Friday, November 16, 2012

"I Aim To Misbehave"

When The Avengers took the world by storm last summer, it felt to a certain segment of the nerd population like a reckoning. We were a bitter group of nerds, feeling that our leader's genius and talents were undervalued. And by "certain segment of the nerd population," I mean Browncoats.

I am a Browncoat. Not, like, a captain or a general, mind you. I'm more like a Sergeant Major or a Warrant Officer. Middle of the pack. Joss Whedon is our commander in chief.

Which part of the Firefly mystique is the secret sauce that inspires such devotion even 10 years after its all-too-brief 14-episode run concluded? Is it, as they put it in Browncoats Unite, the notion that this shell of a man had found a crew whose best traits filled the chasms in his own soul? Is it that Whedon was inspired by Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon? Whedon wanted to explore the potentially wild back story that would, eventually, build up to a space smuggler/"scoundrel" finding that nugget of decency and duty, a reversal that would help turn the tides of a universe-wide civil war.

I think what pulls in so many fans is the American obsession with rebellion. Our country was borne of rebellion, and our greatest historical events involve clashes and rebellions, with renegade leaders inspiring some increasingly large mass of followers.

We love rebels when we don't fear or despise them. Sometimes we love them even more when they do scoundrely or scary things (See: Guevara, Che).

"I aim to misbehave." - Mal Reynolds

We all love flipping off The Man; it's usually a question of which Men we flip off. The left currently loves flipping off the Wall Street Man, the CEO, the Womb Barons, the DEA, the INS, and often the po-po. The right extends its ring-clad middle finger for The Gub'ment, The Leeches and The Muslim World.

Do far right types watch Captain Mal Reynolds and think of their own causes? Do they see in Mal a symbolic hero of their cause? Honestly, in both his behavior and his decisions, Mal feels more like a right-leaning kind of rebel. He served dutifully in the army. He's a clean-cut white guy. He completely distrusts The Gub'ment and is all about exercising his own self-determined freedoms. And he's definitely Pro Gun.

And the way the right talks of Benghazi, it sounds as if they're romanticizing the tale of Miranda from the movie Serenity, as if the deaths of four Americans is a far more ghastly event than we regular citizens can grasp from our country's controlled information sources. The right seems to believe that, if all the information about what happened in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, came to light, there would be some kind of Great Awakening not unlike the conclusion to Serenity:

"You can't stop the signal." - Mr. Universe

Frankly -- and this should come as no surprise to those who've seen my reaction to other conspiracy theories -- I just don't see what the big deal here is. Four American deaths are indeed tragic, but they seem to pale compared to the 4,488 American military casualties in Iraq since 2003, the 4,300+ since "Mission Accomplished," and the 3,800 since we "handed over responsibility" in June of 2004.

Republicans are demanding a “Watergate-style hearing” to investigate a possible cover-up in an event that led to four deaths, yet we still to this day haven’t had anyone answer for a lack of WMD in Iraq that has cost us some $800B, 4,400 lives and tens of thousands of casualties. Best I can figure, this is the ultimate instance of gagging at gnats and swallowing camels.

Mal Reynolds would find a different battleground and would take on a different opponent. He would not waste his precious and limited resources on this particular gnat. When it comes to The Secret Conspiracies Behind Benghazi, maybe Jayne Cobb said it best:

“What’re we expectin’ to find here that equals the worth of a turd?”

Or, if you prefer, let’s quote someone more in the spirit of this comedic inquisition:

“Ain’t you got nuthin’ better ta do?” -- Bugs Bunny

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