The series finale of the critically acclaimed SciFi Channel epic, “Battlestar Galactica,” is upon its eager fans.
But the stars and producers of the show were greeted with cheers and a standing ovation as they entered the ECOSOC Chamber at the United Nations in New York City on Tuesday night at a panel discussion focusing on the show’s plotlines and their relevance to various pressing issues in the world today including children and armed conflict, reconciliation, human rights, and terrorism.
Before the evening would be over, the series would have demonstrated its relevance with science fiction storylines that parallel present world issues, various high school students would have some of their questions answered by the panel and Edward James Olmos would lead the crowd in a moving chant of “So say we all!”
The “Galactica” panel was comprised of Edward James Olmos (Admiral Adama), Mary McDonnell (President Laura Roslin) and executive producers Ronald D. Moore and David Eick. The event was moderated by Whoopi Goldberg, who was admittedly a big fan of the show and is also no stranger to the sci-fi genre with her years of tending bar on the Enterprise as Guinan in “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
UN representatives for human rights issues addressed the crowd of fans, journalists, and the over one hundred New York City high school students in attendance, who were seated in the council chamber as part of SciFi Channel’s pro-social initiative, Visions For Tomorrow.
The seats normally reserved for diplomats and international representatives and usually identified by plaques with their country’s respective names were replaced that night by the twelve human colonies depicted in the show. So all in attendance were representing either Caprica, Aquarion, Leonis, Aerilon and so forth.
“I can honestly just say one thing about this, which is unbelievable that we are all here doing this in this manner,” Olmos told the crowd. “It makes so much sense. It is amazing talking about a science fiction show and talking about the humanity that we live in today. It is just something that I find incredible.”
Various clips were introduced from the Peabody Award-winning show that corresponded to topics like human rights issues, dialogue among civilizations and faiths, and the plight of children during wartime. Questions were then fielded to discuss how they related to issues in today’s society.
The first question raised was in regards to our society’s reliance and addiction to technology, and its possible eventual negative implications if that technology goes wrong, especially in an age of instantaneous communication and gaming. In “Galactica,” humanity is nearly wiped out by the revolt of their own technological creations, The Cylons.
Olmos responded with, “If you spend your time on technology in a constructive, creative way, you will be construct and creative. If you use it as a way of passing the time and get caught up inside of the game world, then you are going to be in a game world and you are going to be that, and there is no way of getting around it.”
The discussion of racial division was also topic that Olmos took to heart.
“I still find it incredible that we still use the word ‘race’ as a cultural determinant… We’ve made the word ‘race’ a way of expressing culture… There is no such thing… There’s no such thing as a Latino race, there never has been, there never will be. There’s only one race, and that is the human race, period,” he added.
“I spent 37 years of my adult life trying to get this word in and now I end up well prepared as the Admiral of ‘Battlestar Galactica’ to say it to all of you, there is but one race, and that is it. So say we all. So say we all. SO SAY WE ALL!!” he concluded and led the council chamber into a chant in a scene right out an episode repeating in unison Admiral Adama’s familiar mantra.
The over two-hour panel of deep discussion was concluded by Whoopi, “These are dialogues that we’ll be having every day and should be having every day.”
Finishing on a light note, Goldberg also gave thanks for the word “frak,” which on the show in the characters’ vernacular is a version of a certain four-letter word you cannot say on television.
“And I thank God for the word ‘frak.’ I may say that this is a word that I have dropped once or twice on ‘The View.’ Nobody had known what I had said. So I find that encouraging,” she joked.
Following the panel, Mary McDonnell described the evening to Access Hollywood as “an incredible night.”
The two hour series finale of “Battlestar Galactica” airs on SciFi Channel March 20.