Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character?

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Dayton3, Aug 14, 2008.

  1. KRAD

    KRAD Keith R.A. DeCandido Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 1999
    Location:
    New York City
    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    This is probably a good place to mention the article I just turned in to Paul Simpson last week for Star Trek: The Magazine that explodes the myth of Jim Kirk as a maverick, a reputation whose primary basis is on the extraordinary circumstances of The Search for Spock, but has very little evidence to support it outside of situations where his best friend's life was at stake.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    ^^And let's not forget that Spock set the precedent, committing mutiny to save Captain Pike well before Kirk did anything of the kind.

    One of my greatest concerns about the upcoming Abrams movie is whether their Kirk will be based on the genuine character from TOS or on the maverick/womanizer myth that's evolved around him.
     
  3. TerriO

    TerriO Writer-type human Premium Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2001
    Location:
    Doing a little bit of writing
    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    And notice that a lot of the defense of Kirk are coming from the men. I'd like to know how much of that is really childhood hero worship talking?

    I highly suspect that Kirk would be looked down upon as a scumbag if he were to be created on a modern TV show. He's a product of his time, and he always will be. Hell, Stargate: Atlantis is a fine example. References to Kirk are thrown around as insults there to characters who've barely scratched the surface of Kirk's affinity for women.

    Kirk's actually one of the things I totally disliked about TOS, but I can accept that that was okay for when TOS was made. Don't like it, but I can accept it. And that's the beauty of the whole thing.

    That's the thing about likeable/unlikeable characters, it's a thoroughly subjective question. What some of us consider to be heroic and an example we want to follow, others may consider to be scummy and loathesome. *shrug* TEHO.
     
  4. Cicero

    Cicero Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2002
    Location:
    The 42nd State
    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    ^ Well, my grandmother liked only Kirk when the Original Series was new (to this day, he and Tasha Yar are the only Star Trek characters in whom she's expressed any interest). And my younger sister almost idolizes him. I doubt that just males who admire the character.

    As noted above, perceptions of him as particularly sexually active, notably taken with the opposite sex, or possessed of a maverick disposition are in conflict with the facts.

    Captain Kirk probably one of the most upright characters we've seen on screen (and William Shatner apparently played him so much that way that Nicholas Meyer felt compelled to force it from his system to an extent, waiting until Shatner acted less like Kirk and more like a less heroic character before moving beyond some scenes).
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    Now, that's hardly fair. None of us are saying that Kirk is a womanizer and we admire him for that. We're saying that his reputation as a womanizer is unrealistically exaggerated, and that his genuinely respectable qualities (intelligence, discipline, dedication to duty) get overlooked because of the caricature. Insofar as Kirk was portrayed as a womanizer, he was no different from any other 1960s action lead, and while I agree with you that such behavior is not admirable by today's standards (including the standards of an enlightened man, thank you very much), I don't think it defines who he really was.

    Also, it was a man, Andrew Harris, who was dismissing Kirk as a Lothario and a maverick, and he was the one that Keith, Steve, and I are disagreeing with. So it's hardly valid to call this a gender issue.

    Plus, if you look at the facts, Kirk's womanizing isn't really any worse than John Sheppard's. What's more, I think that Kirk has actually fallen sincerely in love with more women than Sheppard has -- Ruth, Edith, Miramanee, Rayna (although that was implausibly fast). Also, quite often, it's the women who are coming onto him, not the other way around: Rand (in "Miri"), Helen Noel, Sylvia, Drusilla, Nona, Elaan, Deela, Marta, Odona. He wasn't a wolf, he was a man that women were intensely interested in and who frequently responded to that interest (except when his duty got in the way, since duty always came first for him), but sometimes tended to fall too hard.
     
  6. TerriO

    TerriO Writer-type human Premium Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2001
    Location:
    Doing a little bit of writing
    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    I was merely pointing out that the defenses here seemed to be coming primarily from the men, Cicero, not that he was only likeable to men. And wondering how many of those men might be exhibiting a bit of childhood hero worship. :vulcan:

    It was the 60s. If you remember them, you weren't there. Still, all you have to do is look around to see people basing perceptions of people on stories they've heard about them. It happens all the time. It's human nature. Not saying there's anything right or wrong about the behavior, just that it exists.

    And I've seen enough TOS to know that I find Kirk completely unlikeable. That's why I refused to write the character on more than one occasion. Didn't want my dislike to come out in the prose.

    But that doesn't change the fact that others don't share that opinion.

    As I said, "likability" is a thoroughly subjective term.

    And Jesus Christ. I'd want a man tested for every STD in the book if I knew he had a back catalog like that, Christopher. But for you that's just fine? Whatever floats your boat, buddy. Anyone who knows me knows I'm hardly a prude, but if giving in whenever a woman comes on to you is considered heroic behavior, except in those rare occasions when it might interfere with whatever your duty happens to be, that just....was the 60s. Nowadays, the phrase "easier than 1-2-3" comes to mind.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2008
  7. PaulSimpson

    PaulSimpson Writer/Editor Captain

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2007
    Location:
    The Twilight Zone
    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    I'm amazed that some of these myths continue - but that's part of the reason for running the series of "myth dispelling" articles that we've been doing. David R. George III comprehensively destroyed the Kirk the Womanizer idea, the "emotionless" Spock and the Cowboy Diplomacy set up over the past few months, and KRAD's piece he refers to above admits to Amok Time being an exception.

    Paul
     
  8. William Leisner

    William Leisner Scribbler Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2003
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    Perhaps because the evidence of the actual episodes contradicts the "dispelling". I mean, how many women do you have to "fall sincerely in love with" -- for an hour -- before you can be called a womanizer, for pity's sake?
     
  9. PaulSimpson

    PaulSimpson Writer/Editor Captain

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2007
    Location:
    The Twilight Zone
    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    Before DRG jumps in, I'd say that the dispelling deals exactly with that point, Bill - but wanna write a rebuttal of the rebuttal?

    Paul
     
  10. KRAD

    KRAD Keith R.A. DeCandido Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 1999
    Location:
    New York City
    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    Well, the running theme of the entire third season was people finding their soul mate in 45 minutes or less. Spock with the Romulan Commander, Kirk with Miramanee, McCoy with Natira, etc.
     
  11. KRAD

    KRAD Keith R.A. DeCandido Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 1999
    Location:
    New York City
    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    With all respect to DRG3, I didn't entirely buy his argument, either. One of my favorite lines from the first season was McCoy's to Areel Shaw in "Court Martial": "All my old friends look like doctors. All Jim's old friends look like you."
     
  12. PaulSimpson

    PaulSimpson Writer/Editor Captain

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2007
    Location:
    The Twilight Zone
    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    You know, part of the idea of these articles was to provoke debate... shame it's taken getting on for a year to get there!!:rolleyes:
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    Come on. I explicitly said I don't think that's just fine, not the way you're insinuating. You're twisting my words just as badly as you're twisting Kirk's behavior.

    And please follow the link I posted in my initial response to Andrew. In fact, Kirk had only about four confirmed and three or four likely sexual encounters over the course of 79 episodes, with the rest being flirtations and unconsummated romances. What you're condemning is a fiction, a caricature that isn't supported by solid fact. What I'm defending is the real Jim Kirk who's nothing like that caricature. If he were the kind of man you claim, I'd hold him in contempt too. But he isn't.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2008
  14. William Leisner

    William Leisner Scribbler Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2003
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    David and I did have a little back-and-forth here at the time.

    As for rebutting the rebuttal... why not; how hard could it be? :evil:
     
  15. PaulSimpson

    PaulSimpson Writer/Editor Captain

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2007
    Location:
    The Twilight Zone
    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    We currently have a half page given over to the Letters. It's hitting a whole page this issue because of the Experience closing... Some mass debate would be great...!!
     
  16. Trent Roman

    Trent Roman Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2001
    Location:
    The Palace of Pernicious Pleasures
    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    Well, I am male, but I'm a child of the eighties and never liked TOS anyway, so Kirk is certainly not a childhood hero, or a character I care for generally. But I have no problem, in vacuo, with a character who is sexually active or otherwise exhibits a hedonistic tendency, as long as it doesn't interfere with his or her responsibilities. Nor do I subscribe to Moral Majority talking points about the sexually active being 'unclean', or deficient in character for enjoying the physical company of other consenting adults.

    Fictitiously yours, Trent Roman
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    Jim Kirk never pushed himself on an unwilling or reluctant woman; in fact, it was more often the reverse. The only times he tried anything of the sort were in the line of duty, such as trying to seduce Kelinda or distract Miranda Jones. In the first case, he totally struck out and walked away with a bruised ego, but Kelinda then took considerable pleasure in making out with every warm-blooded male she could get her hands on. In the second case, Miranda caught onto his rather blatant ruse and he got essentially nowhere.

    If anything, painting Kirk as an exploiter of women is an insult to the women, because it reduces them to passive victims when in fact many or most of them were the ones taking the initiative, going after him because they desired him or had other agendas of their own that they were serving.

    The only exceptions were in the second season. Technically, he was taking advantage of Marlena Moreau by pretending to be her lover when actually he wasn't, but that could again be interpreted as doing his duty (requiring him to keep his true identity hidden). And he really shouldn't have slept with Drusilla the slave girl no matter how aggressively she offered herself; as a slave, she had no actual ability to give consent. Frankly I think he was out of character there -- too much Roddenberrian self-indulgence in that one. (Although Kirk did at least try to show respect for her wishes and freedom of choice at first, so he gets a point for that, but points off for not following through.) But there were plenty of other '60s action heroes who would've done the same, and far more often than Kirk ever did. Okay, by today's standards, some of his behavior was inappropriate. But as '60s TV heroes go, he was a paragon of sensitivity.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2008
  18. TheAlmanac

    TheAlmanac Writer Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2007
    Location:
    Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    I haven't read the article (obviously), but does it address the fact that Kirk's reputation as a maverick, like his reputation as a womaniser, is a canonical one?

    I don't mean in a "supported by the evidence" sense, but rather in a "stated by the characters" sense. Inaccurate and/or simplistic though they may be, the reputations themselves exist in that universe.

    Both of them get a mention in "Trials and Tribble-ations" ("the man was a menace," according to Dulmer and Lucsly, while Sisko notes that he "had quite the reputation as a ladies' man"), and since Star Trek VI has been mentioned, Chang said he had "a history of violating the chain of command whenever it suited him."

    Simplistic interpretations of public figures happen all the time, so I'm not saying those people are correct, but I thought it was worth noting that this perception of Kirk isn't limited to those who haven't met him. ;)
     
  19. Trent Roman

    Trent Roman Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2001
    Location:
    The Palace of Pernicious Pleasures
    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    That's an interesting point. Since we are only privy to select adventures of these characters, mere glimpses into the fictive universe when we get right down to it, perhaps those who reside there know something that we don't? Might have Kirk acquired these reputations off-screen, as it were, either at the Academy or coming up the ranks, only to mellow (or rein himself in) with the responsibility of captaining a starship?

    Fictitiously yours, Trent Roman
     
  20. ClayinCA

    ClayinCA Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    Location:
    California
    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    I remember being at a Shore Leave years and years ago when (I think it was) Ann Crispin mentioned that she'd never liked Kirk very much. I was astounded, because it never came through in any of her books.
     

Share This Page