Did Klingon culture become too stereotyped by the end of DS9?

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by USS Einstein, Jan 14, 2013.

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Did Klingon culture get over-simplified in later eras of Star TreK?

  1. Yes

    45 vote(s)
    63.4%
  2. No

    26 vote(s)
    36.6%
  1. Skywalker

    Skywalker Admiral Admiral

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    ENT did a little something like this, too. In the season two episode "Judgment" there was a Klingon lawyer (whose parents were a teacher and a biologist) who lamented that Klingon society used to be about more than just honor and glory in battle. And in the season four episodes "Affliction" and "Divergence" there was a Klingon doctor who was born into the warrior caste but chose to be a healer instead.
     
  2. USS Einstein

    USS Einstein Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I don't think that the lawyer in ENT or lawyer in DS9 are great examples - they still missed the point.

    Klingon society is still presented one-dimensionally, but now with added stereotypes gleaned from caste systems (ENT) - or in DS9's case, the prosecutor is interesting, but the society he is in still behaves absurdly.

    As someone said on the other page, 2 minutes of Klingons talking calmly and logically in that JJ Abrams scene was like a breath of fresh air - for all their attempts to rationalise things, Klingons in ENT and DS9 still behaved like walking stereotypes.

    "It's interesting that people talk about the deleted scene from Star Trek as offering something different, because when you watch it, you realize that what seems so different is that the actor is speaking in a calm voice, and that's enough of a diversion to make the whole thing seem completely fresh."

    They lacked what filmmakers sometimes call 'naturalism'.
     
  3. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    In House Of Quark we see a guy who abuses the assumption that he is honorable in order to steal somebody's land with underhanded tactics.

    In season 7 Ezri says "Screw the Klingon Empire, it deserves to die" and proceeds to prove to Worf that he's pretty much the only Klingon in the universe who still gives a crap about honor.

    I think some of you are missing the point of the Klingons. The Klingons in the high council like Gowron don't care about honor, they only care about being perceived as having honor. That is far more three dimensional than just having a few Klingons hanging around who choose careers other than being a warrior.

    Pretty much the entire Klingon arc starting in Sins Of The Father and leading toward the end of Gowron was about how the Klingons in fact do not actually care about honor anymore.
     
  4. USS Einstein

    USS Einstein Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    But there is still a problem - they are hypocritical and aggressive to the last man - not as single one of them behaves practically, naturally, rationally, or calmly - all hallmarks of sentience, that can't simply be explained away with genetic predispositions to aggression. It's as if the worst demagogues that you mentioned, were multiplied, and made up the entire of human society.

    It begs the question: How did they ever start a civilization?

    Thankfully, JJ Abrams applied the same natural standards to the Klingons in the short time we saw them, as he applied to the character of Sayid in Lost - an Iraqi Arab, Muslim, and former member of the Republican Guard (so maybe a Ba'athist sympathizer in the past) - yet not some one dimensional cardboard cutout who found it necessary to remind everyone he was a soldier, or Muslim, or Arab, every five minutes. That's natural writing - and that's natural human behavior.

    I see these degenerate, reactionary, romanticist, racist, nationalist, bigoted, aggressive, moronic, technophobic, Luddite, philistine Klingons that we often got, as a poor sample of their population - hopefully, we will see from now on, that the majority of them behave more naturally.
     
  5. USS Einstein

    USS Einstein Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I have it, and will endevour to read it soon - all the more so, with this recommendation :)
     
  6. toughlittleship

    toughlittleship Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Basically every Klingon we saw was either in the military or in the government, that obviously skewers the representation.
     
  7. USS Einstein

    USS Einstein Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    But it shouldn't make everyone a fanatic with borderline personality disorder.

    As Lance and Mirrorball Man aptly pointed out, the regressive reactionaries seen in Heart of Glory, were meant to be an exception, not a rule.

    It's like taking Hitler, an unbalanced romantic reactionary bigot, and using that as the basis for all Austrian culture in a TV series about Austrians :wtf:
     
  8. USS Einstein

    USS Einstein Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Just one last point before I go for today:

    A villain you can admire, is a lot more effective, than some pantomime villain.
     
  9. indolover

    indolover Fleet Captain

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    I don't think they became too stereotyped. As has been said in the thread, Klingons actually became very nuanced, since we saw they didn't care about honour (or only when it served their purpose). I credit the writers in doing this, since it shows they are fallible and to some extent normal. Klingons, as humans in the real world, all hold their own agendas and perspectives.
     
  10. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: That DS9 ep with Ezri's speech and Worf killing Gowron. I love that Ep. It's like the writers took every hypocritical thing we had seen up til now and rolled it up into one speech. It was beautiful.
     
  11. commanderkai

    commanderkai Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I don't think they've become too stereotyped. Certainly the whole aspect of Klingon honor and ritualistic tradition was overly mentioned, but generally it was shown as utter BS by a majority of Klingons in political or military power.

    Worf is probably the truest Klingon, following the honor code and traditions of Klingon culture more devotedly than any Klingon of the Empire. He was basically uncorrupted by the true nature of Klingon politics.

    Martok is probably the most realistic Klingon on the show. He can certainly see the corruption of the highest levels of Klingon government, but, as much as honor would suggest removing corrupt leaders, he stays quiet, and obeys such orders, even though it could cost the Klingon Empire needless lives and ships. He abides by some cultural traditions, but for the most part, doesn't give a damn about them anywhere near as much as Worf does. Sure, he believes in such and such tradition, but for the most part, it's lipservice, not devotion.
     
  12. mos6507

    mos6507 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    And that, to me, is fine. Alien species in Star Trek are used as symbols or concepts, just as it was back in the days of Swift with Gulliver's Travels. The irony, of course, is that by stereotyping aliens collectively to represent a concept, you also deny them the capacity to be anything other than that concept. And so Trek always wrestled with that dichotomy. Think of Day of the Dove, where the Klingon commander had to be willing to enter into a truce with the Federation to neutralize a common enemy. Think of I, Borg where Hugh broke with the collective, and later 7 of 9 of course. You could even include Trek V here. The idea of a Vulcan who decided NOT to reject emotion was a bold concept, one that was only partly explored through Spock's semi-acceptance of certain aspects of emotion or emotional attachment through friendship. Think of The Enterprise Incident where the female Romulan commander almost scolds the Federation for not being as sexually enlightened. There is an ongoing dialogue through Trek about prejudice and individualism. I think it would defeat the purpose to have every alien race have the same level of diversity as humanity, though. They have to strike a particular chord that is in some way 'other', and not confuse people by being too complex. Movies and TV are not National Geographic.
     
  13. LobsterAfternoon

    LobsterAfternoon Commander Red Shirt

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  14. USS Einstein

    USS Einstein Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    [​IMG]

    I think that some people are missing the point about Klingon culture being one dimensional - you have STILL have a culture that symbolizes something general - without them being written foolishly.

    The two are completely separate.

    Take House, as an example, a show which being episodic, is very similar to Star Trek. Most episodes explore philosophical concepts of some kind or another. Not every American who appears is wearing an Abe Lincoln hat, whilst eating a beef burger, and carrying a Winchester - but they are still used to convey whatever concept-of-the-week is needed; one might be a bigot, one might be a hypocrite, one might be exploitative, one might be altruistic.

    There is no reason why Klingons can't symbolise a decaying society (TNG), or a military republic (TOS), or colonialism (ENT) - without all of them talking in that same ridiculous way, and opening a barrel of blood-wine or some other crap to remind us every five seconds that they are Klingon (something that is patently obvious, and does not need stating).
     
  15. Lance

    Lance Commodore Commodore

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    There has to be a way to strike a conpromise, to reach a balanced depiction of them. A way to suggest a broadly unique Klingon culture without it becoming the be all and end all of their every appearance.

    I mean, one fascinating thing about watching The Next Generation with the benefit of hindsight is how different Worf is at the beginning. This was before his whole backstory about being brought up by humans and what-not had been decided. So in episodes like Farpoint, he's just an alien face in a Starfleet uniform... and yet he's also distinctly Klingon, as they were suggested in the TOS series and films. He's about as far away as you could possibly get from the Worf who talks longingly about Kahless and who went on and on about honor and glory all the time in late TNG and throughout DS9.
     
  16. Xhiandra

    Xhiandra Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Couldn't disagree more.
    Manichean ToS Klingons whose sole motivation is "doing it for the evulz" is not good writing, TNG/ENT Klingons having their defined philosophy and motivations is much better.
     
  17. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I humbly disagree. TOS Klingons are mostly well-rounded. Kang and Kor of course. As for Trelane in a Klingon outfit and the Mod Squad guy....ehhhhh.

    I love the Klingons in their first TNG appearance. (and the score for that ep) I love Martok. I wish Gowron had more layers, but he definitly has an arc. But I felt way too many post TOS Klingons were just doing a "Dorn accent imitation"
     
  18. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Kang and Kor were mainly due to the acting talent of Jon Colicos and Michael Ansara more than anything else. Like how Gul Madred's character was enhanced by David Warner.
     
  19. Durek

    Durek Commander Red Shirt

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    For some reason, I always thought that Michael Ansara as Kang in the Original series was the first to show the mannerisms of the proud honorable Klingon at that time. I always loved what the Klingons tried to represent, though many didn't live up to the ideals.
     
  20. QCzar

    QCzar Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I think you can take everything said in this thread about Klingons, including retorts, and apply them to the Vulcans. And the Ferengi. And the Bajorans. And the Humans (yes, humans, and perhaps especially so, considering). And the Romulans. And the Cardassians..

    Face it folks, this is Trek's "thing". As others have pointed out, it's a story telling mechanism preferred by the franchise. They represent aspects of human psyche given (often) exaggerated form so that we might reflect on them externally and, through them, our own selves. It's a storytelling convention as old as Homer's Iliad (and probably much older).

    Star Trek is not, nor has it ever been, a documentary about realistic simulated aliens. It's a series of science-fiction morality tales, with fantastic monsters, fearsome warriors, magical wizards, strange peoples and fair folk. In other words, despite the warp ships and replicators, it's just business as usual when it comes to fantasy. Each era has wanted to tell their stories differently, and so their creatures change to suit this (Faeries become High Elves become Vulcans), but they still essentially represent the same aspect (wise, knowing, haughty, ancient).

    If it doesn't truly detract from the meat of the story the writers are trying to tell, then it doesn't warrant being pointed out as a flaw. When it does, then that's more likely simply bad writing rather than a failing of the concept of the race. If this happens consistently, as with the Kazon, it's proven to be a poorly conceived people.

    You don't want to go too far with it, though. To the point where they become pantomime. Then they cease seeming real and risk damaging the stories they're a part of. Klingons are certainly among the worst in this regard, but they do not really stand out as wholly unique in one-dimensionality and very few episodes are diminished as a result of it.

    In other words, Star Trek is not about them. It's about us.
     

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