Monday, September 28th, 2020

Star Trek (the original series) is not the show its fans seem to think it is.

Fans of the show love to yammer on and on about how nothing is more important in the Star Trek universe than equality. Whatever nation you were from, whatever color your skin was, whatever your sex, everybody was treated the same. How does anybody who watches the show even come to this conclusion? The Enterprise had an international bridge crew but the rest of the crew members were practically all white. And even on the bridge, the crew weren’t treated equally. Nichelle Nichols might have held an important role representing black Americans as far as Dr. Martin Luther King was concerned, and I’m not saying he was wrong, but she was an officer and a command crew member and yet essentially all she did was answer the phones. I don’t know how many times all the other regulars except Uhura stepped off the bridge to go take care of some very important business and some anonymous lieutenant stepped up to the command chair to take over the con. I guess a black woman commanding the Enterprise was apparently too progressive for the 23rd century.

Uhura wasn’t the only woman on the show every week who got screwed when it came to rank and position. There were only three regulars who were women but none of them were ever in a position of any authority: Uhura answered the phones, Janice Rand literally fetched coffee for the captain, and Christine Chapel handed scalpels and hypos to McCoy as he barked for them. None of them held rank higher than lieutenant (Uhura wore the single braid of a lieutenant on her sleeves — neither Rand nor Chapel wore any sign of rank during the original series, indicating they were either ensigns or possibly mere “crewmen”). If the crew was under attack, one of the women was usually close at hand to shriek or cringe, usually while Kirk “defended” them by clutching them to his manly chest.

And what’s with the miniskirts? All the women in Star Fleet had to wear go-go boots and mini skirts that barely covered their asses! I’m not slut-shaming people who wear mini skirts; wear whatever makes you happy. There’s no shame in that. Star Fleet women, however, didn’t wear what they liked on duty; they wore the required uniform. And it was only required of women; men did not wear skirts in the original series. Men wore a very practical work outfit: a pullover shirt and a pair of pants (but no pockets — I love the karmic payback going on there) bloused over the tops of their boots. The women, meanwhile, beamed down into every situation, friendly or hazardous, no matter what the temperature, wearing a top with a plunging neckline, a skirt so short they had to wear hot pants under it, and go-go boots! I can’t imagine how that went over on the first day of orientation for female Star Fleet cadets. “Welcome to Star Fleet, little lady. Here’s your skirt.” “What the fuck? This isn’t a skirt, it’s a hand towel!”

After equality, the next most-touted ideal of the Star Trek universe was that the United Federation of Planets was first and foremost a peaceful organization and the Enterprise was a vessel of discovery, exploration and science, and yet somehow an episode hardly ever went by when they didn’t fire up the phasers and start blasting away at an alien space ship. “We come in peace” was followed by “fire phasers” so often that it stopped being funny. Why does a space ship designed specifically for exploration even have weapons?

Whenever Kirk had an opportunity to burn an alien civilization to the ground while monologuing about freedom, liberty, and/or justice, he would burn it down every time. The Enterprise crew discovers a race of humans who live in a paradise provided to them by a giant robot lizard head? Blow up the lizard head. It’s better for them to learn to survive on a planet with man-eating plants than to live forever, happy and content in a utopia.

Spock was supposedly a pacifist, because that’s a significant part of the Vulcan philosophy, yet he rarely hesitated when it came to using force to achieve whatever conclusion his logical super-brain arrived at. He kicked the shit out of his own captain more than once — even beat him to death in one of my favorite episodes (any episode where Kirk gets his ass handed to him is a good episode). Yet he doesn’t want to eat meat because hurting animals is bad.

Every week there was another reason not to buy into the “peace is our profession” bullshit. If they had used their wits instead of their weapons to get out of situations, I’d believe it, but they didn’t, so I don’t.

Those seem to be the two most-revered ideals of Star Trek, the two reasons fans seem to provide most often when gushing about how much they love the show. And it’s not that I don’t love the show. I do! I watched it all the time when I was younger. I still watch it, just not as often as I used to. Quite a few of the episodes hold up well even after all these years; quite a few are worth a re-watch if only to point and make fun of the worst parts of them. It’s still entertainment, but it’s only entertainment. A TV show. It’s not a philosophy. Yammer on about peace and equality and the Prime Directive of Non-Interference all you want, it’s not about that. It’s about selling popcorn.

unpopular opinion | 11:25 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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