Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Star Trek TNG Take Down. . .

Today I’m introducing a new feature, which I’ll run every so often on Wednesdays: the Star Trek TNG Takedown. Basically, I’ve been watching a lot of STNG and the daffy liberalisms are swelling my brain. So I’m going to poke a few holes in their goofy world, because there are more things in Heaven and Earth, Jean-Luc, than are dreamt of in your contradictory and nonsensical philosophy!

Today’s takedown involves the episode “The Survivors,” from Season 3. This episode begins with Jean-Luc and the weepy ship Enterprise responding to a distress call from a Federation colony on Delta Rana IV. As they arrive, they discover that the entire planet has been devastated (and not in a good way), except for one square little patch of land.

Ignoring the fact that destruction on that scale would rob the planet of its atmosphere, the crew beams down to discover an AARP couple, Kevin and Rishon Uxbridge, two retired gangsta rappers. We soon learn that Kevin is not what he appears to be. Indeed, it turns out he’s a creature called a (Maureen) Douwd, an immortal energy creature who describes himself as a being “of great conscience.” Uh huh. . . if you gotta tell people what you are, then you probably aren't.

When Jean-Luc queries Kevin about what happened, Kevin tells him that an evil race called the Husnock attacked the colony. Kevin didn’t join the other colonists in defending themselves because he thinks of himself as a pacifist. But when he saw Rishon killed, i.e. when this war affected him personally, he abandoned his pacifistic principles and wished the Husnock into the cornfield. . . all of them. Yep, peaceboy killed 50 billion men, women and children. But don’t worry, they were all bad.

Well, peaceboy turns himself over to Jean-Luc for punishment. And what does Captain Inconsistent do? He whines that Kevin has suffered enough, and he declares “we have no law for what you’ve done.”

WTF?? Are you kidding me?!

Have you ever looked in a law book Jean-Luc? I’m pretty sure in the section “crimes against humanity” (a liberal favorite), you’ll find a little thing called “genocide.” Indeed, you’ve whined about this law before whenever someone wanted to kill a “race” of robots or a unique machine, plant, animal or mineral. . . or eat the last cookie. Kevin is a citizen of the Federation, putting him under Federation jurisdiction -- an issue Jean-Luc rarely lets stand in the way of one of his self-righteous speeches -- and he admits killing all 50 billion. So how about it, Jean-Luc? Slap the cuffs on this space Hitler!

Sorry. Not this Jean-Luc. Oh no. This Jean-Luc thinks Kevin’s “suffered enough.” Really? I don’t recall Jean-Luc (or any liberal for that matter) ever accepting such a defense to a crime they truly despised. Nor does Kevin appear to be suffering as he’s simply recreated his wife, his house and he’s having a good old time continuing to live his life.

What we have here is classic inconsistent liberal justice. Jean-Luc, who loves to throw around the word “genocide” to show his moral superiority to all the people he’s "not" judging, suddenly can’t bring himself to say the word when he’s faced with an honest to Q genocide because he likes Kevin and he feels bad for him. Or, more accurately, he feels like he would feel bad if he were Kevin. He never once thinks about the 50 billion slaughtered aliens, nor does he investigate what really happened here. Maybe they came to arrest Kevin for buggering their sheep? Doesn’t matter, Kevin seems honest. . . apart from his lying to Jean-Luc throughout the episode and his mental battery of Troi. Besides, what’s 50 billion rotting corpses among friends?

Is this justice? Hardly. Jean-Luc whines about justice, but when faced with implementing it, he defaults to an arbitrary rule where he decides right and wrong based on his own whims at the time. And far from implementing any sort of universal justice, he only looks at one side of the equation, i.e. he only considers how this will affect the guy he sees before him. He doesn't think about the victims or the message this sends to the future or to other would be sheep buggerers. How is that justice?

Why have laws at all?

24 comments:

Joel Farnham said...

Andrew,

I never thought of it that way. I do know that the "Jean-Luc" universe as opposed to the "Kirk" universe was more liberal.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, Kirk's universe was more of a classical liberal/libertarian universe. They're principals tended to be about freeom, living in piece and self-control, with some politics of the era mixed in. The NG universe is deeply liberal, with most episode ending with very liberal/PC ideas and a very confused ideology.

I figure it deserves to be smacked around a bit! :-)

ScottDS said...

I haven't seen this episode in years so I can't say much about it one way or another, except for a classic Worf line: "Good tea. Nice house." :-)

I imagine much of the politics came from Roddenberry who, by then, had deemed humankind perfect, thus forbidding the writers to play with any kind of internal conflict. The better writers worked around this; the rest jumped ship.

In fact, I recently came across a quote from the late Michael Piller, who joined the show in season three but is referring to a different episode titled "The Bonding":

I sent a short description of the story to Rick and Gene. Minutes later, I was called to an urgent meeting in Gene’s office. “This doesn’t work” he said. “In the Twenty-Fourth Century, no one grieves. Death is accepted as part of life.”

As I shared the dilemma with the other staff writers, they took a bit of pleasure from my loss of virginity, all of them having already been badly bruised by rejections from Gene. Roddenberry was adamant that Twenty-Fourth Century man would evolve past the petty emotional turmoil that gets in the way of our happiness today. Well, as any writer will tell you, ‘emotional turmoil’, petty and otherwise, is at the core of any good drama. It creates conflict between characters. But Gene didn’t want conflict between our characters. “All the problems of mankind have been solved,” he said. “Earth is a paradise.”

Now, go write drama.

His demands seemed impossible at first glance. Even self-destructive.

And yet, I couldn’t escape one huge reality. Star Trek worked. Or it had for thirty years. Gene must be doing something right.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, That's an interesting tidbit! I would say, however, that the reason Star Trek worked for so long is that the daffy politics didn't enter the series until TNG came along, and they were largely abandoned as needed to make the stories work.

Indeed, that's kind of where I'm headed with this series. I'm going to poke at the contradictions and inconsistencies (how something was a fundamental right one week and ignored the next), and then later I'm going to compare it to some of the issues that Kirk and crew dealt with, and how their resolutions were completely different.

I think you'll see that the show really did a complete 180 philosophically speaking between the original series and TNG (one which matches the shift in the Democratic Party) -- although, after Roddenberry died, the series did start to drift back toward reality. . . the Democrats haven't yet.

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. Scott, We could still use a "if Star Trek has taught me anything" segment if you're interested! :-)

Mike Kriskey said...

It's true that the political viewpoint of TNG is generally lefty-loony, that is when it has any consistency at all.

But it did have Patrick Stewart, so it gets a thumbs-up from me. Looking forward to the rest of these posts.

One thing: how come sometimes there's no such thing as money? But then sometimes there is? And what are they always playing poker with?

ScottDS said...

I look forward to future articles in this series!

As for the tidbit, it came from a book about the writing of Star Trek: Insurrection which Michael Piller intended to publish back in 1998. Unfortunately, Paramount put the kibosh on the whole project.

The original manuscript briefly showed up on the Internet last week. I managed to snag a copy before it was taken down at the request of the Piller family and I can e-mail you a copy if you'd like.

P.S. Let me think about it! :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Actually, I wouldn't mind seeing that! Please do! :-)

I think this will be a fun series. It will obviously be rather tongue in cheek because I do like the show, but there is a lot to fun poke at. So I'll try to keep it light-hearted.


On the other thing, no pressure, but it could be a fun experience. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Mike,

Glad to hear it! I'm looking forward to writing them.

I too enjoy the show, even though I intend to have a little fun with it. And I too really like Patrick Stewart, always have. I think he's a very solid actor and he does a great job as Picard.

The money thing always struck me as very funny as well, and will be the focus of an upcoming article. It's one of those things that sounds great in principle to liberals, until you start asking what motivates people to do the lousy jobs and how games like poker work when your bets have no real value. That's why liberalism rarely works in stories, and why they usually use it selectively.

ScottDS said...

Money is one of those subjects that's never been properly explained. On the whole, I'd say certain cultures have it and others don't. But what happens when the two mix? (How did the DS9 crew pay for drinks at Quark's bar?)

Click here for an interesting essay on the subject.

And Trek writer/future Galactica producer Ron Moore once said: "By the time I joined TNG, Gene had decreed that money most emphatically did NOT exist in the Federation, nor did 'credits' and that was that. Personally, I've always felt this was a bunch of hooey, but it was one of the rules and that's that."

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, It goes back to college liberal thinking at the time, which held that "if we eliminate money, then people will work because they like it rather than because they expect to be rewarded."

And when you asked them, "then who the heck would want to be a garbage man when you could be a television critic for the same amount of money," they kind of stared at you for a moment and then said, "people choose jobs because that's what they want to do, so nothing will change."

Needless to say, this idea didn't catch on in the real world, but it continues to live on in college circles.

Joel Farnham said...

Interesting thing about money, it is a by-product of civilization. Money was created to ease transactions. Allowing people to make purchases easier and to sell things easier.

Money in and of itself has NO intrinsic value. It's value only comes from transactions. What can I get for x-dollars?

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, Very true. But like all things that have been assigned value, those who don't have it start to covet it, and then they get upset at it, and soon they see it as evil.

In reality, money is simply a means of exchange that represents things you've given up in the past, i.e. the value of your labor or ideas or things you've sold. It's not evil. If anything, it's liberating because it gives you a reason to work and save for the future. Without it, there would be no way people could invest or save for retirement except hoarding things that won't spoil. . . like Twinkies.

So take away money and the world would get really harsh, as people go into hoarding mode and transactions become extremely difficult as we end up in the barter system and you need to find something I want before I'm willing to trade you for anything.

Utopians don't get that. They see the world instead turning to the Marxist view where everyone works as much as they are able and gets everything they want for free. Fat chance.

Ed said...

Sheep buggerers! Ha! Nice post, I too look forward to the series.

@ScottDS, Interesting quote! Thanks!

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Ed! It seemed like a possibility. ;-)

CrispyRice said...

I haven't honestly LOL'd for ages, Andrew! Great article! I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

I, too, love watching TNG, but find myself yelling at the screen most of the time. It's like a train wreck that I can't stop watching. Go figure.

Perhaps you can spend an article contrasting ST w/ Babylon 5, which (I think) took a much more realistic view of how humans will likely be in the future - warts and all. :D

CrispyRice said...

Oh, and PS - I'm now envisioning the Enterprise with cargo-holds full of twinkies. Thanks! ;)~

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, I'm glad you liked it! I think it was a fun article to write and I hope the rest are just as fun.

I love the idea of the Enterprise flying around hoarding food -- like Twinkies! LOL!

Babylon 5 is a great series with a very different take on humanity, a much more realistic one. That might be worth a discussion at some point!

DUQ said...

Funny article. I really enjoy the lighter side of Commentarama too.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks DUQ! I think we have a good mix of funny and serious. It can't all be serious after all!

ackman81 said...

I always loved the show, even with its silly view of humanity. Of course that did not stop them from fighting wars for more exciting shows and to hold an audience. Though if things were played out like they would in the real world, the Ferengi would have owned everyone.

AndrewPrice said...

ackman81, True! I enjoy the show a lot as well, I just hate the politics and I think the politics stand in the way of better storytelling. And you are right, the Ferengi would own everything.

whelk said...

Wasn't there an episode of TOS where they had to barter with dylithium miners get some much need replacement crystals? Who would be a dylithium if they didn't get good recompense for it anyway?

AndrewPrice said...

whelk, There was indeed -- "Mudd's Women."

In the world of Picard (and some of my college professors), people would be dylithium miners because they felt "a calling" to be dylithium miners. What garbage! No one feels a calling to do dirty, dangerous, backbreaking labor. In a world without money, there would be no miners, no garbage men, no dishwashers and it's amazing that any rational person would think there would be.

Post a Comment