On Firefly/Serenity

Geeks of the World, Unite!

You Have Nothing to Lose but Your Lovebots! 

By Natasha Giardina

Mr. Universe? Mr. Who?

I bet you didn’t even notice him when you first watched Serenity. Admittedly, he only has a few lines and doesn’t really get involved in the blood-and-guts action of the story, except, ultimately, in a rather terminal way. He isn’t what you’d call a hero, and while you could say he is necessary to the plot, you’d have to think twice to remember what he personally did to make the world a better place.

And yet, on reflection, I think you probably can remember him. In fact, I can practically see your brain ticking over: “Mr. Universe, Mr. Universe. . . . Hey–wasn’t he that geek with the lovebot?”

Sigh. Yep, that’s right. Mr. Universe–not only a person of great knowledge, skill, and intelligence, but also a being of immense potential in terms of social and political power–is best remembered for the fact that he married the futuristic equivalent of a blow-up doll. He’s a nerd, a geek, a dork, a dweeb even. He has all the social cachet of a fungal infection. But why is it so? Why, in our technology-dependent era, is the geek marginalized and effaced in our stories and our society, an object of amusement and derision when s/he appears at all, while the action hero is king?

Let’s face it, in a film exploring the nature of right and wrong, the crimes perpetrated in the name of a “greater good,” and the triggers that turn human beings into monsters, Mr. Universe provides some welcome comic  …

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