12th Jul2010

Hey Star Trek! dijoo SAVE THE FLIPPIN’ EARTH!?

by jerad.formby

We’ve written you all about Gene Roddenberry optimism. We’ve shown you countless examples in Hey Star Trek!’s long canon of the optimism being awesome and super cool.

We might have mentioned on some occasions that many a Star Trek fan does not enjoy some of the “darker” elements of Trek. “Section 31 (the Federation’s black ops organization)” is out with them. Killing Ensign Sito (the cute Bajoran blonde from “Lower Decks”) makes them cry foul because Star Trek’s about hope. Another culprit would be the “Dominion War” because it counters the Roddenberry message of “being better people.”

These elements can be deemed as Star Trek “being more realistic.” The protest from fans might be saying that realism and Trek don’t mix.

If that’s the case, then fans have been ignoring one big giant warp flight of reality that has a long, very strange history. There’s a bit of elitism in Star Trek’s Starfleet and we feel it’s our duty to alert all of you to this!

You might think of yourself as a well-to-do Tellarite who will be doing the best he can for his planet by joining up with Starfleet. You may have ambitions of climbing the ranks of command and having your own ship –it’s not a bad dream to have and hey, Tellarite, your dream is completely plausible in Star Trek.

You may find yourself graduating at the head of your class and getting a really pimp assignment on one of Starfleet’s premier vessels. Heck, you might even find your Tellarite butt on the flagship of the Federation.

A mission here, a mission there, suddenly you’re the head of your own department. You become the go-to guy for security, engineering, or science –whichever specialty you want to rock. Then you’re promoted to another ship. The rank comes with more responsibilities and you quickly make a name for yourself.

Your reputation becomes the talk of Starfleet Command. New ships are always being constructed and new challenges always have to be faced. And there you are, the toast of the town –talked about behind closed doors. Your name mentioned when new commands are being assigned.

You finally earn that ship and you’re on your way.

That’s the typical Federation dream when it comes to a Starfleet career. And that’s the typical version of your career path. You’re old, seasoned, and a champion.

And it took you forever! Because you must have slept through the class where they explained the way “around the crap.”

The Federation is made up of many worlds, but there’s only one Earth.

It’s just a sweet little blue ball of water bouncing around the Sol Star. It’s the launching place of humanity. It’s one planet equal to all others in the Federation –but of course, Star Trek’s lying to you!

It’s a very, very special planet.

It will find itself in peril every now and then and a Starship will have to save it. If you’re in command of that starship during that particular mission, you will reap the benefits.

Don’t believe us? Think back on that time when Riker fought Picard as Locutus. Yeah, he saved Picard, but even better? He saved the Earth. Remember how TNG unfolded right after that?

Yes, gentle readers, it appears that once Riker had done the crucial thing and saved the planet Earth, he was able to do whatever he wanted with his career. He chose to remain on the Enterprise –despite the needs of the many!

Instead of assuming a new command and helping with the rebuilding of Starfleet, he just stuck around on the Enterprise. Picard didn’t really mind that he did.

Really, he didn’t.

We can all entertain the notion that Riker secretly wanted to command the Enterprise and that’s why he hung around… of course later he would get gray, married, and just give up on that dream.

He took the Titan years after the fleet was repaired and he took the command in his own damn good time.

Nobody complained though, because he saved the Earth.

So here is your Starfleet where this guy was allowed to just stick around the Enterprise besides a number of crucial posts where he could have been used.

Posts like the one they shoved down Sisko’s throat.

The “saving the Earth” sweepstakes only happened once on TNG’s entire run as a television show. When it came time for Captain Picard to do movies, he finally ended up saving a planet that we never really saw.

He saved the Earth in Nemesis, we suppose, but does that mean it just took Captain Picard every scrap of his own celluloid existence to do what Riker did in his third year!?

If you’re assuming all of this started with the Next Generation, we’ll happily remind you that Admiral Kirk saved the Earth and was very nearly exonerated from all criminal charges that were put against him for Star Trek III.

That’s right, ladies and gents, save the Earth and Starfleet bends over for you. Save Veridian II and you get a pat on the back.

Saving the Earth is a long and noble tradition in Star Trek. One we’re happy to say continues to this very day!




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  • Clay

    I concur.

    More evidence to suggest this is true… Exhibit A: Kirk saves the Earth from V’Ger. Despite leaving a vacancy in Starfleet Operations Kirk remains on the Enterprise.

    Exhibit B: Sisko saves the Earth in “Past Tense.” What does Starfleet do? Promotion at the end of the season despite him disobeying orders and risking a war with the Dominion to rescue Odo in “Improbable Cause.” In fact, Starfleet pretty much leaves Sisko alone after that despite getting weirder in that whole Emissary thing…

    Exhibit C: Being out of the loop and screwing up the Delta Quadrant for seven years equal promotion to Admiral, because Janeway saves the Earth in “Endgame.”

  • http://apizzagirl.blogspot.com Pizza Girl

    You forget to mention that a Tellarite would never make an important captain. Probably not even one we’d see on screen in more than passing. Certainly not one we’d see commanding his ship or one we’d focus on for television/movies. He has one thing going against him that will prevent him from ever being important… he’s not human.

    Are there even any non-human captains in Starfleet (besides Data)?

  • http://blog.liquidcross.com liquidcross

    Captain Rixx, for one. He was a Bolian. And a bunch of Vulcan captains.

  • http://trekcast.com jerad.formby

    Just because we haven’t seen a Tellarite captain doesn’t mean they don’t exist 🙂 In the confines of Star Trek philosophy, there is no reason to believe that a Tellarite has as much a chance at center chair as a Vulcan or a Bolian.

    Deep Space Nine showed an alternate future where Nog (a Ferengi) was a Captain. 🙂

  • http://apizzagirl.blogspot.com PizzaGirl

    So what you’re saying is that there is probably a proportional mixture of captains of different races and that we? Am I right in thinking that that leaves two possible reasons for why the shows and movies (and I suspect the books) focus heavily on human captains?:
    -As a human audience we automatically only focus on human stories in order to engage empathy. It’s not that there isn’t non-human captains, we just don’t see them.
    -There is such a minority of aliens in starfleet anyway that what we’re seeing is a proportional mix and eventually there will be focused stories on alien captains.

  • http://trekcast.com jerad.formby

    Your first idea is right, PizzaGirl. Star Trek is by humans and for humans. This means we’re just not seeing the plethora of other species that are undoubtedly rocking center chairs all across the fleet.

    We know that a number of fans would love to see the standard model rejected in favor of an “all Klingon show” or heck just a show with an alien in charge, but we would be hesitant to qualify that as true Star Trek. We shudder to think of the “made-up” captain (we mean that both ways). We are appalled at watching his alien decision making promise and his un-relatable nature.

    Those guys are execs and first officers, never captains. This isn’t prejudice, it’s just the difference between a show about the human condition and a show about the Bumbian condition (who cares about that?) 🙂

  • Clay

    It’s true Star Trek has developed a model that audiences can easily relate to. By the time GR got to making TNG, he perfected the formula, and he took everything that made the original triad (Kirk, Spock, and McCoy) so great and split those qualities among 7-9 characters. You have your human captain (Kirk, Picard, Riker, Sisko, Janeway, and Archer), who are your protagonists. They’re your action guys. They make the decisions, suffer the consequences, and the people the audience must relate to and root for. Now I threw Riker in there, because GR originally wanted to split Kirk into two characters. The wise and experienced captain with the brash young first officer. Who knew Picard would turn out to be the sex symbol.

    Then you have your outsider (Spock, Data, Odo, Kes, Seven, and Phlox), who ultimately serve as your chorus. They comment on humanity as an outside observer. The audience roots for them, because they want them to understand the human condition.

    Add your wise confidant (McCoy, Crusher, Dax, Tuvok, and Trip). These guys your captain usually draws strength from. They’re the morality tellers.

    Throw in your bromances (Kirk and Spock, Data and Geordi, Bashir and O’Brien, Paris and Kim, and Trip and Malcom). These are sometimes the odd couples. Two people very different, who over come their differences to form a deep friendship.

    Don’t forget your rookies (Chekov, Wesley, Ro, Bashir, Kim, and Hoshi), your fighters (Kirk, Spock, Worf, Kira, Chakotay, and Archer), and manwhores (Kirk, Riker, Bashir, Paris, Archer, and Trip).

    The nice the thing about the Star Trek formula is that the writers can mix and match and put twists on the formula, but in the end it’s the same formula. It’s the way the audience wants it.

  • Ranga

    I love that Star Trek is so optimistic. However I wouldn’t call it ‘optimistic’ so much as I would call it an example of what the future of our planet *should* be. Sort of like something we should endeavour to achieve, something we should aspire to. That is something that I love about Gene Roddenberry’s concept of Star Trek. That’s why it was such a breakthrough in the 60s.

    However, I then saw DS9 and it was so much darker and more realistic and I loved that too. It was almost as though, because the plot of DS9 was so deeply involved with other worlds, it was DS9’s job to show that flaws exist; that there are always things to fix. So, where Earth (or paradise, as they called it sometimes in DS9) was a metaphor for the perfect utopia we should strive for, the alien worlds (such as Bajor, Cardassia etc.) were metaphors for humanity as it is at the moment or as it has been in the past. That way, Star Trek is not only an optimistic prediction of the future, which can at times seem alien to us, it is also a look into humanity as we exist today. Kind of ironic that the alien worlds in Star Trek reflect us the most, whilst the depiction of future-Earth seems foreign.

    Anyway, just my rambly two cents. And I love your blog, by the way! 😀

  • Kerstan

    “We shudder to think of the “made-up” captain (we mean that both ways). We are appalled at watching his alien decision making promise and his un-relatable nature.”

    “…the Bumbian condition (who cares about that?) ”

    Ok, am I the only one who read this and thought that if there was a Star Trek (any series) episode where a human expressed such a sentiment that the episode would be about said human learning that they needed to open their mind and be more understanding and, most of all, discover that understanding the Other condition helps humans to understand themselves?

    From the tone of these comments, probably. 🙂

    Personally, I think the attitude that Star Trek needs to be human leader-centric is an expression of white hetero-normanitive dominance where humans (all humans, including Sisko and Janeway) represent white, heterosexual males and aliens represent everyone else. A message I don’t like (despite being a white hetero male).

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