Well, a little of the small-s serenity too, when I went by Marsha's last night. Serenity does that too -- drops in for a while. I've learned not to clutch at it and, with more difficulty, not to reject it. Always looking for reasons, I am, and they mostly wind up as reasons for anger or sadness or fear. Joy is inscrutable, comes for good reasons or no reasons or despite reason.
But enough of this philosophy -- I was talking about nerds. O.K., I wasn't talking about nerds. But I did set out to talk about Serenity, i.e. something by Joss Whedon, i.e. nerds. The audience was surprisingly large, for the Byrd at a 9:45 Thursday night showing, and (if my nerd radar was in working order, and it was) completely composed of nerds.
Well, perhaps a non-nerd snuck in while I wasn't watching. But the characters in the movie are all nerds: Kaylee the engine geek, the socially inept doctor, crazy River, scholarly Inara, "I am a leaf in the wind" Wash -- nerds every one. Jayne the sociopathic gunman? A weapons geek and even without that, a stone, deep down nerd. Shepard Book? He's suspiciously cool, but face it, the wise old man figure is nerdly by default. The villain, the Alliance operative? Absolutely no question -- nameless, rankless and unconcerned about it, gives little pseudo-intellectual lectures to his victims. Nerd, nerd, nerd.
Zoe's a little less obvious, but for one thing she clearly doesn't give a rat's ass for social status -- she married Wash, didn't she? I know why, but I can't see a non-nerd doing that.
Mal, now. Mal, like Buffy in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, isn't supposed to be a nerd -- he was a platoon sergeant, she was a cheerleader. I don't believe a minute of it, for either one of them. Sure, they both come across as normal in comparison with the eccentrics around them, and they're allowed to make wisecracks about everybody's foibles (including their own); but they're not Hero(in)es. Mal doesn't lead by charisma -- Zoe's there because of their history, Wash because of Zoe, Kaylee because she loves engines and Mal saw that, Inara because of the (completely nerdish) mutual fascination/repulsion she and Mal have, the doctor and River because they need shelter, Jayne for the money. (The non-existent money. The money to come. The intellectual vision of the eventual realization of the theory of money. Is that boy a nerd or what?) Mal's not Kirk (or Picard or Janeway); he's muddling through, not Leading with a capital L.
Which seems to me to be the way things mostly happen, in the supposedly real world. But then I'm a nerd.