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Stargate Infinity vs Stargate Atlantis DVD Commentaries

Along with many of the tie-in books, the SGA DVD commentaries need to be cleaned up, to be socially responsible and to keep up with other fandoms and Stargate Infinity. Yes, Stargate Infinity. The very Stargate Infinity that is supposed to be “just for kids,” but adults can’t seem to learn from.

Stargate Infinity taught against judging others by appearances in many episodes, especially “Phobia,” in which one team member shoots and almost kills someone. She has to stand trial for it and own up to her actions. By contrast, the Stargate Atlantis commentary on “First Contact” and “The Lost Tribe” has remarks about judging a character’s appearance. The commenters later laugh it up when said character, who is part of a peace-making mission, gets shot after a third party causes a disastrous misunderstanding. In Stargate Infinity, the spider-like being survives. In Stargate Atlantis, one can assume the human-hybrid Wraith survives because a different Wraith survived a similar wound in “Travellers” and/or that he was given the Gift of Life.

In real life, actions can’t be so easily undone. Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking and the comments on camera feed of police interacting with unarmed citizens in increasingly-militarized places come to mind. The message needs to be a clear, consistent, and resounding one of not judging others by their appearances, which Stargate Infinity presents.

As with the books, I gave up on the commentaries. The only others I tried were for “Outsiders” and the comments focused on the Balarians with bad analogies and no accountability for how the Wraith were being genocided. My time is much better spent reading fanfics from people who want peace for everyone, of all races.

The lessons in Stargate Infinity are for everyone, of all ages, and it would do some adults a world of good to do a serious watch/rewatch and to align their actions with the knowledge they claim they already have.

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Easy Vegan Debunk of Stargate Soft Disclosure Conspiracy Theory

There are some scifi fans who believe that the Stargate TV show is soft disclosure to the world of extraterrestrials and a real international space travel program.

It’s a simple no-go: 45’s sons would have shot the Furlings for so-called “trophies.”

The 5th race? Maybe when our species learns to peacefully coexist with all fellow Earthlings, of all species, let alone other species on other planets.

These theorists can get back with me after that happens for a reevaluation.

Until then… I disbelieve.

You know you are writing a Wraithy or scifi fanfic when…

… you keep having to add words to your spell checker, just to clear off all those red underlines!!!

Stargate, retrovirused, mindfeel, lifeforce, hivemate, all the names of your characters, etc. 🙂

The joys of Wraithy writing. 😀

Singling Out Minority Characters and Killing Them Off is Worse Than Having No Diverse Characters

Why do some storymakers still kill off their minority characters, often making them the first to go? Why even add them as tokens in the first place?

Killing off minority characters is not diversity, and especially is not inclusion. It is erasure.

Minority audience members who finally see a character with whom they can more closely identify get their hopes up, only to be sent the message they don’t matter and that they are expendable (except maybe for when it comes to audience viewership numbers baiting).

The tragedy of war is not an excuse either. There is no reason to single out minority characters for inequitable treatment. If a minority character gets killed off, there should be counterbalances of thriving characters with similar backgrounds.

Also, killing off the partner of a LGBTQ+ character and making the surviving LGBTQ+ character live celibate afterwards is still erasure. That goes double if all the straight characters get to keep their partners and/or remarry while the LGBTQ+ character is sidelined.

This trope has been so overplayed that film, writing, and editing schools need to teach people stop it, to spare the characters, and, especially, the audience.

Don’t Leave Your Messages to Chance: The Importance of Artist and Author Notes for Progressives

Edouard Manet, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, 1882, Wikipedia

What possible social messages do you see in the above painting? Do you see class hierarchy of a working woman serving wealthier people? A woman’s body on display as something to purchase, along with the items on the counter? Or, do you hone in on the legs of the trapeze artist in the upper corner that one can hardly see and theorize the painter was making a statement about loss of mobility? This trapeze discussion actually happened in a class I once took and I felt uncomfortable with people assigning meaning to something the artist may not have intended and who was no longer alive to speak to confirm or deny it.

Big difference in weight of content messaging and interpretation, isn’t there?

Why leave the message of your work to such chance? Meanings get lost in time– and even presently, across cultures in a digital, global age. Sometimes, meanings and themes can even be deliberately glossed over or ignored, especially messages about justice for fellow animals. Do you want to leave your audience fixated on an inaccurate or irrelevant detail while your work’s real message is sidelined?

This goes double for fiction writers. It has historically been more common for non-fiction authors and visual artists to have statements included with their work than for fiction authors. This needs to change and is starting to.

Ao3 roused getting me thinking about this, with its author notes and end notes sections. Creatives need to make more use of such features regular parts of fiction books, too, with intros and afterthoughts. As creatives, we should have our say, especially if we want to drive home points about nonviolence. And, self-publishing platforms make it easier than ever. I even saw one author write her own study questions, for readers and book clubs to use to reflect.

You put a lot of thought and effort into your works and want to see the world be a better place. Tell people loudly and proudly! Don’t leave your deepest and most important messages to chance or to other peoples’ whims.

Racist and Speciesist Hierarchies of Animal Analogies in Science Fiction

“We’re just cattle [sic]* to them.” –AU McKay to Sheppard in Stargate Atlantis episode “Vegas”

Just as with Keller talking over Todd in “Infection,” here is another white Westerner on SGA trying to define another galaxy’s culture they hardly know, with us/them whitesplaining, this time while also simultaneously asserting anthropocentric speciesism on Earth. Cows have become what critical theorist scholars refer to as “the absent referent” in comparing inequitable treatment, used as metaphors while also being placed into a human-centered hierarchy imposing categories of “uses” on others. The character McKay himself, in this reality, said baby cows taken from the dairy industry and whose bodies are kept shackled and anemic are “delicious,” in spite of having a sister who does not eat fellow animals. The addition of the qualifier “just” (as in “only” or “merely”) amplifies the colonialist overwriting of Wraith culture as well as tries to further diminish cows in the contrived, human-centered hierarchy. Humans should not be needlessly harming anyone of any species and analogies about harming fellow animals should not exist.

Speciesism correlates positively with racism, sexism, and homophobia and correlates negatively with empathy and open-mindedness. Many anti-Wraith xenophobic people frequently repeat McKay’s speciesist line and they also say that the Wraith race should be genocided. This shows intersectionalism and how oppressions overlap, i.e. racist xenophobia against the fictional Wraith race and speciesism against real-life fellow animal Earthlings. Outgrouping and objectification are toxic! People who recite this quote are never very rational and often make up scenes, too, because needless violence and bigotry have nothing to stand on.

The Wraith haters who cite this quote are looking to enforce both racism and an anthropocentric and speciesist world view: 1) against fellow animal Earthlings, to try to justify continuing to commodify and kill them for palate entertainment and 2) against a scifi race, to uphold a false sense of anthropocentric superiority in the face of a technologically-advanced and physically stronger fictional culture capable of interstellar space flight, to try to justify their genocide (and especially to try to deny to Wraith fans the hints of interracial relationships and mutual respect and affection between humans and the Wraith, as human-hybrids, mentioned in “Common Ground” when John gets the Gift of Life and seen on “The Hive” with Neera and other humans in soft and pretty clothes and Wraithy hair wraps being lovingly touched by the Queen).

The humans-as-cows analogy doesn’t make any sense from the Wraith point of view either. Wraith cannot take lifeforce from any animals other than humans (or fellow Wraith, as human hybrids). There was no evidence of cows in Pegasus, so that would be an anachronism. The Wraith do not artificially breed/inseminate humans, mutilate them, or take milk meant for human babies (Google the video “Dairy is Scary”). If Wraith treated humans the way many humans treat cows, we would literally be in deep crap. Cows are peaceful social mammals and the Wraith do not see most humans as peaceful. The Wraith would rather blow themselves up than to be captured alive by humans. But, many Wraith also work with humans, on individual and hive levels. They give their close human worshippers (a label for any humans associated with the Wraith) the Gift of Life, as they do for their Wraith brothers, as Todd did for John. Several hives fought alongside the New Lanteans against the Asurans, even though New Lanteans were the ones who had compelled the Asurans to attack in the first place. And, Todd’s crew are more willing to do something to help, while most people spouting the cow analogy are less likely to leave fellow animals alone, in spite of being such an easy switch and better for health and the environment too.

Clinging to the false analogy that the human-hybrid Wraith see non-hybrid humans as cows is a self-serving, ineffective attempt to try justify real-life, human-made violence and it is unacceptable. Such analogies only highlight that the human race needs to clean up their collective act to remove needless violence.

(*The word “cattle” gets the notation [sic] because the speciesist term itself denotes and condones placement of others in a human-centered hierarchy, as property/use/commodification, as capital, just as live”stock” does. Fellow animals are someONE not something.)

Duration Neglect and a Peak-End Effect in Judging Characters and Races

First impressions of characters are powerful. But, so are their peak moments and end moments, which influence overall judgement of how the audience evaluates the lives of characters.

Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking, Fast and Slow, reflects on a storyline: “On my way home from the opera, I wondered: Why do we care so much about those last 10 minutes? I quickly realized that I did not care at all about the length of Violetta’s life. […] A story is about significant events and memorable moments, not about time passing. Duration neglect is normal in a story, and the ending often defines its character.”

He goes on to say that other psychologists have found through experiments, including controlling for age, that duration neglect and the peak-end rule governed evaluations of experiences, such as vacations, and other peoples’ entire lives.

The Stargate character Michael Kenmore is a good example of these cognitive biases. His life is largely defined by sympathizers of his first impressions of being a confused and betrayed victim of kidnapping and experimentation and by haters for his peak-end of having done the same kidnapping and bodily alterations to others and having taken over the city of Atlantis. (Note: by ending, I mean the last time he was shown on screen, not died, as I do not believe the fall killed him and he was slated to come back in a season 6.)

Largely erased is Michael’s life before he was captured by the New Lanteans, which could have been hundreds or thousands of years. By his showing a desire to belong and to get along with the New Lanteans, before he found out he had been experimented on, his demeanor may have been one who did not rock the boat and who wanted to be a team player. But, the most recent few years of his life, as seen by the audience, as victim and/or victimizer, is what is remembered about him. Likewise, Michael’s entire Wraith culture came from 10,000 years of peace; yet, most SGA viewers only think about and judge the most recent 5 years, which is the aftermath of alien human invasion and the resulting Wraith starvation and civil war.

As authors, taking into account first, peak, and end impressions of our characters and how we choose to structure how to reveal information about them in time counts a lot!

***More scifi/fantasy examples: how Darth Vader’s life was presented in pieces in Star Wars and how flashbacks about Snape’s past in Harry Potter became memories about him which stuck.