Six Degrees of Joss Whedon

Reading this week about culture jamming and viral e-mails made me think about how cult television can extend so far beyond its original run.  This previous weekend a trailer for Deadpool 2 dropped before the latest X-men movie: Logan.  What is the most interesting about this trailer for me is that there was a Firefly poster prominently displayed behind Deadpool at one point.  For those who do not know, Firefly was a short space/western television show created by Joss Whedon (the brain behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer; currently celebrating its 20th anniversary) in 2002.  The show was aired out of order on Fox who then cancelled it before the entire first season run.  Despite this, it attained a dramatic cult following and was followed up by a sequel movie, Serenity, in 2005.  But it has now been 12 years since any Firefly story was in mainstream culture, yet it is still a huge fan favourite and there are still fans clamoring for a new Firefly show today.  While the Culture Jamming, Memes, Social Networks, and the Emerging Media Ecology paper discussed the connections of Hollywood through the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon game, I suggest a shift to the 6 degrees of Joss Whedon to help explain the bizarre cult following of Firefly.

Joss Whedon, has a tendency to reuse actors in multiple shows and movies. And so fans of his previous very popular shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel saw some of their favourite actors show up in Firefly – Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Adam Baldwin, Summer Glau, Christina Hendricks…

These actors and many others who had roles in the “Whedonverse”, as it is called by fans of the writer/director, moved on to a lot of other successes bringing fans of those shows back to see their previous works.

Of the actual Firefly alum:

Nathon Fillion found fame in Castle

Gina Torres in Suits and Revenge

Adam Baldwin in Chuck

Summer Glau in The Sarah Connor Chronicals

Jewel Staite in Stargate Atlantis and The LA Complex

Alan Tudyk as a voice actor in multiple Disney movies including Wreck it Ralph, Frozen, Zootopia, Moana and Rogue One

Morena Bacaran in Stargate and V

And the rest of the Whedonverse is expansive as well, bringing more and more fans back to see Whedon’s previous work.  Stars of Whedon’s works include Sarah Michelle Geller, Alyson Hannigan, David Boreanez, Eliza Dushku, Felicia Day, Vincent Karthesiar, Michelle Trachtenberg and Neil Patrick Harris…

Whedon created several shows and directed a bunch of popular movies. As well he is still working on new creations.  He is responsible for Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as well as Cabin in the Woods, Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron and the Web series sensation Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along Blog (oh and he also wrote the screenplay for Toy Story)

Because of all of this Whedon is the center of a network of fans creating a continual desire for more of his works.  Each actor and show is a new node which brings more fans to the fold.  Marvel fans who enjoyed Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron may look to see what else Whedon has directed.  Fans of Disney might wonder what else Alan Tudyk has lent his wonderful comic timing to.  The many actors still popular on prime time television today bring viewers back to their previous works and of course the cult followings of sci-fi shows seem to cling to their favourite offerings.

All of these things seem to bring together a nexus of fans who even now, 15 years after a mixed up 1 year run of a small show, are still crying out for more.

The chances of a Firefly revival are vanishingly slim, but as the Deadpool 2 trailer and the buzz that has surrounded it shows, the fans still hold out hope.

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