Battlestar Galactica Summit at the United Nations

Posted by Ian on Mar 31, 2009 in blog | No Comments

On Tuesday 17 March 2009, the United Nations‘ ECOSOC Chamber was host to the Admiral of the Battlestar Galactica (official site here), William Adama, and the President of the Twelve Colonies, Laura Roslin. The panel of actors Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell and the conceivers of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica series Ronald D. Moore and David Eick was chaired by actress Whoopi Goldberg (possibly due to her sagely persona ‘Guinan‘ from Star Trek: TNG). The panel discussed a wide range of issues raised by the Battlestar Galactica series – human rights, terrorism, children and armed conflict, and reconciliation between civilians and faiths. (See a clip from the summit at the bottom of this post)

“This event will show how skilful storytelling can elevate the profile of critical humanitarian issues,” said Kiyo Akasaka, UN Under-Secretary-General for Public Information. “Not only does it present an opportunity for creative discussion, but, more importantly, it offers a chance to deliver a message about the many harsh realities that still exist worldwide.”

Science Fiction writers have produced many Trojan Horse stories – skillfully using a future-scenario to deal with contemporary social issues. The near ubiquitous popularity of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica television series puts its social relevance and possible impact on the levels of Orwell’s 1984 or Huxley’s Brave New World.
The part PR stunt, part public outreach event of the UN Battlestar Summit, occurring the day before the final episode was to air, testifies both to the show’s impact as well as to a shift in the relationship between the political arena and the media. For one evening, the agenda of the UN was defined by a television series. Though it is exciting and fascinating that a series such as Battlestar Galactica could be given such notice for eloquently dealing with difficult contemporary issues, it also points to a potentially dangerous new chapter in the relationship between politics and the media. If Battlestar Galactica is seen as doing ‘good’ in creating certain types of social awareness, what is the real impact of other television and film content that are doing ‘bad’. Is it only fun and entertainment anymore?

Also see:

Show About the Universe Raises Questions on Earth (NY Times – 20 March 2009)

The Night Battlestar Galactica Took Over The U.N. (io9 – 18 March 2009)

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