Ok so it’s a day ending in Y and so I am thinking about Star Trek.
What keeps echoing in my head right now is the “all men are born equal but some are more equal than others.”
I’m newly pissed because at its core Trek is that frustrating, maddening dichotomy of hope for the future vs. the reality and inability to really break away or imagine something truly different.
The thought of a post-scarcity sort of utopia especially given the current political hellscape is such a comfort. The future can be better if we let it.
Where the maddening dichotomy comes in is something that has always threaded through Trek. In that people are people, they are imperfect and so while they always try, they sometimes fail. But the characters we root for, they are ultimately supposed to be the good guys. The Federation might make a misstep, but our hero, is supposed to call them on it or wryly accept the hypocrisy and that they still have work to do, or something along that lines. That doesn’t always happen obviously because people are writing the show, and those people have biases and prejudices and those blinkers come through. There have been some damn uncomfortable Trek episodes that went wide of the mark.
I’m rambling and I’m not sure I’m making my point. Narrative framing. Once Upon a Time was absolutely awful for this. The objective facts of the events said one thing like a certain character was a bad guy, but the writers made the characters say what a hero he was. Evidence didn’t match. There was a real dissonance. It made for bizarre viewing.
Picard has the same kind of shit going on. Jack Crusher got upset, and threw one hell of a tantrum. Hours went by in which he stole a shuttle and of his own free will went to the Borg cube. Yes he was then assimilated, and yes I would usually argue that the assimilated are the Borgs first victims and are not responsible for what they do as drones. They aren’t in control of their own actions. Except Jack broke his own link to the collective so how deeply assimilated was he? Seems like a lot of free choice here. And his “fire fire fire, kill the unassimilated” killed a lot of people. They aren’t specific how many but with 50 ships, and space dock, and planetary defense etc. I’m thinking a few hundred bare minimum, probably more like a few thousand.
What happened next? Was there any justice? No. Daddy is a human Admiral. So fast-tracked through StarFleet, assigned to the Flagship as a special officer.
Brings back an old sore point of Picard and his legacy vineyard estate. The events of Romulus happened, Picard was on the right side of history in terms of wanting to help the Romulans but when he failed to convince StarFleet he just fucked off to his large country estate, and what was sad? 15 years, nice comfortable life, staff to take care of everything. Raffi had a small broken down trailer in the desert. Maybe that was partly her choice, maybe she could have had an apartment in the city or whatever, but not everyone can have huge legacy country estates.
So much privilege and yeah that’s the unfortunate nature of reality. But it makes me so damn frustrated. The Federation is an ideal, principles and hope, and the best of Trek shows how they try but people are flawed, so they make their best effort. Power corrupts and institutions can be rotten but our heroes are supposed to be better. To try.
The changelings might have infiltrated StarFleet but they wouldn’t have replaced all the top brass. Some but not all. Which even if I am generous and say the changelings suggested some things, the rest of them agreed. It’s like The Winter Soldier where Hydra won because Shield sleep walked down the road to trading freedom for security. Our heroes are supposed to call that out but Picard at least is leveraging his position of privilege and benefiting from it. If the narrative framed that as a mistake, I would find it compelling, but that’s not what’s happening, and it feels bad.
I’m all for the struggle that Trek embodies of reality vs dreams of something better but the narrative needs to frame it that way. And it’s not.