The Way To Eden = propaganda?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by awiltz2, Apr 16, 2012.

  1. awiltz2

    awiltz2 Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Just finished watching The Way To Eden for the first time (painful experience). With the space hippies, one of which who plays a bicycle-wheel-harp (actually kind of cool).

    Pretty much a propaganda episode, wouldn't you agree? Don't defy your parents (the Ambassador), don't drop out of school (like Irina), and don't defy authority (like they did in the episode), because authority is always right (as they are in the episode). Also, the leader of a group you might belong to is probably insane (Sevrin), and is murderous (trying to kill everyone on the Enterprise), and will eventually take you to your doom (death on Eden, where Adam was (ironically) the first to die).

    Pretty much trying to scare kids to listen to their parents, listen to authority, stay in school, ignore peer pressure, and follow the rules. Good propaganda, but propaganda nonetheless, no?

    I like the messages, but the episode was absolute torture to sit through.

    :klingon:
     
  2. Amaris

    Amaris Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    To me the episode says "look before you leap", "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is", "not everyone in authority is conspiring against you", things like that. I do like the episode, because we get to see Spock rock out, and that's always fun. :D
     
  3. Elias Vaughn

    Elias Vaughn Captain Captain

    Don't join cults, kids.
     
  4. bbailey861

    bbailey861 Admiral Premium Member

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    Being around when this aired in '69, I'd have to agree with you. While it is one thing to discuss this in the context of Star Trek and its meaning, don't forget that in that period, the networks had a role to play as well and it wasn't about disrupting the establishment or the advertisers. It certainly isn't the best TOS episode by any means, but it sure did capture the feeling of the period very accurately.
     
  5. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It certainly has a message of wariness toward the Hippies, but it's also more sympathetic and nuanced than you're making it out to be. Remember that Spock feels somewhat of a connection to them.
     
  6. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The inclusion of the Herbert reference and Spock's being sympathetic to the hippies' cause provide a nice balance. Not to mention the closing line, "We reach, Mister Spock," which I've always loved. The episode is therefore also about reaching "across the aisle".

    ETA: Partially ninja'd by sonak.
     
  7. scotpens

    scotpens Professional Geek Premium Member

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    It’s worth comparing “The Way to Eden” with the first-season ep “This Side of Paradise.” While the latter is one of TOS’s best stories and the former is pretty much crap, the basic message is the same; namely, There Ain’t No Free Lunch. Nothing particularly political about that, IMHO.
     
  8. DeepSpaceWine

    DeepSpaceWine Commander Red Shirt

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    It did come off as a blatantly reactionary response from the older generation/"authorities" to the younger generation (Hippies). Kirk seems 20-30 years older in that episode by how he acts. All he needed was to yell on the planet, "Hey you kids, get off my lawn!". However, in it there are a few surprising elements. First, there is some sympathy towards their ideals and hopes and second is a strong sense from the writing of fear that the kids are being led astray. That's where the cult aspect comes in and the world of Eden being dangerous acid (LSD) is a pretty blunt analogy. That last part really came off as a warning to Hippies that they won't find paradise in dropping acid.

    So, all around, it isn't as totally pants up to the nipples with suspenders with a short tie, hat on at all times, in a rocking chair as it seems. It has more redeeming qualities than act IV of "The Omega Glory" or the entirety of "The Mirror" (Twilight Zone) or that anti-downloading music episode of Futurama. But it's closer to Dragnet ('60s) than Batman ('60s) on the "being with it" meter for episodes from that time.
     
  9. Potemkin_Prod

    Potemkin_Prod Commodore Commodore

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    Avoid acid, kids.
    ;)
     
  10. Emperor Norton

    Emperor Norton Captain Captain

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    I'd have to say it is certainly anti-Hippie propaganda, and poorly done at that. It essentially says Hippies are disruptive, that they are devious (everyone is plotting and planning), and that their leaders are whacked out. It's essentially the Manson family in space. And the ending was just shoved in there, where out of nowhere and with no set up the planet is actually poison, and everyone is burned or dies. What meaning does that have, then? It's basically that way to say: "This optimism to change the world and counter culture will just lead to bad things" and when you ask why, the answer is "Just 'cause", because the writer seems to assume you'll already be on the side against these Hippies and view them as crazy and evil, or at least mislead into acting evil, already.
     
  11. MikeH92467

    MikeH92467 Admiral Admiral

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    The episode is a mess and wavers between reactionary (Scotty's "Why must young minds always be disruptive?") to a surprising bit of empathy from Kirk ("I got into some trouble at that age myself") Like so many season 3 episodes there was the seed of a good story but I always felt like one more rewrite from someone like Dorothy Fontana or Gene Coon might have turned it into something much better.

    However, that internal conflict in the story as noted upthread does reflect the ambivalence a lot of people felt toward the hippie movement. Anyone who went through WW II had to have some sympathy for the "Make love, not war" ideal, but it's understandable that the dismissive arrogance of the hippie types was a huge turn-off.
     
  12. BoredShipCapt'n

    BoredShipCapt'n Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Whenever the third season turned preachy, which was most of the time, it did so with the subtlety of a freight train. At least "Eden" had its lighter moments and Spock got to do that duet with the chick playing the bicycle wheel.

    I love Frank Gorshin, but "Last Battlefield" is even more oppressive with its unrelenting monotonous sledgehammer pounding "racism bad, racism stupid, racism destructive." Which is true, but give us a break. It almost makes one want to contrive a case for racism just to relieve the boredom. If it weren't for the really well-done scene with the Enterprise destruct sequence, that one would be unwatchable.
     
  13. Doug Otte

    Doug Otte Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Although I've never read it, her original script would probably have turned out better.

    Doug
     
  14. Redfern

    Redfern Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The sad irony was that a story written by DC Fontana, "Joanna", was rewritten into this. It originally was to have focused upon McCoy's daughter. But nothing of that original plot remained by the time it was filmed. Had it been handed to DC to rewrite, she would have fought to resurrect her original treatment.

    Sincerely,

    Bill
     
  15. MikeH92467

    MikeH92467 Admiral Admiral

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    Just when you thought you knew it all... ;)


    But at any rate, I think my original point still is valid. Where the first two seasons, scripts got better in the re-write process, in season 3 they seemed too often to get worse.
     
  16. awiltz2

    awiltz2 Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    I think that throughout the series, Roddenberry and the primary writing staff had a dream where all of the great topics and issues of the time were evaluated (however dramatically) in at least one episode. Genocide has been covered a bunch. Gang and mob activity covered thoroughly. Religious extremism, tyranny, slavery, freedom of speech, death penalty, abortion, mass extinction, "absolute power corrupts absolutely," right to due process, right to bear arms, balance of power, so on.

    All of these had been covered in the first two seasons.

    After being put in the Friday death slot, pretty much a death warrant, he probably realized "Shit, I've got one season to cover Kirk mourning the death of a wife and unborn child, and racism, and hippies, and Native Americans, and Nazis, and a ton of other important topics and issues. Time to squeeze, squeeze, squeeze."
     
  17. PvtKtara

    PvtKtara Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    What really cut the knees out from under Fontana's script was Freiberger's notion that Kirk and McCoy were the same age, despite the clear fact that De Kelley was around ten years older than Bill Shatner.

    I suspect that once Fontana heard that fine bit of nonsense from the guy now running the show, she probably thought to herself, "That's it, we're dead," and figured now was the time to start making her departure and distancing herself (hence the use of her pseudonym "Michael Richards").
     
  18. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Roddenberry had essentially departed at the end of Season Two when NBC backflipped on giving him the timeslot they had promised. He didn't have very much to do with showrunning in that last year.

    Yep. Kirk was supposed to fall for Joanna McCoy, but Frieberger argued that Kirk and the doctor were "contemporaries", and so didn't believe that the relationship would work.

    Interesting that JJ Abrams' 2009 movie threw Kirk and McCoy into adjoining seats on their way to Starfleet Academy, confirming for the first time (canonically) that they had prehistory to TOS. Could you imagine Chris Pine's Kirk taking up with Karl Urban's McCoy's daughter? Would be... fascinating!
     
  19. Neutral Zone

    Neutral Zone Captain Captain

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    It certainly had the had the morals that awlitz2 mentioned. But certainly not that bad in comparison say to 'Spocks Brain'. I remember seeing seeing 'The Way to Eden' when I was a Kid, the hippy period had just faded out. Even way back then I thought it was a cool episode, especially with Spock jamming and Kirk being called an 'Herbert!'
     
  20. Bones_McCoy21

    Bones_McCoy21 Commander Red Shirt

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    Now before I go on...Agreed it was painful.

    I digress, the episode really to me is about respect to everyone(except for the fact hippes did drugs and stuff.) It really is sneakily telling the kids to do what people tell you to do.

    (The singing sucked!)