Siege Mentality Sci Fi SUCKS

So I saw the rebooted Battlestar Galactica last night, and finally got a taste of the First Decade's "siege mentality sci fi" fashion for the first time. What worked well for the likes of Lost was clearly being done for BSG (not to mention Heroes).

All the cautious optimism of Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. the cheerful - now considered naive - optimism of the first four Star Trek series and the animated series, and the joy and chills of Babylon 5, had been swept away by executives who wanted Bush-era paranoia, fear and arbitrary, random death, with protagonists happily violating the very laws and principles that formed the foundation of their civilisation, just to survive.

The sheer joie de vivre of the first six Star Trek movies and Gerry Anderson's shows ... unfashionable. This is the fashion we want for you now. Random, spiteful, dangerously corrosive stuff. Yes, it's okay to have an ethical dilemma about shooting down a civilian vessel - as long as you do it anyway. Better shoot them down while it's out there than have to shoot at them when it's in here. Ethics? Let's put them in the dustbin here, because if we keep believing in such outmoded things as liberty and rights, the terrorists will win, so let's give up some of them to preserve our freedom and won't George Orwell be proud of how we've eviscerated our culture with words?

I can see what they were aiming for with Stargate Universe, now. I wondered why SGU's first season sucked so, so hard. I don't think they could have brought it back if they'd guaranteed at least one full-frontal nude scene with Ming-Na Wen in every episode.

Rush should have revealed Destiny's mission right at the start: the script could have called for Rush, or Daniel Jackson, to explain that they'd stumbled across a record in the Ori galaxy that they'd unearthed whilst digging for the Ark of Truth, in which the Ancients had discovered the Structure and launched Destiny off on its mission long before the Ori had arisen, and so on. That way, the teams arriving on Destiny would have understood what was at stake, and they would have worked together as they did when the Atlantis Expedition first arrived in the Pegasus Galaxy.

But no, the execs wanted strife. They wanted fractiousness. They wanted mistrust and deceit. They wanted internal civil war.

Because it was the fashion. Not so much "Lord of the Rings in Space" as "Lord of the Flies in Space."

They tried something different (but just as tacky) with Star Trek: Enterprise; the very thing that they tried to do with Babylon 5 Crusade - a kind of sanitised T&A, with frequent scenes featuring Hoshi Sato and/or T'Pol in their skivvies in Decon or in the shower or, in one memorable case, dropping her lingerie and letting it all hang out in front of Trip - and look what happened there.

I can also see what they were trying to aim for when they rebooted Star Trek with Lost's (and Armageddon's) JJ Abrams, to try and bring it back to the young kids of today, Gettin' Down Wit' Da Kidzzzzz, Goin' For Da Yoof Vote.


I'd like to point out here that, in 2009 when Abrams rebooted Star Trek, we should have been warned when he blew up Vulcan in the movie, because if that was not a symbolic gesture - "I just made logic an endangered species" - what was?

This first decade, going on for a decade and a half, has produced some of the worst science fiction and fantasy for a generation. The worst part about this decade is that, unlike the Seventies - the last crisis era for science fiction, when it was dying on its feet - the genre was lucky enough to have a George Lucas come along and kickstart the genre with the original Star Wars, even as 2000 AD was rebooting the genre over in the UK. And we're lucky enough to have the rebooted Doctor Who, because otherwise we wouldn't be having any current space-based science fiction series at all.

You have to ask: what do you want now, in your science fiction / fantasy / horror? Do you want the fashion of the day / year / decade, whatever the studio executives put in front of you and tell you that This Is How It Is? Do you want something that will be timeless, however naive it might seem down the line, like Star Trek or Firefly?

It's about what you want. Not what the executives tell you to have. And you really need to stand up and show them.

X-posted to The Plainclothes Clown and The Stainless Steel Blog.

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