This site will work and look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"But you've never fought me."
11978 members | you are not logged in | 14 December 2018


December 26 2014

Cracked looks at whether the Browncoats were really the good guys and the Alliance was really the bad guy. It's Cracked so, naturally, it's a bit tongue in cheek, but a couple of nice points are raised, though I think them a bit off the mark on some.

The only one I really disagree with is "River's powers growing out of control" and the Alliance was keeping her in check so she doesn't go Akira, but then all indications are River is unable to keep herself in check because of what the Alliance did to her in an effort to increase her powers and weaponizea her. So if she went Akira, that's directly their fault, not her own and they were certainly not trying to prevent it. And, I don't think there's an indication her powers are growing, it's just that she's gaining lucidity and better learning how to manage them.
I've seen people make a similar argument for The Empire in Star Wars being the good guys. On the one hand, The Empire and The Alliance both represent order. On the other, they're both ruthless dictatorships (as far as we know). The Browncoats and the Rebel Alliance represent freedom, but with that freedom often brings chaos. We see the same thing happen in the real world as well.
That's exactly the crux of the argument really, and what I think is the thing about the show. It's a sliding scale of gray. You have to choose your evils, you have to decide what you're willing to trade in exchange for what you believe is good. There is no actual "good" guy. The Alliance, it can be argued, is severely misguided. The Browncoats, can also be argued, are severely misguided. Because they believe in a different higher good. It's also one of the things where tensions in the crew come from: what evils am I willing to commit to achieve the good.
It's about power. Who's got it, who knows how to use it. There are no goodies and baddies, there are just people with whom you share more DNA, and if they don't have power then maybe you can charm someone who does so your DNA can persist. We're simple animals with a love for storytelling.
I mostly agreed with him right up until he said "an historical." Now he is dead to me.
I've always believed the Alliance were the good guys and the crew of Serenity were the bad guys. But a large part of that is due to my belief that Reynolds is an unlikeable and irredeemable asshat who should have been forced to watch his ship get nuked out of existence and his crew Reavered. And then the Operative goes all Highlander on him.

I'm not sure if that's due to bad writing or the fact I think Nathan Fillion's not a good actor. I realize I'm in the minority on this here.
I'd say you're in the VAST minority on that one skippcomet. But you're entitled to your opinion.
I can really see both sides of this argument. Government and structure have their places, but those places are only where they are invited by an un-coerced populace. My biggest beef with the Alliance is its imperialism. What gives them the right to determine how other populations are governed? On the other hand, it's going to be pretty hard to enforce borders in space, and thus pretty hard to keep the neighbors' problems from turning up on your doorstep. So where do you find that balance between respecting their right to self-governance and protecting your own population from the crime, disease, etc. that are the potential side effects of lax self-governance?
Indeed there is always that tension between the order of government and the chaos of the lack thereof. As we see over and over, the opposite of a strong government is not freedom, it is government by the strong and ruthless. However, inevitably the stronger the forces within government, the greater the temptation by those who have them to become corrupt and equally ruthless, to employ their power for their own gain.

In the 'Verse the Alliance seems on the most part beneficial - they are the promoters of science, learning and civilization. But as all too often with "civilized societies", they are arrogant toward others who don't share their structures. There are people within the government who, out of the best of intentions, are willing to experiment on people for what they believe is for the good of humanity, doing away with the human problem of aggression (Miranda). And there are people within the government allied with corporate interests who are willing to experiment on and torture a young girl, and to kill recklessly to get her back, for reasons that are clearly their own.

But outside the Alliance people are subject to any local despot or stupid superstition - witches must be killed. Mal shows a standard of honor among thieves, but he is the rarity. I would also disagree with the contention that he and Zoey are ignorant. Going back to the Civil War model I would suggest that he came from some sort of aristocratic family. It was particularly noticeable in the duel that when he dances with Inarra he joins her in a very elaborate courtly dance perfectly without flubbing a move. Speaking as an English Country dancer myself, that is not something you just walk into and pick up instantly. He would have had to have learned that somewhere under the strictures of a dancing master, which suggests an upper class upbringing. Zoe we know is career military. She might well have attended a military academy before the was broke out.

[ edited by barboo on 2014-12-27 02:55 ]
They bring up the civil war similarities, but completely fail to mention that the Alliance was pro-slavery, and the browncoats anti-slavery. The Alliance forces all planets in the verse to honor slave contracts and return runaway slaves. Seems difficult to argue they're on the side of the angels.
Is there something to indicate that? I might've overlooked it.
Somehow Miranda and the Reavers were never mentioned. Seems like the Alliance got to the Cracked video and sanitized it for the masses. "Buried it", even.
Seems like we still need those who do not hold with that type of evil, won't run from it, and are willing "to misbehave."
The Alliance - good government or Blue Sun corporate shills?
Since we aren't given a full history of how the war started and most of the Alliance interactions on the show had the air of power for power's sake with Blue Sun behind much of what the government did, then I'm going with the Alliance being the bad guys. Because it seems to me that people left the core planets to live on the rim on newly terraformed worlds in order to build new lives for themselves, and that includes doing business with each other. It was implied that Blue Sun had a lot of say in what the Alliance did so I took it as Blue Sun (and other corporations) saw that new business and it not being done with them so they got the Alliance to decide all the planets should be under one rule (meaning, all territories would be subject to whatever business friendly rules they had already in place), but the people living on those worlds disagreed. The minute they decided to use force to get what they wanted, they were the bad guys. No one ever mentioned the Alliance wanting unified rules for humanitarian purposes or to give "freedom" to the people living on those outer planets that I recall. Plus, they scrambled River's brain and made Reavers without offering the people on Miranda a choice. Bad guys. Totes. (PS I'm at work and the video won't play on my PC so I'm being one of those jerks that comments before viewing.)

This thread has been closed for new comments.

You need to log in to be able to post comments.
About membership.

joss speaks back home back home back home back home back home