although it was never perfect, i thought there was at least some progress made in the later Treks towards a portrayal of actual equality/tolerance/real depictions of issues (mainly DS9). the fact that ENT had such LAUGHABLY bad dialogue like you mentioned, and put forth antiquated, trite ideas about social issues on a regular basis was all the more unforgivable for that reason. so many steps backwards...
One thing DS9 had going for it was that it was set on place that was not owned or run by Earth-based humans, as the ships USS Enterprise and Voyager were (and all credit should go to that shows's creators for making that decision*), so that a strictly humanocentric viewpoint just would not make sense, in that universe.
One reason I think this is important is that everything in sci-fi (even the genre itself) is allagorical and metaphoric, and "aliens" are a symbol for all differences "outside the culturally accepted range" of Normal, especially for people with physical or mental disabilities. And I think it's kind of argh-inducing that disabled viewers are only given aliens to be their role models... Kind of demonstrates what position we're seen to have in the nonfictional world, beyond the tv and movie screen. :-/
*which is one reason why the following argumant sets my teeth on edge: "X Character's actions weren't motivated by prejudice! It made perfect sense, given the way the story unfolded! What else could X have done?!" The writer was in control of the story, and had full freedom to give the character a different range of options.
That was one reason I liked DS9 as well. I thought it at least attempted (whether or not it succeeded) in looking at issues of colonialism, imperialism, "passing," etc.
I think I attempted to watch one episode of Enterprise and gave up. I have trouble even thinking of it as a Trek series.
Much as I like DS9, its main human character was the Bajoran Messiah, which caused a certain amount of eyerolling hereabouts.
OMG, I had forgotten. I really didn't care for that whole storyline at all, which is probably why I forgot it. I wasn't aware of a lot of implications at the time, I just don't care for a lot of super religious/spiritual plots.
Superb comment! My favorite of all the shows was DS:9 for just those reasons--it was able to move away from Roddenbery's relentless Mary Sue-isms of the human race (his whole idea of humanity become ooh so perfect in just a few centuries--bah, humbug). My housemate likes TNG best for Picard's management style (she says he's the only captain she'd like to work for!)
Just for the record, my main fandom of choice is Doctor Who -- and in particular OldSkool Who; the creater of DW mark II (Russell T. Davies) made so many changes from the original ethos that I had to stop watching it in the first season.
That argument of privilege-defense in my footnote in my reply above is one I've often seen when fans of Color (or women) complain that RTD had written a story that was heavy on the racism, or was misogynist: "No, no! The Doctor didn't do X because RTD is racist; the Doctor did X because all other choices available in the plotline would have been even worse!!! RTD wrote that scene so the Doctor could be noble and heroic!"
*Headdesk* (you ever have those moments when you want to reach through your monitor and shake the person on the other end by the shoulders? Hello! writers of sci-fi are not -- repeat: not -- recording actual history or news events.)
(Therefore, there are many Who-fans on my f'list who are so looking forward to Moffat taking over.)
But to be fair, I don't think Roddenbery's completely responsible for making Mary-Sues of the human race. I actually think that's a long-standing trope of the genre itself. Thankfully, it's a trope that I can see the genre growing out of, slowly, awkwardly, and sometimes painfully. But still, it's happening.
I'm curious now; what aspects of New Who do some fans regard as racist or sexist? And was Old Who really better?
(I'm looking forward to Moffat taking over simply because he's written some of my favourite stories and seems to be less fond of dei ex machina.)
But there has been great debate over how Martha, the New Who's only Black sidekick so far, was treated both on the show and by fans.
My personal pet peeve is the overwhelming number of Dead Bros but the aspect of new Who which seems to have been most generally accepted as racially problematic, if the parts of fandom I know are anything to go by, was the full-on Evil Dragon Lady stereotype in the episode Turn Left (which has subsequently been nominated for a Hugo award, boo).
The nom for the Hugo award says what's wrong with the tenor of race discussion in sf&f land if nothing else.
Also, if it wins it'll be the first time an RTD script has beaten a Moffat script which will make the result particularly notable (because there's always next year's Hugo for a pity nom for RTD before he leaves as boss of Doctor Who).
There's one scholarship and an award for new writers named for notorious white supremicist and pro-slavery racist John Campbell.
Even RTD can't quite beat that.
2009-03-28 05:09 pm (UTC)
Who-ite: it's like sh-ite inna wai
Y'know, poking an anthill with wee sticks is only fun if you're not one of the ants. ;-P
Also, STOP DELETING YOUR COMMENTS FROM MY JOURNAL WHEN I'M JUST ABOUT TO ANSWER THEM!!1!! ;-P
A.1) The way RTD disproportionally wrote characters of color/ women / elderly women / lesbians as either victims who all die by the end (compared, statistically, to straight white men), or who turn out to be evil. One person on my f'list, in particular (spiralsheep
, is (I think) very good at writing about these
subtleties. This post
, for example, points up one detail of the 2008 Christmas Special: (Warning: contains spoiler).
A.2) While it's true that there are, as far as I can tell/recall fewer people of color in OldWho compared to New-, I think of those that do appear, a lower percentage of them are treated so badly. And even if Old Who is not
any better than New Who, New Who should be better than it is, especially since it can't claim to "simply be a product of its generation."
B) While looking for the above link in spiralsheep
's LJ, I saw another entry where she coined the phrase "Deus ex Machinathon."
Ok, if you want me to delete my response then please say and I will.
Yes please. When I get into "rant mode" I don't always think about what I'm actually saying.
Can we just pretend the whole thing never happened?
Thank you. And, again, sorry.
Hell, Wesley Crusher was basically author insertion by Gene Roddenberry. Even he admitted that.
Yes. I am so glad Will Wheaton grew up and outlived, outlasted, that Marty-Stu incarnation to become an accomplished actor and writer in his own right.
Evidence that not all child stars are doomed by the profession.
Ironically, I've just been watching a (not especially good) episode of Blake's 7 (aka the anti-Trek) in which there is a planet of pacifist human psuedo-Vulcans and their leader Mary Sues humanity as perfectible before being forced to execute his own son and then blow-up the whole planet as an act of resistance to human aggression.
Enterprise is known to the skiffy-loving parts of my flist as The One We Don't Mention, heh.
Edited at 2009-03-26 11:06 pm (UTC)
From the few bits of Enterprise
I managed to run into, I found it to be Embarrassingly Bad (I never did manage to watch an entire episode).spiralsheep
, let me introduce
(I'm surprised that people on my f'list don't bump into each other more often)...
But at least they had the decency to use a rubbish theme song as an accurate warning of the degree of facepalm to follow, heh.
Chiming in late to the discussion, but I was recently complaining in my journal about the scene at the end of Star Trek II in which Kirk, at Spock's memorial service, says, "of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most human". Every time I see that it pisses me off more. Spock was half-human, yes, but he chose to follow a Vulcan path. He quoted a Vulcan proverb/philosophy as he was dying. And then Kirk goes and calls him human like it's the greatest complement he can give the guy? *headdesk*
I will admit I'm a bit biased on this subject. I watch Trek for Vulcans (and also for cool space battles and neat ships and those few movies/episodes that stand out as utterly brilliant, but mostly for Vulcans) and I do get a bit miffed at the way they're so often made the butt of jokes and/or seem to exist only to be proven wrong by the plucky human who has decided to follow their hunch and ignore the person telling them how their plan doesn't make any sense. (And of course the human will be right. If Star Trek has taught me nothing else, it's made sure I know that when you're faced with a problem, it's better to come up with some hair-brained plan and go off led only by your gut instincts than actually sit down and do a logical analysis of the situation.)
TOS actually treated (half-human, natch) Spock pretty well, though the next time we got a regular Vulcan character, we got Tuvok who spent most episodes being stuff and not doing much else. And then there was The Show That Shall Not Be Named and I shudder at what they did to the Vulcans in that one.
The recent books aren't great either. Any non-canon Vulcan who shows up is pretty much guaranteed to be an arrogant jerk.
Oh dear. I'm ranting, aren't I? I don't actually dislike the franchise. I still consider myself a fan. But more and more I've realized that I'm a fan of the concepts more than the executions and so my engagement with the Trek universe is generally limited to certain episodes, movies, and books that actually live up to the potential.
I still consider myself a fan. But more and more I've realized that I'm a fan of the concepts more than the executions
Hey, that's fair. As I said in my opening post, I'm only a luke-warm fan myself. I'm mostly interested in Trek because of how it's been treated as an emblem for our wider, modern, and post-modern Society as a whole.
And as for preferring concepts over executions, well, that's where fanfic comes from, doesn't it? :-)