B5 Violence: Light Years Awa

 Posted on 9/4/1994 by jmsatb5@aol.com to rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated

I'm afraid your logic is so far from reality that I'm not sure it
can be called back. The Suits as you call them have NOT asked for more
violence or action in the show. In fact, as reported in the trades and
elsewhere, they have specifically asked for more character stuff and less
violence. (Basically...we're telling the story we're telling, and we were
already starting to focus in on our characters, and we're doing more of
that in year two, but we're not sacrificing action, which I happen to

Re: "...the morality of being entertained by murder and violence,"
I'm sorry, but this doesn't happen on television. People are entertained
by *representations* or *illusions* of those elements. No one on B5 has
ever been murdered or treated violently. This is a fiction-based series.
There's a difference.

I happen to feel strongly that the link between violence in the
streets and violence in TV/movies is hugely exaggerated by people who
think it's much easier to deal with the *picture* of the problem than it
is to deal with the *problem*. It's simpler to censor a TV show than it
is to clean up the streets, provide jobs, properly fund schools, put more
police on the streets, provide opportunities for young kids and get the
hard drugs out of the community.

Frank, if you took *every* show with even a modicum of action off
the air tomorrow...and left it off for seven days...there would not be
one less murder in South Central Los Angeles, or any of our other major
cities. Not one. Because television isn't the problem. Every few
years, the trendoids and the politicos decide that comic books are the
problem, or movies are the problem, or TV is the problem...but the
reality is that the PROBLEM is the problme, not the picture of the problem.

Not long ago, here in LA, a Santa Monica based anti-violence group
went out to a video store which had a big honking picture of a gun in its
front window, and picketed it. Half a block away was a GUN SHOP. But
they didn't picket that, they picketed the poster. They focused on the
picture of the problem, not the problem.

For me, action is a necessary component of drama. Meaning sometimes
people get hurt. You say, "ST expressed intelligence and humanism," and
my only reply -- and I mean no offense to the hard-core ST fans, of which
you are clearly one -- oftentimes it simply bored me to *tears*. Nothing
was really ever at stake. Everything was sanitized.

I feel that B5 expresses just as much intelligence and humanism as
any other show, including ST. Maybe more. And I'll tell you why. In
the ST:TNG universe, every human is perfect...no inner doubts, no violent
tendencies, they're *genetically engineered that way*. That's what they
have said. There's no quandry, no sense of questioning what should be
done, they don't have to overcome, they have already done so.

So you can look at that show, and decide, "Well, I guess humanity is
doomed to be violent until we can genetically engineer ourselves to be
otherwise." B5 humans aren't perfect. They're flawed and scared and
tempted by violence. They're just like us. And though their record isn't
perfect, they frequently find ways to solve problems WITHOUT violence. I
think this is *profoundly* more relevant and a stronger message to send,
that we can do it *today*. We have the same problems they have, and if
they can deal with it, maybe we can.

It is one thing to say, "Mankind has no further problems, no doubts,
no insecurities," and another to say, "Here are some demonstrations of
ways we can overcome our problems, doubts and insecurities." Someone
here recently posted a message "Everything I Need To Know In Life I
Learned in Babylon 5." I was really rather astonished to read it, because
it took all the principles we've expressed in the show, or many of them,
and put them all in one place...the capacity for self-sacrifice being one
of the principles of sentient life...that it is better to find something
worth living for than something worth dying for...on and on and on.

Humanism does not mean turning a blind eye to our problems; it means
trying to elevate humanity from *inside*. Intelligence doesn't mean we
simply assume all of our problems have been solved by genetic engineering,
which removes free will, just wipe the slate clean...it means that we need
to see alternates and means of solving problems now.

Could Picard ever be tempted to do something illegal? No. Could
some of our characters? Yes. In the case of Picard, it's a no brainer.
In the case of a B5 character, we would see the struggle, the back and
forth, and maybe it would be done, maybe it wouldn't, but there would be
a REASON for it. We see the process. And I for one find that eminently
more interesting.

Having action or make-believe violence in a show doesn't make it
any less intelligent or humanistic than any other show. When you start
talking like that it's all kneejerk cliches and fuzzy thinking. If it
were true, then none of Shakespeare's dramas would have survived over the
last several hundred years, and they *drip* with spilled blood.

Finally, I point you to two things: 1) the original Star Trek, w here
Kirk says that yes, humans are a violent lot, we can and do kill; but we
can decide, now and then, that we will not kill *today*. That attitude
is very much in line with B5. So your problem isn't just with us, it's
with TOS as well. 2) I refer you to a short story by Mark Twain called
"The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg." I won't tell you much more here than
to read it. It should be self-explanatory.