Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Political Statements

A recent newspaper article that I saw suggested that certain television shows have a political bias. Now in some of the instances mentioned the television show was originally based on a book. One example in particular was MASH and I can’t really understand why that particular example was included in the list of examples of shows with a particular political bias – not because it doesn’t display that bias but because that bias is equally evident in the original book and is in fact the reason for the book’s existance in the first place. Those shows not based on books and where the purpose isn’t to put forward a particular political viewpoint far better supported the journalist’s point.

MASH as a social satire uses humour to make the book a more acceptable read for those who may not necessarily agree with the particular political views expressed in the book. There are other ways to make a strong political point more acceptable and one such way is to express the viewpoint through a science fiction setting. The book Starship Troopers expresses an extreme viewpoint that is almost directly opposed to the “politically correct” position that western society has moved toward since the book was written. Of course in each of these instances it is not necessarily obvious whether the author actually supports the extreme view being expressed, is completely opposed and has written the book using the extreme opposite view to his own, or has views somewhere in between but has selected the extreme viewpoint because it makes a better basis for the story.

Now the political bias in a novel may or may not make it to the screen. In the case of MASH much of the political view in the novel made it into the movie and some also also made it into the subsequent TV series. This didn’t happen with Starship Troopers where the entire point of the novel was ignored in converting it into a movie (which now has two sequals which also completely ignore the point of the novel). Only very superficial aspects of this novel – the names of a few characters and the fact that there was a war with bugs – made it into the movies with the entire point that the novel was trying to make presumably having been completely missed by whoever wrote the screenplays. Even many of the more superficial aspects of the novel such as the protective suits that the MI learnt to use during training and used constantly thereafter in the book only make a brief appearance at the end of the third movie as if they are a new super development that will make all the difference in the war rather than being the least powerful of the three suits that all the MI use in the book.

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