Sunday, February 15, 2009

Chauncey DeVega's World of Ghetto Nerds: Lost in Space? or Battlestar Galactica Reviewed in the Atlantic Magazine

Been traveling and am now back...and quite ready for some Black History Month high jinks. And please respectable negro tribe members, use your collective Shaka Zulu, witch doctor inspired powers to send me some good fortune in the next few days (What is the point of having a blog if you can't beg for positive energy from your online peoples?):



I have 2 episodes of BSG to catch up on and will certainly have some commentary to offer.

Heads up to Ta-Nehisi Coates for posting this following bit of journalistic musing on Battlestar Galactica on his great blog at the Atlantic magazine's website.

Plus, they call a brother out in this piece--more shameless self-promotion--I will likely see if I can get a proper rebuttal submitted for publication in the Atlantic's most esteemed pages. Courtesy of the Atlantic:

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Is Battlestar Galactica a great television epic—or proof that there is no such thing?

by James Parker

In the expert view of L.Ron Hubbard, there was nothing futuristic about the genre called (flippantly, by some) “space opera.” The alien host, the spongy nebulae, the zip and twang of the photon torpedo, the bluster of the starship captain at his bridge—these, according to Hubbard, were not the idle tropes of pulp-fictioneers and drugged-up sci-fi hacks but the stuff of deepest prehistory, somber emanations from the memory of the species. It had already happened, in other words—it, or something rather like it. Humanity trickled down from beyond the stars. Billion-year colonial wars were fought and fought again. And that cold buzz of awe that we get from galactic-scale science fiction? Just the rumbling of our “implants” as they salute their origins in deep space.

Hubbard, of course, founded an extraordinarily profitable religion, incorporating the virgin science of Dianetics as well as a sprawling mythos of interplanetary invasions and implantations—Scientology! The makers of Battlestar Galactica have not demonstrated a similar ambition—no temples for them, as yet. They can lay claim, however, to a decent-sized viewing cult. The original show ran on ABC for one season in the late 1970s, with Lorne “Bonanza Greene in Aquarian robes as the Galactica’s Commander Adama. After its cancellation, various attempts at revival were made, but nothing significant panned out until the project passed into the hands of writer-producers David Eick and Ronald D. Moore in the early 2000s, at which point the great “reimagining” of Battlestar Galactica began.

Ratings for the new show, now beginning its concluding run on the Sci-Fi Channel, have wavered, but fandom and critical interest have been maintained at a heady pitch. Hailed as “the best show on TV,” “one of TV’s boldest and best dramas,” and “a fleet of red herrings flapping majestically through space” (that last one is mine), Battlestar Galactica boasts a fierce corps of geeks and a professorial secondary literature to rival that of ABC’s Lost. (I had to look up, for example, the word diegesis—n. A narrative or history—while reading Cylons in America: Critical Studies in Battlestar Galactica.)

Hubbard might have smiled upon this show’s basic premise. We—mankind, that is—come not from Earth, which is out there somewhere, but from the planet Kobol, whence we set forth long ago in our ships to found the Twelve Colonies: Caprica, Leonis, Gemenon, and the rest. All went well until the Cylons, a race of man-made androids turned hostile, descended from their glassy star-bower to wipe us out. They took us by surprise, the bastards. Copious nuking, enormous loss of life—but one military vessel, or battlestar (the Galactica), survived, along with a few charred and limping people-carriers and their inhabitants. This rump of humanity, 50,000 or so, would hereafter be hounded across the universe by the implacable Cylon horde. The survivors’ goal: to find Earth, the fabled 13th colony, and begin civilization anew...

The article continues here.

3 comments:

Heavy Armor said...

I guess it's time to step in this again.

The original BSG had some very serious issues regarding race and gender. However, the "current" BSG makes the original look downright ultra-progressive in comparison. Non-white characters on this show (pretty much all of them, BTW) get pasted with the same tired Sci-Fi tropes that get tied to people of color everywhere else.

In the three seasons plus the miniseries plus Razor that I've watched (I make it a point NEVER to watch a season new anymore; I wait for the season to finish and/or its DVD release - this removes the advertising fog of the "shocking" events that I am supposed to look forward to), I have found this show to be lacking in nearly every aspect - especially when it comes to their treatment of non-white characters.

As far as I am can see, this show entered into existence without a working plan, so it tried to buy as much time as it could trying to "shock" the audience with a great many stunts from the start, hoping that one or more of these would catch on and resonate. The most egregious of these was the finale of Season 2 through the first few episodes of Season 3, which ended up sacrificing the mythos of Battlestar (old and new) in an attempt to be relevant with the times (Stargate SG-1 attempted the same "current relevance" with Seasons 9 and 10, which aired at around the same time - with almost similar results). This attempt to be "current" also has the side-effect of aging your show and diminishing its shelf re-watch life even further, especially if your show is not set up as a "ripped from the headlines show" like Law and Order or CSI.

OTOH, shows that remain within their own framework have tendencies of being prescient without even trying. For example, Star Trek: DS9 Seasons 3 and 4 are harbingers when looking through the lenses of 9/11/01, the Afghanistan campaign, and the run-up to the Iraq war. And this works regardless of which side of the multi-angled lens you happen to look at.

Maybe it's high time I finish my BSG analysis and get it posted.

Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

u know everytime i see a person with a bkluetooth in their ear, reminds me of the cylons lol

john said...
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