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View Diary: To Boldly Go? (26 comments)

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  •  Not Necessarily... (none)
    Arhcer's a protagonist, not hero.

    So, too, was Kirk, tho very few Trekkies seemed to notice. But Archer is moreso.

    The whole premise of Enterprise is that the world of Star Trek had origins quite different from what we supposed. Is Archer's behavior a more radical departure from the supposed than the temporal cold war? Or the fact that Vulcan society was turned upside down between first contact and TOS?

    No. It's just one that makes you more uncomfortable.  Well, guess what---it's supposed to make you more uncomfortable. Just like the fact that Willow flays Warren alive in "Buffy" Season 6 is supposed to make you uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable.

    If anything, Enterprise doesn't do enough of this, IMHO.

    The idea that good guys will always and only do good things is precisely what most real literature is premised on opposing.  Good people do bad things, and suffer for it.  We learn how to be moral by reflecting on this. Not by being imprinted with moral exemplars who can do no wrong.  

    •  Actually, yes (none)
      You make some valid points and I'd be inclined to agree with you 100% if we were talking about merely a personal failing of the character.

      It's not simply a matter of the character "losing it and torturing someone" (which might indeed make for some interesting drama), though.

      Although I haven't seen the episode in question, it is described as depicting torture as being "necessary" in some future scenario.

      Though the Bushies ignore it, we already know better right now. Torture is never "necessary" because it's actually not that effective of an interrogation technique. People being tortured will lie to confess whatever they think the torturers want to hear -- just to make the torture stop. This has been more or less apparent to anyone with at least two neurons to rub together since about the time of the Spanish Inquisition.

      Perhaps you're more sophisticated than I am, but I don't see repetition of a flawed rationale for torturre as anything more than just helping to perpetuate a harmful myth. I wouldn't advocate censorship -- but I'll definitely criticize that sort of thing.

      "... if you wish to know how libertarians regard the State and any of its acts, simply think of the State as a criminal band..." -- Murray Rothbard

      by bradspangler on Tue Jan 25, 2005 at 05:24:05 PM PST

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      •  I Know Everything About Art... (none)
        There's an old saw, "I don't know anything about art, I just know what I like."

        You seem to have stood this on its head:

        "Although I haven't seen the episode in question,"

        So, you know the meaning and impact of a work of art without any first-hand experience of it.

        Well, I have to admit that in the case of purely formulaic, generic commercial genres, you can skate by on this.

        But that ain't Star Trek. Star Trek is highly specific. It has its own universe, it's own timeline, it's story arcs within story arcs, it's own twists and turns to that universe and timeline and nexted set of story arcs. And you are standing outside of it all, passing sweeping judgements in the abstract.

        Now, I am not a Star Trek fanatic. I enjoy it, but it's nowhere near the level of Joss Whedon's work. For my money, DS9 is the only series that really works as fully realized art.  But still, for all its strademarked sci-fi stiltedness, it is more than a cut above the usual level of good TV.  It is morally serious.  Which means I respect it, even when I don't agree with it 100%, even when I would have done something differently.

        You not only want to judge something you haven't seen, you want it to conform to your propaganda ideals. Torture must give unreliable information according to your script, just because it often does. This must be the moral message--don't use it, because it doesn't work!

        That may well be the most powerful, direct argument to make on MTP. But that doesn't mean it's the most powerful, morally compelling direction to take in writing a drama.   Judging a drama by the standards of your preferred propaganda is a sure way of degrading art.  And when we degrade our art, we degrade ourselves, as well.

        •  Well, here's where I'm coming from (none)
          "So, you know the meaning and impact of a work of art without any first-hand experience of it."

          Not at all. If anything, this discussion has made me want to find a way to catch an opportunity to see that particular episode.

          I'm very much aware that it is small-minded of someone to completely make up their mind about something based only on hearsay. That's specifically why I made a point of mentioning that I haven't seen it -- as a brief, convenient way to acknowledge that this is only my initial opinion and subject to future revision. Perhaps it was sloppy of me to think that might be tacitly understood.

          Television shows are a pretty ordinary topic of conversation, and it would be a poorer world in terms of communication if we couldn't at all proceed with the assumption that a description that has been related to us might be accurate and then exchange views.

          "This must be the moral message--don't use it, because it doesn't work!"

          I don't see it as inappropriate to counter a utilitarian argument ("necessity") with a utilitarian rebuttal (ineffectiveness).

          By negating a utilitarian argument that is intended to trump obvious moral concerns, the moral concerns can then stand on their own without the waters being muddied. Whether I did an effective job of rebutting it or not is another matter and I'm willing to entertain the notion that I could have done a better job of that.

          "...you want it to conform to your propaganda ideals"

          Mmmm - no, not generally. I enjoy some (admittedly cheezy) horror movies, for example.

          Art doesn't have to conform to any vision of morality to be great art (or poor art, for that matter). I do believe that whatever system of morality one might subscribe to (if any) is one among many valid criteria to evaluate art by.

          "... if you wish to know how libertarians regard the State and any of its acts, simply think of the State as a criminal band..." -- Murray Rothbard

          by bradspangler on Tue Jan 25, 2005 at 06:50:28 PM PST

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          •  You Still Miss My Main Point (none)
            Art isn't propaganda. And it isn't an arguement either.

            Sure, it's perfectly rational and appropriate to counter a utlitarian argument with a utilitarian counterargument. In fact, that would be my first line of attack as well. But this isn't an argument, and it isn't propaganda. Different rules apply.

            And just seeing the individual episode won't do it for you, either. The payoff is far more gradual. The biggest verbal payoff doesn't come until much later in the season's story arc.  Indeed, that's what makes it really legitimate art.  There's a cumulative effect that shifts over time.

            Enterprise is not at the level of Deep Space Nine, but it is clearly the only other Star Trek series with a full story-arc concept and character development at its core.  

            I'm sorry, but your whole approach is not that of a viewer of the show. It's that of a drive-by critic. And it's that very role that I'm objecting to here.

            •  I'm not writing a review of the show (none)
              I'm not writing a review of the show and I'm not posing as some sort of "art critic".

              While I'm not a die-hard fan-boy, I do like Star Trek quite a bit -- in large part because they often raise interesting philosophical questions (among many other reasons).

              I don't think you're trying to say that I can't even partially rely on your own description of the episode to form an initial opinion about it, but that's what you're literally saying boils down to.

              So long and thanks for all the fish...

              "... if you wish to know how libertarians regard the State and any of its acts, simply think of the State as a criminal band..." -- Murray Rothbard

              by bradspangler on Wed Jan 26, 2005 at 06:30:01 AM PST

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