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Why Do Conservatives Like Sci-fi?


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The latest versions of Star Wars and Star Trek have both drawn complaints from conservatives, with cries of SJW! AGENDA! PANDERING! OMG HILARY! OMG KATHLEEN KENNEDY!

I do see your point here. While feminist and social justice themes were present in TLJ, I don't think they were as bad as the critics made out, and it's not like this stuff wasn't embedded in SW from the beginning, like you say. For all the sniveling that got done over Holdo's interactions with Poe, how different were they really from Leia and Han's original interactions in ANH?

 

I think it's the political zeitgeist that's changed, not film content per-se, though that's been influenced. Nuance and subtlety have been eroded on both sides of the political isle for quite some time now. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the upshot of it is that there's more and louder voices on the left and right that have adopted a paranoid style, and read sinister agendas into everything.

 

So while we're talking about nuance and subtlety ...

 

 

Star Trek was about a socialist, utopian society that flew around space preaching equal rights. For its time it featured one of the first interracial kisses, showed a multi-cultural cast as equals, and was created by a proud atheist.

 

Star Trek also promotes notions of individual as opposed to group rights and liberties much of the time. TOS featured one of the first interracial kisses, but was also rife with thinly disguised cold war propaganda, including the sixth film, which might as well have been called "the Fall of Communism." While the Federation are presented as a utopian socialist society, the Borg seem representative of the tyrannical potential of socialism.

 

 

Star Wars was created by a super liberal who was anti-athoritarian, anti-fascist, and despite becoming one of the riches people on the planet, anti-lobbyist driven capitalism. Star Wars says over and over do not trust politicians, and that a conglomerate of races is better than the fascist empire of British colonizing white dudes.

 

Star Wars also warned of the dangers of modernity, and also features a strongly Dostoevskian narrative warning that the decline of religious institutions and tradition (the Jedi) would be an enabling prelude to rationalist tyranny. Much of its content and ideas are deeply spiritual, and warned that a marginalized background, such as having been a slave, doesn't immunize one from becoming tyrant, while a privileged background, such as having been a princess, does not ipso-facto make one a tyrant. The capacity to oppress comes from within, not solely from one's social standpoint or background. Luke has to choose not to take Vader's place as Sidious's apprentice. Goodness is not inherent to him due to his political support of the multicultural rebellion over the fascistic Empire.

 

And none of these examples to the exclusion of the progressive elements in both these franchises.

 

So you see? Nuance. Not propaganda. That's what's been lost in the internet era, where demonizing as opposed to even trying to understand the mindset on the other side of the isle (while still criticizing it when appropriate) is the order of the day.

 

Fundamentalist conservatives? I would wonder if that's not precisely how Imperial propaganda characterized the Jedi? And maybe, just maybe, they had a point.

 

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Side Note: The Borg technically represent any ideology that consumes the individual; from cults to multiple -isms.

 

Afterthought: multiple -isms sounds like a cool all girl rock band.

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Regarding the issue of Roddenberry being an atheist (at the time ST was created/produced), that's more myth than fact. Lou Scheimer (one of the founders of Filmation Associates--the producer of the animated Star Trek series) was a friend of Roddenberry for some time and details an eye opening event involving Roddenberry's son.

 

From Lou Scheimer: Creating the Filmation Generation:

 

 

 

Gene got to be close to us all at Filmation. I remember when he and Majel Barrett had their little baby, Eugene Wesley Roddenberry jr., they invited us to the christening. He had a rabbi there, and a Catholic priest, and a Protestant reverend. He said, "There is no way that this kid is not going to go to heaven."

 

This is important as a marker of Roddenberry's beliefs since Eugene was born in 1974--several years after TOS, and Scheimer never suggests Gene was screwing around with the christening. Moreover, if one looks back--carefully--at TOS, the series had a number of characters speak of their belief in God: McCoy quoted scripture and affirmed his belief in a few episodes; in "Who Mourns for Adonais?" Kirk tells Apollo "Mankind has no need for gods. We find the one quite adequate". Of course, there's Kirk, Uhura and MccCoy's awe at learning its the Son of God who started a movement in opposition to the Roman Empire of "Bread and Circuses", ​while Richard Daystrom's M-5 computer shared his belief that murder was "contrary to the laws of man and God".

 

...all were not the result of external influence and/or pressure from NBC or sponsors or audiences. If anything, Star Trek was never more under Roddenberry's thumb than the TOS era, and the series was not shy having main characters express a belief in God. In fact, the series had Kirk taking down pretenders, such as Apollo and Gary Mitchell, arguing that they were not the one and only.

 

From the evidence, it seems Roddenberry's hard shift to atheism occurred sometime in the mid 1970s (after the period covered in Scheimer's book), which should shine a different light on TOS' creation and message, one that attracted believer as well as the non-believer, conservative as well as liberal.

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Star Wars also warned of the dangers of modernity, and also features a strongly Dostoevskian narrative warning that the decline of religious institutions and tradition (the Jedi) would be an enabling prelude to rationalist tyranny. Much of its content and ideas are deeply spiritual, and warned that a marginalized background, such as having been a slave, doesn't immunize one from becoming tyrant, while a privileged background, such as having been a princess, does not ipso-facto make one a tyrant. The capacity to oppress comes from within, not solely from one's social standpoint or background. Luke has to choose not to take Vader's place as Sidious's apprentice. Goodness is not inherent to him due to his political support of the multicultural rebellion over the fascistic Empire.

 

And none of these examples to the exclusion of the progressive elements in both these franchises.

 

So you see? Nuance. Not propaganda. That's what's been lost in the internet era, where demonizing as opposed to even trying to understand the mindset on the other side of the isle (while still criticizing it when appropriate) is the order of the day.

 

 

Great points.

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Science fiction is great because it allows you to imagine what could be in the future, or what could be right now in other places of our universe (or other universes) if we could be there. What pisses me off about some sci-fi is that they just act like in the future all the problems have already been solved by the genius of whatever ideology the influential types are peddling. I can deal with a story that get's played out, I don't care for the one that starts at the end.

 

Like has been made clear in this thread, it's all about the nuance. I like how the transgender situation was developed in the series I mentioned because it started with a decision I could understand, and built a story from there. I don't know any transgender people. I've seen a few around, but what am I going to do, walk up and try to start a conversation? I don't walk up to people I like to start a conversation. Usually the people I like are the one who understand it's ok not to interrupt the pleasant silence with uncomfortable conversation (uncomfortable conversation on the internet is silent, therefore exempt). I don't have any problem with whatever body a person wants to wear, but without personal experience how can I know what stability lies beneath the skin? That is where sci-fi can advance the agenda they desire, not by acting like the battle is over.

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I have to agree with that. Science fiction lets people imagine the most extreme societies. I read a book, Jennifer Government, about a world dominated by corporations and practically no government. I've never met anyone else who has read it, but it would be interesting to discuss it with people of different political views. I admit, it may not be science fiction strictly speaking, more like speculative fiction, but then we haven't really defined sci-fi for purposes of this discussion.

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I’ve read it.

 

Most cyberpunk fiction uses the Megacorp power structure in place of politics. Blade Runner and Alien being the best examples of it on film. I’ve always seen it as a critique of ultra-Capitalism in that with enough power and money, CEOs tend to run their companies like fascist governments.

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Heh, I checked a book out of the library recently. The synopsis said is was about a girl whose twin is accused of rape. I picked it up thinking to myself that that was an interesting idea: Sexual assault from the view of someone who loves the accused. How a bad decision doesn't just affect the people involved, but does damage to families as well. The synopsis also mentioned her best-friend turned girlfriend. Cool enough.

 

SPOILER WANRING I suppose.

 

Get a few pages in, and she's actually bisexual. That's fairly underplayed in today's fiction, so no problem there. She runs a school magazine called "Empowered" which would probably own the title SJW proudly as she takes on the patriarchy with mom's approval (yes, the term patriarchy is used). Umm, okay. And she was sexually assaulted in some way by her science teacher back in 8th grade. Okay, you're officially juggling too many balls now. Her best-friend, ex-girlfriend is secretly non-binary and is planning to ask people to call her "they". Was that a shark we just jumped over?

 

Flippin' hell, there's still 3/4 of the book left.

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I just got a wild hair up my ass and decided to watch Star Trek in chronological order. I got almost a minute and a half in before an alien managed to squeeze himself through a 3 inch gap at the bottom of the door of a futuristic agricultural storage building of some sort. As if the farmer would allow a gap fit for mice to pass 30 wide as they dance a jig on two legs. I guess in the future the farmers don't care if the mice eat half their harvest and shit all over the rest, let alone what insects would do. Or maybe these uber liberal enlightened genius sci-fi writers killed all the "vermin" species off so they don't have to worry about it.

 

I honestly don't know why I keep watching, but I do.

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