Last week I said the following about people who make themselves feel superior by criticizing how some people use language but turn out actually not to understand the linguistic principles of the case and thus criticize something that's perfectly fine:
Those who make fun of people who say things like this are therefore ignorant about how the English language works. It's kind of ironic that it's so easy for people to place themselves as having a superior understanding of language by making fun of people who talk about PIN numbers, when doing so is actually betraying their own ignorance of how language works. Unfortunately, this sometimes goes along with a sense of superiority about being a better master of the language, and as with those who criticize President Bush's regional dialect as unintelligent it just turns out to be arrogant ignorance disguised as intelligence and superiority, a very unattractive combination.
A similar phenomenon occurs with reviews of science fiction. Those who simply don't like sci-fi sometimes speak of it as fantasy adventure stories for children and thus reveal that they themselves are either ignorant of what the best sci-fi is really like or not intelligent enough to understand the intelligence behind much science fiction.
One of the most intelligent TV shows in the history of TV was Babylon 5. It drew from the richness of historical, political, interpersonal, and religious traditions to form a five-year story that included some of the best storytelling I've ever encountered amidst asking truly thought-provoking questions. I don't agree with the show's creator on very much when it comes to politics, and I suspect I would disagree with many of his own answers to the ethical and metaphysical questions that he raises in the show. I still think it's the best show I've ever seen. Yet critics mocked it as a copy of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, simply because both shows took place on space stations and were darker than the standard Trek optimism that Roddenberry's ghost managed to maintain on the other franchise shows.
This not only ignored the facts (Straczynski had his whole story planned out years before DS9 was even conceived and made a point not to watch Trek just to ensure that he wouldn't be accused of stealing from them). It also showed a complete ignorance of what the shows in question were really like. It was as if all the features of B5 that took a higher level of understanding even to have aesthetic appreciation had just gone over the heads of people saying this sort of thing. They didn't even notice the things that some people were appreciating, regardless of whether they would have liked them if they had seen them. They were completely unaware of them to begin with, or they couldn't have made the comparisons they made. They were immune to the appreciation of what made it such a good show not because they didn't appreciate it aesthetically but because hey weren't able or willing to grasp what takes some level of higher thought to understand. Then they talked as if the people who watched it and thought it was good were simple-minded people who couldn't see that it was stupid.
I don't want to detail all the times I've seen this happen. I think it happened with the last two seasons of Enterprise, especially the last one, and some people did it with Andromeda when it was good (before they fired Robert Hewitt Wolfe during the second season, leaving the show in the position of justly being called unintelligent). It clearly happens with intelligent spoofs like Airplane, The Fifth Element, Demolition Man, and The Last Action Hero. I don't mind if people don't like those movies, but those who claim they are unintelligent seem to me to be demonstrating their inability to see something that it takes some intelligence to see. The latter two do an especially good job at making fun of movies the chief actors in them have done in the past, and Schwarzeneggar's ridiculous caricature in the last of those three of the style of character he's often played in the past is just plain brilliant. Not everyone may find it funny, but it takes stepping back from the film to see something about the meta-level ideas of what the film is doing to see what the film is about, and I don't think views who consider it unintelligent have done that.
As I said, though, this isn't what I wanted to say here. I wanted to point out that someone else has noticed this phenomenon with the Stargate shows. I don't see the name of an author cited, but this GateWorld staffer seems to me to be absolutely right. People are writing about these shows as if they're mere action and adventure shows that happen to involve sci-fi devices (aliens and interstellar travel). They describe it as a good ride, basically, but it's not as if they see it as an intelligent show.
I think nothing could be further from the truth, and if they've missed this it shows that they either haven't really watched the show (as one reviewer this piece links to admits) or simply aren't able to see the intelligence behind the show. One explanation is that they're not very bright themselves but think they are and for some reason like to put down things they don't grasp. Another is that they haven't been able to keep track of some of the things in the shows that demonstrate the writers' intelligence, which could happen if they aren't watching the show from the beginning in order (which no one who has the SciFi Channel has any excuse to avoid doing if they're going to comment on the show with negative evaluations). I don't actually agree with all the statements made in defense of these shows, but I agree with the overall sentiment.
The moral of the story: we ought to be very sparing in our willingness to call anything unintelligent when we may simply not understand what's going on with it. It may well be that we're not intelligent enough to see that it's not unintelligent.