This is a guest post by Silver Longjohns.
The one time I have dressed up for the opening of a movie was for Serenity in 2005. I went with a dozen costumed friends. I was Christina Hendricks’ ambiguously-named character. My favorite was my “two by two” friends in white lab coats who had swiped blue latex gloves from chem lab and thumb-wrestled for our cameras. We also had Kaylee with a parasol; two Inara’s in various finery, and someone had even knitted the Jayne hat. The one black guy in our group of majority white friends is a devout Christian and went as Shepherd Book. Our Zoe was a white lady and wore that signature disconcerting string of leather as a necklace.
Full disclosure: I was embarrassed to be out in public dressed up and I would never have done it alone. However, the time was right – as a stalwart Joss Whedon fan, I was delighted he’d done a movie, and the feeling of belonging in that group of fellow fans was very powerful for me. Even as I fretted about how our costumes set us apart from other folks in the theater I relished the opportunity to publicly fly a shared nerdiness flag.
So I’ve had a longstanding loyalty to Joss Whedon’s work, and I’ve been glad to see him gain more recognition. But my latent feminist tendencies have developed quite a bit over time and there’s a lot I wish Joss would do differently. In a fit of Netflix-enabled nostalgia I did re-watch Firefly recently, and because there’s been so much discussion recently about Joss Whedon and feminism, I’m sending out here some of my current reactions to Firefly. They’re somewhat popcorn style, focused on the lady characters, gender, sexuality, and romantic relationships. I should also acknowledge that it is particularly egregious that Firefly takes place in a future where everyone speaks Mandarin Chinese but not a single actor appears to be of Asian descent. Joss’ characters generally are not very ethnically diverse; it is a problem, y’all. Others have written on that before, though, so I won’t unpack it here. (Also, I only took two years of Mandarin but in Firefly their Chinese is terrible.)
Firefly disappointingly barely passes the Bechdel test, but I’m relieved that in the limited conversation among Kaylee, Zoe and Inara, they are unequivocally supportive of each other (River I’ll get to later). The sex positivity allowed to their characters is also simply delightful (Zoe and Wash get all sweaty and adorable together! Kaylee hooks up with a guy in the machine room because engines turn her on!) However, I wish Kaylee and Inara presented better models of communication about romantic needs.