22 March 2009

Battlestar Galactica at the United Nations

A television show that is already iconic, and will likely be remembered as one of the greats, Battlestar Galactica (the reimagined series), has finished. And I must say that I couldn't imagine how Ron Moore and David Eick were going to pull off a satisfying ending, even with the two-hour series finale, but somehow they did it in fine style. This is one series whose DVDs I'll be watching again and again.

But more important than the quality of the writing, the production values, and the performances of the tremendous ensemble cast, Battlestar Galactica was a reflection on the hard and complex issues that face us here and now. That is, of course, the role of speculative fiction in the culture, to hold up a mirror to ourselves, to provide the anti-environment that provokes a new awareness and a venue in which that awareness can be explored.

Last week, BSG was hosted at the United Nations for a symposium on human rights, terrorism, children and armed conflict, and reconciliation between civilians and faiths. At the table were
Mary McDonnell, Emmy Award-winning and Oscar-nominated actor Edward James Olmos, and Battlestar Galactica creators and executive producers Ronald D. Moore and David Eick.

On the UN side, panelists will include Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict; Craig Mokhiber of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; Robert Orr, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Planning; and Famatta Rose Osode, from the Permanent Mission of Liberia to the UN.
The panel was moderated by UNICEF ambassador and Oscar-winning actor, Whoopi Goldberg.

Here is Edward James Olmos telling the assembled delegates that there is but one race - the human race - and that is it. So say we all!

A torrent of the full panel is here, and well worth watching.

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Stephen Downes said...

Movie stars. Is there anything they don't know?

Mark Federman said...

Wow, you must have taken a double dose of cynical pill this morning.

Ignoring the fact that Edward Olmos has been a social activist in the Latino community for some years and speaks with credibility on these sorts of issues, this event at the UN gave a broad platform to people who work tirelessly at the UN for human rights, for the rights of children, for the causes of international justice. Capitalizing on the publicity surrounding the end of this magnificent series created a well-publicized platform to stimulate conversation about these important issues.

But to your cynicism, many times during the event, Olmos turned attention to Ron Moore and David Eick who described how they very deliberately constructed the show to focus on the complexity and ambiguity of what our world now faces.

As they say in the show, "it has all happened before, and it will all happen again." The real question is, do we collectively have the will and awareness to change what has heretofore seemed inevitable?