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September 24 2005

Joss explains the origins of the term 'Shiny!' in the latest Q&A at the official Serenity movie site.

The way that man's mind has with words is indeed--well, I'm having trouble finding a word that hasn't been overused, such as "genius," "amazing," and so forth. Other writers wish they had Joss Whedon's instinct for words.
Here I was thinking it was first taken from Buffy. I know we've been saying Shiny since Buffy.

Ironically, it's a synonym of "shiny" :P
nixygirl - I'm with you on that and I've really noticed it in rewatching Buffy since Firefly popularised the word. For me it will always be something that Buffy or Cordelia would say and when I first heard it on Firefly I saw it as a Buffy and Angel shout out.

The earliest I remember specifically is when Buffy calls the animals "shiny and new" in The Pack (and I have to get my mind out of the gutter when I make a connection with Madonna's Like a Virgin). I'm pretty confident she uses it as a single word later, including in response to being given something or told good news. Cordelia I'm sure uses it several times - I see it as her word more than anyone else's; at least pre Firefly.

Anyway, that doesn't contradict the answer in the Q+A on the board - just suggests an earlier origin.

Edited - for some horrid spelling. Also - let's not forget the 'shiny happy people'- AtS4 and elsewhere!

[ edited by purplehazel on 2005-09-24 13:28 ]
Shiny. I thought it came from sunshine.
That life giving thing!
"Shiny Happy People" is a song by REM though :)
Yes - that's what I meant by 'elsewhere' - I figured the episode title is a mix of that and the 'happy clappy' god-botherers.
Actually, "shiny" is used all over Buffy and Angel. Here's an almost-complete listing:

The Pack (Buffy): Suddenly the animals look shiny and new.

The Prom (Xander): I myself am dipping into my road trip fund to procure a shiny new tux, so look for me to dazzle.

Doomed (Xander): I always got a big laugh watching Buffy kick your shiny white bum...

The Replacement (Xander): Doesn't he see the shiny thing? (lots more references to the coin)

No Place Like Home:
GILES: It appears to be paranormal in origin.
WILLOW: How can you tell?
GILES: Well, it's so shiny.

Shadow: (Dreg) Forgive me, shiny special one. I beg of you to rip out my inadequate

I Was Made to Love You: (Dawn) Maybe he's a gigolo. Was his shirt all shiny?

Intervention: (Spike) Wait. I'm not sure I'm a satisfied customer. She looks a little shiny to me, you know, uh...

GREGOR: Yes, I suppose it is.
ORLANDO: Pretty little girl, she's shiny too.
GREGOR: (to Dante) Watch him, make sure he's comfortable.
ORLANDO: So shiny. Pretty little shiny key.

Bargaining: (BUFFY) It was so ... clear ... on this spot. I remember ... how ... shiny ... and clear everything was. But ... now ... now...

Tabula Rasa: (SPIKE) Dad can drive. He's bound to have some classic midlife-crisis transport. Something red, shiny, shaped like a penis.

Older and Far Away:
BUFFY: Run off, huh? Afraid to face a true warrior?
She gets up and sees the sword.
BUFFY: Ooh, shiny.

Lessons (Halfrek) Oh, who are they kidding with this happy, shiny crap?

Bring on the Night: (Andrew) Huh. She seems like a good leader. Her hair is shiny. Does she make you stab things?

Lessons: (Spike) Well, you're not staying here. You can't buy me off with shiny beads and sweet talk.

City Of (Angel) Excuse me. 'scuse me. Iím sorry. But has anybody seen my
car? It's big, and itís shiny.

Room With a View (Cordy) Yup, there it is. My whole life Ė pre here. Five trophies with some of the shiny worn off.

To Shanshu in L.A.:
Nabbit: It's my turn to be dungeon master. What do you think of my cape?
Cordy: Shiny.

Fred: Oh. Standard issue army surplus Geiger counter.
Gunn: We picked it up at a yard sale.
Cordy: Shiny.

Shiny Happy People:
WESLEY: What type of demons, would you say?
ANGEL: Shiny.

Awakening (Cordy) Drop the Hallmark crap. That might placate the shiny-happys over there, but I'm working with a little more investment.

Soulless (Angelus) Bet he loves to rub that shiny bald head against her soft, milky skin. Mmmm...good...

Magic Bullet (Fred) Why should we be the only shiny, happy people?

Just Rewards (Spike) I can see why heroes like you get rewarded with the shiny new glass and chrome. Why didn't I think of that?

The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco (Angel) We do it whether people remember us or not, in spite of the fact that there's no shiny reward at the end of the day... other than the work itself.

You're Welcome (Cordy) That's right, pal. They dazzled you with shiny objects and beautiful things
Well I've recently seen Older and Far Away in which Buffy says: " Run off, huh? Afraid to face a true warrior? Ooh, shiny!"
Of course she is talking about a shiny sword though so I'm not sure that counts :)
There are definitely a couple of examples of Cordy using it just to mean good though, off the top of my head in To Shanshu when David Nabbit asks what they think of his cape, Cordy replies "Shiny" and in Benidiction:
Fred: "Oh. Standard issue army surplus Geiger counter."
Gunn: "We picked it up at a yard sale."
Cordy: "Shiny."
Again, I don't think that's a contradiction, in fact Joss didn't actually write any of those episodes, though of course that's not to say he didn't write those lines :)

ETA: Oops posted at the same time, though a lot of those were the original use of the word as opposed to just meaning good as it does in Firefly.

[ edited by Paul_Rocks on 2005-09-24 15:08 ]
Miss KittysMom - you've located the main statements I thought of but couldn't remember well enough
Older and Far Away:
BUFFY: Run off, huh? Afraid to face a true warrior?
She gets up and sees the sword.
BUFFY: Ooh, shiny.

To Shanshu in L.A.:
Nabbit: It's my turn to be dungeon master. What do you think of my cape?
Cordy: Shiny.

It's the one word respones that made the word most memorable to me - the actors could imbue it with whatever layers were most fitting.
Yup, a lot of those are "correct" uses of shiny, but it does show not only heavy use of the word, but some evolution towards a stand-alone use of the word as "good."
I thought it was futuristic but that just goes to show you what I always say, that the future is made up of the past.

All of this has happened, and all of it will happen again.
Deadwood uses "shiny" a lot, too.
We like "shiny" in this house. Oh yes we do. It's in heavy rotation.
Very interesting. Quite the coincidence that folks in the Old West did actually use it...and it makes our Joss look even smarter! :-D
Also very interesting that 'The Wild Bunch' was one of Joss' favorite shows and that he had this desire to create a space western show such as 'Firefly'. I think Joss is a cowboy at heart in the way a writer will roam the range.

Now, how this connects with the term "shiny", I'm still working on that part. Give me time, I'll figure something out.
Talking of Joss-words, I loved it when I heard Gregory House say "My bad". Surely that's straight out of Buffy (or is it a common American phrase?)
My Bad comes from hip hop slang.
Ah! My bad:)

[ edited by SweetMarilyn on 2005-09-24 20:36 ]
Oh, man, I knew I could count on you guys getting all those quotes together. Buffyverse fans are amazing. I'm not calling myself amazing, I know it sounds like it...I'm calling you guys amazing though. I'm OK, but NOT amazing.

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