Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Serenity and Jesse James

It might just be because I'm in Missouri, but I watched Serenity the other day (I've never seen the TV show Firefly) and I couldn't but help make connections between Captain Malcom Reynolds and the romanticized whitewash of Jesse James.

First, there's the slightly hokey "frontierish" accent, the "Volunteer Force" war service (Jesse was a Missouri bushwacker and part of the Confederate guerrilla unit known as Quantrill's Raiders), the ruthless-yet-honorable/noble soldier (the Robin Hood mythos of romanticized Jesse) still fighting the war he lost any way he can (i.e., life of crime against the government that defeated him). There's the vaguely "horsy" look to the Serenity itself, emphasized by various undershots of the ship at dramatic moments of flight that invoked "rearing" for me (yes, I know a horse can't rear in motion, but I couldn't help seeing it invoked). And, finally, there's the "going to ground" scene where they hide Serenity in an underground shaft. The James gang regularly went to ground in a number of MO's more than 5,600 caves. In fact, Jesse's Jesse's signiture has been authentically documented in a number of them.

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