ebogjonson.com's battlestar galactica archive
May 30, 2007
hall of mirrors
Wherein I write about being written about. From Strange Horizons Reviews: Mistakes and All: Defending Battlestar Galactica, written by Jeremy Adam Smith:
And if Battlestar Galactica is, as many insist, an extended commentary on the war on terror--a war that might never end, fought in a moral and political negative zone--then who are "we" supposed to be? Battlestar Galactica, culture critic Gary Dauphin writes, flirts "with a whole bunch of heretical notions . . . most of them related to the possibility that some or another 'we' (it's just a tv [sic] show, right? nothing to do with 'us') might be on the wrong side of history." In the third season, when the human resistance puts on ski masks and sends suicide bombers into crowds, Dauphin writes, Battlestar Galactica "quit[s] with the coy stuff," and
the up-tempo scoring charts a rising arc of anxieties: Are we the cylons or the humans? Am I [Gaius] Baltar or [Laura] Roslyn [sic]? Was the show always about the war? Is it against the law to root for terrorists on TV?
When ex-President Roslyn [sic] says, "Our children need to know that some people fought back while others collaborated," half the audience will hear some kind of founding fathers bullshit, and half will hear a Hamas or Hizzbollah leader rallying the proverbial irregular troops.
Jeremy is a friend of a friend. The all-powerful network does not just live, it works!
October 6, 2006
six hours and counting (pst)
6 - We decided not to host an above-ground frak party because we didn't want to risk anyone we didn't know coming over and asking "So, is he a Cylon, too?" ten times during the show, which actually happened last year. It was super ugly.
5 - As of now the official tally stands at: me, the lady, Mike, Minsuh, Cameron, Cameron's SO, Heemin, and Monica. 'Sley, Caleb, Dave and E.Y. might make appearances as well. (PF is apparently in Baja.)
4 - Food wise we are looking at: goat meat quesadillas (sp?), guac, wings, a couple of pies, chip/dip, short ribs, various Japanese crackers, pork chops in mole and whatever else walks in through the door. It goes without saying that there will be drinking, and after the show DDR, Guitar Hero and perhaps some non-game-centered dancing.
3 - I really and truly can't convey how excited I am that the season restarts tonight. It's not just all the like-minded friends coming together or the considerable pleasure I take in hosting, it's that I feel a bit like a child waiting for Christmas. The funny thing is that I know for a fact there is no Santa Claus and yet here I am still excited at the prospect of his arrival, convinced of it even. Is this what faith feels like?
2 - I had groused a bit last year that BSG had betrayed my faith just a bit with the awful stretch of episodes before Download (Scar, Black Market and one other crap one I'm not recalling, the one where poor Billy got blowed away), but betrayal being just a call by the gods to forgiveness and redemption, the dudes who make the show somehow found a way to restore my faith by pulling it out of its death spiral. Not only that, but dudes also found a way to quite literally stun me by smashing the very premise of the series with a kind of narrative hammer. The decision to locate at least half the action on an occupied planet (where the drama can only concern the ethics and logistics of guerilla resistance and terror) is not completely out of left field, dovetailing as it does (maybe too neatly?) with the show's pretenses to contemporary relevance, but the structural soundness of the New Caprica pivot doesn't account for the madly excessive chutzpah with which that pivot was executed. This is a great show, and yet there was little in the previous two years that could have prepared us for the slap in the face that was the finale's flash forward not just of a year but through a kind of conceptual membrane that had previously marked the unstated boundary of what was possible and impossible in the BSG universe. There is nothing in the resumes of anyone associated with BSG - any writer, producer, director or actor - that might suggest they would be able to collectively or individually come up with a such a maneuver, and that means that there is really nothing to suggest they will be able to repeat the feat this coming year. But here I am cooking and cleaning. Faith has often been presented to me as a surrendering, "god's will"-style opposite to the hubris that makes men think they can make magic on their own, but just the same I think it takes a kind of crazy greed to wake up this morning and think tonight will be as good or (more avarice!) better than last season.
1 - Someone's at the door. I think it's the goat.
July 31, 2006
what time machines are for
So the new season of Battlestar Galactica isn't coming until October, but there are some trailers you watch over and over, breathless and squirmy.
It really is like waiting for Christmas. I forgot what that was like.
At the risk of overstatement, Battlestar Galactica is the great pop-cult gloss on the post-9/11 world, that and 24. 24 is, of course, the classic liberal guilty pleasure, the show aesthetically compelling (but functionally conservative) junk food that progressive dudes like to consume the way we ironically chow down on the Howard Stern Show (maybe Rush if the stomach is stronger.) Like Howard Stern, Jack Bauer is a kind of encoded cop whose beat is masculinity and male excess. Only instead of policing the boundaries of dudeness by contemplating the "manginas" of pre-op female-to-male trannies (Stern's schtick; so, so NSFW), Jack Bauer meditates on holy violence, our hero/pilgrim engaging in ritual (purifying?) cycles of sadism and masochism while brooding darkly on the simultaneous need for / impossibility of duty and honor and patriotism. (It's all Daddy eulogies in 24; Jack as dad, Jack as prodigal son. Jack betrayed by all father figures and mentors except, of course, for poor, sainted David Palmer, the only man Jack ever loved!)
In so much as it takes Nixon to go China, 24 proposes that only an honor-bound, haunted liberal can effectively wield the sword of ultra-violence. (And Jack is a liberal, only of the pro-war New Republic/Slate variety.)The horrorshow of guilt and pain that is Jack's increasingly insane, orgiastic day-in-the-life sums up to a powerful, unconscious consensus that unites male assholes of every political stripe. Instead of Goldwater's "extremism in the defense of liberty" line, though, the Jack Bauer consensus is more exhausted, slack and adolescent. Mere doggerel, really: "Not only am I in no way any kind of bitch and/or pussy, but under the proper circumstances I am capable of taking this shit so much farther than any you ever imagined was possible."
Battlestar Galactica mines the same psychic territory, except that instead of playing the psychodrama out from the POV of a strangely sensitive and (that word again) tortured all-American, black-ops hand, BSG plays it out from within the collective point of view of a downtrodden, beleaguered technologically over-matched minority. The shift in location affords what the grad students like to call a radical re-alignment, one that makes BSG infinitely more likely to blow someone's mind that 24, which at best threatens to make straight men unexpectedly sad or aroused.
The previous two BSG seasons flirted with a whole bunch of heretical notions (heretical to the FOX), most of them related to the possibility that some or another "we" (it's just a tv show, right? nothing to do with "us") might be on the wrong side of history. Next season, though, when the human resistance depicted in the clip above puts on their ski masks and goes around (I imagine) planting bombs, BSG is going to quit with the coy stuff and go flying straight down the maw of the question of terrorism and freedom fighting and "asymmetrical" warfare. This going to be something to behold if for no other reason than that for most American audiences terrorism poses no question at all except how many Arabs will have to die in order to "stop it." The experience for those fans is going to be nervewracking, a ride akin to, say, Kirk flying the USS Constellation into the mouth of the planet killer in The Doomsday Machine. The up-tempo scoring charts a rising arc of anxieties: Are we the cylons or the humans? Am I Baltar or Roslyn? Was the show always about the war? Is it against the law to root for terrorists on TV?
When ex-President Roslyn says, "Our children need to know that some people fought back while others collaborated," half the audience will hear some kind of founding fathers bullshit, and half will hear a Hamas or Hizzbollah leader rallying the proverbial irregular troops. I'm waiting for the moment that second sound turns BSG into an official poster child for the media's support of terrorism (just like the New York Times!) And why not? If doing your job as a journalist can make you a terrorist sympathizer, why doing your job as a passive consumer of mass media? The beauty of thought crime is that you don't have do anything in order in order to have Anne Coulter or Alan Dershowitz condemn you to death, you just have to be.