How do I count the ways? I was recently in Seattle with my family and we visited the Experience Music Project for the second or third time. This time was primarily so we could visit the Battlestar Galactica #BSG exhibit. We were not disappointed. But, the exhibit did make me think about the exhibit and some of the reasons why the series resonated with me. The first point I need to add is that I had ear-marked the series as a Summer catch up, but then read a colleague’s interpretation of the series and decided that I needed to watch the series. There are some spoilers below, so please be warned. Spoiler Alerts.
I appreciate science fiction as a genre, but add to this a dystopic setting (future or past) and I am apt to find something interesting in the story. #BSG did not disappoint and it was filmed locally in Vancouver, BC. And, this caused some excitement to try to find places that looked familiar. And, I recalled from the earlier series that the Cylons really freaked me out, but these new Cylons–some were human! How could this happen. Well, I set out to find out with the re-imagined series.
The plot focuses on the last battlestar and rest of the fleet that survives an attack. What we find is that the Education Secretary becomes President (notice, not Prime Minister) of the surviving fleet, as they try to survive and find a new place (possibly Earth) to live. She leads the people to the best of her ability, but constantly finds herself in opposition to the military tactics at the hand of the Admiral. The characters prove interesting. We see that there are lots of strong women characters in the series and that the leads come from different ethnic backgrounds, as well.
The episodes, though, also touch on different topics that vary from understanding what it means to be human, to discussing war, religion, sexual assault, and feuds between different people to name just five rather quickly. Likewise, the series did so while entertaining the viewer. #BSG gave a new meaning to toasters and “what the frack.” Several social scientists have spoken to the series applying theories to certain episodes and I have had conversations about the issues of collective security and the responsibility to protect. That is, there is something there within the series that speaks to political philosophy and political science at large.
Because of all the things that I’ve shared rather quickly and incompletely, I miss the series. And, by this I do mean the re-imagined series. I did watch the original in the late 1970s with my two younger brothers, but only recall that it seemed rather cheesy. I was glad that Starbuck in the new #BSG was a woman with enough bravado for a few men. Starbuck embodies masculinity and militarism with her brash attitude and strength of character, but she is also human–she is flawed and her past haunts her. So many feminist viewers have identified with her.
The Cylons in this series are also “skin jobs”, since some of them are human looking and are sleeper agents and don’t know that they are Cylons until they switch. Then, of course, some are human looking and are well aware that they are Cylons. One of the interesting episodes is about Helena Cain–who offers the viewer another complicated woman. She is the captain of the Pegasus and when we find her it appears that this strong female leader has a thoroughly cruel streak. What is the viewer to make that the Cain has allowed a sleeper agent, (Gina a clone of Six) her former lover, to be broken and degraded by “any means necessary”? This is when some viewers might feel a sense of empathy toward her former lover, and then do a double take and think, “Wait, am I feeling bad for the toasters?” Right. Even typing that sentence made me smirk, since this might sound ridiculous to the uninitiated to the #BSG series. Well, hopefully this blog post wasn’t fracking rambling. So say we all.