Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Nob Akimoto, Oct 21, 2013.

  1. Nob Akimoto

    Nob Akimoto Captain Captain

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    And back on the original thread topic. I for one would like to see a bit more human characters or humanesque colonies more familiar with non-American or European culture. More Choudhury types, or if Garak's talking about literature, maybe he can speak about someone other than Jane Austen and Machiavelli. Someone like the political philosophy of Al-Farabi, or Maimonedes. Worf admiringly leafing through Hagakure or Klingons starting a Kurosawa watching society or something.

    (I hope this doesn't qualify as "story ideas")
     
  2. Hound of UIster

    Hound of UIster Vice Admiral Admiral

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    He also refused to free slaves that he was charged with freeing when it meant negatively impacting his own finances. Hardly the choices of an honorable man who was really against slavery. As a present day narrative, the idea of Lee as some sort of CSA idol who was really anti-slavery is about as sickening as the clean wehrmacht narrative that people were trying to create after the war.

    Which goes to show how much public education has done to sanitize the actions of the South and the CSA and Lee in particular.
     
  3. David Brennon

    David Brennon Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I'd just as soon put the Lee thing to rest because by this point it is so far off topic. I never should have brought it up, but if people want to continue I'll answer.

    Are you talking about when he inherited his father-in-law's slaves? The only account like that I found was here. As you'll read it is a debatable situation, one that doesn't exactly shake out the way you make it sound.

    I'm not saying he was perfect, not at all. Once again, I'm just saying that Robert E. Lee is not Pol Pot. I'll also say once again that these were people just like you or I and that one issue didn't define them just as one issue doesn't define us. One can admire the work of another without agreeing with everything they have done or said. It is not as simple as he was a good man or a bad man, like with all historical figures there was a lot of in between.
     
  4. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    The man fought for a government that was founded with the explicitly-stated purpose of keeping almost four million human beings in chains -- the government whose acts of aggression against Union forces led to a civil war that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

    It is not unreasonable to put Robert E. Lee in the company of Pol Pot.

    True. We all have the potential to find ourselves participating in and profiting from systems of oppression and inequality. That's why it's important that we question historical narratives that make those who did so in the past seem less guilty.

    No. Sorry, but if you commit murder, you don't get to point to all the people you didn't murder and say, "Well, what about them? Why does that one guy define me?" You side with the most brutal slave regime that had ever existed up in history to that point and lead its army? That choice defines your life. Period. It outweighs every good thing you ever did.
     
  5. David Brennon

    David Brennon Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    We can debate the root causes of the Civil War another time perhaps, but here is the main difference between Pol Pot and Lee. Lee fought for said government. Pol Pot was the government.

    It is not reasonable. Pol Pot directly oversaw the deaths of millions. Lee commanded an army for a country that wanted to keep its slaves. Bad, but not a mass murderer. It is hyperbole at its worst... but you seem to be very good at that.

    Seriously, the CSA is the most brutal slave regime that existed in history ever up to that point? You loose all credibility with that statement and I am officially done debating with you. When you get some perspective, then we'll talk again.
     
  6. KRAD

    KRAD Keith R.A. DeCandido Admiral

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    Uhm, no. The Confederate States of American doesn't even crack the top ten of brutal slave regimes in the entirety of human history. And keep in mind that the notion of slavery as a bad thing was relatively new to the entire world in the 18th century.
     
  7. rafterman1701

    rafterman1701 Commodore Commodore

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    The simple fact is that Star Trek is made by Americans and that's the explanation for everything. I think trying to be more diverse is good, but I think it's important to understand where something is coming from. Star Trek would be a very different beast were it made in India or Japan.
     
  8. James Swallow

    James Swallow Writer Captain

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    It does seem odd when you stop to think about it, that most people in the Star Trek universe tend to enjoy what we (as 21st century folks) might consider "classical" entertainment - Mozart, Beethoven, Dickens, Conan Doyle etc - rather than what might be "classical" to them as 23rd/24th century people.

    Apart from Riker's love of jazz, Tom Paris liking cartoons from the 40's and Kirk's references to 70's writers Jacqueline Susann and Harold Robbins, off the top of my head I can't think of I can't think of other examples of more modern (or non-American) "theater or music" in Star Trek.

    But why is that? It's a real world reason: Mozart et al are all old enough that people making a TV series won't have to worry about rights issues if they want to put some of it on their show. The same wouldn't apply to The Beatles or U2, for example. That's why Harry Kim's holoprogram in Voyager's "Heroes and Demons" could be Beowulf but not, say, The Lord of the Rings.

    I think this, plus the fact that the people writing Star Trek shows were informed by the scope of their own cultural experience (the "distinct middle to upper-middle class white American sensibility" you mention) is one of the reasons why characters in Star Trek (on TV) come off as culturally slanted toward pre-20th century "eurocentric" culture, when realistically they wouldn't be so narrow.

    Unless of course, all the records of cool entertainment from our era were destroyed in the Eugenics Wars...
     
  9. DEWLine

    DEWLine Commodore Commodore

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    And/or World War 3...which seems unlikely.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Although the United States was actually one of the last nations in the Western world to outlaw slavery; the British Empire and others were well ahead of us in that regard. And plantation slavery had grown more brutal by then because industrialization had created a fierce demand for textiles and the need to produce much larger quantities of cotton made conditions much worse for Southern plantation slaves. Part of the reason that the world came to see slavery as bad in the 19th century is because the conditions under which slaves lived, in the American South and elsewhere, had become so much worse than they had typically been in the past. At least, that's how I understand it.

    So the CSA probably wasn't the worst slave regime in history, but it was at least one of the worst remaining at that particular time in history.
     
  11. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    And Lee was a powerful, influential man who led that government's army. He wasn't just some grunt in the fields. His leadership means that he too bears responsibility for the Confederacy and its brutality.

    Trying to say that one is worse than the other at that level of abuse is absurd. American chattel slavery and mass murder are comparable in their levels of brutality; a government that exists to preserve chattel slavery is in the same league as a government that tries to commit mass murder and genocide.

    This.
     
  12. David Brennon

    David Brennon Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Sci, don't be that guy. You don't get to repost just the parts of a person's argument that seem to support what you're saying without posting up the part in the very next sentence where your hyperbolic point is shot down. Taking things out of contexts weakens your argument, especially when people notice it and call you out on it.

    You said worst in history until that point. You're either wrong or you're embellishing for effect and failed. Plain and simple. Either way, it looks bad.

    You're also wrong about Lee, but there is no point in arguing that with you anymore. I can see you're one of those people who can't see shades of grey. Slavery is an objective wrong, however we can't judge our ancestors by our standards... that's the point of progress. If you did, then we have to stop admiring the genuinely good things from our past. You have to see the sum of their parts, not just pick and choose like you do with other people's quotes.

    Lee supported the Confederacy. Duh. Slavery was a primary component of the CSA and is wrong. Duh again. You can't say that there aren't reasons to honor him simply because he supported people who supported slavery, it's only taking in part of the story. If that was the case you can't admire things about many of the people who built this country based on that one fact alone. It's asinine.

    No, for Lincoln in the end it was a tool to fight the war. If he actually had intended on freeing all the slave in the Union he would have declared all slaves free, but he only ordered the emancipation of slaves in rebel states. There were two (and a half-ish) slave states that remained within the union during the war. Does that mean Lincoln is as bad as Pol Pot too? Are every one of the first 16 US Presidents? And Legislatures? And General Officers?

    I guess I can keep arguing it.
     
  13. David Brennon

    David Brennon Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I totally agree with the idea here (the rights issue), in fact I was talking with my friends about this just the other day. On the other hand, it would have been cool to see or hear something mentioned about contemporary entertainment of the Federation beyond the odd holodeck program or person who enjoys to play classical music. There had to be a place on DS9 for some 24th century rock concert or maybe a holodeck serial of some action star.

    Come to think of it, didn't Enterprise mention a World War III epic sweeping all the awards while Enterprise was dealing with the Xindi? I suppose film still exists in the 22nd century at least.

    I remember Paris and Torres talking about the TV set Paris had made, filled with all these old TV shows. She commented something about it not being interactive if I remember correctly (I may not be).

    Maybe have to start a new thread somewhere about that kind of stuff.
     
  14. David Brennon

    David Brennon Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    This is also a very good point.
     
  15. Defcon

    Defcon Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ^Just a little tip: What you are doing (triple posting) is considered spamming on this board and can be a infraction worthy offense.

    If you want to answer several people you can use the multi-quote button.
     
  16. David Brennon

    David Brennon Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    My mistake, thanks for the tip!
     
  17. Nob Akimoto

    Nob Akimoto Captain Captain

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    This is a good point, about rights and permissions. I do think though that there's a bit of a cultural bias from the show's writing staff. Granted, most of the episodes were produced pre-wikipedia and pre-google, so simply looking up say "Korean romantic epics" for Harry Kim (I'm assuming he's Korean-American, despite Garrett Wang being Chinese in ancestry) wouldn't have been easy as it is now, nor I suppose would the audience be as familiar, but surely they could've made some effort instead of just tossing him into Beowulf.

    Granted, then there's the whole "They seem to think all asians are interchangeable" problem by the writing staff in the TV shows, but that's a different topic.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    They could've averted copyright issues by having the characters be fans of future entertainment works and genres. Well, their past, our future. What bugs me is how there's never any sign of human creativity from later than the year 2000, beyond the occasional holonovel or Jake Sisko's writing. Why is nobody a fan of literature or music from the 22nd century, say?
     
  19. Nob Akimoto

    Nob Akimoto Captain Captain

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    Because everyone's sick of World War III epics.
     
  20. Cara007

    Cara007 Lieutenant

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    If Trek is too Eurocentric then what would we call Lord of the Rings?