The Ferengi: Better as comic relief or villains?

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by The Overlord, Jan 27, 2013.

  1. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    One of my favorite lines though, comes from "The Last Outpost".

    DaiMon Tarr: We offer the lives of our second officers as required by the Ferengi Code.

    Data (aside, to Geordi): Fortunately Starfleet has no such rules involving its second officers.
     
  2. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The notion that capitalists are lovable is grotesque.
     
  3. 137th Gebirg

    137th Gebirg Vice Admiral Premium Member

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    Who is John Galt?
    Quark had two scenes in DS9 that summed up the Ferengis and Humans perfectly, IMO:
    "The Jem'Hadar":
    "The Siege of AR-558":
    I don't think there have ever been better summations of the two species in Trek.

    I, too, hated the Ferengi with every fiber of my being when I first saw them, but they definitely evolved into one of the most interesting races shown in the series and the Rules of Acquisition was a brilliant codification of their culture.
     
  4. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think DS9 proved that ferengi are best as neutral counterpoints to Federation dogma.

    It could be worse. They could be spreading the notion that everybody is equal under Communism.
     
  5. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    [yt]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5J_qn93Nkc[/yt]

    You tell 'em Quark.

    :)
     
  6. Obiwansolo18

    Obiwansolo18 Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Ferengi are total comic relief in ds9 and tng, they tried in tng to make villains but they where hilarious in that too, it's the ears I think.
     
  7. Gov Kodos

    Gov Kodos Admiral Admiral

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    The Ferengi were one of the most entertaining aspects of DS9, and modern Trek in general.
     
  8. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    The Ferengi lobejobs on DS9 were so gross!:lol:
     
  9. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

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    Quark's moments are some of the best writing in Trek, along with Garak. Time to rewatch DS9?
     
  10. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Sorry but "neutral counterpoints" is gibberish. Also, "Federation dogma" doesn't make clear whether you're actually making a claim about the fictional Federation or expressing your feeling about the supposed "dogma." It is always comforting to see the poor judgment of anti-Communists confirmed.:bolian:

    The two quotes cited above do seem to be very symptomatic of the role of the Ferengi as artistic constructs. Tolerance primarily means respecting legal rights. Broader interpretations, which are by no means universally accepted, include eschewing driminatory practices in favor of the prevailing sect, ethnicity, party or nationality. The Jem'Hadar quote implicitly equating tolerance with indiscriminate liking, or even flattery, is rheoric, in the pejorative sense. The only reason I can see for taking it seriously as a pointed comment (instead of Quark spewing BS,) is a distaste for tolerance as such.

    The quote from The Siege of AF-558 isn't readable as BS from Quark, but must be read as a shout out from the DS9 writers. That's a shame, because only blind prejudice allows one to insist that this is true. Loss of creature comforts has occurred many a time in history, but this quote misrepresents the experience of the past. It comes from willful ignorance and a reactionary disdain for humanity.
     
  11. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    Okay, but then what should have been with the Ferengi after their introduction, where they failed to menacing? Characters that are comic relief are going to be considered more "lovable" the straight up villains and villains have to be menacing, which the Ferengi were not.

    To be an effective capitalist villain, the Ferengi should have been more like slick business man and less like hopping monkeys. A villain can't just be a political straw man, they need other aspects to them to make them compelling. Their behavior was just odd in that episode, they often came off as a generic warrior race then true ultra capitalists. Heck the fact that they were avoiding the Federation for so long made them seem ineffective as ultra capitalist, you would think they would want try and sell them snake oil right away, not avoid potential targets to exploit.
     
  12. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ^^^Sorry, I wasn't clear was I? They should have been dropped.
     
  13. 137th Gebirg

    137th Gebirg Vice Admiral Premium Member

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    Who is John Galt?
    In YOUR opinion.

    In MY opinion (which is why I used "IMO" in my original post), they are quite accurate views of humanity and its oftentimes-overlooked hypocrisy in "tolerance" and "evolved sensibilities" towards things it doesn't understand, which was the point Quark was trying to make.

    It's okay to be opinionated. It's not okay to be judgmental. Then again, I'm not a communist, so I guess maybe I'm not as clearly educated on such things. :rolleyes:
     
  14. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    interesting, I thought it was a pretty accurate view of Human nature-people, despite what they like to believe, are often highly dependent on material comforts for their happiness-despite the cliche, money often CAN buy happiness. I'm surprised that a Communist, given the materialist basis of the philosophy, would be so dismissive of the idea that economic misery can often be the catalyst for humanitarian disasters. Further, implementation of Communism as it existed in history didn't exactly show the triumph of the better angels of human nature.

    though I didn't like "siege of AR-558"(too many war movie cliches and a too obvious message-"war is baaaaaad, mkay?"), Quark's speech is one of the best bits of writing in DS9.
     
  15. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    First, an avatar is not a Party card. I'm no working class hero.

    Second, Quark's speech invokes the opposite of a materialist view of history. It's basic picture is of a humanity which is essentially savage, covered with a veneer of privilege. Thus, if the supposedly civilized and enlightened members of the Federation were suddenly deprived for a lengthy period of time, this eternal essence would erupt. Restraining the beast within is at best temporary and in the end all society depends upon acknowledging the tragic necessity of killing etc. You know, the tripe about how it's easy to be a saint in paradise.

    In a materialist view of history, there is very little about human nature that is genetically fixed. It is the lives people lead and the choices that these lives present that form people's characters. In each society, including fictional ones like the Federation, there is no corrupt human soul to spring forth when released from artificial bonds. The notion there is, is superstition. If Federation citizens were deprived of comforts for some period of time, their response would be shaped by the real (aka "material") experiences of their entire lives, in all the variety expressed by each individual.

    And, as in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake US media were so desperately seeking for the supposedly inevitable mobs to justify the US invasion, traditions of solidarity did not disappear. The Quark scenario is by and large just a mean-spirited prejudice. Indeed, such prejudice can be so powerful as to foster whole fictions, such as the supposed Superdome atrocities in the aftermath of Katrian. Of course, bad things often also happen, as the whites lynching blacks during the emergency.

    But then, the whites in this case were apparently killing black who were trying to pass through their neighborhood, assuming or hoping they were looters, I suppose. Of course, this kind of thinking happens to be a very real part of those people's formative experiences.

    One thing Quark's speech did not say, was that material deprivation and oppression and superstition, would produce people with warped characters to match. That would be a materialist position as well. This situation unfortunately is the real world situtation, not the Federation's.

    One horrifying example is the Rwanda genocide, which had origins in the French colonial empowerment of the Tutsi minority. As population pressures mounted (Rwanda/Burundi is one of the few African countries that can be plausibly held to be overpopulated,) the deformed political system generated violence. The Tutsi in Burundi massacred a lot of Hutus, setting a very unfortunate precedent for Tutsi/Hutu relations. Some years later the apparent assassination of Rwandan President Habyarimana triggered the reverse Rwanda. Being the majority, the Hutus did rather a more thorough job of it.

    I understand there was a study published that found a fairly close relationship between the numbers of Tutsi slain with the gravity of the land shortage. But that's what I told my friends would eventually be found to be the case when the massacre was first being reported. So perhaps my vanity is making me more inclined to accept it as definitive, even though I wasn't fortunate enough to have a copy!

    The thing is, human nature didn't cause the Rwanda genocide. Nor did Communism. For mass killing, it is really hard to beat World War I, and that was good old capitalists all on their own. The humanitarian disasters suffered in some countries after a Communist revolution had deep roots in the past, which was non-Communist. Even the famine that the fucking Khmer Rouge faced was caused by the war.
     
  16. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I was going off your comment about "unlovable capitalists" for my guess on your ideology, not your avatar. In my experience, few refer to "capitalists" without irony unless they take a negative view of the system.

    As to the "human nature" thing, I guess I wasn't aware that Communism was so disdainful of the idea-that seems to me to be pretty unscientific, like the "blank slate" fallacy. At any rate, it doesn't take some kind of religious belief in "original sin" or "fallen man" to believe that civilization holds back folks from their more barbaric or baser impulses, I think it's a pretty common theme in psychology or philosophy/
     
  17. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I suppose on this bbs I'm the closest thing to an authority on the part of the scientifically inclined Left, but that's not the real deal. If really interested in the topic, you should read up yourself.

    Yes, it's true that many want to identify capitalism, the current way of life, with God's plan or natural law. Thus, only those mysterious, uncaused departures from human nature like feudalism or slavery need to be named. Political embarrassments like the British Empire or Fanco's Spain also get named something else. There seems to be a vague notion that although capitalism is the expression of the human spirit writ large, people in the past were too deficient to do things the right way. And any embarrassments from modern times, like WWI, are just inexplicable. Naming capitalism tends to imply that there can be something else, hence is frowned upon.

    But, no, "Communism" has no problem at all with the concept of human nature, holding very strongly that we all have it. It is a matter of historical fact that it's other political movements which hold that various humans have different natures. I believe the evil consequences of this kind of thinking are horribly obvious, but the factual evidence for it, nil. I think the so-called blank slate fallacy is a sweet-sounding name for a concept of human inequality.

    The kind of people who promote this notion are quite cautious about telling us what they think is written on the slate. But as I read them, in practice the commandments written on the slate only come in two varieties. One set is pretty much identical with whatever the proponents imagine necessary to justify the current social order. And the other set imagines whatever is needed to justify a return to the past.

    Both varieties tend to identify what is unnatural with what ordinary people would just call progressive or socialist. Curiously, although the natural order would appear to need no more enforcement than the law of universal gravitation, neither set ever wonders how the non-blank slate could be overwritten. None of these people have ever provided any sound scientific evidence demonstrating the existence of whatever they imagine to be written on the slate. Not even the incest taboo, which is about as close to a cultural universal you can get!
     

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