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General Trek Discussion Trek TV and cinema subjects not related to any specific series or movie.

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Old July 16 2013, 09:50 PM   #1
captunderpants
Cadet
 
Location: Scotland
Avatar and the Prime Directive

I recently watched the film Avatar for the very first time. It wasn't the best movie in the world, but not as bad as some would have me believe.

The human characters in the film with their corporate militaristic ethos are clearly the villians, and in some respects, they are the complete antithesis of the human characters within Star Trek.

It had me wondering, what are the main aspects of Starfleet that allows humanity to be good and not turn into the human beings in Avatar? Is it simply the Prime Directive? Or are there other aspects of the human character that keeps our protagonists away from using and exploiting other cultures?

Or perhaps it is the fact that the Federation no longer has a monetary system. There is no need to exploit other worlds as they don't do things for financial gain anymore?

So perhaps money truly is the root of all evil?
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Old July 16 2013, 10:27 PM   #2
BillJ
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Re: Avatar and the Prime Directive

People are the root of all evil.
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Old July 16 2013, 10:31 PM   #3
sonak
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Location: in a figment of a mediocre mind's imagination
Re: Avatar and the Prime Directive

captunderpants wrote: View Post
I recently watched the film Avatar for the very first time. It wasn't the best movie in the world, but not as bad as some would have me believe.

The human characters in the film with their corporate militaristic ethos are clearly the villians, and in some respects, they are the complete antithesis of the human characters within Star Trek.

It had me wondering, what are the main aspects of Starfleet that allows humanity to be good and not turn into the human beings in Avatar? Is it simply the Prime Directive? Or are there other aspects of the human character that keeps our protagonists away from using and exploiting other cultures?

Or perhaps it is the fact that the Federation no longer has a monetary system. There is no need to exploit other worlds as they don't do things for financial gain anymore?

So perhaps money truly is the root of all evil?

the PD certainly isn't keeping Humans from being evil, since it's been used to justify passively allowing extinction events and genocide. The TNG-era PD makes me wish that TOS had never come up with it in the first place.


"Avatar" is like a better done version of "Insurrection."
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Old July 16 2013, 10:36 PM   #4
Pavonis
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Re: Avatar and the Prime Directive

What's keeping humanity in Trek from exploiting other cultures is the fact that Earth and its colonies don't need anything from a less advanced culture. Any resources that are needed are just as easily taken from empty worlds. In Avatar, the Na'vi are sitting on top of some very valuable resources on a planet that is the closest to Earth but still takes immense resources to reach. In Trek, a starship would just pass on by to the next world possessing the resources sought, because warp drive makes it easy to find an empty world to mine.
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Old July 16 2013, 11:07 PM   #5
JirinPanthosa
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Re: Avatar and the Prime Directive

The prime directive came after humanity's 'advancement'. After World War III humanity realized their destructive, greedy tendencies could have easily caused the end of the species, so they moved forward with the spirit of unity and cooperation.

You may not believe that is possible in real life, but that is the in-universe reason humanity is not like the humans of Avatar.
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Old July 17 2013, 01:13 AM   #6
Portal
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Re: Avatar and the Prime Directive

Isn't dilithium a great source of greed in the Federation?

Apparently the Romulans see the Federation as having a "credo of exploitation" according to Admiral Jarok.

Maybe chosing to serve in Starfleet keeps a person from being greedy, but most of the civilians we see on Star Trek are fairly materialistic.
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Old July 17 2013, 01:31 AM   #7
Lt. Uhura-Brown
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Re: Avatar and the Prime Directive

captunderpants wrote: View Post

So perhaps money truly is the root of all evil?
The LOVE of money is the root of all evil.

This situation wouldn't have happened if their company wasn't so obsessed with making a profit.

Remember, Unobtainium was expensive. They didn't claim it cured cancer, or restored youth, it was expensive. That's the motivation given in the film as to why they were after it.
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Old July 17 2013, 02:22 AM   #8
T'Girl
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Re: Avatar and the Prime Directive

Pavonis wrote: View Post
What's keeping humanity in Trek from exploiting other cultures is the fact that Earth and its colonies don't need anything from a less advanced culture.
This wasn't the case during TOS. We saw the Federation trading with very primative cultures for their "rocks."

The Hortas could not possibly be considered a technologically advanced society, there was no suggestion that Humans would leave the Horta planet at the end of Devil in the Dark.

And how advanced were the Halkans really?

captunderpants wrote: View Post
Or perhaps it is the fact that the Federation no longer has a monetary system. There is no need to exploit other worlds as they don't do things for financial gain anymore?
The thing about Avatar was, the primary purpose behind extracting the natural resource (the floating rock) was to take it to Earth as a new power supply. Yes the company doing the extraction was going to get rich in the process, but the people of Earth would also benefit. Earth was "dying," a new source of power was desperately needed.

If the Federation were "dying" and desperate enough, you bet they would have up rooted a few trees too.

sonak wrote: View Post
"Avatar" is like a better done version of "Insurrection."
I think the opposite, Insurrection wasn't as heavy handed as to who were the good guys, and who were the bad guys. There was a degree of uncertainly, allowing the audience to decide for themselves. The execution was flawed, but the story itself was better.

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Old July 17 2013, 02:25 AM   #9
Sran
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Re: Avatar and the Prime Directive

Portal wrote: View Post
Maybe chosing to serve in Starfleet keeps a person from being greedy, but most of the civilians we see on Star Trek are fairly materialistic.
Not sure I agree with that unless you're talking about non-human civilians. The Ferengi are certainly greedy, but I don't recall seeing humans trying to cheat or scam anyone on a regular basis.

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Old July 17 2013, 03:34 AM   #10
Portal
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Re: Avatar and the Prime Directive

Sran wrote: View Post
Portal wrote: View Post
Maybe chosing to serve in Starfleet keeps a person from being greedy, but most of the civilians we see on Star Trek are fairly materialistic.
Not sure I agree with that unless you're talking about non-human civilians. The Ferengi are certainly greedy, but I don't recall seeing humans trying to cheat or scam anyone on a regular basis.

--Sran
You're right Sran. I was just thinking about all those aliens on Deep Space Nine who were quite greedy. Most of the human civilians in Star Trek are well behaved colonists and such.
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Old July 17 2013, 03:45 AM   #11
sonak
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Re: Avatar and the Prime Directive

T'Girl wrote: View Post
Pavonis wrote: View Post
What's keeping humanity in Trek from exploiting other cultures is the fact that Earth and its colonies don't need anything from a less advanced culture.
This wasn't the case during TOS. We saw the Federation trading with very primative cultures for their "rocks."

The Hortas could not possibly be considered a technologically advanced society, there was no suggestion that Humans would leave the Horta planet at the end of Devil in the Dark.

And how advanced were the Halkans really?

captunderpants wrote: View Post
Or perhaps it is the fact that the Federation no longer has a monetary system. There is no need to exploit other worlds as they don't do things for financial gain anymore?
The thing about Avatar was, the primary purpose behind extracting the natural resource (the floating rock) was to take it to Earth as a new power supply. Yes the company doing the extraction was going to get rich in the process, but the people of Earth would also benefit. Earth was "dying," a new source of power was desperately needed.

If the Federation were "dying" and desperate enough, you bet they would have up rooted a few trees too.

sonak wrote: View Post
"Avatar" is like a better done version of "Insurrection."
I think the opposite, Insurrection wasn't as heavy handed as to who were the good guys, and who were the bad guys. There was a degree of uncertainly, allowing the audience to decide for themselves. The execution was flawed, but the story itself was better.


Hmmm, I disagree with you there. You may be giving the film too much credit and reading into it a complexity that isn't there. I get the impression that it's meant to be a simple morality tale of "noble Picard" standing against the greed of a corrupt admiral and his villainous allies.


Don't get me wrong, "Avatar's" morality is simplistic as well of course, but the Na'vi are a lot more sympathetic and have a much better case than the Baku. They actually have an entire civilization instead of just a small village, they're indigenous, and what's at stake is only a fuel source not a medical resource to help billions.
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Old July 17 2013, 03:52 AM   #12
Dream
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Re: Avatar and the Prime Directive

Sran wrote: View Post
Not sure I agree with that unless you're talking about non-human civilians. The Ferengi are certainly greedy, but I don't recall seeing humans trying to cheat or scam anyone on a regular basis.
The Ferengi might be greedy, but they have never fought in an interstellar war like those barbaric HUMONS!
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Old July 17 2013, 04:04 AM   #13
Portal
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Re: Avatar and the Prime Directive

How about the Maquis? Their refusal to give up star systems to the Cardassians and trying to drive the Federation into another war, I think you could consider that greedy. I'm sure there are other examples of people in the Federation only interested in exploitation.
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Old July 17 2013, 05:58 AM   #14
Sran
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Re: Avatar and the Prime Directive

Portal wrote: View Post
How about the Maquis? Their refusal to give up star systems to the Cardassians and trying to drive the Federation into another war, I think you could consider that greedy. I'm sure there are other examples of people in the Federation only interested in exploitation.
Not sure where you're getting greed from that. The Maquis weren't interested in gaining new territory so much as they wanted to retain the territory they'd already claimed for themselves before the treaty gave it away. Their methods weren't legal by any stretch of the imagination, but I don't recall them demanding more territory or resources than they had previously. Their goal was restoration of the status quo, nothing more.

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Old July 17 2013, 05:57 PM   #15
sonak
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Re: Avatar and the Prime Directive

Portal wrote: View Post
How about the Maquis? Their refusal to give up star systems to the Cardassians and trying to drive the Federation into another war, I think you could consider that greedy. I'm sure there are other examples of people in the Federation only interested in exploitation.

eh? They weren't trying to drive the Federation into war, nor were they interested in "exploitation." They just didn't want to move from their homes, and they ended up having to defend themselves against Cardassian violence.
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