Friday, October 27, 2006

Battlestar Iraqtica? I Don't Think So

Over at Slate comes this piece explaining the parallels between Battlestar Galactica and Iraq. (This courtesy of Reason's Hit and Run- "Dorkofacism vs. Islamofacism.)

Of course, as most of the commenters at Slate note, the idea that Battlestar endorses the Iraqi insurgency completely misses the point- actually misses the brilliance- of the show. As I previously noted, the brilliance of Battlestar Galactica lies in the show's ability to raise difficult questions without providing easy or comfortable answers. Yes, what we see in Battlestar looks very similar to what we see on the news. And that's because it's supposed to, Battlestar is all about making science fiction look familiar. And yes, the themes are very relevant to the modern world, but again, this is to make the show more interesting. The current plot line about the occupation of New Caprica is no more a parallel to Iraq than any other aspect of the show has paralleled any other current event. If Spencer Ackerman is seeing support for the Iraqi insurgency in the current Battlestar plot lines then he's reading his own political opinions into what he's watching.

The big question that arises from the first few episodes of this season of BSG is whether the resistance is worth it. For all the show's admirable treatment of the moral complexities and the uncertainties of insurgency, its answer is an unequivocal yes.

Yes, there is an argument for resistance against an oppressive occupation. Whether or not you characterize Iraq as an oppressive occupation depends on your point of view- the Cylon occupation of New Caprica is just as dependent upon your point of view, but unless you're a Cylon fascist you'll find the Cylons to be oppressive. The questions raised by Battlestar is how you deal with that oppression- and the answers range the spectrum from collaboration to reduce the violence to suicide bombing. In the show's season premier, Colonel Tigh even suggests the bombing of the marketplace- not to kill Cylons, but to kill innocent humans. Tigh is rebuffed, but his point remains crystal clear. And it's equally clear what the show is trying to do- again, the show is not trying to spoon feed answers to the audience, the show is trying to make the audience think about difficult questions.

As one of the commenters notes, the amazing thing about Battlestar is that the characters on the show have no real life parallels. They're unique, just as the show is unique. To find parallels to specific current political events is simplistic and is a tremendous injustice to the thematic complexities of the show.


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