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Wing Commander, written by Kevin Droney, directed by Chris Roberts, 1999, 100 min.

Report #9:87:5 of the Trans-Galactic Archaeological Association, Omni-Species Division: Global Dig on the Planet Formerly Known as "Earth" and Special Find 1A, Wing Commander: In "Human" Language Per Special Directive 82 (The Non-Condescension Towards Extinct Species Clause).

Preliminary Conclusions: We regret to say that it may have been beneficial to the galaxy that these bipedal bisymmetrical beings (who called themselves "humans") went extinct thousands of years ago.

Brief History of the Dig on Earth: We found many ruined structures, and other complex entities, indicating a high level of civilization. However, our investigations into the more purely historical aspect (and thus the mentality of these beings) were stymied on almost every front. But Site A has given us more information than we will be able to properly decipher in many years. Site A's location: in "human" terms, 34 degrees North, 119 degrees West (in other words, on the xafzioqds end of the qmkqopqsadq continent). Our first find included large white blocks of stone, later determined to be the letters H, L, Y, W, and D. This was our first indication that a strange cult-like group lived in this area. However, Site A is best known for the remarkable find of stone tablets, numbering an astonishing 10 800 000 (see Appendix A for more details about these stone tablets), which tell the story of a large section of human history. We call this historical episode Wing Commander, following the title humans themselves gave it.

Chronology of This Event: Dating the events of Wing Commander has proved especially difficult. A number of stone tablets had starmaps in the background, and our best astronomists pored over these. By extrapolating backwards from the known movement of stars in the present day, taking into account the location (as given in the narrative), we finally managed to date the first events in the Vega system with some certainty. The year: 2412 (in human terms), which is not the date given, interestingly. A gap of about five years precedes the events onboard the Tiger Claw. A small scene near the Tiger Claw is impossible to date, and we suspect it is a hallucination of the human known as Maniac. The closing scene happens almost five hundred years later.

Human Technology: Humans possessed a mix of advanced and primitive technology. Some aspects of it were indeed so advanced that its capabilities are still beyond us. For example, human spacecraft could bank and zoom in a vacuum as if they were flying in an atmosphere. However, this magnificent distortion of the laws of physics is only a petty achievement compared to another attribute of human spaceships. Brace yourself for this -- human spacecraft have the ability to create noise in a vacuum. The evidence is clearly laid out in Wing Commander, for even the most skeptical to hear for themselves. If we ponder such a feat for even a minute, the implications are startling.

In the face of this over-mastery of physics, other ideas from Wing Commander become a little less startling. Like our own ships, human spaceships can alter gravity in their immediate vicinity. When the smaller spacecraft (the fighters) would launch from the larger (usually the Tiger Claw), they would dip at the end of the runway. A wrecked fighter was pushed off the edge of the runway, by a space-dozer which itself was subject to this artificial gravity. Humans' material science is almost as advanced as our own. Witness the scene where a large lump of metal (which looks just like a non-"smart-activated" sheet of steel) seals off a breach in the hull.

Our speculation on the chronology of Wing Commander (see previous section of the report) leads us to believe that humans were either extremely long-lived or had the ability to move through time.

On the other hand, the humans never do a nmvowieavn. Nor did any human ever do a mfiwwof, despite the fact we often saw them ioufsd. This is reassuring to our own sense of superiority.

Human Society: Human society is divided into two castes. The darker skinned humans are the servant class, subservient to the order of the paler skinned humans. This division is clear from almost every scene in this historical episode. There is also the matter of the black woman who is sentenced to death after transgressing this social order (see the section on Human Sexuality).

In spite of the technological advancements of human society, few humans had the ability to think for themselves. In Wing Commander, only one human is allowed to give orders, and all others must obey without question. We will not use this report to enter into the debate whether rigid hierarchical structures of government suppress thought or are created by the lack of thought. However, we will point out that human society would have had extreme difficulty adjusting to the standards of Trans-Galactic civilization.

Human Sexuality: By the evidence at hand, humans procreate by rubbing their fully clothed bodies together and joining their speaking orifices for a few moments. The odd flexible organ inside the speaking orifice also seems to be involved, although we do not want to speculate further. Human sexuality is constrained in many ways. For example, the rubbing of fully clothed bodies seems to be private, while the joining of speaking orifices can happen in the presence of spectators (which is opposite to what seems appropriate to us). There is also the matter of the black woman who transgresses the caste division (see Human Society). Was her lover, himself a member of the ruling class, forced to cause her death? Or was the caste division so firmly ingrained in him that he did it subconsciously? These are some of the difficulties of trying to analyse the sexual habits of a different species, one that is no longer around to explain.

Human Attitude Towards Other Species: We can put humans into the category of Extreme Xenophobia without much hesitation or quibbling. Humans categorize an entire species, the Kilrathi, as evil, and worthy of death no matter the individual. Indeed, throughout the five hundred years of Wing Commander, none of these historical figures attempt to communicate with the Kilrathi. In combination with their technological prowess (see the section on Human Technology), this would have led to violent predicaments had humans contacted Trans-Galactic civilization. The religious among us can thank the Overmind and its providence that humans went extinct long ago.

See Appendix B for a dissenting opinion on the matter of xenophobia.


Appendix A: The Stone Tablets

The cult of HLYWD likely used the 10 800 000 stone tablets to narrate Wing Commander to the barbaric elements of society as their civilization declined into its twilight years. Possibly in exchange for money, as this crude practice was likely revived at that late stage in human history. Site A was set up in the following fashion: an enormous stone building, with only one window. This small window is set in the south wall, opposite to the gallery where the stone tablets were set up. As the sun rose and moved across the sky, this window would admit one ray of sunshine, which moved across the stone tablets, illuminating one at a time. The stone tablets were arranged in a curving line (in order for the sun's rays to fall naturally on the correct succession of tablets), and a line so vast that it boggles the Trans-Galactic mind. We are still unsure as to how the ray of sun produced the appropriate sounds from the stone tablets, but we were able to produce sound with our best qsdexmd (Mark 4, for those audiophiles out there). Furthermore, this building was manufactured so that it could move -- a move of a few "centimetres" every day, so that the sun's rays would fall directly on the stone tablets no matter the day of the year. When HLYWD was in its heyday, this mechanism was likely in perfect working order. This effect (along with the rest of this vast building) likely caused veneration in the minds of the masses. However, this mechanism is now broken, and when we excavated it, Wing Commander was only viewable in its entirety one day of the year.


Appendix B: Dissenting Opinion

I, Tsfda QZX, would like to express my disagreement with this entire report, and specifically the section on xenophobia. Not only has this committee displayed condescension towards humans, they have treated me and my opinions with a sickening disdain. These archaeologists have had their various ocular appendages in the sand for too long, and seem dedicated to ignoring certain real world facts. For example, sometimes the urge to kill any species that does not look like one's own is worthwhile, even helpful. And there has been almost no research, with regards to Wing Commander, about creating the urge to hate others blindly. Yes, the events of Wing Commander took place in the human past, but Site A was set up to propagate the attitudes of that historical episode. I think it is important to understand what this means, and whether we can learn anything from these humans.

On a personal note, I watched Wing Commander at Site A before it was removed for study. Despite the visceral ideas and incitements to xenophobia, I found it to be slow-moving, even boring. It certainly lacked in explosions. More death and mayhem might have helped in promulgating the passages of dry philosophy. As everyone knows -- with the apparent exception my fellow archaeologists -- audiences demand only the best in carnage and chaos, if there is some serious ideology behind it (in this case, the necessity of xenophobia at certain historical moments).


Last modified: March 23, 1999

Copyright © 1999 by James Schellenberg (james@jschellenberg.com)


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