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Old April 28 2013, 10:21 PM   #14
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Re: Let's get back to Roddenberry's trek

LancerKind wrote: View Post
What makes Roddenberry's vision unique beyond other fiction was something heavily discussed in Why Trekkies hated the 2009 movie.
A title which is a blatant lie. As a Trekkie who liked the movie, I deeply resent it when people who didn't like it claim that their personal opinion represents the consensus of all fandom. It's cowardly and dishonest to hide behind that pretense rather than just saying "This is my own personal view," and it's dismissive and insulting to those of us who have our own diverse opinions.

The short answer is this: Roddenberry didn't want the future to be another damn dystopia. He felt progress means progress of not only technology but that of social progress too. ...

This is a very big idea! JJ Abrams is doing a "fall from utopia" which honestly is a lot easier to write as there's conflict everywhere.
This is total BS. First of all, "Roddenberry's Trek," TOS, featured entire planets with populations of billions wiped out ("The Changeling"), human political leaders committing genocide ("The Conscience of the King," arguably "Patterns of Force"), Starfleet officers committing crimes out of corruption and vengeance ("Court-martial," "The Omega Glory") or expressing open bigotry ("Balance of Terror"), human miners nearly exterminating an entire alien race out of xenophobia and ignorance ("The Devil in the Dark"), and so on. There was plenty of darkness and violence and conflict there. Of course there was conflict everywhere -- stories are about conflict. There's no story if nothing bad happens. Roddenberry understood that when he made TOS, before he bought into his own reputation as a philosopher and visionary and forgot how to be a good writer. TOS was not a utopian vision. True, it showed a future where humanity had survived the nuclear era and overcome racism, both of which seemed remarkably utopian by 1960s standards, but it was still a future populated by fallible human beings and profound dangers.

And that leads into the second point, which is that it's completely wrong to define the word "dystopia" as "a story where bad stuff happens." The word specifically refers to a society whose own policies, mistakes, or corruption are directly responsible for the bad stuff that happens. 1984, Soylent Green, Brazil, The Matrix -- these are dystopias, worlds where the populace suffers due to society's policies or as a consequence of society's disastrous mistakes. But something like, say, The War of the Worlds or When Worlds Collide or Independence Day is not a dystopia, because it isn't the government or the society that's responsible for the problems, but an external threat.

Conversely, a utopian future isn't one where nothing bad ever happens -- it's one where the society is better, where its policies are just and enlightened and provide plenty and happiness for all. But utopian societies can be threatened or suffer calamity, and that's where the story comes from.
Written Worlds -- Christopher L. Bennett's blog and webpage
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