io9.com announced Friday that Tweets about a fictional pirate radio show based on the Amazon streaming TV series, The Man In The High Castle, angered several Republicans and Trump supporters. No, the radio show is not a high seas scallywag geek program. Instead it refers to a type of underground radio. The conservative Twitter users thought the show was a real one produced by anti-Trump protesters and so reacted to its title’s hashtag of #ResistanceRadio by lashing out criticism. This was likened to the radio broadcast of H.G. Well’s War ofthe Worlds of which many listeners who tuned in late flew into panic thinking the Martians really were coming. However, in the case of Resistance Radio the reaction is one that says “the rebels are coming”.
The Man In The High Castle is based on Philip K. Dick’s novel of the same name. I can’t say a whole lot about the novel or TV show since I haven’t read the former or watched the latter, as much as I’m a big fan of Dick’s work. But I can say that, as with most science fiction, the TV series and its brainchild audio show mirror current events, particularly through the subgenre of alternative history. High Castle is set in a 1960s period after Nazi Germany and Japan have won the second world war and taken over the U.S. Anyway, the conservative Twitter users’ reaction to the hashtag shows that science fiction reflects the issues of the day regardless of the time period it is set in.
Science fiction is social commentary in many senses and this is particularly so with alternative history fiction, since history is a direct reference to past society. Certain periods of history have been used in literature and film to symbolise contemporary issues and this is definitely the case with alternative history (also referred to as alt-history). Like steampunk, dieselpunk, atompunk (which High Castle can be said to fall under this third one) and the many other -punk subgenres of sci fi, alt-history comments on modern day issues through a historical scope--comparing those issues with ones of the past--basically showing that history does repeat itself. An example is, though this may not be the intention of the TV series, equating an ultra conservative presidential administration like Trump’s to a fascist regime of the past like Nazi-ism.
As far as conservatives’ lashing out at #ResistanceRadio goes, a similar situation occurred with the third Star Wars prequel, Revenge of the Sith, in 2005 with the Bush Administration. Conservatives and Bush supporters saw the movies as bad-mouthing the president of that time and accused them of comparing him with the villainous Emperor Palpatine. Whether such social commentary was intended or not, only the producers would know. But even if it was, and even if the same is true for High Castle and its Resistance Radio, is it a crime? After all, art is often a commentary to the issues of the time it’s made in, and that includes pop art such as film and TV. Not to mention radio. The First Amendment especially allows for this.
Until next time . . .