Sunday, March 7, 2010

Progress?

I'm talking about the SyFy Channel TV series Caprica (currently airing Friday nights at 10pm EST) in this post and there will be spoilers. Tread carefully.

I'm becoming a huge fan of the new show Caprica. Long story short this series takes place 58 years before the Battlestar Galactica series done in 2004. The point is to give background on where the Cylons came from and show what happened between them and their human creators that started the war. I do not want to give too much of the story away so I'll let you look it up. What I do want to talk about are two things I've seen in this series that I have to admit shocked me.

Homosexuality. In one of the episodes a young Bill Adama (yes the same Bill Adama that is played by Edward James Almos in the 2004 series) is walking down the street with his uncle Sam (played Sasha Roiz and let me tell he's not that bad on the eyes) listening to him talk. Sam is talking and out of nowhere he casually talks about how in his younger days he would be flirting with a guy while his brother Joseph (Bill's dad played by Esai Morales) would be getting a date with the guy's sister. Yeah just that casual. Not any of that attention seeking barsexuality just someone's sexuality brought up in conversation.

Polygamy. At one point the character Clarice Willow (played by Polly Walker) is shown to be involved in a group marriage situation with at least four different men and 3 other women. The language of their marriage seems to be similar to those of the one woman/one man marriage as we know it with each of them referring to each other as "my husband"/"my wife". A particular scene shows her waking up in bed one morning with two of her husbands and one her wives in which they each change positions in bed in order to exchange morning kisses and greetings. This is a very big contrast to the headmistress position she holds at the Athena Academy, the local school.

Now as a person who is neither homosexual nor in a polygamous relationship I don't think its my place to try to put a definitive answer on whether or not these characters are signs of progress but to me at least this seems to serve the effect of showing that such things need not be presented in a certain way in order to "justify" them.

There is no need for a homosexual man to be portrayed as flamboyant (he might be but its not required) or present in clothing, mannerisms, and other things that are typically associated with women as if being a woman or woman-like is a prerequisite to being attracted to men. In fact he is covered in tattoos, cares very strongly about his family (and is willing to do a lot for family), and is a gangster. Things one usually associates with being a man.

Usually when relationships such as the one Willow is in are brought up its usually done in a way that portrays them as heathens that seek to create upheaval in society. Willow and her spouses are shown as a group of adults that are married to each other, have public displays of affection, have children, and have family meals together. Now what worries me is that the people in this relationship while not heathers that are out to spread debauchery everywhere and planning social upheaval they ARE an underground terrorist organization that believes in one god (they are called Soldiers of The One) versus the polytheistic religion that is practiced by most of society. Hopefully the polygamy will just be a portrayal of their sexuality and relationship method and not become a vehicle to make them look like enemies.

When I first saw these scenes I actually hit the rewind to make sure I was seeing and hearing correctly. I watched them again and took the time to think about it. I realized that my shock was a knee-jerk reaction rather than how these two things were brought up. From all my years of watching television I had it in my mind about what Sam Adama and Clarice Willow would come off as and I'm glad that at least so far its not going in that direction.

However I don't want you to listen to my description of these two things and rush to start watching it thinking the universe of Caprica is a utopia of equality in which there is no discrimination or injustice. It's not. Sam Adama comes from a harsh (Joseph comments that the planet doesn't have any flowers) world called Tauron and people from that world are stereotyped as being dishonest and deceitful. In fact referring to a Tauron as a dirt eater is very serious racial slur (I wonder if they are trying to make it their "nigger" like word). And other than the Taurons very few people of color have come up so far. And I'll bet there are other things that I probably do see and have not thought of.

All in all it is not a depiction of the perfect society (in fact if you are familiar with Battlestar Galactica you know its actually gonna get very fucked up in about 58 years) but as TV show and of the science fiction genre I have to say I like it and hope it has a long run.
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