Sci Fi Friday: Battlestar Galactica & Iraq; Star Trek and Fascism??

Ron Moore was interviewed at Here’s a few of the questions which relate to political issues:

Q: The parallels to the Iraqi war I think are very clear. Did the parallel come from you or some sci-fi executive?

Moore: Fundamentally it came from me and I felt okay from that first weekend of thinking about it, okay this is going to deal with 9/11 and it’s going to deal with a lot of things that we’re going through in this society at that moment. It was just part of the premise. It was always going to be in the show and once you were on that path it just felt like we’re just going to keep doing this. We’re going to deal with things that happened in our contemporary reality, but just you go through a different prison. The show would never be a direct allegory. Laura Roslin is not going to be George W. Bush. The Cylons are not going to be al-Qaeda, but they were going to have elements of it and part of the opportunity of the show was to move pieces around the game board a little bit. Say, okay well we’ve all experienced this set of events, this set of emotions. What if I move this piece over here and what if I put you over there? How do you feel about it then?…One of the foundational elements of the show is the religious conflict between the two civilizations. The monotheism of the Cylons. The polytheism of the Colonies. You know what is God? What is human? What does it mean to be alive?

Q: How do you avoid using the show to express some of your own personal views like on the war in Iraq.

Moore: The show isn’t a polemic you know. I don’t approach it that… I don’t like a lot of moralizing television. A lot of story is sort of structured in TV to sort of teach you a lesson. To tell you this is the right answer to a given set of circumstances. This show is dealing with a lot of complicated ideas, a lot of complicated notions… What does it mean to be free? What does it mean to be safe? I don’t know the answers to a lot of those things. I have opinions and I have feelings and I have a political point of view and I’m not naive enough to think that doesn’t influence what I do. But, I don’t look at the show primarily as a vehicle show… A lot of people draw parallels to the war in Iraq and there’s an insurgency and suicide bombers and so on. But, the crafting of that story was less about okay here’s a political statement about the war in Iraq than it was okay what happens to my people in those circumstances? What happens to these characters that we’ve created and I throw them into this mess and I move some of the puzzle pieces around so that it’s not a direct allegory. So it’s not so clear as to who the good guys and the bad guys are and just see what happens. I want to see what happens. I want to see who’s going to collaborate, who’s going to fight back, who’s going to be trapped in the middle, who’s going to be questioning their own moral judgments, who’s going to become a suicide bomber, who’s going to slap somebody because of that. It’s like dealing with things that are contemporary and you’re dealing with things that are important, but I just try very hard not to make the show a vehicle for that idea. That said, there are fundamental things that I do believe come out in the show. There was a point where I had Laura Roslin saying “every person gets a trial and it’s not an option that the president gets to dismiss it their way.” I want her to say that because I believe that. But, it wasn’t a show that was all about that. This wasn’t the lesson of the episode. It’s just what that character would say in that circumstance so I had them say it.

Q: Do you think you could have done “Galactica” eight years ago because in terms of what was going on in the world was so much different and do you ever think about unfortunately as things get worse in the real world, it works out better for the show?

Moore: No, I don’t really go there. It’s a good question of whether I could have done the show eight years ago. I don’t know because I think certainly the relevance of the show and the way it grabs you viscerally because of what we’ve all gone through. It’s just a very different piece and I don’t know if it would have been quite as attractive all those years ago. I know that when the original “Galactica” came out, yeah they had an apocalypse too. They had a genocide and all these sort of dark ideas, but when you watched it in 1978 it’s a very different thing than when you watch it in 2002. The show just sort of came to life because it was of the moment and it’s hard to say if you could have even done it or approached it eight years ago.

Interviews such as the one above are helpful to understand the ideas of the creators of shows. Sometimes it is helpful to be able to review the vision of the show’s creator when viewers totally miss the point. In the past week I found a post at Captain’s Quarters which discusses an article at another site on The Fascist Ideology of Star Trek: Militarism, Collectivism, & Atheism. I guess that conservatives, who certainly do not understand the concept of freedom, regardless of how often they use the word, might also be incapable of understanding the true values expressed in Star Trek. (They are, however right, in questioning the economics displayed.) Last month Sci Fi Friday featured an article by Ron Moore which describes the values of Star Trek.

Tonight: Cybermen on Doctor Who and Battlestar Galictica shows the aftermath of living with those who collaborated with the enemy. Will there be any worthwhile lessons for dealing with those who collaborated with the Bush administration as they plundered our treasury, undermined our national security to play politics, and eroded our freedoms?

Update:  The American Prospect has an article on the politics of Battlestar Galactica.

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