Friday, June 13, 2008

Do we deserve to exist?

Writing for Mental Floss, Sam J. Miller has written a brilliant piece of analysis comparing and contrasting Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica:

Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica have wildly different aesthetics and ideologies, and both aspire to very different goals. Fundamentally, it boils down to this: Star Trek is about who we want to be, and Battlestar Galactica is about who we are.

Star Trek takes place in a world where all the ugly things about human existence have been erased....

That’s why the world of Battlestar Galactica feels so fresh, and so challenging. People still drink too much, and beat their spouses, and work too hard, and hate their bosses, and distrust the government, and fear death. The crew of the Galactica is not boldly exploring the universe for exploring’s sake, learning about fascinating new cultures and inviting alien species to join the benevolent Federation of Planets. It’s running away from a race of genocidal robots bent on their complete annihilation, while trying to maintain some shred of humanity and civilization.

...The apocalypse obsesses us. These days, the idea of society’s total collapse has broad traction across the political spectrum. Even Oprah’s worried—that’s why she picked Cormac McCarthy’s The Road for her book club. No getting around it: we’re afraid. We want to prepare ourselves mentally. We buy batteries. We lap up every new zombies-destroy-humanity movie. All of a sudden, it’s disturbingly easy to imagine the human race reduced from billions of people to tens of thousands. These days, Battlestar Galactica’s warning that technology and progress will bring us to the brink of total annihilation is far more resonant than Star Trek’s hope that technology and progress will solve all of our problems.

Star Trek doesn’t pretend that human beings are perfect—prior to the discovery of the Warp Engine, Earth had been brought back to the edge of the Stone Age by the “Eugenics Wars”—but it does take for granted that human beings are good, and that history represents a fumbling messy sort of progress towards perfection. What makes Battlestar Galactica so haunting is the existential question it poses to all of us: “Do we deserve to exist?” In light of Auschwitz and Darfur and the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, Tibet and 9/11 and Abu Ghraib and global warming, can we honestly say we don’t deserve total destruction? That we’ll learn? That we’ll change? Early on, Galactica’s commander wonders: “When we fought the Cylons, we did it to save ourselves from extinction. But we never answered the question Why? Why are we as a people worth saving?”

Pulling excerpts of Miller's piece really doesn't do it justice. Click here to read his complete amazing essay. You'll definitely want to read the whole thing.

In other news, James Callis talked to The Onion A.V. Club about Gaius Baltar.

(Also of note at their site is a two part interview with the great writer Harlan Ellison here and here.)

Also, Tricia Helfer appears in the video Dance With Me by the Old 97's from their album Blame It On Gravity.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting article in Mental Floss, but does the author think the '60's were some kind of simpler time? I'm guessing he's under 30.

平平 said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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