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Stargate: another example of the liberal agenda December 23, 2010

Posted by mareserinitatis in family, religion, science fiction, societal commentary.
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One my fondest memories of the younger boy’s toddler years are when he saw our jogging trampoline sitting on its side, so the bottom was exposed. He pointed to it and said, “Wook, Mommy! Targate!” (This of course translates to, “Look Mommy! Stargate!”) As you can tell, I’ve passed my love of sci-fi, and Stargate in particular, onto my kids.

Recently, however, my older boy came up to me and asked, “Mom, do you think Stargate is liberal?” My answer was not particularly, although it certainly has been at times. Apparently someone he knows refuses to watch the show, though, because it’s too liberal.

Since then, I’ve been trying to look at the show and see how it might be interpreted that way. I think the premise of the show is neutral, and being about the military, could even be perceived as conservative. In fact, the show has won awards from the Air Force because of how it represents the military.

Looking at it one way, there is a definite power structure and hierarchy. The whole thing is a big, secret government operation. One of the major enemies ends up being an international oversight committee. They are trying to protect the interests of the US, as well as everyone on Earth.

Things that might be construed as liberal seem to involve the individual teams. I’ll look at SG-1 only, but some of these can apply to the other shows as well. First, while there is a rank and command in the team, the team leader tends to respect and follow the advice of the other team members, making it, in effect, more egalitarian. There is, of course, Daniel Jackson, who is always arguing for a non-military way of handling things. The interaction with aliens tends to be a bit more friendly (at least with friendly aliens) than you might expect.

Is it the notion that what someone perceives as a god might, in fact, be someone who is just more powerful but not necessarily omnipotent? Or the fact that we care about everyone on Earth, and not just the US? That there is the expectation of humanitarian treatment among the aliens with whom the SGC interacts?

The most obvious ‘liberal’ issue was during the last couple seasons, when the Ori showed up. During those seasons, there seemed to be a lot of discussion about religion and its role in politics. There were more than a few times where I remember thinking that much of the dialogue could easily apply to some political situation in the US.

But that was part of the reason I enjoyed the show. While I could easily see myself taking sides with one or another character or viewpoint, most of it was presented as a discussion or conflict between those sides. The answers were seldom cut and dried, and many times when a character did do the ‘right thing’, they ended up face to face with the law of unintended consequences. The real world is messy, and I felt like the show did a good job of showing how muddy the waters can be despite one’s best intentions.

Or is that the problem: shades of grey is liberal?

Perhaps I’m just not getting it, my objectivity out the window because I like the show too much.

What do you think?


1. Scott Miller - August 15, 2016

What strikes me as liberal is that Daniel seems to always be right. That is, he’s always looking for a peaceful solution, but if a peaceful solution isn’t possible and the threat is dire and imminent, then he’s okay with violence to save innocent lives. And either way, that pretty much ALWAYS works. Daniel’s pacifism never delays the situation past the point of no return, nor is it ever acceptable to launch a lethal strike against an enemy unless that enemy is threatening millions of lives. Lethal force merely to save one of their own is apparently never an option.

A perfect example is in the alternate universe when SGC is infiltrated by Evil Teal’c. O’Neill launches a counterattack on Chulak, which comes Daniel is against and — surprise, surprise — does indeed come back to haunt them.

Another example is when the team accidentally damages the sun of a world inhabited by superstitious people. When some of the inhabitants later sabotage the SG1’s attempt to fix the problem (theoretically dooming the entire planet), Daniel is okay with that because they meant well. Teal’c had the much more neutral observation that the actions of a few did not necessarily reflect the desires of the many. Granted, it was this statement that seemed to change Jack’s mind, but the point is that Daniel was still, once again, right: they couldn’t just pack up and leave these backward people to their self-sealed fate. (It’s even Daniel’s prayer that “appears” to fix the problem at the end.)

However, when Daniel isn’t around and Jack can use his own judgment without being second-guessed, then force usually manages to solve problems. There is also at least one episode (“Menace”) in which Jack tells Daniel that it was reasonable to assume that deadly force was necessary to save the day…not that Daniel believes him, and the resolution itself is ambiguous.

So yes, the show does have a liberal slant, but not a huge one. More so than JAG but less than M*A*S*H.


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