(urth) BSG Spoiler vs Wolfe

Thomas Bitterman tom at bitterman.net
Mon Mar 23 15:40:49 PDT 2009

On Mon, Mar 23, 2009 at 3:26 PM, James Wynn <crushtv at gmail.com> wrote:

>  The God of BSG is more like the Increate than the Outsider.
>> Even the angels can only guess at what He wants.
> But He's much more inclined to perform miracles without much explanation
> for why He's doing them...except that He likes cliff-hangers. That's very
> handy for lazy serial writers.

Miraculous events happen in both BSG and UotNS.  In neither case is an
explanation given.  "It's the power of the New Sun" is not much of an
explanation - sometimes things work, and sometimes they don't.  It may be
(certainly is) that Wolfe is better at using miracles in a story.  That
doesn't mean the BSG writers find God to be quaint (or are attempting to
write a quaint, cartoony God), just that they are not as successful in
addressing miracles as Wolfe is.

 If this seems cartoony then whole areas of religion,
>> particularly mysticism, must also seem cartoony.
> Not at all. The BSG god is a god as a-term-for-we-know-not-what. It can
> quite literally mean whatever you want it to mean. It is an idea of God that
> denies rationality. Baltar makes that quite clear. And despite all the
> sermons by Baltar that we have heard over the last 2 years, I challenge you
> to tell me what his followers believed about Him.

The BSG god is viewed differently by different people in the fleet.  The
vast majority are like Cargo - polytheists.  Baltar, despite talking to an
angel quite a bit, has no knowledge others lack.  Nor is he meant as a
spokesperson for the author(s).

> That's alright with me. It is a frequent presentation of God in movies. The
> problem is when such a god becomes the primary mover of the
> narrative...which he did in BSG.

I think this is the heart of the matter.  IMHO, the primary mover of both
BSG and UotNS is not the transcendent, but people's beliefs about the
transcendent.  In both cases people are in bad shape and yearn for a
prophesized salvation.  In both cases miraculous events happen, but could
always just be advanced technology.  In neither case does anything
transcendent break though and show people the score - they have to decide
what to make of things on their own.

Aside from the writing quality, if the God of BSG seems cartoony compared to
the Increate that is because people in BSG had cartoony ideas about God.
That may result from different opinions the writers have about religion, but
religion != God.

>  Why give him $50?  It was consensual sex between adults,
>> not a financial transaction.  She asked him to leave shortly afterwards
> I believe what she said was "You can show yourself out" meaning "It's time
> for you to go _now_ and I mean _right_ now."

IIRC, she said a few things to get him to leave, including asking and
suggesting he show himself out.  There is no requirement, even in terms of
the BSG story, to think that she acted as anything but a gaint jerk in this
scene.  However, I think it is easy/correct to interpret her as doing the
right thing as best she could, and the fact that this scene can be
interpreted this way is evidence that the BSG writers were better at
portraying sexual relations than Wolfe has been.

> Leno once asked Charlie Sheen why he utilizes prostitutes when he could
> self-evidently get it for free. He responded "I don't pay them for sex. I
> pay them to go home." If you're a big enough jerk, you don't even have to
> pay for that.

What's your point?  It did not start as prostitution, did not end as
prostitution, and was not prostitution at any time in between.

> She couldn't have even gone out for breakfast with the guy?

No.  While looking at herself in the mirror (cue self-reflection) she
realized that what she had done/was doing was the wrong thing.  Entering
into a relationship with a younger man based primarily on physical
attraction would ruin her in the end.  What she needed was meaningful work
and a relationship with an equal.

So what to do?  The problem is, this cute guy is laying there in that soft,
warm bed.  She knows if she gets back in, she'll never get out again.  So
she makes it quick, and kind of harsh.  The best way to end this, the one
with the least suffering, is to do it quickly.  Is it a downer for him?
Sure.  But better than the alternative.

This was how it played to me when I saw it.

> Reverse the gender and you can see that such a scene (ala in "Iron Man")
> could not be written except to degrade the character being sent home.

a) Reversing genders in sexual politics almost never leads to symmetry.
b) The rewrite is not that hard in this case.  Harrison Ford wakes up in the
middle of the night, ex-student(s) nearby.  He looks in the mirror and
realizes he's too old for this crap.  He calls the CIA and gets another
Nazi-fighting job, then herds the ex-student(s) out of his room with some
lame excuse about keeping tenure.

>  In BSG people have (and don't have) sex for all sorts of
>> human reasons, and have all sorts of human reactions.
>> In Wolfe people apparently have sex to show what bad
>> people they are, and suffer for it later.
> That's ridiculous. Do you really intend to compare the writing of BSG to
> Wolfe in favor of BSG?

Yup.  In the case of male-female sexual relationships, BSG beats the pants
off of Wolfe.  The motivations of the people involved and the effects the
relationships have on them in BSG are more interesting and realistic than
what Wolfe has shown.

> Incidentally, I thought the one other use of sex in the Caprica arc that I
> have not addressed yet--a strip club-- was nothing but exploitive.

This reply is already too long, but don't forget Baltar.

> J

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