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AUTHOR: S.T. VanAirsdale

LENGTH: 1184 words

THESIS: Hollywood is covertly advocating socially conservative "nuclear family values" in recent sci-fi films

TIME RANGE COVERED: 59 years, 1950-2009

FRUSTRATION: "Virtually every sci-fi film to emerge in 2009 features a threatened family unit, leaving the survival of cultures, civilizations, and entire planets secondary to the preservation of the parents and children who populate them."


POSSIBLE EXPLANATION: "Have David Brooks and Bill Kristol started a production company based out of the new Bush library?"

ITEMS OF ADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE: In 2012, the U.S. president has "daddy issues," scientific values are "superseded by a fluky kind of morality," characters exhibit obedience to the "imperative of a dignified goodbye"; in Star Trek a "stroppy new Spock" is depicted "avenging his murdered family"

TERMS FOR SCIENCE-FICTION FANS: "mouth-breathing fanboy," "Deadbeat-dad geek"

Heavy as these common themes are, let's face it: Sci-fi will always be sci-fi -- genre romps that we need not read into as much as enjoy, especially with all the menacing stimuli of McCarthyism and HAL 9000 eschewed in favor of moralism.

But if the geek in you simply can't abide the preaching (or if you're already getting your daily family face time every morning when ascending from your mother's basement), never fear. You can always rely on James Cameron to vigorously shake out the trend next month with Avatar, and heaven knows Iron Man 2 will supply enough of a guilt-free gadget fix next summer -- probably enough to get you through to 2011.

Nevertheless, even if it's just a matter of sending a holiday card to the fellow gamers on the other end of your Xbox, reach out. The world shouldn't have to end for people to know you love them.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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