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  #111  
Old 10-23-2010, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by horatio View Post
Darker science fiction is usually populated with more ordinary people. Great and heroic stuff is do be found in bright sci-fi, nasty and unheroic stuff is found in dark sci-fi.
So it boils down to whether one can connect to the characters or whether they are portrayed interestingly at all. A cyberpunk piece like Blade Runner works so well because it portrays nasty but nonetheless sympathetic creatures.
I hear you, but as a matter of fact I am a huuuuuge fan of Blade Runner and I love the character of Deckart. He is a real hero because, in the end he makes the right choice. Blade Runner has a classical story arc for the hero. He beginns as a selfish man who sure has doubts about the system, but doesnt give it much thoughts. The replicants are really just mashines for him, exterminating them may save human lifes. Deckard isnt out there to save his own butt. He is more like a cop, doing his job to protect the good people of the town. But then, step by step, he finds out about how human the replicants actually are, begins to sympathize with them and their cause, falls in love with one and finally discoveres that he is indeed working for the wrong people and makes the humanly right decision: He quits his job.

In a movie such a development is possible. In a TV show not so much. Blade Runner as a TV show would not have worked the same way because Deckard would have been stuck in his development, never becoming the guy who does the right thing, allways just being the jerk in every episode.

So, for me its not so much about utopia or dystopia. Its wether or not I see people who learn, adapt and, though they make mistakes, are getting it right over time and make the ethically right decision in the end. I never saw that happen in BSG.

Last edited by Botany Bay : 10-23-2010 at 01:37 PM.
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  #112  
Old 10-23-2010, 01:40 PM
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Well, mixed shows like DS9 are fine but in general I rather prefer stark contrasts in science-fiction. Keep Trek Trek-ish, keep cyberpunk cyberpunk-ish.

Look around you, we are in deep sh*t. Global warming, overpopulation, economic inequality and volatility, in the political world it is already "bubbling underneath the surface" (if I may use your phrase). Fascism is coming in the form of the Tea Party in the US or the anti-immigrant far right in Germany (populist anti-establishment, grass-roots movements, the voice of the people, they often use the same anticapitalistic rhetoric as the far left and that's why they are fascist), liberalism is under threat and the radical left might enter the stage (I'd say it has to save liberalism) sooner or later. And such extremes are good, we need a post-postmodern after all.

Science-fiction sketches out potential futures and I like to see extremes there as well: what we might head for, what might save us and so on.
Well, this is one of the things that I find interesting about BSG.

It's core idea is like that. I don't know how much of it you've seen, for example, but it was partly about looking at us today but also with the TV series core idea of the 'Cycle of Time' and the fact that history goes in cycles and the question of can that cycle be broken?

If you look at real life world history, many of the same patterns have repeated themselves in human history - Empires have all risen and fallen for often similar reasons and much more - and in a very loose sense things do repeat themselves over and over.

Can that be broken? Well, only humans have the answer. It's in no-one's hands bar our own and we really aren't very good at wanting to do that and acting accordingly. So, the show ends up (in it's finale) reminding us of that. For me, that was probably a bit more of what it was about. Or, what I took out of it anyway.

It's a serious and dark show, but it places the opportunity for changing in our own hands at the end. So, I think that even through BSG there is light, if one wants to see it.
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  #113  
Old 10-23-2010, 01:43 PM
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I hear you, but as a matter of fact I am a huuuuuge fan of Blade Runner and I love the character of Deckart. He is a real hero because, in the end he makes the right choice. Blade Runner has a classical story arc for the hero. He beginns as a selfish man who sure has doubts about the system, but doesnt give it much thoughts. The replicants are really just mashines for him, exterminating them may save human lifes. Deckard isnt out there to save his own butt. He is more like a cop, doing his job to protect the good people of the town. But then, step by step, he finds out about how human the replicants actually are, begins to sympathize with them and their cause, falls in love with one and finally discoveres that he is indeed working for the wrong people and makes the humanly right decision: He quits his job.

In a movie such a development is possible. In a TV show not so much. Blade Runner as a TV show would not have worked the same way because Deckard would have been stuck in his development, never becoming the guy who does the right thing, allways just being the jerk in every episode.

So, for me its not so much about utopia or dystopia. Its wether or not I see people who learn, adapt and, though they make mistakes, are getting it right over time and make the ethically right decision in the end. I never saw that happen in BSG.
There is a guy who kills one person after another and in the end he spares the life of his hunter, says some poetic words and then dies. That's great cinema but it doesn't make him great.
There's another guy who kills for a living, falls in love with somebody he has to hunt, later hears the sweet poetry of one his prey, learns that he might be a replicant himself and thus a target, then (interpreting the second and ignoring the first stupid 'run to the countryside' ending) he decides to try to somehow survive for some time with his sweetheart ... and this is supposed to make him a great guy?

I agree that you have all that wonderful "discovering your inner humanity stuff" in the texture of the movie but once you think about it Deckard isn't really somebody who swims against the stream. You can't really, that's one point of the movie.
I think that the beauty and the legacy of the movie is really just the background and of course the political significance, where might corporatism plus biotechnology lead us.

But in general I agree of course with your point, a dystopian piece of art works best when there is a rebelling hero, be it Montag in Fahrenheit 451 or Winston in 1984 or the savage, don't remember his name, in Brave New World.

Last edited by horatio : 10-23-2010 at 01:49 PM.
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  #114  
Old 10-23-2010, 01:51 PM
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Can that be broken? Well, only humans have the answer. It's in no-one's hands bar our own and we really aren't very good at wanting to do that and acting accordingly. So, the show ends up (in it's finale) reminding us of that.
Maybe I have to see the finale then. Again, I didnt see many episodes. Can you remember any time where the protagonists actually tried to break the cycle of death and destruction by doing something risky for the right reasons, something good? I mean, yeah, they hoped that things would get better. But I never actually saw them do anything FOR making things better.

Also, I never really got the feeling anyone of them cares much about doing the right things at all. Their attitude allways appeared to be much more about kicking some Cylon ***, survive another day and pray, alot, indulging themselves in self-pitty and whining how terribly hard life is while going on doing what they allways did: Kicking Cylon ***.

See, what I mean?

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Originally Posted by horatio View Post
There is a guy who kills one person after another and in the end he spares the life of his hunter, says some poetic words and then dies. That's great cinema but it doesn't make him great.
There's another guy who kills for a living, falls in love with somebody he has to hunt, later hears the sweet poetry of one his prey, learns that he might be a replicant himself and thus a target, then (interpreting the second and ignoring the first stupid 'run to the countryside' ending) he decides to try to somehow survive for some time with his sweetheart ... and this is supposed to make him a great guy?
Yeah, thats the second interpretation: Deckard is a replicant himself. However, he is still a guy with an attitude. He still is somebody who learns and, even in this interpretation, in the end knows right from wrong and acts accordingly. Also, Harrison Ford as an actor gives the role a lot of humanity, in the sense that he gives the impression that he would never knowingly do the wrong thing, maybe thats actually it. Compare that with Starbuck, who does a lot of bad *** stuff and knows she is doing the wrong thing. She just doesnt give a damn, so why should I.

Also, if the 'hero' isnt anything better then the villains... for me that sucks all the tension out of it. Its like watching a football game and not caring who wins, at all.

However, in the end its a matter of taste, of course.

Last edited by Botany Bay : 10-23-2010 at 02:03 PM.
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  #115  
Old 10-23-2010, 02:04 PM
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I'd say that it doesn't really matter, a replicant can be more human than a human and the movie neatly shows that humanity is not something technical-biological.
I entirely agree with your points about Blade Runner, I merely wanted to point out that they are rooted in the texture of the movie. A fight, even when it is in vain, has a noble quality. They might get Deckard, for being a replicant or for hiding one, but at least he is human for some time. Better than a longer zombie life.

I also can't stand cynism as it usually pretends to be so unideological. Bullsh*t, it's as much a belief as any other, a belief which which helps you to justify what ever nasty stuff you are about to do.
The ordinary nice everyman might be truely unideological but the cynic who puts "lack of ideology" one his flag has to be a firm believer. To be evil you have to be a psychopath or believe.

Last edited by horatio : 10-23-2010 at 02:09 PM.
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  #116  
Old 10-23-2010, 02:09 PM
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Maybe I have to see the finale then. Again, I didnt see many episodes. Can you remember any time where the protagonists actually tried to break the cycle of death and destruction by doing something risky, something good? I mean, yeah, they hoped that things would get better. But I never actually saw them do anything FOR making things better.

Also, I never really got the feeling anyone of them cares much about doing the right things at all. Their attitude allways appeared to be much more about kicking some Cylon ***, survive another day and pray, alot, endulging themselves in self-pitty and how terribly hard life is while going on doing what they allways did: Kicking Cylon ***.

See, what I mean?
Well, yeah, there's only 40,000 of them left. They have no permanent home. They have fluctuating resources and they have an enemy who wants to eradicate them hounding them from without and within their ranks. Plus twelve different colonies (with their own political, social and agenda ideas) wanting representation in how their fate is decided.

Are they supposed to be partying all the time?

The 'right' thing to do sometimes becomes irrelevant when compared to what 'has' to be done at times. That said, who decides what the 'right thing' is? That said, you saw them trying to maintain a sense of civilisation by trying to create a 'government' to lead the people so that it was attempting to function as a democracy instead of a shambles, trying to organise themselves accordingly. But it had complications. In season 2 there was the abortion episode. Roslin had to look at her own personal belief (essentially pro-choice) with the fact that given the precarious state of the human race, could they really afford to go around terminating viable pregnancies with so few humans left? And had to make a decision on the issue about it.

In BSG there were choices, but they were sometimes not choices that really represented simple answers. I mean, it's nice when a show gives you nice clear cut 'good guys' vs 'villains' but reality isn't always like that.

Starbuck did some things, Adama did some things.

Take a look at the headlines of today. In the so-called 'War on Terror' looking at some of the things done by our 'side' are we supposed to pretend that we are always the 'good guys' either? Sure the other side are not, but our own conduct doesn't always do us any favours either.

I'm not saying anyone has to like a TV show that has muddier waters, of course, it is a matter of taste.

That was where some of BSG came from. Not some idealised 'shiny happy future' like Trek. That has it's place as well, of course, but then there are other ideas to run through TV series.
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Last edited by kevin : 10-23-2010 at 02:20 PM.
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  #117  
Old 10-23-2010, 02:28 PM
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Take a look at the headlines of today. In the so-called 'War on Terror' looking at some of the things done by our 'side' are we supposed to pretend that we are always the 'good guys' either? Sure the other side are not, but our own conduct doesn't always do us any favours either.
Exactly my point. I never supported the things being done, the things you refer to. So, if I condemn torture in real life, why then should I sympathize with a torturer in fiction? If I dont care about the well being of real world politicians, what could possibly make me care about the life of the fictional president of the colonial fleet? If I want Lindie England in Prison, for the rest of her life, together with all other responsible people and the politicians who gave the orders, why should I care about the career or life of Starbuck any more? And if noone aboard Galactica is any better then Lindie England, what should make me fear the Cylons could succeed?

For me watching BSG and the war between the Cylons and these humans was as gripping as watching a jerk and a jackas5 fight over who is the greatest genious.

However, I do see qualities in the show. The actors all did a great job, for instance.

Last edited by Botany Bay : 10-23-2010 at 02:34 PM.
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  #118  
Old 10-23-2010, 02:39 PM
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Battlestar Galactica had it's down moments, but at it's best it was a good as anything on TV in my opinion.
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  #119  
Old 10-23-2010, 02:42 PM
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Exactly my point. I never supported the things being done, the things you refer to. So, if I condemn torture in real life, why then should I sympathize with a torturer in fiction? If I dont care about the well being of real world politicians, what could possibly make me care about the life of the fictional president of the colonial fleet? If I want Lindie England in Prison, for the rest of her life, together with all other responsible people and the politicians who gave the orders, why should I care about the career or life of Starbuck any more?

However, I do see qualities in the show. The actors all did a great job, for instance.
That's an excellent question. I have no fast answer. One either cares or doesn't.

Well, sure it's great to not be in the positions of any of these people (real or fictional) and not have to actually make certain choices and then judge them afterwards from our comfortable houses and laptops.

The characters in BSG don't get that luxury. Sometimes they have to make a choice between a bad option and an even worse option.

So, what drives them to make the choice they do? Is it a choice or is it basic necessity? Do they regret the choice, even if it's sometimes the one that they had to make? Do they regret it only in private? Do they do it for noble or selfish reasons? If selfish, why are they being selfish? Are they being worn down by the things they experience or are they like that anyway?

This is where you look at the character to see why. I'm not entirely convinced it's about being able to 'like' the people in question. But about trying to understand what it is that causes them to have to act as they do.

Not that I'm saying BSG was always satisfactory in this regard.

Watching 'good' and 'likeable' characters dealing with very simple problems with easy 'good' answers can be very unsatisfying as well, because there is very little meat to the problem. This is a problem I have with INS. A very obviously 'bad' thing happening and then the good Trek characters come in to solve the problem. But it's not a real problem at all because it's so obviously 'bad' that the 'good' choice is so painfully obvious in return.

And it's all as dull as the comparison you made about Humans vs Cylons in my book as well.
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Last edited by kevin : 10-23-2010 at 02:48 PM.
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  #120  
Old 10-23-2010, 02:51 PM
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Take a look at the headlines of today. In the so-called 'War on Terror' looking at some of the things done by our 'side' are we supposed to pretend that we are always the 'good guys' either? Sure the other side are not, but our own conduct doesn't always do us any favours either.

I'm not saying anyone has to like a TV show that has muddier waters, of course, it is a matter of taste.

That was where some of BSG came from. Not some idealised 'shiny happy future' like Trek. That has it's place as well, of course, but then there are other ideas to run through TV series.
DS9 wasn't muddy, it was sometimes dark and about tough ethical decisions but that's it. It was crystal clear that there is a difference between Sisko and Section 31.
Really muddy means nasty things happen and the ubertext of the show says, "it is OK".

And this kind of cynic, muddy, mishy-mashy sci-fi is what I object to. Science-fiction should be moralistic (or preachy as the TNG haters say ), science-fiction should be dark and say "this is sh*t, let's not go there" or be bright and say "this is great, let's do this". "It's like today" isn't really that much of a justification for sci-if, is it?


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Watching 'good' and 'likeable' characters dealing with very simple problems with easy 'good' answers can be very unsatisfying as well, because there is very little meat to the problem. This is a problem I have with INS. A very obviously 'bad' thing happening and then the good Trek characters come in to solve the problem. But it's not a real problem at all because it's so obviously 'bad' that the 'good' choice is so painfully obvious in return.
INS isn't a great movie, it has lots of problems but in this context I find it interesting that it is so often critisized for being too simple. Fighting against the Borg is also a non-choice simple yet Best of Both Worlds is never critisized for this.
So it obviously runs a bit deeper, many people only like "good guys fight external bad guys" and feel uncomfortable with "good guys fight internal bad guys and risk their careers". What kind of an idea of heroism is this?
And it's not like this pattern just appears in bright sci-fi, in dark sci-fi like Blade Runner or District 9 you have the very same pattern, a hero who fights against the system and thus also against himself. Or, to get back to Trek, outward vs. inward fight, the Romulan vs. the Vulcan ideology.

Last edited by horatio : 10-23-2010 at 03:00 PM.
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