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Friday, June 27, 2008

Captain Kirk is a Jerk

With an eye to Fred's Bachelor Party trip in August, and a general lack of anything on television, I decided to Tivo a few old Star Trek episodes and remind myself of the old series (and a little TNG).

The first thing that leapt out was the highly archetypal nature of so many of these episodes. These stories have been done over and over again, but here's the genesis of this sort of thing on television.

The next thing that leapt out in the old series was the utter disdain for science and scientists, which is pretty odd for a a science fiction show. The way they refer to scientists in the Space Seed episode was as though they were all amoral jerks with no sense. It sounded more like something you'd hear from Phred Phelps than on a sci-fi show. Also, in the Star Trek universe, all brown people are apparently interchangeable, because Ricardo Montalban was playing an Indian guy with a Spanish accent.

And then after a few episodes, I came to one pretty ugly conclusion: Captain Kirk is a total asshole. I think the Requiem for Methuselah episode is what sent me over the edge. They land on this planet, find out it's inhabited after all, and rather than asking nicely to have some of the natural resources or making a case, he demands that Flint give it to him or he'll destroy him with the Enterprise's phasers. Then he proceeds to go after Flint's ward in a totally reckless manner, ignoring the needs of his crew who are up there about to die from Rigellian fever. After knowing her for less than a day, he demands that she fly away with him in his big shiny starship because he's so madly in love with her. Even after finding out she's an android, he still makes a fuss about her choosing him, and eventually she overloads and dies. When he gets back to the Enterprise, Spock mind-melds him so that he can forget, because Spock is apparently that kind of enabler.

But that's all just one episode. I've watched more episodes, and the guy doesn't come out smelling any sweeter. He's demanding and self-centered and falls in lust at the first sign of a pretty girl. Suffice to say, I have a really hard time imagining this guy in any sort of leadership role, let alone someone giving him command of a prestigious exploration ship.

I know, I know, these were made in a different time, and The Next Generation is a very different series with a very different Starfleet, but wog. For one thing, I feel really old. For another, how did I not really notice or internalize this before? And finally, ye gads what little brain worms did this install when I watched it as a kid?

Still, it's interesting to see how my perspective has changed. It's always good to have these little reminders thrown at you that what you thought at one point may not be exactly how you'd perceive it now. Plus, it's a nice thing to watch when Spot demands cuddles, which seems to happen with some regularity in the late evening and usually ends up with her in the crook of my arm asleep with right paw up and left paw down.


  • Captain Kirk did have a reputation of being a loose cannon and going for alien women.

    As far as Space Seed goes, They are big into science, Bones, Spock and Scotty, the top staff are all scientists or engineers of a sort.
    I figured the scientists they ragged on in Space Seed where a group of scientists that did experiments without thinking too much of the consequences. There was also some bitterness over the war that resulted, rather than dislike of science itself. The V1 missle and German WWII planes were great engineering wise, (as was the atomic bomb) but few people outside of history buffs will mention that.
    But yeah, big iconic, episodes with basic messages and stuff.
    That was Star Trek. Lincoln fighting against Ghenis Khan, (who knew Ghengis Khan could do really good impressions?)

    By Blogger Chrisfs, at 2:24 PM  

  • Sacrilege! Quite frankly there are 2 or 3 episodes that don't jive with the Star Trek universe in the first series. This is one of them. Kirk always put the safety of his ship and crew first over some woman.

    By Blogger Kevin, at 4:52 PM  

  • You've seen the Analytics According to Captain Kirk with the chart about probability of red shirts dying on missions?

    Plus, what about the theory that the reason why the later generations of Star Trek aliens looked more human (with bumpy foreheads, etc.) was because Kirk had already seeded quite a few alien races.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 11:51 PM  

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