Tuesday, 3 November 2009

It's a man's world, even in space

According to sci-fi legend, Carrie Fisher spent much of 1976 having to tape down her boobs because, according to George Lucas, there are no breasts in space. Of course, the bearded Jedi master reappraised this opinion when he put Carrie's Jawas on display in that legendary gold bikini and chained her to Kirstie Alley's bed.

Whilst most science fiction fans heralded this as a breakthrough (in most cases shouting their approval from under the bathroom door) the bikini incident may well have signified the beginning of the end. Because it seems that a schism has occurred in the genre, with a vocal minority expressing outrage at the feminisation of a 'very male form of fiction'. 

It's hardly surprising that some die hard fanatics are fearful of women in science fiction, given that they presumably view the fairer sex like a guest alien species on Star Trek. One such outspoken critic has shared his disdain on a blog called The Spearhead which, as its phallic name implies, attempts to air the 'legitimate grievances' of the disenfrachised American male.

In an article entitled
The War on Science Fiction and Marvin Minsky, the unhappy camper argues that women have ruined his favourite genre with their stupid emotions and relationships. Pursuing a line of logic so flawed that the writers of Lost would have trouble selling it, he argues that the fields of science, engineering and technology will lose out as fewer boys will be inspired to follow in their heroes' footsteps. 

Adding to our correspondent's dissatisfaction is the news that the Sci-Fi channel (inexplicably rebranded last March as Syfy) plans to introduce three gay characters to its roster of shows. As the furious basement dweller argues, "This will mean less programming where men actually get things done and more relationship drama, which will inevitably drive even more men away from the channel." If he's worried that these male characters 'won't get anything done', he's obviously never watched Queer as Folk.

The saddest part of this whole diatribe is that this real world 'Comic Book Guy' has missed the point of science fiction. From HG Wells' War of the Worlds, which used alien invasion as a metaphor for colonial expansion, through to this year's District 9, which put an extraterrestrial spin on the evils of apartheid, science fiction has always plenty of scope for allegorical storytelling.

Science fiction has never really been about science. Its stories may feature time travel, alien invasions and interplanetary war, but they always have the human condition at their heart. These stories can't be feminised or 'gayed up' - since those elements are an integral part of the human story. 
Given his dissatisfaction with his own vision of the future, perhaps Pro-male/Anti-feminist Tech needs to choose an alternative entertainment source, ideally one which will suit his reactionary agenda. I'd recommend the 1920s adventures of 'Our Gang', which featured the He Man Woman Haters Club - a group of eight year-olds who didn't want any girls joining their precious clubhouse. They were always on the lookout for new members.

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