Science Fiction Film & Television

Black markets and black mystics

Racial shorthand in Battlestar Galactica

Science Fiction Film & Television (2012), 5, (1), 47–66.

Abstract

This article examines the distinctly earthbound and Americanised typecasting of African American actors in either violent or mystical roles in the remake of Battlestar Galactica. Its humanoid Cylons invite the audience to scrutinise actors' physical appearance as well as actions. Critical visual imagery with cultural relevance such as post-9/11 memorials, the mushroom clouds of nuclear war and the swearing-in of American President Lyndon Johnson contrasts with reliance on signification that places black figures in stock roles: threatening, mystical and exploited by white leaders. The show thus replicates a long visual history of black-white tableaux that privilege and protect white femininity while exoticising blackness.

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Author details

Knight, Nadine