Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Friday, March 04, 2005

Bull Trek
Written by: Goemagog

Someone took offense at my previous post on Star Trek.

More to the point, though, ST:TOS was intended to show humanity as evolving *beyond* armed conflict, though it did also argue that our own violent "past" was our source of (evolutionary) strength. Every member of the TOS bridge crew would expect, and indeed hope, that just such peace-at-almost-any-price sogginess would eventually bust out all over.

No, this isn't true at all. The original show was primarily about coming across aliens facing the same problems we (contemporary) do, and how they either solved the problem, harmed themselves by not solving the problem, or failed to figure out that it was a problem. Sometimes technobabble solutions were found, but mostly the crew was kept off to the side. The crew was primarily a plot device, not the focus of the stories. What was explored was far more important than those doing the exploring. TNG changed that, made the stories about the crew, and added the political correctness. It also cut out most of the exploration.

The allusion to Dred Scott should tip the game. The episode is one of a number trying to remind us that, in the "evolution" of humanity which the series purports to show, the Archer generation of Enterprise officers is not yet to the lofty level of Kirk's generation, which is not at the level of Picard's generation, etc.

Epps is wrong here because the episode wasn't actually about slavery. Hence, it's not about relative moral standings between Archer and Kirk. Slavery allusions are carefully avoided in the episode, even to the extent that the one black cast member was not in the episode. The character who tries to free the slave never, at any point in the episode, refers to them as a slave. Instead, he compares them to a prisoner, without rights or liberties.

This episode, like the whole third season story-arc, harkens back to the original show and isn't about the fictional trek universe or the evolution of ethical and political philosophy. It's a fictionalized commentary on ours. The slavery episode was a stab at people who supported societal change (primarily regarding the rights of women) in the Middle East. The moral was that trying to make someone else live like us is bad, hence the heavy dialogue about enthocentrism. The show's creators feel that being judgemental about someone else owning slaves is worse than their ownership of slaves.

The whole season 3 story arc is about how the WTC attacks were the result of muslims justifiably defending themselves against a perceived anti-islam crusade. In the end, it turns out that they were misled by a small group of extremists, the rest are willing to work with humans, and Archer conveniently forgets that his new friends killed millions on Earth.

ST:E is like the original show in that most of it's episodes are about contemporary issues, but since they kept blending their anti-liberty political agendas and oprahfied character development into the stories, the show is better off gone.

Goe, only watched it intermittently after the pro-slavery episode.

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