Resistance Is Futile. Recognize it? Good. And well you should as a Star Trek: The Next Generation scholar. Every Trekker worth their sea salt knows the phrase by heart and who – or what – uttered it. First bellowed by the slick, black clad cybernetic collective called The Borg in the TNG episode, Q-Who, then even more memorably, the withering challenge was issued to the Enterprise D by its former, Borgified Captain, Jean-Luc Picard, transformed into a cold, calculating drone, Locutus of Borg. The slogan strikes us as cool, chilling and clever all at once, however, in all its many facets and weighing its mighty word power, the phrase symbolizes much more. It is war propaganda at its most economical and effective.
Why We Fight
Many cinema fans don’t realize that It’s A Wonderful Life director, Frank Capra, helmed several American war propaganda films. The series is collectively known under the banner of: Why We Fight. Capra, already a respected, Oscar winning film director, enlisted into the army and was put under command of George Marshall, Chief Of Staff of The US Army. During their first meeting, here’s what Marshall said to Capra.
Now, Capra, I want to nail down with you a plan to make a series of documented, factual-information films – the first in our history – that will explain to our boys in the Army why we are fighting, and the principles for which we are fighting…. You have an opportunity to contribute enormously to your country and the cause of freedom. Are you aware of that, sir?
Clearly, Capra took this inspiring pep talk to heart and crafted seven films from 1942 to 1945. Can Resistance Is Futile be described as Capraesque? Hardly. But none can deny its influential power on an enemy. You can’t win. Your forces can’t resist us. It’s futile to even try. Go home. Just surrender. Be absorbed and assimilated.
I WANT YOU FOR U.S. ARMY
Perhaps the most iconic military propaganda in history – certainly American – is the famous Uncle Sam poster of him pointing a finger at a potential recruit for the military effort. First used for WWI and then revived and repurposed for World War II, the haunting image made many a man into a soldier and has been reworked and parodied ever since its original introduction.
The Borg is almost saying the same thing in its insatiable need to absorb races, culture and technology. We Want You – and we’ll do anything to get you, and resisting us is simply not an option or a good use of your time.
So, what’s the sci-fi endgame for sci-fi lovers and especially Star Trek: The Next Generation fans? The Borg remain one of the most instantly recognizable and overwhelming bad boys in science fiction history. Do we merely fear The Borg when we hear the infamous slogan? Or do we actually admire such direct and even elegant war propaganda? The Borg Queen may never win a war outright by having her drones like Locutus intimidate the enemy with words, but when you’re invading every quadrant of the galaxy, it can sure help things along.