Star Trek Concepts Originating in TAS

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Shawnster, Sep 18, 2013.

  1. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    This was not said in front of Janice, and cannot be interpreted as said only to placate her.

    We are talking about a bad episode, the last of the series, made when everyone in production who gave a damn was heading for the exits. Defending it is... illogical.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Exactly. This isn't history, it's a bunch of stories people made up, often with different underlying assumptions. If a line doesn't fit the rest of the series, we're allowed to ignore it. We don't have to embrace the unwelcome and illogical notion that sexism would briefly return for a decade or two 300 years from now just because of one bad episode.
     
  3. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    I think it depends much on what you project onto it as well. If you're automatically assuming it to be sexist then it most likely will read that way. If you choose to interpret it as something revealing about the character saying it then you might be more inclined to define it as such.

    "Your world of starship command doesn't accept women." - Your whole organization is sexist.

    "Your world of starship command doesn't accept women." - Your career was all consuming and left no place for me.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    And "The Alternative Factor" said that a matter-antimatter reaction would destroy the entire universe, even though the rest of the franchise before and since has consistently said that matter-antimatter reactions power starships. Some lines you just have to write off as mistakes. This one isn't worth dwelling on any more than that one was.
     
  5. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    And yet in years to come this question will keep being raised. :lol:
     
  6. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    But that's not what the line is. It goes like this:

    Additionally, why shouldn't the era in which it was filmed, not to mention the circumstances under which it was filmed, play a part in interpreting the episode?
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    If you're interpreting it as a work of fiction, engaged in literary criticism, then sure, undoubtedly the intent was rooted in some very '60s sexism. But if you're interpreting it as evidence for the state of Federation gender values in the 23rd century, it's inconsistent with the other evidence we have about that era from episodes and movies made in more recent, less sexist times -- and arguably inconsistent with the prior evidence of "The Cage." And just in general it's implausible and undesirable to conjecture a resurgence of sexism that far in the future. So while in metatextual terms, the sexism is undeniable, it doesn't work in-universe and thus is best retconned away.
     
  8. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    That's what I meant.

    No, I've never advocated slavish devotion to canon, especially in this case.

    Absolutely, it should be retconned away. Even as a commentary relevant to sexism in the mid-20th century, the message is repugnant. The episode is an embarrassment, all the more so since it closes the series.

    I'm simply not in favor of denying what the episode really is.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I don't think anybody in this thread has attempted to do any such thing. We're simply discussing what applies in-universe -- or, to go back to the original point of contention, whether the conceit of the series' last episode can correctly be called the "original" intention or whether it contradicts earlier implications. Neither of those entails denying the creative intent of the episode itself -- simply downplaying its relevance to the rest of Star Trek.
     
  10. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    Yes, and IMHO retconning it away would just be "political correctness".
    Obviously there are only male starship captains by the time of TOS and I'm unable to see a contradiction to Number One's position in "The Cage". Apparently female Starfleet officers could rise to the position of XO and act as captain during the absence of the male captain, but that's about it.

    In contrast the German TV series Space Patrol, that aired the same week as the first TOS episode, did much better in this particular department.

    The superior officer of the main protagonist, Commander Cliff McLane, was a general, General Lydia van Dyke. ;)

    Bob
     
  11. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    I don't agree at all.
     
  12. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    ^^ Strange, you asked a rethorical question that seemed to suggest we should elaborate whether to be "politically correct" or not. :confused:

    My biggest issue with political correctness is that it deprives future generations to learn from history and understand and appreciate social evolution, i.e. how we got from A to B.

    Bob
     
  13. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    It doesn't have to be politically correct or retconning. It can depend on how you choose to interpret the lines.
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    What's "political" about it? It's just common sense. It's implausible that sexism would have a resurgence to that degree in the 23rd century. Just as it's implausible to believe that 23rd-century technology would literally be made from 1960s components as it was shown onscreen. We have to be able to distinguish the influence of the period in which the fiction was made from the essence of the hypothetical reality it was presenting. Roddenberry himself advised audiences to perceive TOS as an imperfect approximation of the "real" future that Kirk and his crew inhabited, one that was sometimes inaccurate due to the limitations of 1960s technology, budget, and cultural preconceptions.

    Of course the sexism of episodes like "Turnabout Intruder" and "Mudd's Women" came from Roddenberry himself, but even he could admit that he made mistakes. Heck, that's why he wanted fans to treat TOS as an imperfect approximation -- because, looking back on it in later years, he perceived a lot of mistakes and shortcomings in it, just as all creators do when they look back on their earlier works.
     
  15. David.Blue

    David.Blue Commander Red Shirt

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    I interpreted Kirk's line as being "If only things were different." But different how? Is he talking about Starfleet? Or about Janice herself, who is clearly suffering from some psychological problems.

    Noting the actual dialogue between the two, I'm forced to look at essentially two possibilities (that are not mutually exclusive):

    1. Kirk is refusing to argue with someone about their bete noir, rather the way I just ignore some of my friends' fairly absurd theories about JFK.
    2. Starfleet at the time of TOS did indeed have a glass ceiling, official or not.

    This marks a change from the Archer Era when a woman commanded USS Columbia. Likewise within a few decades of "Turnabout Intruder" we saw a woman clearly in command of a Miranda-class starship (USS Hood I think). Yet, as has been pointed out, Capt. Pike found a woman on the bridge unusual. This leads me to conclude that between ENT and "The Cage" human society had gone backward in terms of gender roles (or backward as we see it, including myself) but was emerging into something far more equal. Keep in mind the Enterprise-C was commanded by a woman, Rachel Garrett. Yet even in TNG the vast majority of senior officers were male.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The Saratoga, actually.


    It leads me to conclude that those were stories told in the 1960s and there's no reason we have to be bound by their antiquated assumptions. I'm perfectly happy to agree with Roddenberry that TOS was an inexact approximation and made some mistakes which are best disregarded. The handy thing about fiction is that, unlike stubborn reality, it can be rewritten when appropriate.
     
  17. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    But there the woman was filling in for the missing commanding officer.

    On ST: Enterprise, I doubt that it was Starfleet policy for Vulcans (of either gender) to command their starships. If something had happen to Archer on one of the missions, it's unlikely that T'Pol would retain command of the ship longer than the time it would take to replace her.

    :)
     
  18. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    And so if you wanted to be really accurate then they should have showed someone complaining about having to take orders from a woman. But we didn't see that.

    GR was trying to appear progressive, but he handled it clumsily. Still, if we take the show out of the mindset of 1960s society and accept it as a fictional approximation of a future setting (as Christopher has already said) then we can stop splitting hairs. We can accept that by showing Number One as the ship's First Officer and second-in-command then it follows she can rise above that and command a ship of her own.

    Note that many fans followed through on what they saw on TOS and wrote fanfic that did show women in command. I've done it myself and I'm hardly the first. We did it because there's nothing in the show that explicitly says a woman can't command in that era.

    Women in command in science fiction wasn't even a new idea when Star Trek debuted. You can find space opera stories going back decades (1920s) shwoing women in authority and command. The 1960s was an era when roles on television and film were expanding for women even if they were halting first steps. But like other areas film and TV were following what had already been done in literature.

    And let's not get too confident about how much we've progressed. There are still men today, young as well as old, that don't accept certain doors being open for women. I know of at least two individuals in my immediate circle and both of them are home grown right here. And we know it's still around as evidenced by the well established pay inequity that still exists. Yeah, it could be that certain roles don't appeal to many women, but also some women might be put off by what they see as resistance to them trying to walk through those doors.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2013
  19. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    That's true, but what difference does that make? Think it through, is it really likely that an officer not qualified for command (by gender or anything else) would be assigned as second-in-command? It is absurd to think that a female would be assigned as second-in-command and then, when it actually came to succeeding to command, someone would in effect say "Not so fast, Missy!" and a less-senior male officer step over her.

    But that's not what happened in the episode, anyway; what happened was Number One took command. Nobody knew if Pike was coming back, for all they knew she was captain till they got back to base. It just doesn't make sense that an unqualified officer would end up in the position shown in the episode.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That's really splitting hairs, I think, and it's not a very logical position. Why would Number One be a command-track officer in Starfleet at all if she were ineligible for a captaincy or admiralty? The existence of a female first officer implies the existence of a system that allows female captains. No, it doesn't absolutely prove it, but that's the more likely and natural interpretation, and the burden of proof is always on the less likely interpretation.


    "Twilight" suggests otherwise.

    And of course, if you're going to use ENT as evidence, then Erika Hernandez's captaincy of Columbia proves that Starfleet was fine with female captains in the 22nd century -- which makes it even more unlikely that it forbade them a century later.


    Excellent point. No society is monolithic. Even if Pike and some others in Starfleet Command had some resistance to gender equality at that point in Starfleet history for some reason, that doesn't make it an absolute, culture-wide rule.

    Still, most tie-ins have been content to ignore things like Pike's "woman on the bridge" line and the dialogue from "Turnabout Intruder" and to portray the 23rd century the way it was intended, as a benchmark of equality and inclusion. We don't let a couple of unfortunate glitches compromise the underlying intent. So in the books and comics, it's taken for granted that Starfleet had full gender equality in the 23rd century. We do the same thing with GLBT equality -- there were never any gay or lesbian characters acknowledged in the shows, but it was never said there couldn't be, so the novels and comics have included quite a few.

    Being faithful to Star Trek is not about obsessively clinging to every tiny detail, even the ones that contradict the rest or that were obviously mistakes. It's about being true to the big picture, the underlying intent. The intent was to portray an equal society, and we should be faithful to that, not to the occasional instances where they stumbled and fell short of that ideal.