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Old August 17 2008, 02:04 PM   #31
JWolf
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Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

KRAD wrote: View Post
I'd rather not "explain" my view of Tev because a lot of the issues with him come to a head in Security, which I assume you haven't read, what with nobody actually reading eBooks and stuff. Talk to me again in October.

Honestly, one of my biggest regrets with the eBook hiatus was that we had serious plans for Tev's further development. (Sarjenka's also.)
I do read the eBooks with my Sony Reader PRS-505 and have yet to get to Security. I've been taking the SCE/CoE series slowly as I have no idea when we'll next get new ones. So as of today, I'll be finishing up #51 Lost Time.
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Old August 17 2008, 02:05 PM   #32
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Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

Xeris wrote: View Post
William Leisner wrote: View Post
The next slot in 2010 is already tentatively claimed by What's Past, to be followed by at least two more CoE compilations. (Not to mention the highly anticipated Slings and Arrows omnibus.) KRAD wouldn't have to start worrying about getting new CoE material together until mid-2011 or so... and he wouldn't worry about it until Pocket said, "Here's a big fat check; now how about some more CoE material?"
Well, when I get my Sony Reader at the end of September I'll be buying up the entire SCE/CoE series to go on there.
When you purchase the SCE/CoE series for your Sony, purchase the omnibus eBook editions when possible. It'll save you some money over the individual eBooks.
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Old August 18 2008, 01:45 PM   #33
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Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

JWolf wrote: View Post
Xeris wrote: View Post
William Leisner wrote: View Post
The next slot in 2010 is already tentatively claimed by What's Past, to be followed by at least two more CoE compilations. (Not to mention the highly anticipated Slings and Arrows omnibus.) KRAD wouldn't have to start worrying about getting new CoE material together until mid-2011 or so... and he wouldn't worry about it until Pocket said, "Here's a big fat check; now how about some more CoE material?"
Well, when I get my Sony Reader at the end of September I'll be buying up the entire SCE/CoE series to go on there.
When you purchase the SCE/CoE series for your Sony, purchase the omnibus eBook editions when possible. It'll save you some money over the individual eBooks.
Was planning on doing it that way, thanks.
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Old August 19 2008, 01:02 AM   #34
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Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

Trust me when I say, never underestimate the power of snark at another person's expense, especially when they're such a pretentious git with a neon-sign of a target on themselves like Tev.
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Old August 19 2008, 04:06 AM   #35
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Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

I don't know, but Leybenzon was pretty unlikeable.
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Old August 19 2008, 05:45 AM   #36
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Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

Let me nail a message board post to the church door and say that writers have been creating unlikeable characters since the very beginning of Star Trek. The test in writing isn't really whether a character is likeable, it's whether they're interesting.

When characters are picture-perfect, kind, sweet, generous, sort their recyclables and are genteel to small animals, half the time a reader is bored to madness and the other half of the time just wants to throw up. There's usually nothing worse than a character who you're expected to like all the time.

Sure, on Dyansty, Alexis Carrington (/Colby/Dexter/Carrington) was a capital bitch, but she was interesting. Krystal Carrington was a perfect angel, and yet she held your attention like a bottle of Ambien.

The genius of Roddenberry's original Star Trek show was not only how well he knew this, but how well he executed it. What most fans never consider, even though somehow they instinctively know and understand it, is that many of their favorite characters really are inherently unlikeable.

Kirk has his way with women across the galaxy, flaunts the rules whenever he feels like it, cheats on academy tests and and is even initially willing to tolerate genocide in revenge for his son's murder.

Spock remains the veritable poster child for unlikeability, insensitive and aloof, virtually no interpersonal skills and a constant air of arrogance and superiority; he has, as the saying goes, a very high opinion of his opinion.

McCoy, meanwhile, is an emotional, cranky old curmudgeon who is pretty much an outright racist, even right to someone's face. (We smile when he grumbles about that "damn green-blooded Vulcan"--but how endearing would it be if he instead were calling Nimoy a "damn hook-nosed Jew"? And yet, really, it's the same thing.)

I say this not to kick up a hornet's nest of controversy, but to point out that we like these characters not for their virtues, but for their virtues in spite of their flaws. And the characters clearly feel that way about each other.

Kirk is a man of action, trusting his first instincts and rarely questioning his judgment afterward--just about the opposite of Spock's studied, calculated, introspective Vulcanism. And yet, it's entirely believable that they're best friends. The same is true of Spock and McCoy's constant and yet totally affectionate insult-trading and one-upmanship.

It's okay for us to like these characters, because, very obviously, they like each other. But it's McCoy's grumbling that we find likeable, not the fact that he's dedicated his life to waving around a lipstick tricorder to make people feel better. It's Spock's unassailable logic that we find interesting, not the fact that he's respectful to his mother and father.

In fact, it's almost fair to say that we like their flaws more than we do the type of things that normally make a person "likeable".
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Old August 19 2008, 06:01 AM   #37
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Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

^ I'm afraid I almost completely disagree with you. What I like about the characters seems to be what you brush aside as 'picture-perfect.'

Kirk didn't cheat on the test because he was dishonest, but because he believed the scenario was fundamentally flawed - the test wasn't accurate or fair. He broke the rules out of principle (as he would regularly in his career). He clearly, in-scene, didn't believe his own words against the Klingons, though he found it doubtful he'd ever forgive them as a culture (not, necessarily, as a race - everybody's human in his point of view, as he said to Spock in the same film). And I seem to recall a statistical analysis of Kirk's romantic escapades with those of the other captains (and several of the TOS principle cast members) in which he was the least apparently sexually active of them, and which demonstrated that most of the circumstances in which he interacted romantically were on behalf of ship and crew. (Edith Keeler, Miramanee (amnesiac), the lab technician he almost married (Carol Marcus, probably), and Ruth were the exceptions, as I remember - light, perhaps, for a person of thirty-seven. No wonder Kirk was regarded as such a straight arrow by Mitchell.)

McCoy's irascibility was the thing I most disliked about him. Nonetheless, he was certainly not racist. Had he not ultimately been a close friend on Spcok, I'm certain he'd never have said the things he did (I had several not-especially-close friends in high school who used ethnist terms as terms of endearment amongst themselves, and in reference to themselves, but who would never have accepted those terms in any context in which they were actually meant). What I liked most about McCoy was his kind heart. He cared - about life, about persons - perhaps more than anyone else we've ever seen on Star Trek.

And Spock . . . I suppose he can be credited with being mostly logical and mostly very reliable during the Original Series, but I never liked him on the show. It wasn't until he mellowed (and, paradoxically, acutally became more logical) during the films that I enjoyed the character. So, I suppose you're right that' he's unlikable. On TOS, I like Spock's respect for his parents, but not his inability to see how weakly-founded his purportedly logical positions actually are.

Simply (and probably about all I should have written), I do like them for their virtues in spite of their flaws.
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Old August 19 2008, 01:54 PM   #38
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Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

Andrew Harris wrote: View Post
Kirk has his way with women across the galaxy
No, he really doesn't. Although contrary to the myth of Kirk as a Lothario, many of the instances where he demonstrated romantic interest in a woman were actually ruses to coldly manipulate them for the sake of his mission (Andrea, Lenore, Sylvia, Shahna, Kelinda, Miranda Jones). You could call that unlikeable.

flaunts the rules whenever he feels like it,
Aside from occasionally showing a flexible interpretation of the Prime Directive, the only times he ever overtly disobeyed direct orders while in his right mind were in "Amok Time" and The Search for Spock. The real Kirk, the Kirk of TOS, was a dedicated military man whose sense of duty overrode everything else in his life. The only times he defied or bent his orders were when he believed they were overridden in turn by a higher duty.

Kirk is a man of action, trusting his first instincts and rarely questioning his judgment afterward--just about the opposite of Spock's studied, calculated, introspective Vulcanism.
Kirk questioned his judgments all the time, often agonizing over decisions before acting (see "Balance of Terror" and "The Immunity Syndrome" for examples). And he often reconsidered his initial impulses. His initial reaction as a soldier was to kill the Horta, to kill the Gorn, to kill Kang's Klingons, to destroy beings that appeared to be threats. But when faced with the opportunity, he reconsidered, reined in his impulses, and took a more thoughtful route. He was the last man who'd blindly follow his first instincts -- he was always questioning himself. That was what made him a good captain, yet it was also one of his most interesting flaws, because it led him to constantly torture himself.
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Old August 19 2008, 02:43 PM   #39
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Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

Andrew Harris wrote: View Post
Kirk has his way with women across the galaxy, flaunts the rules whenever he feels like it, cheats on academy tests and and is even initially willing to tolerate genocide in revenge for his son's murder.
You mean flouts, not flaunts, but you're overstating the case, just as Christopher points out you're overstating the womanizing. Genocide is also over the top. If you're referring to his "Let them die" line, there are two main points you're glossing over: first, he's not proposing attacking anyone, he's proposing not helping them. Genocide is active, not passive. Second, the Klingons have other worlds and other resources, and the loss of Praxis, or even of the homeworld, would hardly eliminate all Klingons.
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Old August 19 2008, 03:31 PM   #40
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Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

Steve Roby wrote: View Post
Second, the Klingons have other worlds and other resources, and the loss of Praxis, or even of the homeworld, would hardly eliminate all Klingons.
Although you'd never know it from the script of ST VI, which pretty much seemed to be assuming that the Klingon Empire was a single planet.
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Old August 19 2008, 03:32 PM   #41
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Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

This is probably a good place to mention the article I just turned in to Paul Simpson last week for Star Trek: The Magazine that explodes the myth of Jim Kirk as a maverick, a reputation whose primary basis is on the extraordinary circumstances of The Search for Spock, but has very little evidence to support it outside of situations where his best friend's life was at stake.
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Old August 19 2008, 03:42 PM   #42
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Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

^^And let's not forget that Spock set the precedent, committing mutiny to save Captain Pike well before Kirk did anything of the kind.

One of my greatest concerns about the upcoming Abrams movie is whether their Kirk will be based on the genuine character from TOS or on the maverick/womanizer myth that's evolved around him.
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Old August 19 2008, 05:14 PM   #43
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Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

And notice that a lot of the defense of Kirk are coming from the men. I'd like to know how much of that is really childhood hero worship talking?

I highly suspect that Kirk would be looked down upon as a scumbag if he were to be created on a modern TV show. He's a product of his time, and he always will be. Hell, Stargate: Atlantis is a fine example. References to Kirk are thrown around as insults there to characters who've barely scratched the surface of Kirk's affinity for women.

Kirk's actually one of the things I totally disliked about TOS, but I can accept that that was okay for when TOS was made. Don't like it, but I can accept it. And that's the beauty of the whole thing.

That's the thing about likeable/unlikeable characters, it's a thoroughly subjective question. What some of us consider to be heroic and an example we want to follow, others may consider to be scummy and loathesome. *shrug* TEHO.
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Old August 19 2008, 05:22 PM   #44
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Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

^ Well, my grandmother liked only Kirk when the Original Series was new (to this day, he and Tasha Yar are the only Star Trek characters in whom she's expressed any interest). And my younger sister almost idolizes him. I doubt that just males who admire the character.

As noted above, perceptions of him as particularly sexually active, notably taken with the opposite sex, or possessed of a maverick disposition are in conflict with the facts.

Captain Kirk probably one of the most upright characters we've seen on screen (and William Shatner apparently played him so much that way that Nicholas Meyer felt compelled to force it from his system to an extent, waiting until Shatner acted less like Kirk and more like a less heroic character before moving beyond some scenes).
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Old August 19 2008, 05:29 PM   #45
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Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

TerriO wrote: View Post
And notice that a lot of the defense of Kirk are coming from the men. I'd like to know how much of that is really childhood hero worship talking?
Now, that's hardly fair. None of us are saying that Kirk is a womanizer and we admire him for that. We're saying that his reputation as a womanizer is unrealistically exaggerated, and that his genuinely respectable qualities (intelligence, discipline, dedication to duty) get overlooked because of the caricature. Insofar as Kirk was portrayed as a womanizer, he was no different from any other 1960s action lead, and while I agree with you that such behavior is not admirable by today's standards (including the standards of an enlightened man, thank you very much), I don't think it defines who he really was.

Also, it was a man, Andrew Harris, who was dismissing Kirk as a Lothario and a maverick, and he was the one that Keith, Steve, and I are disagreeing with. So it's hardly valid to call this a gender issue.

Plus, if you look at the facts, Kirk's womanizing isn't really any worse than John Sheppard's. What's more, I think that Kirk has actually fallen sincerely in love with more women than Sheppard has -- Ruth, Edith, Miramanee, Rayna (although that was implausibly fast). Also, quite often, it's the women who are coming onto him, not the other way around: Rand (in "Miri"), Helen Noel, Sylvia, Drusilla, Nona, Elaan, Deela, Marta, Odona. He wasn't a wolf, he was a man that women were intensely interested in and who frequently responded to that interest (except when his duty got in the way, since duty always came first for him), but sometimes tended to fall too hard.
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