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TV philosophy

Yes, I do watch TV. When it's well done, television can be a medium for great stories and even, in rare cases, for exploring philosophies of life. After such a build-up of course, I need to come through with something good.

When I'm thinking about heavy topics like those mentioned in preceding posts, I sometimes like to have a framework on which to organize my thoughts, a metaphor through which to view various arguments. And though I often find this framework in books, newspapers, movies, and news magazines, surprisingly I have now also found it on the SciFi channel.

Specifically, in the fantastic Battlestar Galactica. No, not the old hokey show from the late 1970's but the exciting re-imagining that the SciFi channel is creating now. I don't mean to sound like a promotional agent but this show is really the best thing I've seen on TV. It challenges the viewer and explores difficult issues of politics and religion, terrorism, and people under pressure. How do we make decisions after a societal apocalypse, how do personal apocalypses play into this? Where is the line between faith and fear, power and politics?

This show is consistently good (ok, there were a few less-than-good episodes in the second half of the second season but on balance you can't touch this show on quality). For excellent recaps by a guy who really knows his stuff, loves the show and so adds a whole new dimension to each episode, check out Television Without Pity.

Basically, the Cylons, artificial beings created by man, have struck back and destroyed the 12 colonies of the human race. The humans believe in many gods while the Cylons believe in one true God. The few remaining humans escape and try to find earth, rumored to exist somewhere and harbor the lost 13th tribe.

There are conflicts between the military and civilian powers, faith and scripture vs. realpolitik and military needs and all parties manipulate, and who wins isn't always clear. The show also asks what is human? The Cylons do have feelings, and react like the humans do in certain situations and sometimes the humans are uglier than the Cylons.

And here is my point: one of the military ships has a captured Cylon, a woman, and in the name of human security, defense, and intelligence gathering they have tortured her, and abused her horribly. They excuse this by claiming she is a thing, a machine without feelings, but clearly what has been done to her is horrible and also inexcusable. It speaks of a barbarity in humans that would proove the Cylons right when they set out to destroy humankind.

[So, here I had a lot more good stuff but do to one of those computer snafus, I lost the last part of this post. I will try to recapture it but it will of course be different.]

What the humans do to the Cylon woman is done in the name of their safety, to ensure their survival in the fight against the Cylons, to gather intelligence against an implacable enemy. It is still wrong and terrible and it debases the ones who carry out these heineous acts. Apart from not gleaning any useful information through the torture, what the humans ultimately reap from from their actions is death.

[I'm sorry, I had made a point here but since the computer swallowed it once again, I'm quitting.]

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3 Responses

  1. get a life
    have u watched American Idol
    the #1 show in America for the past 4 years
    please get off the torture topic
    torture is just too dreadful to read and think about
    lighten up a little
    or better yet, register for a class that requires a long, long paper

  2. Hey gp,
    I just can’t watch Idol. It’s like, um, torture to me. Although I do enjoy reading about it in the brilliant “We watch so you don’t have to” feature of the WashPost.
    And I’m done with papers for a while. Sorry.
    But I’ll try and get lighter. As my moods take me.

  3. with posts like this how long before we give up the newspaper?!!

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