Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My Top Five issues with the Star Trek Franchise-

So I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I consider myself a pretty hard core Trekkie, and befor you start with the "true fans call themselves trekker!" Crap, let me start with this Roddenbury used the term Trekkies, and when he was called to task for this at a convention he responded, "No, I made you, I get to name you," fair enough in my mind. But I want to declare myself a fan of Star Trek before I continue. What I say I say out of love and respect for the show. It's easy to attack something you hate. My writing a top five what is wrong with the Star Wars prequels would not only be an exceedingly easy former to write, and would most likely be agreed upon by most, but it would also join the millions of Megabytes of clever jar jar sucks rants already on the Internet, and it won't make fans stop and think. Where is the challenge in that? Stating that, I love Trek, but love means looking deep, not just blindly accepting all of it's flaws. And for all the incredible things about Star Trek, it does have it's flaws.  And this is my top five issues with this most venerated of science fiction sagas.

5-One Note Races- Now I put this as number five because it could be worse. Look at Star Wars were certain races aspire to very specific jobs. such as the huts who are almost always mobster, or how Rodians obsess about becoming bounty hunters mainly because the first ones we see on screens held these jobs. Also to be honest, most fantasy races are based on stereotypes of kinds of people we know, tolkien's elves, dwarves and hobbits coral ate to real world people, chances are you know someone who exhibits elven or dwarven characteristics. Trek races work very much on this mentality. This is why we don't have Klingon doctor characters, or  or Vulcan spies, as "vulcans don't lie." And when a race does break the bonds of this cultural stereotype, not only are they radical, but the lean toward becoming more human. Worf, Spock, and Nog become more "human by rejecting some of the notions of their social stereotypes. This makes these races less alien and more variants on the stereotypes of humanity. Compare this to say the Minbari in Babylon-5  whom while are often
seen as spritual and contemplative on the show, can be crass, rude, even downright belligerent, while
they too are more human than truly alien, it is nice to see races where there is no one specific mold where it is not a major story point NOT to act like the main characters.

4- Famous Firsts- Again, this is not a Trek only problem. We see this a lot in many fictions, it's normally a sign of poor writing, especially when it happens to so many characters. This is the notion to try to make a character extra special, The fact that not one man in 1000 could make it into the captain's chair not impressive enough for you? Viola, Kirk is also, the youngest person to ever do it! Being a half breed with an alien species not exotic enough? Poof! Spock is a singularly unique entity never to be seen again! In the pilot episode of Star Trek The Next Generation, Pickard passes another android in engineering, implying a ship having androids is common place, but in less than a season his secret origin reveals that despite the original series running into several tech caches of android technology, enough to make androids common place several decades later, Data is only one of two
unique devices made by dr. Noonian Singh. Worf? Oh, yeah he is the first and to date only Klingon
to join Starfleet. Geordi's visor, common place? NO it's a unique piece of tech, that no othe blind
person gets (which is espeically crappy when you see that if blindness is caused by genetic defect, we can't genetically modify a person to be sighted thanks to Khan......KHAN!!! )  think of some of the big innovators of our world today, and did they have to be the first or only to make an impact. Was Joss Wheadon, the youngest person ever to write for CBS? Was Steve Jobs the only person working on personal computing?  Was MacArthur the youngest general ever? No. And yet these people's stories can still be compelling. I would love to see more of the common crew in Star Trek, a ship that isn't the flagship with the best of the best of the best with honors. This is one of firefly's appeals, the characters aren't supremely awesome people with incredible gifts (o.k River aside that is). But they are ordinary folk in an Extrordinary world. As one Star Trek slogan is "the human adventure is just beginning!" It might help if the humans were, more human.

3- Enlightened, yet frightfully backwards- The last episode of Star Trek, Turnabout intruder, it is clearl and quite stupidly explained that women simply don't have the mental wherewithal to be Starship captains. And most of us turn a blind eye to this turd of an episode, as it was a dumb concept that Roddenbury didn't sign off on, and we all know better. Later in Trek we would see females take command, and yet when it came to Voyager we took a massive step backward. Janeway was not the ideal Starfleet captain, during a mutiny she cried on the shoulder of her  head mutineer, would Kirk have done that if Spock had mutinied? HELL NO! He's have slugged Spock and exclaimed "You never to that on MY ship mister!" Pickard? Sisko? still no! But janeway by sheer merit of chromosomes has to play it super feminine and cries on Tuvok's shoulder. And then there is Q. an ageless timeless and godlike being of no gender, who gets the hots for which captain? Janeway. They went out of their way sometimes to point out she was not a male. It got old, and could have been handled way better, then there is the whole no gay characters in Trek. Why not? in an inclusive environment as trek why are we going to ignore a diverse group based on sexuality? David Gerald's script blood and ire called for a gay couple, and it was ousted from TNG. (though the good folk at Star Trek Phase II, a fan series did it anyway!) I think this is one Roddenbury would have done but the studios were simply scared that their cash cow could offend, obviously missing that it was loved for it's inclusiveness such as a black woman as an officer and the first interracial kiss, and thus stifling what trek could be.

2- Continuity holes you can drive a Galaxy Class Star Ship through-I Know I Know, any show that has had over 40 years of continuity, multiple series, movies, games, comics,novels and cartoons can't hope to have a concise and perfectly written history that never overlaps and never contradicts itself. Too many chefs ruining the stew and all that. But sometimes you just have to try harder. Harder than the Trill who were an unknown race in the federation in TNG had an officer in the federation grooming Sisko, and helping the Klingons but knew nothing of his medical history. Or if the Dominion War was the biggest event in the federation since the Borg, where the hell was the federation's flagship during all this, Putzing around with the Sona, Really? and this wasn't some odd reference in classic trek that we forgot or chosen to ignore like the crap in turnabout intruder, this was stuff that was written in the series that had people working on all of this stuff at the same time dropping the ball. And don't even get me started on the multiple version of "do Klingons without ridges exist and why?" arguements.

1- Space Booze-  This one has always bothered me. So people in the 24th century without need of money will do work to fill a sense of self fulfillment, even crappy jobs most people today won't do for pay. We have eliminated most vices, no porn addicts in the 24th century, no amputees, and certainly no drugs. We as a species have grown out of using chemicals to get "high" and won't be addicted to these kinds of dangerous substances. Well, except booze. For all it's ills, for the countless examples of alcohol destroying lives, impairing judgement, and being a root cause of accidents. It's not only still acceptable in the 24th century, but almost required. But wait, they have a new kind of alcohol, called synthahol that allows you to "shake off" the effects at will. No one thought about cake that doesn't contribute to type 2 diabetes, but as long as we can still go on toquilla binges we are A OK. years ago Harlan Ellison wrote the script City on the Edge of Forever, in which Kirk and Spock would confront a junkie on the enterprise. The fact that there are no druggies in the future, would prompt Gene Roddenbury to rewrite the script. Something that really pissed off Ellison, Well sorry guys alcohol is a drug. You can't have Wesley give a moralistic questioning on how would people allow themselves to be addicted to some chemical, while Guinan is serving fuzzy navels in 10 forward. Funny thing is Roddenbury angered studio execs by banning smoking from the ship, meaning that he cut out the potential for tobacco advertising revenue. Yet this same man allowed all itterations of Trek to drink like Barney Gumbal, because of the weak plot device of new space booze, why? How is it people can evolve out of so much in Trek but not this? Don't get me wrong Star Wars, Babylon-5, Firefly all have booze, and bars, but they also have druggies, alcoholics, and all the real demons that alcohol brings making it a real part of the world for all its ills and allure. This is a good example though of trying too hard to keep one institution you do like while illogically condemning similar institutions you are against. Weak man, really weak.

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