In a landmark event that showcased just how relevant a TV program can be, Battlestar Galactica was the prime topic of discussion at the United Nations Tuesday night in New York.
The biggest names behind Battlestar Galactica—stars Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell and executive producers Ronald D. Moore and David Eick—sat on a panel in the Economic and Social Council Chamber with UN representatives to explore what the show had to say about world issues over its four-season run. Moderator Whoopi Goldberg led the panel through two hours of discussion that touched on race relations, terrorism, gender equality and a host of other issues.
One of the UN reps, Craig Mokhiber, even took the opportunity to scold McDonnell, "Shame on you, President Roslin" for her treatment of the Cylons in the show, specifically endorsing the use of torture and using dehumanizing tactics toward them. But it was the person next to her, Olmos, who raised the roof. More after the jump, including a link to the full video.
In the most provocative moment of the evening, Olmos angrily declared to the audience that race and racism are illusory concepts, created by oppressors to encourage hostility toward other cultures. "There is only one race, and that is the human race!" he shouted, before inciting the crowd to chant along with him, "So say we all!" over and over, in a moment that paralleled Commander Adama's inspirational speech at the end of the BSG pilot.
Taking questions from the audience, Moore and Eick revealed some of their creative process, like how the show's gender neutrality was a natural consequence of their decision to re-imagine Starbuck as a female character. Moore closed with, "We had [the characters] trying to grapple with really complex moral and ethical dilemmas in the guise of a weekly television series about killer robots in outer space."
You can see the full video here (sadly, RealPlayer format).
McDonnell, Olmos, Moore and Eick joined representatives from the United Nations' offices of the secretary general and high commissioner for human rights, including Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict; Craig Mokhiber, Deputy Director, New York Office, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; and Robert Orr, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Planning, Executive Office of the Secretary-General. The panel discussion focused on the social and political issues (including human rights, children aneliation and dialogue among civilizations and faith) that have been addressed by the SCI FI series.
Battlestar Galactica airs its two-hour series finale on Friday at 9 p.m. ET/PT.