(Behind schedule, really. Super sorry I lied about posting twice a week, cos once a week is even an achievement for me. I very intelligently began this alphabet challenge right in the middle of crunch time during my semester, but, fear not, my thesis is done and I am back!)
This is the most traumatising, life-ruining, soul-crushing, emotion-sucking show you will ever lay your eyes on; I highly recommend it. Before I first started this show, I thought Alias was the one show that messed with me the most, but, man, was I truly ignorant. After watching BSG, I have even inherited a fear of over-investing in television series because of how emotionally drained I was, so beware of this side effect. Despite this, it will be one of the most worthy and life-changing shows you will watch. (I am referring here to the 2003 re-imagined series.)
While I can’t say to be in the ranks of hardcore sci-fi fans, science fiction has definitely been one of my favourite genres ever. I love that sci-fi always reinvents the universe, relocates humanity, only to point out the very same issues and complexities that we face, and even highlights them because those are the familiar things. We might not have laser guns and living machines but science fiction worlds are amongst the most similar to real life of all.
For the uninitiated, Battlestar Galactica is a military sci-fi series that originated in the 1970s, where humanity has migrated to what is known as the Twelve Colonies and is lodged in a war with machines called Cylons. In the re-imagined series in 2003, Cylons were created by humans to be enslaved by us, but evolved to be more ‘advanced’ and more dangerous than humans could ever know. In short, Cylons obliterated the Twelve Colonies, and an old model space battleship becomes the only rallying point for the remaining human fleet. They become the resistance.
Not only are the extreme moral situations on the show extremely interesting, all the characters are obsessively watchable and super real. My absolute favourite (no surprise to anyone who knows me, really) is Starbuck, who in the 2003 series is a genderflipped version of a brash, aggressive fighter pilot who drinks most of her calories. She is hot-headed, cocky and super flawed, but also amazingly loyal, dedicated, resourceful, and a fantastic pilot. What is truly revealing is that when the new showrunners announced they were reintroducing Starbuck as a woman, there was widespread backlash from existing BSG fans, so much so that actress Katee Sackhoff received death threats and was booed during her appearance at Comic Con. Way to be open, sci-fi community!
A lot has changed since 2003, definitely, but perhaps the problematic norms, ideals and power relations that shape our communities today continue to merit the existence of shows like BSG so that we always challenge ourselves and ask ourselves how we can be better humans. In short, watch this show.
Brunch is a super interesting phenomenon that has captured the Singaporean population with the recent advent of cafe culture and Instagram. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some eggs benedict and pancakes, but I have to wonder about the neocolonial elements of the whole thing. Brunch has secretly always existed in Singaporean Sunday routines with fried beehoon, kway chap and other great hawker breakfast foods. But it is only characterised as brunch when it is suddenly Westernised and takes place in cafes. Singapore is an interesting country because we are probably the only country in the world that loves our colonial masters to the point where we credit them for founding us and revere the very man who transplanted British authority structures into our society (cf. Raffles statue). This colonial hangover is everywhere, in how we prefer Western brands, in how we believe the West = quality, in how anything that is imported from the West has a price premium, in how we believe people from the West to be smarter, more eloquent, more charismatic, etc. In my research project on Instagram, people even express how they rather Instagram food photos of eggs ben than char kway teow.
I am not immune from this hangover, especially when I correct people’s grammar, or prefer watching British shows, or travel to the West a lot. Singapore is truly super weird, and our cultural identity has a odd mix of pride and shame. We are a bunch of contradictions–Asian and Western, modern and conservative, local and global, all of which are dialectics that are not just abstract concepts but lived realities. I just wish people are aware of just how much, and the next time they go to brunch, they will think about how many neocolonial elements dominate our lives.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Holly Golightly says in the film, “Nothing very bad could happen to you [at Tiffany’s]. If I could find a real-life place that’d make me feel like Tiffany’s, then – then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name!” A few weeks back for one of my Media and Globalisation classes, my prof made us do some exercises to describe our home. One of the students said that she never truly felt Singapore to be her home because it offered so little to her, and she wished she would be able to find her Tiffany’s. That really struck me, and I guess I’ve been thinking about it since.
Where is my Tiffany’s? Where is yours? Have you found it?
I wonder. Is it where I can truly be myself? Is it where all my loved ones are? Is it a person? People in love would tell you that a person could be your home, and I myself have been prone to such a sentiment lately. But, they say, you can’t make homes out of people. You gotta make your own home.
When I was younger, I craved a media career that could give me glamour and a never-ending busy schedule. Nowadays, I just crave to make a difference; I don’t really care where I am. A part of me always wonders about a corporate life (and by that I mean a big public relations agency), whether I would love it, whether I would be good at it, and probably just to prove that I can do it, and perhaps I will try it for a few years, but most part of me also wants to know that I will be engaged in the social somehow. Be socially conscious. As I embark on a career search the next few months, more of these ramblings will materialise.
Perhaps, Tiffany’s is not just one place, but a feeling. And you just gotta be able to imbue your own life with that feeling.
Hahaha and we have gone full circle back to fictional things. Kate Beckett from Castle is my favourite fictional lady ever. Ever. Ever. Her mention here would probably mean I will not talk about Castle under letter C, but I make no promises. There was a point of time in my life where Castle was pretty much all I talked about, and it continues to hold a special place in my heart despite its drop in writing quality. Kate Beckett, in particular, is one of the main reasons.
There’s nothing really that groundbreaking about this show or this character; she’s no Starbuck. But Kate Beckett is really extraordinary. When we first meet her in Season 1, she’s just a by-the-book cop who has to put up with mystery novelist Richard Castle’s shenanigans, but already she was bursting at the seams with a complex inner emotional life, and the show promised that there was so much to know about her that it could fill a book. One of the first things to note about Beckett was that she was a great detective, and she commanded other detectives at work. She was the boss of people, and that was just that. There was no commentary on it, no special attention paid to it; her authority was just taken as natural and it was great. As the show went on, Beckett was allowed to be both feminine and a cop in power. She never had to de-feminise herself, she never had to pretend she didn’t have a personal life, and her abilities as a hardcore detective were never questioned on account of her femininity. (Except maybe the high heels were a little unrealistic, if I had to admit it.)
But my most favourite part about Beckett is definitely her moral integrity. When her mother died and the killer was still out there, she became a cop because she was haunted by it. But her desire to bring justice to people who were just like her went beyond her personal grievance. Her commitment to justice, and fierce dedication not to cross the line over to revenge, was the most admirable story arc I’ve witnessed. Again, it’s not the most original story; superhero vigilante storylines deal with this all the time. But the fact that this amazing woman was cast as the bearer of justice was just five million times of great.
Kate Beckett is my hero, and I always wish I could be more like her.
(Update: As I was writing this post, a part of the ceiling fell in my lecture theatre and my fellow students’ reactions were to take a picture of it. Too bad this wasn’t the C entry, or that chain of events would have definitely made it in.)