Steven endorsed this nitpicker post about the Cylons on the new Galactica show, so I feel somewhat compelled to respond.

But the bottom line about Galactica is that it’s classic literary science fiction, not camp. In other words, it takes moral and social issues of relevance to our society, translates them to a en exotic and futuristic setting, and then investigates them in a way that – because of the alien setting – allows that examination to be largely objective and free of the real-world partisan nonsense. That doesn’t stop partisans on both sides to try and claim the show for their own purposes: the left thinks that New Caprica was a metaphor for Iraq, the right thinks that Cylons are muslims, etc. But these are shallow analyses, and not limited to Galactica. The real point is to examine things like democratic ideals, the tension between military and civilian rule, the ethics of resistance and suicide bombing, and reason vs faith, all within a “neutral” frame. In doing so we can return to the basic principles that define us and test them to see how they fare against each other. Its good that Galactica inspires such political commentary. It’s a stimulator of debate, a fresh perspecctive, that upends our assumptions while remaining true to our principles and ideals. It is a show that makes you think, and if you’re watching it just to critique the technobabble, you’re not watching the same show we are. Which is fine; to each his own.

But with respect to Galactica that I’m watching, it’s the truest heir to Heinlein, Asimov, Dick, Ellison, and the other giants of literary science fiction that has ever made the jump to the screen since Star Trek: The Next Generation. Those who nitpick it remind me of those who dismiss anime as “japanese cartoons” or who insist that if you didn’t like Anime series XYZ it’s because you “didn’t get it”.

Heck, forget defending the nitpicker with regard to the cylons on specifics. If you watch the show, you see the flaws anyway. The argument above is the more important one.

UPDATE: Otto mentions that my link to his post was only to the extended entry – the correct full link is here. I’d read the full post myself and anyone reading his post will immediately understand that Otto is a fan too. As he himself emphasises, it’s a nitpick, not an indictment.

7 thoughts on “Cylons”

  1. Come on already. One doesn’t have to be a partisan to know that New Caprica was a clear metaphor for Iraq. The producers practically shove it in your face. I don’t have a problem with that, mind you, but it’s pretty clear what it is.

    Now, as to the rest, Galactica isn’t holy writ from the Lords of Cobol, and is as open to criticism as anything else. Like I said “I’ve been faithfully watching the “reimagined” Battlestar Galactica series faithfully since it premiered. It’s well written, imaginative, and compelling, but what happens when the plot holes in a movie or TV series begin to interfere with your enjoyment of it? This is happening more and more with Galactica.” Unfortunately, Steven Den beste (and you) linked only to the “click here for more” part of the blog entry, leaving out the part above where I said that I LIKE THE SHOW.

    OK? I. Like. It. I wouldn’t watch if I didn’t. Hell, I wouldn’t nitpick if I didn’t. I can watch a Trek episode and ignore the numerous problems in it because I don’t expect much. I do expect much from Battlestar Galactica.

    I wrote the entry as a fun little bit to get my mind off more serious matters. Quite frankly, if anyone reminds me of “those who dismiss anime as ‘japanese cartoons’ or who insist that if you didn’t like Anime series XYZ it’s because you ‘didn’t get it,'” it’s you. I’m not the one comparing Battlestar Galacica to the works of Heinlein and Dick and ripping into someone because he said some unkind words about a favorite TV show.

    So if you want to nitpick about my nitpick, link to the WHOLE comment, OK?

  2. I have to say, matoko, (Assuming the matoko in the comments there are you) you are coming across as hostile over there. You’re not doing any better here, in any case.

    fledgling otaku, at least evil he *does* admit he is nitpicking. In any case, I do agree with the general idea of what you post. I’m saying this as someone who hasn’t watched Galactica (the new or the original series). The big reason that I try to marathon the shows I watch as much as possible is so I catch the overall flow of the series, rather than get caught up in the (to me) less important details. Well, I do this for the shows that have longer running arcs; something like Kino’s Journey doesn’t really require this with its episodic format, though a theme does pervade through out it. I do the nit-picking when I write the review 😉 (well, back when I did reviews…).

    I do plan on renting and watching Galactica someday, when I have time to sit down and run right through it. Knowing my memory, even if I read what evil wrote, by the time I get to watching it, I’ll have completely forgotten it…

  3. I think its perfectly legitimate mind you ot be critical of plot – I just wanted to make it clear that there are reasons to watch the show that dont have to do with hot cylon chicks 🙂 I hope Otto doesn’t take offense.

  4. Otto, I updated my post accordingly.

    Granted you do like the show but you also are asking, “but what happens when the plot holes in a movie or TV series begin to interfere with your enjoyment of it?” I just dont agree that the issues you raised are all that inhibiting, that’s all. The broader picture is why I tune in, not because I particularly give a frak if they reach Earth or not 😛 Heck, I’d prefer that they be consigned to space for eternity and never find earth. That way I get more fan mileage!

    As for Caprica/Iraq (Capriqa?), the producers do acknowledge the influence of the Iraq occupation as inspiration but they clearly are NOT making it a direct metaphor. Ron himself has denied this so I take him at his word (at least so I seem to recall him saying so somewhere on the official producer’s blog.)

    and FWIW I don’t think I “ripped into you” at all with my post here.

  5. I posted something yesterday, but it seems to have disappeared, must be the Men in Black. 🙂

    While Iraq probably inspired the New Caprica episodes, the producers could have found their inspiration elsewhere as well.

    My post yesterday discussed the assertion the cylons are muslims. I think the assertion is a stretch at best. First, the current potrayal of cylons suggest they all agreed that genocide was the best choice. There are plenty of muslims who would disagree that this is what Islam teaches. In addition, justifying genocide does not require a religion. Hutus and Tutsis killed each other in Rwanda. The Nazis killed people to further racial purity. Stalin committed mass murder for “the greater good”. Saddam killed people out of paranoia (and probably because he enjoyed it).

    Even in BG, the most recent episode provided the humans with a genocidal weapon, and the leadership decided to use it. I don’t remember religion playing an important role in that decision. It was more “desperate times call for desperate measures” and “they would do it to us if they had a chance”.

  6. habibbi, since when do i play “nice”?
    my beef with evil isnt political. it’s intellectual.
    if all he can see is nits and an Iraq analogy, his skull furniture is seriously impoverished.
    BSG is geekcool…it is classic sci-fi, testdriving the paradigms of the future.
    are machines human?
    are slaves human?
    is homicide bombing ever justified?
    is torture justified? what if it is a machine being tortured?
    is genocide ever justified?
    what does it mean to be human?
    can the FP be solved for machines? For humans?
    that is the kind of stuff BSG gets me and my friends talking about.
    but then…we’re certified geeks.

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