Sunday, April 15, 2012

Alien Porn

I recently started re-watching Babylon 5 on DVD. I saw most of the series back in the 1990s, but I missed a few episodes due my local TV station's frustratingly inconsistent air times. This is the first time I've seen the whole series in its entirely.

Babylon 5 broke a lot of new ground in TV science fiction. It was the first series to ever have a planned five season-long story arc with a beginning, middle and end, it was the first series to use all CGI for its special effects sequences, and it was probably the first sci-fi series to have main characters who were often morally ambiguous.

It was also the first sci-fi series to openly show an alien's penis.

In the first season episode "The Quality of Mercy," Centauri Ambassador Londo Molari decides to take his acquaintance Lennier, a Minbari ambassadorial assistant, out for a night on the town. Lennier's the shell-headed gentlemen there on the left. Londo is the one with the peacock hairdo.

As part of their boy's night out, Londo and Lennier play poker with a group of space card sharps. Apparently poker is still around in the year 2258.

And yes, the phrase is card sharp, not card shark.

At one point Londo shifts uncomfortably in his chair, as if he's suffering from gas pains.

Something squirms beneath his waistcoat.

We then see a prehensile tentacle surreptitiously slither up from beneath the table, grab a card from the top of  the deck, and whisk it back underneath the table into Londo's card cheating hands.

A few minutes later he uses the tentacle to cheat again, as it wriggles up onto the table toward the waiting deck of cards.

Suddenly one of the players unknowingly sets a pitcher of water on top of the tentacle, trapping it. Com-O-Dee! The other players see it, they realize Londo's been cheating, and a fight breaks out.

There's just one thing: that is not just a run of the mill tentacle. It's Londo's penis.

Mark your calendars, folks. 1994 was the year we first saw an alien shvantz on network television.

Later we find out that the wiener we saw was just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Centauri males have six incredibly long prehensile penises, three on each side of their torso. As you might guess, Centauri women have six corresponding vaginas. The males can use any number of penises during sex; one means you're just messing around, while using all six means things are really serious. Not sure we really needed to know that much about the sex lives of the Centauri, but there you go.

In the photo above, Londo is illustrating the point by holding a statue of Li, the Centauri Goddess of Passion, who is a synthesis of male and female Centauri. Note the six tentacles protruding from the statue.

I wasn't offended by this display, but I'm wondering how the hell they managed to slip this one past the censors. It was pretty graphic when you think about it. Sure, it didn't look like our idea of a penis, but it's pretty obvious that that's what it was. Do the rules about showing genitalia only apply to human penises? Could they have shown Londo standing there stark naked with all six penises waving around, as long as he didn't have anything recognizable between his legs? 

I'm guessing that the censor just didn't understand what he or she was seeing.

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