David Thompson
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September 05, 2015

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sH2

Timothy Sandefur tracks the wildly changing politics of Star Trek

Or "how 'progressive' politics ruined Star Trek".

Jeff Guinn

One of the best tactics so-called researchers have used to conclude that fully one-fifth of college women will be sexually assaulted is to vastly expand the definition of what [rape] is…

Firing up The Wayback Machine ... according to the expanded definition, I have been sexually assaulted six times.

So where is my share of hysteria?

David

Another quote from the Sandefur article:

The original Star Trek savagely parodied such Age of Aquarius romanticism in the episode “The Way to Eden,” in which the Enterprise encounters a group of space-age hippies searching for a legendary planet where all will be equal, without technology or modernity, living off the land. Almost all of Kirk’s crew regard these star-children as deluded, and their longing for prelapsarian harmony does turn out to be a deadly illusion: the Eden planet they find is literally poison — all the trees and even the grass are full of an acid that kills them almost the instant they arrive. Kirk is hardly surprised. All Edens, in his eyes, are illusions, and all illusions are dangerous…

The culminating moment in Next Generation is the 1998 feature film Insurrection... The Enterprise crew is introduced to the Ba’ku people, who live in the kind of agrarian idyll that the space hippies had sought in “The Way to Eden.” Although filmed like a Crate & Barrel ad and scored with pastoral melodies, the Ba’kus’ village is shockingly primitive. They rake, plough, weed, and blacksmith by hand — not because they don’t know better, but because they reject modern devices... The Ba’ku would have nauseated Captain Kirk... Yet the audience is expected to admire this.

What, Kirk would have demanded, could the Federation possibly learn from this village? A village that has chosen not to explore, that has rejected modern agricultural methods, that has given up growth and life in exchange for an absurd fetishizing of manual labour — for the fundamentally childish notion that you “take something” from people when you create tools and techniques that feed the hungry and liberate people to explore the galaxy.

Insurrection was indeed a dismal film - aggravatingly woolly and dramatically unconvincing. It was also one of the least successful commercially.

David

according to the expanded definition, I have been sexually assaulted six times.

I’m terribly sorry, Jeff. I really shouldn’t have said that your shoes looked nice.

Joan

David, an interview with your favourite radfem basketcase Julie Bindel...

"will heterosexuality survive women’s liberation?

It won’t, not unless men get their act together, have their power taken from them and behave themselves. I mean, I would actually put them all in some kind of camp where they can all drive around in quad bikes, or bicycles, or white vans. I would give them a choice of vehicles to drive around with, give them no porn, they wouldn’t be able to fight – we would have wardens, of course! Women who want to see their sons or male loved ones would be able to go and visit, or take them out like a library book, and then bring them back.

I hope heterosexuality doesn’t survive, actually."

http://www.radfemcollective.org/news/2015/8/29/an-interview-with-julie-bindel

David

I hope heterosexuality doesn’t survive, actually

There comes a point when you realise there’s no way to communicate with someone like Julie. Other than to express amusement at the wreckage of her mind.

jabrwok

There comes a point when you realise there’s no way to communicate with someone like Julie

Sure there is. And there are many calibers with which such communication can be expressed.

sackcloth and ashes

With the 'Star Trek' films, I thought the whole point was that Gene Roddenberry was basically excluded from any decisions about script and plot after the first one.

The one thing I remember about 'Star Trek: The Motion Picture' (other than how fucking dull it was) was the uniforms for Star Fleet. To my childish eyes, everyone seemed to be dressed in pajamas. Even at that young age, I thought 'These people are supposed to be in the military. Military uniforms are supposed to make you look cool'.

Normal service was restored with 'The Wrath of Khan'. But the point is still valid. No one goes to war in a onesie.

David

No one goes to war in a onesie.

And then there was Chekov’s pink Little Lord Fauntleroy number in The Search for Spock.

Hal

They rake, plough, weed, and blacksmith by hand — not because they don’t know better, but because they reject modern devices... The Ba’ku would have nauseated Captain Kirk... Yet the audience is expected to admire this.

Errrr, No.

Not even.

The issue with the Ba’ku isn't that they were "primitive", or particularly had made their own choice to be "primitive" and remained unconcerned when others chose differently. The issue is that exploitation of the Ba’ku was being attempted because they had wound up nearly immortal---or at least extremely long lived . . . .

What the audience is expected to admire is Picard and crew as they do indeed oppose the "classic Klingon attitude" carried out by a Federation admiral who is rather blatantly violating every rule in quite a few procedural books---In fact, Picard and crew are doing rather just what Kirk has been known to do . . .

Further, Kirk had no problem with primitive, he was actually perfectly fond of it . . . As was shown with The Way to Eden, the issue there wasn't being "primitive", it was, in more current terms, being disruptive and deceitful hipsters, rather than "hippies" . . .

Oh, and for the article's final failure when it wanders into J.J. Thomas Kinkaid Abrams? If Abrams had any capability with Star Trek, he wouldn't get so easily beaten out by Galaxy Quest in a poll of Star Trek movies; After all, Abrams claims to be doing Star Trek, but gets beaten by a Star Trek parody----Myself, given Abrams' dismal attempts at storytelling on screen, I'm still expecting that weesa gonna get Darth Jar-Jar, weesa is.

. . . and then for all of the attempts to complain about Star Trek we still get Thine Own Self and In the Pale Moonlight.

Mark

To be sure, Star Trek has some good episodes (I think the most are in DS9, eg In the Pale Moonlight) Hal, but I'm with the article David quotes above - the Ba'ku in Insurrection were ridiculous. Mike Wong has a bit to say on it here: http://www.stardestroyer.net/Insurrection/#Reaction

Actually, he has a couple of other interesting essays on the "wonderful" "utopia" of the Federation:

http://www.stardestroyer.net/Empire/Essays/Trek-Marxism.html
http://www.stardestroyer.net/Empire/Essays/Philosophy.html

May make for an interesting read :) .

+ + +

There comes a point when you realise there’s no way to communicate with someone like Julie. Other than to express amusement at the wreckage of her mind.

Have you considered a good deal of public mockery? God knows reason and logic won't work on such people, but hey, at least if we're honest about how hilarious and/or totalitarian such people are we can perhaps win over the audience.

sackcloth and ashes

'And then there was Chekov’s pink Little Lord Fauntleroy number in The Search for Spock'.

The FUCK!!!!

The Phantom

The fundamental problem that breaks Star Trek is this: an alien star ship shows up in orbit above your planet with zero warning. Its got enough antimatter on board to sterilize the whole planet if the least little thing goes wrong. Its got BIG FUCKING GUNS on board, big enough to, again, sterilize the planet. The aliens on board never go anywhere without horrific handguns capable of vaporizing an entire body with one shot. Which they seem to manage to do at least once every episode.

And they're calling themselves "explorers". "We come in peace. No really, we do. Honest! What, this little thing? This is set to stun. Come on, have we ever lied to you? Aw, don't be like that! Give us a chance, we're great guys."

But nobody ever seems to mind when they show up, except bad guys doing shenanigans. That is what breaks Star Trek.

On any planet run by anything/anybody with a lick of sense, the orbital defenses would open up on USS Enterprise as soon as it entered normal space.

Vince N

"I hope heterosexuality the human race doesn’t survive, actually"

Fixed.

JuliaM

"On any planet run by anything/anybody with a lick of sense, the orbital defenses would open up on USS Enterprise as soon as it entered normal space."

THIS!

David

Regarding Insurrection, whatever its intended message and high moral lesson, I remember leaving the cinema mildly annoyed. As did others, going by the mediocre box office. It’s a film that’s contrived, poorly paced and unconvincing, and therefore dramatically lifeless. It also has an air of self-congratulation, which rather jars.

Creaky politics aside, I think Undiscovered Country is the most enjoyable of the Trek films, in terms of pacing, editing, music, dialogue, etc. There are plenty of cracking lines. And I can only think of one obvious plot glitch – the equipment for “cataloguing gaseous anomalies” that proves so useful in the finale is meant to be on the Excelsior, as implied in the opening scene, not the Enterprise. (Presumably, the opening was originally written for Kirk not Sulu and during rewrites someone forgot about the gaseous whatnot.)

The FUCK!!!!

I can only imagine Mr Koenig had really pissed off someone in the wardrobe department. Judging by his punishment, he must’ve murdered their children and burned down their house.

[ Edited. ]

Henry

unless men get their act together, have their power taken from them and behave themselves

At least she's being honest - the vague and macabre bit is how men have to "behave themselves". I can just imagine the tone of voice there, can't you?

Charlie Suet

Right on cue, the Times reports a proposal to import American campus hysteria to Britain:

http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/Society/article1603462.ece (£)

No attempt to interrogate the figures. No attempt to explain how 'verbal assault' is causally linked to actual rape. No attempt to consider whether it's proportionate to destroy teenagers' lives for being mildly unpleasant.

Vote Tory, get Labour, comme d'hab.

Henry

I don't get much time for this politics lark, so I look at a couple of decent blogs to see a sort of round-up of whats going on.

This YouTube chap who calls himself Sargon of Akkad is worth a look, particularly his "The week in stupid" series, where he gives plenty examples of people - who apparently have unfortunate mental health issues - and who also happen to be in positions of responsibilty.

Henry

people - who apparently have unfortunate mental health issues

Sorry, meant progressives there.

Spiny Norman

It won’t, not unless men get their act together, have their power taken from them and behave themselves. I mean, I would actually put them all in some kind of camp...

Would I be mistaken to believe she's actually serious?

Scratch a leftist, any leftist - especially a "radfem", and a fascist bleeds.

David

People like me might be losing the right simply to be silent, to be left alone… The initiative implies that agreement with [feminist] ideology… is actually required for attendance at this institution.

A student quoted in Heather Mac Donald’s piece on Columbia University’s ever more intrusive efforts to correct WrongThought™.

David

The attack on free speech and the attack on lifestyle freedoms are connected insofar as they are both products of a puritanical outlook. The mindset is that nobody should hear impure views or consume impure products – a clean mind and a clean body. This is creepy, to say the least.

An interview with Christopher Snowdon, whose blog may be familiar to regulars of this parish.

David Gillies

If Christopher Snowdon is alluding to the idea of mens sana in corpore sano, then I fear that the current bunch of pets the Leftists have adopted falls wildly short of the mark. The Bruce/Caitlyn Jenners of this world are both deranged and incapable of achieving even their weird idea of what it would mean to actually change sex without big doses of powerful hormones and usually some fairly flamboyant bodily mutilation.

As for the homogenisation of acceptable viewpoints: a culture that has no challenges develops no immune system and then has no resistance when a really virulent pathogen like Islam comes along.

TDK

In the conclusion to Wrath of Khan we get get Kirk in tears saying:

"of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most... human."

The compliment being that Spock is acting Human. I've been waiting for decades now for some SJW to get upset about this speech. Spock saved the crew because he was driven by Utilitarian ethics which is supposedly grounded in Vulcan logic - the happiness of the many outweighs that of a few. A contrasting ethic, say the Categorical Imperative, doesn't rate amongst Vulcans it seems. Illogical perhaps? Implicitly, Spock acted as a Vulcan.

Never mind that. The SJW thrives on imagined slights. Compare:

"of all the foreigners I have encountered in my travels, he behaved most like a WASP."

Should I plant this in the Guardian? If so may I apologise in advance for getting one of the better films in the franchise banned.

Microbillionaire

Elsewhen: A piece appearing in The Social Justice Journal of 2003. I feel that no description can quite do it justice, though perhaps I can titillate with this extract:

Whiteness, then, and by extension civil society, cannot be solely “represented” as some monumentalized coherence of phallic signifiers, but must first be understood as a social formation of contemporaries who do not magnetize bullets. This is the essence of their construction through an asignifying absence; their signifying presence is manifested by the fact that they are, if only by default, deputized against those who do magnetize bullets. In short, white people are not simply “protected” by the police, they are — in their very corporeality — the police.

Truly, I cannot find an articulation within the modality of clarity that would be an anarbitrary hegemon for representation of this object's structure. And I don't think that paragraph is even the worst offender.

Rob

Julie's fascism, like all fascism, requires physical violence to enforce it. Given that most men are bigger and stronger than most women, how exactly does she intend to enforce her concentration camps?

Microbillionaire

Guns?

Crazed Weevil

Don't forget the beta males searching forlornly for that sweet, sweet, feminist pussy.

sackcloth and ashes

@ Microbillionaire

There used to be a competition for the most specious and poorly-written drivel passing itself off as academic writing. Judith Butler won it a couple of times.

Spiny Norman

Microbillionaire,

Has someone been cribbing from the Post-Modernism Generator? Or perhaps the Chomskybot? >_<

dicentra

Instead of concentrating on the substance of the lies behind the rape hysteria, it might be a better idea to examine why the hysteria is being perpetrated.

It's not because people don't know they've got their facts wrong—if they were interested in basing their beliefs on facts, they'd welcome the debunking with an immense whew!—it's because the hysteria accomplishes something that they wanted in the first place.

Stacey McCain and/or Ace got it right: Feminism has made such progress in this country that feminists have barely any reason to exist anymore, and We Can't Have That.

It's important of course to state unequivocally that their "facts" are entirely bogus—but we can't fight this bullsplat until we attack the why, and the why is that spoiled, privileged women are terrified of becoming irrelevant.

That's what you get, ladies, for investing so heavily in a movement whose ostensible purpose is to make itself irrelevant: you're so invested in moving that you lose sight of the goal.

Also known as fanaticism, but that's none of my business.

Darleen

Feminism has made such progress in this country that feminists have barely any reason to exist anymore, and We Can't Have That.

Or, more likely, the contemporary SJW "feminism" is the milk chocolate coating of female supremacy over the chewy nougat of Leftist totalitarianism.

Liberty scares the lot of them ...

David

Evening, ladies.

David

Also known as fanaticism, but that’s none of my business.

Trying to have a realistic debate with someone like Julie Bindel (or Laurie Penny or any number of others), even trying to find common factual reference points, seems a bit like arguing with a particularly bonkers Edwardian spiritualist. With patriarchy replacing ectoplasm.

David

The Patriarchy attacks.

Aaaiiiiee!!

Chester Draws

David, I know you like modern art. From my neck of the woods:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/arts/71804707/a-whole-lot-of-graphite-wins-20000-parkin-drawing-prize

And what thoughts will be produced by a "drawing" of the floor plan of a house. That a house has a floor plan? That architects waste their time drawing to a scale instead of 1:1? I remain struck that any old shit can be "art" these days.

Not only is it not worth looking at, invite any contemplation, or require any talent -- it is so big that it can't even be displayed. Cretins.

WTP
Prize sponsor Chris Parkin said he had left judging to experts but he had suspected Amodeo's piece would be a winner even if some would look at it and think, "I could do better than that".

"People who say that are rather missing the point," Parkin said.

Heh...ha...ha....hehehehehe....HA!

David

“People who say that are rather missing the point,” Parkin said.

I notice he doesn’t say what he thinks the point is.

At risk of being called a tree-dwelling heathen, the thing has no discernible aesthetic properties, which at one time were thought to be a bare minimum for anything called art. So far as I can make out, the ‘work’ required no uncommon skill or cunning to produce, just a kind of low obstinacy. And whatever pretensions to the contrary, it prompts no profound or subtle insight, at least not for me, beyond a faint dismay at the state of institutional art.

[ Edited. ]

mojo

My favorites were the Arcologies. Huge, mile-wide tetrahedrons on pillars and such.

There are a couple of "test beds" rotting in the NM desert, I think. Maybe AZ.

WTP

And whatever pretensions to the contrary, it prompts no profound or subtle insight, at least not for me, beyond a faint dismay at the state of institutional art.

That.

mojo

"On any planet run by anything/anybody with a lick of sense, the orbital defenses would open up on USS Enterprise as soon as it entered normal space."

THIS!

Ya think? Inbound range, outbound range, some traffic control maybe?

Hal

On any planet run by anything/anybody with a lick of sense, the orbital defenses would open up on USS Enterprise as soon as it entered normal space.

Actually, as a simple statement, no.

The statement is only valid If there are orbital defences. If there is a detection system. If the natives even care when they, literally, see the Enterprise and the Klingons arriving for a visit, among many other examples. And absolutely hands down, for situations when there would be a full array of all detection and defence systems, quite actually to pick just two of several recurring situations, why yes, the Vulcans are armed to the teeth and extremely aware of their environment . . . . and so unlike the legendary offscreen bathrooms, the Enterprise crew do regularly note such situations, and equally regularly are openly welcomed . . . .

UHURA: Captain. We're standing by on Vulcan hailing frequencies, sir.

KIRK: Open the channel, Lieutenant. Vulcan Space Central, this is the USS Enterprise requesting permission to assume standard orbit.

VULCAN [OC]: USS Enterprise from Vulcan Space Central. Permission granted. And from all of Vulcan, welcome.

. . . and even if the Enterprise has just gotten . . . sidetracked . . . the same occurs with a clearlyRomulan but still claimed to be Klingon Bird Of Prey . . .

UHURA: Ambassador, They are on approach. They're requesting permission to land.

SAREK: Permission granted. Tell them, ...tell Kirk we'll be ready.

And for Mark, I did have a fast skim through at least one of the essays you cite and rather quickly found some rather blatant assumptions . . . rather like a rather oh so Marxist professor a few years back who attempted to argue to me that all discussions of class will recite from and be fixated with Marxism . . . and I've also been rather swamped in Stuff, so for the moment I have 'em mentally bookmarked for later . . .

Mr. Saturn

I've always wondered what the government of Earth in the Star Trek universe. I imagine it as quasi-facist and overly controlling of what its citizens do.

Microbillionaire

@Spiny Norman,

The pomo generator produces complete nonsense that never sticks to the same subject for more than a paragraph and is nothing but waffle. It's the abstracted form of waffle; pure waffle generalised from articles such as the one I linked. But the Social Justice Article actually has some content beneath all the waffle, or at least it seems so to me. Once I getpast the author's predilection for perversity in prose, I think I discern a common underlying thread. Stripped of the fancy words, the exaggeration, the abuse of metaphors, and other issues, it comes out to roughly this:

"European-American society is irrevocably founded on hating, exploiting, enslaving, murdering, and generally abusing black people. There can be no reconciliation between the two. This society must be destroyed for black people to be free. White members of European-American society are all participants in this orgy of hate, exploitation, enslavement and murder of blacks. In fact, white life itself is dependent on black death. White people abuse black people because white people's puny minds cannot grasp the true form of blackness, so white people resort to destroying blackness. Also, white men abuse women, immigrants, native americans, and every other group, but none so badly as they abuse blacks."

Written this way, one sees a possible reason for all the blather: it's a cover for a wicked degree of wilful ignorance and stupidity. Better to speak post-modern bullshit and be thought a fool than to speak plainly and remove all doubt!

Perhaps I'm being unfair to Frank Wilderson with this interpretation, but when he e.g. draws an incredibly strained analogy involving orgasms and Negrophobogenisis [sic], comparing condoms to hegemony, and otherwise does violence to the English language in a dozen ways, I daresay he's brought the misunderstanding on himself by being so abstruse, occult, esoteric, and generally unclear.

wtp

I've always wondered what the government of Earth in the Star Trek universe. I imagine it as quasi-facist and overly controlling of what its citizens do.

Yes. I've often wondered about how that expensive piece of hardware was paid for given that you don't see any return on their investment in space. Though I haven't paid much attention aside from TOS which I mostly watched 30 years ago in syndication so perhaps later series and movies explain such. I did see the 2009 ST movie (and WoK as well), but there's the "alternate timeline" issue and such plot devices are such huge escape clauses I have a hard time remembering and keeping straight what is in and what is out. But perhaps Earth had become a very highly productive society what with the Vulcan technological boost and (presumable) end of wars. But still it's gotta cost a pretty penny and it's kinda hard to believe that EVERYONE, like a few billion people, is cool with that.

But of course, over analyzing and taking such things too seriously is highly illogical.

David

It’s kinda hard to believe that EVERYONE, like a few billion people, is cool with that.

It’s the nurturing bosom of the Federation. You must comply.

David

If “affirmative action” sounds a bit racist, that’s because it is.

Adiabat

Microbillionaire – I believe these people believe in the “Death of the Author”, which means that they get to “interpret” anything they want to mean whatever they want it to mean, the intent of the Author be damned. So surely Frank won’t object that you’ve interpreted his 'text' to show that he’s a blatant racist and bigot…

I’m sure he wouldn’t dream of objecting to this own work being “critiqued” using the same approach he himself gladly subjects others to.

Hal

I've always wondered what the government of Earth in the Star Trek universe. I imagine it as quasi-facist and overly controlling of what its citizens do.

Yes. I've often wondered about how that expensive piece of hardware was paid for given that you don't see any return on their investment in space. Though I haven't paid much attention aside from TOS which I mostly watched 30 years ago in syndication so perhaps later series and movies explain such.

Still need to get to those essays Mark commented on . . . . Mebbe by the weekend???

For the Federation---and thus Terran---economy, and then extending, the handiest memory of a major chunk of the economic operations actually come right out of TOS . . .

KIRK: You'll find us most unco-operative unless you start explaining yourself.

KOROB: Hopefully I can change that attitude.
(The food vanishes and their plates are now filled with cut gemstones.)

MCCOY: These look real.

KOROB: They are, I assure you. Diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires. All the crystalline forms that you cherish above all things. A fortune of them for each of you if you leave here without further inquiry.

KIRK: We could manufacture a ton of these on our ship. They mean nothing to us.

Paying for something that is available with a push of a button gets silly. I expect here will be assorted rare skills that one could earn a salary with---thus enter "credits", "latinum", which to be paid with---but still not that many skills . . . and that push of a button will still cover food, shelter, clothing . . . .

wtp

So when the button breaks, who fixes it and how much does he charge?

Hal

So when the button breaks, who fixes it and how much does he charge?

The amount charged would depend on the circumstances and the local economy, and doing the repair would be one of those skills . . .

Captain Nemo

The Antiques Roadshow is a microcosm of the class system. Who knew?

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/09/i-wish-we-could-all-appraise-class-issues-like-antiques-roadshows-tweedy-experts

Hal

The Antiques Roadshow is a microcosm of the class system. Who knew?

Heh!!

If you’re a regular TV viewer, you’ve probably noticed the incremental dominance of what we might call antique broadcasting.

. . but enough about assorted politicians running for office . . .

The most prominent example currently screening in Australia is Auction Hunters, a program that chronicles the doings of Allen Haff and his partner Ton Jones,

. . . well, given futility shows and my ignoring them in general, that's who I immediately thought of . . . .

Quint&Jessel, Sea of Azof, Bly, UK

So I see the "art" defenders of that piece of flooring thing say the point is that no one else had thought of doing it before, and that's what makes the graphite floor thing "art." That's the criteria for art? DuChamp writing his name on a urinal and displaying it is the foundation of art? Well, no one thought of stranding 7 people on a tropical island and making one a professor, one a movie star, one a millionaire, one his wife...fucking Oscar winner, Gilligan's Island.

Jonathan

Don't forget the beta males searching forlornly for that sweet, sweet, feminist pussy.

Triggered

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