I’m a bit late finding out about this (apparently I don’t spend enough time on twitter, or I probably would have known sooner), but back in September a professor at the University of Wisconsin had a Firefly poster removed from his office door for “references to violence,” as well as the fascism poster that he put up to replace it in protest. You can read more about it here.
The quote in question is from Malcolm Reynolds, in the two-hour series pilot Serenity:
“You don’t know me, son. So let me explain this to you once: If I ever kill you, you’ll be awake, you’ll be facing me, and you’ll be armed.”
Hardly a threat, don’t you think? If anything, it’s the opposite of a treat–it’s a reassurance. It’s Mal explaining that Simon has nothing to worry about, because Mal’s high moral standards mean that he would never kill anyone who wasn’t actively trying to earn it. The idea that this is somehow “threatening” and therefore “inappropriate” for a college campus is absolutely absurd. And it’s also not what I want to talk about.
Firefly is my favorite TV show of all time. There are a lot of very good shows out there, but in my opinion Firefly tops them all. There are a number of reasons for this. The characters are unique and three-dimensional, the dialogue is witty, the music is fantastic, the world-building is not only realistic (for a scifi show) but also engrossing, and the aesthetics of it all are just gorgeous. How could you not fall in love?
But the thing I like most about Firefly? The way it fearlessly engages with philosophical ideas that actually apply in real life. I will probably never have to defend my sibling from a fascist government. I will probably never face suffocation in the lonely emptiness of space because I didn’t have enough money to get my ship the parts it needed. I will probably never have to kill anyone. But I will have to fight a lot of battles, just like everyone else, and watching the characters on Firefly relentlessly fight theirs has given me a perspective on the issue of survival that I don’t think I could have gotten just thinking about it abstractly. It’s forced me to think about how far I would go to protect myself and the people around me, and evaluate how much I care about things like freedom. Not too shabby for a sci-fi western that only ran for half a season, eh?
So I find it ironic that a Firefly quote should come up against this kind of censorship, and I’m not surprised that the ‘verse won in the end. Because after all: you can’t take the sky from me.
“No power in the ‘verse can stop me.” -River Tam