One cannot be Croatian and not be aware of being a bad guy in history. Croatia, before becoming independent in a bloody war at the end of the 20th century had unsuccessfully tried to become so a few years shy of the middle of the that century. And chose the bad guys as its partners in the process. That is not easy to live down. Nor should it be.
But, having to face people – and not just old idiotic uneducated assholes with or without a personal grudge against communists/partisans who should know better by now but also ignorant kids who have been alive shorter than the country has been independent but are unfortunately now old enough to vote – who are apologetic about that in the worst possible way in the here and now does tend to give one a slightly different take on life, values, and fanaticism. Also, on the protagonists of Firefly. 🙂
You have to love them. (The curse so much, Whedon must be a secret love child from the Balkans or something!) The way they live – by their wits, in squalor, with most things falling apart around them, fighting ignorance and bigotry more by common sense and luck than education and nurtured skill, dodging danger, sickness, local petty idiots with all the power and absurd laws that pop up from out of nowhere when you can use them least and petty criminals – is brave, unpredictable, exciting, adventurous and oh so much fun! Simply fantastic.
Off the screen, it is not a fantasy nor fiction. At least in my little neck of the woods. Reality is what we call it. Alan Ford was one of the most popular comics in ex-Yugoslavia for good reason and is no less loved in contemporary Croatia. (Or Serbia, Bosnia and Hercegovina etc.) Satire becomes reality most beautifully in the Balkans.
Watching Firefly is always a total thrill, not just for the awesome writing and for the sarcasm, and the laughs, but for the other meaning of thrilling, the one that forms the word thriller – fear that I might actually see the bad side of my culture flourish someday, somewhere. The thought that it might do so in some distant corner of the universe is actually chilling. It is so very scary, since our bad guys were quite a shade darker than the Southern rebels Joss Whedon used to as inspiration for Firefly.
And this is the video that inspired that particular fear this evening. (As well as a certain mass)
As I am trying to stay on the positive side of things, I must add:
I am glad someone else noticed beloved characters can be protagonists on the bad side of history. Or rather, actual antagonists. Those who see this, can grow. And influence others to do grow as well.