3.06.2006

Life imitates art imitates...

Today, the South Dakota Governor signed a law banning almost all abortions today. We all knew a new round of court battles was coming, maybe just not this soon.
    The law passed last month by the legislature will ban abortions unless the mother's life is at stake, Rounds, a Republican, said in a statement on his Web site. The governor, who views the law as a way of overturning Supreme Court precedent, said it may be blocked by legal challenges from taking effect in July.

    "The reversal of a Supreme Court opinion is possible," Rounds said in the statement, citing the 1954 ruling that outlawed racial segregation and overturned a precedent upholding its legality. He said the new law "will give the U.S. Supreme Court a similar opportunity to reconsider an earlier opinion."

    South Dakota is the first U.S. state to outlaw virtually all types of abortions, and supporters anticipate that it will take years before court challenges are resolved. The law is intended to create an opportunity for the Supreme Court, which has two new members appointed by President George W. Bush, to overturn the 1973 ruling in the Roe v. Wade case that banned states from outlawing the procedure.
Coincidentally, a recent episode of the best show on TV started its own abortion situation.
    Back on the Galactica, Rya Kibby's desire to exercise her legal right to an abortion, and the revelation that Doc Cottle has been providing this service to women in the fleet for the past few months, becomes an incendiary political issue. The fleet's pro-life Gemenon faction threatens to pull its support for President Laura Roslin unless she condemns the practice of abortion and makes it illegal.
Fans of the series know that the writing rarely follows the safe and narrow path, so it wasn't much of a shock that, at the end, Roslin felt she had no choice but to outlaw abortions for the sake of humanity. Although a stanch pro-choice advocate, faced with the reality that our the species desperately needs to start repopulating, her decision was forced.

Think that I'm biased because I'm into science fiction? Maybe, but I'm not alone in my raves. Even Rolling Stone concurs:
    Civilization is under attack by religious fanatics -- and the fanatics are winning. There are suicide bombers, a clueless president and prisoners who get tortured by the good guys. No, this isn't a particularly grim night on CNN: It's Battlestar Galactica, the smartest and toughest show on TV. In its second season, this remake of the 1978 camp classic has become -- no joke -- TV's most vivid depiction of the post-9/11 world and what happens to a society at war.

    Improbably, all this is happening on the Sci Fi Channel, best known for reruns of Knight Rider. Battlestar has achieved the channel's best-ever ratings and reached a heady new level of critical acclaim: Time just named it the best TV show of 2005.

    In the past few seasons, series television has finally opted to deal head-on with terrorism, with varying degrees of success. The one mainstream hit, 24, gleefully sacrifices relevance (or coherence) for pure adrenaline. In its fictional world, torture is a panacea, providing catharsis for an audience facing a perpetual "war on terror."

    On Battlestar, these issues are more queasily ambiguous. Its futuristic tale of mass genocide of humans and persecution of survivors by the Cylons, a race of zealot androids, somehow manages to feel both realistic and oddly contemporary. "The networks are terrified of controversy," says Battlestar Galactica executive producer Ronald D. Moore. "But in sci-fi, they don't notice or care so much -- you get a free pass."

    As with the original, the new Battlestar starts with a surprise attack on humanity by the Cylons. Only 50,000 or so people survive, fleeing in a ragtag fleet protected by the Battlestar Galactica, a third-rate ship with an unpolished crew. As they escape, they try to build a new society under the strain of constant attack...

    ...There's plenty of drama to be found in paranoia, grief and politics. In the original, Cylons were large chrome robots with an oscillating red eye and not much personality. Now, the Cylons can look like any other human (or in the case of Tricia Helfer, a lot sexier). The synthetic life-forms are sleeper agents inside human society: monotheistic religious zealots, in contrast to humanity's secular polytheism. "I know God loved you more than all other living creatures, and you repaid his divine love with hate, corruption, evil," one Cylon tells his human interrogator. She responds by having him tortured.
Battlestar's culture is very close to our own. As with ours, in Battlestar, society has been predominantly pro-choice until this moment, when the pro-lifers (their representative is portrayed about as unsympathetically as you might expect -- unforgiving, unbending, judgmental) seize the opportunity to change the law. Parallel to the present, with the world at war with terrorism and a sudden shift with the Supreme Court, and it doesn't seem like far-fetched TV anymore. In fact, it can be downright scary.

In case you want to catch up on the last few episodes, here's your chance.
    March 6, 2006:
    Starting at 9AM/8C on Tuesday, March 6, tune in for a six-episode Battlestar Galactica marathon! It will consist of episodes 214 ("Black Market") through 219 ("Lay Down Your Burdens," Part 1) to get you ready for the March 10 season finale.
Don't miss your chance to get involved in some intelligent TV, and don't take your eye off the fascist, liberty-reducing governor.

1 comment:

linguo said...

Tuesday? Tuesday mid-day?!?! I don't have cable and my GD iTunes store isn't working. Geeeaaaah!!!!