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‘Battlestar’ Baghdad

posted by Ellen Leventry

Readers of Entertainment Weekly’s cover story on Battlestar Galactica’s third season premiere probably weren’t shocked to read that this year’s series would be colored with shades of occupied Iraq. President Gaius Baltar’s surrrender of New Caprica to the Cylons and collaboration with the man-made robots set up the perfect lead-in to a modern morality tale, reflecting not only current events in the Middle East, but Nazi Germany and Serbia as well.

Science fiction shows have always tackled important topics of the day, cloaked in the safety of events occurring in a galaxy far, far away. “Star Trek” tackled racism in one of its most famous episodes–featuring the Cherons with faces that were half black and half white–and even showed the first interracial kiss on television. But “Battlestar Galactica” is moving light years beyond other shows–such as “Doctor Who,” with it’s wink to fictional “Mass Weapons of Destruction”–by creating confrontational, and at times uncomfortable, viewing.

Horace Newcomb, director of the Peabody Awards, told E!Online, when Battlestar Galactica won that award, that “it treats contemporary issues from an angle that really make you think about those issues… issues of race, gender, all those things are dealt with in that context.”

Having found an inhabitable planet, the newly elected President Baltar leads most of the remaining human race down to settle New Caprica. However, Captain Adama and much of the fleet remain abord ship, circling the planet for fear of a Cylon attack. For one year, all is peaceful, and then the Cylons appear, wrangling the humans on the planet into shanty towns and zones, creating an occupied New Caprica. The fleet, ill-prepared after a year of lazing around, and having lost much of its crew, retreats in order to regroup and retrain those still aboard.

The season opener features scenes of prisoners being kept in Guantanamo-like conditions, intimations of horrific tortures, random detentions, mass executions, and secret police made up of humans working with the Cylons. The human resistance retaliates with a coordinated series of suicide bombings–a practice most viewers find abhorrent, having seen casualty counts rising from these type attacks on the evening news. But, these are the “good guys” carrying out the attacks; the type of underhanded attacks politicians and pundits ascribe to cowards.

As a whole, the Cylons remain unambiguously the “bad guys,” with the marvelously malevolent Dean Stockwell Brother Cavil forcing Baltar to sign an order of mass execution for anyone suspected of helping the underground. The picture being painted is not subtle, and the strokes are broad–no more so than 2005’s FX cinema verite-shot Iraq War drama “Over There,” but again, this is all taking place in a galaxy far, far, away.



  • http://HASH(0xfdb12d4) ll

    Liberal politics disguised as entertainment doesn’t make doing so insightful in the least, let alone “spiritual” in any sense.

  • http://HASH(0xfdb340c) Douglas Ward

    As a big fan of the show I must say that I am very disappointed in this season. The ending of the last season was tough to swallow but this is close to too far. This show was cutting edge because of the tension and drama of fleeing a nearly invincible enemy while tightly confined in the space ships. Now it is close to a second rate liberal rant. Two thumbs WAY down unfortunately…

  • http://HASH(0xfdb3b3c) Eric Rupert

    Is it liberal or is it merely an unpatriotic point of view? Some have said response to Iraq is both. Empathy for the enemy position, be it the choice of political viewpoints or what brand of automobile is the best, is the highest form of critical thinking. If suicide bombing by radical former military men isn’t your idea of right, have your eye plucked out by interrogators and “see” how you’d react. If those who would harm us, learn about us, there is at least a chance that empathy will inform their decisions, too. Struggle (jihad) isn’t new. Struggle is what builds culture out of the rubble caused by extremists.

  • G.C. Jordahl

    “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.”
    “The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over”
    “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
    “Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country.”
    “Holding the current administration accountable to its ineptitude and total lack of understanding of the state of the areas which is chose to occupy is not liberal or unpatriotic. Those that excuse such actions are blissfully ignorant or treasonous. Do not label someone unpatriotic just because they don’t agree with you… they just might be right!”
    Quotes listed here….
    1. ABRAHAM LINCOLN
    2. JOSEPH GOEBBELS, Head of Nazi Propaganda
    3. JOSEPH GOEBBELS, Head of Nazi Propaganda
    4. Theodore Roosevelt, 1908
    5. ME!

  • G.C. Jordahl

    The irony is… Jesus was a liberal in his day and even by todays standards. Ain’t that a kick in the pants….

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