Dr. Alex E. Blazer

Department of English & Rhetoric

Georgia College & State University

Milledgeville, GA 31061

alex.blazer@gcsu.edu

alexeblazer.com

 

First as Tragedy, Then as Aporia: The Continuum
from Dialectical to Deconstructive Criticism

 

Fittingly, Simon Barry's science fiction time travel television show Continuum (2012-present) began production at the height of the Occupy Wall Street movement. While protesters against social and economic inequality shouted "We are the 99%" in Zuccotti Park, formerly Liberty Plaza Park, in the Financial District of Manhattan, the Vancouver-based program shot a first episode set in 2077 when North America's nation states had been replaced by a corporate oligarchic dystopia patrolled by a fascist police force equipped with surveillance technology to hunt down the Liber8 band of freedom fighters). The show's ideological tension stems from a two-pronged twist: a police officer and Liber8 are sent back in time to 2012 when the good-hearted (but brainwashed by our contemporary perspective) police officer becomes the show’s protagonist pursuing her antagonists Liber8, who in our time period look like bomb-throwing terrorists. In its first season, Continuum invites a dialectical, or Marxist, criticism of how society's contemporary corporate, technological, and police state values are leading civil society toward fascism. However, the program’s continued deconstruction of hierarchical binary oppositions (good cop/bad cop, freedom fighter/terrorist) in subsequent seasons make the series's ultimate ideological statement about corporatism and Occupy undecidable because a different timeline version of the protagonist is introduced and the original killed and then an alternate historical timeline affecting the tragedy of the corporate takeover of the world is created and collapsed. Continuum's original season plays out as a Marxist tragedy showing us how our socioeconomic errors today will determine a dystopian downfall in the future; yet the show’s center does not hold as its sci-fi temporal base shifts into a Derridian aporia in which both capitalist and revolutionary ideologies are at an impasse.

 

This abstract summarizes my presentation, "First as Tragedy, Then as Aporia: The Continuum from Dialectical to Deconstructive Criticism." Mid-Atlantic Popular & American Culture Association. Sonesta Hotel, Philadelphia, PA. 5 Nov. 2015.