This post serves as introduction for a new series of posts: Seapower in Culture. Inspired in part by Alyssa Rosenberg’s work at the Center for American Progress, but also by a recent David Sirota column attacking my beloved Top Gun and by the imminent arrival of this horror, Seapower in Culture will investigate (unsurprisingly) the depiction of seapower in modern pop culture.
I’m approaching this series with a broad definition of seapower, which I’ll conceptualize as the ability of actors (governments, NGOs, etc.) to shape political and economic outcomes through employment of maritime means. This leaves a great deal of latitude, which is appropriate for a series of this nature. The series will range widely into science fiction and fantasy. Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and George R.R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice are all in the lineup. However, I’ll also include more conventional depictions of seapower, including Final Countdown (the first entry in the series) Riddle of the Sands, Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series, Top Gun, and the like.
Each entry will contain the following elements, roughly in this order. A plot summary will either introduce the work or remind readers of the general series of events. I’ll then examine the theory of seapower (or lack thereof) that animates the work. A discussion of other interesting, related bits (depiction of civil-military relations, historical antecedents and influence, position within the canon, influence) will follow. Let’s be clear: There will be spoilers.
I plan to cross-post this series at both LGM and ID. In part this is to justify the workload to my self; essays like these require more time and attention that a simpler link-and-comment post. However, given that the commenting communities are so radically different at LGM and ID, I think it’s worth getting reactions and feedback from both groups. Indeed, I encourage the readers of one blog to take a look at the comments on the other (and not just for this series).
I’ll be writing this series every other Sunday, with the intervening Sundays normally reserved for a book review (I have lots of airpower book reviews essentially in the can). Next week’s entry will, as noted, be Final Countdown, the 1980 Kirk Douglas-Martin Sheen film featuring a time-traveling USS Nimitz. It’s streaming on Netflix, so anybody who’s interested should take this opportunity to give it a viewing…