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

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

  1. TerriO

    TerriO Writer-type human Premium Member

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

    And welcome as we come careening back to my original point. He was a product of his time. The whole "free love" movement was in full swing back then. Having a lot of girlfriends wasn't that unusual or looked down upon. What was a likeble character then is not guaranteed to be a likable character now. Can you name a character like Kirk that has been created in the last 10-15 years who's actually likable? Can't think of one off the top of my head, but I'm willing to admit I don't know every SF character out there.

    Times change. And the mores of one generation aren't going to necessarily be the mores of another.

    Although, considering the stereotype of the average male fan of Trek, I've got to wonder how much of the Kirk hero worship is from guys who had trouble getting dates in high school. ;)
     
  2. Baerbel Haddrell

    Baerbel Haddrell Commodore Commodore

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

    There are a lot of old classics that are pretty much unwatchable to me. I very much dislike the type of the tough military man who thinks emotions are a weakness and played by actors who often look overly masculine with square jaws. When that is combined with the typical female scream-a-lot who has little to contribute to the story apart from being pretty and getting into trouble, then I am definitely fed up.

    Kirk is not quite that bad but he is far away from being a MacGyver. I am a fan of the MacGyver series and never had a problem with how the series handled his female friends and lovers.

    I am very glad that storytelling in general has evolved and keeps evolving.
     
  3. William Leisner

    William Leisner Scribbler Rear Admiral

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

    Or, she could have been one of a hundred conquests, who he was particularly fond of because this amazing thing she used to do with her tongue...

    But either way, is there any doubt that Kirk did "consumate" with the Ruth-bot in "Shore Leave"? A construct specifically created for him, out of his own fantasies, so that he could, quote, "play" with her?
     
  4. Cicero

    Cicero Admiral Admiral

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

    I think I specifically remember him saying that what frustrated him about Shatner's acting was that Shatner approached playing Captain Kirk with the fact that he was the hero in mind, whereas Meyer wanted a protrayal that opened up the possibility of Kirk not being the good guy all the time.

    There was a bit of a falling out between the two when Meyer cut a segment of the 'let them die' scene which Shatner had insisted on - and had thought he'd been promised would stay in - in which Kirk literally waves off his statement as a clear overreaction, not something he really meant.
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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

    From the way Kirk reacted to her, it was pretty clear that he felt deep love and regret. It was no mere fling. If anything, the impression I got from Shatner's nonverbal performance was that their relationship had ended tragically, that maybe she'd even died. Honestly I'm amazed nobody's ever followed up on that.

    Yes, that counts as one of the two probable encounters he had during the first season, and in my mind is more probable than the other one, Edith Keeler (whose standards of propriety probably would've precluded premarital sex).
     
  6. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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

    Who?
     
  7. Andrew Harris

    Andrew Harris Writer Red Shirt

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

    I think you raise an interesting point here, about how much backstory actually informs on the characters whether it's shown extensively on screen or not. For example, we know that Neo is supposed to be some expert hacker; but do we ever actually see him hacking into much before he's liberated from the Matrix? And, while I know it's a joke, Morn is an unstoppable talker, even though he never even speaks on screen.

    You can find all sorts of these sort of things throughout fiction, both Trek and not. We know Spock has a strained relationship with his father, for example, even though it's only shown a few times in 30 years. It's those kind of scenes that inform on what you're not seeing (such as, for example, the way Kirk seems to go from woman to woman so easily), rather than representing the only times that it's happening.
     
  8. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Admiral

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

    Back to the original post, I suppose one must ask "What would make a character in Star Trek unlikable to the other characters?"

    I think first and foremost, given how big a premium they put in Trek of characters being willing to sacrifice themselves for their shipmates, an unlikable Trek character would need to be someone completely uninterested in self sacrifice.

    A Lt. Commander or someone of similar rank who wouldn't go anywhere remotely dangerous without a phalanx of security with them and wouldn't hesitate or show a bit of emotion in sending other crewman into extreme danger.
     
  9. Anthony Sabre

    Anthony Sabre Commodore Commodore

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

    That might be a bit drastic. I think it's easier. Some Trek characters have a trait about them that makes them unlikable. But that one bad trait is out shined by their many other positive traits. All that needs to be done is create a character in which their positive traits don't do enough to off set what people dislike about them.

    Take O'Brien for instance. In TNG and DS9 he showed some attitudes towards Cardassians that could be taken as racist. However he eventually overcame those prejudices. What if he hadn't? What if he went on the rest of the series spouting off about the "damned Carddies" now and again? What if he muttered "spoonhead" under his breath as Dukat or Garak walked by? Throw that in and leave the other positive aspects to his character and do you still like him as much? Is he as respected and admired by his fellow officers?
     
  10. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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

    So when is the unlikeable crewman from D'Ton III showing up? :devil:
     
  11. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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

    I think the difference between the "real" O'Brien and the scenario you just outlined is that the "real" O'Brien was aware early on ("The Wounded") that he had a problem, and seemed to actively work over the course of the series to fix it. I think in "The Wounded" he started to learn to see Cardassians as individuals even though he ended up snubbing Daro twice...remember, even Keiko seemed to observe that he had a problem. I suspect (personally) that once it came back to bite him in the butt in "Tribunal," he probably realized he'd better clean up his attitude quick or his karma really might get him at last.

    It's when characters do not grow, when they revel in or consistently turn a blind eye to their negative traits, that I cannot like them.

    I do not excuse O'Brien's attitude or his language--but there was growth, and to me that made the difference.
     
  12. Andrew Harris

    Andrew Harris Writer Red Shirt

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

    Okay, here's a question: Do you remember O'Brien's initial attitude as somehow shocking your conscience when you first saw it? As in, you thought: Man, he better change that over time, or I'm not going to be able to watch that bigot on the show?

    I remember feeling a flicker of that, and yet only a flicker, and never once thought about it every time that McCoy would grumble about the "damn green-blooded Vulcan" that would make him seem so irascible (at least, not until much several viewings later.)
     
  13. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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

    I remember this one DS9 novel - Fallen Heroes, I think - where O'Brien makes a racial slur to one of his own men. He doesn't actually *say* it, but he thinks it in his head. I found that very out of character.
     
  14. Turbo

    Turbo Vice Admiral Admiral

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

    ^ I remember that as well. With any other character, that might be forgivable since Fallen Heroes was written before DS9 had premiered. However, it's not even in character with the O'Brien we saw in The Wounded. Utterly inexcusable.
     
  15. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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

    Dang, it's been so many years since I've read Fallen Heroes that I'd completely forgotten about that. That IS pretty bad, that they would write that.

    (BTW, at what point did the books start being written after the series was on the air?)

    I thought change had better happen, because I had a distinct feeling that "Cardie" was not nice language in the 24th century, and to toss that around so freely...well, it kinda reminded me of the term "Japs." And if you remember the ghastly caricatures and other slurs that went with that term...ouch.

    McCoy I've had a harder time pinning down. I could never tell how much was bitterness, just plain sarcasm, or a cover for the exact opposite sort of feelings about Spock. I never got that feeling from O'Brien, that what he said could be anything other than disdain for Cardassians.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2008
  16. Turbo

    Turbo Vice Admiral Admiral

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

    Honestly, I didn't like any of the DS9 books until the Relaunch. Millenium was decent, but the books really didn't get into gear until after DS9 ended.

    ETA: Oh, that wasn't your question. :D Hold on while I pull out VoI.

    ETA2: It looks like Betrayal (DS9 #6) was the first book to have been written after episodes were filmed. Lois Tilton says she had to do a cram session of watching the just-filmed episodes and rewriting her book to make it fit.

    For fun, I kept going.

    The first TNG book written after its premiere was The Children of Hamlin (TNG #3) by Carmen Carter. Jean Lorrah's Survivors (#4) was definitely written after the beginning, while Gene DeWeese's The Peacekeepers (#2) was not. And since The Children of Hamlin was published at the start of TNG's second season, I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt.

    It looks like either Invasion! Book Four: The Final Fury (Voyager #9) or Bless The Beasts (#10) was the first Voyager book written after the series premiered - S.N. Lewitt, the author of Cybersong (#8) says Voyager had not aired yet, while Karen Haber, author of Bless the Beasts says it had.

    By the time Enterprise premiered, the novel release schedule was lighter, so only By the Book was written before the series aired. (If I'm wrong on this one, please correct me, but Dave Stern's comments on What Price Honor? make it seem like he'd already seen some of Enterprise.)
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2008
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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

    Actually it was "you illiterate Welshman," in reference to the character in question misquoting Shakespeare. Given that the author of the novel is himself Welsh, I don't think there was any genuine malice intended.
     
  18. Andrew Harris

    Andrew Harris Writer Red Shirt

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

    Good point... though with the Cardassians somewhat based on the Nazis, it might have been closer to "Jerries" (the derogatory term for Germans at the time), which would fit with the sound of "Cardies".
     
  19. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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

    That's certainly a good comparison too--but either way you go, it just...man, have you ever SEEN some of the WWII propaganda posters and what it was apparently acceptable to put on the back then? :cardie:

    Brrr.
     
  20. Andrew Harris

    Andrew Harris Writer Red Shirt

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

    Yeah, I used to teach a class at university when I was a journalism professor looking back at how the media depicted key historical events, like WWII. The most typical recurring image was physically depicting the enemy as an animal--lots of "Jap" faces on snakes & rats, anti-German images modeled after the movie poster for King Kong, etc. Obviously, all done to dehumanize the enemy, and make it easier/less morally objectionable to kill them.

    Interestingly enough, that's exactly the same type of propaganda images that the Germans were using against the Jews. And, it should come as no surprise, the same type of images are used to characterize Al Qaida, Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, etc. in newspapers cartoons today.

    This isn't to say that while at war it's good or bad, right or wrong--only that it's incredibly effective. Which is exactly why it's done, over and over again.