There have been some really interesting conversations on the Star Trek forum attached to my Discovery blog for LSG Media over the last few weeks. The main thrust of the conversations have circled around how TV shows use their episodes to comment on current affairs. Sometimes they do it well and sometimes they don’t. Either away if it makes us think about things I think it’s a good thing.
Here’s a couple of excerpts from my recent posts highlighting good examples and examples that have provoked more contention in the forums because they have felt heavy handed –
“There was some interesting chat in the forum last week about the Black Mirror episode USS Callister, which is excellent, with some people suggesting it would make a better Trek than Discovery. What’s interesting about this is the episode is partly a commentary on fandom. To me it spoke to the kind of fan that cannot accept that Captain Kirk isn’t played by William Shatner anymore.
Maybe we can’t accept this as we struggle to face up to our own mortality or the idea that things change. USS Callister gently mocks the stereotypes of old Trek yet a vocal minority want to bring this all back, a time when men were men and skirts were short. Charlie Brooker, the writer of Black Mirror, must be chuckling into his cornflakes.”
Black Mirror took a very dark look at fandom and masculinity but it did it subtly and I enjoyed it. I don’t want to be beaten over the head with a particular agenda. I want a show to challenge me but also I want to be treated with intelligence. As a writer this is a tightrope balancing act and I admire any writer that attempts it, even if they are sometimes wide of the mark –
“Mirror Stamets is killed as Lorca channels Lucius Malfoy and gives his evil villain speech. It becomes apparent that Lorca’s weakness is Burnham, he is convinced that he needs her at his side and he is utterly convinced that she will turn to the dark side and join him. He believes that she is in fact even more brilliant than mirror Burnham. Lorca hates the emperor as he views her as weak on immigration, his is a purer more racist version of the future.
What do my American friends think of this? Having a character with a southern drawl (is it more prominent this week?) espouse intolerant rhetoric? Doesn’t this just simplify the challenges we face in modern times? I like the themes so far, I just wonder whether this was too obvious.”
This second example saw a character we’ve spent a whole season getting to know being reduced to a one note villain and a fairly crude attempt at allegory. It was like the writers took a massive mallet labelled “we think Trump’s a racist” and tried to whack us over the head with it.
This set me thinking about what responsibility does a show have to be inclusive and if they are going to provoke debate shouldn’t they try and see it from both sides? The media seems so polarised as it is, offering us a conveyor belt of reactionary news from all across the spectrum, so should our TV shows not try and take a more nuanced approach to promote tolerance and mediation?
I like that Discovery is trying to tell us about the perils of nationalism and/or fascism but if it comes from within the liberal bubble and is too high handed it increases divisions and alienation. It doesn’t promote real dialogue.
I’m no Trump apologist, I’m concerned about him as a person, but I recognise the reasons people voted for him and even more than that I respect a persons right to vote. One of my favourite poets in the WordPress community Are You Thrilled has helped me on a continuing political journey I’ve been on ever since Tony Blair started an illegal war. She has challenged me to hear both sides, which is something I’m grateful for.
My brief spell helping a political party taught me that I don’t want to be a card carrying member of a political party of any colour. This is because I think change starts with the individual, we can change things one person at a time by talking and laughing and loving. You might think that’s idealistic but I think it’s the essence of political because it’s about community.
Also my friend Glenn has encouraged me to explore my more philosophical leanings through the prism of my Star Trek blog. He’s helped give me the courage to go more in this direction and it has been a good move. Thanks Glenn, I’m looking forward to our pint at Quarks.
John Lennon said –
“you may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”