Our super nerdy political guide to Star Wars, Star Trek and Doctor Who

11 Jan 2016

 

The political morality of the Star Wars saga has been debated widely since the topic received pre-Christmas air time on the BBC.

 

All seven Star Wars films blend elements of right- and left-wing thought, although social democratic philosophies are evidently ascendant. Indeed, Jedi council meetings are not debauched ceremonies of vast wealth, greed and vice. Initiation rituals for new Jedi masters do not involve pouring Corellian brandy over one’s own head before inserting one’s reproductive organs into a dead Ewok.

 

 

Rather, Jedi knights are restrained and Monkish. They seek knowledge rather than affluence. The Jedi’s natural ally in the human world is the bearded Philosophy lecturer whose entire wardrobe – featuring two beige shirts, a tweed jacket and a pair of faded corduroys – was purchased at a car boot sale in the 1980s.

 

Probably the most unnerving political parallel is between the rebel leadership and that of the SNP. Princess Leia – the sharp-tongued, unconquerable leader of the rebel alliance – regularly conflicts (albeit in a somewhat playful manner) with a professional narcissist, Han Solo. Former SNP leader Alex Salmond often bays like Chewbacca in an effort to gain Nicola Sturgeon's attention, but his self-absorbed disposition is more akin to the captain of the Millennium Falcon rather than its first mate.

 

But what about the politics of other beloved members of the sci-fi genre? Star Trek celebrates its 50th anniversary this year with the third instalment of the rebooted films and a new TV series on the way in 2017. Of course, rather like members of the Labour Party, Trekkies are bitterly divided over the merits of “Nu-Trek”, with some fans wishing to switch their phaser to vaporise before setting upon director JJ Abrams just as eagerly as a £3 Corbynista trapped in a turbolift with Tony Blair.

 

Star Trek has long possessed progressive credentials – particularly for making a virtue of peaceful exploration, and also for its (mostly) positive depiction of female, ethnic minority, and even extra-terrestrial characters. Yet, it’s often been accused of crypto-communism (usually by the likes of Ned Flanders and Donald Trump) because it depicts a future in which humankind has done away with the need for money.

 

Other reasons for right-wing hostility to Trek could include the vast EU-like bureaucracy that is the United Federation of Planets, and the fact that Romulan Ale is not merely subject to minimum pricing, but banned altogether by those damned killjoy feds. But if you want to see a genuine example of a communist dystopia, look no further than the Borg Collective. They will assimilate you. Resistance is futile.

 

Finally, we don’t want to leave out Britain’s greatest export to the galaxy – so what should we make of the politics of Doctor Who? Perhaps surprisingly for an iconic BBC character, the brilliant and enigmatic Doctor – who fights evil almost entirely alone in his stolen Tardis – strongly resembles a tin-foil libertarian conspiracy theorist. He doesn’t like taking orders from anyone and is often extremely reluctant to involve himself in the intrigues of the Time Lord High Council on Gallifrey. There’s a streak of hipster pacifist running through him when he professes to hate soldiers and guns, but he ultimately reveals himself to be more of a patriot and military interventionist than he’d care to admit through his actions as the “War Doctor”.

 

As for the Daleks, do you really need to ask? They’re so deliberately depicted as unhinged rasping fascists that 1960s film adaptations of popular Dalek stories showed them “exterminating” people with actual gas. Hitler and Davros would have got on like a house on fire. Or possibly perished in an ego-fuelled mutual extermination incident. It’s hard to tell.

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