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Serenity As Libertarian Primer

This is a stretch:

Serenity shows the propensity for big, intrusive government to suppress individuality by demanding uniformity of thought. The film opens with a deft satirical jab at progressive education, in which Alliance school children are being taught how brutish and ugly the outer worlds and their inhabitants are. The teacher, with her soothing voice and appropriately mixed ethnicity, calmly tells children that The Alliance just wants to provide the frontier with "social and medical advancements." When one student protests that Alliance control amounts to telling people how to think, the teacher replies, without irony, "We're not telling people what to think -- we're just trying to show them how."

The film also shows that increasing bureaucracy leads to decreasing transparency. As is often the case with oversized government, there's a tendency for Alliance bureaucrats to hide information from the public. In Serenity, the government refuses to even acknowledge the existence of psychotic, cannibalistic raiders called Reavers, and the driving force behind the film's narrative is the crew's desire to expose a secret government experiment. The government may be trying to control information in the interests of safety, but the result is that the public is unable to make informed choices.

Joss Whedon is a Hollywood liberal and Kerry supporter, so I wouldn't read too much into the libertarian themes of the show and movie. Keep in mind that this is a space Western, and the genre demands a frontier mentality outside your typical Hollywood neo-Bolshevik worldview. Also keep in mind that the women are equal to the men in all ways, including in combat prowess (indeed, two of them are superior to all of the men, including the professional mercenary). Men are routinely depicted as stupid and clumsy and generally boorish. Whedon's characters are no different in this respect than you'll find on your typical episode of "Commander-in-Chief", although one heck of a lot less preachy and narcissistic.


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