Kings and a quote

I just watched the first episode of Kings, the new television show that reimagines America as a group of warring kingdoms.  Very interesting, overall.  For one thing, I normally hate it when people start trying to work God (i.e. the Christian God) into pop culture, but here it works.  In keeping with my recent discussion of genres, here are the ones that I see in Kings so far:

  • fantasy
  • politics
  • action
  • romance (really, who doesn’t put romance into their show anymore?)
  • espionage
  • family dynamics

Note fantasy right up at the top – it seems like that’s where God comes in here.  Basically, the show is trying to get a knights-and-the-round-table feeling in the 21st century, and uses God to do it.  God in Kings chooses the king (and shows it via a crown of living butterflies), but God is also a political player.  Here we get into the politics genre, which I like to think of as chess, only with more options.  Each player gets his/her own set of chess pieces, and God is just another player here.  He can protect David, his pawn, from harm to some (as yet unknown) extent, and he can do things like send butterflies to crown him.  However King Silus knows what God is up to, and will be watching.

This seems to me like a good series to follow Battlestar Galactica.  It isn’t science fiction, but the blend of the real and unreal, the political and personal seems similar.  At the same time that we see war we also see King Silus confronting his gay son.  Which brings me to one of the more interesting moments of the series.  Silus told his son that he wouldn’t mind him being gay except that he was the first-born.  As such (the implication is) he needs to marry and make babies.  The twist for me was the way that they had Silus argue.  Silus more or less tells his kid that yes, it totally sucks that he has to fake interest in a woman, but that problems come with power, and that’s one of them.  The Silus character admits (or assumes, depending on how you look at it) that his son was born liking men and simply cannot change that, and says flat out that it will take immense strength to get past that.  I can’t imagine anyone on TV acting like that – as though homosexuality is unchangeable, and that even in the direst circumstances the best that one ccan do is fake otherwise –  even ten years ago.  Sounds like progress 🙂

And now, for the promised quote.  In my modern Japanese historiography class our professor had praised Burning and Building: Schooling and State Formation in Japan, 1750-1890 by Brian Platt because Platt had avoided the (very common) mistake of making all roads – however minor and unrelated – lead to World War II.  Our class quickly disabused him of the notion, pointing out that the very end of the book clearly went to WWII, to which he finally replied:

“Yeah, this is, uh, an unfortunate two pages here.” – Professor Dickinson


On diplomatic security in the post-9/11 world

“I have the most physically vulnerable embassy in the world.  Probably the only one in rented offices above a Dairy Queen.”
-His Excellency Emil Skodon, U.S. Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam at The View from Brunei – Oil, Islam and ASEAN, November 8th, 2007.  An event that I attended while working for the organizer.