Alright, so it’s probably obvious, but this entry is going to be about why I LOVE (SUPER GIGANTIC CYBORG HEART) science-fiction. I think that a lot of people are turned off to science-fiction (often shortened to “sci-fi”) because it seems “weird” or unrealistic. They see the spaceships, the aliens, the distant moons and lava planets, and fail to realize that sci-fi is a powerful way for writers, and the other creative minds involved with producing a sci-fi show, to express opinions about REAL WORLD issues. Science-fiction thrives on it’s ability to make metaphorical references to issues and concepts going on in OUR world in order to tell a story that takes place in another. Social issues like gay marriage, abortion, interracial couples, the death penalty, and many others are consistently touched upon in science-fiction shows. They also utilize a variety of themes such as loss, war, faith, hope, and religion, just to name a few.
I’ve been watching science-fiction basically my whole life. I remember that back when I was young my father used to have me sit with him and watch Star Trek: The Next Generation and Voyager on TV. I saw epic phaser fights, reflector shields, and warp speed cinematics. That’s probably where my interest in space and physics came from. Before I was even taught about the laws of physics, I saw them broken, played with, and challenged in every episode. I knew it wasn’t real, but it FELT real. I didn’t care about all the dialogue and technobabble back then, I just wanted to see if the crew was going to make it through another battle. I never felt like I was watching something “weird”. To be honest, it was no stranger than anything I had seen in my dreams. When I entered high school, I watched Stargate Atlantis and Stargate SG-1. I really loved how these shows brought you to completely different worlds and IMMERSED YOU IN THEM. You were able to see aliens and sentient lifeforms from planets and origins across the universe and experience their cultures, their languages, their motivations, and so much more. These shows allowed me to traverse the stars in futuristic spaceships and watch the characters in them battle threats to the very survival of humanity and its allies.
Television is a very powerful form of media that not only serves as a reflection of the viewers’ interests, but also INFLUENCES their interests and opinions. Shows need to receive good ratings in order to be lucrative, and even sci-fi shows are written with this in mind. At first glance, it might not seem that you have ANYTHING in common with Gilgax-Thurm the alien (I don’t know if that’s a real character), but you do. He was written to either embody a human trait or bring it out of the characters he interacts with, and he’s going to complete that mission, not only because it says so in the script, but because just about every household in the developed world has a television. On top of that, there are those who watch these same shows on Netflix, Hulu, and other online streaming websites. A sci-fi show playing in a prime-time time slot has the opportunity to express ideas that would likely be considered taboo in any other show and present them in a way that is accessible and mind-opening. The key is making the show appeal to larger and more diverse audiences. That can be tricky sometimes, especially if people aren’t willing to look into the metaphors and see what they really represent.
Television is just as much of an art-form as film and music are, however television, unlike film and music, has the ability to engage its viewers for YEARS TO COME through weekly-aired episodes. The characters and worlds that you’ve grown attached to can be used to introduce you to new and/or opposing perspectives on the issues that exist in the real world. I think one of the coolest things about sci-fi is that you basically get to see all sorts of depictions about what life out in space or on another planet could be like. If you don’t like sci-fi, you might think, “Yo, why would I want to go to some far away planet?” Well, think about EVERY monument, every city, and all of the art and culture on Earth. Now, think about all the monuments, architecture, and cultures of the INFINITE number of races and species that could exist in the entirety of the universe and the whole of time! That’s a frakkin’ opportunity (excuse my language)! If that suddenly sounds good to you, I suggest that you take a risk and stream some sci-fi the next time you get on Netflix! ;)
If you’re politically-minded or socially-conscious (as I definitely am) and want to see how politics work out (let’s add in some sci-fi flavor to the mix!) IN SPACE while humanity is basically being exterminated, you NEED to watch Battlestar Galactica. If the name seems “weird”, IGNORE THAT! This could be the best thing you’ve EVER WATCHED. This show is intelligent, powerfully artistic, mythic, and socially relevant. If you were around when the 9/11 Terrorist attacks occured (I think you definitely were if you’re reading this… but I know some 5 year-olds with pretty nice phones), then you will DEFINITELY be able to relate with the premise of this show. Right off the bat, humanity is ANNIHILATED. A human race with a population of around 50 billion people living on 12 planets known as the Colonies of Kobol are reduced to pretty much less than 50,000 in the FIRST EPISODE. You can place the blame for that on the Cylons, a cybernetic race that the humans created and enslaved decades ago. Battlestar Galactica is probably the most important science-fiction show of it’s time… NO JOKE. This show did things that I’ve never seen in ANY science-fiction show or ANY other show for that matter. It is a masterpiece in my eyes! It’s HEAVY, and introduces you to an utterly bleak one that you kind of grow fond of in a way (it just looks so cool! And all the characters are really good looking… haha). Did I mention that there’s politics… IN SPACE!? And the president is a woman! WOAH! haha No, it was not written or directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
I love sci-fi because it allows us to experience things that are quite literally OUT OF THIS WORLD. Sci-fi turns theoretical physics and conspiracy into fact. It reaches out to our very imagination and forces it to grow, demanding that we think BIGGER; that we challenge what we believe to be true or possible or fair, that we travel through the stars alongside our fictional friends, commanders of battlestars, cybernetic beings, and aliens living with terrible burdens like being the last of their kind. The emotions that we’ve felt throughout our lives can be so effectively represented in these characters who come from worlds that we’ve never imagined. The words we’ve always wanted to say can sometimes be expressed easier by a Starfleet captain named James T. Kirk than by James Bond. We find heroes like the Doctor to inspire us and carry us through time, space, and our own Earthly burdens so we can understand our world and ourselves better. It allows your mind to wander through the stars :)
So, I hope you enjoyed reading this! If you want to talk about some sci-fi, post a comment down below or right on my FB page right… HERE :)
– Tommy Maverick, fan of science-fiction.