Celebrating the 40th anniversary of Return of the Jedi

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Post By
America's Captain 

Location: Bayville New Jersey
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 12,139
In Reply To
Richard L

Subj: Re: Regarding the post about Babylon 5
Posted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 at 01:04:10 pm EDT (Viewed 118 times)
Reply Subj: Regarding the post about Babylon 5
Posted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 at 12:23:43 pm EDT (Viewed 134 times)

    I just felt like adding my pennyworth into this conversation. The truth is that when Babylon 5 first came out I felt like it was an underdone show, poor sets and panto acting but I came to the show in Season 4 and quicky rewatched all the show from Season 4 on. Once you get to love Londo and G'Kar as well as get to enjoy Garibaldi falling out with Sheridan, well you are taken with it.

I think it may be time for me to get this show on DVDs and watch it again. I actually had to google Garibaldi. But Londo and G'Kar are vivid memories for me, as are Sheridan, Delenn, and Lennier.

What made this show for me was the inter-species politics, all the intrigue and espionage and threats of war. I enjoyed the fact that each character could be hero or villain depending on the perspective of the observer.

Also important was the war between order and chaos, as represented by the Vorlons and Shadows, neither of whom were benign from a human perspective - an idea explored previously by Michael Moorcock in such story cycles as that of Elric of Melnibone. Here's an insightful passage from Wikipdeia:

Order vs. chaos; authoritarianism vs. free will

"Neither the Vorlons nor the Shadows saw themselves as conquerors or adversaries. Both believed they were doing what was right for us. And like any possessive parent, they'll keep on believing that until the kid is strong enough to stand up and say, 'No, this is what I want.'"

—J. Michael Straczynski, 1997

The clash between order and chaos, and the people caught in between, plays an important role in Babylon 5. The conflict between two unimaginably powerful older races, the Vorlons and the Shadows, is represented as a battle between two competing ideologies, each seeking to turn the humans and the other younger races to their beliefs. The Vorlons represent an authoritarian philosophy: you will do what we tell you to, because we tell you to do it. The Vorlon question, "Who are you?" focuses on identity as a catalyst for shaping personal goals; the intention is not to solicit a "correct" answer, but to "tear down the artifices we construct around ourselves until we're left facing ourselves, not our roles." The Shadows represent a philosophy of evolution through fire, of sowing the seeds of conflict in order to engender progress. The question the Shadows ask is "What do you want?" In contrast to the Vorlons, they place personal desire and ambition first, using it to shape identity, encouraging conflict between groups who choose to serve their own glory or profit. The representation of order and chaos was informed by the Babylonian myth that the universe was born in the conflict between both. The climax of this conflict comes with the younger races' exposing of the Vorlons' and the Shadows' "true faces" and the rejection of both philosophies, heralding the dawn of a new age without their interference.

The notion that the war was about "killing your parents" is echoed in the portrayal of the civil war between the human colonies and Earth. Deliberately dealing in historical and political metaphor, with particular emphasis upon McCarthyism and HUAC, the Earth Alliance becomes increasingly authoritarian, eventually sliding into a dictatorship. The show examines the impositions on civil liberties under the pretext of greater defense against outside threats which aid its rise, and the self-delusion of a populace which believes its moral superiority will never allow a dictatorship to come to power, until it is too late. The successful rebellion led by the Babylon 5 station results in the restoration of a democratic government, and true autonomy for Mars and the colonies.

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