That title's a reference to the Cure, if anybody cares.
Katie--this one's for you. Mostly.
Okay, I want to take a moment and talk about narrative structure. Partly because the thing fascinates me so, and also because it came to mind the other day when thinking on older "Battlestar Galactica" episodes, and what they mean to teach us about this season.
This post will have nothing to do with grad school, I assure you, though it will talk about art in a way and so I'm going to scrape by posting it here on that justification. And furthermore, it will fulfill a dream of mine and one GreedyGreen's desire to discuss narrative structure over blog. We had hopped for video blogging, but that shit is just too frakking expensive. (And yes: I will be using "frak" to excess over the next few months. And no, I will not apologize.) So here's a poor man's version of what could be, of what may have been. You may not understand the example I give and the ponderings thereafter if you don't watch the show. Suck it up and start renting the DVDs.
Recently, a former high school cohort who is also a BSG fan reminded me of an episode where Leoben, a known Cylon, pulls Laura Roslin to him and whispers, "Adama's a Cylon," right before he's thrown out an airlock. This happened some time ago, and I had forgotten about it. But now, with a season geared towards the revealing of the final Cylon, the question lingers. Could Admiral William Adama, commander of the remaining Colonial Fleet and guardian of the human race as we know it on this show actually be Cylon? OR: did Leoben really mean Bill Adama at all? There are two known living Adamas: the admiral, and his son Lee (or as I refer to him, "The-hottest-of-the hot"). What if Lee Adama was the Adama Leoben was referring to? What would happen then? (For those not familiar with the series, I hope those links were useful.)
But both of these questions are based around the idea that Leoben was in fact stating a truth. The question remains: was it a Cylon trick, and a lie, or will some Adama eventually endanger the lifespan of the human race on the show? The problem with telling a lie in performance--the portrayal of lying, I should say, not bad acting which is occasionally referred to as "lying"--is that the audience usually needs to be in on it for it to be of any use as a plot device. You need that sense of dramatic irony to create tension that will help propel the play. Theatre is all about the relationship the piece has with the audience. Since we understand theatre can't exist without an audience (trust me on this one) we must appreciate the dependency therein, and even if we're trying to deeply offend our audience in some kind of theatre of cruelty situation, we must acknowledge that our efforts are useless without someone to subject that kind of cruelty on.
So: here we are with our audience. They're already in a state of suspended disbelief because they've come to watch something they know to be a play/movie/whathaveyou. They have to take what the performers give at face value. It's part of the agreement they make when they take their seat. Much drama centers around watching characters functioning in both public and private settings, the contradictions between the two being what is offered to the audience as the truth of those characters, and this is so often done that it is expected. We watch human drama because we want to know what's real, what it is to actually experience something like that, whatever the circumstances. We want all the nitty gritty shit shown to us, no excuses. So when a lie is introduced, it needs to eventually be verified for being one. The great part about Othello and Richard III is that the antagonists let the audience in on the joke; both Iago and Richard turn to the audience and pointblank tell them, "I'm going to really fuck things up for these people, just watch." The audience is allowed in, and so the lying is okay because the viewers are allowed to recognize it as a device. But when that access is denied, it's almost an act of bad faith on the part of the writer/performer. Remember that episode of "Dallas" where Patrick Duffy was discovered in the shower, still alive when he was supposed to have been dead, and the entire season that had taken place turned out to be a dream? I don't, I was too young--but I've heard tell of it. Such an action on a writer's part basically undercuts the entire journey they've taken the audience on. Unless the play was somehow a large discussion about deception, and that choice was made to show the audience that even they were vulnerable to it happening to them, it's just an asshole move. Period.
So I guess basically, getting back to BSG, I want Leoben to once and for all say that Adama, whichever one, is not a Cylon. Or see more examples of Cylons lying--which there have been many, but none recent enough to remind me what they're capable of (save the day-to-day existence on the Galactica of the four known of the Final Five...I guess there's a lot of deception there, too). If it is a lie. (And I venture to guess that it is.) And generally I'd like to see a good, solid piece of drama that may trick the audience into thinking they knew the answers, but then discovered they did not. Which is great drama, truly.
When am I getting a job with SciFi?
(Note: I did find an almost completely naked picture of Lee Adama on the web, but restrained myself from posting it here. This is a blog, not a smut show. I don't know if that's a good thing or not, but the epic hotness of Jamie Bamber was bound to be just too frakking distracting for the likes of me, and I couldn't do it. Sorry guys.)