Will someone please explain in terms I can understand what could possibly possess the U.N. to invite itself to be taken over by a TV show about evil space aliens?

… and no “the show deals with important issues.” All sorts of things deal with important issues. Does acting in a TV show whose screenwriters sometimes feel the need to put in messages about xenophobia or some shit really qualify one to have the U.N. as one’s personal platform? Are we that hard up for public intellectuals? Where is Woodrow Wilson’s grave? I want to see if it lights up from all the spin friction. And, moderated by Whoppi Goldberg?* Really? Really really?

(Didn’t we learn this lesson with Ronald Reagan? And Jesse Ventura? And Charlton Heston? And Arnold Schwarzenegger? And Jane Fonda? And Sonny Bono?)

(Just please someone tell me that Sting was not involved in any fashion.)

I am doubtless alone in this, but I think it’s time for Geek Culture to end. This ridiculous worship of comic books and science fiction and everything else all the smart kids indulged in high school in between beatings from the jocks is getting way out of hand. Yes, we know you control the media. Now buy some taste.

(This guy seems to have the right perspective on the whole thing.)

(Edit [the nth of its kind): While we’re at it, I’ve been meaning to write a post on how science fiction and fantasy warp the minds of smart kids — there’s a reason so many smart kids turn out Randites and paleoglibertarians. And it’s not because of intelligence. It’s because they’re reading Heinlein novels. Or, god help them, books like Terry Goodkind’s Faith of the Fallen, which I read in a procrastinatory fit recently and was almost struck down with the horror of the sheer brute propaganda — the hero, Richard Rahl, whom he might just as well have named John Galt, is kidnapped by a woman whose religious views are bent by an evil empire in the service of communism. She takes him to said evil empire, where everyone is poor because they are inadequately selfish, and he inspires everyone to revolt. He even creates a beautiful work of art and then destroys it, as if the shameless Rand-cribbing wasn’t obvious enough until then.)


* Perhaps I’m too hard on Goldberg. I’m sure her experience in Sister Act qualifies her to speak on, say, religious toleration.

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12 Responses to “Will someone please explain in terms I can understand what could possibly possess the U.N. to invite itself to be taken over by a TV show about evil space aliens?”

  1. Steve M. Says:

    Also, on a similar note, let me state that Watchmen is neither brilliant nor a novel. The comic’s not being a testament to human achievement is not the same thing as its being bad. But this OhmyGodthiscomicbookisabouttheprocessofreadingacomicbookohmyfreakingGodintertextualismislikedeepman business has got to stop.

  2. Paul Gowder Says:

    Hear, hear.

  3. Steve M. Says:

    I’m just waiting for the legal academy to get in on this. Just think, one day soon I could see this citation:

    Paul Gowder, Watchmen and the Law: An Exploration of Statutes about the Reading of Statutes, 125 Harv. L. Rev. 365 (2012).

    Narrowly rejected titles: “Dr. Manhattan and the Dictionary Act,” and “Moore v. Scalia: Watchmen’s Anti-Textualism and Originalism.” I suppose one could variously pun on Heller, the Second Amendment, and Dr. Manhattan, but I have too much dignity for that.

  4. Paul Gowder Says:

    I love this. Very tempting.

    And the law that taught you how to read law could actually raise those Russell’s paradox problems mentioned in an earlier-linked Legal Theory Blog post.

  5. Jacob T. Levy Says:

    “I am doubtless alone in this, but I think it’s time for Geek Culture to end. This ridiculous worship of comic books and science fiction and everything else all the smart kids indulged in high school in between beatings from the jocks is getting way out of hand.”

    So says… the chessblogging grad student? Really?

    The UN’s celebrity fascination is an old one, and hardly unique to geek shows. (e.g.)

    You seem to take this as a problem with the TV show (or with geek-fandom), rather than as a problem with the UN, which seems odd to me. Serious agencies with serious business to conduct would not turn themselves over to an extended discussion of even the greatest of TV shows (which I’m not saying BSG is). What this means about the UN is left as an exercise for the reader.

    Disclaimer: I had fun giving a talk on “the political theory of Lost” earlier this term– but it was on my own time, and I certainly wouldn’t have used class hours for it.

  6. Caz Says:

    Would be fascinated to hear you flesh out your heinlein hatred. Agree on goodkind, but think he is so hackish as to be harmless.

    Whereas I think Heinlein tends to be a bit deeper in exploring the role of individualism in the absence of stable social institutions (ie: what charasterstics would be helpful in completely alien environments)

    (posted this in the wrong thread initially).

  7. Matt Says:

    Yes, we know you control the media. Now buy some taste.

    I’ve never seen the show and I don’t have any interest in it. I found the UN stuff, as far as I paid any attention to it, a bit odd, at least. But this quote coming from someone as fond of Hunter S. Thompson and some others as you are is very amusing. Glass houses and stones and all. More self-awareness, please!

  8. Paul Gowder Says:

    Mea culpa, Jacob & Matt, on chessblogging, Hunter S. Thompson, etc. I’m just really weary of this whole excessive worship of a certain highly geeky set of media products. There’s a difference between enjoying something and thinking it is the next bible.

    Like, Buffy. Ok, the show had strong women — that’s a really good thing. Joss Whedon is, by all accounts, a smart guy with good politics. Great. But it’s ultimately a show about a teenager who beats up demons. It may be a good show about a teenager who beats up demons, but it is not worthy of the kind of obsessive fanishness it generates.

    And… comparing Watchmen to Ulysses? Seriously?

    Though Hunter S. Thompson is god. :-)

    (Lost is that one where they’re all on an island and the bad people put the good people in Skinner boxes, right? As you can tell from my almost total ignorance of what it’s about, I’ve never found it all that gripping, but I can see how there might be a political theory of that kind of society…)

  9. Paul Gowder Says:

    Caz, Heinlein is not nearly as bad as some of the others. It’s just irksome because his ideal of the good life (being very rich, brilliant, and hot, so that you can have a mansion off somewhere with lots of sex with other brilliant rich people, and sometimes gunplay, but only if someone insults you) is both very seductive (witness the many of the more unreflective sort of libertarians who seem to have adopted it wholesale) and very unrealistic, and not a little bit antisocial — note how his characters rarely care about anything but themselves and their intimates (there are exceptions to this). (Agreed that he does explore the issue you mention, which is a point in his favor.)

  10. Matt Says:

    There’s a difference between enjoying something and thinking it is the next bible.

    Yes, I can agree with that. Lots of pop culture stuff is taken much too seriously. And, a lot of it is the mental version of potato chips. I like chips sometimes, and some chips are better than others, and sometimes I like to eat more chips, even not very good ones, than I ought to. But it’s dumb to think that chips are as good as any other food, or that one can have a satisfying culinary life with only eating chips, or that its just snobbery that makes some people prefer beluga caviar to pringles or something.

  11. Steve M. Says:

    Though Hunter S. Thompson is god.

    I’m going to interpret this as a straightforward theological proposition.

  12. Paul Gowder Says:

    Works for me. If one has to have a deity, can you imagine a cooler one?

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