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

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

  1. Mister Spock

    Mister Spock Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2013
    Location:
    North London, England
    Picard demonstrates that a society whilst being good isn't always fair.

    Also, the long gamut of Starfleet and Federation representatives who are to various degrees either corrupt, incompetent or mad has shown that paradise isn't perfect.
     
  2. Mister Spock

    Mister Spock Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2013
    Location:
    North London, England
    So it's not enough that you don't like Discovery and Picard, but you also don't want anyone else who likes those shows to have the opportunity to enjoy it.
     
  3. Lynx

    Lynx Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2001
    Location:
    Lynx Empire
    To be honest, I still enjoy to watch TOS, TNG, DS9 and the first three seasons of Voyager. But knowing about the gloomy future ruins it a bit.


    This discussion isn't about what kind of lightning I have at home, even if I would prefer the lights on the TNG Enterprise to the lightning, or should I say lack of lightning we can see in "Discovery" and "Picard".

    But what I mean is that every new series seem to have this gloomy atmosphere which is typical for horror movies like "Alien" (excellent horror movie as such). It sets the scene for dystopia in a way.



    But why is the Federation in need of being back into decency? Because it has been turned into a dystopian existance! And then the question is: Was that necessary? Why couldn't the federation be like it was in TNG, DS9 and VOY?



    Why shouldn't he? Isn't he supposed to be one of the greatest hero of the Federation, almost as famous as Kirk and Spock. Why is he showed up like some depressive has-been?



    Not at all! Data is one of my Star Trek favorites.
    But why turn Picard into an android? is it because he has become such a loser that only death and a future as an android can restore him? And why is it necessary to kill him off?


    Sorry, but I do find "Discovery" and "Picard" dystopian and far from TOS, TNG, DS9 and Voyager.



    "The Orville" is far below series like TOS, TNG, DS9 and VOY and there are things in that series I don't like. But as it is today, it's one of the few series which I can watch without being too annoyed.

    As for jealousy and stalking, we had Neelix in Star Trek Voyager whose attitude to Kes was jealous and close to stalking. Not that it bothered me, I actually like Neelix. But still, it was there
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2020
  4. Lynx

    Lynx Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2001
    Location:
    Lynx Empire
    I do watch TOS from time to time, obviously I forgot to mention that.

    As for the later seasons of Voyager, well I did actually buy season 4 on DVD more than a year ago but so far I've only watched half of the season so the inspiration is not really there and I guess it will take a long time before I'm finished with all seasons. Not to mention that there are two episodes which I never will watch again, one in season 4 and one in season 6.

    But I'm into my fourth round of watching DS9 from start to finish. That series has enormous qualities.
     
    Lord Garth likes this.
  5. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2014
    Location:
    fireproof78
    It's not dystopian to fall on hard times. Otherwise, DS9 presented a dystopian Federation at times.
     
    F. King Daniel, Sci and Grendelsbayne like this.
  6. Lynx

    Lynx Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2001
    Location:
    Lynx Empire
    Yes, DS9 did that.
    But DS9 was never as dystopian as the current seires. There was lighter episodes among the more gloomy ones and even in the bad times, there was always hope.
     
  7. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2014
    Location:
    fireproof78
    Mileage I guess. I never felt hopeless with current Trek.

    TNG's Conspiracy felt more hopeless.
     
    Sci likes this.
  8. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2002
    Location:
    Montgomery County, State of Maryland
    "Ruin" is not a verb that happens in degrees. You're no more ruined "a bit" than you can be a "little bit" pregnant. It's binary thing -- it's either ruined or it's not.

    If you still enjoy TOS, TNG, DS9, and VOY, then they haven't actually been ruined for you by PIC. Which makes sense, since PIC depicts the Federation as realizing it's done wrong and making amends.

    1) Does that "gloomy atmosphere" include the bright, sunlit vistas of Chateau Picard? The glossy campus of Starfleet Headquarters? The sunlit neo-futurist Coppelius settlement?

    2) Dystopia is not a synonym for story that is sometimes sad. It is a very particular word that refers to a depiction of a society which has become fundamentally authoritarian and oppressive. The Federation in PIC has embraced some bad stuff, but it's not a dystopia.

    Because the creators wanted to do a story about a society that is fallible but fixable, in order to inspire us in real life to fix our fallible societies.

    "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

    This is absolutely false. There is no indication whatsoever that the Federation in PIC has any of the following traits necessary for it to be a dystopia:
    • suppression of free speech
    • class-based oppression
    • loss of political democracy
    • racial oppression
    • lack of privacy rights
    • loss of individual rights in general
    • use of state violence to suppress dissidents

    Because the creative purpose of PIC was to inspire us to go out and fix our messed up society. The creative purpose of TNG and VOY was to reassure us that things were gonna get better by themselves without us having to put in the work. (The creative purpose of DS9 was to challenge us to ask ourselves if the message of TNG was really honest; PIC starts from the understanding DS9 provided that TNG's message is not honest.)

    PIC was to challenge you; TNG wants to reassure you.

    Because it's politically and psychologically dishonest storytelling. The Picard we saw in TNG had the luxury of always choosing to do the right thing because TNG was written in such a way that he always had enough political power to get away with it. In TNG, going up against a powerful corrupt admiral when she starts a witch hunt does not damage or destroy his career in "The Drumhead;" in reality, this choice would almost certainly lead to months of internal Starfleet politicking and his possible loss of command. In "The Pegasus," Picard casually arrests a member of the admiralty and exposes the UFP's treaty violation to a hostile foreign power; in real life, he'd be damned lucky if he got an honorable discharge.

    PIC is starting from a fundamentally different creative conceit: "What if Picard tried to do the right thing, and he wasn't powerful enough to get away with it? How would he react psychologically, and how would the galaxy react politically?" And that's a far more honest place to start your writing from than, "It's the 24th Century and We'll Never Have Problems Again."

    Why does it matter? Being an android is fine, so why should you feel negatively about him becoming one?

    Sigh.

    First off, when Picard dies, he dies a hero. He is not a loser -- he is a man who has overcome a decade and a half of depression, institutional inertia, the concerted efforts of the Zhat Vash, and even Coppelian nationalists, to forge a real and meaningful peace and lead the Federation back into decency.

    Secondly, he dies and comes back to life for the same reason heroes do throughout Western fiction: It represents new life and rebirth. I mean, hell, him encountering Data one last time is literally Orpheus descending into the Underworld before returning to the land of the living. Frickin' Harry Potter died and met Dumbledore before returning to Hogwarts to defeat Voldemort -- you gonna call Harry Potter a dystopia and complain about why Rowling thought it necessary to kill him, too?

    Complaining that Star Trek: Picard starts from a place of psychological darkness, climaxes in a heroic death, and resolves with rebirth and new life, makes about as much sense as claiming that it's bad that The Divine Comedy starts with Dante travelling to Inferno instead of just immediately going to Paradise.

    You are objectively wrong. You may find them too gloomy for your tastes -- in which case, you have bad taste and I don't want to be your friend -- but it is just factually inaccurate to call either DIS or PIC "dystopian." The Federation is a liberal democracy in both shows.
     
  9. Lynx

    Lynx Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2001
    Location:
    Lynx Empire
    I'm not gonna play semantics with you here. Therefore I won't go into every detail of your post.

    But I will comment to some of it.

    I still enjoy TOS, TNG, DS9 and the first three seasons of Voyager and the best way to do so is to simply omit everything or at least most of what has been created after that.

    Yes, I do find the recent movies and series too gloomy for my tastes and if you consider this as me having bad taste and therefore you don't want to be my friend is no concern at all for me. But I can't help feeling a bit cheated. Ever since those in charge abandoned the 24th century, I've been waiting for Trek to return to this century, so filled with interesting adventures, plots and interesting species. And when it finally happened, it was this. :shrug:

    I would also like to comment your statement about "the creative purpose of PIC was to inspire us to go out and fix our messed up society".

    I think that you're hitting the nail here. The 1990's was a fun decade and the TV series were exciting and entertaining.

    The 2010's was crap and the 2020's seems to be even worse. Therefore the TV series and other, well "entertainment" are gloomy. Or more correct dystopian. .And that's not what I want after 8-10 hours in a dystopian society when I need to reload the batteries and relax with something which lighten up my mood a bit.

    Not that I'm living in a rosy bubble, I'm actually somewhat involved in "fixing what's wrong" at least in my home province. But, as I wrote, from time to time I need to reload the batteries and therefore I don't want all 2010's-2020's negativism run down my throat 24 hours a day. It's bad enough as it is with this ongoing Covid virus hell ruining absoulutely everything of normal life.

    Maybe that's why I've been taken such a liking to DS9 the recent years when I finally have had a chance to watch this series from start to finish three times without being interrupted by malfunctioning DVD's or stupid TV stations abandoning the series somewhere down the line. DS9 could be dark and gloomy from time to time but there were always lighter episodes here and there to ease the tension and gloom.
     
  10. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2002
    Location:
    Montgomery County, State of Maryland
    Or, you could enjoy them as works of art unto themselves without giving any consideration one way or the other to DIS. Or, you could enjoy them as optimistic visions of the future with the knowledge that later on things get worse but then get better again.

    I mean, if they're too gloomy for you, that's fine (your taste is bad, but we all have the right to have bad taste). But you have absolutely not been cheated in any way. Your feeling of being cheated is not valid. Artists have no obligation to tell you the kind of story you want to see; they have an obligation to tell you the kind of story they promised to tell you, and nothing more.

    Once again: DIS and PIC are absolutely not dystopian, and it is factually wrong to call them that. If the fact they have a darker tone than you subjectively prefer is what you want to highlight, then you ought to call them by a term that expresses tone, not a term that expresses detailed plot content that is not present.

    Anyway, yes, the 21st Century has been a very troubled era for the West so far. There are two basic ways to respond to that artistically: Escapism, or by reaching catharsis through examining the times through art. TNG is escapism; PIC is catharsis through confrontation. If the latter doesn't work for you, that doesn't mean it lacks artistic merit or validity. It just means it doesn't work for you.

    I don't enjoy Mad Men. I gave it a shot. I watched most of the first season, and I've seen episodes from later in its run. I know what kind of show it is. I recognize its objective merits -- this is a well-written, well-crafted show with excellent writing, acting, production design, scoring, and cinematography. I recognize that the narrative constitutes a commentary upon the era in which it is set that reflects a politics I broadly agree with. But I don't like the show because I find almost every single character unsympathetic and the values the characters believe (the characters, not the show) too objectionable.

    That does not mean that I deny the validity of Mad Men's merits as a work of art. It doesn't mean I trash it for not being the show I would prefer it to be -- Mad Men has no obligation to be the work of art I want to see. It just means it doesn't work for me, and that I have bad taste and its fans don't want to be my friends. That's fine.

    I would strongly urge you to apply that same philosophy to DIS and PIC: "I recognize there is artistic merit, but the shows don't work for me."

    Because frankly, I don't see how watching a show you don't like and then going to bulletin boards full of people who do like it, increases your personal happiness.

    I find your enjoyment of DS9 and rejection of DIS and PIC puzzling and inconsistent; DIS and PIC are very much the children of DS9 in terms of which Berman-era shows most influenced their writing styles. All three turn a deconstructionist lens on TNG's and VOY's Roddenberrian optimism. DIS has lighter episodes -- "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad" from S1 most famously -- and PIC has plenty of light-hearted scenes sprinkled throughout its admittedly much more focused season-long narrative.

    But hey! It's fine to just not like a TV show. But you can do that without denying its artistic merits or falsely attributing plot elements to it that are not present.
     
  11. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2014
    Location:
    fireproof78
    Honestly, this might be an oversimplification but I think it's just that this Trek doesn't make people feel good. There's no happily ever after but honest and hard questions and challenges. Without that it feels very dystopian even though it is not.

    Comes down to the feels.
     
    Lynx and Shaka Zulu like this.
  12. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2002
    Location:
    Montgomery County, State of Maryland
    Definitely. Or more specifically -- modern Star Trek, with the exception of Lower Decks, doesn't start off by making people feel good. I think the folks who stick with DIS and PIC in spite of them not being immediately emotionally reassuring often find that they do come to a place of emotional reassurance and good feelings, but that place is reached through the catharsis of confronting bad things first. I will go to my grave insisting that Picard's "That's why we're all here -- to save each other" line from "Et in Arcadia Ego, Part II" is one of the most genuinely hopeful, life-affirming, Star Trek-ian scenes in the entire franchise. But I certainly won't deny that to get there, you have to go through Picard's private hell first.
     
  13. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2014
    Location:
    fireproof78
    I completely agree. I also think that Trek was heading on this path, specifically with Picard, much earlier than fans would care to admit. All the films involve a loss of some kind for Picard, from his family, to the lost of trust of Starfleet, and his disagreement with the Federation Council's Decision. Picard's story hasn't been happy for a while, despite the blind insistence that it is.

    I too will defend Picard because it is much closer to real life than most Trek has dared to touch. It was willing to say "life can get messy" without saying "The Federation is completely lost" (since it wasn't in Picard). And that's the hope. As the saying goes that stories give me hope because they show that dragons can be defeated. Picard overcomes several years of pain and loss to come to his new place, and, as you note so well, receives a rebirth.

    That's classic storytelling right there.
     
  14. Agony_Boothb

    Agony_Boothb Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2009
    Location:
    previously Mickmike
    You seriously need to look up and understand what a Dystopia is because you are using the word wrong.

    Nothing about the Federation in Discovery or Picard is even close to being dystopic. A dystopia is specifically a failed state that has become authoritarian and in which it's citizens have little to no rights. Picard literally crticises Starfleet and the Federation very publicly in the first episode. If the Federation were a real dystopia, he would have been punished for his comments most likely by being put in a jail cell. The Federation is not a failed state nor has it become an authoritarian regime. It has become insular and isolationist neither of those things make it a dystopia.
     
  15. FederationHistorian

    FederationHistorian Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2020
    Well, at the time of the Terra Prime incident, Archer did not know that the Romulans were pulling the strings of the Vulcans. He only knew of the Romulans trying to divide future Federation members apart; not just the future founding members, but future members in the Rigelians as well. And of the Vulcans historically having enormous influence over less powerful governments such as Earth, Coridan, & Agaron while also having open diplomatic channels with the Klingon Empire, assisting in the Interspecies Medical Exchange, not helping out in the Xindi crisis, and that the Vulcans had their own Prime Directive that neither he or Starfleet wanted to follow. And that relations between Earth and Vulcan was about to change after the discovery of the Kir’Shara, as the Vulcans were no longer going to have a paternalistic presence over them. Change was also imminent between the Vulcans and Andorians after decades of conflict.

    The idea of there being a puppetmaster (Romulans) behind the puppetmaster (Vulcans) never occurred to him. Can’t blame him, or his contemporaries, for not thinking that. And we have no idea if V’Las being a puppet of the Romulan government ever came to light during Archer’s time. I would imagine that revelation would have significant ramifications throughout the Alpha Quadrant at that time.


    I think the idea of the Federation turning inward and becoming insular and isolationist makes everything seem gloomier than it is. And ignores that the Federation went through a lot between TNG and PIC that caused them to get to that point. We don't really have any other preceding era to compare this to to know if this behaviour from the Federation is really unprecedented. The Federation has had its share of conflicts and crises before, but has they ever occurred in such a short timeframe in such close proximity to each other? Star Trek has never really indicated that has been the case.
     
  16. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2014
    Location:
    fireproof78
    This really is an important detail to be keep in mind. It's not like the Federation just woke up one morning and decided "Hey, let's be protectionist and insular!" They had endured several wars and conflicts, many that were back to back, with the Borg, the Cardassians, the Dominion, the Borg again (First Contact) and the Romulans. The Dominion War, in particular, was heavy losses that tore at a lot of the basic fundamentals of the Federation, namely trust. I mean Admiral Leyton was looking to start martial law, and there was paranoia increasing across Starfleet. At some point in time it becomes exhausting and a society may start looking inward, and trying to rebuild from that destruction and loss of life.

    TNG at the start presented a humanity that was still a bit naïve to all the dangers out there, and Q illustrated that quite well with introducing the Borg. And Starfleet and the Federation would be changed by that encounter, as would Picard.

    I get that many treat Trek as escapism and the idea of the Federation struggling is not appealing. But, that doesn't change the fact that the Federation was hit again and again and again and eventually sat down and became self-focused. That is understandable. What matters is what they do with that when they recognize what has happened.

    ETA: Missed this post:

    Indeed, yes. Dystopia gets thrown out way too much for it to mean what it really means. Star Trek is not humanity perfected and any flaws do not automatically mean dystopian society. In fact, we see very little of the Federation proper in Picard.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2020
  17. Agony_Boothb

    Agony_Boothb Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2009
    Location:
    previously Mickmike
    Yes, and all of this had been going on since at least 2350's. Add to that, we don't know what other threats the Federation may have been encountering in deep space between 2385 and 2399. Officers of Clancy's generation would have actively served in the Dominion war and no doubt the trauma from that would have influenced their policy making when it came to new threats to the Federation.
     
  18. CaptainVarley

    CaptainVarley Ensign Newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2020
    I agree with this wholeheartedly. I think this is still the Dystopian vision Gene had, but it's colored with some real humanism. When people go through difficult times over and over again, they're going to take a step back to examine what happened and how to not end up there again. I think that's so great about this kind of story telling us that it shows you that sometimes even though the journey takes you through hell, there can still be light at the end.
     
  19. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2014
    Location:
    fireproof78
    My biggest thing is that having a utopia is meaningless if it can face any challenges.
     
    Grendelsbayne and cooleddie74 like this.
  20. Pubert

    Pubert Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2014
    Hmmm yeah pretty much.