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Nov. 8 2009 - 5:52 pm | 28 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Obama, the ‘V’ aliens and one silly media meta-debate

How many 'czars' do the Vs have?

How many 'czars' do the Vs have?

(Spoiler Alert: If you still saving “V” on TiVO and haven’t watched yet, you’re not going to be happy if you keep reading… go watch the show first and then read on.)

Did you watch the premiere of ‘V’ last week? Fourteen million people did. And according to our beloved mainstream media, more than a few of those viewers couldn’t help but notice a rather overt commentary in the show’s premise — that the seemingly-peaceful alien Visitors (the V in “V”) embraced by an unquestioning mankind are an allegory to the Obama administration.

You see, the Vs arrive on Earth promising peace, unity, a new hope for healing a broken planet — and even universal health care. Literally… When they promise to cure all manner of disease and provide complete medical care around the world, Scott Wolf’s newsman character actually calls it “universal health care,” to which Anna, the V leader, says, “I believe that’s what you call it, yes.”

The secret, ragtag,underground network of humans who aren’t sold on the Vs’ munificence are dismissed as crazies — but, of course, they’re right. The Vs are reptilian, evil, violent, and bent on enslaving mankind. But beating back the Vs’ secret agenda to destroy our lives and liberty won’t be easy, according to one character, because the Vs have the most powerful weapon possible on their side: the devotion of a unquestioning and compliant people.

So… is “V” the wish-fulfillment fantasy of the Obama-nation opponents or not?

The show’s producers have long said there’s no debate: They’ve denied any political impulse in their show, saying it’s a treatise about blind devotion to a cause, not a contemporary political satire. But that hasn’t stopped many TV reviewers from commenting on the ridiculously overt parallels, and from media-watcher site Mediaite.com from writing about the Obama-as-alien-lizard theory and the White House’s laugh-filled non-reaction to it.

And here’s where it gets really kooky:

According to TheWrap.com’s Joe Adalian, writing about this slight blip on the pop culture radar is a stupid waste of time. On his Twitter feed Friday, Adalian posited that Mediaite’s coverage “advances a ball that doesn’t exist” and is “beyond lame.” Responding on Twitter, Mediate editor-at-large Rachel Sklar defended her site, agreeing that the story is lame, but even lame stories are legitimate when people are talking about them.

So now we’ve got the media debating whether the debate is even worthy of debate.

For what it’s worth, if the V-as-Obama parallel was intended — and it’s hard not to see it that way — then it’s among the most ham-fisted and awkward science fiction/satires created. But I don’t think its genesis is political — instead, it’s commercial.

I won’t pretend to be an expert on this, but the best science fiction has always shone a light on contemporary society, from classics like “Farenheit 451” to the recently completed “Battlestar Galactica” series on the SyFy network. But what makes these stories great is how much they allow their fans to find their own interpretations of the plot and characters — and come to their own conclusions.

But there’s really no room for interpretation in this new remake of “V”; the aliens come promising to deliver vague rewards of hope, unity and universal health care and are breathlessly accepted by a wide-eyed populace. The Vs dismiss opponents’ skepticism, saying “Embracing change is never easy.” These words weren’t randomly chosen. And that’s a shame.

Because, in its premiere, “V” showed glimpses that it can be a very effective story of extremism and devotion, of trust and skepticism — not to mention a pretty kick-ass action show about battling the alien sleeper cells among us.

But I think the producers smelled opportunity and followed it with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Pushing the Anna/Obama parallel gives the show a patina of controversy — and a devoted and compliant press corps (yours truly included) has taken the bait.


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      I left journalism school with one goal in mind: to work at TV Guide. It didn't happen. So, I stuck with my day-job: retyping entertainment listings into the Prodigy computer service for The Los Angeles Times. Dial-up modems got faster and I stuck with the Web -- launching, editing and innovating national, political and feature news Web sites for ABC News, The Washington Post and AOL. I've spent 15 years making other people's content look good on computer screens. It's time the shoe finally landed on the other foot...

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