When I was 5 years old, my Dad took me and my brother to see Star Wars. The sheer scale blew my mind as the Tantive IV cruised overhead followed by a gigantic star destroyer, it was love at first laser blast. My love affair with Sci-Fi has only grown since, but I think those who say they aren’t into science fiction might be missing an opportunity to genuinely explore philosophical, spiritual and ethical ideas this genre offers.
I’m quite protective of this territory as it really does form an integral part of who I am. No – I don’t have cupboards full of figurines, have a storm trooper or Start Trek costume, or attend conventions like Armageddon – It’s about the relationships and ideas that provoke wonder and invite serious questions that matter to me.
That being declared – the ‘sexing up’ of science fiction irritates me. I wasn’t sure if I was watching new (and improved?) The Tomorrow People the other night or had accidently flicked the TV over to an ‘adult’ channel! Attractive young man – chiselled pecs and rippling abs naked between another couple? Followed by same young man tying himself up in leather straps…enough to make anyone blush. Star Trek aside (the original) and perhaps most of what was produced in the 1950’s, I’ve always enjoyed the general resistance of sci-fi to falling into culturally dominant portrayals of gender and body image. Because even though it is fiction the images are real and the mixed messages it sends reinforce our obsession with bodies that are ‘rock hard’.
Now I have a few proposals that would be real game changers in my view:
1: For The Dr (Dr Who) to incarnate/regenerate into a female body as a man – surely an interesting twist.
2: If Robert A Heinlein’s Stranger In A Strange Land ever does get made into a movie (and I would be very excited about this) that Michael Smith just looks ordinary and not ‘white’ – like he has grown up on Mars, not working out his entire life and living on a Martian sunbed.
3: In the next Avatar – the 0% body fat of the Navi would leave any human a little body conscious so can we have a humanoid species that is perhaps a little less ‘ripped’?
4: If they do make a 4th Matrix – that Neo stays white and pasty and doesn’t get an extreme make over by the machines.
5: That in the Prometheus sequel the Engineers (again an extremely buff, white group) get some body hair – somewhere!
6: When we finally get to see Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Harrison Ford (Han Solo) and Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) in the even more anticipated Star Wars Episode VII – they stay old, grey and wrinkled.
So if you are looking to launch into sci-fi and want to avoid the ‘fluff’ – read it! Or at least watch something produced before 2000.
“help me Obi-wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope”.