Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Fog of the Web: Musings on Posts on The 100

I have recently been reading the posts of many fans of The 100 (CW, 2014-) at web magazines such as the AV Club, IGN, ET, and others out there in cyberspace. What is remarkable about a lot of these comments is their almost total historical illiteracy.

Recently, a lot of the comments about the show have centred on one of the 100--now the 47--Finn Collins. In the fifth episode of season two Finn suddenly becomes a torturer, a murderer, and a massacrer of Grounders, one of the groups of humans the youngish 100, when they are sent to earth as punishment for their crimes by the adult leaders of the ark in space on which they had been imprisoned. Many say they no longer like the character of Finn. Others don't understand why most of the Sky People, who are now on the ground, are willing to forgive him. Still others say they never liked Finn in the first place, can't understand what Clarke (Eliza Taylor), another of the 100, ever saw in him, and hope the character isn't around much longer and that Clarke and Finn never get back together.

What these posters don't seem to understand is that soldiers can and have suddenly cracked during war. And Finn is a warrior. He fought the Grounders during their epic battle in the finale of season one. Another thing they don't seem to comprehend is that Vietnam hovers in the background of The 100. Recently I read an interview in which Jason Rothenberg, the creator of The 100, says he has been studying the Vietnam War and the My Lai massacre in particular. If memory serves many commentators ascribed the massacre to soldiers who had cracked under the pressure of rarely ever seeing the enemy that harassed them. Additionally, if memory again serves, the US military, after denying that there ever was a massacre at My Lai, circled the wagons around those involved in the massacre including Lt. Calley, the man who eventually faced court martial for the mass killings in a Vietnamese village, once the truth willed out. Many on the pro-war front said Calley had done nothing wrong and turned him into a hero flavour of the month. Many on the anti-war side saw Calley as a scapegoat and thought the massacre went higher up the officer chain. The moral: My Lai seems to be the broader context for the massacre committed by Finn and the response by others to the massacre. By the way, a similar story would play out when Oliver North became the hero and villain flavour of the month during the Iran Contra debacle of Reagan's 1980s. History ever repeats?

The 100, by the way, is, in my opinion, one of the best shows on US television at the moment. As the AV Club recently said of The 100 in its largely excellent review of the most recent episode of the series, "Fog of War"--a title that recalls the title of Errol Morris's documentary about Robert McNamara, JFK's and LBJ's Secretary of Defense during the Vietnam War--"The 100 moved from being a solid but unremarkable dystopian teen drama, to a complex, intricate musing on morality, politics, colonialism, and bureaucracy. Almost halfway through its second season, the show is using its detailed world building and cast of characters to explore the physical and psychological costs of war." And this review doesn't even mention the large number of important, strong, and powerful female characters in the show nor does it touch upon the show's investigation of fascism at Mount Weather. I only wish more people were watching this truly outstanding show.

No comments:

Post a Comment