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Sep 13, 2005

The Mote in God's Eye

So because I'm old, Robotech came on when I was 5. On the cable station it was broadcast from, they did something weird: showing only a few episodes of the third series before looping it back to the start of Macross. [I'm reasonably sure this was to cut out the appearance of a cross-dressing character.] Then the show vanished, and thanks to where I grew up, it never reappeared. So thirty something years later, robotech comes back on Netflix. Now the first series I found mindblowing - it's one of those things that having not seen it since I was a tiny bean I'd just end up typing out plot points in all-caps like "CHARACTERS ACTUALLY DIE" and "A ROMANCE BETWEEN A BLACK WOMAN AND A WHITE MAN IS TREATED AS SO NORMAL AS TO ESCAPE COMMENT, AND THIS WAS 1980 GODDAMNIT". I'd tried to watch the series once before, but the copy I had was heavily edited, and I had to give it up because I felt like scenes were missing. (They were.)

Anyway, despite having never seen the series in the interm, I was surprised at how well I remembered so much of the series. While to a five year old poo poo-tons of it didn't make sense, the visuals and certian character moments stuck with me. (Dramatic slow motion fall of a model plane to the floor.)

The second series, I slogged through - it's mostly dull and bad. BUT! There was one moment that I remembered with perfect fidelity: that weird song one of the alien tripart girls sings. Now I'd never seen "battle cool mechs personality disorder main character" from the age of five, but somehow the one good bit was still remembered. Anyway, it got me thinking that maybe kids do absorb the good stuff in media, even if they don't understand it, and that maybe the good stuff has some sort of net effect, even if it is forgotten about by the child.

For non Macross little moments, I recently read The Fifth Head of Cerberus by Gene Wolfe. In the first novella, the main character at one point sees a picture of an ancestor as a kid on earth with their parents. The main character, who is in most ways extremely privileged, wonders at the strange mansion behind them - it was low and long, with a series of porches done in completely different styles. (Our narrator doesn't put together as we do that this is a street of row houses.) Later, the character is put into a labor-camp style prison for years for murdering his father. Finally, he's taken to a camp with good food and hot showers, and is examined by a board. He puts it together that he's about to see "the slave markets of his hometown again." Now, at first this reads like "I'm about to be enslaved." But I realized this was not what the character meant: he was overjoyed that soon he'd see that old, familiar slave market. His class is such that he never worries about enslavement, to the point that he can be nostalgic about slave markets rather than terrified of them.


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