Joss Whedon’s Big Damn Movie

Essays on Serenity


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About the Book

When Joss Whedon’s television show Firefly (2002–2003) was cancelled, devoted fans cried foul and demanded more—which led to the 2005 feature film Serenity. Both the series and the film were celebrated for their melding of science fiction and western iconography, dystopian settings, underdog storylines, and clever fast-paced dialogue. Firefly has garnered a great deal of scholarly attention—less so, Serenity. This collection of new essays, the first focusing exclusively on the film, examines its depictions of race, ableism, social engineering and systems of power, and its status as a crime film, among other topics.

About the Author(s)

Frederick Blichert is an independent scholar, journalist, and film critic. His writing has appeared in VICE, Paste Magazine, CBC, Senses of Cinema, and Bright Lights Film Journal. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Sherry Ginn is a retired educator currently living in North Carolina. She has authored books examining female characters on science fiction television series as well as the multiple television worlds of Joss Whedon. Edited collections have examined sex in science fiction, time travel, the apocalypse, and the award-winning series Farscape, Doctor Who, and Fringe.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Frederick Blichert

Series editor Sherry Ginn

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 242
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2018
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7199-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3269-8
Imprint: McFarland
Series: Worlds of Whedon

Table of Contents

Introduction: Spotlight on Serenity 1
A Reaver in the Writers Room: The Cannibal Approach to Box Office Fear (London Brickley) 9
Completion of Character and Relationship in Serenity (S. Evan Kreider) 25
Death in the ’Verse (H.S. Hobma) 36
Cassandra Revisited: River Tam, Hysteria and the Politics of Ecstatic Revenge (Aviva ­Dove-Viebahn) 53
“Better worlds”: Western Heroes and the Civilized ’Verse (Frederick Blichert) 69
The Miranda Job: Serenity as Crime Film (Ina Rae Hark) 80
Overconsumption, the Natural Environment and Lessons from ­Earth-That-Was (Eric Benson) 93
“Eat them all the time/Let them blow your mind”: River and the Unacknowledged Corporate Hand in Serenity (Erin Giannini) 106
Failed Experiment: Miranda and the Critique of Social Engineering (Andrew Howe) 117
Miranda: Conflicting Anxieties, Ableism and Population Health (Max Ferguson) 132
“She’s a creature of extraordinary grace”: Resistance Through Dance to the Myth of “Civilized Cultures” (Joel Hawkes) 143
“The Indians ride over the hill”: Revisiting “On the Paradoxical Construction of the Reavers” (Agnes B. Curry) 157
Unspeakable Darkness: Truth, Power and the Taboo of Race (Renee St. Louis) 184
Paint It Red (and Black and Blue): How Joss Whedon and Jack N. Green Created the Bruised, Beautiful Look of Serenity (K. Brenna Wardell) 202
Spaceships as Soundscapes in Serenity (Holly ­Randell-Moon and Arthur J. Randell) 216
About the Contributors 233
Index 235