If Only We Had a Reasonable Negotiating Partner...


Anniversary of the Nakba today, an event that shaped the modern world, creating a festering sore of injustice that still infects global politics.

Also, less importantly, the origin of a situation that provides the basis for a vast number of trite, naive, glib, uninformed political allegories in sci-fi TV shows.

The Silurians got the treatment in their first reappearance in the new series, 'The Hungry Earth' / 'Cold Blood' (2010).

The funny thing is that, wheras the intentional Palestine allegory worked up in these episodes doesn't fit the real facts, patronises the oppressed, excuses the oppressors, etc, the accidental allegory works.  Indeed, it chimes surprisingly well witth the Silurians generally.  Every time the Silurians come back they are still squeezed out, displaced, outnumbered... and every time they are condemned when they dare to get angry about it, and exhorted by the liberal hero to stay indefinitely patient, warned that if they don't then they'll have lost the moral high ground, effectively informed that its up to them to be forebearing to the people who've stolen their world. And they never get anywhere near getting redress or restitution.

Most recently, the solution offered to the matter was for the Silurians to retire again and wait for humanity to become more liberal and tolerant all by itself.  As Charles Daniels argued on the comment threads, this is repulsive.  It says that the oppressed must wait for their oppressors to see the light.  The agency lies with the oppressors.  The oppressed must simply be patient.  Such things happen because humans are just intolerant.  But luckily there's (in Dawkins' vacuous phrase) an "ever changing moral zeitgeist" which will inevitably lead us to greater heights of liberalism, without us having to do anything.  (A millenarian idea if ever I heard one.)

Meanwhile, back in storyland, the best solution is for the Silurians and the humans to live apart.  Well, there's a word for that.  A word increasingly being recognised as an apt description of the Israeli domination of Palestine: Apartheid.

The only bit that doesn't tesselate beautifully is the origin of the situation. The Silurians retired voluntarily because they thought the Moon was going to crash into the Earth.  A natural disaster / tragic misunderstanding with no cause and no agency behind it is the official, mainstream narrative, not the reality.


jane 7 years, 8 months ago

Never thought of the Silurian story as an allegory for Israel/Palestine! Thank you for this reading.

It also helps me to make sense of the next Silurian story, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. The Silurians (our Palestinians) have been wiped out by Solomon -- named after a Jewish King. Does this mean we should take the Doctor's response to Solomon as an allegory for an interventionist's response to Israel?

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Jack Graham 7 years, 8 months ago

I'd be surprised if Chris Chibnall can spell 'allegory', personally.

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James S 7 years, 8 months ago

I hope not! In Dinosaurs, Solomon's main (only) character traits are his covetous nature and need for profis. That allegory turns a bland, harmless, slightly eccentric episode into something that makes me want to puke.

I think, I hope that in the case of both stories Chibnall though he was writing harmless "romps"-for kids. But in the case of the Hungry Earth he felt he should add a dash of political allegory (for the ilussion if depth) Just like he added a few Guantanamo Bay references to Torchwood, but had the UN doing them. Poor Chibnall-mostly harmless

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Wm Keith 7 years, 8 months ago

Bland? Harmless? Slightly eccentric? Playing Sandifer's "Toymaker" rule, I hereby declare DoaS so offensive that it is Not Canon. To argue this properly, however, I would need to watch it again. But to summarise, possibly inaccurately (as Chibnall deserves): let's humiliate strong women, who need to resign their executive jobs for the love of a good sexist; let's manufacture a father-son relationship which completely outweighs husband-wife; let's throw in a bit of lecherous torture (not for this Solomon a treaty with the Queen of Sheba) on the part of a murderous wandering covetous Jewish capitalist who must be murdered in turn by another wanderer; oh, did I mention the bonding over shooting things and the comedy gay robots? But, on the other hand, it's got Dinosaurs! On a spaceship!

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Wm Keith 7 years, 8 months ago

Thank God that he is now the hottest property in British TV. (I didn't see Broadchurch. Was it a miraculous improvement on everything his leaden talent had previously sullied?) Please, please can Chibnall be golden-handcuffed to ITV and never write for the BBC again, least of all become story editor for Doctor Who.

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