Picard's comments about Earth's Past - "Encounter at Farpoint"

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Joel_Kirk, Jun 23, 2014.

  1. Joel_Kirk

    Joel_Kirk Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Aug 16, 2009
    In the Joel Zone, identifying as Sexually Fluid.
    This is not posted in the TNG forum since I think the discussion may cover the entire Trek franchise. Of course, if it - the discussion - stays within the realm of TNG...the moderators should feel free to move it where appropriate.

    So, to get on with the point of the thread:
    When Picard and crew first meet Q, Picard is basically told how 'savage' Earth was and still is. Yet, Picard (almost pompously) claims that the 23rd century had risen above when humans 'wore costumes' such as old Earth/U.S. army uniforms during the cold war, or clothing from 1500s/1600s during human trafficking and even in late 21st century where the military was controlled by drugs (and referred to as 'rapid progress' even though things weren't so progressive).

    Granted, out-of-universe, this was the start of a series and things were just being tried out. In-universe, it's interesting to see how much Picard forgot...or wasn't aware of (i.e. Khitomer conference incidents where it was possibly documented that members of the Enterprise crew voiced opinions similar to Yeoman Burke and Samno had some racist comments towards Klingons, and vice versa).

    Too, Picard would become 'savage' in the film First Contact, wanting to kill the Borg rather than his usual reasoning before gunfire. And, he would fire on a crewman who would call to him for help, when - years before - the Enterprise-D crew saved Picard.

    The Dominion War, and the brief Klingon War during the Dominion War, would make some humans 'savage' (i.e. "The Siege of AR-558") or change them in the long run, such as Nog. Not too mention, Captain Ransom and the crew of the Equinox in the Delta Quadrant.

    I don't know how much Star Trek Online is canon (it should all be, since it's awesome) but in the 25 (?) century, the Federation is at war again with not only the Klingons, but the Gorn.

    While I was usually annoyed with Q, it's interesting how in-universe, he now comes across as a being who possibly foresaw all of this: The fight to maintain the idea of 'utopia.' (Those who follow the sfdebris reviews actually touched upon the change of Picard in the films, and how actionPicard would have failed the test that seriesPicard would have scoffed at.

    DS9 was all about questioning what utopia really is, especially in episodes such as "Homefront" and "Paradise Lost." And, just because things are fine and dandy on Earth (or friendly planets such as Vulcan or Andor) doesn't mean it's fine and dandy for everyone else....i.e. Maquis, settlements in the middle of war zones, Bajorans during Cardassian rule, areas like Nimbus III.

    I guess my point is: Humans will still have a long way to go, even past the 24th century. Especially since the universe is bigger than just what humans are used to or expect it to be.

    Thoughts? (Other than this was a lengthy post....lol)
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2014
  2. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

    Nov 5, 2008
    24th century humans haven't evolved at all from today, but they believe they have. I imagine it's something ingrained into them from a young age - that humanity has evolved and is now ready to spread it's wisdom to the stars. Propaganda, basically.

    I see early TNG as a dark time in the Trek'verse. The people are often smug, self-righteous and unpleasant - totally unlike the relatable 23rd century TOS characters. But really, they're victims. Picard eventually realises the truth in FC, and the DS9 and Voyager crews seem a bit more savvy from the get-go.

    That's my in-universe explanation. Either Earth went through a dark time in the first half of he 2300's raising people to be this way, or they're just dicks.
  3. Joel_Kirk

    Joel_Kirk Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Aug 16, 2009
    In the Joel Zone, identifying as Sexually Fluid.
    Interesting pov...;)
  4. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

    Mar 8, 2001
    Great Britain
    Or perhaps the belief came about in part because of a relatively peaceful era circa 2315-2340's.
  5. Paul Weaver

    Paul Weaver Commodore Premium Member

    Apr 12, 1999
    Cheshire, UK
    Since Khitomer 70 years before Farpoint, the Federation had been mostly at peace. Even before then it was more of a cold war with the Klingons, it hadn't threatened to be hot since the Organians gave them both a kick up the rear. Sure there were incidents (Tomed incident for instance), and skirmishes with the Cardassians and Tzenkethi, but on the whole your average Federation citizen was brought up in a time of peace, with no power able to threaten them. This was a peace far more more peaceful than the average american's existence post-WW2, who had the ever present threat of nuclear war, and skirmishes in Korea and Vietnam.

    But there were some unsettling undertones in the early days of TNG. Racism for one, and racism based entirely on rumour at that - they couldn't even be bothered to pop over to Ferenginar and chat to them.

    Humanity (particularly Picard) had a long way to go. Q gave them a kick up the backside

    You then had the Borg in orbit of Earth, the Dominion infiltrating the upper echelons of starfleet and the government, the Breen attacking Earth, and the Dominion taking over Betazed. You had massive losses across the federation, you had starfleet officers who's likely never encountered a ground war in their life being left on a worthless rock.

    Over the course of 10 years, people's ingrained world-view had changed. Voyager's Starfleet crew were very much fishes out of water to start with, cut off from everything they knew (Coffee, Steak, Holodecks). Bashir had a similar role in DS9, arriving the in the wild frontier to find it's someone's home (OBrien had been on the front lines, Dax had 300 years of experience, and Sisko was reeling from the loss of his wife to the Borg, they all knew that their world view was off).

    But humanity can adapt, once it realises it needs to.

    I don't think it's deliberate Starship-Troopers style propaganda though, just an insular world-view. We see this all the time from many people in certain countries on Earth.

    The main characters in TNG were all from the core federation - France, Alaska, Luna, Minsk, Betazed. Chances are they had never travelled to the edge of the federation, let alone beyond, and that's why they had the opinion that Ferengi were cannibals, that there was nothing to learn from the rest of the galaxy. Yar had a different view of reality. Exploration was more of a "missionary mission", with them going out to tame the natives, not to learn.

    Q was the start, if it hadn't been for him, the Borg wouldn't have turned up when they did, and Sisko wouldn't go to DS9 and find the wormhole. The marquis may have happened, but perhaps things would be different with Cardassia if the Federation hadn't planted a massive military base next door to their home planet (I'm sure the Federation wouldn't be happy if Barnards Star petitioned to join Cardassia and Cardassia took over Starbase 4), voyager might not even have happened, and they certainly wouldn't survive long enough to get past the Borg.
  6. Silvercrest

    Silvercrest Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Oct 4, 2003
    My somewhat facetious take on it is that they were making a conscious effort to change themselves into what we saw ... and it was working. Bootstrap evolution, if you like. This continued into the years of VOY and DS9. Finally "Threshold" showed everyone what they were evolving into if they kept it up. (Yes, Gene, THAT is TNG S1/2 taken to the extreme.)

    After that they decided it wasn't such a great idea and stopped acting so smug.
  7. Jonas Grumby

    Jonas Grumby Vice Admiral Admiral

    Jan 24, 2002
    Somewhere in the South Pacific
    This post seems spot on to me.

    I have to admit, even though I was a fan of TNG for most of its run, I never found any of the regular characters to be truly likeable. And pompous self-righteousness was by far their most annoying shared characteristic.
  8. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

    Nov 22, 2001
    Ferguson, MO, USA
    To me, I'll always think that Quark said it best about 24th-Century Humans when he was talking to Nog:

    It's easy to spout holier-than-thou or evolved sensibility sentiments when you speak from a position of strength or when you have the upper hand. It's a lot harder to live that way when things aren't going so well (I think that was something that Kirk understood).

    Last edited: Jun 24, 2014
  9. LMFAOschwarz

    LMFAOschwarz Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Oct 1, 2013
    Kirk was far more worldly than Picard. :)
  10. Joel_Kirk

    Joel_Kirk Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Aug 16, 2009
    In the Joel Zone, identifying as Sexually Fluid.
    Interesting comments from everyone....(We're actually all in agreement!)

    I have something to add, but I may post it later on....(I'm doing a couple of things all at once right now...lol)
  11. HIjol

    HIjol Admiral and Consummate Peacemaker Premium Member

    Feb 13, 2014
    In a time and place long past...
    I wonder if the "tech" evolution got ahead of the social evolution...???...that is, like Joel and C. E. and King alluded to; we hadn't evolved much, or at all, rather there was a "Manifest Destiny" to go out into the stars and spread our magnificence...but there were incremental "evolutions" along the way, needs be, to ease our passing, as it were, and tech really needed to evolve to take us there...I hope that makes sense...clearer in my mind, perhaps,.. :)
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2014
  12. PhoenixClass

    PhoenixClass Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Aug 16, 2013
    I will admit that in early TNG, they did "lay it on a little thick" and make some smug comments. But I think it's clear that humanity had evolved socially by that point.

    There are still struggles and violence in the galaxy. But the wider point, which Picard's comment is consistent with, is that humans aren't still butchering each other as a matter of policy.

    I don't understand what people mean about conquering natives and spreading the blessings of humanity. No matter how smug we interpret the TNG people to be, there were still times when they followed the Prime Directive so closely that they were willing to let civilizations die out. That is not consistent with the actions of a colonizing or proselytizing power.
  13. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Vice Admiral Admiral

    Nov 20, 2012
    I would disagree that the 24th century humans we see in Trek haven't 'Evolved'. Or rather, evolved is the wrong word because it represents a one directional continuum of improvement. It's more they've developed, they've philosophically advanced and figured out how to create a society that gives opportunity and prosperity to everybody.

    That 'Evolution' just isn't as secure as they'd like to believe, as we first see hints of in Q Who (Again, the theme of Q trying to rattle that security), and we finally see in the war with the Dominion, and we see that humans can still act like savages when their security is threatened. Although, whereas 20th century humans would have never allowed Odo to return to the great link to distribute the cure, 24th century humans did.

    I also wouldn't characterize the attitude as 'Smug', anymore than it's smug for us to feel good about ourselves to have abolished slavery and extended universal voting rights. 'Naive' is more accurate. Just like 20th century humans we get so wrapped up in our progressions and accomplishments we choose not to see the flaws and injustices that still exist.

    I think the central debate of Star Trek through Q, Picard, and then the Maquis and the Dominion war is that to maintain a state of peace you have to remember how to be savage in order to protect it, and you should never be naive enough to ignore what's going on around you.
  14. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

    May 10, 2005
    The visitor's bullpen
    I find it more than a little ironic that (in the TNG pilot) Picard lobs an insult at the 20th-century military, making fun of them for wearing "costumes like that", while:

    - Picard's own uniform was obviously no less of a costume, and

    - Gene Roddenberry HIMSELF once wore such a "costume" (he was in the Air Force).

    Then again, as smug, arrogant and sanctimonious as TNG got, Picard was the worst of the lot. So it's not really surprising, I guess.
  15. sbk1234

    sbk1234 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 24, 2006
    Los Angeles
    I figured that much of this was simply Picard posturing for an alien species which whom he was trying to make a point and do some bluffing.
  16. LMFAOschwarz

    LMFAOschwarz Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Oct 1, 2013
    I think the most blatant example of this "smugness" was in The Neutral Zone, in dealing with the three twentieth century survivors of the old cryogenics ship. I remember thinking it was a perfect set-up for a Star Trek meets The Twilight Zone type story, where Picard or Riker then find themselves waking up three centuries ahead of their own time, and are treated with the same type of condescension and aloofness that they themselves had administered to the twentieth century folks!
  17. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 20, 2009
    Picard: "Evek, the last war caused massive destruction and cost millions of lives. Don't send our two peoples back down that same path again."

    Skirmishes? Sound more like a hell of a major war.

    Kirk was a killer, who didn't kill today.

  18. LMFAOschwarz

    LMFAOschwarz Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Oct 1, 2013
    Exactly. He understood who we were, who we are, and who we could be again, without the conscious effort to be something more. And he had a compassion for the downtrodden that's hard not to be inspired by. :)
  19. Kevman7987

    Kevman7987 Captain Captain

    May 20, 2013
    Erie, PA, USA
    Kirk's line in A Taste of Armageddon is one of my favorites:

    "[War] is instinctive. But the instinct can be fought. We're human beings with the blood of a million savage years on our hands! But we can stop it. We can admit that we're killers ... but we're not going to kill today. That's all it takes! Knowing that we're not going to kill - today!"
  20. Shat Happens

    Shat Happens Captain Captain

    Jul 24, 2013
    For comparison, we have Wesley: