BS – G Or … Stilettos in Space

December 17th, 2006

A while back I finished watching the first season of the renoed-for-the-contempo-world BS – G .  O.K.  Have I got this right?  This is really Bull Shit Galactica?  This is Neo Cons Galactica?   With that leering, snarky lust for sluts in stilettos that neo cons like Gingrich think are really women?

Sheesh, the president and her followers believe in their ‘gut,’ rather than rationality for making decisions.  They are determined to go after the mythical earth just like the neocons’ guts told them that Weapons of Mass Destruction were in Iraq, because — THEY SAID SO.  So much preposterous pseudo mystical bull shit in this show that it makes the narrative implausible at best, as implausible as what’s been fed the nation out of the Oval Office for years now.

And women in the show — ye ghods and leetle fishies!  Have you ever seen such a line-up of female stereotypes in your life from the fucked up self-destructive , 6, who doesn’t even merit a NAME?

The femme fatale even comes in two flavors: pole dancing porno wet dream blonde and mysterious Asian sweetheart, who betrays the good honest white guy with her wiles.  Additionally, we have the military wife stereotype, Colonel Tigh’s aggressively promiscuous, cheating alcoholic enabler blonde bombshell.  President Laura Roslin (and to be sure you get she’s female, she has not one but TWO female names) is filled with fooky visions from her breast cancer lotuslala therapy.  She’s as much a school teacher as Laura Bush was ever a librarian.  Her advisor, like Nancy Reagan’s, is a clarivoyant  — AND just about the ONLY BLACK PERSON in the cast.  (No black Cylons were evidently created either ….)  The other black person in the cast opens her mouth so easily to the ministrations of the president’s aide trying to get inside info on the fleet commander, Adama.

The Cylons are monotheist terrorist genocidal maniacs, whilst our good white humans are — get this! worshippers of old Greek gods and goddesses, among other lalala sounding powers — and let us not go into that Mormon cosmology the show uses as a structural organizing principle, as well as some sort of political breakdown.  What muddy mess of faux mysticism this is.

Bah! Humbug!
Does Season 2 get better?  Is there any reason for me to watch Season 2? Â

So far, sir, this is no Babylon-5.  But this is just exactly the scifi channel quality for sure.  Blech.

Love, C.

73 Responses to “BS – G Or … Stilettos in Space”

  1. Darcyon 17 Dec 2006 at 5:30 pm

    How nice to hear someone else say the same things I was thinking when I watched Season 1 of BSG.

    It has some good aspects, but they’re totally overshadowed by porn. And guy-driven porn at that.

    After listening to the commentary on one episode where the writer (producer?) went on about how proud he was of the porn, I decided not to bother with Season 2.

  2. domynoeon 17 Dec 2006 at 6:23 pm

    From my understanding and what little I’ve paid attention to (husband watches it, I avoid it), it only gets worse. The characters make such nonsensical decisions that I can only assume they were made for story line and nothing else. What I did see only had me going “whyeeeeeeeee?” way too many times for me to get even remotely interested in watching.

  3. Constance Ashon 17 Dec 2006 at 6:48 pm

    So why is BS Galactic getting so much enthusiastic attention? Attention that Babylon-5 never got? B-5 was anything but perfect, but it didn’t have that inevitable scifi channel immature masculine bias toward anyone female. The weakness of B-5 tended to run the other way: a leetle too much pontificating — and its mysticism was too often silly too. Tying Arthurian legend etc. to their space stations is part of what I meant.

    But B-5 showed people WORKING at REAL WORK. You had realistic ideas of how people got hair cuts, for instance. How in the world does a population of 50,000, with no preparation at all, handle those haircuts, the clothes, the food, all the other basic necessities of life? There was a bit about water, but that was a mcguffin, really, to get Our People on the ground for the plot. Most of all, how does a population of 50,000 support an enormous press corps of political journalists and paparazzi?

    You knew about barbers, on B-5 The population was a sensible mix of earth ethnicities and customs and those of a variety of aliens.

    People on B-5 worked. The characters on BS G posture. The sets also suck. The dialog — ycccch. And there is so much violent action for the sake of violent action — approaching pornographic s&m. So immature scifi channel masculine vision again …. B-5’s violence was kept to a minimum, and it took many forms, not merely the meat-on-meat beat down. Indeed, entire episodes could go by without any fighting at all.

    Love, C.

  4. Constance Ashon 17 Dec 2006 at 7:00 pm

    A post was deleted from this topic — not because the poster disagreed with what is posited in the topic, but because of the tone of personal attack.

    Deep Genre invites discussion, pro and con. However discussion is not to be confused with personal attacks and unsupported assertions of ‘you are wrong.’

    We return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

    Love, C.

  5. alisonon 17 Dec 2006 at 10:13 pm

    Yes and no.

    I thought the second season was pretty kick ass. You’ll find a few of the things you comment on here shattered — from the assumption that there are no black cylons (come on, at the end of season 1 you’ve seen all of what, four, five cylons?) — to seeing more dimensions to Sharon’s character — by season 3, Ellen Tigh is even interesting (does she really cheat on Saul? perhaps I remember wrong, but I didn’t think she did) — Roslin shows her ability to make really tough calculated decisions and follow through (the chamallah plot point eventually goes away).

    Then again, I also really liked the first season, so if nothing has appealed to you yet, then more of it probably won’t change your mind.

    I think the female characters have a lot more to offer than what you comment on, as well: besides the ones above who unfold further as the show progresses, there’s also Cally, mechanical technician who only joined up with the military to pay for dental school — and I’m surprised you go through all this about the female characters without saying anything about the show’s female lead, Starbuck, who is an amazingly, fascinatingly fucked up, flawed and human character.

    And so far as “as implausible as what’s been fed the nation out of the Oval Office for years now” — aren’t some parts of the show a very deliberate commentary on that?

  6. LauraJMixonon 17 Dec 2006 at 11:24 pm

    I agree with Alison. There were things I liked about BSG1, but several aspects were seriously annoying — it was primarily Starbuck who kept me going for the most part in season 1. But I got hooked early in season 2, and am eagerly looking forward to the DVD for season 3.

  7. Charlotte Ashleyon 17 Dec 2006 at 11:59 pm

    I’d like to politely disagree – and beleive me, I am completely intolerant of sexism, racism and conservatism that I perceive in pop media, so I am not simply coming at this from the Right. 😉

    6 (or whatever her name is) is designed to be a seduction-bot. She is designed to get in the pants of human trash, and the manipulate them into getting hat she wants. It bears mentioning that the only person who seems to fall for her is the Doctor, who really is the worst of the weak filth on the show. The rest of the cast are pretty much undifferent towards her.

    It was unfair of you to skip over Starbuck in your evaluation of the show’s women. I don’t think I need to point out that she is the only really tough, uncomprimising woman on television. I love that she doesn’t have a soft side, and is not prone to any of the weakness and sentiment we usually see in media’s women. I loved to death the one episode where the Kat and Starbuck get into a bet as to who will kill “Scar” (a cylon raider): here are two strong women playing roles which are traditionally men’s, and not once during the episode did the writers rub it in our faces or treat it as anything other than what is absolutely natural.

    I also think you give Roslin short shift. Her character is extremely strong and level headed – even she admits that her “religious” side is more of a tool to keep people together. Her history as a teacher is something that her detractors on the show consistantly try to use against her, but she refuses to let it be a bad thing: yes, she was a teacher. But her merit is demonstrated, not expected.

    As to characters of other ethnicities: We do get a black cylon in season 2 (and of course, there is no reason we won’t see more). And you will recall that at least one of the quarum of twelve is black, and we come to understand that most of her planet (Gemenon) is pretty dark. I also think you are looking at the show from too narrow an ethnic spectrum. Dee is not as simple as you make her out to be, and Gaida (er, sp…) is clearly not anglo-saxon. The crew back on Caprica was also quite multicultural.

    The best reason to watch season 2 and 3 is that the “Cylon bad, Humans good” mantra gets flipped over pretty soundly. The lines get blurry. Some of the only characters on a real moral high ground are cylons, and the political situation is so muddy that I don’t think even the most moronic viewer could really paint any faction or person as on the good or the bad side.

    This is a lot of why I like the show – we are given morally ambiguous situations and characters with dark sides BUT they don’t fall into that old modernism hole of making everyone an anti-hero and moaning that god is dead. It’s a tribute to Humanism. We can have standards, self-respect and honour without a clear-cut framework of good-and-evil to copy.

  8. Marie Brennanon 18 Dec 2006 at 2:06 am

    I’ll agree with Charlotte that BSG does some good, though admittedly imperfect, work of setting things up and then problematizing them. Just because the human government is reacting to the terrorist Cylon threat in a particular way doesn’t mean the show’s writers are saying that’s the best way — or even, at times, a good way. And a character’s prominence in the plot is NOT a guarantee that we’re meant to see their actions as morally right . . . which is, to me, one of the biggest differences between it and most of the stuff on TV.

  9. Mark Tiedemannon 18 Dec 2006 at 10:37 am

    Interesting…in the last post on this subject, wherein the poster (I forget who) raved about the show, few people failed to go along with the rave, with one or two tepid dissensions. Now we have a bodyslam and most of the response supports the slam.

    The stereotypes presented in this show are all being subverted–slowly, gradually, and very effectively. One could pay attention only to the surface details and see an aggressively sexualized, “porn” version wetdream of a better-written version of a 70s show that truly sucked.

    I’ll just poiint one thing out–the religious aspect. A few people among the humans are “true believers” but Adama is using the myths to hold the survivors together. I don’t see a lot of “open mindedness to the point of brains falling out” acceptance. The mythology is being presented as exactly that–myths, underlying which we have some truths (facts) which are quite secular. The Cylons are programmed believers–which is a well-documented trait of monotheistic groups. The whole thing revolves around a “more human than human” ethos pitting “manufactured” people against “actual” people.

    6 ins’t just a ****bot, but is emerging as a complex, multilayered character with several agendas. Of course, if all one looks at is the slinky dresses, the stilleto heels, and the come hitherness, then it might be difficult to see any other depth. Isn’t that called stereotyping though?

  10. Constance Ashon 18 Dec 2006 at 12:06 pm

    I’m appreciating these comments very much. So far the comments are about equally divided between yes and no as far as whether it’s worth my time to watch more of this program.

    I’ll try to respond, first — based entirely on my careful viewing of the first season, as well as what others have said.

    First, Starbuck. So far, she strikes me as another stereotype that we see in so many tales of a unit of the military in combat: self-destructive, with a background of sexual abuse to make her female, but what redeems it all is that she’s a hotshot. Because she doesn’t care about her personal safety a whit, she’s dangerous to herself and everyone else, inside the military or out, in combat or in quarters. Does she change during the course of the program?

    Ellen: In the first season it was made very clear that she was a serial cheater, and that they’d even broken up to start divorce proceedings because she couldn’t stop her behaviors, which is why they weren’t together when the Cylons hit. She’s had a deleterious effect upon the Colonel personally and his ability to perform his duties. I’ve read her character too, btw, in just about every novel located within a military setting, including Michner’s. Which again — stereotype.

    6: Yes, she’s a sexbot; male writers and producers are fascinated with them — re Buffy, which had more than the Buffy bot, and Serenity, the movie. The very first scene of Season 1 is 6 walking into the annual meeting between the Cylons and Beans in skintight red suit and asking the military fellow there, who looks remarkably like Colonel Tigh (whom we have not yet met, as this is the first ep of the miniseries, and so would not know who he is), and 6 asking, “Are you human?” He says yes, and she says, “Prove it,” and he falls into the spider’s hands, er um mouth, er, well, you get the idea, and then the camera pulls waaaaaaaaay back, and there’s the pulsing red spine. Also, um, there are many other ways of being sexually compelling, but the only one 6 appears to have access to, is to climb a man like a lapdancer climbs her pole. Not every man in the universe finds this behavior sexually irresistable. Men are as different as are women, and each has his own ideal desire — and not every one of them finds in lap dancing and then going to the back room.

    So far, the most interesting of these women has been the Boomer Cylon. One of her versions really appeared to struggle, but in the end she shot Adama, even though she managed to blow up the Battlestar station, nuking many numbers of ‘her.’ Additionally the version down on Caprica 1 is preggers … and coming back to the Galactica?

    With the exception of Adama and, maybe, Apollo, it really looks as though all the men in the series can be so easily led by their lower parts in the grasp of a grasping female. Which in the case of Baltar, seems hard to believe, if he’s to have achieved all he’s supposedly achieved, and if you know loads of men who have achieved a great deal. These usually are not people who allow a woman to control them, no matter how many of them they go through, if they are of that sort. Also the actor can’t handle the tone switches he keeps attempting — so not like the wonderful cast of Buffy, who truly change, and change plausibly, back-and-forth between smart ass commentary, sillyness, awkwardness, sheer courage, grief, terror, monumental competence and many more mood changes. This actor, not even ‘not so much,’ just not at all.

    He’s trying to do what the Kids of Sunnydale did on Galactica, in this situation and condition, and it just does not work. It’s not thought through, actor-wise. It’s more an attempt to ride upon something that something else made so popular within its own context. At least that’s how this critical eye sees it.

    As far as the scripts being commentary on what’s going on vs. endorsing it, that, so far, as not come through to this viewer. Has anyone read or seen commentary from the director and writers that this is the case? The thing in B-5, we knew what was up with all that from the gitgo, including from the writer(s). Here, with this limited population of 50,000 and infinite numbers of Cylons, it doesn’t come through, at least so far.

    Which also makes it hard to accept that the Cylons aren’t capable of wiping out the last 50,000 whenever they want.

    The scripts just aren’t very smart, it seems to me, because they’re laden down with all the fooky mystical claptrap, which was the weakest part of B-5 too, for there were too many ‘mystical’ elements to integrate plausibly.

    And alas, no one has yet stilled this viewer’s objections to the lack of plausibility concerning supply — haircuts and food, and those clothes (recall how Starbuck was dressed and her hair styled at the election conclave of the 12?). This plausibility of continuity matters, ultimately, on the overall quality and the endurance of a program. Some things can be overlooked in these areas of essentials to living, but somehow they must be addressed.

    Ffor all you don’t see Buffy and Co. shopping, which they must do a great deal of to always have the right clothes and hair etc., they refer to these things constantly in short little riffs. We did see Buffy shopping with Joyce; we see Buffy mention she spent a month’s allowance on this new hair conditioner; we see Dawn shoplifting for almost two seasons. On B-5 you have the Zócalo, comprendas what I mean?

    These sorts of things are essential in world building — let me refer you to Kit’s riff on the Big City Built in the Middle of Nowhere — ain’t gonna happen.

    Anyway, I’d love to hear more from Deep Genre people about why this program would be worth continuing to watch. What are going to be the paybacks? What are the best paybacks for you all so far — I know it’s not complete yet.

    Additionally, the most avid watcher of this program I know is a very smart, talented (he can already play sax well enough to play small gigs with a professional group of his dad’s colleagues), socially advanced boy of 13. That’s one of the reasons I started to watch BS G, because he wanted to talk about it with me.

    Love, C.

  11. Constance Ashon 18 Dec 2006 at 12:31 pm

    Mark —

    I don’t recall this program coming before as a topic. There was enthusiastic endorsement of BS G by some posters in another topic though, as I recall.  This was another reason I decided to invest the time in watching the show, along with my 13-year old friend’s enthusiasm for it.

    Do you think that the fooky lalala mythology of the ‘beans’ is any more plausible than the ‘God is love’ cultish mindwipe lalala of the Cylon’s monotheism? Why is it more acceptable that Roslin suddenly believes with her gut that her lotuslala cancer drug visions are true and Adama’s conviction that Earth is myth is untrue? Why is it not foolish of all this ruling class to not tell the truth to the rest of the ‘beans’ in the first place, that earth is a myth? Why is it acceptable that they lie now and say earth is not a myth? Have we all not seen just recently what consistent lying to the ‘beans’ has done in this nation?

    I also kind of wonder whether, based on all these behaviors, is the species of ‘beans’ really worth keeping going?  So far, what reasons have we seen that it is, other than “we must!”

    This is not even a rebuttal to what you proposed in your post. Just real questions that come up in this viewer’s mind as she watches. And these do come up — I take notes while I watch these programs. Yeah, yeah, yeah, bu that’s a lot easier than having to go online and look up episode recaps — and sometimes, yanno, the ep recaps get stuff wrong, and almost always leave out what matters most. Moreover, and very properly, they cannot include the viewers’ intellectual – emotional reaction to the scenes described.

    Love, C.

  12. Marie Brennanon 18 Dec 2006 at 12:54 pm

    It’s true that they don’t always show, up front, the day-to-day logistical nightmare that running this group must be. They make nods to it occasionally, and my anthropologist self thinks it would be neat if they got into the grit of that some more, but that’s not the show they’ve set out to make, and I can accept that choice. The time which might otherwise go to that is instead spent on what you call “fooky mysticism” — and that one might come down to a simple issue of taste. I *like* the fooky mysticism, because I’m very interested to see how much of it turns out to be factually true, *why* it will be true, how it will fit in with this bizarre religious dogmaticism of the Cylons, and so on. You could certainly take the moral stance that they should be up front with everybody about Earth, and you might be right, but for good or for ill, the leaders believe that the myth is the only thing giving people any hope for the future at all. And some of them — Roslin more than Adama — may be starting to believe it themselves.

    But the logistical stuff does show up more than once. I don’t want to go into a lot of detail because I don’t want to give spoilers, but there are other incidents. And there is a fabulous S2 ep, “Final Cut,” where for political reasons they have to give a journalist free run of Galactica. She starts interviewing the officers and crew, and it shows pretty clearly how all this normalcy and smooth running is a very thin veneer over exhaustion, desperation, and despair. It’s probably my favorite ep so far.

    I could ramble on for quite a while, but in the interests of being more concise, let me say this: I think that at least some of the concerns you bring up (like why can’t the Cylons just wipe them out?) may be pointers to deeper currents in the show’s structure: not that they don’t have an answer to that, but that we haven’t seen the answer to that. I have enough trust that those answers will come. If they don’t, or if they suck when they do, then my opinion of the show will change accordingly.

    And, in closing — Baltar? A human ****stain, in my opinion, and my least favorite part of the show. Every time he seems to show some manner of redeeming quality, they find some way to dig it out of him. And mostly he just stands around with 6 talking ominously to him, which got old for me, real fast. I really just want him to die.

  13. Mark Tiedemannon 18 Dec 2006 at 1:40 pm

    “Do you think that the fooky lalala mythology of the ‘beans’ is any more plausible than the ‘God is love’ cultish mindwipe lalala of the Cylon’s monotheism? Why is it more acceptable that Roslin suddenly believes with her gut that her lotuslala cancer drug visions are true and Adama’s conviction that Earth is myth is untrue? Why is it not foolish of all this ruling class to not tell the truth to the rest of the ‘beans’ in the first place, that earth is a myth? Why is it acceptable that they lie now and say earth is not a myth? Have we all not seen just recently what consistent lying to the ‘beans’ has done in this nation?”

    This answer will no doubt be annoying, but—

    Well, people do that, don’t they? What I find refreshing here is that the way it’s portrayed, the viewer can see both viewpoints as, essentially, b.s. None of this stuff is “acceptable” as models for ideal behavior, but that isn’t the point, is it? And because it keeps happening and happening and happening, it makes for the kind of drama that everyone can say “Yeah, that’s the way that goes…”

    It is foolish for the ruling class to lie–just as it’s foolish for the “beans” as you call them to require a lie to keep them intact as a community–just as it seems to be the case that lies work better than the truth to engender consensus. BS G has connected with a lot of people because of the Recognition Factor–they see human nature in all this nonsense.

    And I agree that, broken down into its component parts, all this stuff–just like the way things work in the so-called “real world”–is crazy. But the producers have not really chosen sides here. That’s what I meant about the whole thing being subverted–gradually and persuasively–and turned inside out.

    A lot of the external criticism of SF has been its unbelievability factor–not so much in the gizmos and science, but in the behaviors of the characters, which over the long haul have been often rendered in sort of idealized fashion. The impatience with a lot of television SF has been in characters who are too stupid to live. Here–for me–I’m seeing believeably human characters who are sometimes too stupid to live, often clever, rarely heroic (but when they are, the heroism seems more genuine), and undeniably human. Under the conditions of the show’s premise, they are not so wonderful most of the time.

    I find the polytheism of the humans as absurd as the monotheism of the Cylons–but the absurdities are clearly protrayed. I like that.

  14. Constance Ashon 18 Dec 2006 at 2:13 pm

    Marie — “ . . . how it will fit in with this bizarre religious dogmaticism of the Cylons . . .

    Well, from over here, the Cylons’ religion seems no more bizarre than the one(s) the humans have, and is more integrated as well. Which is not to say this viewer would be able to endorse either of them Which is not to say this viewer does not believe in forms of spiritual redemption, consciousness and practice either. But both of these don’t seem integrated into this world — which, after all, isn’t much of a world. It’s a fleet among the stars, which is a different kettle of organization, practice, culture, etc. But nevermind.

    Do you think it’s possible that the real reason one so dislikes Baltar is that the actor isn’t up to what he’s asked to do? That, indeed, because the persona isn’t as well thought out as it might be? I don’t know, of course. I’m just wondering. First seasons do leave a lot to wonder about.

    Mark — “What I find refreshing here is that the way it’s portrayed, the viewer can see both viewpoints as, essentially, b.s. None of this stuff is “acceptable” as models for ideal behavior, but that isn’t the point, is it?

    That cannot be argued with. Unless, um viewers aren’t seeing that they are to see both povs, perhaps? But then, is the show responsible for that? Perhaps, but only up to a point. Those are very slippery slopes. But the current regime has been consistently putting out ‘real’ reports and journalism and science, when in truth, they are paid promo for their agenda. So one is very sensitive to this these days, yanno?

    In the meantime, was anyone concerned about the gang rape on the Pegasus in the second season? How did you all view it within the context of the show?  And the torture that Starbuck directed in the first season?  How did you see it, and within the context of the overall show?

    Thank you all so much!

    Love, C.

  15. Mark Tiedemannon 18 Dec 2006 at 2:16 pm

    A note–I went back through the archives looking for the previous post and you’re right, as far as I can tell, it wasn’t the exclusive subject of a prior post. It must have been back in June, your own Getting the Genre We Want post, which I recall having a long list of comments supportive of BS G. Memory is playing tricks on me. My apologies.

  16. Constance Ashon 18 Dec 2006 at 3:01 pm

    No apologies necessary! I was just worried about my so-called memory.

    Love, C.

  17. Stacyon 18 Dec 2006 at 5:03 pm

    I have the last two episodes of Battlestar on tape, waiting until I have time to watch, and have not missed an episode. I was hooked on the beginning miniseries and simply must know where they are going with all this – and I don’t mean Earth. Absolutely there are issues – where the hell are they getting all that booze and cigars? do they have to make it so sexually violent? – but I’m willing to suspend my disbelief to follow the characters and try to figure out what is going on. I gave up reading George R. R. Martin because I couldn’t stand the “grittyness” of those books but I keep on watching Battlestar. I’m not going to say that yes, absolutely one should give the series a chance and keep watching. If you’ve seen season one and don’t like it, well, then, I’m not going to say any of the other seasons will be any better. And that’s perfectly fine.
    I do think that the agenda of the show is to actually point out the colossal stupidity of the neo con viewpoint – not to follow it. Perhaps that’s one reason I keep watching.
    I’d discuss the rape and torture issues, but I’m having a hard time figuring out what to say that wouldn’t give away things for those who haven’t been up to date on episodes. Both of those events came back around in unexpected ways, and are still playing out (as far as I can tell.) It would have been nice if those acts had not been neccessary, but war and genocide are not pretty, and I guess I can understand the writers not wanting to whitewash.

  18. Amanda Weinsteinon 18 Dec 2006 at 6:59 pm

    Others have said a lot of what I could say, including the fact that a lot of the “neo-con” element are there to be critically examined rather than endorsed. As usual, YMMV.

    I did want to say one specific thing on the subject of Six, although it is difficult to do so while avoiding spoilers. For much of the early part of the show I just loathed her, for many of the reasons you state. And then two particular episodes came along, which completely changed my viewpoint, and made the Sixes both interesting and engaging for me. This was partly because I began to realize that the Six in Baltar’s head is just that (the Six in Baltar’s head, and much more indicative of Baltar’s pathologies than anything else), and partly because the Sixes had begun to differentiate for me in a meaningful way.

    But the most important point, for me, was realizing that Six is only a stereotype and a sexbot in a human context. The “sexbot” attributes are tools for a mission, not defining personality traits. Among her own people, they have little actual significance, nor can I ever recall them informing her behavior in a Cylon-to-Cylon context.

  19. Jellyn Andrewson 19 Dec 2006 at 12:29 am

    I don’t have any deep analysis of the show. Just thought I’d chime in as someone who doesn’t like it and doesn’t watch it. I started watching it when it first aired, wanting to like it, just to have some new sf to watch. But I just couldn’t get into it.

    Doctor Who’s the only thing I watch on Sci-Fi (apart from very occasional daytime marathons of a decent show). I do give them some points for replaying the Heroes eps though.

    I can name at least 3 British shows they should buy the rights to that would be better than anything else they show. Of them, Torchwood is the most likely, being a spinoff of Doctor Who.

  20. Marie Brennanon 19 Dec 2006 at 12:41 am

    Constance —

    I find it bizarre mostly because I don’t know where it comes from. It doesn’t seem to be the mainstream religion of the humans (as it sounds monotheistic), we haven’t really seen fringe or alternative religions of the humans it could have derived from, and we haven’t been given any background on how the Cylons developed it independently — was there some kind of messiah among them who preached a persuasive message, or what? Where do they get their ideas of what God wants? What is the basis of their religion?

    But I also find it interesting because Baltar’s Six, at least, seems more religiously fanatical than any of the humans are, which is the opposite of what we generally expect from “machines” or other things created by humans.

    Amanda —

    Well-said observations of Six. And it was interesting for me to see how radically different she looked, that one time we saw her in sweats and a ponytail. That simple change of appearance (and the mannerisms that went with it) was quite vivid.

  21. Constance Ashon 19 Dec 2006 at 11:35 am

    Jellyn — Ian McDonald (Brit – Irish SF writer), and other friends have also highly recommended Torchwood; am looking forward to it becoming available here — my U.S. friends are watching it via computer download, if I got that right.

    You Deep Genre-ers — did I say that right? probably not! — have convinced me that I must watch more of BS 5 in order to learn more. Shall I denounce it further, or shall I decide it is quite good after all? Most likely it will be a mixture, as so much is in these, admittedly, alas, paltry times!

    Marie & Amanda — I’m going to take an angle disagreement (meaning, not completely, but coming from more than one degree) with you both about 6 — again based only on my viewing of the first season.

    The 6 on Caprica wears skintight, stovepipe leg black trousers and form fitting white A-line jacket (notice how much white they put this particular blonde into?). The beating she gives Sharon-Valerii-Boomer is done with tremendous conviction, the same conviction she brings to strong-arming Baltar whenever he shows signs of remorse and rebellion against her direction. She physically hurts and coerces him when he balks. The taunting of Starbuck that went along with the prolonged, lingeringly photographed — each blow audio recorded with such satisfying meaty resonance! (a favorite porn fantasy, two females fighting — and over what are they fighting? the phallic arrow, that risibly implausible arrow of Apollo just surviving there in the ruins of this particular museum! — if you want to be very subtextual, that is) is very much the 6 we have seen with Baltar. Then there’s that baby in the bassinet of radiance streaming at the conclusion she leans over, so remininscent of that baby in the first ep that she kills in its buggy-stroller on Caprica prior to the mass destruction.

    This is not to say 6 isn’t changing and that you all haven’t tracked it through the episodes at all. This is just what a viewer like me is taking from the first season.

    With Buffy, and B-5, for instance, you nearly died, wanting to get from one episode to another, one season to another, and this is so even when you’ve seen the entire thing before — maybe even more so. You were just dying to find out what happens to everybody! But with BS G, annoyance and irritation were the responses that slowly developed over episode after episode.

    As far as the Cylons’ religion, that too, so far, for me, was the most interesting aspect of the show, the thing that provided this viewer with grist for speculation, such as — “Hmmm, is there really a human manipulating them, posing as a messiah? After all, where did that baby in the radiance streaming bassinet come from? It’s not Baltar’s, presumably. Is this all going to end with the Cylons populating the mythical Earth and becoming our ancestors — O, I hope not! There goes Out of Africa Out the Window!” And so on.

    Thank you all!

    Love, C.

  22. Mark Tiedemannon 19 Dec 2006 at 12:15 pm

    A comment on matters of interpretation of subtexts. I was brought up short several years ago in a bulletin board discussion about Salcom Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses by a case of cross-cultural interpretation that, frankly, left me flumoxed and a wee bit enlightened (though about what I can’t still be entirely sure). There was on the bbs a Muslim woman, who thoroughly detested Rushdie’s “sacrilege” as displayed in that novel. When pressed, she admitted to not having read it all. In fact, she was kicked out right at the beginning during Gibreel and Saladin’s death plummet from the exploded plane.

    “Why?” I asked.

    “It was obscene. They were mouth to groin, in the position of oral sex!” she declared.

    I and most of the rest on the bbs were completely dismayed. None of us–westerners all–saw any kind of sexual connotation in that scene.
    “No no, they were falling like that in a representation of Yin and Yang,” I said. “Light and dark, the opposing life forces–”

    “What is Yin and Yang?” she asked.

    Completely different interpretations.

    Point being, when I saw that “fight” between Starbuck and 6 that last thing that might have occurred to me—western male though I am—was any kind of porn connection and I didn’t see the Arrow as phallic. I saw it as Direction–and both of them had opposing ideas of what that Direction should be.

    I suppose it’s a matter of what’s being looked for–and what other possibilities are overlooked.

    Just an observation.

  23. LauraJMixonon 19 Dec 2006 at 2:55 pm

    Yes — Six and Baltar were THE major turnoff for me in Season 1 (and I still hate the character Baltar; there is nothing in him that is like any scientific or engineering genius I know. He is f*king clueless and idiotic, and I never buy when he pulls a miracle solution out of the air). But in Season 2, they started doing some really interesting things with the Sixes, and with Boomer and some of the other characters.

  24. Andreaon 19 Dec 2006 at 4:20 pm

    (Hello. Lurker here. I’ll just jump in, shall I?)

    I’m a mom, a long-time feminist and activist in many areas, and I don’t like TV. BSG is the only show I watch. I watched Babylon 5 when it was on the air, and I really enjoyed it–but actually, now that I look back, it seems a bit juvenile in comparison to BSG.

    Not bad. I still like it. But a bit juvenile. The good guys wore white hats.

    BSG certainly isn’t perfect–nothing made by people is going to be perfect. For instance, yeah, it bugs me that the female cylons were apparently created in order to seduce men (in the first season–that’s not so in the second). On the other hand–they’re machines. They are created. So, if they reflect a stereotype, it’s just as likely that they were created (in the fictional universe) to reflect that stereotype. Yes, it’s true that they’re given numbers for names (in season 1). ALL of the cylons are given numbers for names–male included. YOu just haven’t really met them yet. And the male cylons are just as stereotypical as the female cylons, just different stereotypes (potential spoiler alert: abusive asshole, corrupt priest).

    One of the things I find interesting about the female cylons in particular is how, over time, you follow the different versions (who do have individual names) and they develop into different people. Six in Season One is a pretty one-dimensional hallucination stereotype, but there are many versions of her.

    Of course, these problems were present in Babylon 5 too–how many black characters were on that show? How many women? And what was the main female character’s role? To undergo a metamorphosis into an uber-feminine type, marry the hero and become a mommy. Not exactly anti-stereotypical material there.

    The heroes aren’t supposed to be heroic. It’s one of the things I find most enjoyable and believable about the show. The ship was a flying museum, a posting for fuck-ups, which means everyone on that ship when the planet blew up was there precisely because they were incompetent. So the characters are imperfect. The leaders lie–don’t all leaders lie? Everyone makes mistakes. I love Roslin’s arc in Season 3 so far because she *keeps making mistakes*, not trivial ones, major misjudgements of human rights issues. Real human beings do that.

    As to whether the social/political commentary is intentional–yep. I’ve seen interviews with the cast members and the writers, and it’s one thing they all comment on.

  25. Muneravenon 19 Dec 2006 at 6:56 pm

    I didn’t get past the four-hour Battlestar mini-series. And I, too tried to watch it because a very smart 13 year old boy likes the show: my son.

    There are three reasons I gave up on BS-G:

    1. In more than one scene Dr. Gaius Baltar talks animatedly to himself and jumps and twitches as the invisible Cylon chick interacts with him — he does this in plain sight of other people, one time ON THE BRIDGE — and nobody notices.

    2. The whole father-son conflict between Commander William Adama and Captain Lee ‘Apollo’ Adama is SO cliche. Are there any male writers directors in Hollywood who don’t have daddy issues? Seriously. Besides, I already watched Riker deal with HIS daddy issues on ST:tNG, and Data, and Wesley, and of course Spock in a few guest appearances. Enough already with the cold uncaring fathers in space. Mandatory appearances on Dr. Phil for the the writers of the next SF show that goes there.

    3. I have it on good authority that Starbuck, the butch, poker-playing, cigar-chomping pilot who could have been the first dyke in space, puts on a dress and goes girly in later episodes. How boring is that? I would have kept watching if she’d had a few drinks and flirted with the President. Now that would have been interestingly unexpected.

    But this show really isn’t trying to be interestingly unexpected. It’s trying to corral fan-boys, many of whom SAY they like new ideas and radical stories but who really just like the same old crap with new-looking sprinkles on top.

    My son has already mostly lost interest. He watched some old dvds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and BS-G didn’t look so good anymore.

  26. kateelliotton 20 Dec 2006 at 1:19 am

    I’ve watched one and a half seasons of BSG and liked what I’ve seen so far quite a bit, with some reservations (why, in a theoretically egalitarian society, would gang rape be the punishment-revenge of first choice against attractive women?).

    I have skimmed this discussion only because I haven’t seen the second half of season 2 not to mention season 3 and I am so fearful of spoilers.

    Count me as a fan of Starbuck and the way she is being portrayed by the actress. I like a lot of the characters, now that I think of it. And I felt (pace Constance and Marie’s discussion) that the nuts and bolts of survival have been referenced often enough that I feel a sense of background.

    But, again, I’m afraid to read this interesting discussion too closely for fear of, you know, ruining the suspense.

    otoh, if you didn’t like season one, Constance, I’m not sure you’ll like the continuation. I admit, I never figured out the appeal of Babylon 5 or Farscape, although perhaps I need to try them again sometime.

  27. Constance Ashon 20 Dec 2006 at 11:34 am

    Mark — The “Arrow of Direction” could be good subtext, but is hardly even, as Pres. Laura does call the Arrow that, I believe.  Pure Quest Fantasy implement.  Good enough for Shanarra!

     But Kate! — You still haven’t said what there is about this show that youlike, why it speaks to you. You don’t need to, of course, but if you did, it would be a much more interesting discussion, yanno?

    Andrea — One of the 4 primaries on B-5 was black, Dr. Stephen Franklin. And yes, talk about the male characters with father issues Again!, his also-black father was a commander in the fleet and Not Pleased with his son’s life choices. There were other black characters. So far, Dee, on BS G, is far more like Uhura than someone who ‘does.’ Also, I’m not sure — she may actually be someone of Trini or Tobago African-Indian background — which would be cool.

    As far as the most important female on B-5 — I think that was pretty divided. One of the 2 female primaries of the 4 primaries was Susan Ivanova; the show without her wouldn’t have worked — as we can see from the final season when she’s not in it. She provided the sisboomba in every part, along with G’Kar and Londo — aliens, not white guys. Ivanova also turned out to be a lesbian, which she kept very private for most of the show’s seasons. I loved that. Her issues with her — Father!!!! — played a far more important role in her personal life than her erotic, romantic, sexual orientation. But it added a extra something to the small sub-plot of relationship between herself and the PsiCorps operative, Talia — which we did not know. This is a wonderful example of non-stereotypical writing of character for television.

    Muneraven — Um, Kara – Starbuck isn’t a lesbian. She’s quite the other, like Colonel Tigh’s wife, aggressively promiscuous. It is suggested she was involved with the first Adama son, so much so that she certified him a fighter pilot when he didn’t have the right stuff. The sexual tension between SB and the second Adama son, Captain “Apollo” is supposed to be thick (don’t see it myself, but I know what I am being told) — when she f*cks Baltar — who also is aggressively promiscuous — o.k with 6 so long as he doesn’t ‘care’ for his sexual recreation, so 6 felt a sense of rivalry and hostility to 6 from the gitgot — anyway, SB, at the Moment, calls Baltar, “Lee,” (Apollo’s name, as opposed to his call sig handle) and Baltar is devastated. Supposedly SB’s also got a father thing with Commander Adama, and as a child was sexually abused. Sooooooo. Adama. Father in real life. Father surrogate. O no! Where will They go with this?!?!

    As far as writing effectively, dealing with those pesky stereotypes and / cliches, this is pulled from Keith Snyder’s letter to his writing students:

    [“Ineffective writing isn’t necessarily the result of doing things wrong; it’s usually the result of missing opportunities.

    Look for places to be interesting, unusual, unexpected, efficient, galvanizing, heartbreaking, funny, intriguing, clever, provocative, evocative. If it suits your style, try writing (as Raymond Chandler said, though I can’t confirm the quote) “something delightful in every paragraph.” If you don’t, you may be getting a lot out of writing your book, but what am I getting out of reading it?’]

    The pull above really resonates with this viewer / reader. I think this is where BS G falls down. They don’t stop to think through, and think, “O yeah. We see this coming from a 1000 light years away, we’ve seen it a 1000 times, how can we take a new angle on it?”

    It’s been interesting too that so often in previous discussions on Deep Genre participants have said they want genre to be different than ‘real life,’ yet with this show so much criticism is deflected by saying this is like real life. This is not a criticism on my part, it’s merely an observation.

    [“There are two basic views. One says “The goal of writing is to communicate, and everyone understands cliches.” Another says “The goal of writing is to make the reader see things anew, and that’s impossible with a cliché.” I’m in the latter camp–with the occasional exception when it feels right and I can’t find an alternative that feels righter.

    I don’t like rules, and “don’t use cliches” is one. Rules are necessary in, say, engineering, but in engineering, there really are wrong ways to do things. If you’re building a house, margarine is the wrong choice for your foundation material. Don’t use it. This is a rule that exists for a good reason. You should not break it.

    In art, though, it’s whatever works. No matter what the rule, somebody can ignore it and get a good result. You can do it if it comes off. But here’s my best reason for avoiding cliches whenever possible: You want the reader engaged and paying attention. Nobody really pays attention to things they’ve heard a thousand times before.”]

    Anyway, I’ve got the first part of season 2 now, because all you who like this show have convinced me I need to give it more time. And that is what I asked about. I’d be silly not to pay attention then, wouldn’t I?

    But having seen 2 more eps now, while making dinner, well ….

    Love, C.

  28. Constance Ashon 22 Dec 2006 at 11:53 am

    Because of so many of the comments here, I’ve watched 6 episodes of BS G’s second season.

    And now I think that my judgment, based solely on the miniseries and first season, was wrong.

    But it took until the 5th and 6th episode to get there. It took that long for me to start trusting the show on a lot of levels, including that it wasn’t a shill for the clownfacecronies regime. Whether it is shilling for some religion is still in question.

    However, some things happened in the 5th and 6th episodes that are interesting — which for wake of those who loathe spoilers I won’t mention. For one thing we got off that dreary Galactica — a lot! For another, the deleted scenes give us the history and backstory of Adama and Tigh’s relationship.

    I still have a lot of problems with this show.

    These deleted scenes provide all the motivation for all of Tigh’s actions and decisions during Adama’s time out — all of which are puzzling if you don’t see those deletions. The black Cylon turns up, and guess what he is?

    Then there’s this early – mid 80’s U.S. looking decor that makes up the mise en scene, whether on the ships or on pre-war mini series Caprica. I understand in terms of the tech this is to keep the Cylons from hacking it. But the clothes? The structures? This is all another universe. Why does it look like this one then, at that particular period? Because that was the last era in which we could still believe we were technologically ahead of everybody else? When we thought we still were the global winners and rulers, and U.S. cultural hegemony was at its height?

    Ah, living in NYC, a part of the art world, and knowing this was the center of the universe in those days — I remember them well. I also remember vividly when I could feel it change — it happened so fast! But nobody believed me when I said it had changed, for a long time.

    Love, C.

  29. Muneravenon 22 Dec 2006 at 6:32 pm

    Umm, yes, I know that the character Starbuck isn’t a lesbian. I wasn’t saying she is a lesbian. I didn’t need to watch more than the first hour of the show to know that. There is no show on TV brave enough to portray a lesbian as a cigar-chomping, brash, butchy chick.
    On TV and in movies, a warrior woman has to either die, sleep with a man, or take on a motherly role. Its a cultural law that is rarely broken.

    Anyway, I was saying that having her be a lesbian would have been interesting and edgy, since SF/F shows typically avoid treading queer ground. THAT was my point.

  30. Danion 23 Dec 2006 at 3:00 am

    >Father surrogate. O no! Where will They go with this?!?!

    Constance — they do a couple of interesting (to me at least) things with SB’s relationship with Adama. Not to post spoilers, but their relationship becomes a lot more complex (especially after one disappoints the other in a MAJOR way).

    > On TV and in movies, a warrior woman has to either die, sleep with a man, or take on a motherly role.

    Muneraven — what’s wrong with any of those? I don’t see SB as less of a character because she sleeps with a man (well several over the years). Her character is very like some (male) fighter pilots I used to know. Work hard, play hard, be the best when it counts and cocky at all times. Nor do I see it wrong that a couple of the characters become parents in season 2. And another does in season 3. Being a mother is part of being female.

    If feminism means the ability to whatever one is physically/emotionally/intellectually capable of being, then loving a man (or at least sleeping with him) and becoming a mom are two possibilities. I like it that the show explores these issues in a mature and thoughtful way. SB isn’t looked down upon because she’s slept with a guy – nor is there a double standard, and the reason why everyone is concerned about [character] being pregnant has more to do with the implications of the event than specifically a woman being pregnant.

    The thing is… this show doesn’t define the female characters by the men they sleep with or the children they bear. The women and men are defined by the life experiences they have, the religious and other values they carry, and their personalities.

    On a separate note, I didn’t see the fight between Caprica 6 and SB as “male fantasy” — I saw it as a decently choreographied fight between women (so many fights between women are totally cheesy — this one felt like it hurt and that they knew what they were doing).

    Some of the things I really like about the show:
    – the way it’s assumed that women are equal (in one ep, SB takes a swing at Apollo. His first reaction is to swing back. Not hesitate because she’s a woman).
    – I like how the military is protrayed in general in the show. My husband (ex infantry) has commented that the command structure, roles, etc. are realistically set up (going back to Dee — the job to relay orders and ensure they are received correctly is very boring, but has to be totally accurate or someone will die — so, I think it’s great that they protray her job as the boring thankless role that it is in real life).
    – that religion plays a major role in the lives of many characters. Or, sometimes, the lack of religion plays a major role in the character’s lives. This was something that I thought was also done well in B-5 (from the first ep onward).
    – they recognize that they have the legacy of the original show to deal with, and balance that with creating a new, edgy show.
    – that the characters are multidimensional. So it’s okay for SB to dress up and show off her body when she’s trying to impress the guy she cares about, and be very, very hurt when it appears that he doesn’t care — but turn around and fly the next mission because that’s her job. Or Roslin when her secrets from her past that come back to haunt her. Or Tigh and his history with Ellen, etc.

    I agree with what some others have said about the original pilot — it was HORRIBLE. Slow, melodramatic and clunky. But the show has come into it’s own since then and I’ve become quite enamored of it.


  31. Constance Ashon 23 Dec 2006 at 11:33 am

    Muneraven — My apologies for not comprehending what you had suggested re Starbuck and lesbian characters.

    Dani — Re this part of what you posted: [ ” . . . SB isn’t looked down upon because she’s slept with a guy – nor is there a double standard . . . ” ] Um, well, no. At one point in season 1, when Lee/Apollo know Starbuck’s f*cked/fracked Baltar, he goes at her for being a promiscuous slut. Which was very painful to her, because it was when she fracked Baltar, and called him “Lee’ at the Moment, she realized what her feelings for him were. They were no longer friends after that, until she comes back to join the rebels post the Caprica Arrow of Direction events, and she’s sure she heard him say he loved her. I didn’t hear him say that. I heard him say he considered her a friend, but I’ll go back to that when I’ve finished this disk’s episodes and do the commentary blahblahblah. There are several other places where the women are accused of being bad because they sleep with more than one person.

    This bothers me, as well as the one-on-one violence I see is man on woman, woman on woman, in the show, at least so far. And, then so the ‘love’ is is very ‘s&m’, to a degree anyway — Tigh and Ellen, hit each other, call each other names and then they have violent, passionate sex. Starbuck and Lee, and their mutually antagonistic-attraction feelings; Starbuck and Anders — their antagonism-rivalry-attraction is immediate and foreplayed on the Pyramid court.

    Then, of course, the ‘relationship’ between 6 and Baltar — she slaps him around but good whenever his attitude needs adjusting. That slapping is physical even, sometimes, which is the only physical violence I can recall, so far, out of the show directed one-on-one on a man.

    The other, so far, permitted permutation of attraction, is Adama and his ‘family’ of daughter surrogates. He doesn’t have son surrogates, but nurturing ‘daughters’, like Dee. He weeps over Boomer.

    Violence is difficult for me to handle for all kinds of reasons I shall not go into here. However, there’s another reason I don’t like seeing so graphically and constantly employed in our media. It helps create a tolerance for violence that is not good for individual psyches or a cultures. I watch movies with physical violence seldom, and when I do, I usually avert my eyes from much of it. I don’t have a television. I watch dvds on my computer monitor, which is a very good one and has a large screen. (The side-benefit to this is that the quality of what I see for television shows is much greater than on a large television screen, judging by seeing some same episodes of the same shows I’ve watched on my screen, and seeing them then in hotel rooms or the house in NO — the hotel we were put up in in Boston, had two televisions, one with HD capacity, and game connections, for instance — and the color and definition just weren’t as good as what I get here.)

    Anyway, what I was trying to say: seeing violence habituates the viewer to seeing violence. When I began my dvd Buffy watching, the first time around, I’d leave the room a lot of times when the fights went down, especially the fights between Buffy and Faith, for instance. It was just too physically and psychically disturbing and painful for me to watch. The second time around I was much more habituated to it, and it didn’t bother me as much.

    I think a lot of my 13-year-old friend, and what he is unconsciously taking away from watching this show. OTOH, his parents and their example, and the examples, no doubt, of his parents’ couple friends, probably can overset that part of what he’s taking in. I hope so! But think of all the boys watching this show who don’t have that daily and constant counter-example in real life … but again, that’s a slippery slope, demanding that fiction etc. be better than real life.

    Still, me, old-fashioned Alcott grrrl — I’d like a lot of the violence to be off-screen, as in the code Hollywood, where the killing and so on were not enacted in front of the audience. There were a lot of better scripts because of that. More story, less dependence on ‘action.’

    Love, C.

  32. Muneravenon 23 Dec 2006 at 12:59 pm

    Dani said “loving a man (or at least sleeping with him) and becoming a mom are two possibilities”

    These are indeed two very legitimate possibilities. They are two possibilities that are endlessly explored in books, TV, and movies. Over and over and over. My point was not to say that motherhood or women loving men should never be explored in a SF show. My point was that there are in fact OTHER possibilites that are far less represented on TV that a SF show that purports to be edgy might have considered.

    Dani said “Being a mother is part of being female.”

    Being a mother CAN be a part of being female. It is not a part of every female experience. Nor is there any lack of motherhood being represented on television.

    If you want to say that the complexities of motherhood have been portrayed simplistically on television, I won’t dispute THAT. Do you think BS-G is doing anything radically new in that department (honest question as I don’t know)?

  33. Danion 23 Dec 2006 at 2:07 pm

    Lee/Apollo know Starbuck’s f*cked/fracked Baltar, he goes at her for being a promiscuous slut.

    Since no one else comments on Starbuck’s sleeping around, I still see it as the act of an individual, not a society’s comdemnation of a woman. I don’t want to do a spoiler, but there’s a reason why Lee is acting the way he does and we discover it over time.

    I see Lee as a kind of “Mr. Darcy”. The first impression we’re given of him, is not who he is.

    Tigh and Ellen, hit each other, call each other names and then they have violent, passionate sex.

    I see this as typical of an abusive, dysfunctional military marriage (which are all to common, unfortunately). I don’t see it as “s&m” (my frame of reference is different than yours) — but a graphic showing of why a spouse might stay in an abusive relationship. Not pretty, not what I’d do in that situation, but what does happen.

    Da spouse has commented that Ellen is very representative of a number of spouses he knew while he was in the service. From the backstabbing others to aid their spouses career, to the alcoholism to the physical arguing that led to sex (guys talk when in the field).

    Now, is the show taking short cuts by substituting sexual tension for character development? I’d totally agree here. I think 6’s hitting of Baltar a substitute for the long arguments that would have happened had this story been told in book form rather than episodic TV. I haven’t listened to the cast/crew commentaries for BS-G, but I would suspect that they talk about the short cuts & symbolism they use to engage the viewer because of the constraints they have to live within (either budget or time or both).

    Being a mother CAN be a part of being female. It is not a part of every female experience.

    I agree and disagree with this. On one hand, not every female gives birth or adopts a child. On the other hand, every childless female I know, has spent time mentoring others — so perhaps a better way of saying what I meant was that “mentoring/nurturing” is part of being female.

    Nor is there any lack of motherhood being represented on television.

    Sure. That’s because the majority of TV watching households in the US are families — therefore show producers are going to create shows that relate to their target audience. That’s no difference than any other targeted product (from household cleaners to LGBT romances).

    Do you think BS-G is doing anything radically new in that department (honest question as I don’t know)

    Not yet. I think they might get there.

  34. Constance Ashon 23 Dec 2006 at 6:03 pm

    Dani wrote:

    I see this as typical of an abusive, dysfunctional military marriage (which are all to common, unfortunately).


    Da spouse has commented that Ellen is very representative of a number of spouses he knew while he was in the service. From the backstabbing others to aid their spouses career, to the alcoholism to the physical arguing that led to sex (guys talk when in the field).

    That is what I objected to about Ellen in my original post, and I think, maybe Muneraven is saying in her posts: that the women are portrayed as familiar categories (stereotypes) of women too much, and not enough as people with individual, unique characteristics, or, at least, anything not expected within the context they are in.

    I also hope this sound like you are being ganged up on, Dani — because I, for one, don’t feel like ganging up on you. Instead, your comments are valued, even if not always agreed with.

    If we were all agreeing, even with what I wrote at the start, there’d be no point to this conversation. I’m enjoying the conversation very much, and finding all the comments very interesting and informative.

    Love, C.

  35. Muneravenon 23 Dec 2006 at 6:15 pm

    Okay, I give up.

    All women are nurturers and mentors and/or mommies. It’s fine if TV just has nothing but straight, white families in all the shows because most people are straight, white and in a family. The science fiction genre has no responsibility whatsoever to push the boundaries or make people think or challenge conventions. And BS-G is without a doubt the greatest show of all time!


  36. Constance Ashon 23 Dec 2006 at 8:56 pm

    We can disagree about everything, but nowhere is it written that we need to take it personally.

    We are talking about — television folks. Not whether or not people are entitled to a fair wage for a fair day’s work.

    Disagreement is fun.

    Disagreement is enlightening for both sides.

    Making it personal turns into something ugly and there is no fun and no enlightenment on either side or any or all sides.

    Holidays folks. Holidays.

    May we all sincerely work for Revolution in 2007! :)

    Love, C.

  37. Muneravenon 23 Dec 2006 at 10:25 pm

    Dani, I’m sorry I went all sarcastic. I felt hurt and reacted badly. I hope my snappish tone won’t stop you from expressing your opinion. That truly isn’t what I wanted.

  38. Danion 26 Dec 2006 at 3:51 pm

    being ganged up on

    Constance & Muneraven — I don’t feel ganged up on. I do feel like I’m not doing a good job of articulating what I want to say — much different issue.

    Constance — re Ellen, what you see as stereotypical, I see as archtypical. Perhaps what we should discuss is what makes something stereotypical versus archtypical?

    Muneraven — I’m not disagreeing with you. I am saying that it’s not unexpected that a US TV show goes after a large niche market. That said, of the main characters on BS-G, only a couple are married/in a serious relationship, most are single, and many are minorities. There aren’t any “straight, white families” really shown in the first 2 seasons of the show.

    I think it’s done a great job of showing minorities (Adama — older Hispanic male, Roslin — older female, Dee — young black female, Sharon — young Asian female, Gaeta — nonwhile male, Starbuck — female, 6 — female, etc. etc.). That’s a larger percentage than most shows. Even B-5 was mostly while, other than Franklin.


  39. Mark Tiedemannon 26 Dec 2006 at 5:53 pm

    that the women are portrayed as familiar categories (stereotypes) of women too much, and not enough as people with individual, unique characteristics, or, at least, anything not expected within the context they are in.

    For women in these kinds of shows (books) to respond plausiblly as a stereotype (by which mean consistent within the context of the drama), you have to acknowledge that the men against whom they’re reacting must also be stereotypes. It’s not a situation in which the men are portrayed artfully while the women are stuck with the cliches–they must both be cliches in order for the drama to work.

    Which means that if the men are NOT cliches, the, if the scenes are working, the women must be more than the stereotypes such criticism reduces them to.

    (For instance, Lee berating Starbuck for banging Baltar I “read” as Lee questioning her judgement, not her morals. Baltar’s an ass. In this reading, Lee is expressing disappointment in an equal, not suppressing a female.)

    Just an observation…

  40. kateelliotton 26 Dec 2006 at 6:21 pm

    Muneraven, your comments about Starbuck have really got me thinking. As a former wannabe-jock, I quite like the character of Starbuck.

    What your comments have made me think about is that if she were portrayed as a lesbian, I (personally) would tend to find her a more cliched character than her portrayal as het or even as bi. And now I’m wondering what expectations I bring to the show and the part that make me feel that way.

    Partly it’s because when I was younger, back in the early days of what is now a real explosion of girls’ sports, a girl who really loved athletics was almost inevitably going to called butch, with its implications of lesbianism. And in those days (70s) that was certainly a way to put pressure on girls in small town high schools to conform to mainstream behavioral expectations in which it was, in those days, suspect for girls to desire to be physically competent and strong.

    Times have changed (thank goodness), but I think that for me (personally, again) I still often (although not always) find any portrayal of an athletically competent woman in which she is butch or (I can think of recent examples of this one) ugly – therefore being sportive is her fallback, her way to be close to men who might acknowledge her as a comrade but would never look twice in a romantic way – as rather like a flashback to the bad old days.

    So, in that sense, Starbuck strikes me as a positive role model for a physically competent woman who is also sexually active and independent (and has a bad attitude, which is a whole other kettle of fish).

    But of course, your comments make me realize that what I like about her is that I can identify with her as being “like me.”

    So, I appreciate your comments for making me take a step back and try to get a different look at how my own expectations make me respond to the character.

    re: motherhood. In the one and a half seasons of BSG which I’ve seen and enjoyed, I can recall nothing about motherhood at all, really, much less anything that makes anyone think differently about the stereotypes we tend to hold culturally about motherhood, female-ness, and the survival of the species.

    In that sense, the women/females of ALIENS were a more interesting bunch.

  41. Constance Ashon 26 Dec 2006 at 11:23 pm

    Mark posted —

    It’s not a situation in which the men are portrayed artfully while the women are stuck with the cliches–they must both be cliches in order for the drama to work.

    Yeah, exactly.

    Which means, well, I still can’t get the names of the characters, principals and supporting, straight. Some I can’t recall at all.

    This is so far from how it worked with Buffy, for instance.

    It took nothing at all to learn everybody’s names.

    Supporting or otherwise.

    Love, C.

  42. Danion 27 Dec 2006 at 3:11 am

    Which means, well, I still can’t get the names of the characters, principals and supporting, straight. Some I can’t recall at all.

    Interesting. Because I can easily remember all the BS-G characters while Buffy is the only character I remember the name of on that show (I still don’t see what ya’ll see in that show, but I digress).

    But of course, your comments make me realize that what I like about her is that I can identify with her as being “like me.”

    Kate — EXACTLY. Or in my chase, the woman I wished I could have been (in a lot of ways) back in HS/early college. At the same time, Starbuck is fallable — which makes her interesting to the me now.

    In this reading, Lee is expressing disappointment in an equal, not suppressing a female.

    Mark — agreed. Lee never comments on her being female — rather it’s more that Baltar is so far beneath her that he’s disgusted she stooped so low. I see that happening between two close friends.

  43. Constance Ashon 27 Dec 2006 at 1:04 pm

    Dani said:

    (I still don’t see what ya’ll see in that show, but I digress).

    Maybe what I see in that show is everything that feels missing to me about BS-G? Which is why we have horse races and all that. :)

    Oh, Gaeta? It’s an Italian name. The Via Gaeta, the city in north Italy, and all that, as well as a family name. Adama, however is both an individual and family name and is found all over the globe, particularly in Africa, from the Sahell down through at least Cameroon. Dualla is a South African tribe, I think. There seems to be a much higher visual emphasis in BG S’s second season to show diversity than in the first season.

    It’s funny too — I can’t see myself in any of the BS G’s characters. Except, so far, perhaps a little tiny bit in (BLONDE AGAIN — BS G is nuts about blondes!) Lucy Lawless’s role as a journalist. But then she turns out to be a Cylon, soooooooooooo. But maybe the toasters are at least as good as these really messed up human beans? :)

    Love, C.

  44. Janice Dawleyon 28 Dec 2006 at 1:14 am

    Count me as another BSG fan. The miniseries didn’t make me one, though I didn’t have the strong objections to it that other people on this thread have. 6 was a blonde bombshell seductress, which is annoying, but Baltar was clearly a selfish, shallow ass for falling for her act, so I could read it as a very targeted manipulation game — manipulation of Baltar, and manipulation of the SciFi execs and audience. (It’s clear from the podcasts how often Ronald Moore et al tweak their subject matter for ratings; they’re often quite cynical about it, but so far never to the extent that they’ve stopped caring about what they produce.)

    I quite liked Season 1, but the first half of Season 2 is what really got me. That string of episodes had me on the edge of my seat, and the end of “Pegasus” was just devastating. If you still harbor any suspicions that the producers are a bunch of neocons, I think that episode will do away with them entirely. The rest of Season 2 is mostly bad, IMO, but Season 3 starts off with some of their strongest material yet. So I think it’s worth your while.

    Re: names. Are you implying that because Gaeta is an Italian name the character doesn’t count as non-white? Interestingly, the actor’s name is also Italian (Alessandro Juliani), but his mother, Donna Wong-Juliani, is of Asian ancestry.

    Re: identifying with characters, we’ve seen so many sides of each person now that I can say I’ve identified with most of them, if only temporarily. Most of them have also done things I find repellant. In some cases this seems like incoherent writing, but often it just seems like people going through crazy changes because they’re experiencing crazy times. It makes me wonder how I might react in similar circumstances…

    One thing I can be sure of: I’d never sleep with Baltar. Yuck!

  45. Mark Tiedemannon 28 Dec 2006 at 8:49 am

    “One thing I can be sure of: I’d never sleep with Baltar. Yuck”

    As far as that goes, 6 would not be my choice, either, although she has fairly obvious “qualities.” Boomer would be my choice.

    As for the racial diversity issue…there seems to be quite a bit on the show, but from a purist viewpoint, why does it matter? These were colonies. The initial stock would determine the mix and if the original colonial enterprise left out certain groups…

    But this is an issue for a contemporary sensibility, and exists at the interface between what constitutes Sciffy sepculation and the present realities.

  46. Constance Ashon 28 Dec 2006 at 2:21 pm

    Baltar, with the Pegasus Cylon prisoner, is deeply sympathetic, as he attempts to soothe her abused body and mind and — soul? — with his voice, doing so by describing, confessing his love for 6 back on Caprica, prior to the attack. This is the most sympathetic we’ve ever seen him. Mostly he’s a ridiculous figure in every way, even the way he wears his clothes — which on Caprica at least, certainly wasn’t the case. He was a fashion plate, very cool.

    But this is an issue for a contemporary sensibility, and exists at the interface between what constitutes Sciffy sepculation and the present realities.

    Hmmm, I didn’t follow this. Do you mean the sciffy doesn’t need or should not deal with contemporary realities? Somehow I, at least, don’t think that’s what you intend, actually.

    As for contemporary realities and how they might be dealt with generically — though of course, it being the NY TIMES, it is strongly suggested that neither the source material nor the film based on the P.D. James dystopia (directed by Alfonso Cuarón, who also directed my favorite Potter so far, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, are SF — this article is a pretty informative read.

    In any case, that is one of the foundations of my hatred of war and war footing and war culture. Rape is essential to it. This is the reward for ‘men’ to risk their lives, to be allowed to drop all civilized behavior. Which tends to put in the camp of the Cylons, when it comes to evidence that maybe the human race is not worth preserving. The ugliness of those men talking about what was done to 6 and what was going to be done to Boomer — the reaction shots of the Galactica’s women on the flight deck reflected my own sickness.

    This is a sickness. Toxic, evil sickness.

    I guess tonight’s viewing will be Pegasus part 2.

    Love, C.

  47. Constance Ashon 28 Dec 2006 at 3:48 pm

    I have a question, btw, since I won’t be able to see season 3 until it’s available on dvd.

    We’ve gotten a Cain.

    Will we get, or do we already have, an Able?

    Of course, we’ve got Adama.

    Will there be an Eve? Is it Sharon?

    Love, C.

  48. Janice Dawleyon 29 Dec 2006 at 1:45 am

    We’ve gotten a Cain.

    Will we get, or do we already have, an Able?

    Of course, we’ve got Adama.

    Will there be an Eve? Is it Sharon?

    Rather than looking to the Bible, you should look to the original Battlestar Galactica series (circa 1980) for the name references. There was no Abel in that show, nor was there an Eve, but there was a Sheba, a Michael and a Miriam, as well as a host of Greek god names. Funny how mythologies mutate over time, eh?

    Names aside, I have wondered since Starbuck’s season 2 experience in “The Farm” if she was going to have an important motherly role in the series. I hope not, because that is such an OLD story line for female characters — give birth to someone important since you can’t be important yourself! — but it seems like it’s hovering over the horizon… (I have no real insider knowledge here, it’s just a guess.)

  49. Janice Dawleyon 29 Dec 2006 at 1:56 am

    Oh, I realize I left out one important piece of information about the original series — Cain WAS a character, and rather an unpleasant one, just not as bad the present day version. He was also a he (go figure).

    You can read more about the old characters here.

  50. Mark Tiedemannon 29 Dec 2006 at 8:40 am

    “–But this is an issue for a contemporary sensibility, and exists at the interface between what constitutes Sciffy sepculation and the present realities.–

    Hmmm, I didn’t follow this. Do you mean the sciffy doesn’t need or should not deal with contemporary realities? Somehow I, at least, don’t think that’s what you intend, actually.”

    SF must deal with present day realities, just as pretty much all fiction does in order to communicate effectively with a present day audience. The trick is to make it seem like it’s talking about the future or aliens, etc.

    Just like laying a patina of modern morality on a stroy set in, say, 1st Century Rome can be a big mistake, the same problem adheres in the other direction. What I meant is that while we are certainly mindful and concerned over issues of racial equality, a colony of humans loight years and/or centuries (millennia?) removed from us might not be, certainly not in the way we are. So the trick is to “represent” our concerns without it looking like that’s what we’re doing. Which is something B5 did very well, mostly by simply ignoring it as an issue completely. (It may have been a consequence of so many different aliens in the mix as well, of which there are none in BSG. This is a departure from the original series, btw, which did have some aliens.)

    In other words, the interface is the point at which who we are (and what we’re coincerned with) meets what we’re pretending to write about (the future, the Other, etc). And we have to be careful to balance it so that it’s not obvious we’re talking (preac hing) about Now. Otherwise the cool frisson that is SF falls apart.