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Open Access From classical Greece to science fiction: Heroic aesthetics and the popularity of the Eagle pilot Alan Carter in Space: 1999

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This article analyses the success of a support character in comparison to the stars in the 1970s television series Space: 1999 (1975–1977), in light of the permeation of Greek classical aesthetic codes in on-screen representation of heroes. Although the name of the actor impersonating the chief Eagle pilot Alan Carter was not even in the opening credits of the show and his character, like most support characters of Space: 1999, had but a few lines per episode, this series won actor Nick Tate international attention and his character quickly became among the favourites of the show, especially in the realm of science fiction fandom. While he is in the frame without actually doing any action, Carter oftentimes adopts a posture known as contrapposto, a pose characteristic of the idealized heroic body. This pose had been deliberately used in the early days of Hollywood to enhance the cultic status of some stars, and because of its cultural identification with a heroic type and its erotic potential, Carter was recognized as a hero more than the rest of the support characters on the show. Moreover, Carter’s persona in the scripts is that of an engaging, faithful, trustworthy fellow, which completes the picture of the ideal of manliness in Greek philosophy, that of spiritual goodness (agathon) reflected in physical beauty (kallos), placing Carter among the most popular characters with the audience of Space: 1999.

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Keywords: Greek sculpture; body; contrapposto; heroism; representation; television

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Ottawa

Publication date: 2015-04-01

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