics. Firefly dealt with both in very explicit ways. Both were arguably at the heart of the entire show. And we don't have the show anymore.

RELIGION:

In terms of religion, Captain Reynolds is an explicit atheist. If this were Seventh Heaven, you might see him regularly suffering for this fact, but a fair reading of Firefly's intent suggests Reynolds made the right choice, the rational hero. Looked at this way, the show was a success for having aired 11 episodes, instead of 3.

I will note that some religious fans see it differently, and see Shepherd Book as the true spokesperson for the show's POV. The best evidence for their view is the fact that Reynolds becomes an atheist out of anger and betrayal when his troops are slaughtered then abandoned at the Battle of Serenity. Also, Whedon confirms that Book is the message-bearer in the BDM's unfortunate and misunderstood "...Believe something..." dialogue, though this is not quite what religious fans want to hear, either. It is a misunderstood "message" of the BDM, one of two, the other encapsulated in Mal's (and Kaylee's similar) comment, "I mean to live!" Life is the central theme, if there is one, throughout Firefly.

Still, there is no question about the atheism. Mal tells The Shepherd to keep religion, proselytizing, and even out-loud prayers off the ship. Shepherd Book himself ultimately appears to go against his religion, utilizing massive deadly force in defense of himself and his own (which he refused to do in "Heart Of Gold.") And the Shepherd has a mysterious, possibly evil, past, and he too may have become what he now is in reaction. Book later seems to advocate faith without content (in the BDM, see above.)

Finally, the creator of the series is unequivocal both about his own atheism and the atheism of the character Malcom Reynolds. Whedon often says conflicting things about the show, and what a creator says is not necessarily canon, but there has been absolutely no equivocation about this. "...Mal is an atheist..." Whedon says. Nor any question that Mal is the hero. I am placing links to this information at the end solely because many fans find some of this too much to accept, even though it ought to be obvious that Mal is both atheist and hero. The *indisputable* atheism in FIREFLY is - no surprise - the thing that causes the most apoplexy among many fans. Some of Whedon's statements in this regard appear to be in his own voice, as commentary tracks on the DVD set. In print, Whedon tells us, "I'm a very hard-line, angry atheist."

POLITICS:

In terms of politics, it's even more explicit. Whedon has said without qualification that Reynolds is a libertarian, though it was obvious long before Whedon spoke. In fairness, Whedon has also stated that he, Whedon, was not a libertarian, and cohort Tim Minear may have been responsible (Minear is at work adapting a Robert Heinlein story for the screen, so he's likely the real lib.) An interesting question might be whether Mal is, or is becoming, an Objectivist (the philosophy of novelist Ayn Rand which gave birth to libertarianism.)

But no matter what, Mal adheres to libertarian principles, including non-aggression, and Objectivist morality, which demands self-reliance and independent thought. This too has infuriated a number of fans who love the show, but carry conventional (and irrational) politics and ethics. They take glee in pointing out that Mal and company do self-described "thieving," which, if true, would certainly be inconsistent with either libertarianism or Objectivism. But close examination of the show easily demonstrates that the "thieving" always occurs against people who are mass murderers ("Trash") or government thugs ("Ariel") or the like. In "The Train Job," we actually see Mal returning the "stolen" goods - in the face of torture and death - when he discovers that they belong to deserving parties who don't even have perfect title. (Mal there says, "We're not thieves - but we are thieves.")

Again, it's probably a stroke of luck that average fans don't necessarily understand the politics, and the sexual libertarianism alone may have helped kill the show in the first instance. But in the end, even if folks don't understand the details, it's clear that Malcom Reynolds is a powerful man of principle, an impossibly appealing package that undoubtedly turns FIREFLY's fans into fanatics. Many may see Mal as a handsome bad boy, even if he's the most moral character ever to appear on TV. If that's how they want to enjoy him, and it gets more shows made, the rest of us will live with that.

In the end, I used my POV early on to make predictions about later episodes and they were confirmed almost without exception, all the way through to the film, then through to follow-on research about Whedon's explicit comments.

REFERENCES:

A number of things in this entry have been challenged by various fans, some honestly, others simply disagree with anything you say. But the facts are the facts, so the following links, mostly interviews with the creator, Joss Whedon, are designed to silence the senseless objections, while arguable ones have been noted in the text.

["Mal is an atheist" says Whedon, also referring to him as the "hero." This is a 9/2005 press conference, not even an interview.]

<http://shorl.com/fobygynastudra> or <http://www.joblo.com/index.php?id=8725>

[In this New York Times interview, Whedon makes it awfully plain: "I'm a very hard-line, angry atheist."]

<http://shorl.com/defrejytrefrahe> ($ link) or <http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F60912FE3C540C718EDDA00894DA404482>

["Mal is...certainly a libertarian..." says Whedon in this interview, while also suggesting he, JW, is not.]

<http://shorl.com/hihuhejoruste> or <http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1127384288085&call_pageid=968867495754&col=969483191630&DPL=IvsNDS%2f7ChAX&tacodalogin=yes>

[This is just a huge online interview with Whedon.]

<http://shorl.com/hokafodrystaby> or <http://homepage.mac.com/merussell/iblog/B835531044/C1592678312/E20050916182427/index.html>

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