My irregular musings on city life, politics, baseball, roller derby, and whatever happens to be getting my goat today.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

V for Vacuous

Having come back home to my Tivo at last, I have been able to catch up on the new "V." Obviously I record everything because I have a two year old who believes TV sets are for watching videos and who doesn't realize anything is broadcast live except for baseball games. So prime time at my house starts at about 10 pm if it starts at all. So I finally watched the end of ABC's boring-assed remake, and when it was done I switched to 1984's "V: The Final Battle" which I have out from Netflix at the moment.

And I have to say, the '80s version was better, and that says something good about the world for a change. I mean, in the 80s, America becomes an alien-occupied fascist state like Vichy France, while our new alien overlords steal all of our water resources and shrink-wrap non-cooperative humans as a food source. They also engage in some truly scary mind control "conversions" where they perform a procedure on anti-alien humans which brainwashes them and turns them into collaborators. This reflected the world of the 1980s where we all felt threatened by immanent nuclear annhilation and totalitarianism. When I was a kid, I seriously doubted that I would ever grow up, believing the Cold War would turn hot and destroy the world at any moment.

By contrast, today's "V" features sleepers cells of aliens disguised as humans who may engage in terrorist acts or distribute some poisoned flu shots. Aliens come with a fleet of high tech spaceships floating over our major cities, and that's all they've got? Big deal. The problem here is that we live in much less scary times. Sure, 9/11 was frightening and tragic, but it certainly wasn't the end of civilization as we know it. If that's all the terrorsts have, then they are no the existential threat they have been made out to be in some quarters. It's terrible when terrorists blow stuff up and kill a tiny fraction of a percent of the population, but it's not really a menace to your way of life. Spain, Israel, Turkey etc. have all dealt with stuff being blown up by terrorists without being destroyed by it, and there's no reason the US couldn't do the same. All this is just to say that the military threats posed by todays world are simply not as great, and as a result, a TV show updated to be "relevant" today's world is simply not as scary as one influenced by the Cold War and World War II before it.

Thinking about this, it really struck me that all this talk about "unprecedented threats" and color coded terrorist alerts are just completely overblown. If there is an existential threat to our way of life, it comes from climate change and our dependance on world-destroying fossil fuels, not from terror cells with silly facial hair. All Al Queda can do is murder a few thousand people. Sad, but you'd take it over nuclear annhilation or fascism any day of the week. They're certainly not a threat of a magnitude that should provoke us to restricting civil liberties, spying on our own citizens, or resorting to torture or imprisonment without trial. If those extreme steps were not necessary when faced with the Soviet Union, why on earth does anyone theink they are necessary now?

4 comments:

Redbird said...

I haven't seen either version - not my cup of tea I suspect, but the difference between cold war fear and modern terrorism fear strikes a real chord with me.

I remember sitting in 8th grade science class and discussing the effects of nuclear war. The teacher asked how many of us thought there would be nuclear war - almost the whole class raised our hands. The discussion included facts about why Cincinnati would be on the list for attack - the GE plant for one. It was pretty much agreed we wouldn't see the after-effects so much since we'd all be dead in the blast.

This is, of course, a memory clouded by 23 years. But I remember that conversation to this day, and how calmly we discussed this horrible certainty.

I no longer fear total planet destruction. And it is not buildings being blown up that makes me fear for my family's safety.

HalFink said...

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馬甲 said...

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