I bought the boxset of Firefly on monday, finally, having watched Serenity lots, and been meaning to get it for ages. I’m very impressed so far, having watched all but three episodes, I really am. It’s funny, the kind of action-based plots I like, good character development, and good characters. It’s a bit knowing, but then I always find that with Joss Whedon, and it’s not a bad thing that he’s genre-savvy, or that his characters are, it’s just a feature of the way he makes things.
However, and there always is a however. I really like the concept of the Alliance, and the way China and America have fused, and so there are strong Chinese influences in the series, it makes sense. After all, in 2008 Asia made up 60.04% of the population, China alone made up roughly 20% of the population, China and America are two huge world powers and it’s logical that they would be even more powerful together, so extrapolating them into the Alliance works. But, the characters use Chinese language, and there are Chinese influences present in the clothes, food, and entertainment in the series and movie. So – where are the Asian characters?
The are there in the background, as they should be, for example in the Allience or in bar and crowd scenes, but none of the main nine characters is obviously Chinese, neither is any of the recurring characters, though according to Wikipedia (I know, not that reliable), “For Kaylee, Trpcic studied up on Japanese and Chinese youth, as originally the character was Asian.” That seems to be the nearest to an Asian central character the series came, and in a series where China basically forms half of the cultural influences that seems really odd to me.
I did a bit of reading around on the internet, I’ve seen people gushing about Firefly, people not being that interested, and lots of people hero-worshipping Joss Whedon and Nathan Fillion, but nobody seems to have noticed the lack of Chinese characters, I’m sure it can’t just be me who thinks this is a bit odd . I’m not saying the cast is totally white with one token black guy and one token girl, it’s not, far from it, though of course there are three white males, one of them being the central character, some things don’t change too much. On the other hand there is a mixed raced, happy marriage, and Zoe is not only the second in command, she is constantly presented as a strong, attractive woman, and Inara certainly appears to be bisexual. Joss Whedon is normally fairly representative, which makes the lack of even one notable Chinese character more odd, unless of course there is one in the last four episodes, which I’m sure I’ll find out in the next few days.
This is only a little thing, but it is something that has been bothering me as I’ve been watching it, something that has slightly been enjoying my enjoyment of what is otherwise a really excellent series. I’m sure a lot of people will not be thrilled to see me saying anything not totally positive about Joss Whedon, one of my best friends for a start, so I’ll balance it out by saying that I really think Zoe and Wash’s relationship is one of my favourite features of the series, it’s great, and I do kind of have a crush on Zoe – I think Gina Torres is my ideal actress to play Wonder Woman as well.
EDIT: I thought it was a bit odd that nobody else had noticed the lack of Asian people in Firefly, turns out that people had, XKCD of course: http://xkcd.com/561/
Still, it’s nice to be thinking along the same lines as such an awesome webcomic.