The Thermian Experiment

Galaxy Quest is a fantastic movie--ignoring for the moment the problematic nature of at least one of the actors in it. It has such a fantastic premise, a character driven story that demonstrates growth on everyone's part (even if it's only a small amount), and has a resolution that feels so sincere and heartfelt. The thing--however--that I've been pondering a lot about lately is the notion of the race known as the Thermians. These are creatures that are highly advanced, able to make themselves appear human despite being sort of octopoidal (and honestly, that form is kinda cute? Not monstrous but... cute?) and yet they have no concept of fiction. They aren't even aware of the concept of deception until Sarris demonstrates it for them. He even suggests that they are like children when forcing Nesmith to explain to Mathesar what 'acting' is.

One of the best jokes in the film is when the rest of the 'Galaxy Quest' television cast is trying to understand the Thermians, one of them brings up Gilligan's Island and all the Thermians suddenly turn dower and say "those poor people", believing that it's depicting real events.

So it leads me to wonder something: if you encountered the Thermians--or a race similarly without knowledge of fiction or deception--and it was your job to try to educate them on those concepts, what media would you use to illustrate certain ideas and points (with the understanding that discussion can be had before, during and after the act of consuming said media)?

Would you choose to expose them only to children's entertainment? Would you provide them with more advanced concepts like a spy thriller or a 'smart' comedy? What about live-action versus animation? What about period pieces? Would you include examples of non-fiction like the evening news or maybe educational content and documentaries?

It's a terribly fascinating line of thinking that I can't seem to get out of my mind--and is probably a very good thought exercise for people who have kids and are unsure of what media to expose them to, how, when, or why.

I should think that one of the earliest things to expose them to is the idea that people can engage in deception for a variety of reasons for the purpose of teaching the lesson of how important it is to be able to discern that a deception is taking place, why, and what the consequences of that deception can be.

I dunno, it's nearly 2am and I should have been asleep a pretty good while ago. It's just an interesting notion that came to me and I wanted to pursue it further than just a shower thought.