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Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Federation Sweetness and Light?


Doom said...


Doom said...


-Warren Zoell said...

Heh! I've noticed that as well. No human creativity past the 20th century.
Another thing I've noticed is this constant downplaying of humanity.
Spock's constant embarrassment and humiliation of his Human half. This constant running into "superior" races and telling us how barbaric we are, only to be followed by nods of agreement from the Enterprise crew. It makes me sick. And say this being big into SciFi.
The ships are cool though. That and the first 1 1/2 seasons of TOS to be quite honest are the only things I like about Star Trek

Rigel Kent said...

Another thing I've noticed is this constant downplaying of humanity.

I noticed just the opposite, especially in the first couple of seasons of TNG. The self-congratulatory attitude toward humanity was almost sickening.

Just check out Hide and Q if you don't believe me.

-Warren Zoell said...

Hide and Q - Isn't that the one where Q dresses as a Christian Monk as a kind of mockery? I didn't see the Enterprise crew defending Christianity in that one.

Rigel Kent said...

I didn't see the Enterprise crew defending Christianity in that one.

Huh? No they don't. They also don't put on pink dresses and dance a waltz. Neither one of those things (Christianity or waltzing) was in you initial comment, or in my response.

You mentioned their "downplaying of humanity" and I replied that in many of the episodes of early TNG the attitude was more self-congratulatory toward humanity.

I have no problem with a discussion of Christianity and Star Trek, that just wasn't the discussion we were having.

But since the issue has come up, Trek handled the issue of religion the way far too many SF works do, and that is either badly, or not at all.

-Warren Zoell said...

"I have no problem with a discussion of Christianity and Star Trek, that just wasn't the discussion we were having."
You made the recommendation of the "Hide and Q" episode" as an attempt to prove of your point. I'm sorry but that doesn't cut it.
You failed to give an example. Instead you tell me to go check out the episode. Well I'm sorry but I do not have that episode.
Telling me to go and watch a certain episode is not a bolster of your position. Please explain what you saw in that episode that backs up your position.
I do however remember parts of that episode, and from what I can recall an element in it was Q's mockery of Christian belief in my view. I was merely pointing out that element in the episode in my last comment that is all.
I'm sorry if you read it differently.
Here's a picture from that episode.
Just as an after thought I believe the mockery of Christian belief is a down play of humanity.

So the examples I supplied in my first comment are untrue?

Rigel Kent said...

People on the Internet are hilarious. You mention two generalities without a single specific example of either, whereas I mention an episode as an example of what I mean and somehow I'm the one "who doesn't cut it".

First of all the fact that we are arguing on the Internet means you have access to the Internet which means you have access to the episode, if you want to. Here I'll make it easy for you. Go to about 3:10 of this video for an example of what I mean https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffdCVjH-Q3k. Or you can go here http://sfdebris.com/videos/startrek/t111.asp for an in depth analysis of it.

As to the examples in your first comment, you didn't actually offer any. You described two generalities and then didn't describe even one time where either happened. Not one single episode or situation. Do so, and I will happily reply to them.

As to the mockery of Christianity being a downplaying of humanity, I am not arguing against that. But, that did not appear anywhere in your initial comment.

-Warren Zoell said...

You're right. People on the Internet are hilarious.
It was you who offered up generalities by merely mentioning the name of a TV episode.
"As to the examples in your first comment, you didn't actually offer any."
They're called opinions on my part, but it was you who took exception to those opinions. Therefore the onus of proof lies with you. You didn't do that. Instead you tell me to go watch a TV episode and find evidence to back your opinion for myself.
Of course now you have provided some evidence in your latest comment to back your initial claim. Thank you.
And now this is all starting to sound like Monty Python's argument sketch. Have a nice day.

The Aardvark said...

Now, guys, do I have to stop this blog? ;)

Roddenberry's initial concept of a shiny, happy, secular society free from the burden of religion has played out pretty consistently. The most shining example in TOS is "Bread and Circuses", where Kirk, upon Uhura's revelation that the new religion revolved around the Son, not "the Sun up in the sky" does a patronizing bit about "seeing it happen all over again" in this planet's development. The smile he gives makes one think of the smile one has upon seeing a mildly retarded child caper, "Well, aren't you clever?" smile.

Janeway learned a thing or two about "spirituality" and believing the unseen in the episode with the Keebler Elf, Parley Baer.

ST-TNG is the acme of Trek's anti-religion (read, "anti-Christian faith") career. The Perpex-and-chrome vision of the future can arguably be ID's as downplaying humanity, for while we have gotten to the stars, can beam hither to thither, and can replicate hot tea acceptably, stripping religion and spirituality from humankind removes a key part of what it means to be human.

Sisco's struggles with being the Emissary shows how far Trek journeyed from Uhura. The black girl had to teach Kirk and Co. about Religion. Cisco had grown up successfully secular. (The ham-fisted slams against the American "religious right" in the person of Kai Winn was predictable Hollywood fare.) There was a "White Man's Burden" feel about the Federation on DS9.

Enterprise goes on to follow the Coast-to-Coast AM rubric of "It's the aliens wot done it!" as the Vulcans are presented as overseeing the barbaric (and smelly) Earthlings into space, like Dr. Morbius doling out what knowledge we were fit to handle.

We couldn't do it on our own. We needed Uplift. Smelly apes.

It's bubble gum for the brain, anyway. It's like expecting logic and sense from an actor speaking on politics or Issues.

The Aardvark said...

Side note: There is a Trek novel that ID's Trelane from TOS as a member of the Q continuum.

-Warren Zoell said...

I think the closest Star Trek ever came to implying that there still was a belief in God was from the episode "Who Mourns for Adonias?"
In it Kirk says to Apollo "Mankind has no need for gods. We find the one quite adequate".

The Aardvark said...

What happened to the Blogger edit function on comments? I boobooed!

Yeah, I forgot about that one. Well, "Kirk" is Scottish for "church", so there ya go. A lot of writers let stuff slip that were not "canon" (since it was just an episodic Wagon Train to the stars, and everybody knew it).

I will be the cynic and say that Kirk was being cute. The chapel on board looked pretty Unitarian....or just utilitarian. I think they used it as a broom closet between weddings.

-Warren Zoell said...


Michael W said...

(The Honorable Gentleman from Goose Creek ponderously rises to his feet, brushing a few crumbs of seedy cake from the folds of his waistcoat.)

About a year ago (I know that for a fact because I'm gearing up for a return engagement), I was speaking at Con Kasterborous on Doctor Who, and a rather intense but interesting gentleman in the audience raised the question of religion in the series (if I am not mistaken, the Honorable Moderator was also present during the moment).

I was taken by surprise by the question but wanted to get into it because (A) it was a subject of some interest to the questioner, and (B) I was trying not to short-change any of my patient listeners.

(It was also the sort of serious question I personally enjoyed.)

I believe some of the points I've raised in response to the audience member would carry equal meaning here in regards to Star Trek.

First and foremost we should remember that we are dealing with episodic television. As with many hour-long programs, an episode of Star Trek (minus commercials) would run about 50 minutes long (45 minutes if you're watching it on BBCAmerica, and 26 minutes if you're watching it on MeTV).

Now . . . 50 minutes leaves blessed little time to cover the basic plot of an episode. A screenwriter has to be deuced clever to be able to fit any sort of "brushstrokes" into the available space (e.g. favorite foods, hobbies, etc.). Unless a story specifically deals with spirituality (and, for the apparent purpose of this discussion, even more specifically with Christianity), then I feel it might well be forgiven for appearing to downplay religion. To my point of view, Star Trek carried no more or no less religious content than, say, the average episode of Gunsmoke, Mission: Impossible or Happy Days. I never witnessed what I thought was a "downplaying" or "defending" of any particular religion. Perhaps the closest example of an expression that immediately comes to mind is from the TOS episode "Balance of Terror" where we see a wedding (or at least the beginning of one), and the character played by Barbara Baldavin indicates (to these eyes at least) that she was a member of the Catholic Church. Personally I've been impressed that Paul Schneider (the author of the episode), and Vincent McEveety (the director) managed to work that bit in as it helped to flesh out an otherwise minor character.

As punctuation to this rambling piece of diatribe I'd like to place a cherry on top by referring to another British production, this being Leslie Norman's rather excellent 1956 science-fiction film "X the Unknown". When it came out a critic approached Norman and asked if the film was meant to be an allegory for the lackluster response of the current British Parliament towards preparing for a future which undeniably would include atomic energy.

Norman responded, "No, I was just making a monster movie".

Rigel Kent said...

"Vark's reaction indicates to me that he thinks the discussion, debate, argument, whatever you want to call it, between Warren and myself is getting out of hand. Since this is his blog his opinion needs to be respected; so I'm going to drop it.

As to religion in Trek, right off the top of my head outside of TOS I can't think of one mention of a mainstream widely practiced religion in Trek. What religions are mentioned are either alien or, huh.

I just realized that the only human religion that I can remember being mentioned outside of TOS is theoretically American Indian. And I say theoretically because when it's mentioned in one TNG episode they don't give any real details of it. And then the person who talks most about it is an alien who was disguising himself as a human. And the other example of it is Chokatay in Voyager. And what he does bears pretty much no relation to any actual religion practiced by anybody ever, American Indian or otherwise.

Can anyone think of any I've missed?

-Warren Zoell said...

As far as religions in the new Star Treks there were a couple at least.
The Bjorans and their religion played prominently throughout DS9.
There was Kes's race that worshiped the Founders.
There was 7/9's (Borg) worship of the perfect particle. Whatever it was called.
And of course the Klingon's worship of
That's all I can remember at this time.

The Aardvark said...

Rigel, do not let me throw water. I DID, after all, put up a smiley emote.... I haven't seen PASSION here in awhile. Too many unicorns, I guess....


No, this is an interesting case of "an elephant is very like a tree"; different people taking different things away from the same show.

(The Honorable Gentleman from Goose Creek ponderously rises to his feet, brushing a few crumbs of seedy cake from the folds of his waistcoat.)

Oh, mercy, I could SEE that!

Michael W said...

@Aardvark "(The Honorable Gentleman from Goose Creek ponderously rises to his feet, brushing a few crumbs of seedy cake from the folds of his waistcoat.)

Oh, mercy, I could SEE that!"

Points if you can identify what inspired that line.

The Aardvark said...

I'm thinkin' old Bilbo.

Or summat from Benjamin Shillaber.

Michael W said...

Oooohhh . . . "rrrrrnnnt".

Wrong answer. Going now to Dorothy Kilgallen.

-Warren Zoell said...

The same guy who did The Wicker Man? ;-)

Michael W said...

@Aardvark --- "The same guy who did The Wicker Man? ;-)"

DING DING DING and we have a Winner! Tell the folks what Mr. Weatherly has won, Johnny?

Well Mr. Weatherly goes home with a copy of "Uncle Mikey: The Home Edition". Hours of fun for the entire family. Plus the 20 volume set of the Encyclopedia Britannica and a gift certificate from the Spiegel collection. Back to you.

-Warren Zoell said...

Yeah, one has to do a bit real sleuthing to figure that one out 8~)

The Aardvark said...


I must do a sad blog post, now.

So sad...

Michael W said...

Very sad, especially seeing as how I messed up Big Time and didn't realize that it was Warren who had figured out the answer.

If I did blogs then I'd have to do a sad blog too.

In lieu of a blog however, I'll throw this up:


Rigel Kent said...

Considering that it was designed as tool of communication and sharing information it's funny how often the Internet can confuse communication. 'Vark says something, and I take it to mean he wants things to calm down, when apparently it meant he was enjoying the ruckus. Huh.

Well after making such a production out of dropping it (and don't I feel silly about that now) it feels a little bit awkward to pick it back up, so I won't. Instead I'll try to bring my passion to the discussion at hand.

Kai Winn. I hate that, well I'll just let you folks use your imagination as to what I would have called her. But I didn't just hate the character (though she was an eminently hateable character) I hated her because it was so painfully obvious what she was and why they put her in the show. I could practically recite her lines before she did.

At the time I was a teenager, and an agnostic teenager at that. So it's not like I had any special sympathy or understanding of religious people or how they should be portrayed, that character was just so bad an example even I noticed it.

There were a lot of things I liked about that show, but I'dve liked it much more if she was never a part of it.

Michael W said...

@Rigil Kent --- Louise Fletcher has turned portraying unsympathetic characters into a high art.

The Aardvark said...

The word "unctuous" comes to mind.

Michael W said...

Well I was thinking more of the term "beeyotch", but "unctuous" is good.

The Aardvark said...

@ Michael-Just making my own comment, not playing off of Rigel, although your thought is likely accurate.

-Warren Zoell said...

I haven't given away the answer, just a couple of clues.

Michael W said...

@Warren --- was sort of thinking anyone who had the clues could easily figure it out now.

Am I mistaken, guys?