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30 Days Of Fan Fiction, Day 14 
14th-Jul-2011 12:25 pm
14 – Ratings – how high are you comfortable with going? Have you ever written higher? If you're comfortable with NC-17, have you ever been shocked by finding that the story you're writing is G-rated instead?

I have done up to PG-13. I've never been surprised that a story I'm writing is G-rated, but I have been surprised that some people considered one scene to rate higher than I thought. I wrote it as a very suggestive scene without going into any explicit details, a la Psycho.
Grem_Come out
Comments 
14th-Jul-2011 10:58 pm (UTC)
You haven't considered rating higher for violence or torture? I find that a lot more disturbing than sex (unless someone combines the two) and pretty much go by what I could have handled at 13.
15th-Jul-2011 01:52 am (UTC)
Now, that's an interesting thought. I wasn't sure, because while I do have torture and violence in my stories, I never actually describe it graphically. It's all suggestive. I have read stories where they have blood and guts and people chopping limbs off and for me, that needs a higher rating. Does suggestive require more than a PG-13 rating?
15th-Jul-2011 04:39 am (UTC)
Would it upset a teenager who read it? That's pretty much what I go by: whether it's too much for a mid-teen to handle. People do seem to think high ratings are only for sex but I find violence a lot more disturbing. I like the AO3 system where one can warn for different things like sex, violence, character death. It's a lot more informative than a plain rating.
15th-Jul-2011 08:58 pm (UTC)
I'd agree with you 100%, and I've never understood how anyone can think anything else given how the film and game classifications work. Why should fandom operate to a different one? In most cases violence is of more concern when classifying a piece than sex.

While one has to bear in mind that the Internet at least is world wide, and so there may be readers who might find consensual sex shocking and disturbing, I think it would be hard to find a teen today who didn't have at least some biological understanding of what sex involved and why. So the level of 'shock' would be low and the disturbance is more likely to be distaste or embarrassment.

Violence is far more disturbing for most people, children in particular hate seeing things hurt (if they don't then worry about their mental health) and particularly if they feel some connection to the character. As the BBC found out when Blake was broadcast. Violence is the thing I would always consider to raise the rating of a piece, if it involves rape or any description of the acts of torture then I personally would see Adult as the obvious classification.
15th-Jul-2011 11:17 pm (UTC)
Absolutely! There are violent images I've come across in reading that I would pay to have removed from my memory, and I consider rape to be violence rather than sex.

I do like the AO3 ratings for that reason. I was able to warn for violence in the few stories I've used it in whereas a plain NC-17 rating would probably imply sex to most readers.

[Edit] BTW have you considered putting your stories on AO3? If you haven't used it, it's very easy to upload and maintain.

Edited at 2011-07-15 11:18 pm (UTC)
16th-Jul-2011 04:38 am (UTC)
This is a very interesting discussion. One of the reasons I've come to like B7 less and less as a show is because of it's irresponsibility and immorality in the portrayal of heroes to an audience that comprised of a lot of children. If I were a parent, I would never let my kids watch this show today.

That being said it's an interesting show precisely because there does seem to be a blurry line between good and evil, and heroes and villains can almost be interchanged without much difference, and yes, for me that includes Blake, Vila and Avon.

In terms of ratings, that does appear to be a sticky issue. For my own stories, I'm not sure if it's that cut and dried and therein lies my problem.

Does it have violence and torture? Yes. Do I describe the torture? That depends on what you mean by describe.

I don't like horror. It disturbs me. I don't like reading it or watching it and I certainly don't like writing it. I have read stories where violence is described in graphic detail and for me that deserves a high rating.

So I had a dilemma. I had stories which necessitated the character endure torture, but I didn't want to actually describe what was happening. I got around this by describing the reactions and feelings of the character to what was happening, essentially putting the reader inside his head while itnwas occurring without being graphic about the actions that were occurring. Perhaps doing it this way made it so immediate and close that it felt like I was describing in graphic detail what was happening, even though I wasn't. I found that for some, it worked very much like that shower scene in psycho where Hitchcock showed everything around what happening but he never once showed the actual violence, but people would swear later that they saw the knife being plunged into her body. But it never did, it was all suggestive, but their imaginations filled in the details making it more horrible than if he had shown what happened.

In that way, if my scenes really worked that well, or badly depending on how it is seen, then in hindsight, perhaps it should have had a higher rating. I think they are all rated at least PG now and some PG-13. But it is funny that I originally wrote it that way because I wanted to avoid writing the violence :)



16th-Jul-2011 04:50 am (UTC)
I know they intended to do another season but regardless of that, they should never have had all the heroes / children's friends (as one upset child called them) gunned down like that.

I wrote a torture scene but there wasn't anything graphic anyway because it was all nerve and brain stimulation. I still warned for it though as I know others might find it upsetting. I don't find my own stories disturbing because I create them but I know one reader at least wouldn't read one of my stories any further when she encountered a reference to past violence. I've put a trigger warning for domestic violence on that one.
16th-Jul-2011 05:47 pm (UTC)
No, and they shouldn't have let GT have his way about Blake either, if he wanted out then all he had to say was 'I'm busy'.

Torture is about pain, humiliation and helplessness so I'm not sure that the techniques matter if the 'pictures' of those are clear enough. I'd agree with you earlier comment btw, rape has nothing to do with sex and a lot to do with power and hate. It's often a form of torture.

References to past violence seem a bit of a stretch in the disturbing stakes, unless you described it I suppose. There is always the probelm that you can never know the reader's psychological and emotional baggage and that can be wide ranging,so almost anything can offend in the right (or wrong) circumstances. Nor can the reader know the authors unless they are very familiar with their work, so a combination of age and warnings is probably the best protection. But even then you can get caught out, as I once found to my cost.....
16th-Jul-2011 10:59 pm (UTC)
I did describe the past violence, in flashback. It was to Vila as a child and his mother, but only one bit was graphic. That can be a powerful trigger to people who've experienced it even if I'd just referred to it so I think the story deserves the warning. And it's not a plot spoiler as character death can often be.

What happened with you?
17th-Jul-2011 11:45 am (UTC)
Yes, those are the sorts of things that can catch you unaware and I wholeheartedly agree with you about them needing warnings. I must confess that I think that fan works don't make enough allowances for this when providing categories and warnings, particularly where rape is concerned. I have a couple of friends who have been victims and I've come across stories in the past and cringed at the idea that they might have found them without having enough information to know to avoid them.

In my own case it was apparently an issue of offending some people's beliefs, or rather them thinking that I had. Not B7, though I gather it had happened there in the past. I wrote a story that ran counter to a particularly popular fannon, partially because that fannon was so unlikely, and involving a different take on the possible future for two main characters. It involved the death of one of them but no large amount of violence and no sex. This was posted to an adult only forum, so no minors to be distressed and supposedly no one who wasn't sophisticated enough to be able to just shrug it off if they didn't like it. I provided a character list and a warning of character death, and also added a tongue in cheek tag that should have warned them what was likely to be coming, and who was likely to die, though that backfired. I ended up in a firestorm, and while I had little sympathy for most of those in uproar it disturbed me to think that there might have been one or two who really were upset by the story because of something happening in their own lives, or might feel that I was diminishing them in some way. Now if I write such a story I put in a warning for 'uncomfortable ideas' as well as actions.
17th-Jul-2011 08:56 pm (UTC)
I think a lot more about triggers now that I've seen so many people affected by them. I think the only case I wouldn't warn is if it were a spoiler, like character death.

Some fandoms do seem to be more contentious than others.
18th-Jul-2011 10:55 pm (UTC)
Yes, but in the end you can only go so far, and perhaps you just have to accept that there will always be those who have something going on in their heads that you can't begin to foresee, let alone be responsible for.

I wonder if wide audience published authors have the same concerns, or do they just have to assume that their reader's mental well being is their own business? I don't know any published fiction authors to ask, a few non fiction but that's not the same.I picked Good Omens off my bookshelf last evening and it occurred to me that, though I love it, it is something that has significant power to offend.

Is it just the newer ones that are contentious I wonder, or is it something in the materials of the original?
19th-Jul-2011 12:44 am (UTC)
Very true. I suppose the difference is that we interact with our readers. People offended or upset by a book aren't likely to write to the author about it.

Doctor Who is one of the worst for fandom wars, I've heard, so it can't be just recent fandoms. I don't know what the factors are.
16th-Jul-2011 05:49 pm (UTC)
"One of the reasons I've come to like B7 less and less as a show is because of it's irresponsibility and immorality in the portrayal of heroes to an audience that comprised of a lot of children. If I were a parent, I would never let my kids watch this show today.
"

Whoa, there. You can't make an accusation like that in so blasé a manner and without very good reason! That sounds like you are saying that a national, public funded, broadcaster of good reputation allowed an immoral portrayal of a 'white’ character/s knowing it was being watched by those whose moral structure was still developing. You would need very strong evidence to back up such a claim. There were instances that might better have been edited out, but in general TPTB were careful to make sure that you couldn't. I gather there were some heavy hands laid on the producers on just this count.

Surely what you are saying is that you, personally, feel that you would like the characters to be more obviously delineated, more clearly 'black' and 'white'. You say you like it 'less and less' but the material in the show hasn't changed, which leads me to suspect that you haven’t always perceived it this way.

It wouldn't get shown in prime time on the main channel these I'm sorry to say, but things like that should be shown to help explain the complexities of the world. A lot of parents are way too protective of their children now, particularly with regards to the good v evil stuff. So how do those children learn to recognise when it’s not that simple? Not having the discussions makes their children vulnerable to exploitation, if you don't encounter ambiguity then how do you learn to recognise it and deal with it?

"a blurry line between good and evil, and heroes and villains can almost be interchanged without much difference, and yes, for me that includes Blake, Vila and Avon."

Hmmm, don't think you could make the case for that either.

With respect to your own stories, I recall being moved to ask for warnings from you when I first encountered your series on Hip Deep, so obviously it was sufficiently detailed for me to have reacted to it. I'm not overly squeamish, though I find little value in descriptions of violence, so I think you'd probably be safer going higher.Personally I always take a minimalist approach to violence,sex and torture, partly but not entirely, on that count

16th-Jul-2011 11:01 pm (UTC)
[stepping in, sorry] I do think that viewers (of all ages) were left with the message that standing up for freedom and right is useless, and that's a nasty one.
17th-Jul-2011 04:12 am (UTC)
In terms of evidence, I am going by the reactions of a lot of outraged parents who contacted the shows producers during the airing of the show after a couple of particularly disturbing episodes. I'm not just going from my own reactions. I think it was extremely irresponsible of the show to do some of the things they did knowing full well young kids were being troubled by it. I don't know in what time slot they aired the original show, but it was obviously early enough that parents would object to some of the things their kids were being subjected to. Of course I am taking this information from what I have read about reactions at the time since I am a latecomer to the show. Maybe some of what I have read could be wrong.

In terms of the blurry lines comment, you might say that you don't personally agree with my views of the characters but to say that I can't make a case for my statement, well that's where people would be mistaken. In fact, I believe I can make a very strong case, supported by numerous instances from canon. Not to mention TN himself said that B7 is about bad people vs even worse people. If people want to refute that, take it up with the creator of the show and don't shoot the messenger.

For me, one of the very few interesting things about Blake is that he appears, at least to me, to be the mirrror image of Servalan in many things. Now you've inspired me to add another article to my Trial of Blake series, listing all the ways Servalan and Blake are very similar, but from opposite sides of the fence.

Those who are familiar with my debates on issues, know that I never say anything unless I can support it with reams of canon. Now, whether my interpretation agrees with someone else's, well that's open to interpretation, like most of B7. I would gladly stand toe-to-toe with anyone and debate personal viewpoints as long as there is respect of each other's views and we are debating canon and differing interpretations and not subjective fanon based on how people feel about a character.

17th-Jul-2011 04:14 am (UTC)
I think you meant this for peladon. I wasn't making any of those arguments.

Edited at 2011-07-17 04:16 am (UTC)
17th-Jul-2011 04:17 am (UTC)
Ack, yes . Should have replied to the post above it. Sorry.
17th-Jul-2011 12:14 pm (UTC)
No need to apologise on my count.

I agree with you, and that was certainly my own perception. I also agree that that's a very nasty idea and I have speculated in darker moments whether there was some form of pressure given what was happening in the UK at the time.

But looking back on it that all stems from S4, with a lot coming from 'Blake'. I spent many months looking at this angle for I&R prep and as a result my take would be that much of it comes from undisciplined writers and weak editorial control at the story line/context level. So a writer commissioned for a script wrote something they wanted to write, rather than a story for B7 characters and universe, then shoe horned it to sort of fit. From what I've read from the time I gather the cast thought something similar and that TN hated the way his world and characters were misused.

Though, being fair to the series writers, the fannon that's grown up a round it tends to enhance that aspect too, and probably for similar reasons.

17th-Jul-2011 01:19 pm (UTC)
Yes, I believe it may have been CB who said he considered S4 to be like a different series.

While I like dark, and dark heroes, I do prefer ones that don't confuse evil for good. I like Decker, a show where the hero is a serial killer. Normally, it should make me ill to watch it, but what fascinates me about it is that while the hero is a serial killer, within the logic of the character, he has his own moral code that is not wrong and the show is clear that while he is the hero, what he does is morally wrong even if he personally thinks it is right and the people he kills are other serial killers. Which is a distinction which B7 does not seem to make esp. during the first two seasons. And it is the first two seasons which I find most objectionable in terms of immoral behavior.

Edited at 2011-07-17 01:20 pm (UTC)
17th-Jul-2011 05:01 pm (UTC)
It has always been my impression that CB considered S4 to be 'his'.

Now I'm confused, how do you have a dark hero where the lines between good and evil don't cross or at least come close together?

I don't know 'Decker' but making a morally wrong deed the rationale for the hero being the hero seems a bit skewed to me and more than Blake or B7 ever is.

How does B7 miss the distinction you make? The moral position of Blake's war, and this is about war, is set up very clearly in the first two episodes, whether you personally buy into that morality is a separate issue. It is rigidly stuck to through S1/2, all targets Blake strikes against are military, all personnel engaged are military, either front line troops or supporting logistics, civilian targets are not considered and actions for the sake of civilian terror do not figure anywhere. All actions are for a reason that is consistent with Blake's stated position, that he is at war. So it hinges perhaps on your view of the morality of war.

Is Blake's war a 'just' one? Well the UN would certainly declare the Federation a rogue state based on what we are shown, so there is precedent within the viewing audience's society. The first two series also provide evidence that others oppose the Federation in similar ways and on similar grounds, so he is not a renegade in the context of his own society. Unless you wish to adopt the position that there is no such thing as a just war, a valid position to take but one that shifts the argument somewhat, then you have to have clear reasons for declaring that the series does not recognise the 'morality' of the situation.

The only deviations from this morality that I can see is Shadow (one of those that could have done with some editing) and Star One. For me personally Shadow is psychologically wrong for Blake's character anyway, certainly when set against his actions in The Web and Mission to Destiny (thought that ending is something else that I think would have been better trimmed). Star One makes little sense at all. But even in these two dissenting voices are given air time, so there is no automatic assumption that his position is the right one.
19th-Jul-2011 12:19 am (UTC)
Sorry I haven't been able to reply sooner but getting caught up after the convention has been a pain.

How does B7 miss the distinction you make? The moral position of Blake's war, and this is about war, is set up very clearly in the first two episodes, whether you personally buy into that morality is a separate issue.
Actually I don't think Blake ever really expressed why he was fighting the war other than for vengeance and to benefit some people. That is clear from TWB where the Freedom Party was shown to be nothing more than a self-interest group that was only after freeing the outer worlds from Federation rule at the expense of people on Earth. As for Blake, the only time he ever came close to expressing why he was doing what he was doing was in the computer room in Spacefall. One reason was very clear. Pure vengeance against what the Federation did to his family and friends. Which is understandable, but hardly some huge noble crusade. The other thing he mentions is so that "Not until free men can think and speak. Not until power is back with the honest man". I find that narrow distinction very interesting, because it also isn't some noble save humanity kind of wording. He's not talking about freeing people. There are some people who are free, but who don't have the ability to think and speak. And he mentions the honest man, which is also very interesting because it's clear from his attitudes later that he doesn't consider everyone honest, so I highly doubts if he means everyone. For me, this makes Shadow make a lot of sense, because Blake isn't interested in helping people in the colonies. The only people he cares about or is interested in helping is people on Earth. Blake states very clearly and this explains perfectly why he would deal with the Terra Nostra whose greatest malevalent influence is in the colonies over Gan's objections that it means that they are aiding and abetting the suffering of the people in the colonies, not to mention the lower classes. I think putting this altogether with what Blake says in Spacefall, his little speech about free man and honest man, is only referring to specific people on Earth. Which also explains perfectly Bran Foster's lack of sympathy for Blake in TWB and why he never mentioned he ever wanted Blake back as leader, only as a figurehead. Foster's goal was helping the colonies at the expense of Earth people. Blake's goal was to help Earth and hang the colonies.

It is rigidly stuck to through S1/2, all targets Blake strikes against are military, all personnel engaged are military, either front line troops or supporting logistics, civilian targets are not considered and actions for the sake of civilian terror do not figure anywhere. All actions are for a reason that is consistent with Blake's stated position, that he is at war. So it hinges perhaps on your view of the morality of war.
I'm not sure why people get this impression that Blake's targets were military. They weren't. Blake attacked infrastructure on Saurian Major. He brought down the comm and navigation station for an entire sector so that the Federation would be blind and deaf. That clearly affects civilian and military. Because you can't be blind and deaf unless you are taking out the civilian and military comm and nav channels, unless you believe the military ships go around without any way to communicate with any civilian ships, authorities and planets and only talk to other military ships. Which would be silly.

Just because there were military on the base doesn't mean it was a military base. I was in Cuba for vacation and was in a port for cruise ships and civilian freight ships. The port was guarded by soldiers because the port was considered major infrastructure for the country and had to be protected. When I went through a Canadian airport during a tense time of terrorism fears, there were soldiers with rifles guarding the civilian airport. In the Federation with people like Blake running around, what is the chance civilian infrastructure was being protected by military? Fairly high I'd say given what we do in our society.
19th-Jul-2011 12:20 am (UTC)
And speaking of supporting logistics. Isn't it funny that most of the logistical personnel we are shown in B7 are mainly decent people? Not monsters or bad people. Techs, doctors and scientists who probably never lifted a gun and most of whom probably never realized what the Federation was doing behind the scenes. I found it very interesting that the writers were very careful to show us that these are the kinds of people Blake killed and have Blake meet them, and still find it fine to commit acts of mass murder that would kill non-combatant personnel. Every wonder why the writers did that? I did.

Is Blake's war a 'just' one? Well the UN would certainly declare the Federation a rogue state based on what we are shown, so there is precedent within the viewing audience's society. The first two series also provide evidence that others oppose the Federation in similar ways and on similar grounds, so he is not a renegade in the context of his own society. Unless you wish to adopt the position that there is no such thing as a just war, a valid position to take but one that shifts the argument somewhat, then you have to have clear reasons for declaring that the series does not recognise the 'morality' of the situation.
I think there is a misconception here. I don't object to the war to fight against evil. What I do object to is Blake. I object to most of what Blake thinks is justified for the sake of that fight. When Avon was leading the fight against the Federation, we never saw him once commit an act of mass murder. His way of fighting the Federation was far less violent than Blake's. He went after specific targets that hurt the fewest amount of people while trying to deny the Federation valuable resources. He never once committed an act that involved a stealth attack that did not allow the enemy a fighting chance, unlike Blake. To me, Avon chose far more moral methods for fighting the Federation, or at least less violent. And Avon and Blake had about the same amount of success, but Avon ended up saving far more people. Servalan was actually afraid of Avon's abilities; she never took Blake seriously enough to spend much time going after him, only Travis did, and even then she kept pulling Travis away to do her personal projects because those were far more important to her than destroying Blake.

The only deviations from this morality that I can see is Shadow (one of those that could have done with some editing) and Star One. For me personally Shadow is psychologically wrong for Blake's character anyway, certainly when set against his actions in The Web and Mission to Destiny (thought that ending is something else that I think would have been better trimmed). Star One makes little sense at all. But even in these two dissenting voices are given air time, so there is no automatic assumption that his position is the right one.

Ok. In order to answer this, I'd have to point you to the Trial of Blake series I'm in the process of writing which judges Blake's actions for each episode. Sorry, but Web and Destiny are perfect examples of his lack of morality and dovetails very nicely with Shadow and Star One. I'm frequently surprised at the details that people forget about those episodes. A man who from Spacefall, refused to stop his plans even though they all saw that Avon had a good chance of being killed and yelled at Vila when Vila objected and wanted to wait until it was safer, and gave as his reason that it was the best chance they had...to what he says in Shadow, that winning is the only reason for fighting. Sorry, but that is exactly like Blake right from the beginning. And the reprehensible things he did in Cygnus Alpha and Time Squad...I'm sorry but those episodes cemented my impressions that Blake was an immoral maniac masquerading as a hero very early on in watching the series.
17th-Jul-2011 07:07 pm (UTC)
It has always been my impression that CB thought of S4 as 'his'.

Ok now I'm confused, how does a hero count as dark if the lines of good and evil don't cross, or at least come close together?

I certainly find the idea of a serial killers belief in his own rightness being his qualification as hero a bit skewed. More than B7 ever was. If he is the 'hero' how do they 'make it clear' that what he does is morally wrong?

On the basis of your acceptance of that how do you think that B7 failed to portray things morally? What would you have done differently that would have made it right, particularly in S1/2?

The rationale behind Blake's war, and remember it is about war, is set out pretty clearly in episode 1/2 and is maintained consistently throughout the first two series. The targets hit are all military, the personnel engaged all military, either front line troops or logistics and support, the objectives are all classical military objectives. Civilian targets are never attacked, civilian terror is never an objective, nor are civilian casualties. So within the context of war his methods are not immoral as such.

In terms of the 'justness' of that war. Well the Federation would certainly be a pariah state in UN terms given what we see of them, so there is a precedent for the morality of it in the audiences understanding. We are also given reason to assume that others fight against the Federation for the same reasons, and in some cases using similar means, so Blake is not a renegade in terms of his own society.

Only in Shadow and Star One are these principles breached as far as I can see. In my opinion neither of the two are psychologically right for Blake, and Star One makes little sense on any count. However even in these episodes the dissenting perspectives are given open voice, in Shadow by Gan and to a lesser degree Avon, and in Star One by Avon, so the position is not presented as automatically right.

You may not accept the justness of war, or of armed revolt against oppression, which is a valid position to take, but it changes the whole nature of the argument.
19th-Jul-2011 12:37 am (UTC)
For a dark character, a la Sam Spade, Clint Eastwood, Dirty Dozen, Magnificent 7, which TN and PD have said were their inspirations for the series and the portrayal of Avon's character. The characters are all considered dark in that they are not polite, they will hit below the belt, they frequently have sharp and cynical mouths, they will be violent and none of them are 'white-hat' heroes who would never lie no matter what and would help little old ladies across the street. But one thing about these dark characters, or anti-heroes is that they are all still heroes underneath. While they may do some immoral things, they always do the right thing when the circumstances call for it. Sam Spade is a detective, not a criminal, even though he's a rough character who would slap a woman if the circumstances called for it. A white-hat hero would die rather than hit a woman.

I consider Avon and Blake to both be dark heroes; Blake darker than Avon on the inside and Avon darker than Blake on the outside. As TN said bad people vs even worse people.

This is never more clear than the end of Destiny. I think the colonists are some of the few truly just people of the Federation, as we understand justice in our time. Even though Sarah murdered and clearly tried to steal the neutrotope that would devastate their entire planet, Dr. Kendall did not want her killed. He wanted to bring her back for trial. And Avon agreed. Blake on the other hand, like the vigilante he is, summarily executes a ship load of people without warning or verifying if they were actually associated with Sara. He basically shot these people in the back, which is typical of him, typical of a person who sneaks into bases and uses explosives to blow up facilities.

As for Blake not being considered a renegade, well that depends on whom you talk to. Some people consider him a criminal. Some consider him a hero. We rarely see people they meet flocking to join Blake or applauding what he is doing. Which, to me, calls into question how popular he actually was. Because it was clear that while some of the people applauded Blake as a hero, we are told that the High Council's concern was that some of the planets were threatening to leave the Federation because the Federation couldn't protect them from Blake. Doesn't sound like these people approved of Blake nor does it sound like Blake only affected military targets. It's funny that most people only remember the last part of the conversation about some people applauding Blake and completely ignore that the real concern was about the outer planets leaving because the Federation couldn't protect them from the Blake threat.
19th-Jul-2011 12:42 am (UTC)
I'm not sure if you've ever watched Decker. But the hero is a serial killer. He kills people and chops their bodies up and dumps them in the ocean. He's a Hannibal Lector-type character. So how can someone like this be a hero? Because he has a code, he only murders other serial killers and if I remember correctly, he doesn't touch children. What he does is still reprehensible, but because he has limits that are semi-moral, he is still considered a hero. It's funny but...I actually might think better of Blake if I see him as this kind of dark hero. I still won't like him much because he screws his friends and bullies them, but maybe I won't hate him as much. Maybe.
17th-Jul-2011 09:00 pm (UTC)
I heard they were Thatcherite pressure. Way to depress people who were already in a financial depression.

much of it comes from undisciplined writers and weak editorial control

Why yes: Chris Boucher. Yes, TN hated it and demanded that Avon and Vila survive in season 5 or a spin-off series. I wish he hadn't left.

I think so many people write PGPs to fix a series that shouldn't have ended that way.
17th-Jul-2011 09:59 pm (UTC)
If there was government pressure, and I have no real problem with believing that given what I know of the government of that time, then I'd hazard a guess it was as much to do with the security situation as anything financial. The line between freedom fighters and terrorists is hard for a nation under direct attack as the UK was then. (I've sometimes wondered what those of our allies who put money into the collecting tins of a certain organisation thought they were buying, and did they think about it differently after 911. LOL but its not considered polite to speculate on that.)

Personally I've never rated CB the way some fans do, and S4 is a good example of why not. But then IMO all his own episodes had similar overtones, maybe it was the events around him that caused that. Had TN remained engaged then I think it might have taken a different direction, he was very pessimistic about the future of humanity in space but he never seemed inclined to give in to the idea that the bad was inevitable or irresistible.
17th-Jul-2011 04:27 am (UTC)
In terms of evidence, I am going by the reactions of a lot of outraged parents who contacted the shows producers during the airing of the show after a couple of particularly disturbing episodes. I'm not just going from my own reactions. I think it was extremely irresponsible of the show to do some of the things they did knowing full well young kids were being troubled by it. I don't know in what time slot they aired the original show, but it was obviously early enough that parents would object to some of the things their kids were being subjected to. Of course I am taking this information from what I have read about reactions at the time since I am a latecomer to the show. Maybe some of what I have read could be wrong.

In terms of the blurry lines comment, you might say that you don't personally agree with my views of the characters but to say that I can't make a case for my statement, well that's where people would be mistaken. In fact, I believe I can make a very strong case, supported by numerous instances from canon. Not to mention TN himself said that B7 is about bad people vs even worse people. If people want to refute that, take it up with the creator of the show and don't shoot the messenger.

For me, one of the very few interesting things about Blake is that he appears, at least to me, to be the mirrror image of Servalan in many things. Now you've inspired me to add another article to my Trial of Blake series, listing all the ways Servalan and Blake are very similar, but from opposite sides of the fence.

Those who are familiar with my debates on issues, know that I never say anything unless I can support it with reams of canon. Now, whether my interpretation agrees with someone else's, well that's open to interpretation, like most of B7. I would gladly stand toe-to-toe with anyone and debate personal viewpoints as long as there is respect of each other's views and we are debating canon and differing interpretations and not subjective fanon based on how people feel about a character.

Oh about dilineation, actually, one of the things Imdo love about the show is that it is not cut and dried. I love the fallibility of the characters, but I object to this show being subjected to kids young enough that parents would call in because their kids were disturbed by what they saw. I don't think it's about coddling or not coddling if you knowingly traumatized young kids, which is what I heard did happen duringnthe run of the show. I have a real problem with that. Now if it were a strictly adult show, then I would say brilliant. It was ahead it's time in terms of dark sf.

I am more and more disaffected with this show now, not because I didn't think it had immoral and disturbing messages before, but because as an author now, I am very aware of my responsibility as a writer to specific audiences.
17th-Jul-2011 01:16 pm (UTC)
Not sure this is right place to have this discussion, but it's your journal and if you are game, well I'm fine with it as I actually have some time at the moment - rare treat.

In terms of evidence, I am going by the reactions of a lot of outraged parents who contacted the shows producers during the airing of the show after a couple of particularly disturbing episodes.

What constitutes 'a lot', 'a couple' and 'disturbing'? I don't recall seeing any record of significant 'outrage' until Blake was aired. Which episodes do you have in mind? When I first started writing I looked at what was available from 'Points of View' at the time and scanned a few newspaper entries, and bought some copies of the Marvel publication, and I didn't see anything there that indicated real alarm at the series prior to S4. That doesn't rule out the possibility that I missed the important ones or that there weren't complaints of course, only that I can't quantify them in 'few, 'some', 'lots' 'many' or 'a great deal'. A few were to be expected because that always happens. As for the number of episodes you quote, a couple out of 52 doesn't seem to indicate a whole scale revulsion at the series even by a few people. Which in the sequence of series did they arise from?

Not to mention TN himself said that B7 is about bad people vs even worse people. If people want to refute that, take it up with the creator of the show and don't shoot the messenger.

I'm not shooting anyone. TN pitched B7 as Dirty dozen in space, so the whole idea was less than perfect people going up against something even worse and doing things that others might expect them not to do. I have no problem with that, I merely pointed out that you couldn't state that the BBC were irresponsible or immoral with regards to this as if it were demonstrable fact, and certainly not without citing a raft of universally accepted evidence. That the most you could assert was that you would have preferred it if the heroes had been more obviously heroic relative to the villians.

My personal take is that they are people, and like all people they reflect varing levels of virtue at different times, and in different circumstances, and, equally important, that what they see as virtue varies with their other beliefs.

Have vistors, will be back later. Unless you call halt.
17th-Jul-2011 01:33 pm (UTC)
I don't mind pursuing this, though you may have to wait as I'm at a SciFi convention this weekend and my time is limited and I have other obligations, which is why I'm rarely on LJ now. I'd have to do a search for where I found the information from which was ages ago.

To clarify some thing, from what I remember it was a few episodes parents objected to and mainly from season 4. And from what i raed, it did to be a strong reaction from not just a few people.

Though for me personally, I think this show had some very immoral messages beyond season 4, mainly in s1 and 2, which I personally object to and as a result would strongly caution my kids about, if I were to ever have kids.

As an adult, I do get the darker themes of bad people vs worse people. It's what makes this show different.
17th-Jul-2011 02:00 pm (UTC)
It would be a pleasure. I do love intelligent discussions as long as you don't mind. You may have to wait a bit because I am at a SciFi convention this weekend and my Internet access and time is limited, and I have other pressing obligations, wjich is why I'm rarely on LJ anymore. I'll have to search for those things I read ages ago. It may take time because I went through reams of stuff on the net.

I do believe it was specific episodes that some parents objected to, though if I remember it seemed like far more than a few.

Personally though, I do object to some of the immoral messages this show seemed to convey, especially in s1 and s2. If I ever had kids, I would strongly caution them about this show.

I'm not sure why you keep asserting that I would have preferred if the heroes were more obviously heroic, when I have stated clearly that one of the reasons why I like the show as an adult is because they are not. But I am disturbed that this show's audience did contain a lot of kids and I object to subjecting impressionable kids to that.

I'm also a bit confused because on the one hand, you seem to agree that this show is about bad people vs even worse people (which really begs the kind of mirror comparison I mentioned before)' and you also said that the heroes did things we don't expect (presumably because they are immoral things we don't expect heroes to do), but then turn around and say that I don't have a case for saying that the heroes and villains are almost interchangeable. And TN did say bad people vs even worse, not just 'less than perfect', which seems to dilute his idea.


Edited at 2011-07-17 02:01 pm (UTC)
17th-Jul-2011 10:37 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure why you keep asserting that I would have preferred if the heroes were more obviously heroic,

Because though you claim that to be the case as a generality your specific comments re B7 seem to me to indicate something different. Also when I asked you a very similar question on Lysator your response was something along the lines of , "why couldn't they have given us a more obvious hero then". I'd have to trawl my email to find the word for word comment but I'm pretty sure that was the gist of it.

the heroes did things we don't expect (presumably because they are immoral things we don't expect heroes to do),

No, the not perfect, or bad, people do things that are 'good'. That's what is not expected.

I don't call them heroes because I don't expect 'heroes' outside of comic books, childrens books and certain types of war films.I expect people on a varying scale of virtue depending on circumstance.

but then turn around and say that I don't have a case for saying that the heroes and villains are almost interchangeable.

I find it hard to quite get to grips with how you see them as comparable given that you don't cite any evidence. Ok so why do I say they are not, well...... for example...

Vila is a thief, apparently a career thief, not a nice trait perhaps but he resists killing, doesn't like violence and there is no evidence that he would be willing to sell innocent people into slavery for his own possible, and dishonest, financial gain, but we know that Servalan is.

Avon is an embezzler, again not honorable, but he is not willing to collude at the deaths of those who have helped him in pursuit of his own needs, but we know Travis is.

Blake may be willing to wage war to get what he thinks is right but he wouldn't risk the safety of innocents to kill Servalan or Federation troops. She on the other hand will stand back and watch a man die nastily simply to demonstrate the power of a weapon, just as Travis will pull an innocent man off the street to die if there isn't one to hand in detention.

Just as Federation law givers will twist the minds of children and leave them with nightmare memories to discredit a man that might be a threat and the Federation administration will gun down unarmed civilians.

So it goes on. No I don't think they are interchangeable.
18th-Jul-2011 01:55 am (UTC)
Damn. Can't figure out how to do quotes without copying them in.

"Because though you claim that to be the case as a generality your specific comments re B7 seem to me to indicate something different. Also when I asked you a very similar question on Lysator your response was something along the lines of , "why couldn't they have given us a more obvious hero then". I'd have to trawl my email to find the word for word comment but I'm pretty sure that was the gist of it."

One does not exclude the other. Just because I want a more obvious hero, does not exclude that I also like my heroes dark. As you mentioned, there are sliding scales. For certain things, I would prefer more heroic traits, but I definitely love the darker parts too. I mean, I like Decker...where the 'hero' is a serial killer! I never like white-hat heroes, they irritate me to no end. I don't think they are realistic.

"the heroes did things we don't expect (presumably because they are immoral things we don't expect heroes to do),

No, the not perfect, or bad, people do things that are 'good'. That's what is not expected."

Ahhh...that wasn't clear before from what was said. Thanks for clarifying that.

"I don't call them heroes because I don't expect 'heroes' outside of comic books, childrens books and certain types of war films.I expect people on a varying scale of virtue depending on circumstance."

Well, that's a matter of semantics, isn't it? The term heroes is not specifically applied to cartoonish, unrealistic characters, unless you're a child.

Adults have their heroes, but they usually recognize they are also human, unless they idealize them, which is another case. It is the staple of fiction and media.

We hold people up as heroes and put them on pedastals. People like Terry Fox in Canada, who lost a leg to cancer and ran cross-country to raise money for other cancer victims. Here, we have the highway of heroes and every time a soldier is killed in the service of his country, and they are flown here to Toronto and driven down to the forensics labs on a highway renamed, the Highway of Heroes, people gather at overpasses and salute and remember them as the body is driven past. Heroes only cartoon characters, not according to these people.
18th-Jul-2011 12:46 pm (UTC)
In real life heroes do come in many forms, and many that aren't are claimed, like the heroic sports star of the tabloids.

But we were taking about heroic figures in media based fiction, hence the quote marks around hero, and what makes them heroic and where ambiguity prevents them from being heroic. My point was simply that full on 'white hats' are extremely unrealistic and I don't expect to find them in anything with any depth or sophistication.
18th-Jul-2011 01:57 am (UTC)
Rats, I had to split this up because it's too long. I hope you don't mind. I do tend to get passionate about this who.

Well, here is mine...

Vila, who is the only member of the crew who not only repeatedly suggests to the abandoning of other members of the crew whenever his own life is in even a little danger, he is the only member who consistently betrays the rest of the crew to save his own life. To the point that Avon is so pissed off at him that in Aftermath, he angrily remarks that he's surprised Vila is still there and hasn't left the ship already. Avon had a very low opinion of Vila's loyalty to the rest of them and for good reason given Vila's track record.

"Blake may be willing to wage war to get what he thinks is right but he wouldn't risk the safety of innocents to kill Servalan or Federation troops. She on the other hand will stand back and watch a man die nastily simply to demonstrate the power of a weapon, just as Travis will pull an innocent man off the street to die if there isn't one to hand in detention. "

I'm sorry, but this is the Blake who was willing to not only risk the safety of innocents but was willing to murder millions of them in Star One just to kill Servalan and the Federation troops, right?

This is the Blake who would cause the suffering of countless others by blowing up the comm and navigation station in Time Squad.

This it the Blake who used the other prisoners as decoys, while he took the sole gun to protect himself, so that he could be safe in Spacefall.

This is the Blake who committed genocide in Time Squad without a justifiable reason, just because guardians programmed by a defective and ancient computer thought the crew was a threat to the survival of their entire race. Look very carefully in that episode. The crew was never in any danger from the pod after they killed the guardians. Avon specifically told Blake the only danger was if they plugged the pod back into the ship's power supply. Which means they were no longer in danger and had time to figure out why the computer would on one hand issue a distress signal because it was in trouble and then decide the Liberator crew was dangerous to it.

This is the Blake who caused the destruction of an innocent research base in Breakdown just to deny Avon a bolt hole.

This is the Blake who would cold-bloodedly plant explosives to destroy a ship in Destiny without ever warning them or verifying if the ship was the enemy, and when he was never in any danger from it.

I'm sure Blake thought he was fully justified in all these actions. He never once showed any emotions for killing anyone or trying to kill innocents.

In the same way, Servalan was just as ruthless and she firmly believed in what she was doing. She believed in order over freedom. Blake believed in the opposite, but both were ruthless killers who killed without any sign of conscience or emotion. Sorry but Blake never showed any regret or sadness over killing anyone or anyone's death. At least, I don't remember any other than for Gan.

In fact, he had a big, smug smile on his face after the killings in Destiny, which is in direct contrast to the look on Dr. Kendall's face when he found out what Blake had done. Servalan was the same way. She killed without blinking an eye, because she, like Blake believed the ends justified the means and she had no compunctions about killing innocents nor causing them suffering.

There are two instances where Blake did perhaps show he wasn't willing to, but I consider those out of character for him compared to all the other times he has no problem doing it.
18th-Jul-2011 06:14 pm (UTC)
he is the only member who consistently betrays the rest of the crew to save his own life.

Consistently? He says it a few times, though its never really clear if he means it or if it is meant as humour, but he only acts on it the once, in the case of Blake's uncle, and even then it's more a matter of ineptitude and weakness. Vila is a physical coward, though most of times he over comes it to a sufficient degree, and while that makes him less than admirable maybe, and even a liability, I can't see the justification for saying that puts him on a par with Servalan in the corrupt/evil stakes.

Perhaps I should say that I don't see Servalan as just an evil psychopath either. I agree that she believes to some degree in the structure she supports, however it is clear that she is corrupt, and from Kasabi's comments probably always has been. This is not surprising if the model of the Federation is fascism, which I think it is.


I'm sorry, but this is the Blake who was willing to not only risk the safety of innocents but was willing to murder millions of them in Star One just to kill Servalan and the Federation troops, right?

Ah, no, wrong. Blake is willing to destroy Star One to defeat the Federation, which is something different. Servalan and Space command will probably be killed, but for him the real importance is that the Federation will fall. It is not about personalities but about the desired outcome of the war. You are familiar with the term 'collateral damage' I assume, so to Blake that is what the fallout of Star One is. His words make that pretty clear, though it's not denied that there is an 'I want to be proved right' element to it too. Now it's fair to say that's one hell of a lot of damage, and does he have the right to make the decision for even one affected life? Avon does make just that point, as does Cally to a muted degree, so the morality of it is not unchallenged.

For me SO doesn’t stack up in either a psychological or practical sense, and I think all the stuff about the destruction of civilians comes out of the blue and is implausible. It could have been left out without much affect on the story and probably should have been. I can see what the writers were trying to do, (though I think CB just wanted to give Blake a 'harder edge', at least I think I recall reading that somewhere), but they needed a much longer treatment of it for it work.


Going to need to break here because of length.

18th-Jul-2011 06:16 pm (UTC)
Ok next bit.


'This it the Blake who used the other prisoners as decoys, while he took the sole gun to protect himself, so that he could be safe in Spacefall.'

Err - no, not if we are talking about the revolt on the London - which I think you are. Blake expected the others to have captured the armoury, and to be in control of at least part of the ship by that point, it's not his fault that Vila dropped the gun they did have when challenged and he couldn't have been expected to predict it given that he was on a prison ship. Under no circumstances could he have considered that a single gun would make him safe even if he had been so inclined.

As for Time Squad, well the distress call came because there was a fault on the autonavs, Jenna tells us that, and the Guardians were programmed to see any one a threat - I think Avon says that. The contents of the module were gene cells, not people. They had no knowledge of self, existence or anything else. Yes Blake could have just set it adrift, and I don't personally see the point of blowing it up in the episode; well other than as a way drawing attention to Gan's moral nature, despite what we found out about his crime earlier on in the same episode of course. But genocide? Do you see using antibiotics to wipe out whole populations of bacteria that threaten your health as genocide, or the eradication of small pox as genocide? They are as much alive as the contents of that ship, more so in fact in that they are complete entities.



'This is the Blake who caused the destruction of an innocent research base in Breakdown just to deny Avon a bolt hole.'

Ahh, I recall you saying something about this on the mailing list; it seemed such a bizarre statement that I assumed you were on a private joke. Seems you mean it. However having watched the episode again it remains a bizarre statement to my mind, and one I can see no justification for in canon. The rationale for the event is clear and simple enough and so it doesn’t need any excursion into highly speculative theories about a characters internal life to explain it. Liberator is held in dock at the station by the actions of the surgeon, the others have no knowledge of his specialty (much made of that earlier in the episode) and so they don't realise he is delaying. Once they do they leave as soon as they can without endangering Gan that brings them too close to the Federation ships to avoid a fight. In the battle the space station becomes collateral damage when one of the Federation ships misses the Liberator but hits it. Hazard of war in space when close to a space station. Blake could not have framed or engineered the nature or timing of those events and there is nothing in what he says, or any of the other characters say or do, that supports the idea that he tries to. It seems to me that you are going beyond extrapolation in this instance.

This is the Blake who would cold-bloodedly plant explosives to destroy a ship in Destiny without ever warning them or verifying if the ship was the enemy, and when he was never in any danger from it.

That is a valid comment, well in part anyway. It is a ruthless act and it seems an odd thing for Blake to have done. Of course I come from a culture that doesn't have the death penalty and in the Federation in might be different, though limiters suggest they don't use execution. In this instance Blake certainly votes himself judge and jury and I don't really see what purpose it serves, except again to give Blake less of a bleeding heart persona. But we are told the ship is the one expected and therefore the people on it intended to kill the crew of the Ortega and would have sentenced their planet to poverty and death. So not exactly innocents. I’ll have to look again at Kendal, I’ve not noticed any particular reaction in him in the many, many times I've watched the episode, but it is noteworthy that no one present protests.
18th-Jul-2011 01:57 am (UTC)
One was in Spacefall. But Blake was so self-serving throughout that entire episode, that I am highly suspicious of his motivations in giving up in the computer room. Not to mention, Blake waited until after the 2nd prisoner was killed before he gave up, probably because he realized it wasn't working.

The other was in Killer. Blake claimed that they needed to set the warning marker against the plague, but he never said why he was doing it. People assume he's doing it for moral reasons. But I don't. This is a man who has no compunctions about committing mass murder and mass suffering on both enemies and innocents just to get at the Federation, why would he care about a plague? And remember Blake's goal? He is looking for Star One...to do what? I believe it was to get at the Federation by killing many, many innocent people. Killing people like that is acceptable to Blake and he's obsessed with it but killing them with a little old plague is not? I'm sorry, that kind of logic makes no sense to me.

There is one thing that Avon says...Servalan might be killed if they don't set the marker. And what is Blake's other modus operandi, that he stated very specifically in Duel? He would rather have an enemy he knew, that was why he spared Travis, and repeatedly spares him. I fully believe that is the only reason why Blake set the warning marker in Killer. He did not want Servalan killed, not because he didn't want to kill innocents in order to get the Federation. That would be inconsistent behavior for him.

And so it goes on. Blake was the mirror image of Servalan.

As you can see, a lot of this deals with interpretations of Blake's actions, which is never right or wrong, it is purely according to the bias of the viewer.

I think we have to agree to disagree about a lot of this. I'm sure you fully believe in your views of Blake, Avon and Vila, just as I have mine. One thing about the show is that there was a lot of ambiguity built into it, by the writers, creators and the actors themselves. So, I think, to argue one way or another really is pointless. It is what it is, according to how we want to interpret what happened, because we are never told.

That's why there is fanfiction and fanon :)
18th-Jul-2011 06:47 pm (UTC)
Blake waited until after the 2nd prisoner was killed before he gave up, probably because he realized it wasn't working.

Then again, if you look at his face it could be shock at the fact that Raiker would do it and Leylan wouldn't stop him, I think he had banked on that. Of course, as Raiker points out, if he had stood back and let them go on shooting he would still have had control of the ship.

Blake claimed that they needed to set the warning marker against the plague, but he never said why he was doing it

Go back and look again, he tells Jenna at the end. I don't recall the exact words but its something along the lines of killing Servalan doesn’t justify the risk of letting the plague out into the galaxy. He barely knows Servalan, Travis is his enemy.

As you can see, a lot of this deals with interpretations of Blake's actions, which is never right or wrong, it is purely according to the bias of the viewer.

Oh I'd challenge that. One extrapolates from the evidence provided, other characters words, reactions and deeds set the context of the interpretation. For example, if I think that Avon is a woman hating psychopath because he hits a woman who is trying to kill him, ignoring his reactions to Jenna, Cally, Meegat, Veron etc, then I am crying against the evidence and I can't claim that is the character unless I can make a good reason for why he changed. If I think Gan is a murderer with a vicious nature controlled only by a limiter then I have got to have a hell of a good reason to discount his protests in Space Fall and Shadow and simply saying he is lying isn’t good enough. Speculations about a character's inner musings are just that, speculations, interpretation requires something a little more.

Of course you can write them however you want, it's just for fun and if it gives you a kick.... well great. I've written Blake bad and badder, and even faintly good. I written Vila as a betrayer and Jenna as the next rebel leader, all clean fun.

So, I think, to argue one way or another really is pointless.

Were we arguing, I thought we were discussing/debating. But I'll call it a day with no worries.
19th-Jul-2011 12:57 am (UTC)
Oh yes, it is all very subjective and I think we both recognize that. At the end of the day, we both love B7 for various reasons and that is enough for me. I really hate to see this fandom die a slow and agonizing death. We need all the passionate people we can find and you definitely are one :) For that you're alright in my book.

One last thing, one extrapolates from the evidence. That is exactly what I'm doing in Killer.

If we remember that Blake's whole purpose since PP was to find Star One so that he can commit mass murder in order to fight the Federation, that tells me that he has no problems or moral qualms about killing any number of people for his purposes. Put together all of his other mass murdering behavior even against non-Federation targets. The one time he appears to have a problem with mass murder is against Blake's character. That is why I highly doubt Blake was doing it for moral reasons despite what he said. And I don't believe everything BLake says. He is perfectly capable of 'sounding' moral and good even when he's lying through his teeth. Next to Servalan, Blake is the next champion liar, someone who lies as easily as breathing to suit his purposes. And Blake knows by now that the crew doesn't believe in him that much anymore, so he has to 'sound' right. For a mass murderer to suddenly be unwilling to commit mass murder, I have a hard time believing it would be for moral reasons. Why does he have a problem this one time? A plague doesn't kill enough people to suit him? Or the one other reason we are given that Blake does not kill leaders sent after him, what we are given in Web. He would rather fight the enemy he knows. And by now, Servalan is as much of his enemy as Travis is. She's tried to manipulate him in Weapon and she and Travis were behind the Control fiasco.

But really, in the end, we all write what we enjoy and I like demonizing Blake because he rubbed me the wrong way from the beginning and I find it very hard to believe he was a good man.

But as we've both pointed out, it's all interpretation and the creator and writers left huge gaps so that it can be viewed any way we want, which is why we can have such strong opinions about the show and its characters.

I've enjoyed this discussion. I hope you didn't mind it. I don't often get this opportunity.

I don't think we were arguing, as in fighting, but arguing as in debating our points very vigorously. Not many people seem to like to do that these days.
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