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Old August 22 2008, 12:12 AM   #91
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

Anthony Sabre wrote: View Post
Take O'Brien for instance. In TNG and DS9 he showed some attitudes towards Cardassians that could be taken as racist. However he eventually overcame those prejudices. What if he hadn't? What if he went on the rest of the series spouting off about the "damned Carddies" now and again? What if he muttered "spoonhead" under his breath as Dukat or Garak walked by? Throw that in and leave the other positive aspects to his character and do you still like him as much? Is he as respected and admired by his fellow officers?
I think the difference between the "real" O'Brien and the scenario you just outlined is that the "real" O'Brien was aware early on ("The Wounded") that he had a problem, and seemed to actively work over the course of the series to fix it. I think in "The Wounded" he started to learn to see Cardassians as individuals even though he ended up snubbing Daro twice...remember, even Keiko seemed to observe that he had a problem. I suspect (personally) that once it came back to bite him in the butt in "Tribunal," he probably realized he'd better clean up his attitude quick or his karma really might get him at last.

It's when characters do not grow, when they revel in or consistently turn a blind eye to their negative traits, that I cannot like them.

I do not excuse O'Brien's attitude or his language--but there was growth, and to me that made the difference.
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Old August 22 2008, 12:29 AM   #92
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Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
Anthony Sabre wrote: View Post
Take O'Brien for instance. In TNG and DS9 he showed some attitudes towards Cardassians that could be taken as racist. However he eventually overcame those prejudices. What if he hadn't? What if he went on the rest of the series spouting off about the "damned Carddies" now and again? What if he muttered "spoonhead" under his breath as Dukat or Garak walked by? Throw that in and leave the other positive aspects to his character and do you still like him as much? Is he as respected and admired by his fellow officers?
I think the difference between the "real" O'Brien and the scenario you just outlined is that the "real" O'Brien was aware early on ("The Wounded") that he had a problem, and seemed to actively work over the course of the series to fix it. I think in "The Wounded" he started to learn to see Cardassians as individuals even though he ended up snubbing Daro twice...remember, even Keiko seemed to observe that he had a problem. I suspect (personally) that once it came back to bite him in the butt in "Tribunal," he probably realized he'd better clean up his attitude quick or his karma really might get him at last.

It's when characters do not grow, when they revel in or consistently turn a blind eye to their negative traits, that I cannot like them.

I do not excuse O'Brien's attitude or his language--but there was growth, and to me that made the difference.
Okay, here's a question: Do you remember O'Brien's initial attitude as somehow shocking your conscience when you first saw it? As in, you thought: Man, he better change that over time, or I'm not going to be able to watch that bigot on the show?

I remember feeling a flicker of that, and yet only a flicker, and never once thought about it every time that McCoy would grumble about the "damn green-blooded Vulcan" that would make him seem so irascible (at least, not until much several viewings later.)
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Old August 22 2008, 02:18 AM   #93
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Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
Anthony Sabre wrote: View Post
Take O'Brien for instance. In TNG and DS9 he showed some attitudes towards Cardassians that could be taken as racist. However he eventually overcame those prejudices. What if he hadn't? What if he went on the rest of the series spouting off about the "damned Carddies" now and again? What if he muttered "spoonhead" under his breath as Dukat or Garak walked by? Throw that in and leave the other positive aspects to his character and do you still like him as much? Is he as respected and admired by his fellow officers?
I think the difference between the "real" O'Brien and the scenario you just outlined is that the "real" O'Brien was aware early on ("The Wounded") that he had a problem, and seemed to actively work over the course of the series to fix it. I think in "The Wounded" he started to learn to see Cardassians as individuals even though he ended up snubbing Daro twice...remember, even Keiko seemed to observe that he had a problem. I suspect (personally) that once it came back to bite him in the butt in "Tribunal," he probably realized he'd better clean up his attitude quick or his karma really might get him at last.
I remember this one DS9 novel - Fallen Heroes, I think - where O'Brien makes a racial slur to one of his own men. He doesn't actually *say* it, but he thinks it in his head. I found that very out of character.
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Old August 22 2008, 02:26 AM   #94
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Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

^ I remember that as well. With any other character, that might be forgivable since Fallen Heroes was written before DS9 had premiered. However, it's not even in character with the O'Brien we saw in The Wounded. Utterly inexcusable.
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Old August 22 2008, 02:44 AM   #95
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

Dang, it's been so many years since I've read Fallen Heroes that I'd completely forgotten about that. That IS pretty bad, that they would write that.

(BTW, at what point did the books start being written after the series was on the air?)

Andrew Harris wrote: View Post
Okay, here's a question: Do you remember O'Brien's initial attitude as somehow shocking your conscience when you first saw it? As in, you thought: Man, he better change that over time, or I'm not going to be able to watch that bigot on the show?
I thought change had better happen, because I had a distinct feeling that "Cardie" was not nice language in the 24th century, and to toss that around so freely...well, it kinda reminded me of the term "Japs." And if you remember the ghastly caricatures and other slurs that went with that term...ouch.

I remember feeling a flicker of that, and yet only a flicker, and never once thought about it every time that McCoy would grumble about the "damn green-blooded Vulcan" that would make him seem so irascible (at least, not until much several viewings later.)
McCoy I've had a harder time pinning down. I could never tell how much was bitterness, just plain sarcasm, or a cover for the exact opposite sort of feelings about Spock. I never got that feeling from O'Brien, that what he said could be anything other than disdain for Cardassians.
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Old August 22 2008, 02:48 AM   #96
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Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

Honestly, I didn't like any of the DS9 books until the Relaunch. Millenium was decent, but the books really didn't get into gear until after DS9 ended.

ETA: Oh, that wasn't your question. Hold on while I pull out VoI.

ETA2: It looks like Betrayal (DS9 #6) was the first book to have been written after episodes were filmed. Lois Tilton says she had to do a cram session of watching the just-filmed episodes and rewriting her book to make it fit.

For fun, I kept going.

The first TNG book written after its premiere was The Children of Hamlin (TNG #3) by Carmen Carter. Jean Lorrah's Survivors (#4) was definitely written after the beginning, while Gene DeWeese's The Peacekeepers (#2) was not. And since The Children of Hamlin was published at the start of TNG's second season, I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt.

It looks like either Invasion! Book Four: The Final Fury (Voyager #9) or Bless The Beasts (#10) was the first Voyager book written after the series premiered - S.N. Lewitt, the author of Cybersong (#8) says Voyager had not aired yet, while Karen Haber, author of Bless the Beasts says it had.

By the time Enterprise premiered, the novel release schedule was lighter, so only By the Book was written before the series aired. (If I'm wrong on this one, please correct me, but Dave Stern's comments on What Price Honor? make it seem like he'd already seen some of Enterprise.)
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Old August 22 2008, 02:49 AM   #97
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Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

Babaganoosh wrote: View Post
I remember this one DS9 novel - Fallen Heroes, I think - where O'Brien makes a racial slur to one of his own men. He doesn't actually *say* it, but he thinks it in his head. I found that very out of character.
Actually it was "you illiterate Welshman," in reference to the character in question misquoting Shakespeare. Given that the author of the novel is himself Welsh, I don't think there was any genuine malice intended.
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Old August 22 2008, 07:41 AM   #98
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Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post

I thought change had better happen, because I had a distinct feeling that "Cardie" was not nice language in the 24th century, and to toss that around so freely...well, it kinda reminded me of the term "Japs." And if you remember the ghastly caricatures and other slurs that went with that term...ouch.
Good point... though with the Cardassians somewhat based on the Nazis, it might have been closer to "Jerries" (the derogatory term for Germans at the time), which would fit with the sound of "Cardies".
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Old August 22 2008, 03:34 PM   #99
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Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

Andrew Harris wrote: View Post
Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post

I thought change had better happen, because I had a distinct feeling that "Cardie" was not nice language in the 24th century, and to toss that around so freely...well, it kinda reminded me of the term "Japs." And if you remember the ghastly caricatures and other slurs that went with that term...ouch.
Good point... though with the Cardassians somewhat based on the Nazis, it might have been closer to "Jerries" (the derogatory term for Germans at the time), which would fit with the sound of "Cardies".
That's certainly a good comparison too--but either way you go, it just...man, have you ever SEEN some of the WWII propaganda posters and what it was apparently acceptable to put on the back then?

Brrr.
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Old August 22 2008, 06:20 PM   #100
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Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
Andrew Harris wrote: View Post
Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post

I thought change had better happen, because I had a distinct feeling that "Cardie" was not nice language in the 24th century, and to toss that around so freely...well, it kinda reminded me of the term "Japs." And if you remember the ghastly caricatures and other slurs that went with that term...ouch.
Good point... though with the Cardassians somewhat based on the Nazis, it might have been closer to "Jerries" (the derogatory term for Germans at the time), which would fit with the sound of "Cardies".
That's certainly a good comparison too--but either way you go, it just...man, have you ever SEEN some of the WWII propaganda posters and what it was apparently acceptable to put on the back then?

Brrr.
Yeah, I used to teach a class at university when I was a journalism professor looking back at how the media depicted key historical events, like WWII. The most typical recurring image was physically depicting the enemy as an animal--lots of "Jap" faces on snakes & rats, anti-German images modeled after the movie poster for King Kong, etc. Obviously, all done to dehumanize the enemy, and make it easier/less morally objectionable to kill them.

Interestingly enough, that's exactly the same type of propaganda images that the Germans were using against the Jews. And, it should come as no surprise, the same type of images are used to characterize Al Qaida, Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, etc. in newspapers cartoons today.

This isn't to say that while at war it's good or bad, right or wrong--only that it's incredibly effective. Which is exactly why it's done, over and over again.
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Old August 22 2008, 06:43 PM   #101
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Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

I remember hearing old Fibber McGee and Molly radio shows where these performers who were usually so nice and funny were exhorting people to save and scrimp and donate to the war effort because "Every can you donate kills a Jap" and so on. It was really troubling. Going by the propaganda, we were fighting the war in Europe to make the world safe for democracy, but we were fighting the war in the Pacific to "kill Japs," to exterminate a breed of vermin. War movies always made a point of showing "good Germans" helping the Allies fight the Nazis, but always portrayed the Japanese as uniformly evil and inhuman.
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Old August 22 2008, 07:22 PM   #102
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Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

Question?

Are Trek readers really interested in reading about a major character who is unliked by the other major characters?
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Old August 22 2008, 07:27 PM   #103
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Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

Dayton3 wrote: View Post
Question?

Are Trek readers really interested in reading about a major character who is unliked by the other major characters?
Sure, why not? I had actually hoped that Tev would be such a character for the CoE series, and while he is at times, I still feel there could have been done more with him in that regard.

(P.S.: I have only read the reprints of S.C.E./CoE)

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Old August 22 2008, 08:00 PM   #104
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Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

Dayton3 wrote: View Post
Question?

Are Trek readers really interested in reading about a major character who is unliked by the other major characters?
From a writing standpoint, if such a character adds to the storytelling possibilities, why not?
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Old August 22 2008, 08:15 PM   #105
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Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

Christopher wrote: View Post
I remember hearing old Fibber McGee and Molly radio shows where these performers who were usually so nice and funny were exhorting people to save and scrimp and donate to the war effort because "Every can you donate kills a Jap" and so on. It was really troubling. Going by the propaganda, we were fighting the war in Europe to make the world safe for democracy, but we were fighting the war in the Pacific to "kill Japs," to exterminate a breed of vermin. War movies always made a point of showing "good Germans" helping the Allies fight the Nazis, but always portrayed the Japanese as uniformly evil and inhuman.
That can be attributed to two things: 1) The Nazis didn't actually bomb our territory. We declared war on Japan, and that led to Hitler declaring war on us due to the alliance. So we were in Europe more or less by default, but we were in Asia because we got bombed. 2) Japanese people look more foreign to Mr. Joe-Bob America than German people.
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