BSG Review, Part 46

After a self-imposed, 3 year cell-batical, I admit to being pretty stunned by the technological wallop packed into “smart” phones these days. It's a little like peering into a future that's already arrived. Coincidentally, I also just finished the final season of BSG, a series that - at its core - is a cautionary reflection on (and warning about) the perils of unchecked technological advances.

BSG's dystopian vision of humanity probably seems more important than it really is, but the series is distinctly (and by definition) a present-day construct, a pop-culture dissection of the trends and possible futures of a global society with right now as its starting point. Regardless of BSG's place in the science fiction canon, it's hard not to be impressed with the scope and thought that went into the series. To be frank, about half of it is well-packaged rubbish but the other half is though-provoking Sci-Fi at its finest. The series worked best when it was stripped down to pure survival mode. What needed to happen, who stepped up and who didn't when the chips were down made for great story telling and BSG excelled when the writers concentrated on the challenges of this struggle. When it wandered off into quasi-religious mode, the series noticeably deflated and became a bit tedious at times.

While it isn't integral to the BSG story arc, the brief glimpses offered into Caprica before the fall are underdeveloped and if BSG had a plot hole, this is it. For all the “beware-the-machine” rhetoric of the series, the rift at the core of the conflict goes strangely unexplored. Having seen the opening volley of the new series “Caprica”, which is set in the period when machines develop a consciousness (of sorts), I gather that the series' creators felt the same way. We'll have to see where they go with it. That being said, the vague cautionary tale about technology that BSG circles around might be deliberate and gives the series the benefit of allowing the viewer to imprint whatever they want on the warning. Depending on your perspective, the show could be about the automobile, big oil, the nuclear industry, the military, Apple or any of a dozen other things. Regardless of the rotating metaphor, what was evident during these pre-war-life-on-Caprica flashbacks, was the airy indifference displayed by its citizens to the pitfalls associated with their technologically advanced society.

Which brings me back to my new “smart” phone. The increasingly ubiquitous wireless world of cell phones, Twittering, text messaging, iPods, and other personal communication tools has grown exponentially in recent years and it's changing our society in ways we haven't begun to understand. Our individual and collective behavior is shifting to align with these new forms of interaction in both good and bad ways. The sheer accessibility to information, knowledge (and maybe more importantly, each other) also manifests itself in increasingly conflicting ways. We've all tried to have a verbal discussion with someone so completely immersed in their cell/text world as to become nearly impossible to engage with in the real one. Their attentions are difficult to maintain because they can't stop texting and twittering long enough to focus on an analog discussion. The huge irony of course is this - for all the new communication lines opened to them by their wireless devices, the cell-outs have lost their ability to communicate using the one they're born with. Amongst nearly all the converts, there also seems to be little realization that their most intimate communication is now modulated and controlled by third parties, a particularly troublesome relinquishment of their right to (and need for) privacy.

What I took to be the essence of the BSG story line was the danger associated with unchecked faith in technology. Granted they took it to a metaphoric extreme – the machines rise up and kill us – but the story is not new. It's been done countless times before - from H.G Welles to Planet of the Apes to The Terminator series, but at their core, these tales are all about the same thing.

In a way, BSG took the easy way out. By making the machines the aggressor, the show's creators removed human culpability from the equation, at least in any direct way. At worst, the humans were presented as a combination of arrogant and blissfully ignorant. The Cylon Frankenstein they created simply rose up and mutinied against their masters. It might have been interesting if they had explored the idea that benevolent passivity in a society addicted to a mode of communication that sometimes lessens rather than expands real discourse was ultimately to blame for its downfall.

Out of interest, I think that's where we are right now.



Britarded said...

My bike Benjamin now has a wireless computer, i think naming it was bad but now it's the beginning of the end. If I go under a streetcar one day don't assume it was an accident, destroy the bike before it's conciousness uploads via the wireless link to another computer somewhere.

the coelacanth said...

"We've all tried to have a verbal discussion with someone so completely immersed in their cell/text world as to become nearly impossible to engage with in the real one. Their attentions are difficult to maintain because they can't stop texting and twittering long enough to focus on an analog discussion. The huge irony of course is this - for all the new communication lines opened to them by their wireless devices, the cell-outs have lost their ability to communicate using the one they're born with. Amongst nearly all the converts, there also seems to be little realization that their most intimate communication is now modulated and controlled by third parties, a particularly troublesome relinquishment of their right to (and need for) privacy."

i can't think of a better way to have put this. you nailed it. i've always found it to be particularly frustrating to try and communicate with a texter who refuses to look at you, or merely nods and gives an occasional glazed-over "uh-huh" to what you're saying. i always thought that at worst this practice was incredibly rude and disrespectful, but now you cast (and rightfully so, i believe) a much more sinister glow on the matter. excellent food for thought, and nicely put.

somewhat related - a recent study showed that a texter behind the wheel of a car is less responsive than a drunk. indeed, when car and driver compared the length of time it takes to brake when sober, when texting, and when drunk, the results were 0.04 second differential before hitting the brakes when drunk vs. 0.68 seconds when texting. this may seem like an inconsequential amount of time, but when you factor in standard highway speeds, that 0.68 seconds translates into 66 feet, surely the difference between coming out unscathed or ramming headlong into a median or worse, another vehicle. so, i ask you this: if you are better off being drunk behind the wheel of a car than you are texting, and being drunk at work is certainly frowned upon, why hasn't texting seen a similar crackdown? hmmmm....

Dropkick said...

i bike and text all the time, and i'm still here.

is it paranoia of the ever consuming machine, gentlemen?
or a refusal of adaption?

regardless, the world expands contrary to the axis of ones personal preference. Technologies get better, the world gets smaller, and humans can disconnect much easier.

if you see me lost in a text most likely its because (not always) that i'd rather be talking to someone else who is not able to be with me physically in person. This doesn't make me a slave to the oh so feared, around here anyways, "new world". It makes me a sucker for human interaction.

Now, you say why not phone instead of text... well at the core.. they are the same. And a text gentlemen, whether you agree or not is a quicker way to disconnect from one's bland boring existence, connect with someone else and jump out quick enough to scoop a few more cones.

i feel like the East end has been on my ass about my so called addiction to technologies. As i told Britfarted, websites like Twitter and texting.. these are my only modes of connecting with the people i love during work. Why not just work you ask? because work.. well work is soul sucking. Has been since the beginning of humanity, will be when were all snuffed out. It's against human nature and should be boring. 99.9% of us will never be able to do something for a living that we fully enjoy.
so, it may be annoying yes. i get it i can connect with my coworker who is standing beside me. But quite frankly, they don't have tits.

East end is a weiner roast, as i've said. until that changes and i stop getting lost in Jules' immaculate eyes, i will most likely txt someone more appealing. at least i can still work.

And you'd be happy to know, Britarded, that because of the thing i did on Thursday my internet time has been cut down practically by 50%!

i know cats, i hate facebook too! a website where you can connect with your friends and talk to one another and leave msgs for another, and joke around, and share views on things... oh. kinda like this blog.


the coelacanth said...

you haven't looked closely enough - jules has tits.

Dropkick said...

Jules has tits for eyes.

i should also note most of the time i'm just texting my mom

Dropkick said...

not cause she has like uh... but like because you know, she's asking me stuff.
ya know, uh.

i like bikes too!

Britarded said...

Kadas, frankly you're talking shit again.

Dropkick said...

and further more gentleman,
there's no explicit difference between this world (being the blog) compared to one such as facebook or Twitter, or the Bar Towel or Craigslist. or Purerave.com.

All sites serve the same purpose as to connect fellow humans. Only funny enough i find more and more that THIS world is the most embarrassing and ridiculous. i actually feel less embarrassed to be apart of the other blog i'm on.
This blog has, as of late, outdone Twitter and facebook by leaps and bounds. It kicks the texting worlds ass when you compare the two based on their level of pretension. Now i'm not attacking the blog itself. Just the attacking within itself. The days of writing reviews and telling each other that we enjoyed them are over. Now we have reached our level of decadence and would rather just sling shit at one another.

My remarks, suppose to be mostly taken in jest. as pretty much everything i ever write on here has actually changed the layout of the blog to become something, i suppose, is directed to me. All it does is embarrass the same people it entertains. Including myself. I laugh but then think about an Italian man googling "short people pron" and coming upon or blog and i hang my head in shame. i must have hit it pretty close to the mark to justify these actions.

I don't post as much because it's just silly now. don't want to get my dick bitten off.

And further more, dinosaurs will die. and brainbritfart will still have horrible rhetoric.

La Sporgenza said...

Notwithstanding the obvious response “you're not supposed to be connecting with your loved ones when you're at work - that's why it's called work”, Kris raises some valid points. I completely concur that a paranoia exists about the ever-consuming machine. By Kris's interesting choice of the words "ever-consuming" however, I think we SHOULD be paranoid about the exponential growth of gadgetry and the - as yet uncertain - impact it might have on society. Just because it exists, doesn't necessarily make it worthwhile. I think the larger issues I touched on in the original post are valid, or at least worthy of consideration but I rarely hear anyone talking about them. The original idea was to extrapolate from the cautionary tale spun in BSG and then try to put it in some present-day context, specifically relating to modern social network gadgetry like my goofy new BlackBerry but if I recall, also to the car, the nuclear industry and computers, among other things. The idea that a social etiquette problem exists with texting/twittering interaction was intended to show by example how some forms of modern communication have become exclusionary and serve to isolate the participants from other, more traditional and socially accepted ones.

I think the half-joking choice of the term “addiction” isn't far off the true either. There is a very seductive side to the idea of framing our social interaction exclusively on our own terms. Never having to actually integrate or engage with others (at least with those that don't share the same communication infrastructure), might lead to a very different society if it becomes increasingly prevalent, and it looks very much like that's the direction we're heading. What that world might look like fascinates me.

The idea that change is inevitable is absolutely right. Society changes for all sorts of reasons and as a result of a multitude of different factors. Furthermore, it's also true that people aren't comfortable with the perpetual nature of change. To suggest that all change is inevitably GOOD however is simply foolhardy. Fascism was “new” once too and we all know how that turned out. The semi-serious comment about finding co-workers boring and unworthy of attention connects directly to the idea that work is against human nature, which incidentally, mankind's entire history refutes absolutely. The claim that one's existence while doing it is “bland and boring” is less a function of the reality and more a byproduct of a society that has been told since birth that whatever they're doing at the moment is beneath us. Work is simply an extension of our survival instinct. Because none of us grew up at a time when “not working” caused our nearly instant demise followed by a quick and painful death, we collectively assume that we have a choice in the matter. We don't. We can try and choose what field and vocation we might want to work in but we can't do nothing at all. That's just a a crappy fact of life. Those that are unfulfilled by their work have two choices – complain about it or change what they do. Most choose the former because it takes the least effort.

I'll certainly admit to voicing thoughts and observations on this blog that drift from the subject of film but this entire post and its followup comments directly related to one of the many subtexts of BSG – technology and its potential pitfalls. If that's pretentious, embarrassing and a big joke well, so be it. I don't happen to think that's the case but it might be. I think the apparent paranoia about what the original post was about might be a good indication that it had some merit.

Britarded said...

I could spend time highlighting the glaring contradictions in your posts but instead I'll go work on my rhetoric. Hmmmmm... dinosaurs eh? Very good!

Dropkick said...

sorry Sporgey. my comments were not directed to your post. which i thoroughly enjoyed, instead they were directed to other comments. which creates some sort of rip in the space/time continuum. comments aimed at other comments? what have we become?

your post is insightful and i agree with most if not all the points you have discussed. I just want to play devil's advocate, or more in line with your post, play Gaius Baltar.

i didn't mean the posts themselves are pretentious, they are fine. maybe pretentious was the wrong word. it is the animosity of the comment boards that make me feel like i'm in some sort of Roman bath house where the men compare johnsons and poke fun at one another. and i've always drawn the short stick. which makes one yearn to yammer on to prove his bravado.

Work is for work and i work.
hell i'm content with my job. no scratch that i love it (minus all the dairy), but serving the skin jobs can get tedious. and when i say "soul sucking" i refer to the drone a shift can take on. and of course, it goes without saying, it all plays into my own issues with life and an overall terrifying feeling of unaccomplishment that seems to grow in quantum leaps when someone asks "is that really banana?".

and i have every right to complain. we all do it every day. i was simply trying to state that my dependence on more unnatural outlets for connection to a humanity that doesn't resemble the skin jobs as much, shouldn't be seen any less of an unfocus at work compared to checking the blog constantly throughout ones shift to check for any new comments.

maybe the point of this unfocused wreck should resemble a tag line closer to "we're not so different you and i."

i apologize that my comments themselves were not focused to the post at hand but instead directed elsewhere. but that also can be attributed to my lack of focus which is inherent in Colombian men.

good points all around. shit talking and all. so when's the circle jerk at casa de la sporgey?

the coelacanth said...

all this emo whining has arisen out of my simple assertion that "texting while someone is talking to you is incredibly rude and disrespectful". now, somehow that has been cleverly manipulated (intentionally or not) to assume "i hate all technology and those that use it". WOW!!!! impressive.

please, kris, get something other than your soul sucked ASAP...we want you back!

Dropkick said...

i'm drawing the cut lines amongst my wrists as i type, it's complicated

Dropkick said...

i think my humour has been misconstruied as "emo".
Which i also am, but didn't really mean for any real emotion to be all that adherent in my earlier post.

I never meant to cleverly manipulate anything (if i have it is rather unclever as it is by complete fluke)that you have said. I felt i needed to take stance toward a statement i felt completely directed to me that was cleverly hidden within a general statement.

so i responded with another general statement with hidden undertones as well.

and now the blog looks stupid, which in itself is another hidden jab, which is in reference to comments i made.

but still if we run the burner a little longer you'll realize the whole argument here is that the stigmatizims are, to my eyes, exclusive to the bath house.
and maybe the world i live in is vapid and vain.

regardless, i think i know how to answer your query now conclave, yes.. you can suck me anytime.

i really have to get off blogs for awhile. every time i do someone cries and then calls me a baby. but it's because i hold the keys to the bath house and the whore house at the same time. it's an envious position.

anyone ever try ambrosia? its not.. actually... real

Dropkick said...

whoops, wrong blog

La Sporgenza said...


1) I agree that the blog now looks stupid.

2) I thought you had some valid and interesting things to say about technology and its constant evolution

3) As I said in my followup post, Tom is indeed a nob

4) Joe is also a nob but has a point about people who seem more interested in something else when you try and engage with them. I don't think it was aimed specifically at anyone - just that it's a common occurance these days.

5) Joe's spelling is spectacular and that really pisses me off.

6) Apparently, Tom keeps "releasing" in his pants, which is disturbing & disgusting.

7) Texting someone with better tits than Jules is both completely understandable and to be commended.

8) How about Thursday for your Segredos visit?

Dropkick said...

i'm i fired?

La Sporgenza said...

That all depends on how well Thursday goes.

Britarded said...

I say "released" you say "occurance", welcome to dic klub. Truce?

La Sporgenza said...

Good point Tom.... I guess the difference is I got one letter wrong and you got one letter right.

J.P said...

Wow!! Good think I just keep my head down. This blog is going to get someone fired. It looks like a nice calm blog on the surface but beneath the water...

Chandles said...

i'd say 50% of the time kris is texting me, and I always win the boob nice bangers contest. How can you get down on a man for texting these?