A question regarding "Patterns of Force"

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Mario de Monti, Jul 19, 2013.

  1. Mario de Monti

    Mario de Monti Captain Captain

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    This question actually came up in another current thread, discussing Star Trek´s worst lines of dialogue ever. I suggested Spock´s "You should make a very convincing Nazi" that he said to Kirk in "Patterns of Force", because of the implications that line carries, IMO.

    But with that opinion I seem to be rather alone, with only Robert Comsol seeing it my way, most others even view the line as a joke! Since both Bob and I are German, I was wondering if that is the sole reason for us seeing this line as problematic or if others (non-Germans) feel that way too.

    And another thought: Would those of you, that don´t have a problem with "Patterns of Force" feel the same way if it didn´t depict Nazi Germany but say, the southern US states prior to the civil war. Imagine Kirk and Spock had come to a planet ruled by (white) land/slave owners who brutalize their (black) slaves. Then, to blend in at a slave auction, they would have put on local clothing and Spock´s line to Kirk would have been "You should make a very convincing slave trader". Would you take that as a joke too?

    I want to make it absolutely clear, that I´m NOT trying to mock, insult or challenge anyone but that I´m truly and seriously interested in your opinions.

    Mario
     
  2. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    I saw some of those comments suggesting it was funny because Shatner and Nimoy are Jewish. Only Spock knows what he was thinking when he said it, but I think it was more his attempt to make a joke (at Kirk's expense), rather than a wink to the audience.

    I can understand why some people might think it's some sort of inside joke. Performers like Mel Brooks, Jack Benny, Charles Chaplin, and even the Three Stooges took pokes at Nazis in their films. But I don't think that's the case with "Patterns of Force". For the record, I am not a Zeon pig.
     
  3. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yes, actually I would take it as a joke. Nothing personal, but I think some people really need to lighten up (you should pardon the expression).
     
  4. teacake

    teacake Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    As I said I am sure Spock was thinking, "you'd make a great Aryan, Bitch" and it was a compliment on Kirk's blond hair and gorgeous profile and high cheek bones and other hot stuff. It was slash. It was slash as canon given to us by the gods.

    Don't forget that they spent a lot of that episode half naked with whip marks all over them. There was also that standing on Kirk's back scene.

    IT'S OBVIOUS PEOPLE

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Mario de Monti

    Mario de Monti Captain Captain

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    As I have said in the other thread already, I think it makes a big difference in which context such a line is being said. The films by Mel Brooks or Charlie Chaplin were comedies (albeit with a serious undertone) and in such an "environment" that line would clearly have been meant and understood as a joke. If "Patterns of Force" had been a comedic episode like "A Piece of the Action" it would also have been so. But POF hardly qualifies as a comedy! Moments after Spock´s line he and Kirk are being whipped by Nazi interrogators - I don´t see anything funny or comedic in that, just as in the rest of the episode. So that puts the whole thing in quite a different light, IMHO.

    Mario
     
  6. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    @ Mario de Monti

    I'm afraid you're beating an "invisible" horse here. Apparently you and I have seen a lot of documentaries about what was actually going on in the concentration death camps.

    As for the others participating in this debate, I'm really not sure. I suggest they should first watch "Judgement at Nuremberg" (starring William Shatner) containing graphic, original films and then "Schindler's List". Then, if they still feel it's a subject meriting whatever humor you can think of, let them speak their minds.

    Bob
     
  7. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    First of all, don't see stats where they don't exist. Not everyone on the forum replied to that thread. So you can't assume that only you and Robert are in agreement over the line from "Patterns of Force." It was unquestionably a boner line, but funny because of that. Obviously, not everyone sees it that way. And while I do think it was "so bad it was funny," I also don't consider it the worst line of dialog in all of TREK.

    Also, don't see ethnic slurs where none exist. Not all Germans were Nazis, and not all Nazis were German. Likewise, the pre-Civil War American south was not the only time and place in history to have slavery.

    "Patterns of Force" is every bit as preachy as "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield." Even as a child, I knew that bit about Nazi Germany being the "most efficient state" was complete baloney. A state that merely consumes everything in its brutality is not efficient and will eventually burn out.

    POF is not a comedy, but has an absurdity to it, the same way people generally scoff at conspiracy theories. Despite all the foreshadowing, I doubt any of the Germans of the 1930s would have believed a time traveler if he'd told them what was coming. History often repeats itself, yet people still don't see such things coming.
     
  8. Kinokima

    Kinokima Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Because I know Nimoy and Shatner are Jewish nothing in the episode bothers me.

    Although I think the episode itself is just fair!


    Also there is nothing in the episode making light of the holocaust.
     
  9. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I've seen them both. Spock comment to Kirk was what it was, a joke, a dig from one good friend to another.

    Spock on the show is shown to have a biting sense of humor toward people he sees as his friends. Looking at his comment to Yeoman Rand at the end of The Enemy Within, that the opposite Kirk (who attacked her) had some interesting qualities. This is the type of exchange that passes between friends, sarcastic humor, little insults, unseemly personal observations.

    McCoy: "Hobgoblin."

    :)
     
  10. Mario de Monti

    Mario de Monti Captain Captain

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    I am well aware of that and was merely referring to the people that had posted replies in the other thread.

    That is also not in question. But Spock said "You should make a very convincing Nazi", not "You should make a very convincing German". Being German is a question of ethnicity, being a Nazi is a question of (political) conviction, a decision that is consciously being made.

    It was merely an example that I thought Americans could maybe relate to more easily than, say, slavery in ancient Rome.


    Like I said when starting this thread, my main question is if (we) Germans have more of a problem with Spock´s line than non-Germans - that´s all!

    Mario
     
  11. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Commodore Commodore

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    Such arrogance! You don't believe that I, whose father is Jewish, whose grandmother and grandfather suffered under pogroms, have not thought seriously about the Holocaust, racism in Europe, and the psychology of the people who suffered under them? You don't believe that I, who has an advanced degree from Brandeis, one of the most "Jewish" universities in the world, would not have been exposed to analyses and discussions of Nazism and the Holocaust--more than a few documentaries--and know how humor might be used by the descendants who suffered under them?
     
  12. Mario de Monti

    Mario de Monti Captain Captain

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    So what do you think of Spock´s line in the context of this episode? I´m honestly interested in your opinion.

    Mario
     
  13. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Commodore Commodore

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    The joke was not aimed at ethnicity, but the way that Nazism relied on images, not only physiognomy, but all symbols and aesthetics, to convey ideas. Spock's quip about Kirk was not the only reference to this in this episode: Spock's ears were a running joke of the episode. And those jokes played into the critique of Fascism as a reasonable response to crisis, as it relied on irrational appeals to the more problematic sides of human nature.
     
  14. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Commodore Commodore

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    I don't doubt your sincerity. However, I am a little confused about what you are getting at by the question. Throughout the episode Spock is confronted with the problems created by appearances, something which the government uses to stereotype and repress the the Zeons (Xeons?). Although not one of them, he is put into a position to empathize with them.
     
  15. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Commodore Commodore

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    A resident of a Southern state, I can say that southerners don't confront the legacies of slavery, the Civil War, and susbsequent repression the way that other peoples might look at the dark aspects of their own histories. The strong (though not necessarily dominant) presence of Neo-confederalism soft-pedals the nature of slavery in order to give a Romantic image of the Antebellum south or deny the contemporary existence of racism in politics. (Of course, I also know many Southerners who are very thoughtful on these subjects.)
     
  16. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Commodore Commodore

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    Some serious works about the Holocaust have, nevertheless, used comedic elements: Art Speigelman's Maus and Jurek Becker's Jakob der Lügner.
     
  17. 1001001

    1001001 I Like the Beats and the Shouting Moderator

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    Bad thoughts: You offer some very thoughtful replies here. But please use the multi-quote function next time. Four posts in a row is bad form.

    Thanks.

    :techman:
     
  18. Mario de Monti

    Mario de Monti Captain Captain

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    Apparently some further elaboration is in order:

    In Germany, many aspects of our Nazi past are being "taboo-ized" to sometimes ridiculous degrees. For example, imported model kits of German WWII tanks, planes, etc. are being opened by German customs officials and all the swastikas and other Nazi symbols are being cut out of the decal sheets, blackened or the sheets are taken out completely. German kit releases use simplified/fake symbols (like simple crosses instead of swastikas).
    Additionally we are being "taught" (by the government, media, etc.) to feel some sort of collective guilt for that part in our history, a guilt that can never be overcome.

    So the reason for me to start this thread was to ask the question, if my "problem" with Spock´s remark is due to the fact I´m German (and have the background I just explained) or if non-Germans (without this background) have similar problems with it.

    I find that very interesting and it does suggest, that we Germans treat our own past somewhat differently - mainly because of the reasons I outlined above. Thanks :techman:
    As to why I asked you for your personal opinion earlier: On the one hand you have personal (through your family) experience in this matter (which I don´t) on the other hand you´re not German (I presume) and thus don´t have this German background.

    Mario
     
  19. Kinokima

    Kinokima Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    For the record the line "you would make a convincing Nazi" I took it as Kirk in that uniform looks scary and tough, that he would fool them. Not that Kirk is really anything like a Nazi.

    We were talking about Hogan's Heroes in the other thread and I remember similar lines being used in that series when the characters went undercover.

    I think this is the case of being offended too easily. Being Jewish myself I definitely do not take the actual Holocaust lightly but the episode wasn't about concentration and death camps.

    Now as for the episode itself I can take it or leave it. Not really a big fan of the alternative world episodes and I don't think this one said or did anything all that interesting.


    Now this line bothers me as it does take attempted rape too lightly and makes a joke of it.
     
  20. Mario de Monti

    Mario de Monti Captain Captain

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    That´s an interesting alternate take on this. Thanks:techman:

    Let me make this clear: I´m not offended in any way by Spock´s remark, the episode or jokes being made about Germans in general or Nazi Germany in particular. I like the Mel Brooks movie and I thoroughly enjoy "Hogan´s Heroes". I just feel, that Spock´s remark didn´t fit into the "mood" of the episode since it clearly wasn´t a comedic one, IMHO.

    Mario