I’m a fan of the show Firefly. Sadly, I became a fan after it had originally run and been cancelled by Fox. Actually, I’m not sure whether it’s better to have found it afterwards and fallen in love with it, or to have loved it from the beginning only to have it ripped away from me by mindless media moguls. Coming in and falling in love with the show after it’s already been cancelled means you won’t have to be surprised by its sudden end – you come into things knowing there are only so many costumes. However, it also means that you can see everything unfolding and know the eventual end of the story. It’s not like the end of a book, where you finish the one story but can look forward to the possibility of other books in the same series, with the same characters. If you are a Serenity/Firefly fan, you pretty much know how things are going to end.
Now, one might think that Firefly fans – or Browncoats, as we prefer to be called – might be a little bitter about the short lifespan of their show on the network. In some people, that bitterness might fester and rot and eventually eat away the soul of the individual. Well, while there might be a little bit of sadness and a tinge of bitterness every now and then about the stupidity of certain Fox dunderheads, for the most part Browncoats seem to be the cheeriest and friendliest of all sci-fi fandom groups that I have come across. Not to mention the most giving when it comes to charities and causes.
Now, I’m not saying the Trekkies (or Trekkers, as some prefer) don’t have a social conscious. They certainly do. Many Trek conventions do work to benefit some charity or another at some point. And the people who follow that fandom also tend to overlap into the Whedonverse.
However, the folks who identify themselves as Browncoats first and foremost seem to have a completely different approach to social causes. It’s almost like dedication to social action is a prerequisite for some of them. Many of their events circle around cancer societies and civil rights programs like Equality Now and HRC. Out of all the fandom circles there are, Browncoats are the most universally accepting.
I don’t know if it’s because the Browncoats in the series saw the beauty of diverse cultures adding their voices to a noisy, busy, sometimes hectic world. Whereas the Alliance pushed homogeneity and wanted everyone to fit into perfect little roles in a perfect little world, the Browncoats recognized that the differences exhibited by humans is what makes humanity special to begin with. Consequently, fans who classify themselves as Browncoats tend to embrace the notion that everyone is worthy of respect and a chance at a free life. Hence, the social conscience.
Why do I bring all of this up on a costume blog? Well, the blog isn’t intended to just be about the making and enjoying of costumes and other items. It’s also about the subcultures that thrive around these costumes. One of these communities is, obviously, the Browncoats. I’m kind of flitting about the edge of this subculture at the moment. I consider myself a Browncoat, but I’ve yet to go to one of the official meet-ups that the Northern Virginia Browncoats have in this area. I’ve made a Firefly costume already, so I fit into the community in that regard, but I haven’t gotten as involved in it as I kind of want to.
That might be changing, though.
One of the things many Browncoat organizations do is host an event called “Can’t Stop the Serenity.” They put together screenings of the film (and sometimes an episode or two) in movie theatres, with proceeds raised during the event going to benefit one or two special causes. This year, the NoVa Browncoats will be screening Serenity and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog at the Cinema Drafthouse. In addition to the films, there will be a number of contests and activities. One of the special programs they are planning to have during the screening is a balloted costume contest. I don’t yet know what the prizes will be, but I think I might have to see about whipping up Kaylee’s “wedding cake” dress from Shindig.
I’ve heard about the drafthouse for years but have yet to get the chance to get down there. I’m thinking I’ll be making a special trip in June, though, to participate in this year’s CSTS program. This year proceeds raised from the screening will go to benefit Equality Now, Kids Need to Read, and the Al Wooten Jr Heritage Center.