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Tag Archives: Babylon 5

A while ago, as a result of the Mass Effect finale, one of the many conversations I have had as a result of the Mass Effect finale, the idea came up that the final segment of a trilogy should be the best and most emotionally satisfying part of that trilogy.

Does this always work? After all we are all individuals with differing tastes and emotional reactions. We all look at things differently. Again because of conversations about Mass Effect 3, I realize I have some widely different opinions then many of my peers.

And the issue is, idealistic, yes, the final segment in any long-term series should wrap things up in a nice little bow and be the most satisfying of the set.

But it does not always work out this way.

And I can think of many examples of it. Many people say the Empire Strikes Back was a better movie then Return of the Jedi.

That the original Pirates of the Caribbean movie is better than either of the two sequels. Or, for that matter, On Stranger Tides.

That Halo 1 was better than Halo 2 or 3, that the original Mass Effect was better than ME 3.

Or as I believe personally that ME 2 was better than ME 3, the second Pirates movie was the best of the set, and that the best season of Babylon 5 was the fourth and not the fifth.

This works because of a gamble in art, not everything that you do is going to find an effective place in an audience. You take a risk, you try to do something different, and some people hate it. Some people may even hate it over some idealized picture of the first installment and thus that no matter what the other installments in any series does, especially if its different, they hate it.

And this is ultimately why things may not work out for the best. Because an author or artist is forced to comply to different pressures. To fan pressure, to the pressure of the people they are working for, to their own original artistic vision. To the writers and costume people who are also a part of the creative vision and each putting their own technical restraints on a project.

To even new writers being added to a project mid way…or people dying or people getting sick and tired of circumstances. Of people leaving a project, or getting bogged down in other commitments.

You can say as a writer, ‘hey I want this person to be playing this role in my movie who has been there since the beginning, but sadly he has moved on to do a big hollywood thing!’

Or something simply not matching audience expectations.

There are a few examples of trilogies ending with a bang, IMO. Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings are fine examples of their craft.

But we all have to realize that just because something should be this way, doesn’t mean it will be this way.

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*Warning Spoilers for ME 3 follow*

At the end of the hit sci-fi game Mass Effect three you run into a completely new character out of the blue. A God-Child computer program that designed the Reapers and enables them to reap all sentient life every fifty thousand years or so. This God-Child gives you three choices, Control the Reapers, merge organic and synthetic life in a new matrix, or wipe out all synthetics in the galaxy. Thats it. No choices, no options, not even a little bit of the character righteously asking the God-Child ‘why, why must I do this?’

And thus completely destroying almost one hundred hours worth of game play involving deep player choice and control over the most miniscule of details. But beyond that it also ruins the theme.

And really goes against one of the personal themes that has been set mainly throughout the entirety of Science Fiction. The idea of personal choice.

In Mass Effect you were supposed to have the ability of full player choice. That your actions and in actions had dire and dramatic consequences for the world you lived in and the people who surrounded you. Who lived, who died, who you helped, who you condemned. Which had an impact on the storyline and how effectively you were against the Reapers, or at the very least who you brought to the final dance.

But yet at the end you are limited to three contradictory and insulting choices without as much as a howd ya do.

In most science fiction stories that I know of to an extent it is all about human progress. About humanity and individual actions raging against the machine and those in power. It is very…libertarian. And perhaps one of the reasons I have so much respect for individual freedom, choice, about small Government ideals and not judging people not by the color of their skin but by the content of the character. It has, as I said, a very real effect on my personal, social, and moral development.

Characters challenging Governments, Gods, would be Gods, demi Gods, and any person in authority that was deemed to have the temerity to dictate terms. Even going so far, again, to challenge characters and entities that claim to be God.

In Star Trek V Captain Kirk and crew go to the center of the Galaxy on a search for God and when they find Him Kirk challenges the entity in question leading McCoy to utter one of the most famous lines in Star Trek: ‘Jim, you don’t ask the almighty for his ID’.

To the Stargate franchise which dealt with in its flagship show Stargate SG-1 the battle between a team of US elite military operatives and a race of beings that were impersonating ancient deities from various cultures. As they challenge these claims to their God hood and eventually help ferment a revolution against those beings.

To the two-part series of Star Trek Deep Space Nine where Benjamin Sisko leads a revolt against the benevolent authorities of the United Federation of Planets who under pressure and fear from imminent invasion by a hostile species imposes strict martial law on their inhabitants beaming down armed troops into the center of major cities and declaring a curfew to try to crack down on enemy agents.

To Babylon 5 where the main character John Sheridan leads a civil war against his own Government who was shooting down civilian transports and bombing cities in the colonies to impose his iron fisted will on the people.

Science Fiction has always represented a challenging of the status quo, at least to me. To saying, wait a second, who are you to play God? What is your authority here? Do you really make sense? Is what you are telling me factual? Sadly a lot of people in the science fiction community does not seem to appreciate these lessons.

Even television shows, movies, and books with no user input has a challenging of choices presented by the main character where they, often, are faced with an impossible situation but move on, grow, adapt, challenge, and overcome.

But yet Mass Effect a franchise that was based on the pinnacle of player choice and a personal story designed by the player does not do this. They do not challenge, they do not let the player control their destiny. At the height of the action with everything on the line your character can either disintegrate herself, throw herself into an energy beam…and disintegrate herself…or shoot a power conduit which causes an explosion killing themselves unless you meet a certain amount of pre set conditions.

Everything falls apart at the last moment.

Thus betraying both itself, its medium, and the genre it is playing in.

What is truth? And what is God?

Those are two of the most fundamental and difficult questions to answer in life, and maybe even impossible questions to answer. Which is why the character there, G’Kar, chooses to answer it the way he did.

He choose to answer it, by not answering it basically. But saying it is the search that matters. No matter what it is the search and life’s journey and struggles that matter in life.

This is especially true when it comes to truth, and the divine.

That the harder you look, the more you search, the brighter your light and the more you can know. That your search for knowledge is all that matters in your life. And for the truth, and for the divine, from all aspects of life.

Go out, talk, explore from anyone. No matter their faith, religion or background. The more your eyes can be open and the more you approach the path with both eyes as wide as you can be, the better off you will be.

We can all have a lot to learn from one another.

The better our chances are of learning the truth. About life, and the divine, or just truth in general.

Even if we think that we know the truth, even if it makes sense to you and it seems like the best option and it is even most of the truth. We can always search, and we can always learn. We can always keep looking and searching and keep the light well-lit and strong.

Because there is another show I like, called Doctor Who, and in the episode “Planet of the Ood” where there is a very bad man, a man who is maintaining a nefarious organization for his own profit and keeping people enslaved by lobotomizing them.

Towards the end of it the Doctor’s companion, Donna Noble says, ‘traveling with you, I don’t know up from down anymore’ or something like that.

And the Doctor replies that people who do, usually end up like the guy who was doing all the evil stuff.

Now, in the real world that does not always happen. It can, and it is better when you search, but there are some wonderful people who are very secure with their lives.

And there are facts in life and there is truth, 2+2 does equal four.

But yet the search, and honest questioning everything with boldness, is what is important in life.

But the answer is in the speech by G’kar because…assumptions will kill you. Making assumptions will kill you and leave you dead, even if it takes you a while to get there.

Because if you assume, ‘ah the light is God I have found God look how perfect he looks.’ Or you say ‘ah God looks like us I am God, I am the truth’ Or you look to the darkness and say ‘man, everything is darkness, there is no truth, there is no God, everything is bitter and hopeless and despairing.’

All of these are absolutes, all of those are perceptions and assumptions of reality, that I do not really think is based in reality.

Which is why I do not get along with Atheists and why that ideology always bugs the crap out of me to be honest.

Because they deny the existence of a very important part of the search and the life’s story that all of us need to answer, and come to terms with.

They do not have that strong of a light.

Today was the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt 1 (Well technically yesterday but I watched it today and it was good, brilliant, fantastic, molto bene alons-y…sorry got a bit carried away there…) Needless to say a great movie, but in its release…one of my favorite movie series of all time… I came back to something that I have been thinking about often. It is the perfect time for this blog.

Now back years and years ago I was at one of my friend’s house, and we were watching something on the TV…a Discovery Program or something of that nature.

Now the younger brother asked something, and I seem to recall the answer being, don’t believe things you see on TV…or something of that nature.

And yeah, sure I can see his point to an extent but it got me thinking, and even at the time…I was quite puzzled and affronted a little bit at first.

And the reason was, in reflecting about it years later, is that fiction is…or was rather…an important part of my development.

Still is, I still really enjoy fiction and movies and books and video games.

I suppose the main reason comes from the Glenn Beck theme song that he has been using for a majority of 2010:

In it, it states that we must look for answers everywhere. No matter how dark, gloomy, depressing, or fictional, we must look for answers.

We must have our eyes open to all possibilities and we must listen and be willing to learn from any number of sources, and then incorporate it and act accordingly.

To try to discern the best answers and the correct answers from the information you are assimilating.

Because that is how I did it…I think…I mean I think I turned out OK in my upbringing…don’t you?

Because shows and fiction and movies and books teach proper principles, they teach lessons, and they do things that can point one in the right direction to be good.

They are there if you know where to look for them. If you are willing to listen and to learn and be open. They are there…all around us in fact…everywhere…and some of them can be quite…subtle.

But whether it is Babylon 5, or Harry Potter, or Lord of the Rings, or Star Wars or…even more recently…the Overton Window.

They can teach lessons on Liberty, Freedom, Friendship, loyalty, and love.

After all perhaps one of the better lines from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is Hermione’s chat to Harry: ‘me? books and cleverness…there are more important things…like friendship…and loyalty…’

And after all, the fiction that is the best, is grounded in reality or real principles.

And we should trust people to discern lessons…the correct lessons..while avoiding the evil and the bad. In the franchises, and in the arguments.

We can be the guide.

We can be the guide to ignore the Voldemort’s and the Twilight’s of the world. Or avoid acting them out.

We can learn the proper answers when it comes to Government and Liberty, in fact there are a lot of motifs and scenes of interest throughout both Harry Potter and Babylon 5 showing the dangers of overbearing Government…even those that seem benign.

In fact, I think that fiction is one of the most important way of getting lessons, especially today.

People ignore things all the time, we do not learn proper real world examples, but yet we do seem to listen to Fiction. Maybe we should listen to it more.

But the point is it is there, it is there if we want to listen to them and it does get the blood going and thinking.

After all many of the deepest conversations I have had in my life has followed National Treasure or some other movie that we just got out of the theater for.

After all fiction inspires you to be better, inspires you to look into something, look up something, to gain further knowledge of the movie and its real world icon.

After all it inspires you to be like the heroes on the big screen, or the pages of a book.

Again as long as you can learn the proper lessons.

So if we CAN learn the proper lessons, then we must encourage people to gain knowledge from all sources and all areas. I do not think we have much choice in the matter.

And on another note, in looking at the numbers from the opening weekend of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows…..61 Million Dollars…I think we have found a way to solve our debt problems. Hehe…just a thought.

I would like to start this Blog off with a note.  I disagree with Glenn Beck.

As with many things it’s a matter of personal taste, I see his basic point on the disagreement.  That there is a new Anarchy versus a new Big Government scale with the Anarchists and the Big Government being in the same basic boat.

I agree with the basic point but in a political climate and a left right spectrum that is so muddied, there is little reason to make it more complicated.

Instead it is one of big Government vs and aligned with the Revolutionaries.  Forces of chaos that still believe their ideology is the best.

Which gives an interesting segue to the actual subject of this blog.

It occurred to me that this debate, one between Agents of Chaos and Agents of Order, should be one that is familiar to any fan of the show Babylon 5.

The Vorlons and the Shadows were two races in that show.  They were assigned to watch over and help guide the younger races.  But they had two diametrically opposed ideologies.  One believed that Chaos was the way to go, through evolution and war was the way to go and the best way to help the universe.  The Vorlons believed in an ordered universe and obedience was the best way to go.

However they both only wanted to see their ideologies prevail in the younger races.

Just like with us right now.

The difference between the Big Government Progressive politicians, and the Revolutionaries is one of style and of how to get there.

One through patience and nudging, and the other through societal shifts, and sometimes violence.  That we need to be dragged to it.

They are both the same, the ends are the same, the goals are the same but in the end their means that they will use are ideologically different.

And as we have seen throughout history sometimes vehemently opposed to one another.

But they all want power, they all want security, they all want to see their way prevail.  And will get there through any means that they will feel will be acceptable.

Meanwhile anyone else who gets in the way, is different, or is a ‘reactionary’ will be pushed to the side and told to get in line and obey.

Even if that means each other.

I was thinking the other day of doing something, random and out of the blue.  But I realized the blog topic is personal, random, totally inappropriate, needs more fleshing out, and well needs more time for me to think on it.

But for a while now I have been wanting to do fun things.  I want to bring a pop culture spin on things, making movie, play,book, or TV references to make a point.  And while I do that often…the subject material is usually serious.

And I also want to analyze All Along the Watchtower, in today’s times and given a Libertarian context.  But that is for later.

But thinking about this, and going to see Robin Hood today, I realized.  I can make a list of the five people, I think, are big Libertarian heroes.  So here it goes:

5. Paladin:  (Have Gun, Will Travel)

The protagonist of the CBS television show from the fifties and sixties, Have Gun Will Travel.  A private ‘gun for hire’ that performed various tasks ranging from battling corrupt businessmen, outlaws, to even helping out local law enforcement.  Or battling corrupt law enforcement as the case may be.  Always fought for the truth and the noble cause, even going so far as to giving the money back if he felt the job corrupt.  The lesson here is that sometimes private people can be just as effective, or more so, with morality and justice, then the law that is supposed to protect us.  Especially for his times.  Also an intellectual, able to speak on a wide variety of topics from Chess, to Shakespeare, to Democratic Government.  Has been known to quote Jefferson “the tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of tyrants.”

4. Robin Hood.

The emerald archer…no wait that’s Green Arrow :P.  The archer from the Forests of Nottingham who stole from the rich, and gave to the poor, and battled evil local Governments all the way.  The Current portrayal of the role (done by Russel Crowe) portrays him as someone who was firmly against big Government and raged against all Government intrusions.  Being the son of a Mason and a Philosopher who helped form a Charter of Liberties, a Contract between the people and the King.  A cause that Robin would take up one day.  However not knowing the breadth and scope of the actual legend, just getting really interested in it now, I do not know how much this is true.  The current movie portrays him as a 13th Century version of George Washington.  Again I do not know how true this is.  What I do know is he battled the special interests and the corrupt politicians of his time, and thus deserves some note.

3.  Malcolm Reynolds.   (Firefly)

Just a man trying to make his own way in a crazy world.  Be left alone by a big out of control powerful central Allied Governments.  Just wanting to do jobs and make his money, and was a Sergeant in their war of independence.  Tried to not do immoral jobs, giving money back to his employer, and vital medicines back to the people when he discovered that was what his job was.  Was also responsible for uncovering the failed Alliance policy of population control that led to the creation of the Reavers.

2.  John Sheridan (Babylon 5)

Seceded from Earth, Helped create an interstellar alliance that was modeled on principles similar to the foundation of the US. He  battled an out of control President (Clarke, who claimed dictatorial powers, created Government organizations with the express mandate to monitor and maintain control over the people.  Bombed Civilian targets and disbanded the Senate and the Press, led missions to seize by force any institution that stood against his administration.)  Think Obama with a bigger budget.   John Sheridan eventually was forced to help in a Civil War against that President, preferred to stay on the sidelines and find a peaceful solution to the problem, but was forced increasingly by his Government to take radical actions to stop them and restore the Constitution.

And

1.  The Doctor.  (Doctor Who)

Yes the Doctor, Doctor Who.  The independent and radical Time Lord who has battled his own people, is in stolen technology, and has failed his people’s driver’s tests to drive his ship, but does so anyways.  The ultimate hero of free spirit, independence, exploration, and justice.  Having a rigid moral code, and defying Governments, corrupt people, but yet protecting everyone and having a respect for all of life.  Even those that are trying to kill him.  Sometimes shows dictatorial tendencies, but he never stays, and uses logic and reason more than force and coercion to bring people to his thinking.

People who did not make the list.

Jack Bauer (24)

Despite often battling his own Government and policies of (Charles Logan, Allison Taylor, international Terrorists and the Chinese to name some) that he disagrees with and doing the honorable thing in his own life, he is also a symbol for bigger Government then I think most Libertarians would be comfortable with.  Using torture and big bother like devices.

Harry Potter

Harry Potter cannot make the list.  Even though he has battled corruption, and the books has dealt with a massively corrupt Fudge administration, it was not the main focus.  His main focus was the battle against the Lord Voldemort and a classic Good and Evil scenario.

Disagree?  Agree?  Have your own lists or your own quibbles?  Comment!

Oh those all important questions, those questions that lead one to determine, pretty much everything about you. There are few that are more important than these with what is going on in the political climate as of right now.

If you have listened to the Glenn Beck show his big question is who are you, something he asks during certain shows often.  One of his themes is remembering who we are, as a people, and mentions that theme during the song for his radio show.

In fact he asks it so often that I feel like I am listening to the inquisitor from the show Babylon 5.

While I acknowledge the importance and the vitality of the question, for me the issue should be what do you want.

The reasoning for this is that often people hide what they believe behind ideological labels, whether they do so intentionally, or because they are ignorant of the true tenets of those labels.

Well I am a Progressive but I think the government should stay out of our lives, well I am a Libertarian but I want a universal government-run healthcare system, oh I am a Conservative but I love abortions, and feel the government should provide them, oh I am a liberal but I do not think gays should be allowed to marry.

I know these are generalizations and probably are not always true, but the point is still valid.  That often ideologies do cloud things and get in the way of…well most things.

The more important question to me is: What do you want,  or more specifically what do you want to do to me?

That is the main issue.  What are you, in your belief system, going to do to me, or what are you going to do, on my behalf?

Oh I am a Conservative and I am for a National ID card.  ( 😉 )

Because other than that it does not matter who you are if your ideology does not match, and then you do something contrary to it.

Time and time again politicians have claimed that they are one thing on a campaign trail and then when they get elected change colors and bring out their true ideology.

Republicans, Democrats, Liberals, Conservatives, it does not matter, from a political perspective, at least so it seems for me.

Which is why at the end of the day we must constantly ask the question of what the politicians really want.  What are their real objectives, their real motivations, and what they want to do to us, no matter what they claim they are doing for us.

Otherwise we will be constantly disappointed, and worse.

We must constantly look at the facts as they are put before us.