A reader writes to Jonah Goldberg at The Corner on the new season of BSG:
Ever since the astounding conclusion of last season’s BSG, I was pumped for this year’s new episodes. However, I’m getting a very bad vibe about it being a multi-episode Iraq war bashfest. In particular, the webisodes - which, in all honesty, I’ve only seen the first five or six - draw complimentary parallels between the jihadi “insurgents” and the human resistance forces on New Caprica.
Plus, there’s a story on Zap2it.com where Mary McDonnell, in discussing this season’s plot arc, commends the BSG brain trust for their “brave and beautiful act” in putting together this year’s series.
A “brave & beautiful act,” I believe, is vapid actorspeak for “speaking truth to power.” To quote Krusty the Clown, “Oooooo, this is always death.”
Is there nothing Iraq war supporters won’t politicise? I have seen some odd things politicised in my time, but can we please leave the new Battlestar Galactica out of this debate? Incidentally, you have to have a very low opinion of the U.S. military to automatically assume that Ron Moore intends to criticise U.S. foreign policy by aligning America with the Cylons. It’s rather like the people who assume the depiction of Orcs and Uruk-hai in The Lord of the Rings was aimed at insulting minorities because the evil races had darker-hued skin than the Elves, Hobbits et al. Of course, it says quite a lot about what those people think of minorities that the first thing that came to mind when they saw an Orc was, “This is an insult to black people everywhere!” Similarly, if you think Colonials fighting the Cylons = jihadis fighting Americans, you have your wires crossed somewhere. The Cylons are the inhuman religious fanatics, remember? Or maybe, just maybe, it’s science-fiction and doesn’t have to have an immediate political application. Maybe BSG is a more fundamental story of human survival and, as many good sci-fi stories have been, a study of human nature in the extraordinary circumstances of a fantastic alien situation.
Update: A reader has helpfully pointed out this interview with BSG creator Ron Moore. Here is a relevant exchange from the interview, which acknowledges parallels with the Iraq war, but which does not propose to take sides in favour the tactics of the insurgents/Colonials (interviewer’s comments in bold):
In those opening episodes, there are so many parallels, not just to Iraq but to the occupation of France, to any occupation, to Vietnam. But the episodes are especially resonant with so many specific things that have happened in the last few years. Was that something you did consciously?
“It was definitely in my mind. There were a lot of situations and occupations that we talked about in the writers’ room, Vichy France and Vietnam. You know, Iraq is happening right now, so it’s hard not to have overtones of it. The trick for us was not to make it a polemic, to not say, ‘We know what’s wrong with the Iraq situation, here are the answers.’
“It was more about, why is it such a complicated mess? Certain things just have no easy answers, just have no good ways out for anybody involved. This is one of those situations.
“We were aware of the parallels and wanted to play it as truthfully as we could, given the situation. But the same time, we’re always a little more interested in watching how our characters respond to a situation, more than we are in delineating a certain political idea about this situation.”
In other words, Moore is more interested in the character-driven drama, as he always has been, and trying to understand how people would act in such a situation than he is interested in trying to push a political morality tale. He has been throwing these sorts of wrenches into the story since the beginning, starting with whether Cylons should be treated as humans (Roslin gives the pragmatic, basically smart answer of, ‘No’, but the show is always throwing up obstacles that try to keep you from accepting that simple conclusion). If you want lame political morality tales in your sci-fi, Episode III lies on the shelf gathering dust and awaits your viewing.