Spoilers Let’s talk about the destruction of Trek utopia…

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Picard' started by Anters, Feb 24, 2020.

  1. Anters

    Anters Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    When watching reviews of Picard on YouTube, one of the biggest issues that keeps coming up is the destruction of the Trek utopia envisioned by Roddenberry.

    Are you okay with it? Is it upsetting your enjoyment of Picard? Or is it so bad that for you it’s not even Trek any more?

    Some people take the stance that it’s Roddenberry’s vision and therefore shouldn’t be changed. Where do you stand on this?

    Well I’m here to explain that what we’re watching isn’t actually a breakdown of the Federation’s utopia (at least not by episode 5), it’s just an illusion created by the serialisation of one dark story on the fringes of the Federation, strung out over a whole season. It’s certainly not Trek, but that’s for other reasons unrelated to utopia.

    Disclaimer: I’m not a fan of Kurtzman Trek and nor am I defending it - I hate the gore; the shallow relationships/characters; moronic language, the disrespectful attitudes to authority, and swearing, all of which denigrated the professionalism of the crew on Discovery; I prefer episodic narrative over serialisation and like best the way X-files combined the two; and I dislike the way he messes with/ignores canon.

    However, it’s using canon that I will seek to explain/defend the dystopian feeling we get in Picard.

    The reason we’re not actually witnessing a breakdown of utopia in the Federation is because (a) we’re not on a Federation vessel and (b) most of the show takes place outside or on the fringes of Federation space.

    When we were on Earth the worst thing we saw in terms of a dystopian vision was the F-word from an admiral, and that Starfleet Intelligence seems to have been infiltrated by the Zhat Vash. There is *no* evidence of a utopian breakdown.

    The worst we can say (by episode 5) is that the Federation failed to live up to its vision by resettling the Romulans to utopian standards. But it’s totally plausible that resources weren’t available to save an entire planet and in any case the Romulans do not care for the Federation vision of utopia and it moreover hates the Federation.

    Although it seems clear that some of top brass of the Federation/Starfleet did not care to help the Romulans (and that attitude does not live up to Roddenberry’s utopian ideals), this kind of diversion from the ideal is rife within Trek canon…it’s nothing new…it’s happened before.

    Cast a careful eye over TNG, DS9, movies, etc and you’ll see the cracks were always there, but they were always on the fringes of Federation space. And we only get the occasional glimpse of hard-nosed, dirty, non-utopian Federation/Starfleet decision making when dealing with Admirals.

    Most of the time, we were sheltered from the Federation’s dirty laundry facing Starfleet management, because we saw Trek through the eyes of the crew of the Federation flagship. Our view of the Federation has been seen through the eyes of its staff not its upper management, which gives a distorted/biased view as to the realities of how this utopia is actually run, maintained and is continually being attacked at its fringes.

    ST Picard puts us into these fringes and outside the federation, on a private vessel, in the thick of a conspiracy involving enemies seeking to take the Federation down. So, of course it’s going to be dark, but it’s not offering a dystopian vision of the Federation - we’re not even in the Federation - it’s showing us that on the edge of the Federation’s utopia, progress exists on a knife edge and sometimes things get rough and dirty...just like in DS9.

    It’s no different to how in “Star Trek VI: Undiscovered Country” - Chief-in-Command Admiral Cartwright conspires with other Starfleet officers, Klingons and Vulcans to kill the Klingon Chancellor in order to AVOID peace with Klingon. ST Picard is doing the same thing in a far more sophisticated way serialised over 10 episodes and multiple seasons, instead of 2 hours.

    Therefore, it is reasonable and realistic for writers to show that there will be attacks on Trek utopia, so long as it’s not dismantled, but because this storyline is serialised it gives the feeling of a dystopian vision, when in fact it’s anything but.

    Refresh your memory with new eyes on the following episodes and you’ll see that on many occasions Starfleet took dirty non-Roddenbery-utopian like decisions. But these were single episodes and now we’re living one episode over a whole season and beyond.

    “Ensign Ro” TNG S05e03 - Admiral Kennelly orders Picard to escort a Bajoran cruiser to a camp, but secretly negotiates with the Cardassians to maintain their treaty alliance with the Federation in exchange for the lives on that ship...Picard is ordered to stand down while the Cardassians blow it up.

    “The Offspring” TNG S03E16 - Admiral Haften tries to force the separation of Lal from her father, Data.

    “The Search Part II” DS9 S03E02 - The Federation tries to negotiate a peace treaty with the Dominion and Admiral superbitch Nechayev excludes the Romulans from peace talks, because they’ll be irrelevant once the treaty is signed. She also reneges on a deal with Bajor by suspending its request for membership indefinitely, and agrees for the Federation to withdraw from DS9 leaving it in the Dominion’s hands, thus screwing the Bajorans whose enemy is the Dominion.

    “The Pegasus” TNG S07E12 - Starfleet Intelligence buries an investigation into a cover-up on The Pegasus, in which countless crew members died, because the Federation secretly broke the Treaty of Algeron by developing a cloaking device.

    “A Journey’s End” TNG S07E20 - Admiral Nechayev orders Picard to remove Native American Indians who settled in an outpost near Cardassian border by any means necessary. Orders come from the top of Starfleet. The tribe were previously removed from native lands 200 years earlier.

    “Descent Part I” TNG S06E26 - Admiral Nechayev reprimands Picard for letting the Borg, Hugh, free when he regained individuality. She said he should have used him to destroy the Borg (as well as Hugh) and orders him to do so at any other opportunity in future.

    “The Drumhead” TNG S04E21 - Starfleet Command dispatches Admiral Nora Satie to investigate potential sabotage aboard the Enterprise and she turns it into a McCarthy style witch hunt.
     
  2. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Assuming there was ever intended to BE a utopia, PIC doesn't necessarily deconstruct or attempt to destroy it.

    The show just takes place outside of Federation territory. So whatever utopia may exist, it still can, we just won't see it.
     
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  3. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Admiral Admiral

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    You summed it up quite well why I don't think this is as deconstructionist as people would like to argue. The cracks in the Federation veneer have been there since day one and are not present just because the new team doesn't get Star Trek. They are present because there is an opportunity to explore, in dramatic fashion, these aspects.
     
  4. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Earth still looked like the place where it was easy to be a saint. Paradise confirmed!
     
  5. Jedi_Master

    Jedi_Master Admiral Admiral

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    All praise to Gene!
     
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  6. Relayer1

    Relayer1 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Roddenberry's vision was never exactly coherent. Nor particularly compelling, although I'd have liked to have seen the "new humans" concept from TMP explored.

    TNG got better when Roddenberry was sidelined. DS9 pretty much abandoned Gene's "vision" and was all the better for it.

    No, I'm not missing it. Not at all.
     
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  7. JoeZhang

    JoeZhang Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Youtube reviews? No they are terrible and best ignored.
     
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  8. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    A good number of the YouTube reviewers are effectively ignorant of what Star Trek is. They mention abstract principles and nitpicks. They don't talk about the specifics of Star Trek, the things that happened in actual episodes. They get people riled up. And in many cases, they are clearly cultural warriors who are attempting political activism by trying to control the narrative of what Star Trek is supposed to be.
     
  9. AlanC9

    AlanC9 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Agreed. Raffi went as far off the grid as you can go, and it looked like she was still living pretty comfortably. Better than I do, actually.
     
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  10. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Something that I am surprised no one has commented on: when Raffi claimed she was clean, her son asked her if she was off the conspiracy theories, not if she was off the drugs. There is some effort to reframe what drug problems mean in context.
     
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  11. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The way I see it, Picard spent decades in space as an ambassador of Starfleet and the Federation's ideals in space. But now he's retired, he's older, wiser and he's seeing through the cracks in the rhetoric.
     
  12. yotsuya

    yotsuya Captain Captain

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    Roddenberry's vision was how the Federation culture teaches its young to be. That is not to say that is universal. It clearly isn't. We have plenty of instances of the less lofty side of things. Mudd. Cyrano Jones. A few scientists. The list goes on and on and are considered the exception to Roddenberry's Trek World. Picard is doing much the same thing. We have gone out of the rarified world of the Federation and Starfleet and into the fringes of that society where things may not be quite as rosy as they are in the core. So far from what I've see, this is still Roddenberry's Star Trek. I won't talk about Discovery here as I think it is a different beasts entirely. I consider it a reboot and not bound by anything set before. But Picard seems to be honoring its roots and not rewriting things. But we are going where no Star Trek has gone before and that can mean a darker edge of society.
     
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  13. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Admiral Admiral

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    I think that both PIC and DSC are doing a similar examination of their respective eras.
     
  14. Hythlodeus

    Hythlodeus Commodore Commodore

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    yes
    no
    not even one bit
    I think we have established last week that Gene's vision was so bad, he had to wear very thick glasses. I'm no optometrist so my stand on his vision is irrelevant. I'm also no scientologist so visions of Sci-Fi writers have no cult-like meaning to me.

    Also, as others have said: most of the show takes place outside of Federation space and we know drug using rape gangs live in some of the colonies anyway so it's all totally in line with Gene's vision as depicted before.

    And I'll end this post again with the undying words of the one and only Emissary:

    "Do you know what the trouble is? The trouble is Earth-on Earth there is no poverty, no crime, no war. You look out the window of Starfleet Headquarters and you see paradise. It's easy to be a saint in paradise, but the Maquis do not live in paradise. Out there in the demilitarized zone all the problems haven't been solved yet. Out there, there are no saints, just people-angry, scared, determined people who are going to do whatever it takes to survive, whether it meets with Federation approval or not."
     
  15. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    One more time: There's a big difference between "optimistic" and "utopian." TNG arguably got a bit carried away with the whole "utopian" business, but that was a bug, not a feature. TOS and DS9 and PICARD are much-needed correctives to the modern myth that all STAR TREK shows have to be as "utopian" as early TNG.

    I actually had somebody tell me the other day that STAR TREK is supposed to present an "idyllic" future.

    Uh-uh, that's not the STAR TREK I grew up on. TOS was about adventures on the Final Frontier, not about life in paradise.
     
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  16. Hythlodeus

    Hythlodeus Commodore Commodore

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    Okay, double posting I guess, but I just realized: If you mean if I'm okay with how certain YouTube channels missinterpret Star Trek and hatemonger just to gain clicks: Then of course I'm not okay with it.
     
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  17. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Admiral Admiral

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    Same here. Supposedly it was inspired by a Western but I'm sure that's just made up by Star Trek haters ;)
     
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  18. Hythlodeus

    Hythlodeus Commodore Commodore

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    But don't you know that the Wild West was an utopia itself? No conflicts, no profanity, no alcoholism, no slavery
     
  19. Tuskin38

    Tuskin38 Admiral Admiral

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    I'm not seeing any evidence of Utopia being destroyed in Picard :shrug:
     
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  20. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Admiral Admiral

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    Oh, that's right. I forgot about the Speech at the OK Corral.
     
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