March 22, 2008

If this wasn't B.S.G.'s last season ...

... it'd probably be anyway if it kept up its season 3 "morality play." Lesson to learn? The fate of "Jericho."

It's also a reason I began changing the channel on the "X-Files" about halfway through its run.

UPDATE: Instalanche! Thanks for the link, Glenn! Had I any idea that would happen, I'd have expanded my thoughts further, natch!

Oh, and "B.S.G." = "Battlestar Galactica." 'Cause someone e-mailed and asked.

semi-related UPDATE 2: Vic Holtreman, a comics-related acquaintance of mine, gets a mention at Newsbusters. His site, Screenrant, notes the tone of the upcoming remake of the classic scifi film "The Day the Earth Stood Still":

Over at MTV.com they've quoted Keanu Reeves(!!) in an interview and while he admits that yes, there is a huge threat posed by the staggering number of international conflicts...

"The version [of 'The Day the Earth Stood Still'] I was just working on, instead of being man against man, itís more about man against nature. My Klaatu says that if the Earth dies, you die. If you die, the earth survives. Iím a friend to the earth."

To which Vic responds, "With all the conflict and outright genocide going on in the world today, an alien is going to come from outer space and try to get us to buy carbon credits?"

Indeed. "Friend to the Earth" as opposed to friend to a fellow intelligent species. As rare as such species are in the universe, Keanu-Klaatu somehow still chooses Earthian-Hollywood P.C.!

Posted by Hube at March 22, 2008 04:13 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

Those poor fools in Hollywood don't know anything outside of their bubble. In every zombie movie, the military are the bad guys. In every lawyer movie, the corporation is the bad guy. In every drug movie, the cops are the bad guys.

Let me tell you about the "bad guys". I was talking to a structural engineer when the subject of the military came up. He was in Turkey a while ago at an international symposium on construction methods when there was a terrible earthquake. The next morning at US Navy helicopter landed in the parking lot. The marines fanned out and started asking for engineers who would volunteer to identify safe landing areas in the worst damaged places. A large group of American engineers, who worked for corporations and made huge salaries compared to many of the others in attendance, volunteered. My new friend spent many days flying over devastated cities and landing to identify safe landing sites to erect emergency hospitals and aid stations. His corporation continued to pay him and gave him a letter of gratitude for his hard work. The Navy and Marine personnel saved thousands of lives with his help. Hollywood won't put that in a script. They think the marine from "American Beauty" is typical. Hollywood is blinded by their own hatred.

Posted by: tyree at March 22, 2008 06:31 PM

I dunno. I've been to Iraq with the USG, and Jericho did nail the macho swaggering of Blackwater and creepiness of KBR with their "Ravenwood" and "Jennings and Rall."

Posted by: jimmy at March 22, 2008 07:46 PM

Sorry Jimmy, regardless of the fact that you've been to Iraq and probably have more first-hand information than most of us, we must now attack you for speaking the truth about anything which questions any authority figure or organization.

Remember, any movie or show that doesn't portray the military as pure good in a black-and-white way is political, and any show that does is the truth.

Ya know, we should just abolish the first amendment and have government censors like in Russia. Who's with me?

Posted by: AmericaForever at March 22, 2008 09:54 PM

*Yawn* Did 'ya think that one up all by your lonesome, AF? Of course, if someone that did have as much experience (or more) as Jimmy and felt differently, you'd blast him as a "dupe" or "brainwashed."

But you're missing the point. The point is that the only "acceptable" modern-day villains are the US, its military, corporations and their masters (old white guys, of course). Tom Clancy's "The Sum of All Fears" had to switch its baddies. Frank Miller gets criticized for having Batman fight al Qaeda. "Matamoros," a comic about a hero fighting Islamic extremists, can't even find a publisher. And so on.

If the premise of "Jericho" was different (in how its second season untangled), its fate might have been different. But we've seen it all before. And it's tiring, frankly. Good stories are good stories, sure. But when you can point to so many other things in the genre, "Jericho" just couldn't compare, especially since it ain't even close to unique.

Posted by: Hube at March 22, 2008 10:07 PM

"The point is that the only "acceptable" modern-day villains are the US, its military, corporations and their masters (old white guys, of course)."

This is just in your mind. There are plenty of programs and shows where the military and government is portrayed in a favorable light and and plenty where they are not. It's not that you don't like the latter, you just don't like anything that doesn't reflect your viewpoint. You'd be happy as a clam if all shows portrayed the military as wonderful. You don't want a diversity of viewpoints; you want your viewpoint.

Frankly, I don't get what the criticism of Jericho is. The American townsfolk in Jericho are brave and strong. Why do you guys get so bent out of shape about corporations being portrayed negatively? What did they ever do for you? You see an authoritarian figure or organization and your eyes glaze over - "I will obey authority figure... I will defend authority figure..."

Sheesh.

And on Jericho, corporations are NOT portrayed in a negative light. ONE fictional imaginary made-up corporation is. And the military is not portrayed in a negative light. In fact, Commander Beck is portrayed as a moral, complex and thoughtful commander. What more could you ask for???

What's that? Oh, yeah... The show have been written as: The military is pure good, the townsfolk are obedient sheep who do as they are told, corporations are our friends that should receive plenty of corporate welfare while the rest of the country is crumbling... Uh... the military saves everyone, the bad guys are far away enemies who are described as pure evil with absolutely no nuance at all and at the end we solve the problem with overwhelming force.

Did I leave anything out??? Let me know.

Posted by: PatriotPower at March 22, 2008 10:40 PM

"In every drug movie, the cops are the bad guys."

http://www.theagitator.com/category/police-professionalism/

http://www.theagitator.com/category/paramilitary-police-raids/

http://www.theagitator.com/category/general-drug-war/

I grew up in an era when "civil liberties" was considered a dirty phrase, and wishing that cops would be more like Dirty Harry.

But now, the cops are often the bad guys.

Posted by: anonymous at March 22, 2008 10:45 PM

One reason I did like Jericho was that it was a metaphor for experience in Iraq, the military trying to do the right thing in town, while Blackwater was swaggering around, causing chaos and trying to cover it up. KBR creepily controlling everything in the background, especially its employees.

Posted by: jimmy at March 22, 2008 11:29 PM

America Forever and Patriot Power,

Please naem for me a single show on TV now that portrays the government or the military in a positive light. I'll wait.

And Beck started out positive, but the interrogation of Jake went the other way, which is in complete contravention to how we act.

How do I know? I'm a soldier and an officer. I know what we do and what we won't. I promise you that we aren't out there scheming up ways to hold you down. In fact, were any of my soldiers to act in that way, I would remove them and ship them off to Leavenworth faster than Jericho could be cancelled.

Anyone ever also wonder why a Major from the 10th Mountain, stationed at Ft. Drum, NY, would throw in with a new government across the Mississippi with a new flag and soon a new constitution? We are sworn to protect the constitution we have, and it works fine, thank you very much. Wanna change it? Then there's a process, but the military wouldn't just follow some facist government bent on re-writing what we've got.

Posted by: Russ at March 23, 2008 02:04 AM

"Ya know, we should just abolish the first amendment and have government censors like in Russia. Who's with me?"

Posted by: AmericaForever at March 22, 2008 09:54 PM

You know, freedom of speech does not mean freedom from criticism. Nothing in the first amendment says I have to watch a show that I find offensive. If you want to, then that's great. But I doubt you'll find enough with your point of view to keep that show in the air for very long. Isn't one of the tenets of free speech the ability to change the channel? Haven't liberals been talking about how we should do just that for years?

No one is stopping your free speech; we're just exercising ours.

Posted by: Russ at March 23, 2008 02:08 AM

@ Russ:

NCIS, ER, Las Vegas, 24, House, L&O: CI, L&O: SVU (Eliot's a former marine), HBO as a channel (via their miniseries on Iraq and U.S. medical personnel), American Dad, and The Simpsons have all portrayed the military in a positive light, and all of them are still on the air.

Incidentally, AmericaForever was just being sarcastic.

Also, I wish I could point the instapundit guy at this article by slactivist. That's how I feel about his characterization of Jericho's problems as a problem with inserting liberal politics. It's just bad writing.

Posted by: Spherical Time at March 23, 2008 04:08 AM

"NCIS, ER, Las Vegas, 24, House, L&O: CI, L&O: SVU (Eliot's a former marine), HBO as a channel (via their miniseries on Iraq and U.S. medical personnel), American Dad, and The Simpsons have all portrayed the military in a positive light, and all of them are still on the air."

You must be hard left if you think any of those shows are in any way pro-military.

Posted by: Rich at March 23, 2008 05:04 AM

I know 2 TV shows that portray US Military in a positive light: Stargate SG1 & Stargate Atlantis. former AF Chief of Staff Gen. Jumper, has appeared on the show several times.

Posted by: Thomas at March 23, 2008 08:06 AM

you just don't like anything that doesn't reflect your viewpoint. You'd be happy as a clam if all shows portrayed the military as wonderful. You don't want a diversity of viewpoints; you want your viewpoint.

LOL! Um, just peruse this blog a bit. The above can be excused somewhat 'cause you're not a regular reader. But, then again, you're the dude who thinks that just b/c I and others have a beef with shows like Jericho that we're advocating a Soviet-style censorship system. Rational discussion isn't likely.

Nevertheless, the market has spoken.

Posted by: Hube at March 23, 2008 08:15 AM

"...while Blackwater was swaggering around, causing chaos and trying to cover it up. KBR creepily controlling everything in the background, especially its employees."

Yeah, and all the corporations going around being all, um, corporationny.

Posted by: Cincinnatus at March 23, 2008 12:04 PM

>>NCIS, ER, Las Vegas, 24, House, L&O: CI, L&O: SVU (Eliot's a former marine), HBO as a channel (via their miniseries on Iraq and U.S. medical personnel), American Dad, and The Simpsons have all portrayed the military in a positive light, and all of them are still on the air.

Lets analyze:

NCIS - No comment, never watched.

ER - Good doctor goes to Iraq, is only shown treating children horribly wounded from US action and horribly wounded soldiers, gets killed. Much focus and many episodes on the sorrow and sympathetic anti-military and anti-war feelings of the poor widow.
Two episodes where former soldiers are in the ER. One is suicidal from his witnessing the horrible torture of Iraqis. He keeps speaking a Arabic, which is translated to "Stop please, I don't know anything".
The other was raped by a superior and is now pregnant.
Yeah, real positive.
If this continues, I will not be watching ER anymore.

Las Vegas - Danny is protrayed positively, but they dwell a bit on his nightmares. Depressed and suicidal fellow Marine, mentally damaged from Iraq, blows up part of the hotel.
And this is on a "light, semi-comedy" show.

House - I don't remember seeing anything having to do with the military on House. House plays it pretty straight. He offends everyone.

24: There's always a mole in CTU, the President has even been involved in treason. It's not enough that there are terrorists, they must have help from inside the government.

L&O: Don't watch any of them.

Lets talk movies:
To save time, these are all anti-war with evil troops or government operatives.
Syriana
The Valley of Elah
Rendition
StopLoss
Redacted
The Kingdom
Lions for Lambs
Jarhead

Someone made the valid point that if Tokyo Rose were alive today, she would not get jail time, she'd get a three-picture deal.

Cops, like the military, are not immune. It is "edgy" to have corrupt cops be the bad guy. Of course, I don't understand how pedantic and predictable can be "edgy".....
SWAT: Betrayed by a bad cop.
Miami Vice: Betrayed by a bad cop.
16 Blocks: Bad cops trying to kill the witness and the cop who knows about it.
Assault on Precinct 13 - Remake, the original had a gang trying to get to a witness in the precinct and kill him.
The "new" version has crooked cops trying to kill the witness, and all the other cops in the precinct.

Copland - Everyone's a cop and they are all corrupt, except the idiot local sheriff.
Frequency - Detective is the serial killer.
Flightplan - The Air Marshal is in on the kidnapping.
Training Day - All the cops are corrupt, except one.

Even is remaking one of the best stories ever, "The Fugitive", the one-armed man became a retired cop.

Sooooo very sophisticated. Good is evil, evil is good.

Posted by: Alan at March 23, 2008 06:02 PM

Posted by: Spherical Time at March 23, 2008 04:08 AM

Dude, you need to get out more if you think these shows are pro-military or pro-government in ANY way.

Mostly they show the "rogue good guy" who faces off against the faceless government or military. Soldiers are shown as goose stepping morons who fight only b/c they're ordered to do so.

I have seen exactly ONE movie and ONE TV series that was pro-military and pro-America in the last 10 years - Saving Private Ryan, and Band of Brothers.

Hollywood wants to know why their bottom line sucks, then they need to look in the mirror. Why can't there be just ONE show out there that says America might actually be the good guy?

Posted by: Russ at March 23, 2008 08:30 PM

I thought 'Transformers' portrayed the military pretty well. And there's always '300' which even despite the liberties taken with the details, should probably go down as a classic in the years to come. But to be honest, I've almost entirely stopped seeing anything Hollywood puts out these days (those two titles above are the only new movies I saw all of last year, for instance).

Posted by: Blacksmith at March 24, 2008 02:53 AM

Juxtiposition of the expected and unexpected is an easy tool for establishing tension. The government, cops and military are supposed to protect and make you safe, so when they instead bring their power and might to bear against you it is unsettling and frightening. This is a simple formula with guaranteed built in conflict and suspense. As many have pointed out, though, this formula has been overused to the point of being trite with the additional negative effect that there are some who apparently feel it represents truth.

I always like to point out that if we really lived in a police state or had a murderously corrupt government everyone would know it but noone would say it. Seems, instead, more like there is a minority who virulently believe it and crow loudly from the rooftops of the situation.

Russ, re your two examples of pro-military fare, note that these were both in large part an honor to a dying generation and they had faced off againast the Nazis, the last acceptable enemy and villian for out post-modern friends.

Posted by: submandave at March 24, 2008 11:49 AM

Okay, NCIS is basically a detective show, with all the usual cliches and characters, but with a military setting. So was JAG, for that matter, but the detectives in NCIS are civilians working for the government, while the JAG officers are active duty military. (I don't think Beau Biden gets to fly around in an F-14, though.) Both shows portrayed military service positively, but highlighted interservice rivalries or bureaucratic meddling.

Then there's The Unit, an excellent show directed by David Mamet. The Delta Force operators are depicted favorably (an uncannily accurately, IMHO) but regularly get screwed over by politicians or CIA guys or whatever: military good, government bad.

Back to the sci-fi aspect of this, what about Aliens? The valiant and professional Space Marines get sent off to rescue colonists from the alien-infested planet, and mayhem ensues. As it turns out, however, the Company (see also Halliburton?) had sent the colonists there to be hosts for the aliens so they could develop a super weapon or something. There you have it, evil military-industrial complex (personified by Paul Reiser as complete tool and back stabber) sacrifices the good guys to protect their investment. Case closed!

Posted by: G Rex at March 24, 2008 04:11 PM

Great call on "Aliens" there, Rex. In fact, the entire Alien franchise is chock full of that kind of stuff. All the movies (including the Alien vs. Predator flicks) and especially the Dark Horse comicbooks. I swear, there must not be a single comic whose plot doesn't revolve around some devious government-corporation plan to turn the Alien into some super "bio-weapon." In fact, Mark Verheiden -- who regularly writes for "Battlestar Galactica" now -- wrote the first two Aliens comics series. At the end of the first, said corporate greed backfires, and the Aliens take over the entire Earth. The second series features -- surprise! -- a crazy army general who thinks he can control the Aliens and plans on taking some of them back to Earth to "defeat" those Aliens who've infested our planet. (Given Verheiden's writing on BSG, I began wondering why there was a "pro" Alien-extermination theme in his comics; after all, the humans in BSG couldn't wipe out the Cylons because it wasn't "moral," but it would be OK to eradicate the Aliens?)

Posted by: Hube at March 24, 2008 04:27 PM

Oh yeah -- another classic "corporations-rule-the world" movie: "Rollerball." (No military, however.)

Posted by: Hube at March 24, 2008 04:29 PM

The reality of Blackwater is that they do the stuff that Clinton decided the military would not do: convoy escorts, VIP protection, protection of reconstruction efforts, etc. Four Blackwater guards were disgracefully lynched and held up in a barbaric display.

If you don't like a private corporation doing the security stuff, blame Congress and Clinton who decided that would be a good, budget saving idea.

Blackwater for example runs and still runs most of the security in the Balkans since 1998.

The UN and NATO for all practical purposes don't exist as far as force protection goes. Politically they can posture but when it comes to men on the ground willing to shoot folks to prevent a massacre (Srebenica) the NATO/UN forces throw up their arms and surrender.

Blackwater has proposed to the UN that it will stop the genocide in Darfur for $1 billion. It's a serious offer. Their CEO has outlined their capabilities and has argued that since the West has mostly decided not to have a military, he can step up with his forces and fill the gap in such areas.

Yeah Blackwater charges a lot of money. They argue it's a bargain since their people are not soldiers who get pensions, health care etc. from the government, and demand lots of cash up front for their risks. All the costs are upfront not decades later.

Posted by: Jim Rockford at March 24, 2008 06:56 PM