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

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    Yes, though I don't cite those two specific examples.
     
  2. Baerbel Haddrell

    Baerbel Haddrell Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    I am probably one of the older members here but nevertheless, I have never been a TOS fan. My interest in Star Trek started with TNG.

    It also didn`t help that the German versions I watched as a teenager distorted a lot of the real dialogue. I very much disliked McCoy and his so-called good natured name calling of Spock. After having watched the original, it doesn`t seem so bad any more. Some of it is still borderline but, no, I wouldn`t call it racist any more. (By the way, the German version changed his nickname “Bones” into “Pille”, meaning “Pill”.)

    I didn`t like Kirk then and today I still don`t like him much. I understand that TOS is a product of its time but so is the German SF series “Raumpatrouille” which has none of these problems and is about the same age. Therefore I am far less understanding and tolerant of Kirk`s womanizing. I agree that Kirk never forced himself on a woman and that he genuinely respects them. Nevertheless, there are too many episodes in which Kirk made me cringe.

    I think this bad impression would have been lessened if there wouldn`t be the other unfortunate product of its time in TOS, the treatment of women. There are exceptions but often I wondered if these women are just there for showing off glittering and revealing costumes and if one requirement to enter Starfleet for women is looking good in a super mini skirt. Too often these women looked like eye candy but had little else to offer except being the damsel in distress. If Kirk would have been involved more often with women I could actually respect, I think I would also have been more forgiving to Kirk.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    But the only one of those who'd met him was Chang, and he had reason to misrepresent him. Lucsly and Dulmur (it's actually spelled that way for some reason, despite the intended anagram) were merely describing the historical reputation of a man who'd lived a century before, and those are notoriously unreliable. History probably remembers Kirk mostly from the V'Ger incident and the Genesis and Probe incidents, and the latter would color their perception of him as someone who defies orders and does what he feels like (just as the movies have created that false perception in the audience's minds). His prior decades of disciplined service probably don't get as much attention.

    And Kirk's reputation as a ladies' man isn't entirely undeserved, but it is grossly exaggerated, and often twisted in a way that's unfair both to him and to the women involved.
     
  4. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    I've been watching early Season One of the original show recently, and it's been interesting to me that the idea of Kirk-as-a-lover-of-women hasn't really come up yet. "The Naked Time" implies that he can't have a romantic relationship, he doesn't seem to know what to do with Eve in "Mudd's Women", and his advice to Charlie in "Charlie X" is downright terrible. If Kirk was supposed to be Hornblower in space, I wonder if he was originally supposed to have a much more Hornbloweresque success rate with women.

    Though actually, now that I think about it, Hornblower was making off with (usually married) women all the time once he made post-captain, wasn't he?
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    Indeed. Kirk was originally portrayed as a very serious, reserved military man with no time for women. I'm convinced that changed because of network expectations -- in the '60s, TV action heroes were expected to be making out with a new vixen every week. See The Wild Wild West, for example -- Jim Kirk has nothing on Jim West as a womanizer. I figure that over time, the show drifted somewhat from the serious, naturalistic drama it was conceived as and became a bit closer to being a conventional action show.

    Or maybe it was Shatner who wanted Kirk to get more romance, the same way Stewart pushed for Picard getting more action in both senses of the word.
     
  6. Trent Roman

    Trent Roman Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    "Gene--what's happening? We've... got all these hot--female--guest stars on the show, but I'm... not making time with any of them. At least let me... get it on with Nichelle."

    Fictitiously yours, Trent Roman
     
  7. Deano2099

    Deano2099 Commander Red Shirt

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    Err, I feel silly for pointing this out, but just because Kirk may have slept with lots of woman, does not make him a womanizer. Yes it's the 60s, or the 23rd century depending on how you look at it. But even today some men like to sleep with lots of women. Some women like to sleep with lots of men. There's nothing wrong with that life-style and I'm uncomfortable with how people are imposing their own sense of morality onto Kirk. As has been pointed out, most of the time women threw themselves at him, he didn't try to charm them into bed or work around their reluctance to sleep with them and then dump them in the morning. That would be womanizing.
    Sleeping with willing woman shouldn't make him an unlikeable character. Yes, today we might call Kirk a stud and the girls sluts, but I'd hope in the Trek future we can assume such labels are done away with and there's a much more mature attitude towards sex. And that people that like having sex with people having sex with other people that like having sex with people is something that's accepted as a valid lifestyle choice for both genders, even if it's not the stance adopted by all, or even a majority, of the populace.
     
  8. Andrew Harris

    Andrew Harris Writer Red Shirt

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    But in a way, I think that was my point: Kirk as a "maverick" is at the very least his popular reputation, and we're talking about here what makes him popular.

    In fact, if it's actually not supported by the facts (despite how other characters may have described him onscreen), then that may even make it more to the point: If people continue to believe it about him, even when there's not so much a reason to, it's likely because that's what people want to believe--or, in the context of the title of this thread, what they find likeable about him.

    I'm not sure that really qualifies as an aside. Occasionally showing a flexible interpretation of the Prime Directive is pretty much disregarding the fact that it's called "the Prime Directive". I think you're just coming up with another way of saying that he finds a way around the Prime Directive when he really, really wants to--and the entire point of a Prime Directive (or any directive, for that matter) is not for it to be there when you want to follow it, but for it to still be there when you don't.

    Your overall point, though, is well-taken--as I mentioned to Keith, I'm just pointing out that these are the qualities commonly associated with Kirk, and in fact they're associated with him because that's what people find likeable.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    I don't agree. We've seen every captain apply the Directive flexibly when necessary, and we've seen that when it's applied too strictly (as in "Pen Pals" and "Homeward") the consequences are monstrous. It's not meant to be an absolute dogma. It's meant to be a guideline that forces Starfleet personnel to think carefully before they interfere, to make sure they aren't doing it for the wrong reasons or to an excessive degree.

    Besides, Starfleet captains in Kirk's era were supposed to use their own judgment in deciding how best to apply regulations to a situation, since they often didn't have the luxury of immediate feedback from Command. We sometimes forget it because we're used to the more civilized galaxy of the TNG era, but TOS was modeled on Horatio Hornblower, on an era when ship captains were the representatives of their nation abroad with the authority and latitude to determine policy for themselves because there was no one else available who could. Kirk was sworn to uphold the Prime Directive, yes, but he was also the one with the authority to determine just what the Prime Directive meant in a given situation.

    After all, each situation is unique. Each civilization is different. It would be foolish and irresponsible to try to apply a rigid, unvarying set of laws to every different contact scenario. Flexibility is essential to the ethical, responsible application of any law. As Picard put it, "There can be no justice so long as laws are absolute."

    So Kirk wasn't being a maverick by being flexible about the Prime Directive. On the contrary, he was fulfilling his responsibility as the arbiter of Starfleet policy in situations outside of the direct purview of Starfleet Command. I have absolutely no doubt that every other captain in the fleet exercised the same kind of latitude when the situation called for it. (Although at least one, Ronald Tracey, took it much too far.)
     
  10. TerriO

    TerriO Writer-type human Premium Member

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    I ain't twisting shit, babe. I'm going on what I've seen in the episodes. Nobody falls in "twoo wuv" in that short a span of time. "True lust" maybe, but that smacked-in-the-face by the Romance Fairy thing only happens in bad romance novels.

    Okay, Christopher, news flash: you can't defend the real Jim Kirk. There is no such thing. He's a fictional character.

    Now, going back to the subject: this is no caricature at all. Multiple sexual encounters over three years, an incorrigible flirt, more romances than you can count, is this a womanizer, a guy who just got really lucky with a bunch of really easy women, or a hypersexual being? (Hence the hero worship. I can't think of a single guy I know even remotely well who wouldn't kill for that kind of luck with women. I can even think of one or two married men who'd like that kind of luck, no lie.)

    Any man with that kind of track record? In the 60s, that may have been fine, but now? I'd still want an STD test (or five) before I'd go anywhere near them, and I sure as hell wouldn't trust them around any of my female friends.
     
  11. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Admiral

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    Actually Kirk only had four confirmed sexual encounters in three years.

    And one of those was with his wife while he had the identity of "Kirock".

    Odona, Deela , Miramanee, and the mirror Marlena Moreau (try saying that three times fast).

    There were indications of others. Helen Johannsen (mentioned by Captain Pike's wife as Kirk stirred uncomfortably).

    But a number of "Kirk's women" were in the past.

    Ruth, Areel Shaw, Janet Wallace, to name just three.
     
  12. William Leisner

    William Leisner Scribbler Rear Admiral

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    ^ So... David Marcus was the result of an immaculate conception?
     
  13. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Admiral

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    I said three years.

    I was referring to the original series when one can argue that Kirks reputation was made.

    Carol Marcus was obviously a relationship (possibly the "cute lab tech" that Gary Mitchell says he "threw at Kirk" and Kirk said he "almost married") several years prior to the original series.
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    EDIT: Never mind, Dayton3 said pretty much what I was going to say.
     
  15. TerriO

    TerriO Writer-type human Premium Member

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    Still not disabusing me of that whole "manwhore" notion, guys. Reinforcing it, actually.
     
  16. William Leisner

    William Leisner Scribbler Rear Admiral

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    But... but ... he was only mostly a manwhore before he became captain!!! Surely you see the difference that makes!!!
     
  17. TerriO

    TerriO Writer-type human Premium Member

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    So, he's only as easy as 2+2 in the series, whereas he's as easy as 1-2-3 before that? :vulcan:
     
  18. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Admiral

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    It is the women in his past that makes Kirk look like such a ladies man.

    The stuff that happens onscreen during the three seasons of OS does not.

    But it seems that whenever writers wanted a dramatic element regarding Kirk and a guest actress they made her an old flame of the Captains.

    One might even argue that the women supposedly in Kirks past were not lovers.

    Ruth (Shore Leave) might have been some idealized, never consumated obsession of Kirks from years back that the computer on the planet manifested for him.

    Likewise, Dr. Lester (Turnabout Intruder) apparently was extremely volatile and there are indications her relationship with Kirk was very brief. It might never have been a sexual on either.
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    Okay, so Kirk had a lot of girlfriends, but that's because he was a character in '60s episodic TV, where each story had to stand on its own so recurring relationships were rare. It's hard to find a TV action hero who doesn't have a long list of old flames. Heck, MacGyver had different old flames or lost loves cropping up two or three times a season, and he was a sensitive '80s kind of guy. If Kirk was a "manwhore," then so are most classic TV heroes, with rare exceptions like Columbo or Stuart MacMillan (and even he got his titular Wife killed off in the final season so Rock Hudson would be free to have romances of the week).
     
  20. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Have Star Trek Writers Ever Tried to Create an Unlikable Character

    That's not quite the reasoning I recall Meyer giving for why he exhausted Shatner's performance, take after take after take. I was simply to stop Shatner overacting. The result in some scenes was a more subdued, perhaps weary, Kirk, as Shatner got bored with saying the lines over and over, but how is that "less heroic" for Kirk?