June 19, 2006 5:33 PM PDT

Fans of sci-fi 'Serenity' follow their bliss

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Road Trip 2006

July 11, 2006
PORTLAND, Ore.--Like many fans of fantasy screenwriter Joss Whedon's TV series "Firefly" and the movie that followed it, "Serenity," Adam Whiting is beyond passionate.

So much so, in fact, that he's joining dozens of diehard Whedonites from around the world this summer to try to bring the 2005 film to the masses. The result of their rabid fandom, "Can't Stop the Serenity," is a series of at least 47 screenings in dozens of cities, beginning--except for one "early bird" showing--on Whedon's birthday, June 23.

"This is just a fan effort to thank (Whedon) on his birthday," said Whiting, 24. "I hope he knows about it."

Adam Whiting
Credit: Daniel Terdiman
Adam Whiting

Most people probably know Whedon for his hit television series, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." But even Buffy and her vampire-stomping sidekicks saw fandom competition from "Firefly," which was a critical success but lasted only 11 episodes. On the strength of the show's fan base, and its huge DVD sales, Whedon convinced Universal Studios to back "Serenity," which follows the adventures of a former galactic war veteran turned hired transporter. It, too, garnered a devoted following among fans, but only broke even at the box office.

Whiting, who works as a classical musician in Cleveland but is spending his summer in his hometown of Portland, wants to change that.

I met Whiting by chance at the famed Powell's Books here as I took a quick pit stop in book heaven while on my Road Trip 2006 through the Pacific Northwest. He came up to the table where I was sitting and randomly began proselytizing the gospel of "Serenity" and "Firefly."

Of course, I had to stop and listen.

Whiting admits that he missed the "Firefly" boat while it was on television, but came across the DVDs later. He and his father quickly became addicts.

"We watched the first disc in one sitting," Whiting said. "We were hooked...We realized there was nothing more, and got hooked up with the Browncoats online."

The Browncoats, Whiting said, are the legions of "Firefly" and "Serenity" fans, people of all ages and backgrounds, who fashion themselves the vanguard of a nearly literary television and movie creation.

And while Whiting is currently in Portland, he is actually working remotely to put on the June 22 screening at Cleveland's Tower City Cinemas. Other Browncoats are putting on screenings in cities as far-flung as Los Angeles; Austin, Texas; London; Montreal; Milwaukee, Las Vegas, Seattle, San Francisco; Oxford, England and others.

Road Trip 2006

Profits from the screenings will go to Whedon's favorite charity, Equality Now, which Whiting said promotes equal treatment for women and girls around the world.

This is despite the fact that Whedon himself is not connected with the Can't Stop the Serenity movement, Whiting said.

Meanwhile, the point of the screenings effort is apparently just to get the movie more exposure. As with "Firefly," the film has not convinced financiers that it was a good investment, and so fans' hopes for a "Serenity" trilogy are not looking good. But many Browncoats, Whiting said, are already satisfied with where Whedon's fictional world has gone.

"It'd be great if something else came out (of this)," Whiting said, "but that's not the goal (of the screenings). We're happy with this 'verse,"--the Browncoats' term for the "Firefly" universe.

The idea for "Can't Stop the Serenity" came from one charismatic Portland "Serenity" fan, known to his minions as "The One True b!X."

The name of the event is a takeoff, Whiting explained, on the tagline for the film, "Can't stop the signal."

"That was a jab at Fox for canceling our show ('Firefly')," Whiting said, "but you can read whatever you want into it."

At the same time they're mounting their "Serenity" campaign, Whiting and some friends are involved in another "Firefly"-related effort. This one is what he calls the Ariel Ambulance Rescue Group.

Apparently, one day, some "Firefly" fans discovered that a "flying" ambulance used in an episode of the show called "Ariel" had been abandoned at an aircraft scrap yard in the Mojave Desert town of Mojave, Calif. So the rescue group's mission--and it's an admirable one--is to raise money to renovate the ambulance and bring it back to the shape it was in during its 15 minutes of fame on "Firefly."

Currently, Whiting said, the ambulance is sitting at Minter Field Air Museum in Shafter, Calif. The group raised enough money to buy it from the scrapyard, and on June 10, the group began restoration activities. The goal is to get the vehicle in good enough shape so that they can take it on the convention circuit.

Presumably, the ambulance will not be flying when it appears at the conventions. But no doubt, some of the more deeply affected Browncoats will stare at it longingly, hoping for some levitation.

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14 comments

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Browncoats
I recently watched the DVD set of Firefly and got a pain in my
stomach about the fourth episode when I realized the series wasn't
coming back. IMHO, it's the best scifi I've ever watched.
Posted by egarc--2008 (28 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Creativity - Whedon style
Joss Whedon has had some really good writing! If you watch his creations, his heroes are human, his villans can bear crosses, and the stories can stand for metaphors of problems a viewer may not want to face today. So watching his work may ask the viewer to be a bit more honest with themselves than they would care. The other challenge in watching his movie's/series is takes a bit of persistance to understand the context of where the plot is coming from. If you watch carefully, not only plots and the context of the stories are novel but Whedon will time to time dip into some of the more classical genre and literature for ideas and quotes and conversely make attempts to add new vocabulary to techno-teen slang. What do I think of Serenity? I would have to say from an Uber point of view of a thousand hours of Whedon works, it may be one of his finest hours.
Posted by candhobbes (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
multi layer appeal
Candhobbes, you're preaching to the chior. His work is amazingly complex, you really have to peel all the layers to understand them. An hour watching Whedon is never an hour wasted.
Posted by marileev (292 comments )
Link Flag
Whedon's Endearingness
From Toy Story to Buffy and Firefly, Joss Whedon continues to create complex endearing and imperfect characters. It was a shame Fox never let the show get legs. It was gone in a blink.

Instead, the network would rather boast reality shows like American Idol <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.iwantmyess.com/?p=48" target="_newWindow">http://www.iwantmyess.com/?p=48</a> and supersaturate it with AI knock-offs like "So You Think You Can Dance."

He's also don wonders with Astonishing X-Men imbuing them with the same wit in the face of peril the character of Firefly &#38; Buffy had. C'mon look at how active the fan fantasy for both shows still is online. Kudos Josss
Posted by marileev (292 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Whedon's Endearingness
From Toy Story to Buffy and Firefly, Joss Whedon continues to create complex endearing and imperfect characters. It was ashame Fox never let the show get legs. It was gone in a blink.

Instead, the network would rather boast reality shows like American Idol <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.iwantmyess.com/?p=48" target="_newWindow">http://www.iwantmyess.com/?p=48</a> and supersaturate it with AI knock-offs like "So You Think You Can Dance."

He's also don wonders with Astonishing X-Men imbuing them with the same wit in the face of peril the character of Firefly &#38; Buffy had. C'mon look at how active the fan fantasy for both shows still is online. Kudos Josss!
Posted by marileev (292 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Fox Execs are crazy!
Why cancel such a brillaint show with incredible support.


I dont see protests or organised nationwide fan events if they cancel "so you think you can dance?"


To Whichever exec at fox thought up that bright Idea may the fleas of a thousand camels infest your underwear and may your arms be to short to scratch!
Posted by sprogg2001 (9 comments )
Link Flag
So Good
For people who have not watched Firefly, please go pick up the DVD set. You will not regret it. Such good writing, with humor and action, everything you would want in a series taking place in a space cowboy type setting. Even if you don't like sci-fi stuff you will like Firefly.
Posted by Gasaraki (183 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ariel Ambulance Rescue Group
Here is the URL for the Ariel Ambulance Rescue Group--will this flying ambulance prop visit a convention or museum near you? Stop by to find out!

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.ArielAmbulance.org" target="_newWindow">http://www.ArielAmbulance.org</a>

Thanks, Daniel, for interviewing me! You've written a wonderful, engaging, and funny article!

Adam
Posted by awhiting (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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