Wasted on Fixing All the Problems

I’ve been thinking recently (as it usually happens before I write a post) about Battlestar Galactica. I love BSG. I also love my manfriend (as you all already know). I also love the earth. I also love studying human rights. I also have mixed feelings about the army. So I’ve been wondering: can a true hippie really love Battlestar Galactica? (beware: spoiler alerts after the jump.)

Seriously: the show focuses on the military that is in charge of defending the remainder of humanity and leading them all to salvation. If this isn’t a reflection of the military-industrial complex, I’m not sure what is. The president of the colonies smokes weed with the admiral for frak’s sake. Not only does the president smoke weed, but she also takes hallucinogens and is a religious nutcase. And at one point, the admiral tries to take down the president, only to finally frak her three seasons later. And the renown scientist is batshit crazy and leads a cult of naive women who believe in the one true god. Sounds like some red state bullshit to me.

In season 2, a crazed group of toaster-hugging hippies/terrorists call upon Galactica for peace with the cylons. A few episodes later, another group of crazed toaster-toasting hippies/radicals/terrorists want Galactica to destroy the cylon prisoner for what the toasters have done to the human race. And Galactica butts heads with both of them. Ultimately, Galactica’s role is this: don’t fuck with me.

Actually, that’s Admiral Adama’s role, one of the most beloved characters in science fiction (I would say). I don’t think there’s a single person who enjoys BSG who would dare speak poorly of EJO. (Or according to Barney Stinson, Jacob James Olmos.) He’s the head of the military of the remaining < 50,000 souls of humanity. He pretty much does whatever he wants, and while the colonies and the president like to think they can have some influence or control over him, he breaks a lot of rules, and lets his men and women break the rules as well. He removes the legal president of the colonies from office at the end of season 1. He constantly promotes and demotes his son. He fights the (almost) equally beloved Chief Tyrol on labor rights in season 4.

As an audience, we become so deeply involved with Adama and the people on Galactica that we can’t help but reflect on our own military. We consider the demands and criticisms we have of them. Granted, the U.S. military isn’t defending us from a toaster race that we created, nor is it defending the last 50,000 humans in the universe. But we have to imagine that our military is under similar pressures that Galactica is.

Think about the documentary Number Three/D’Anna makes. It captured some really ugly things about life on Galactica, but Adama loves it because it is what it is. And Number Three makes a great point: no one has left Galactica since volunteering to come aboard. Would you volunteer to fly vipers for Galactica? To die at the hands of cylons defending a race of beings that may or may not deserve to survive? The U.S. military has been entirely voluntary since the 1980s – can you believe we still have the most powerful military in the world? All other factors aside, I think it’s pretty frakking amazing that enough people even want to serve in the military.

BSG in no shape or form glorifies military life. It does not create perfect characters. It does not dignify war. Battlestar Galactica is about so much more than just the military. It’s about what it means to be human. A broad statement, I know, but to answer my original question: yes, it is absolutely possible for a true hippie to enjoy Battlestar Galactica. It may actually be truly enjoyable to hippies only. Why? Because the United Nations believed Battlestar Galactica was so important that they invited EJO, Mary McDonnell, and others to speak at the UN. (He totally “So Say We All”ed the UN.) What other fictional show paints humanity in a more realistic form?

Battlestar Galactica is the key to world peace. End. Of. Story.

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