Monday, May 10, 2010

Chapter VIII: Stargate: Universe of Controversy?

Okay, so I didn't have time to get to the second thought I woke up to yesterday.

On Friday, one of the new TV series that started last fall, "Stargate: Universe" aired what was being touted online as one of the most controversial episodes ever in science fiction.

Let me give you some background on one of the main recurring characters, Camille Wray, played by the extremely talented Ming-Na. The character is a lesbian, and in true science fiction fashion, no real big deal is made about her sexuality. See, in the science fiction genre, someone's sexual orientation is accepted 99% of the time. However, this is the first time in the Stargate franchise where we have a gay/lesbian character. I was happy to read that one of my favorite franchises decided to catch up with the changing times.

The premise of the series is that a group of people working on a remote planet, trying to unlock the 9th ceveron on the Stargate (a device that allows for inter-planetary travel through a wormhole). A group of space raiders decide to attack the base set up on the remote planet, forcing the workers to flee through the gate, and end up stranded on a ship millions/billions of light-years from Earth. In order to communicate with Earth, they use a weird communication device that allows a person to trade consciousness with another person. To put it into English, you activate said device with these little stones, and you end up in another person's body, and that person ends up in your body. Simple, right? Well, we're going to get to the part where there was initially some controversy.

The episode, called "Sabotage" had the group stranded on the ship dealing with the ship's warp drive blowing up, causing them to be stranted. The only person they know of that can help fix the problem is back on Earth. Thing is, that woman is a quadriplegic, completely unable to move, and requires a respirator. Picture Christopher Reeves post-accident. The first attempt to use the communication stones to bring this woman to the ship fails because the first ship-board body switcher felt claustrophobic. At the same time, an alien race encountered a few episodes earlier, who have the ability to hijack the communication stone process, took over that woman's body leading to the warp drive sabotage.

The second time the communication stones are used, Camille Wray is the one doing the body switching. So now, we have a fully mobile lesbian woman's consciousness in a heterosexual quadriplegic woman's body, and a heterosexual quadriplegic woman's consciousness in a lesbian woman's mobile body. Thanks to the magic of television, we're shown the actual person's consciousness being played as shown in the photos below.

The nice this is, we get to see the true unconditional love between Camille and her partner (we have yet to establish if they're married or not, so I'll just use the term "partner" for now), and how deeply they care for each other. The interesting thing is, we learn that the woman who is now inhabiting Camille's body has feelings for one of the series' main characters, Dr. Rush. GLAAD had issues with this because here you have a heterosexual woman in a lesbian woman's body kissing a man. Honestly, I don't see the problem. It's science fiction. Boundaries are always crossed in the genre. What a lot of human rights people had a problem with was the casting discription of the quadriplegic woman, saying her body was rendered useless because of her childhood illness. While the casting discription could be grounds for some backlash, watching the episode, I was left with good feelings because we got to see different sides of ever-growing characters.

In this day and age, I think we make too big a deal over sexual orientation. While I'm heterosexual, I have friends who are both gay, bisexual and lesbian. We all get along. I've never had a problem with them, and they never had a problem with me (except when the heavier metal comes on the car stereo, or when country comes on theirs, but that's just musical taste). It makes me groan when I read that someone "coming out of the closet" is a bigger story than the failing educational system, or the failing economy. It seems as though idiotic sites like TMZ has taken over the important shit, which is sad, and makes me glad I don't follow trends and follow my own beat. You should follow your own. Not TMZ's.


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