Without getting into depressing (and obvious) specifics, I’ve been thinking about fascism lately — specifically the concept of “utopian fascism.” As is often the case when grappling with such issues, I turned to science fiction for a guide. Fortunately, there is a fictional government perfectly suited to explore the question “can democracy and universal prosperity ever be successfully combined with fascism?”: Star Trek’s Federation.
The Federation’s exact political structure is sometimes difficult to pin down, but it seems to be a combination of a democratic interplanetary parliament, a massive military alliance, and a totalitarian bureaucracy.
This isn’t what it looks like.
Now don’t panic! This isn’t going to be super depressing nor is it going to be about space Nazis (unless you count the above-pictured episode TOS episode “Patterns of Force”). When I talk about fascism, I’m talking about the philosophical concept as it dates back to Rome, not the actual horrific reality of modern-day fascism. I am not about to ruin all of our moods by writing some anti-Starfleet propaganda… at least, not too much of it. What I will do is take a look at how the Federation is utopian, how it’s fascist, how (and if) the two can be combined, and what that all says about our vision of a perfect government.
I know that Stephen King is pretty much considered a god in the literary world, but I’ve never been that big a fan. Growing up, I could never quite figure out why that was—I don’t like horror, but with the exception of It, none of his works ever truly scared me. Instead, they were the perfect amount of macabre and creepy that I normally enjoy. The Stand, The Secret Window, and even The Langoliers were all things I loved—they had fun adventures, interesting premises, and neat twists to keep me engaged. I read and watched all three of these, and loved them at the time. But none of his stories truly stuck with me after experiencing them—and the more I thought about it, the more I hated the narratives and the characters.
I think the biggest problem with these works is that they ended up using tropes that really didn’t age well over time. This is especially true for the 1995 The Langoliers—the story has a fascinating premise, but the characters are all walking stereotypes, the worldbuilding is almost non-existent, and the more I thought about the plot, the less it made sense.
I’m not sure where I first stumbled upon the Are They Gay? web series, but I’m sure glad I did. This series provides a funny, inclusive, and informative analysis of various slash ships that starts and ends with asking the titular question: are these two people gay? It features a wide variety of pairings including mlm and wlw slash ships, and is a great primer to the history and background of certain ships in addition to ultimately offering an answer to that pressing question.
I first heard about animation director Kenji Kamiyama when I heard about 009 Re:Cyborg. Growing up, one of my favorite anime series was the 2001 adaptation of the original Cyborg 009 manga (penned by Shotaro Ishinomori), so seeing that the series would have new life blown into it made me incredibly excited. Unfortunately, in the swirling torrents of being an adult and having a million things to do, I still haven’t gotten around to watching Kamiyama’s film vision of the series I enjoyed so much. Despite this, though, news of Kamiyama’s upcoming film still has me anticipating some slice-of-life goodness mixed in with some sci-fi on the side, right alongside some beautiful animation from studio Signal.MD.
While I did enjoy it, there’s still quite a lot to critique about the newest entry in the Harry Potter series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. From Queenie’s casually nonconsensual Legilimency to the general lack of people of color, at least I know that I won’t lack for post topics for a while.
One of the more egregious issues in the original series was J.K. Rowling’s ongoing conflation of fatness with badness. While Fantastic Beasts takes a small step in the right direction by making its fat character a good guy, his portrayal is still far less than ideal. Spoilers for the movie after the jump.
While J.K. Rowling may have done a good job portraying both Muggle and wizarding England, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them does not do such a great job at portraying the American magical and No-Maj world. There are so many inconsistencies with the reality of American history that even though I enjoyed the movie, it made things fall kind of flat and seem very confusing.
The Hamilton Mixtape has finally come out after much anticipation! I thoroughly enjoyed the musical’s soundtrack and what performances I could see via broadcasts and award shows. So a collection of musicians covering songs from the original and creating new songs that used the originals as starting blocks really intrigued me. The Mixtape is fascinating as an adaptation, as a musical album, and in its culturally progressive themes, and I thought it was a fun overlap of the camp of Broadway and the vulnerability of hip-hop and sincere pop music.