I think I would have enjoyed “Space Force” more in an alternative timeline. It’s a clever show, well written, superbly acted, with lots of little moments that would remind one of the writers’ other shows, such as The Office and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. However, in this timeline, it appeared on Netflix at the same time as we descended into another level of hell, with the dictator wannabe we have in power at the moment calling for the police to use violence against citizens who were out protesting the injustice of police brutality.
Don’t get me wrong, I think we’ll eventually be able to return to Space Force with a grim sort of humor, hopefully a “well, at least he didn’t get to spread his poison any further” sort of satisfaction that we finally booted the dickless fiend and his cronies from the White House bunker. For the moment, however, the show left a bitter taste in my mouth as I wonder just how far he’ll get before we put a stop to his plans.
This is the issue with writing a show about the present. The idea may come to you from the present, but there’s no way of knowing where things will go even in the very near future. You hope and pray that your creation will be relevant, that it will resonate with people, but what happens when the audience finds it to be more of the same, or at least too disturbingly close to real life that they can’t stomach it, even when it is injected with enough humor to make it somewhat palatable?
I’m of two minds with “Space Force” — on the one hand, it could be a sigh of relief, that at least we didn’t send a bunch of soldiers into space to fight. On the other hand, it could be an exercise in a more hopeful outcome. What if we used our art to not only catalogue the present zeitgeist, but utilized it to forge a new path?
Whatever you may think about art, it is political. What happens in our lives and around the world affects our art. Back in the day, court jesters were used to pop regal egos in an effort to contain them. Court jesters (modern day jesters might include Trevor Noah, Steven Colbert, and Seth Meyers) functioned as a way to speak truth through humor, while some stories, whether in the form of plays, novels, etc., served as reminders to royalty that one cannot live forever, and if one is careless about the treatment of their citizens, things like guillotines and public executions come back into fashion.
I think that’s where artists help. Writers, artists, musicians, whatever the art form, there are statements to be made, if one has the guts. The truth needs to be spoken to power. We cannot allow ourselves to be subject to cruelty, to tyranny, to injustice. This is what I hope “Space Force” can become — a warning about the reckoning to come. We don’t have to grin and bear it. We don’t have to accept abuse of power. Sometimes, power needs to be wrested from the hands that have mishandled it so shockingly.
If you, like me, are eagerly awaiting the scene where Steve Carrell chews out the leader of the free world for being an incompetent, asinine fool, you can watch “Space Force” on Netflix and hope that the writers deem it necessary to take a stand and make a statement about the sort of leaders and legacies that are fondly remembered, and those that go down in the history books as examples of utter corruption.