Dull Humans?

Discussion in 'Future of Trek' started by Bry_Sinclair, Aug 20, 2014.

  1. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    A thought occured to me when reading another post.

    Humans by the 24th Century are supposed to be very egalitarian and open and accepting of all, quashing all the pettiness of people today. Does this cause major problems when developing human characters for a new series? Does it run the risk of making them dull?

    I know there are examples when this isn't always the case ("In The Pale Moonlight" and "Equinox" spring to my mind, where the hero takes actions that just aren't Starfleet), but these are always the exception. Would a new series be able to weave in flaws to the human characters that would be believable?

    We've already seen a few dull human characters (noteably Chakotay and Kim in VOY), which really bring nothing to a series except for filling a seat on the bridge.
     
  2. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    I never liked the "evolved" humans of TNG. Any future Trek project is far better off abandoning the concept, which only serves to make the characters unlikeable. TOS, DS9, the classic and new movies got humanity right.
     
  3. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    The problem with Roddenberry's evolved humans of the 24th century, who are so enlightened they can't even argue over the last sandwich on a tray, is they're insufferable sanctimonious assholes.
     
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  4. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

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    Picard's sanctimonious "we are evolved" speech really only applies to Starfleet and the major Federation planets where nobody has to worry about the necessities of life. As we saw in some episodes dealing with colony planets, border planets, and planets where the social order broke down for some reason, not all 24th-century humans are that "evolved."

    But they don't need to argue over the last sandwich (or other tangible object) because they have magic replicators that can just make them another one.

    Picard was a 24th-century "Renaissance Man" in that he was knowledgeable about many different things, he could fight, sing, play a musical instrument, dance, he was an explorer, and was well-liked by a lot of highly-ranked people.

    I wonder if his smug, arrogant attitude about being "evolved" was shared by the men of the historical Renaissance who had an extraordinary variety of skills, knowledge, and interests?
     
  5. Disco

    Disco Commodore Commodore

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    To me it was how these people interacted with colonolists/other races and younger crew members and with fallen officers that lead to some great stories so I don't see how a new series with 'less evolved' characters wouldn't work.
     
  6. Tim Walker

    Tim Walker Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Have an "evolved" character only if 1. He becomes an object of ridicule by other characters or 2. put the "evolved" said character into an extremely awkward/unworkable/untenable situation, where he is compelled to abandon the "evolved" thing, and act more human. Actually, number 2 might be a part of character development.

    Number 3. would be to turn an "evolved" character into an object of satire/parody.
     
  7. Tim Walker

    Tim Walker Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    With a post scarcity economy...with a post as a Star Fleet captain...Picard could afford to look down on material concerns. He didn't have to worry about paying the rent, or paying for food, or paying for medical insurance. It is us less "evolved" people who stoop so low as to deal with such concerns.

    But, as Quark pointed out, if you remove their creature comforts, humans will become as nasty as the most blood thirsty Klingon.
     
  8. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    But he didn't stop there, nor did anyone in first-season TNG. They didn't just look down on "concerns" - they looked down on the people who had them. That's what isn't cool.

    And it didn't stop with the first season, either. It festered until at least the third, with that one episode which suggested that it's wrong to mourn dead relatives. Wait, WHAT? :wtf:
     
  9. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

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    Ah-ha! Somebody mentioned a new member whose name is very close to mine! :)

    I can relate to the satire/parody. Every time I've tried to write TNG fanfic, the characters headed in that direction all on their own. A friend and I had a blast writing a soap opera parody about Captain Jacquard, First Officer Bill Biker, boy genius Eastley Smasher, etc.

    That's the one about the little boy whose mother died on an away mission? The thing that jumped out at me about that in addition to the point you make is that nobody seemed to be actually looking after the kid - as in staying in the quarters with him - and for some reason the kid was perfectly groomed.

    Every time a member of my family died, perfect grooming was definitely not on my list of what was important.
     
  10. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    Part of what gave TOS its appeal was it used contemporary man in a future setting. TNG and other 24th century shows made a point of how they were better than we are, so they don't resemble contemporary man in that respect. I think the superiority preaching was lessened a bit after Roddenberry gave up the reins though.
     
  11. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Not really. They still looked down on pretty much every race they encountered who had different ways.
     
  12. The Stig

    The Stig Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's not that the so-called 'evolved sensibility' of humanity is dull, it's simply not believable. We'll go further, farther and faster than ever before. But we'll continue to be petty, jealous little creatures. "I won't kill, today" is pretty much the best we'll ever do.
     
  13. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Yeppers.
     
  14. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    There's number four, in FC Lily showed Picard that his evolved future man was just bullshit. Picard obtained personal satisfation from killing the Borg on the holodeck, it was payback for what they did to him.

    :)
     
  15. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I do like what the novels have done with Ralph Offenhouse. They actually gave him something useful to do:

    He was a Federation ambassador to the Ferengi for awhile (Debtors' Planet). And now he's the Federation Secretary of Commerce!

    So it would seem that Offenhouse' financial expertise actually benefited him, and the Federation, in the end. Quite a fitting payback to Picard treating him like whale shit in "The Neutral Zone", I think. :lol:
     
  16. Hober Mallow

    Hober Mallow Commodore Commodore

    The evolved enlightened 24th Century humans are a product of later ST spinoffs, and so can be safely ignored in any new series.
     
  17. Agent Richard07

    Agent Richard07 Admiral Admiral

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    The TNG characters were never 'perfect'. They had issues and personal problems but they still managed to be professional and got along, and they lived in a society that gave up a lot of what it did in the past. That's not unrealistic. People today get along without pettiness and throwing each other over desks and we've given up a lot of what we did in the past. We don't burn witches, a lot of prejudice isn't tolerated the way it used to be, etc. I don't know why it's so hard to believe that people can continue to change along those lines.

    Would a better humanity make for good contemporary TV drama? That's the question and I don't have an answer. Maybe it doesn't unless it's stylized in some way. Maybe the problems many people have with the 'evolved humanity' on Trek lies with the writing not the concept.

    And as for DS9, the humans were pretty much the same there that they were in TNG. A lot of the flawed human drama that people liked so much came from the alien characters.
     
  18. David.Blue

    David.Blue Commander Red Shirt

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    This is an excellent point, a trap makers of nearly all modern Treks have fallen into at one time or another. But there are ways out...

    First might simply be what DS9 eventually did, note that it is Earth's security and abundance that makes its people so "moral." When threatened, they quickly show their dark side, even if all of them don't give in to same (which would be just as formulaic). People on the frontier would have a very different world view than those of the inner worlds.

    Second, take away the abundance and security. One might well expect that in the aftermath of the Dominion War, the Federation and its citizens might feel shaken to say the least. The cultural shock waves might take quite a while to settle.

    Third, focus on conflicts that are post-scarcity. In Major Barbara G.B.Shaw has a character note the workers in his factories, their spirits are hungry precisely because their stomachs are full. Consider--by the 24th century doesn't it seem to you folks can fashion whatever kind of society they might like, somewhere? In the Revelation Space series, this resulted in the Glitter Ring--thousands of habitats in orbit around a planet, each one with a society utterly unlike anything anywhere. One involved cybernetically giving up their identity into a hive mind. Another might be the total dissassociation from sexuality or the notion of gender. Still another sought to biologically alter themselves to fit a zero-gee (i.e. free fall) environment. And so on. Such dissenters would be the most extreme examples, but surely in a population that must number in many tens of billions, a lot of folks don't fit the mainstream? Increasingly some like Van Gogh or Rothko would pursue intensely individual visions, seeking fundamental truths beyond that of survival, comfort and procreation.

    Finally, we can see the UFP is hardly free of prejudice. Consider how it looks upon genetic modification of human beings! Or religion? It doesn't seem to have much racism left, but what about prejudice based on species? How many of them would trust a Romulan, or a Cardassian? I for one was always pleased to see TNG approach the issue of Data's sentience--even if it took them a long time to do in any way that wasn't ham-fisted. I find myself wondering how Starfleet personnel might react to someone who decided to change gender, more or less regularly? Likewise, the matter of personal rather than social prejudices and issues always remains--Picard's family, for example, as well as Ezri's and to some extent B'Elanna's.
     
  19. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Only if you take them at their word. It could be plenty interesting to have a society that's well up itself about thinking it's evolved and refined and such but really isn't. Much like, say, American society has at various points falsely imagined itself to be classless or "post-racial." The conflict between that idealized image and the harsh truths of reality would be the stuff of excellent stories. (In fact, for all that people go on and on and on about the too-perfect humans of TNG, many a TNG episode revolved around precisely this.)
     
  20. Dennis

    Dennis The Man Premium Member

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    All cultures have a gulf between their ideals/idealized images of right behavior and the range of behaviors actually exhibited by their members and accepted by the community.