Monday, May 07, 2018

Science Fiction and Society

Last week, I got to be part of a project on science fiction. A friend of mine has a son who was preparing a report on the subject, and since he needed to interview a science fiction author, he asked me. His topic turned out to be how science fiction influences society. He already had examples of scientists who chose their discipline because of science fiction, so I gave him another angle: how science fiction affects politics and protests. Here are a few points I made during the interview:

  • Aliens can be a metaphor for the "Other," and how we view the aliens can reflect how we treat marginalized people in our own society
  • The first interracial kiss shown on TV was on Star Trek. (It might have been more acceptable in a science fiction context than in a mainstream one.)
  • Women have been dressing as handmaids from The Handmaid's Tale at political protests
  • Dystopian novels like The Hunger Games, where a teenager challenges a corrupt system, had inspired teenagers with their own protests.
How else do you think science fiction affects society? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Cool opportunity for you!
Most marginalized people don't want to place an alien in your chest though...

Pat Dilloway said...

Definitely movies like Alien Nation and District 9 showed aliens as marginalized people.

Issues like racism, sexism, and class inequality can be more approachable in a sci-fi context than in the "real" world.

James Pailly said...

I noticed that in the new Star Wars movies, the good guys call themselves the Resistance, and almost immediately after The Force Awakens came out I started hearing that term in a political context as well. Maybe it was a coincidence. I don't know. But it felt to me like someone was making a Star Wars reference.

Sandra Almazan said...

Thanks, Alex! Sometimes the metaphor can stretch a little too far.

I agree, Pat.

It's definitely a Star Wars reference, James. I have a shirt with a picture of Princess Leia and the caption, "A Woman's Place is in the Resistance."

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