an insight into mal . . .
Wednesday, October 5, 2005

so here it is. i changed my mind from inara to mal. obviously. i called it "big damn hero"--
i swear this is not boring please try!

Joss Whedon mixed two parts science fiction (“This is just like Science Fiction!” “We live in a spaceship, dear.” –Wash and Zoe in “Objects in Space”), one part western (“Just an honest brawl between folk!” -Mal in “Train Job”), and an incredibly devoted fan base to create the cult phenomenon Firefly. Recently translated into the film Serenity, Firefly is the story of nine crewmembers trying to survive after a civil war in a solar system of moons that were divided seven years before between the Alliance, a distant government centered in the ‘Core’ planets, and the Independents of the frontier worlds on the ‘Rim’. The Alliance won the terrible war 500 years in the future and the Independents, or Browncoats, disbanded. Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds is the captain of this mismatched band and was a sergeant of the Browncoats in the war. Once an idealistic young member of a revolution, Mal is now a disaffected member of society doing what he can to protect his crew and survive in these harsh surroundings.
Disaffecteds but rarely show any interest in politics and government. They are the least well educated- 70% with no college experience- and struggle with financial issues, because of this they are highly critical of loose immigration policies because they heighten the chance of job loss. More Disaffecteds own guns than that national average in America and while Disaffecteds are by no means all rustics they tend to live away from the urban areas. Mal doesn’t meet every single one of these typology characteristics (who does fit perfectly into their party lines?) but it is the best fit as evident by his typology quiz at
Mal’s distaste for politics stems from his inability to recover from his loss in the war. His bitterness and distaste for government is apparent in “Train Job” when he refers to the Alliance’s main goal as “Unite all the planets under one rule so they can be interfered with or ignored equally.” Politics is not the only area in which Mal’s disaffected nature shows. Once a devout Christian, as illustrated by his kissing a cross during the flashback of the Battle of Serenity Valley on Hera, he now says to a chaplain “You’re welcome on my boat. God ain’t.” (“Train Job”) In “Out of Gas” he can be quoted as saying, “Everybody dies alone”, showing his dim world view akin to Disaffecteds in America.
42% of Disaffecteds are dealing with the issue of unemployment in their family and the situation doesn’t improve under the Alliance 500 years in the future. Mal lives supporting his crew from job to job because “these is tough times. If a man can get a job he might not look to close at what that job is.” (“Train Job”) Disaffecteds mostly believe that it is impossible to succeed without aid but still do not approve of government funding for welfare. Mal reflects a similar attitude of independence when he days “Next time somebody tries to kill you, you try and kill them right back!” (Our Mrs. Reynolds) Many Disaffecteds in America don’t approve of immigrants because of the chance of job loss but Mal lacks a hostile approach to the issue. He understands the new settler’s plight- “once a moon is terraformed they’ll drop a colony down on it with some blankets, a herd and maybe a hatchet.” (“Serenity”- pilot) But since the colonists are usually immigrating to the outer Rim, they rarely figure into his plans. Perhaps this is why his “live and let live” philosophy works so well.
Mal is quite fond of weaponry, appropriate considering his surroundings. His dedication to his pistol is evident during every episode. Disaffecteds report to owning more guns than the total national average, just like Mal and his Crew own more than the average family 500 years in the future. He rarely goes to the Core, except on business, and even then is wary of Feds. Most Disaffecteds are not centered in urban areas but populate the suburban or rural areas. As the Alliance extends its reach, few can even escape their dominance.
Like Crime, Politics is always fluid. Labeling the Alliance as conservative or liberal is impossible, but the fact remain that it is an empire that seeks to control everyone without investing in people. Mal fought passionately for the Browncoats until the very last battle of the war. He clearly was not always a disaffected member of society and even now believes “I may have been on the losing side- still not sure it was the wrong one.” (“Bushwhacked”) Judging by his willingness to serve and his religious beliefs he may have been a Conservative. He is by no means committed to deeply to his philosophies these days however. In a game of Chinese checkers his attitude sums up his entire lifestyle, “I live on the edge. But I have given some thought to moving of the edge. Maybe to the middle.” (“Train Job”) His “manly and impulsive” (Inara, “Train Job”) tendencies continue to manifest themselves after the war in a strong work ethic and a dedication to no one cause.
Mal is a disaffected for more than his lifestyle- it is his firm conviction that the Alliance is nothing but a “government to get in a man’s way” (“Shindig”). Once an active part of a rebellion that went astray, his personality makes the viewers question how people come to live like this. What events are taking place in America today that could create a generation of Disaffecteds? Mal is not a glorified hero but a man struggling to make it anyway he can, and this may or may not mean passive observances of disaffected culture. It was the situations that made Mal the way he is not something within his control. His main goal is to “keep flying” cause “it’s enough” (“Serenity”-pilot) to keep him and his crew safe.



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