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The Perception of Humanity

I watch a lot of science fiction movies and TV shows and there’s a trend that I’ve noticed within this genera more then others, scifi writers tend to see Earth and humans as being bad/destructive/something to fear ect. This is of course fine with me as I happen to share the view that humanity is an awful species and should really be destroyed before they destroy Earth at the same time as destroying themselves.  It does make me wonder though what it is that makes scifi writers share a rather dim and similar view of humanity. Obviously you’ve got the shows like Stargate SG1 where people from Earth are running around saving the universe (from an enemy they’ve often pissed off or alerted the presence of humanity to said enemy) from whatever alien threat but there are a lot more that have little hits or obvious declarations that perhaps humanity isn’t all they think they are.

One of the shows I noticed this in was Lexx, the whole last season of Lexx was set on Earth. Earth was in the Dark Universe (as opposed to the Light Universe where season 1 opens) in the very darkest part of said Dark Universe. Earth was described by Stan as a “type 13 planet in its final stages” and was expected to be characterised by a  rush for scientific knowledge that will end in the catastrophic destruction of the planet. In fact when the afterlife planets are destroyed all the souls go off to Earth and Prince (the equivalent of Hades or a guardian of the underworld) has good fun encouraging it to self destruct. Basically we’re told Earth is a bad evil place with evil people that will destroy it’s self in one of a few different ways (war being the most likely).
Sanctuary is a Canadian show where abnormal beings are kept safe by Dr Helen Magnus in her Sanctuary, it includes all sorts of different beings some which are commonly seen in fiction like mermaids, vampires, witches, huge animals ect. while others had been made up specifically for the show. The basic premise behind the whole show is that if the general public where to find out these abnormal beings existed there would be lots of experimentation and exploitation. Toward the end of Sanctuary this does happen and the human military behaves exactly as predicted and starts a huge war. We’re not given a very nice look at humanity here either.
Both Doctor Who and Torchwood have elements of distrust of humanity in them. The first few episodes in which The Doctor is played by David Tennant he defeats an alien in order to save Earth, after he has fairly won the safety of Earth and the aliens plan to leave Earth shoots the retreating space ship. The Doctor then gives the Government that ordered the strike a lecture telling them that he’d sent the wrong message “I should’ve told them to run as fast as they can, run and hide because the monsters are coming. The human race.” Similarly Jack Harkness in Torchwood is shown to be completely  appalled by humanity at times, he’s far more likely to kill a threat then The Doctor but we do see times when he becomes angry with the exploration of aliens at the hands of human beings. He shuts down the fighting ring using wevals and the whole team becomes angered by the brutal treatment of an alien who is butchered alive (because it stays alive but keeps growing) in order to create cheap meat.
Warehouse 13 is a show in which a team of people go around the world collecting artifacts which cause rather nasty things to happen and the ‘good’ ones that the show explores come with bad down sides. Again here we see the need to protect these powerful things because humanity is far too likely to misuse them and there are a few characters who do try to kill people or end the world with these artifacts.

I’m sure if I really stopped to think about it a bit deeper I would be able to think of more, Blakes 7 comes to mind as does Battlestar Galactica and The X Files, however I think I’ve made my point. I wonder what it is about the scifi genera that makes this perception of humanity so common, is it the culture or are people who are drawn to scifi more likely to see the bad effects humanity has? Perhaps its because scifi writers are always looking forward that they’re better able to see that humanity has systematically gone about destroying lots of things especially those which it is fearful of. As I say I tend to agree with this view, I hardly see humanity making friends with aliens, in fact when I did get up to the episodes in which Lexx finds Earth I was all for letting Lexx eat/blow up Earth (primarily to save the rest of the universe) but because I’m interested in thought patterns and beliefs I find this topic very interesting.

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