I think that it has become a long accepted truth that whatever Christmas is, it doesn’t belong in science fiction, if only because of George Lucas’ monumental blunder of a “holiday” special, where the Chewbacca family celebrates a suspiciously Christmas-like holiday.
And I wish to God I could unwatch it… but no amount of banging my head repeatedly against my desk will take the images away, nor will it erase the fact that for the first ten minutes, it was just a bunch of grunting… and it wasn’t even a porno.
Though… in retrospect, I should be grateful for that.
What is confusing (aside from all of it) is that this is in a galaxy far, far away (where one would think they wouldn’t have the same traditions as us), but yet, here we are, in 1978, watching Leia give some sort of Charlie Brown speech about the meaning of Life Day…
…which, by the way, it behooves me to mention isn’t even her holiday. It’s a Wookie holiday. Am I the only one who thinks that’s a bit weird? Really, Leia, are you a Wookie? Do you really even know what Life Day is all about?
It also behooves me to say that is quite a turnabout from racist Leia, who only just referred to poor Chewbacca as a big walking carpet ONE MOVIE AGO.
But there are worlds in science fiction that are supposed to be apart of our own timeline… chief among them are ‘Star Trek‘, ‘Firefly‘, ‘Battlestar Galactica‘, and ‘Starhunter‘ (and no, I have no regrets adding that to the list). Yet, none of these shows have had a single Christmas special.
Really, when I try to think of religion, I can only think of how it is portrayed in ‘Star Trek’ where it’s always some sort of backwater planet occurrence. (*cough* Bajorans *cough*) Though, it would be silly to forget the fact that there is a sort-of Christmas in the movie ‘Generations’ (though, it is in backwater provincial France where it is celebrated). However, what I’m really talking about is Christmas specials on television.
Where are all the sci-fi Christmas specials? Americans love their Christmas specials! Did ‘Star Wars’ scare them off the idea?
The only SF show to have a consistent Christmas special is ‘Doctor Who’, but that has only been since 2005 and I’m not even sure if that constitutes a tradition yet. Especially when there are over thirty seasons that have no Christmas at all. Though, it probably should be noted that it does seem that Whovians are more excited for the ‘Doctor Who’ Christmas specials than they actually are for Christmas.
The question is, then, aside from ‘Doctor Who’ (which I will get to in a moment), why is Christmas not a part of science fiction when we KNOW that is an irrefutable part of television and Anglo-American culture? Even shows about murder and rape have Christmas episodes, or at least acknowledge that Christmas exists.
I have two ideas of why:
1. It’s best to imagine a future without religion, because then you don’t have the dangerous task of wondering which religion will be dominate in the future, and therefore you avoid controversy.
‘Battlestar Galactica’may seem like an exception to this thought, seeing as it had religion play a very prominent part in the series. However, it used a dead religion as its foundation, and I think it’s a little hard to get pissy about Greek Mythology. Well, unless you’re Hera… I also don’t think very many people got the parallel of the Cylon God to Christianity.
2. Science Fiction considers religion untenable to a sustainable future.
I think, then, it becomes really obvious why the ‘Star Wars’ “holiday” special did so badly. I mean, putting aside the fact it had a guest appearance from Jefferson Starship and Bea Arthur wasn’t doing anything remotely as awesome as fighting a velociraptor, it’s because the entire concept doesn’t make sense at all in their universe.
And really, that’s the truth to this entire article. Christmas, in the science fiction meta-canon, like religion, doesn’t exist barely exists. When we do see it, it just seems like some horrendous out-of-character moment.
This is why OOC pictures like this are so AMAZING, and things like ‘Star Wars’ holiday specials are so bad. It’s a fine line to tread, to be sure, but it really comes down to “how seriously are you taking this”? If the answer is “not at all”, you’re probably in the clear.
What do you think ‘Star Wars’ answer was?
So, this then asks, why is it that ‘Doctor Who’ can get away having Christmas specials? Because ‘Doctor Who’, while science fiction, isn’t necessarily something that takes place in the future. I don’t mean to spoil anything for you folks, but the Doctor has a time machine, which means he can use it to hang out in our little podunk timeline anytime he pleases. Since he is constantly going to England, there should be no surprise that Christmas occurs on more than one of his visits. I mean, it’s MORE THAN statistically probable.
In any case, ‘Doctor Who’ is science fiction, but he’s not necessarily situated completely in the future, and therefore the writers are able to weave the holiday into the narrative quite easily. Though, I find it interesting that it’s become a Christmas thing now when it never has before, especially when the nation has a population of people that don’t identify with religion at around 50%.
‘Stargate SG-1’, which is decidedly of our timeline, also mentions Christmas, and celebrates it… in the LAST episode of the ENTIRE series. That’s right. Ten seasons, and Christmas gets a sort of mention in the last episode. AND it was aired in March…
Though, I have to admit I’m not really disappointed by this. It could have easily turned into something awful and corny.
But anyway, Christmas is celebrated in ‘Stargate’ only because it’s a part of our current timeline and is filled with Anglo-Americans. So this means to me that science fiction accepts that Christmas isn’t universal and is more interested in representation of other cultures, especially if they are fictional.
So, here is my rule that I’ve decided on based on this evidence:
Science fiction concurrent to modernity can acknowledge Christmas though it is not required to, whereas science fiction that is speculative of the future is more likely to avoid the subject all together.
If we consider Christmas as a religious concept, we can kind of get a grasp of the larger picture of religion in science fiction as well. However, that seems like longer article for another day.
What we can glean from this is that the lack of science fiction Christmas specials, and the appearance of one disastrous one, means that Christmas and science fiction are not two concepts that can really be merged.
And so I will end this with Happy Politically-Acceptable- Greeting to you all, and may you get many boxsets this year!