Adama v. Adama

 adama-1adama-2

Hattip to Cranky Con.  Since there is nothing of real importance going on today, at least nothing that can’t wait for comment over the next four years,  I thought this might be a good time to take a look at these reflections by Dirk Benedict on the current Battlestar Galactica show.

As Cranky Con observes, a large part of Benedict’s comments are probably sour grapes from an actor whose career peaked with the A-Team, but I think many of his criticisms are on target.  I watched the old show and although it seems dated now, and is, it was good harmless science fiction entertainment in the seventies that obviously didn’t take itself very seriously.  The current show which I watch is better acted, has great cgi effects, and is much better written.  It is also down-beat, bordering on soft-core porn in parts, ultra-violent, frakking foul mouthed, and presents a bleak, nihilistic, thus far, view of the human condition.  I think Benedict nails it in this passage:

“Re-imagining”, they call it. “Un-imagining” is more accurate. To take what once was and twist it into what never was intended. So that a television show based on hope, spiritual faith and family is un-imagined and regurgitated as a show of despair, sexual violence and family dysfunction. To better reflect the times of ambiguous morality in which we live, one would assume. A show in which the aliens (Cylons) are justified in their desire to destroy human civilization, one would assume. Indeed, let us not say who the good guys are and who the bad are. That is being “judgmental,” taking sides, and that kind of (simplistic) thinking went out with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan and Kathryn Hepburn and John Wayne and, well, the original “Battlestar Galactica.”

Well what is worthwhile about the new show and why do I watch it?  In one word Adama.  I love how he is portrayed in this show by Edward James Olmos who I think gives  a realistic portrayal of a career military man dealing with an impossible situation.  Lorne Greene  never convinced me that he wasn’t about to call on Hoss and Little Joe to straighten out those galmonging Cylons!  I also think the show does gain a few points for dealing with moral questions, although many of the answers given to the moral questions are appalling to me.

Ah well, there is at least one other person who joins Benedict in preferring the old Battlestar Galactica to the new Battlestar Galactica.

8 Responses to Adama v. Adama

  • I still prefer the little-known Battlestar Galactica of the 1940’s and 1950’s. I think it’s available on DVD, if you’re interested.

  • Thanks for the comments and link to the amusing remarks by Dirk Benedict. As a member of the (original 1977) Star Wars generation, Galactica was a favorite show! But your comments prompt me to a related subject. You mention that the current iteration, like many shows since the 1990s, features soft-porn. Without wanting to appear sanctimonious or guilt-free, how do you justify watching it? Is it for the entertainment value? If so, what makes you (or me) different in that respect from any non-Catholic? It’s just that I think Catholics have fought shy of this issue in the last forty years. There used to standards for entertainment based on the catechism. As far as I still know I have no good reason to watch simulated sex or erotic content. Those things in some way or other fall under the 9th commandment. Granted there are shades of grey. And one could talk of subtle distinctions in mature entertainment before the 60s, but things are so in your face now, that those arguments no longer apply in many cases. I throw this out there for the sake of debate. Ultimately there must be an objective standard. As Catholics we object to porn, hard or soft, in our popular culture. How do we counter it? Do we allow ourselves to participate in it just because we like James Bond movies, etc.? What makes our stance any different from that of some antinomian “Christianinty” that has emasculated our religion and rendered us impotent in the face of neo-paganism. Again no judgementalism here but I’d like some answers. Thanks!

  • The only thing I would take exception to is the “sour grapes” comment. It skews where the article is coming from – using the new show *only* as a jumping off point for the state of television (and society) as a whole. The whole “career peak” thing comes from the fact that he chose parenthood (gasp!) over acting, something to be applauded and which is too often overlooked.

  • “How do you justify watching it? Is it for the entertainment value?”

    In the same way that I justify reading the Satyricon by Petronious, to learn. I find the soft porn moments intensely annoying and not at all erotic, just as I find the ultra violence more sickening than exciting. The problem that has developed in our society is that many aspects of the culture are of questionable morality or intensely immoral. To avoid it entirely on tv, in movies, the internet, in books, etc, would be to adopt an amish way of life as it comes to the culture. I do not criticize Christians who adopt that approach, but it is not the path I have chosen. When I find some aspect of the culture that I believe has something to teach me, I decide whether the good that I am exposing myself to, justifies the intermingled bad. It’s hard to draw lines, and I wish our culture was not such an open sewer, but it is the interaction I have chosen with our culture for the present.

  • Thanks for taking the time to reply. I didn’t want to be overly contentious, but I’m not sure it’s the answer I’m looking for. Whether your approach works for you or not remains subjective and some might say indistinguishable from the mainstream view (“don’t look at it if you don’t like it”). It’s not “Amish” to say that what passes for entertainment now would have been totally inadmissible to the clergy and most laypeople fifty years ago. We had moral continuity for centuries and now it’s gone. Can definitions really change that much? Granted there are grey areas and room for prudential decisions. (Let’s avoid “puritanism” as a red herring.) But as I think you admit, there are excesses which no one should realistically be expected to grapple with. The problem is that today’s immorality is the rule and less easily avoided than an obscure piece of literature (e.g. Petronius) was in the past. If the standards have fallen then presumably we need to restore them rather than acquiesce to evil in the interests of aesthetic urbanity. On the other hand, if it means that we have to view lingerie displays and groping for the sake of some pulp sci fi show… well, that’s a bid of a hard sell for me, I admit! All said in charity.

  • “Whether your approach works for you or not remains subjective and some might say indistinguishable from the mainstream view (”don’t look at it if you don’t like it”). ”

    The truly foolish might say that.

    “Can definitions really change that much?”

    The definitions haven’t changed at all, but the people have. Where there was moral consensus, we now have moral anarchy. When I first started my legal career, I was shocked by how many marriages were ending in divorce. Now I am shocked by how many couples have several children, are now breaking up, and have never been married at all. I am also seeing more parternity cases where not even a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship had been established, but rather a few incidents of “hooking up” resulted in a child.

    “If the standards have fallen then presumably we need to restore them”

    Agreed. I am all ears as to how you think we can go about doing that. In the past such alterations in public taste have usually been acomplished through censorship, either voluntary such as the Catholic League of Decency, or through government action. Of course these attempts to enforce standards of decency in public entertainment were effective because there was broad public agreement as to what the standards should be, and an entertainment company that crossed the line would pay a price with the general public. Regrettably such a consensus as to standards in entertainment clearly no longer exist. Now, any attempt at censorship, leaving aside all the current legal difficulties that would entail, would probably simply increase the money that the “banned” show would bring in. Not to mention that the internet means that any censorship regime would probably make no sense anyway since even totalitarian states like the PRC have great difficulty controlling the internet. So the censorship route is out the window.

    The best alternative I can think of is for Christians to produce entertainment that does reflect Christian values and is entertaining. Too often what passes for Christian entertainment one would be hard pressed to get people to watch even if they were paid. The vast success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Passion of the Christ, and, to a lesser extent, the two Narnia films, does indicate that there is a strong market for well made and performed Christian entertainment. We are aided also by the fact that most of the entertainment that does not present Christian values is often pretty poorly made and acted, this is not the case with the current Battlestar Galactica, and so Christian entertainment in order to beat out the competition, does not always have to be a masterpiece, but merely professional in both the peformances and the production. One reason the culture is such a sewer is that Christians have not been active enough in providing alternatives, and this is a portion of the problem that can be addressed successfully if there is enough will, time and money. In my experience Christians who wish to reform the culture usually have the will and time, but money often is the sticking point.

  • “It’s not “Amish” to say that what passes for entertainment now would have been totally inadmissible to the clergy and most laypeople fifty years ago. We had moral continuity for centuries and now it’s gone.”

    From where I sit -and given the general direction of this reply- Matt is seeing things fairly clearly. Well spoken.

    My best friend is a nominal Catholic (his mother practiced, he never did) and seemingly obsessed with “BG 2.0″. As I liked the original as a child I thought I’d give the new series a chance, and joined my friend to watch up to the second season, but I won’t watch beyond that point. Among other issues I have with the new series there’s simply too much moral relativism, too much violence, and too much sexuality on display for me to find much redeeming about its story arc. Naturally, my friend thinks I’m taking my moral objections too seriously while I on the other hand wonder how any practicing Catholic could do anything else!

    As opposed to the original series “2.0” is nothing I’d show my fiancee, much less any children we might one day have.

    Still, I will thank you for this humorous and thought-provoking entry!

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