‘Battlestar Galactica’ sees real-life battles

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Last week, I finished one of the most important, politically relevant, thrilling and realistic television shows I’ve ever seen, and it has been stuck in my head ever since the last episode concluded on my screen. I hope you are not thinking anything like “Breaking Bad,” because what I’m talking about is “Battlestar Galactica.”

Now stop with that look on your face. With only slight spoilers, I’ll be able to explain why I feel people need to watch this show. Not only do they develop interesting arguments on topics such as the overuse of technology or monotheism, but the issue of discrimination over race and origin is the central theme that is significant enough to focus on.

Unfortunately, the first hurdle when trying to convince a skeptic about the significance of “Battlestar Galactica” is that it’s a sci-fi show set mostly in space. People roll their eyes and call it just another cheap set of bad effects and action. But in reality, if you look past the futuristic exterior, the show delves into the souls of humanity and tries to pick out what exactly makes us human.

The most obvious example of real world comparisons is the show’s depiction of the dangers of too much trust in technology. In Galactica, humans created a race of robots called Cylons, who ended up becoming self-aware and breaking off on their own.  In the first episode, they wipe out nearly the entire human race, leaving only a group of people left to carry on the race.

I don’t think what the writers are trying to say is that technology is bad, but that complete trust in it is dangerous and could potentially lead to serious consequences. If we look back into even recent history we can see the same sort of trusting in technology letting us down. Y2K was a laughable event that nobody thought was funny at the time. People legitimately thought that the technological world was going to come to a halt at that particular midnight.

But everything was fine. Even though we put all of our trust into technology we were still unsure of.

Furthermore, the debate over religion is raised throughout every season of Galactica and almost mirrors society’s conflicted view of foreign religions. In the show, the humans are a polytheistic society while the Cylons are a monotheistic race, each with their own confident beliefs that their god or gods are the one true deity.

While there are not too many major religions that focus on the worship of multiple gods anymore, the Cylons’ way of thinking closely resembles modern day Christianity and the violent way they go about trying to spread their knowledge is not too unlike how Christianity spread back during the times of the Crusades. We might view the Cylons as monsters when they destroy the entire human race, but what about when the colonists wiped out Native Americans during the time Christianity was being forced upon the Indian communities?

Most importantly, the issue of wrongful discrimination of race and origin is the central theme of “Battlestar Galactica” and is directly comparable to the difficulties with discrimination that not only is present at SVSU, but around the rest of the world, as well. The Cylons are seen as just killers, but as lesser beings to humans. There are many reasons why the humans believe this. The Cylons basically destroyed their race and they are technically human creations. But the more viewers get to understand the Cylons the more they resemble human mentalities.

Cylons are given zero trust and they are seen as machines devoid of emotion or reason. However, the Cylons are seen throughout the series to have religious passions, fall in love with both Cylons and humans, and even betray their own kind to gain respect and allegiance from humans. As both the protagonists and the audience find out the humanity of the Cylons, the comparison to real life becomes more and more apparent.

It is only when the Cylons begin warring among themselves that it becomes entirely clear that the cycle has once again repeated itself. It would be impossible not to realize that the Cylons are an exact copy of their makers, even down to the terrible decisions they end up making that destroys their race. Americans could be pretty happy if they just stopped hating one another, and the Cylons represent nothing different.

So the next time I mention “Battlestar Galactica” in the context of the more complex television experiences, I hope that I receive fewer cases of extreme eye rolling. Because not only is the show intensely entertaining, it also ponders on the perplexing concept of humanity in a way unique from any other television program.