Thursday, March 16, 2006
People have been talking about how the events of Battlestar Galactica relate to real world politics.
First of all, I point out that the original 1970s series was clearly a conservative show. This is pretty rare because most people from Hollywood are liberal. But Glen Larson, the producer of the original series, is a Mormon and those guys probably represent the United States’ most solidly Republican group.
The original series was very clearly an analogy to the Cold War, with the humans being the United States and the Cylons being the Russians. And in fact it was nearly a perfect analogy. The Cylons were machines, and this represented the cold machine-like nature of communism. Communism, though not economically efficient, was very efficient at building a big military capable of destroying the West.
The 1970s were a time of many peace treaties and arms reduction treaties between the United States and the Soviet Union. Conservatives believed that these treaties were really ploys by the Soviet Union to gain the upper hand, because they would cheat on all of the treaties anyway. In Battlestar Galactica, the final destruction of the humans happened because Baltar (who was a politician and not a scientist) convinced the Colonies that the Cylons wanted to sign a peace treaty, and this tricked the humans into lowering their guard, allowing the Cylons to be victorious in a deadly sneak attack. Humanity was destroyed by its hunger for peace.
The new series on the Sci Fi channel has tried to take a more traditional liberal Hollywood spin on things. This is why in the new series, the bad of humanity is constantly shown. This is because the humans still represent the United States, and the hardcore left believes that the United States is a bad nation and full of evil.
In the original series, Starbuck was the closest thing there was to a bad guy among the main characters, and we all knew that his heart was always in the right place, his only problem was that he was a little too impulsive. In the new Battlestar Galactica, bad guys abound. The original Apollo was a loyal son and a good father to Boxey even though Boxey wasn’t his biological child. Lee “Apollo” Adama, on the other hand, is constantly at odds with his father, sleeps around, consorts with prostitutes, and he is basically set up as the show’s conscience. Throughout the series there has been rape, torture, murder, just about everything you can think of that is bad about humanity has been the subject of at least one episode.
Despite all this, by loosely basing the storyline on the original series, the basic conservative theme remains and we have finally seen it revealed this season.
(1) Roslyn represents George Bush. She’s anti-abortion, she believes in a lot of religious mumbo-jumbo, she tried to fix an election (the left wing believes that George Bush cheated in Florida in 2000), she doesn’t believe that the Cylons (who represent Muslims here) are human so she has them thrown out airlocks and killed without any due process. And when it came to settling down on a nice planet, or living in a state of fear, Roslyn was right! The Cylons were out there, and as soon as humans let down their guard, it only took slightly longer than a year before they were conquered.
(2) Baltar represents John Kerry. They both have funny hair and funny accents. The left believes that John Kerry is smarter than George Bush (even though it’s a lie), and Baltar is certainly smarter than Roslyn. But it’s intelligence without wisdom. Baltar wants to believe that the Cylons are people too, reasonable people who he can have sex with and who won’t come hunting down the last remnants of humanity. But of course Baltar is wrong.
(3) Bill Adama represents the military, naturally. Bill Adama was right about everything. And incidentally, the senior Adama is the character who has come off as having the highest integrity of anyone on the show. He can’t be seduced by women, he doesn’t abuse alcohol like most of the other officers, and when he found out about the election fixing, he was mad about it. His fear of the Cylons (who represent the Muslims) was not institutional based paranoia (what’s the purpose of a military if there’s nothing to fear?), it was based on the wisdom of a man who understands the nature of the world.
I think there is a very strong push for people to relate BSG charecters to those in "power" today. While obviously some of the episodes are influenced by recent events, I don't know if I buy all the analogies floating out there about BSG. Roslyn= Bush and Baltar=Kerry? Cylons= Muslims? I really hope not.
I read somewhere that there was a podcast where Moore said he and most of the writers were Liberals? It would be very unlikely that Liberals would put Baltar (your Kerry)in as the President only to have him as a "slut" and a bad leader. Roslyn on the other hand goes back and teaches school and she looks... well like a really nice person. I just don't think Liberals would portray Roslyn (your Bush) in any good light.
In my humble opinion, I think Moore and his writers do realize that in today's climate, people are arguing over some serious issues that have no really good answers. For example, abortion proponents and opponents both have valid points in their arguments. I think what Moore is attempting to do is create an environment where he presents both sides... doesn't necessarily make a judgement about it... and then let all the bloggers have at each other's throats.
Why do I believe this? Because being controversial... making people argue about who is right... who is wrong.... equals RATINGS that attracts both left and right wing viewers. I think that is about as far as you can go with the analogy to what is going on today.
Mark my words on this... At some point, Roslyn will go back to looking bad and Baltar will suddenly start making the right decisions and we will have a reversal of who is right and who is wrong. And... if the show lasts long enough... it will flip again... it will get to a point where neither side is looking all that good.
Anyway... my 2cents
Trying to apply modern Politics to a show done by two guys who say in the mini series commentary were Poly-Sci majors doesn't work. As for Rosyln as Bush, when has Bush done anything but Cow-Tow to domestic bussiness, where as Rosyln as an overreaction tried to, in your words, Ban Capitalism. And I more feel that Bush just pays lip service to religion, rather than is a true believer.
Roslyn and Baltar represent More historical Architypes than modern day figures. If I was to make equivelencies, I would do the following.
Roslyn= Thomas Hobbes, maybe Ceaser Agustus. As she come to take a more dismal view on humanity, that humanity needs to be ruled for it's own good, that as much as she fought for the woman's right to control their bodies before, she views that if she allows the abortions to continue humanity will become extinct, and that for the "greater good" she must save humanity from itself. She diddn't seek power, and now that she hasa been handed it, she views that she must do the most good with it, even if that means doing a bit of evil to get to the good. I think Roslyn is ultimately made to be more of a sypathetic leader, and that we at some level can relate to her, as at some point in our lives, we have screwed something up with the best of intentions at heart.
Baltar= Cagulia, Nero. the decadent roman emporor and a few others. Especially at the end, seaking only the pleasures of the fleash and the silence of his enimies. I feel that Baltar's public speaking style is modeled off of Adolf Hitlar's but that I wouldn't call him modeled off of Hitler, But the scene where he spoke on clud nine and on Colonial 1 were very remiscent of the style and structure of Hitler's speaking. Start small and supportive of the status quo and then building off of it getting bigger and diverging more from the status quo. Baltar is a tragic character, though now, hee seems more willing to do the work of the "darkside" His Six projection, made it clear at the ultimate goal of hers is the destruction of humanity in the episode Home pt.2. Baltar is there for us to look at and project obvious flaws onto. thats why righties can see him as Kerry and Lefties can See him as Bush.
Cylons, are any external threat to A society, as The recent mel gibson film quoted wil Durant saying, no Society falls from outside untill it is ready to fall from within. Cylons draw from a variety of religious traditons, as Mulsims don't have strong traditions of rebirth of the body, ala christianity, and some parts of the cylon theology are lifted straight out of Judiasm (Be fruitful and Multiply.) The whole Cylon Religion thing with the good guys as polytheists, was done to make the show different. I think that a majority of Americans look down on polytheism and to have to consider those different from you forces you to put the old thinking cap on. Rumor has it that one of the Xena types will apear as a cylon Messianic figure next season.
Tom Zarek = The Contras, Che Guivera. For what ever good message Zarek has, his methods are totally unacceptable, and in effect cancel out his message.
Bill Adama, the King's General, advisor and friend. Through out history and literature have such figures appeared. He can for the most part step back and afoord to see the bigger picture, when everyone else is closer to the issues and gets their views skewed. Although, he is not infalible. the infalible characters are un realistic, more and more television shows reflect this.
I would definately agree with your assesment of the first show. Larson's show was militantly anti communist evil empire starwars knock off. The new show doesn't have an evil empire to play off fears, rather than the fears of unknown threats for today.
All of these in the end, are allegories for the greater story of humanity, not just merely the USA of today. It is written to be controversial, and for everyone to see a little bit of themselves in it. It is the best show on Television.
Juli 47, I honestly didn't know about that before I wrote up the post(andI am pissed i missplet Caligula'a name)
I wrote it up Thinking of Caligula's reputation for debauchery, pettyness and just all around collection of short comings that cumulated in his assasination. Nero was a thought to the stories of him fiddling as Rome burnt, and the now debunked stories of him starting the fire.
In fact there do seem to be historical similarities between Baltar and Caligula (a nickname actually, his full given name was Gaius Iulius Caesar Germanicus), and the storyline echoes current events to a certain degree. But whether politics or history, I haven’t really been swayed by either of these dimensions when watching the series. I try to speculate on the creative, story-driven motivations of the writers and producers. Hard to explain why, but it holds my interest to try to perceive how the producers, writers and cast members are fleshing out the scripts at the table read, and what they think the implications will be if they introduce certain threads in the storyline. So I’ll throw in my own context view for the sake of kicks based on the blogs and posts so far.
Classic Baltar was decidedly villainous compared to Modern Baltar; where Classic Baltar purposely colluded with the Cylon, Modern Baltar was simply duped, and I think the series has conveyed that his vanity can’t reconcile how as intelligent as he is, he was still deceived, and this “vanity firewall” causes his ongoing moral dilemmas. (James Callis deserves an Emmy for this body of work alone, by the way). I thought the Cylon attack in Classic Battlestar Galactica happened too easily, and Classic Baltar would have had to enjoy near-messianic status to fool the Council of Elders. Modern BG had a more believable premise, that of a spy who steals a technology that was the linchpin of Caprica’s defense network (much as GPS is ours today). Ron Moore said that he wanted to frame the new series for a modern audience that had eaten a lot of popcorn and watched a lot of movies – no hackneyed, been-there seen-that plots.
Humanity’s dark side is shown often in Modern BG, but I think that’s been the writers’/producers’ effort to show that in time of war, there are plenty of gray areas and hard decisions, and the series’ effort to avoid stereotyped Good v. Evil storylines. It was disturbing to see Modern BG’s pilot episode, where in one scene Roslin decides that to save the last remaining humans, the Fleet must abandon all the ships that don’t have FTL drives; then you see that little girl sitting in the botanical gardens, who is on one of the ships left behind, and she looks up at the first wave of Cylon raiders. That scene gave me chills. Do you think there was a little girl looking up at the sky before the first precision bombs hit that civilian building where the US suspected Saddam Hussein was meeting with other “leadership targets” in the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom? It doesn’t matter. Because inevitably, war is ugly; inevitably, the innocent will suffer. Do we tell ourselves there was a greater good at stake? That’s a personal decision, a personal answer. But well-written, dramatic storytelling makes you think.
The morally flawed anti-heroes of Modern BG are just portrayals that acknowledge their characters’ capacity to be courageous, stupid, and despicable in one large mix. We only need to be reminded of Hurricane Katrina and the tragedies that followed in New Orleans to see this dynamic at work. But I never thought that Lee Adama was the conscience of the show per se; that was more his dad’s role. I have to admit though, that Eddie Olmos’ portrayal of the dour, deliberative Bill Adama can be, alternately, right for the storyline and repetitive (repetitive a la Lt. Castillo in “Miami Vice”). He does seem to be the one with the most integrity, although some of his crew, like Callie, Tyrol and Helo, seemed to have been let off with a slap on the wrist for the unjudicial killing of Cylon and human alike.
Credit has to be given to Richard Hatch for both how he portrays the nebulous, cunning Tom Zarek and how he portrayed the original Apollo. He was and remains a serious actor, and his scenes with the equally talented James Remar in “Kobol’s Last Gleaming,” where they discuss assassinating Lee Adama, showed two very intelligent villains, a refreshing premise. Richard Hatch was never campy as Apollo, whereas in the current series, I don’t know, I just don’t like how Jamie Bamber plays him. To me, Modern Apollo (Lee Adama) comes off as too smug and wishy-washy. Even his tone of voice and delivery don’t convey strength or leadership. In “Black Market,” his reaction after floating in space half dead was definitely post-traumatic stress, but limping along on that crutch with no will to live shows neither leadership nor conscience; and shooting an unarmed black-marketeer didn’t up his stock in personal courage. Even when Kara literally threw herself at him in “Scar,” Lee went completely Alan Alda on her, and her reaction was dead-on appropriate for the scene.
As for the original Starbuck, who was supposed to be this swashbuckling, suave ladies’ man, Dirk Benedict usually played him like a pampered, irresponsible wiseass. I never liked the original Starbuck as a result. I’m not sold on how the sexy, impulsive, aggressive, damn-the-torpedoes Kara Thrace is supposed to be carrying a torch for Lee Adama, unless she is really just wishing that Lee will turn into his younger brother Zak, whom Kara lost. This plot point seems to have been thrown in for the sake of adding a romantic tension to their scenes, but Lee has had far less dynamic, action-oriented scenes than Kara; if the writers want us to believe that Kara’s love for Lee is genuine, Lee needs to get his hands dirty with dynamic scenes that showcase true personal courage. Maybe Bamber should do his own stunts.
The final plot point concern, and it is a big one: the whole premise of the Cylon-human half-child. For a series that has tried its best to avoid formulaic, hackneyed plots, this one is definitely a been-there seen-that. Using this device, the kid can only turn out to be either the salvation of humankind or a demon seed; it may turn out to be a perfect human with superior healing abilities, the holy grail of Cylon conversion to the perfect human. One post commented that the Cylon could not replicate human conscience and love. The chink in this armor is that we have seen Caprica Six, Fugitive Six (who blew herself up while crying) and Caprica Sharon struggling with distinctly human emotions. Who are we kidding, the Cylon models have emoted out the wazoo. Adding Dean Stockwell as a wisecracking Cylon was clever, but this now adds humor to the Cylon repertoire: what are we expected to believe that the Cylon are still lacking?
I’ve yakked enough. Thoughts, anyone?
1 - Roslyn didn't want to outlaw abortion, she saw it was a matter of survival of the species.
2 - Baltar was acting a bit "Republican" in his treatment of the labor union.
I do think this analogy of comparing the new series to modern politics is a bit flawed. First of all not all on the left think the US is an evil country. We realize that right now it's president is the worst since Herbert Hoover, but North Korea we are certainly not. However, that does not excuse the wrong that we do. Which is why in the new series showing the cruelty that man is capable of is essential.
Civilis said:Which is why in the new series showing the cruelty that man is capable of is essential.
I do not need a tv show to realize how cruel humans can be. It is a sad state of affairs if that is the case with most people (and I hope it is not).
Take the Rwandan genocide. 800,000 Tutsis were murdered in the time span of 100 days. That alone is incredible but what is even more amazing is that the UN did nothing (actually worse, they created protection zones and then abandoned them).
A quote from the PBS website says "And, at a point when Rwanda was literally overflowing with corpses, the program shows how U.S. and U.N. officials still refrained from calling it genocide so they wouldn't have to get involved."
In my humble opinion Bush is the worst president since Clinton, and Clinton is the worst president since Carter... and I am not even a Republican.
I can't actually bring myself to watch the new show. I can't even stand people talking about it to tell the truth.
And i'm only 28.
As far as i'm concerned the best thing Universal could do, is create a new Movie version, based on the classic. It makes commercial sense, moreover there is an enormous fan base, i'm surprised the execs havent worked that one out yet..
The latest version has no allure whatsoever and i have no intention of ever watching it.
I can't actually bring myself to watch the new show. I can't even stand people talking about it to tell the truth.
Sure didn't stop you from looking up this blog and reading through it. Embrace your true nature.
I find your analogies highly flawed. Roslyn makes moral decisions based on what is best for humanity, Bush, on the other hand obviously makes decisions based on what will keep him and his cabel in power. And Liberals don't hate America. Turn off Rush Limbaugh and talk to someone on the Left. I was raised in Utah, as a Mormon and I can tell you that the Right-Wing mindset is that their purity and morality allows them to pursue their agenda regardless of whether or not it fits the laws of the land. They justify their actions as obeying a higher law. Exactly like Bush's attitude of being the supreme power as Commander in Chief. So from a context perspective, the Cylons look alot more like Mormons from Provo than Muslims. So Liberals don't hate America, they hate the idea of some on the Right that we can do whatever we want because of our self-judged righteousness
It is fun to draw analogies to past and current world leaders, and even apply the shows themes to current events. However, I think the actions and beliefs of the characters simply represent elements of all of society as a whole. Every group experiment will have the extremists and the liberals and the conservatives. With predictable reactions and results, based on their ideology -- especially in a survival situation!
If you look at the season premier this past weekend (season 3), it's quite obvious what the symbolism is, from a liberal point of view. The cylons are the Americans. The jail is Gitmo. The prisoners are victims of the Patriot Act. The police are the new Iraqi military and police force. Baltar is Saddam Huesain, living in opulance with all the women he chooses, while everyone else lives in a state of poverty, until the cylons move in and overthrow him. The humans are the Iraqis - they enjoy the progress that the cylons are helping them to make, and the overthrow of Baltar, but they don't enjoy being in their shadow. The insurgents are Al Queda. Ty is Osama Bin Laden. I am a conservative, but I think the writers are trying to give us an intelligent picture of how everyday Iraqis see their situation, as they are surrounded by our military, and suicide bombers every day. We can empathize with the BSG humans, which helps us to feel how the Iraqi people kind of feel trapped in the middle of this war.
Can anyone remember the particulars when Lorne Greene was onstage accepting an award and a Cylon came on and took the award from him? Would love to when and where?Post a Comment