I was reading about the militarization of space, and ended up pondering the militarization of science fiction TV. Take the Star Trek franchise, for example – a set of shows whose heroes are almost without exception members of the military, working compliantly within military structures to achieve the goals it sets for them.
Building on that, I went through the other military based / related SF shows I’ve seen. Immediate ones that sprung to mind were Babylon 5, Stargate SG-1, Andromeda, Battlestar Galactica, Quantum Leap, Timecop, The X-Files and Space: Above and Beyond.
These are some of the key US SF shows, and all of them support a view of society in which the military – or related civil institutions – represent the finest exemplars of that society, and are battling to preserve its coherence from one kind of threat or another.
There’s an implied worldview there that’s both fascinating and rather worrying. These are very popular shows. Their viewers (myself included) are clearly happy to buy uncritically into the concept of military or militarised action as the final solution to any problems in dealing with any external, ‘other’ threat.
That’s worrying, for obvious reasons – and it’s also one more symptom of our more general obsession with violence as entertainment. If TV has its way, we’ll all come to see the future as big things blowing each other up, out of a deep rooted and unchallengeable sense of personal righteousness; or, at a more intimate scale, agents of governance stepping in to solve problems before which civilians can only ever be passive.