Sunday, April 03, 2005

What Would the Lords of Kobol Do?

Over at the Battlestar Galactica Blog, Ron Moore discusses the implications of Starbuck's torture scene, and other troubling moral quandaries that have been addressed on the show:1

Would I personally behave the same way in similar circumstances? I hope not, but neither am I so confident of my own immunity to the pressures felt by an interrogator charged with finding a nuclear weapon or to the enormous weight sitting on a chief executive trying to protect her citizenry that I can say I would absolutely have made the more "moral" choice.


These are the debates that I hope you have among yourselves, your families, your friends. I want the show to provoke you into thinking about the times you live in and the choices that are being made all around you every day. In a time when the President of the United States actually asserts that he has the power to arrest without warrant and detain indefinitely without charge or appeal, any citizen (indeed any person on the face of the Earth) simply by designating them as an "illegal combatant," we should all be engaged in a vigorous and energetic debate about who we are as a people and as human beings and exactly how we do intend to respond to the very real threat posed to this nation and to the foundations of liberal democracy posed by people capable of, and willing to, fly airplanes into buildings.

What is admirable is that Mr. Moore and his staff writers don't take the easy way out. "I do see the show as an opportunity to raise questions in the minds of the audience and ask them to think, which is something of a rarity in these days when politics seems to be about stoking emotionalism and finding simple-minded slogans to stand-in for actual answers to complex problems. ("Culture of Life!" "Right to Die!" "Ban Smoking!" "The Ownership Society!")"

It's hard to say what we would do in the situations dramatists on the show. But the fact that someone has made a show that asks the tough questions without offering glib, shallow platitudes instead of answers while still being a lot of fun is something we need more of on TV. Now if we could only get our politicians to do the same.

Be sure to check out the discussion board where all this talk started. There are some nicely thoughtful comments, as well as the usual Gung Ho, kill 'em all freeperisms.

1. For those who don't watch the show, some of the thorny sceneries involve the President of the 12 colonies flushing a Cylon out an airlock after promising him his freedom, Commander Adama shutting down a tribunal that was about to get ugly and pretty much everything Baltar does. Baltar is the real morally complicated character of the show. He's withheld vital information about Cylon sleeper agents in the fleet, all to save his own ass.


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