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Seth MacFarlane: An Apology

Dear Mr MacFarlane,

In general, I am a fan of “The Orville” the soft science fiction series of which you are the creator and star. The other day I watched Episode 5 of Season 2, “All the World is Birthday Cake”. During the course of my viewing I said some things about your work as the writer of that episode that I now regret.

I said that the crew of the Orville had no cause to sneer at the inhabitants of Regor 2 for their unscientific beliefs, given that their own protocol for First Contact with an alien species seemed to be to sashay in to the welcome banquet and start quaffing, without having done the five minutes of research necessary to find out the basic organising principle of the aliens’ society. As this reviewer said, despite possessing advanced computers and translators and all that, the crew “blindly go in, interfere in their culture and cause animosity between the Orville and a first contact species”. Not just animosity towards the Orville, either, the Regorian species is now hostile to the entire Union.

I also said that there was no way that two supposedly elite officers of the Planetary Union like Bortus and Kelly Grayson could be so stupendously foolish as to try to escape from that prison camp where they were being held. What on Earth or off it were they trying to achieve? Where did they think they would go? Both of them were visibly aliens, the only two aliens on the planet! How did they think being outside the camp would improve their situation? Surely they would have known that by far their best chance of freedom was to sit tight and wait for Captain Mercer to get them freed by diplomatic means or by the use of the Orville’s superior technology. And after all that gushing about what a joy it was to welcome a new species to galactic society, Grayson and Bortus straight-up murdering a bunch of prison guards came as a bit of a surprise. Yes, they had been unjustly imprisoned and treated badly, but (I asked sarcastically) would Mr MacFarlane recommend that Americans unjustly imprisoned in foreign jails today should grab a gun off a guard and start shooting to kill? Bang goes the last chance of ever persuading the Regorians to reconsider their rejection of contact. The Regorians were perfectly justified in sentencing Bortus and Grayson to death. In fact they should have gone ahead and executed them both even after the “new star” appeared, to save the Union the trouble.

Mr MacFarlane, I admit with shame that I insulted your skills as a scriptwriter. I made remarks to the effect that it was completely implausible that people who were depicted as having gone through a rigorous selection process to get the positions they occupied could be so lacking in forethought, so stupendously arrogant, so utterly stupid.

I humbly apologise and withdraw that untrue statement. In that respect your script was entirely plausible. Elite people at the top of their profession really can be that stupid.

Take those highly educated, highly paid software engineers working for Google, for instance. The “most powerful company in the world” created and launched an AI called “Gemini” that would produce images of people in response to text requests. Imagine the ingenuity that goes into creating such a marvel. But because they are woke, Google told Gemini to make sure that the people it portrayed were anything other than white males. All that concentrated intelligence, and they still didn’t see what would inevitably happen next…

28 comments to Seth MacFarlane: An Apology

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Weird fact of the day: there really were a few black Nazis, or black people who served in the German forces during World War II at any rate. Someone called V.K. Clark wrote a book with the title “Black Nazis”. And there were plenty of Chechens and others from that part of the world in the Nazi forces, especially later in the war.

    But I suspect that black and Asian Nazis were not the sort of examples of ethnic diversity that Gemini wanted to celebrate.

    According to legend, there has also been a female pope, Pope Joan. If Google had not suspended Gemini, I would like to try asking it “Show me a picture of a black Nazi” and “Show me a picture of Pope Joan” to see if they came out white and male respectively.

  • Paul Marks

    Although a critic of some of some of the absurdities of the modern left, Seth Macfarlane is a technocratic socialist – he does not see the vital need for private property in the means of production or the necessary dependence of civil liberties on private property rights.

    As for Google – well with them one enters the world of “Critical Theory” which substitutes racial and sexual groups for the industrial working class, but keeps the doctrine of exploiters and exploiters, oppressors and oppressed.

    Big “Capitalist” Corporations bringing us modern Marxism – the irony is total.

    Google was not always like this – once its motto was “Don’t Be Evil” do not harm people, quite a libertarian motto. But then Google changed – its new motto was “Be Good” which it interpreted as imposing its beliefs (such as DEI) on people.

    The final irony is that “Be Good” turns out to really mean “Be Evil” – impose doctrines on people who do not want them.

  • anon

    I have long been of the opinion that Google’s old motto was merely lacking in the proper punctuation. Whenever a Google employee thought, “Should I do the right thing?”, they looked to the company motto for their answer: “Don’t. Be Evil.”

  • Phil B

    Better Bachelor has a more extensive take on it:


    There was indeed a female Pope and that is why before the Pope is confirmed in that role, he has to sit on a chair like a toilet seat and a cardinal checks that the person is indeed an intact male with the declaration “The Pope has balls”. Though nowadays, I suppose that the Catholic church will abandon that (as it has abandoned pretty much everything else) as being sexist or something or another.

  • Kirk

    Take those highly educated, highly paid software engineers working for Google, for instance. …

    All that concentrated intelligence, and they still didn’t see what would inevitably happen next…

    I don’t think those words mean what you think they do. Not in today’s world…

    “Highly educated” does not mean what it did to my grandparents, born in the 1890s. Doesn’t mean what it did to my mother, born in the 1930s, either… Where it used to imply that someone had successfully matriculated from an institute of higher learning with some sort of useful experience and earned a credential saying so, what it means today is much closer to “Fully indoctrinated” with the current shibboleths of the Left-wards facing. I fear that my ancestors would not include most of today’s graduating classes in their conception of “educated”.

    As well, “concentrated intelligence” is something of a conundrum: What the hell is meant by that term? Everyone today seems to accept the idea that “doing well on the tests” and getting good grades in the indoctrination mills means you’re certifiably “intelligent”. That’s what they mean when they say it, but observing the actual, y’know… Work product of these soi-disant geniooous types? I think that whatever is actually defined by that term isn’t actually representative of what most sane people consider “intelligent”. Intelligent behavior has to be successful, in the long-term. That which these “smart people” are demonstrating, on the other hand? LOL…

    Where, oh where, in history can you point at a successful case of someone managing to marginalize and malign a majority population? Has anyone ever been stupid enough to try? They’re reliant on the good will and innate good manners of a majority population that has a distinct history of doing really nasty things in order to survive and thrive, and you think it’s wise to do what you’re doing, here…? Gaslighting them into self-destruction? How long do you think that will work, once the handwriting is undeniably on the wall? What’s your contingency plan, when they look around, realize that they’re still in the majority, and decide to eliminate the troublesome minorities that they previously ceded things to? Ya really think that’s going to work, that it won’t end with the majority making common cause with other minorities that already loathe you, and making sure that you don’t present more problems for you in the future?

    The sheer stupidity of the program is what I find really awe-inspiring. It’s almost as if someone set out to create the perfect conditions for a genocide… And, maybe they did.

  • The stupidity of the Orvilles just digging in without a check on local table manners is secondary. The most immediate mistake is not running the food through a Guinea Pig first to see if it’s deadly to terrestrial life.

  • bobby b

    ” . . . he has to sit on a chair like a toilet seat and a cardinal checks that the person is indeed an intact male . . . “

    That explains the mysterious smoke signals from the epic pope-selection conclave of 2000-something which went (black smoke) (black smoke) (black smoke) (pink smoke followed by black smoke) (white smoke).

  • John

    The current focus on Gemini while amusing generally misses that point that this is hardly a new development.

    In recent years searches for, say, British or American scientists or inventors resulted in a gallery that looks like a screenshot from Crimewatch albeit unusually well-dressed. Also whoever programmed the algorithm for typical British family had been watching far too many tv commercials.

  • Paul Marks

    Anon – no, you are wrong.

    Once Google was straight – it was not always the corrupt leftist agitprop entity that it is now.

  • jgh

    The founders of Google got whatever university diploma they got for describing and implementing a system where what was listed as most relevant to a search was the aggregate result of what people searching for things selected as the most relevant to a search. Everything done since then has polluted its core functionality.

  • Runcie Balspune

    There were plenty of anti-British Asians who sided with the Nazis under a common cause.


    They missed out on having a railway line named after them though.

  • Paul Marks

    jdh – yes.

  • Natalie Solent

    I am responding to Ellen’s comment of 1:27am, but before I start, this is addressed to anyone who might want to watch that episode “cold”: please note: SPOILERS COMING UP!

    Ellen, the faux pas that so enraged the Regorians was that two of the Orville’s delegation had the wrong star sign. The episode had the premise that their civilisation was organised around astrology. People born under one particular star sign, “Giliacs”, were regarded as inherently dangerous. The Regorians believed Giliacs needed to be put in camps for their own safety and everyone else’s. Everything at the banquet had been going swimmingly until Kelly Grayson, wanting to make a pretty speech about how this meeting of two species was the best birthday present ever, innocently revealed that she and Bortus had their birthdays recently, which meant they were Giliacs.

    Done in a sophisticated way, a story about how this astrology-based society had nonetheless managed to build a technology about equal to our own could have been quite interesting. My feeling about soft science fiction is that I can accept almost any crazy thing as the premise so long as the writers work through the consequences of that premise in a logical and consistent fashion. But this episode, despite some good moments, failed to do that. The obvious one (which seemed to cause my poor husband something close to physical pain) was that nobody from the Orville even tried to make the argument, “Look, people from Planet A umpteen light years away cannot possibly have star-signs that map onto those of Planet B.” Done right, Captain Mercer would have said something like that and the Regorian leader would have snapped back with a clever if contrived explanation of why they absolutely could, like the way that Copernican astronomy was kept going for a long time by increasingly ingenious if contrived explanations involving epicycles.

  • Paul Marks

    Thank you Natalie.

    Yes you are correct – Seth Macfarlane and his team were lazy.

    Not bothering to make a story that did not have big plot holes in it.

  • Agammamon

    would Mr MacFarlane recommend that Americans unjustly imprisoned in foreign jails today should grab a gun off a guard and start shooting to kill?

    I mean, I would. Even those unjustly imprisone in American jails.

  • bobby b

    Given that SM is first and foremost the creator, writer, and voice-of-multiple-characters of the hilarious Family Guy, as well as the old American Dad series, I think his newer creation is as spot-on as one might expect. I think he simply lacks the free time to aspire to Neal Stephenson-like levels of scientific accuracy. 😉

    What a fun guy he must be at parties!

  • Kirk

    Whether it’s Star Trek, The Orville, or Star Wars, it’s all derivative dreck gleaned off the corpus of real science fiction, written mostly by half-educated halfwits that don’t know a star system from a galaxy or much of anything at all, really. They wrote cheap knock-offs of other genres, dressed them up in pretties that they saw and did not understand from the realm of science fiction, and most of the resultant crapfest was that Theodore Sturgeon’s “90 percent” of everything.

    I’ve never been impressed by anything coming out of Roddenberry or his ilk. Most of the really good scripts he greenlit were ones they ripped off of other, better authors, filed the serial numbers off of and then sold as their own. Tribbles? Go look at Martian Flatcats from Heinlein’s juveniles, for example.

    Most mainstream television and movie science fiction/fantasy is crap, mainly because the vast majority of the people making it don’t actually understand it. At. All. They just slap some swords and sorcery on top of a western, and call it good.

    You’re never going to see anything like Vernor Vinge’s A Fastness in the Sky turned into a movie. Dune? Easily done; it was derivative crap in the first damn place. You can place the era it was written in with all the new-agey mysticism and flat-out crazed psionic bullshit, along with the ecology crap. I enjoyed Dune, but… Jeez Louise, have they wrung every drop of milk out of that poor cow. His kid, particularly… I thank ‘effing God above that George R.R. Martin has no issue. I don’t think the world could take having someone treat his crapfest with the same sort of strip-mining intent that the Herbert boys have. The Tolkien estate at least seems to have some slight reverence for the legacy…

    Ah, well. This sort of thing just tends to wind me up. Good speculative fiction died sometime back during the nineties, I think. And, to be quite honest, it was never all that good to begin with. I mean, go look at Amazon, right now: How many of the same plotlines with characters you could template off the book covers are there? Is there a damn thing that’s even remotely original, that doesn’t devolve into utter crap? I’ve read a few of the newer series, and none of them get much past the third book before you realize that the author is a one-trick pony who keeps repeating the same damn book, over and over and over again.

    About the only thing I found really surprising, of late, was that alien invasion series that David Weber and someone else put out awhile back that somehow managed to shoehorn Dracula into the whole thing… Which, while nuts and pleasantly expectation-breaking, completely threw me out of the book. A bridge too far, in terms of “willing suspension of disbelief”, really. Although, when I threw the book at the figurative wall, Weber was kinda-sorta managing to pull it off.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    I think there are two science fiction books which would make for interesting movies/series. ‘The dispossessed’, by Ursula Le Guin. And “The Mote in God’s Eye.”, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. The first deals with the contrast between an anarchist moon, and the propertarian home planet from which the moon was settled. The other deals with first contact with non-symmetrical aliens who are trapped in their home system, with the human star empire having the only means of escape. The culture clash in both books is well-portrayed. Both are thick books, so they might be a series.

  • Y. Knott

    The difficulties of working with just-met foreign cultures, which might react with extreme hostility to one of their unglimpsed taboos that you just stumbled blindly over. Ogden Nash put it very well:

    “Oh, I’ll be friends if you’ll be friends,
    The foreigner tells the native,
    And we’ll work together for our common ends
    Like a preposition and a dative.
    If our common ends seem mostly mine,
    Why not, you ignorant foreigner?
    And the native replies
    And hence, my dears, the coroner.”

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Nicholas (UJ) Gray,

    The Mote in God’s Eye – seconded. One of the best first contact novels ever, and scenes such as the moment when Horace Bury is being evacuated from the McArthur and realises exactly what is in the spacesuit would film well. Though the Moties being more intelligent than humans, fast-breeding, and, while personally often quite nice, collectively a mortal threat to humanity would, um, attract criticism from several directions.

    The Dispossessed is a fine novel, but I think it is too philosophical to make a good film. Too much of it takes place in Shevek’s head. The most cinematic part of the book would be the violent suppression of the protest in Nio Esseia. When reading the book for the first time at university, that scene came across to me as a bait-and-switch. I thought that if Le Guin was trying to convert me to anarcho-syndicalism, the chapters set on Anarres had done the groundwork of making me believe it could work, as in produce a reasonably stable society, but then she had not managed to come up with anything that would make Odonianism seem better than liberal democracy, and had copped out by making it seem better than a government that massacred thousands of peaceful protestors. Well, I thought, so it is, but that is not a high bar. Later on I wondered whether I had been correct in thinking she wrote the book intending to convert readers to Odonianism. The subtitle of the book is “An Ambiguous Utopia”, after all.

  • Kirk

    I have to say that The Dispossessed is one of the books that convinced me that the Hugo awards weren’t worth the trouble, and that any book getting one was to be viewed with a highly jaundiced eye. I remember getting about halfway into this “masterwork” of LeGuin’s and going “WTF? WTAF?”. It’s a bunch of navel-gazing idealist crap that was antiethical to every observed characteristic of human beings that I’d ever made over the course of my life until I encountered this book. I can’t remember at what point I threw it at the wall, but it wasn’t very far along into it.

    The problem is that LeGuin was writing this book from a certain standpoint, a perspective that said “Vietnam War Baaaad“, and excoriated her own nation for undertaking it. War isn’t good, but the haste with which she and her ilk took up the enemy’s cause was something I found highly illuminating: They were just like the idiots in the American Bund and the American Communist Party, eager to tear down and blame, while holding these other alien ideals as superior. I think we all know where that ended… Germany eventually collapsed under the weight of its own stupidity, as did the Soviets. Vietnam, after all that effort and all those lives expended “fighting Capitalism” turned themselves into eager acolytes at the feet of international business, and blew any pretensions of communal collective living right the hell out of the water. And, within a mere decade or two after the war ended, as well. What for her delusions about communalism, then? Pray, tell me, how does the upper levels of her beloved Vietnamese Communist party becoming good little looters of the working class square with her vaunted idealism?

    Zero respect for the woman, as a writer or a human being. She and her ilk did more damage than we’ll ever know, causing the purposeless divisiveness that we’re plagued with to this day… And, in service of what, do we now observe? Taking pure political power, here in the US. That’s all the anti-war effort ever was; if they’d have given a flying f*ck about the Vietnamese people, then they’d have done something when the North invaded the South with more damn tanks than Hitler took into Barbarossa…

    Hypocrites, all.

  • Paul Marks

    Natalie – your first impression was correct.

    Ursula Le Guinn was trying to present Collectivism as freedom – a horribly dishonest project.

    Kirk – yes I am old enough to remember the Vietnam War and the Boat People after it. As far as I know Ursula Le Guinn never apologised for her support of evil.

    None of the leading leftists apologised – not for any of their victims in Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia.

    They are still producing lies about the struggle in Indo China to this day. The young, and not so young, learn “history” (and much else) from the lies of the left.

  • Natalie Solent

    Kirk and Paul Marks,

    I think Le Guin truly did believe (in a confused way) in the “anarcho” bit of “anarcho-syndicalism” and that it offered a non-coercive third way distinct from both capitalism and communism. The Dispossessed goes into considerable detail about how there is nothing other than social pressure stopping people from taking more than their “fair share” from the stores on Anarres where one could collect manufactured goods without payment. I think she also tried to play fair and depict how that social pressure, both against “excrementalism” and also against any instances of non-conformity, could take horrible forms, as it did against Shevek’s friend whose name I can’t remember who ended up going insane.

    The nation of Thu, clearly an expy of the Soviet Union, is not mentioned much, but is depicted as probably being more repressive than A-Io.

    At the time I thought that the idea of stores from which you could just take what you want would never work because people would simply take the lot. I now am less sure of that, but I don’t think there would be anything in the stores to take.

  • Natalie Solent

    On a different tack, I read somewhere that Le Guin herself said that she wanted both Anarres and Urras to be believable societies in their own right, not mere expositions of political systems. She mostly succeeded with her portrayal of Annarres, less so with Urras.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Not only would there not be much to take, there would be no place to put it, since nobody owns any land, so a hoarder could not conceal what was hoarded. “Why are you collecting all these clothes in the room assigned to you? Say, that gold one-piece looks better on me that on you! I’ll take it, thanks!”

  • Paul Marks

    Natalie – judging by Ursula Le Guinn’s other work and political activity I disagree (respectfully disagree) with your assessment that the lady supported freedom, but in a confused way.

    Her support for the harm the “Liberals” did to Canada (their expansion of the size and scope of government), and her demands for much more harm to be done (to Le Guinn the “Liberals” were too moderate) is damning.

    Those people (not yourself – others) who defend Le Guinn by saying that her view of the Vietnam War (a view that was, anyway, the reverse of the truth) twisted her thinking on other matters, leave out the fact that Canada did NOT fight in IndoChina.

    The harm that “caring” leftists have done to Canada, especially to the tribes they pretended to care about (whilst destroying any opportunity these people had for independent lives – by destroying the timber and other industries, in the name of “the environment”) is extreme.

    Yes Le Guinn was American – but she supported the harm that was done in Canada, and elsewhere.

  • Paul Marks

    Sticking strictly to the United States – “democratic socialism” has been tried, the American reservations have been controlled by it since the Act of 1934.

    Democratically elected tribal councils controlling the land and most other things.

    The experience of “Pine Ridge”, and so on, shows what a utter disaster Democratic Socialism has been over the last 90 years.

    Nor is a council “assigning” people XYZ in any way “anarcho” anything – it is socialism, the opposite of liberty.

  • Paul Marks

    One of the most irritating things about Le Guinn was her pretense of Taoism.

    Her politics were just about the exact opposite of the Chinese Taoist philosophers – her politics were, in Chinese terms, “Legalism”, but disguised “Legalism”. “Legalism” (an authority assigning stuff and telling people what to do) under a mask of “freedom” and “liberty”.

    The dishonesty is choking.

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