Fiction has become a medium for writers and actors to treat their audience as morally inferior dolts in need of re-education.
This week’s episode of Doctor Who was an excellent example.
The Doctor and her companions land on a possible future in which the plante has been destroyed by food shortages, mass migration, war, and because — she claims — we “ignored every scientist on Earth.”
The big scary monsters who evolved from the humans left behind are subtly called ‘The Dregs’… and just in case you missed all that, there is a montage of the Earth being destroyed, and a tedious monologue urging us to change to avoid destruction.
All that was missing was for the Doctor to fall to her knees and scream “you blew it up!“
Fiction has always borrowed from real-world events and anxieties. The problem is when writers and actors hubristically sacrifice good story-telling to ensure they are on “the right side of history”.
This thinking was admonished as lazy by author Jessa Crispin in a fantastic piece for The Guardian “if you insist that a movie is important, you don’t really have to deal with whether or not it’s good.”
Reviews will often sport headlines like “X is the show we need right now”. The show is apparently needed to “keep the momentum of change moving forward” or because it is has a diverse cast, or has the “correct” political slant.
The plot, character development, costuming, lighting, score, or anything else relevant gets little to no attention.
But unfortunately, politics over substance is a trend set to continue.
Patrick Stewart – who will reprise his role as Captain Picard – has promised us the newest iteration of Star Trek “was [Stewart] responding to the world of Brexit and Trump”.
Apparently, the world is so chaotic we need a fictional captain with a penchant for “tea, Earl Grey … hot” to save us.
As an alien in the original Star Trek series warned: “Wrong thinking is punishable.” And we are certainly being punished with nauseatingly preachy fiction.
Monica Wilkie is a policy analyst at the Centre for Independent Studies.
Illustration: BBC Television.
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