The Enterprise

Chris Brady cdbrady at
Fri Sep 20 14:03:45 MDT 2002

TO take up the thread of new TV shows, and because I believe popular
culture is really important to our work, and particularly because we
should crit the mass commercial stuff, I feel obligated to make mention
of the new Star Trek sequel.

First the historical setting:
Star Trek and offshoots in chronological order to date:

Star Trek
The Next Generation
Deep Space Nine
The Enterprise

A lot has been written, and argued, about the social messages of the
Star Trek shows.  Other life forms, intelligences, ethnicities,
cultures, politics, sexualities, etc., and their rights, were central
plot devices.  Gay rights and empathy came up in The Next Generation
when the female doctor was confronted with a male lover who died and was
reincarnated as a woman who still loved her.  The space station Deep
Space Nine was commanded by a black man in the lead role, and confronted
serious social and race issues.  Voyager, lost in space, was commanded
by a capable woman in authority with a mixed multicultural crew like the
previous shows.

Deep Space Nine issued one Star Trek that remains particularly dear to
my heart.

Lavar Burton, young star of the epic ROOTS series, and later
Geordi LaForge, the engineer of the spaceship in The Next Generation,
directed the most incredible television scifi show I have ever seen.
Burton orchestrated an episode of Deep Space Nine wherein the Ferengi
opportunist-entrepreneur Quark is confronted by a strike in his bar.
Quark’s nerdy and bullied brother Rom goes against family and tradition
to organize a union to get workers’ rights and better pay.  During the
course of this program we hear some of the most unprecedented,
revolutionary script uttered over the public airwaves.  The whole
episode shows how “unity is strength” –with that provocative phrase
actually declared at 41:00 minutes of the show.  Also introduced is the
notion of turning “Theory into practice” (20:40).  At 28:00, the
station’s security cop agrees with the boss that strikers are traitors
and troublemakers –a classic setup that more people should be more aware
of, i.e., that the capitalist state regards disruption in pursuit of the
highest principles to be a disruption –period!  And therefore
intolerable.  But the moment that made me shout aloud in surprised
agreement came at 33:15 when Rom urged: “Workers of the world unite!
You have nothing to lose but your chains!”

But the current offering, perhaps appropriately entitled “The
Enterprise”, is bossed by a belligerent tough guy who exhibits a
pugnacious, shoot-from-the-hip, alpha macho that would appeal to, as
Prezelect Bush might say, the boys back in Lubbock, or a drill sergeant,
or a 1930s Hollywood gangster.  One can wonder what occasioned this
particular expression at this particular time.  This captain invites his
vegetarian, alien science officer to dinner and then obnoxiously mocks
her as he chows down on a thick, juicy steak.  I fear I interpret this
new “Enterprise” lead role as a celestial celebration of the most
troglodytic, combative, reactionary, American hierarchical elitist white
male.  We can only hope that this rendition offers what the previous
shows did not much: ongoing character development.

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