A disenfranchised population. An exhausted, disgruntled workforce. Great, yawning chasms that separate the populace’s beliefs and expectations and, in turn, exacerbate division, frustration, anger–accelerating the death of hope.
America today? Yeah. But also the reboot of “Battlestar Galactica” almost a decade ago.
Running from 2004 to 2009, “Battlestar” presented myriad similar concepts which rang true, but the episode of Dirty Hands proved to be even more alarmingly prescient than usual, jumping out at me during our recent re-watching of the series.
By the Dirty Hands episode of “Battlestar,” the Fleet has been on the run from the Cylons (robots which human beings created and which subsequently turned on them) for a couple of years, give or take.
A conversation between the Chief of Galactica’s crew of ships, the President, and Admiral Adama reveals the state of affairs of the overworked and long-ignored:
Chief: You realize that most of the workers on that ship have not had a day off since the original attack on our colonies? It’s like slave labor.
Adama: Don’t be absurd.
Chief: The men and women aboard that ship are stuck there. They can’t leave, they can’t transfer. They have no control over their lives. And the work is hard.
President: We know that. Do they think they’re having a picnic on the algae processing plant or munitions or waste-processing? The fleet is filled with ships with people working under horrific conditions, and nobody’s having a good time.
It’s always the same thing, isn’t it? “The fleet is filled with ships with people working under horrific conditions, and nobody’s having a good time.” Except the President, as she’s stating this, is sitting in a compact yet luxurious office, wearing a nice outfit, and is not only rested and well-fed, but recently had her entire immune system rebooted by the DNA of a hybrid human-Cylon infant which put her cancer in remission.
The same with Adama, who received the best emergency healthcare possible to bring him back from the brink of death after being shot by a sleeper Cylon agent and regularly has cocktails with the President or enjoys lounging comfortably in his private quarters.
Yeah, it’s nothing new that those who are “on top” making the “tough” decisions and “running” things get paid better, get better healthcare, get better consideration all around because they’re the ones who are “holding it all together.” They can’t walk around half-starved or filthy or live in squalor because diminished quality of life doesn’t enhance brain power or the decision-making process very well. But an automatic response of “Don’t be absurd,” when broaching the subject of real problems and real situations is no response at all.
Scarier still from Dirty Hands is the phenomenon of Gaius Baltar’s almost inconceivable rise in popularity, paralleling now, of course, a certain personality’s insane roller coaster ride to the presidency.
Gaius, known philanderer and womanizer, Cylon sympathizer, and traitor to the last of humanity, finally gets arrested and jailed, only to pen a book entitled, “My Triumphs, My Mistakes,” which begins to circulate throughout the Fleet and to pierce the consciousness of the oppressed and disenfranchised with bold chapters like “The Emerging Aristocracy and the Emerging Underclass.”
Yeah, this is not a new issue in the world, and definitely not in the U.S. But it’s resurfaced dramatically in more recent American history.
Leave it to a charming bon vivant like Gaius to trespass over the most egregious of ethical borders on an everyday basis and yet somehow manage to lasso the minds and imaginations of a desperate populace that feels overlooked, forgotten, and taken for granted.
The unintended parallels concerning a certain someone not-yet-on-the-political-scene is straight up legit amazing. Except for three things: Gaius is cute. And he’s charming. And he is an out-and-out uncontested genius.
In the end, the President and even Admiral Adama realize how deep their denial and ignorance have been, eventually taking measures to address issues of dead-end, even dangerous jobs, and classism. It was simple: basically everyone needed to get their hands dirty once in a while, not just one constant, never-changing segment of society.
That’s where the episode and the show deviate from real life, though, because obviously we aren’t there yet, although it might behoove certain folks to study “Battlestar Galactica” and pick up a few ideas here and there.
And if you think that’s silly, just remember Max Brooks’ “The Zombie Survival Guide.”
Some people didn’t laugh. Some people took it very seriously, per this Modern War Institute article:
Brooks’ unique, unconventional thinking depicted in his books has even inspired the U.S. military to examine how they may respond to potential crises in the future. ‘Survival Guide’ was read and discussed by the sitting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Brooks has been invited to speak at a variety of military engagements—from the Naval War College, to the FEMA hurricane drill at San Antonio, to the nuclear “Vibrant Response” wargame.
Go, Max! Go, Zombies! If post-apocalyptic undead fiction’s good enough to get the military’s attention, who knows who the reboot of a ‘70s sci-fi TV series might reach and inspire…and where that inspiration might end up?
On the lighter side, despite all this, “Battlestar” remains one of the best reboots ever, I think. If you can stream it, I say go for it, and get ready for great effects, great depth of feeling, great action, a great ride. SO SAY WE ALL.