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Edward James Olmos: Send U.N. troops into Mexico!

March 17, 2009 | 10:35 pm

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Tonight, the oddest event in human rights and television history ever! The co-creators and two "Battlestar Galactica" cast members shared a U.N. stage with global terrorism experts and the minister of the Liberian Mission to the United Nations, among other wonks and smart people. This is part of the U.N.'s new attempt to get people to think about human rights in the world of American-run secret torture prisons when people are not watching Whitney Port get dumped on MTV. Oh, and this was moderated by Whoopi Goldberg. Huge "BSG" fan. Seriously.

The star of this live chat show was Edward James Olmos, the head dude of the big ship Galactica. Because he was crazy-awesome! (Maybe awesome-crazy.) First, he took Craig Mokhiber, of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to task (in a friendly way) for use of the word "race" during a discussion of the slippery slope of moral relativism and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Oh my God. Do not use the word "race" around Eddie Olmos!

"You should never have invited me here," Olmos said. ("He always says this!" said cast-mate Mary McDonnell.) "There's no such thing," he said. "As if there was a Latino race, an Asian race, an indigenous race, there never has been a Latino race and there never will be! There's only one race and that's the human race. ... Over 600 years ago, the 'Caucasian race' decided to use it as a cultural determiner to kill another culture. ... I spent 37 years of my adult life trying to get this word out and now I am well-prepared. There is but one race! So say we all!"

He was yelling at this point, and there was some back and forth chanting of the "So say we all" for a while with the audience, which included at least 100 high school students. Later Olmos would say about racism that "when a bug hates you, that's racism." Whoopi Goldberg thought that was deep.

Later on, after some very harrowing stuff about child torture and child soldiers around the world, which sounded really, really bad, Olmos got in again. First he brought up Dick Cheney's comments about the new president making the world more terrorism-friendly, but got a bit derailed in a discussion of "why the U.N. blue helmets aren't there in Mexico" and how the Mexican government has given up and how someone really needs to do something about this horrible shambles where people are dying. (This was a good point actually!)

And at the end, Olmos, delightfully, closed out the evening with a five-minute touching goodbye. In part, he said: "Hopefully you'll come away on your deathbed and look back on your life and not think that you wasted your time. Because there will be moments you look back, films and things you did with your time, and you'll question it." He praised the creators of "Battlestar Galactica" -- David Eick was there, and Ron Moore was apparently eating Cheerios on stage; yes, this was a very weird night! -- and praised the crew and even the special effects people.

And Olmos also praised blogs, at length, for jump-starting the process of the show. "The entire planet started to blog these guys," he said, meaning the writer-producers. "And they started to talk with them. And all the writers started to write and listen to the bloggings and started to comment on the bloggings. And the bloggers were good! They took it to a level that was immensely further than we had ever intended."

This was sounding downright biblical!

"Then they went back," Olmos continued, "the writers went back to the drawing board for the second season and took all of what they learned and threw it in with the augmentation of the blogging. And the process started again. And it got worse. People started to understand what they were doing. Pretty soon it was a direct line between all of us talking about all of us in a medium that had never undergone this type of advancement in history -- television had never been done like this. I don't know if Ron and David have it in them to do another one. You're lucky if you get one. And for Sci Fi? For them... may they understand what they've done. ... Blowing them away. This has destroyed all their thoughts."

-- Choire Sicha

Photo credit: Choire Sicha

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