Sayonara, Sci Fi?

There are good sci fi movies, mediocre sci fi movies, bad sci fi movies, and really bad sci fi movies*. And each movie flavor has something to recommend it to viewers. (I have to admit that one of my favorites is The Giant Claw.)

The unifying theme throughout, of course, is the science fiction element.  And from the great movies to those which are laughably awful, the element of science always plays a role in advancing the storyline, developing the characters, or simply defining the world in which the story is set.

But if Prof. Sidney Perkowitz has his way, you may never see another movie like “Avatar”, “Star Trek”,  “Godzilla”, or “The Giant Claw” again. The Guardian is reporting that Dr. Perkowitz isn’t a fan of bad sci in sci fi:

Science fiction movies should be allowed only one major transgression of the laws of physics, according to a US professor who has won backing from a number of his peers after creating a set of guidelines for Hollywood.

The proposals are intended to curb the film industry’s worst abuses of science by confining scriptwriters to plotlines that embrace the suspension of disbelief but stop short of demanding it in every scene.

The guidelines are by Sidney ­Perkowitz, a professor of physics at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and a member of the Science and Entertainment Exchange, an advisory body run by the US National Academy of Sciences.

Let’s see… How many different ways is that idea profoundly arrogant and/or stupid?

  • There is no way to know what is absolute scientific fact… Geocentricism was the rage for centuries. Newtonian physics was the be-all and end-all in the mid 1800s. And heavens know that we can’t mess with the speed of light. The bottom line is that today’s science fiction is tomorrow’s science fact.
  • Imagination is a wonderful thing. Consider “Edward Scissorhands”. Now that’s a sweet story, but the scientific implications are ludicrous.
  • When I was a kid, I lived for those stupid “Godzilla” movies. Yeah, they broke every law of physics and common sense, but they made me wonder, and they gave me ideas… Those ideas played no small role in my becoming an engineer.
  • As a writer, I’ll write whatever the hell I want to. So long as I don’t pen the equivalent of “Fire!” in a crowded theater when there is no fire, break copyright, or threaten public well being, I’ll write whatever I damn well please. If I write a crap screenplay and it goes down in flames, so be it.

Finally, just who does Sidney ­Perkowitz think he is? How is it that he’s so much smarter than the rest of us that he can recommend such a thing? No, his asinine idea will wither in the light of pragmatism. But it’s still frightening to witness such foolish ideas coming to the fore.

Alan Speakman

*For a list of the best and worst sci fi titles, click here.


18 Responses to Sayonara, Sci Fi?

  1. Tom says:

    Perkowitz, like so many academics, has succumbed to the temptation to believe that his opinion is not only reasonable, but better than yours or mine. Then, like so many liberals, he goes it one better by believing that his opinion is ENOUGH better than yours or mine to justify suppressing ours by edict, regulation, or whatever else he can conjure. Your rant brings to light the pervasive nature of liberalism. Keep on keepin’ on, Brother!

  2. Gerry Ashley says:

    This is just another example of how it’s always the LIBERALS (a misnomer if ever there was one) who think it’s imcumbant upon THEM to tell the rest of us how we should live our lives.

    So who does Pinhead Perkowitz think he is? Let me take a stab at answering that: He is your typical liberal who believes only HIS superior vision on how people should live their lives is valid. Only HIS rules should apply to the rest of us. After all, he is so SUPERIOR to the rest of us that he’s really (in his own mind) doing us a favor of sharing his supreme intelligence with us. The new guideline that he would impose on us (that would further limit our freedom of expression) is really for our own good now, isn’t it?

    This is an astounding example of how the liberals are anything BUT. Perhaps that’s why. all of a sudden, they want to re-christen themselves as “Progressives.” As far as I’m concerned, you can call them Bungie Chords… it’s just a name. What matters is this: They are the party of MORE controls, MORE government and MORE taxes.

    Pinhead Perkowitz is a prime example of what we need LESS of in this country: Those who will only be happy when they ursurp OUR freedom with their vision of how life should be.

    This story deserves being exposed like this, however Perkowitz’s idea doesn’t deserve any serious consideration. The fact that he’s being taken seriously by ANYONE is the scary thought.

    Respectfully submitted,
    Han Solo.

  3. Josh says:

    It’s one guy. I doubt he’s being taken seriously. I’m a liberal and this kind of think is not representative of the thinking myself nor anyone else I can imagine would indulge in.

    Han Solo wrote: Pinhead Perkowitz is a prime example of what we need LESS of in this country: Those who will only be happy when they ursurp OUR freedom with their vision of how life should be.

    Truth be told, by disagreeing with him, you are practicing what he’s doing.

    • Stoutcat says:

      Josh: it’s one guy now, on an advisory committee, touting his ideas. How long before others jump on that bandwagon, though? I’m hoping that won’t happen, but given what’s occurring in DC these days, I’m not ruling it out.

      Also, I’m going to have to disagree with your response to Gerry/Han Solo: Perkowitz is in a position of authority on an advisory committee. Disagreeing with him is not, in fact, mandating anyone to do anything, either creatively or otherwise. Disagreement is just… disagreement.

  4. Social comments and analytics for this post…

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  5. Birdseed Anarchist says:

    Gee guys,
    Just when I was getting my blood pressure under control…
    Hey Alan,Gerry,Stoutcat: If I may, Sci Fi quiz of the day– Who said this? (besides me) “When I die, I die Free.”

  6. apotheosis says:

    Jeez Josh, as long as you’re making a fool of yourself, why not throw an “if you disagree, you’re racist” in the mix.

  7. Birdseed Anarchist says:

    Nope, sorry, wrong answer. At least it’s not the one I know of. Hint, it’s a TV series, and much more recent.
    If you win, I will appoint you Benevolent Dictator for a Day. We’ll see how much damage control and repair you can manage for the good ole USA.

  8. Birdseed Anarchist says:

    BINGO ALAN! It was T’lc (sp?)
    You are now Supreme Leader for a day. What in the world will you do?

    • Alan Speakman says:

      If I were supreme leader for a day… Hmmm… I guess I’d do something like the following:

      * Schedule immediate elections to replace all of Congress, President, President’s Staff… Only those who have either served in the military or can show proof of at least three contiguous years of non-union, non-government, 9-to-5 labor (recommendations from former employers required) need apply.

      * Expedite and make more accurate the election by using Amazon or eBay. Cheaters will be shot.

      * Demand all representatives expose all of their scholarly writings. Ditto for birth certificates.

      * Demand all representatives pass a standardized 12th-grade civics exam. Ditto for math and English composition. I’d extend that one step further and order that all potential candidates be able to pass an Algebra 1 final with at least a “B”.

      * Expose Americans to our real debt of $75 to $100 trillion. And then I would simply ask them what we are going to do with Medicare, Medicaid, pensions, and Social Security. I’d remind Americans that our “reported” debt of $14 trillion (equal to our GDP) is still within sanity, BUT our obligations of Medicare, Medicaid, pensions, and Social Security are hopeless – wildly hopeless. Since the elderly consume 80% of our obligations, the only answer that I can see to save this Republic is … Well, you figure out the rest.

      * I’d make legal gay marriage… Legal unions are stupid – we’ve tried, and “separate but equal” doesn’t work.

      * I’d introduce a new news show called, “Directly Answer the Question, or I’ll Turn Off the Mic and Throw You Out on the Street”. On that show, politicians will be asked simple questions, and failure to answer said questions directly results in being physically thrown out of the studio.

      * I’d install term limits.

      * I’d make law schools difficult to enter, but provide incentives for schools that offer engineering degrees.

      * I’d scrap the community organizing crap and dump that money into NASA. (Right now, at best, we’re going to have to grovel to the Russian’s feet for the next six years to get back to the ISS.)

      * I’d scrap our current tax system and install a flat tax across the board.

      * I’d drop leaflets from high altitude over Iran warning of a coming series of MOAB attacks on their nuke facilities and 24 hours be true to my word.

      * I’d drop out of the UN, and kick their worthless asses off U.S. soil.

      * I’d bust unions. They are literally killing this country.

      * I’d get the government out of business.

      * I’d inform the world that we have the moral obligation to go wherever the Hell we deem necessary to protect women’s rights.

      * I’d warn the world that religion is a private matter. If you don’t like my ideas… tough. Failure to follow that rule will result in either death or castration… I’ll decide which one.

      So BirdSeed Anarchist… That would be about it… Then I would step down and be gone…


  9. the other Ken says:

    More Firefly (from the Serenity movie, I think)

    “Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!”

    Anyhoo, Prof. Perkowitz is an anal-retentive dope and is hardly worth the pixel space he’s received.

    I say, let there be the sound of huge explosions in space because… it’s just a movie!!!

  10. Birdseed Anarchist says:

    Thanks Alan
    Maybe we should call that a rough draft of a USA Survival manifesto. There’s a lot of harsh medicine in there and Americans must ask themselves at some point whether or not they can handle the truth.
    If I may, one last Sci-Fi quote. Who said ” You humans are at your best when things are at their worst.” ?
    Hint- It wasn’t from “The Day the Earth Stood Still”

  11. Birdseed Anarchist says:

    Ah, yes
    Sci-fi is a good thing.

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