On Firefly/Serenity

Signal to Noise

Media and Subversion in Serenity

By Jacob Clifton

The first moment of the film Serenity contains a powerful clue to the film’s contents and themes: the logo for Universal Pictures, familiar to any filmgoer as a mainstay stretching back more than fifty years, being subtly drawn into the film itself. For more about NBC-Universal and its subsidiaries, press “Universal.” For more about its parent company, General Electric, press “GE.” For a list of Universal Pictures releases, press “Movies.” For information on Universal’s competitors, press “Other Studios.” The logo’s starry background becomes the Black, putting the Universal globe itself in the context of the show and film’s ’verse itself. You could almost see it as a sly dig at the necessary use of Hollywood money in a venture that ultimately interrogates the Hollywood system itself; more cynically the studio’s complacence about the film could be compared to Phillip Morris’s sponsorship of thetruth.com. Earth’s iconic blue and green surface becomes Earth-That-Was in the monologue that follows, explaining the history of the show’s world in terms of the Alliance’s propaganda: “Ruled by an interplanetary parliament, the Alliance was a beacon of civilization. The savage outer planets were not so enlightened, and refused Alliance control. The war was devastating. But the Alliance’s victory over the Independents ensured a safer universe.” For more about the Battle of Serenity, press “Alliance Victories.” For information on the Browncoats and their most prominent at-large ex-members, press “Marauders of the Outer Rim.” For more about the Alliance, and ways you can join the mission to bring civilization  …

More from Jacob Clifton

Stay Updated

on our daily essay, giveaways, and other special deals

Our Books

Subscribe via RSS