In the short-lived television show Firefly, the term “Browncoat” described those who fought for independence against the Alliance. Protagonist Malcolm Reynolds was a Browncoat who tried to survive as a smuggler aboard his spaceship Serenity.
His side lost the war, but Reynolds still believed his cause was right, though all he could do was try and survive by not running afoul of the Alliance.
Rabid Firefly fans who protested its cancellation after one season are also called Browncoats. So vocal were these Browncoats that the 2005 film Serenity was green-lit.
Firefly’s world sprung from creator Joss Whedon’s imagination, but the story of the heroic lone warrior from a war’s losing side is playing out for real during the 2011 National Football League season.
His name is Tim Tebow, whose battle is the cultural war that so many conservatives claimed to have fought during the 1980s, 90s, and even to this day.
Just as the Alliance crushed the rebellion in Firefly, the radical left (cultural Marxism, whatever you want to call it) seems to have won the cultural wars. In 1992, Vice President Dan Quayle could voice opposition to the eponymous character of Murphy Brown for having a child out of wedlock.
In 2011, the show Glee—with scant opposition—broadcast an episode with a gay sex scene. Few examples illustrate the left’s victory better than watching 10 minutes of a random Glee episode.
Only twice during the cultural wars has the left really slipped up. Once was during 2004’s disastrous attack on Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, when the fury coming from the punditry class mobilized a remnant of what Sam Francis dubbed Middle American Radicals (MARs) to rally behind the film and help make Mad Max a mega-millionaire.
The other leftist slip-up has been Tim Tebow. (In his book Through My Eyes he lets it slip that his favorite film is Gibson’s Braveheart.) Quarterbacking the Denver Broncos from the AFC West cellar to a playoff bid, Tebow has been a catalyst for the same type of vitriolic attacks that Gibson’s depiction of the crucifixion endured.
By being a public face for the side that so thoroughly lost the cultural wars, the son of Christian missionaries—whose mother was told by a doctor he should be aborted because of complications during her pregnancy—has been attacked with extreme prejudice by the victorious side.
Bill Maher recently tweeted this after Tebow tossed four interceptions in the Broncos’ second consecutive loss:
“Wow, Jesus just f**ked #TimTebow bad! And on Xmas Eve! Somewhere … Satan is tebowing, saying to Hitler “Hey, Buffalo’s killing them.”
“Tebowing” is a derogatory term for when Tim gets on one knee and prays after a big play or victory during a game. Would the NFL allow players to mock Tebow if he was a Muslim? Would the media mock him?
But because Christianity—especially public displays of it—is viewed as an anachronism in the world the left controls, Tebow is fair game.
Maher understands that occasionally poking and prodding the cultural war’s losers is good for business, but he doesn’t realize how much Tebow has connected with your typical MARs who don’t follow football but bought ten tickets to see The Passion of the Christ.
As with Gibson, companies that invested in Tebow are seeing a huge return on investment.
Borrowing a page out of the primarily Jewish attacks on Gibson for producing a reputedly anti-Semitic film, Rabbi Joshua Hammerman wrote in The Jewish Week:
If Tebow wins the Super Bowl, against all odds, it will buoy his faithful, and emboldened faithful can do insane things, like burning mosques, bashing gays and indiscriminately banishing immigrants. While America has become more inclusive since Jerry Falwell’s first political forays, a Tebow triumph could set those efforts back considerably.
Though the rabbi later removed this statement from his online post, this the type of attack launched on Gibson before his Passion of the Christ.
One should ask Rabbi Hammerman what type of worldview he envisions without pesky types such as Tebow. Is it one where white, heterosexual Christians are bashed without fear of reprisal?
Malcolm Reynolds merely tried to survive in Firefly after his side lost the cultural war. In the movie Serenity, Reynolds actively decided to battle the Alliance again by trying to expose a vast conspiracy.
Unwittingly, by wearing his Christian religion on his sleeve, Tebow is doing much the same thing in 2011 America. By his mere existence, and seeing the huge reaction he receives (and the merchandise he is moving all across the country), Tim Tebow’s polarizing popularity shows that the cultural wars are perhaps not over after all.
Some football purists scoff at the idea of a quarterback with Tebow’s skill set (Tim runs the ball more than your normal drop-back passing QB) succeeding in the NFL, but since he replaced Kyle Orton the Broncos are 7-4 with their Bible-thumping Puritan at the helm.
Tebow’s magical run has been chronicled each Sunday on The Drudge Report, with Matt Drudge realizing that his conservative readership is becoming vested in the Broncos signal-caller’s story.
In a league where the 2010 Comeback Player of the Year was a sociopathic canine-killer, Tebow’s character on and off the field seems better suited for some Norman Rockwell painting.
This could be the last year where Tebow is a starting NFL quarterback (the Broncos leadership has been noncommittal about sticking with him), but like the one season of Firefly, millions of fans are now behind him.
Though the cultural war ended in a rout, those MARs have a new champion in Tebow.
In Hammerman’s eyes, they represent a different type of Browncoat. Much like the attacks on Gibson, those who won the cultural war will always believe the people they defeated are Brownshirts in waiting.
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