By writing this, I’m risking (again) becoming the target of numerous “keep your personal politics out of your podcast” emails, so if you’re firing up your mailer right now, hold on a second or two and read this post at least twice first. Agreed? OK — here goes…
Encarta defines allegory as “a work in which the characters and events are understoodas representing other things and symbolically expressing a deeper, often spiritual, moral, or political meaning.”Analogy, on the other hand, is defined (same source) as“a comparison between two things that are similar in some way, often used to help explain something or make it easier to understand.”
These two concepts are very similar, and it’s easy to mistake one for the other. But there’s one enormous difference between the two: All analogies break down at some point. When one makes an analogy, one’s simply indicating that the two things in comparison are “similar in some way” — then using that similarity to increase understanding of an entirely different item, idea, or situation.
Isuspect that BSG’s writers are using situations that remind us of current events as analogies –drawing on our understandingand emotional response to certain terms and concepts that we’ve seenin real life tocreate a deeper emotional landscape beneath the story — rather than as allegory, which would indicate that they’re making a direct political statement.
For example, when we hear Tigh’s group referred to as “insurgents” and see them carry out “suicide bombings,” we have a strong emotional response which is somewhat due to the connection in our mind withcurrent events in Iraq. However, the BSG/Iraq analogy breaks down — quite purposefully, I’d guess — as soon as we look beyond the similarity of events and terminology to the purposes beyond the acts. Are the BSG writers trying to argue that suicide bombings are OK in real life? Of course not. They’re simply using a subject we’re all familiar with to evoke a strong emotional response in a different context.
What I’m really asking here is for everyone to remember that it’s possible to make an analogy without offering political commentary. If someone talks about Duck’s bombing and Iraq in the same sentences, that doesn’t automatically mean that the speaker sees the Cylons as America and the Colonial insurgents as Iraqis. Don’t put those words in their mouths — they don’t always fit well, and shoving them in is uncomfortable for both parties involved!
There was one spot in the season three premiere, though, that seemed a bit allegoric: the scene where the imprisoned Roslin reminded Baltar that the Cylon were torturing prisoners, to which he responded, “No one was tortured.” Maybe that was a bit heavy handed, and it’ll be interesting to see the response to it in forums and user comments.