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MusicalTurtle
Mon, Oct 14, 2019, 5:50pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Armageddon Game

Hated the way the ending just had to undermine Keiko. She was believable for me in this episode and I wish they'd left it at 'she really does know her husband'.

@Michael I like the revisions!

I did wonder if it was easily curable and less contagious because they were human, and the aliens' physiology was different. I don't think the writers had that in mind though, otherwise they should have mentioned it and not left it to look like a plot hole.

Also, I could be wrong but wasn't altering memory engrams still risky in the 24th C? It's been a while since watching any other Trek though so I may have forgotten or be confused with something else.
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MusicalTurtle
Mon, Oct 14, 2019, 5:20pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Rivals

Enjoyable fluff, for me. I would love to know if Bashir's bizarre warm-up was directed or improvised. Rom made me laugh, and I loved Keiko in this. They're not very consistent writing for her throughout the series and it's nice to see her like this (I also thought she was very believable in the Harvesters episode).

This is one I'll happily rewatch - for me the best part of it is Bashir/O'Brien, but the rest is quite fun too.
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MusicalTurtle
Sun, Oct 13, 2019, 9:58am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: Dramatis Personae

@Leif I agree.

Could the ep have been better? Yes. I'd have liked to have seen more of the real characters, but at this point in the series they are still getting established so we don't know whether these are amplified traits, or just completely out of character.

For sci-fi there are stock plots and ideas, but the details in how it's executed are generally what interest me. So this episode,the question was 'they are out of character - why?'. That's what kept me watching, and of course the answer to that also determines whether the station and/or characters are in danger.

Not the best episode, but interesting enough for me - the the first time round, anyway, and again after enough time has passed to forget how it turns out. Certainly not a favourite to regularly revisit.
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MusicalTurtle
Fri, Oct 11, 2019, 2:29pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Melora

Trying to write this through brainfog right now so apologies if some of it doesn't make sense or it goes off on tangents and not actually addressing the comments to which I'm responding.

@Peter G. Very good points, and regarding POV I think that's probably the overarching problem with it. If it had been written by able-bodied people I think I *would* have given it a pass because it was the 90s. Learning that it was co-written by a disabled person (he's credited with the story and on the teleplay) is what aggravated me so much. But as I said, nobody is immune from internalised ableism, and many disabled people today, even of the younger generations, still struggle with it. It's just frustrating that they blew such a potentially great opportunity.

People feeling inconvenienced by making accommodations is unfortunately still something we come up against a lot. Anything more than a token ramp (which may or may not even be useable) is usually questioned at least, refused at worst. I suppose that is one good point for the episode - they did willingly do everything she needed to the station before her arrival, Julian's unauthorised specs change notwithstanding.

@Booming I think Melora not actually being disabled is why I felt so conflicted back when I first saw it, not sure if it was supposed to be about disability or what. But seeing it so very obviously depicted with medical devices (all the bracing, the wheelchair, the cane) this time around I knew it was definitely intended to portray a sci-fi version of disability.

I have no idea what other representation was or wasn't around at the time so can't really comment on anything else (though I agree Quark in drag was truly terrible, but I have no idea what level of offensive that was).

@OmicronDeltaThetaPhi "Representation done wrong is worse than no representation at all" - indeed. Bad representation does give opportunity to discuss why it was terrible, but only in certain circles. The rest of the viewership only see the bad representation and hear nothing to dispute it.

@TopHat interesting questions! Your first paragraph kind of aligns with the real-world social model of disability, which is what I was hinting at re: deaf and autistic people, and disabled people with purely physical disabilities - in a fully accessible world, many disabled people would genuinely have no problem. It's people like me who are disabled through chronic illness with inherently unreliable bodies that muddy those waters ;)

Re: straying too far out of her lane, historically and even still today (though it is better now than it was) disabled people have struggled with having very low expectations put on them*, which feeds the problem of inspiration p*rn. Not expected to be able to learn, to love, to live independently, to work, to make useful contributions to society. So in my view, Melora working so hard to leave her planet and do beyond what was expected of her is possibly one thing they actually got right!

*Either that or having excessively high expectations - able-bodied people using para-athletes or other well-known disabled people and saying 'they can do it so you should be able to as well'. Or seeing all disabled people as the same, 'my friend's disabled aunt can do this that and the other so you should too' even though they don't have the same disability (although even the same disability will affect everybody differently anyway).

I will have a look at that essay. I'm not usually involved particularly with politics around identity and representation (although my initial rant might call that statement into question).


DS9: still inspiring debate more than quarter of a century later! Thank goodness most of the rest of it was better ;)
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MusicalTurtle
Thu, Oct 10, 2019, 3:03pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Melora

Me again. Y'know, I've just realised why this is such a big deal to me. Sloppy representation might have been okay if she were a supporting character, and/or her disability were incidental. But not only is she the central character, her disability IS the story - so it HAD to be done right. That's the responsibility they chose to take on and I'm not sure they get a pass just because it was the 90s.
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MusicalTurtle
Thu, Oct 10, 2019, 1:59pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S2: Melora

Urgh. This episode was uncomfortable while I was able-bodied, when I watched all through DS9 a few years ago. I couldn't bear it as a now disabled person; it's the only episode I skipped after the teaser. From what I remember, based on the reviews -

'CMO's log, We've been working overtime':
AM: didn't pick up on it
DM: Oh great, of course making accommodations is such a burden on the able-bodied people *rolls eyes*


Julian likes Melora after just reading about her:
Able-bodied me: Julian's immature woman-chasing strikes again, sappy
Disabled me: the embodiment of inspiration p*rn (the entire foundation of his admiration is 'she's so inspiring to overcome her challenges, isn't she amazing?!') blech.

Why doesn't she use the transporter?:
AM: Huh, I don't know
DM: It's about independance and the freedom to go where you want without having to rely on others. Unless she had her own transporter device? [I would find that cool, but that doesn't mean every disabled person would.]

Julian alters her wheelchair specs:
AM: arrogant, obviously that's not what she wanted but his intentions were good
DM: WOW how dare he presume to know better than the disabled person what she needs?! Modifying someone's wheelchair without permission is awful. His intentions may have been good but HE SHOULD HAVE ASKED

Melora is defensive, hostile:
AM: that's not called for
DM: that's still not called for. If there are backstory reasons*, they really need to explain them; if not then their only portrayal of a disabled person is insulting because it plays right into the perception of 'I was only trying to help but that ungrateful disabled person bit my head off'.

[Actually, in the real world most of us will only get defensive if unwanted 'help' is *forced* on us, usually because the abled 'helper' just wants to feel good about themselves, isn't actually thinking about us and genuinely helping, and their actions are neither wanted, needed, or even safe sometimes. If someone *offers* to help, most of us will appreciate the offer and politely decline if we don't need assistance. #JustAskDontGrab]

*Just read Memory Alpha, and there are some feeble reasons. I don't buy them as being any justification - I understand frustration and the weariness of going over the same things again and again, and the 'talking about me without me' - but this was a new group of people, a clean slate, and it's still uncalled for. There are ways of comminicating one's needs assertively without being horrible.


Some nice little bits about accessibility (the Cardassians didn't have Melora in mind, and the world doesn't have disabled people in mind. Legislation has been in place in much of the Western world for years now, and still the majority of places aren't accessible. Just putting in a ramp does not make a building accessible)

Overall the teaser can be summed up in one word: Ableism.
So, so much ableism.

The flying scene:
AM: Huh ... it's kinda sweet? Not sure what to make of it
DM: Still not sure what to make of it? If you squint reeeeeally hard, they *might* be making a point about removing barriers and getting to know the person, not the disability? Maaaaybe? Or that disabled people might have struggles in everyday life but that doesn't mean our entire lives are hopeless and tragic?

Someone mentioned in the comments Julian getting praised in Ops as Melora walks for basically 'curing' her - in isolation it could be taken as okay, but in the context of what I remember from the episode, it's basically 'yay abled saviour well done you for rescuing this tragic person and giving them the opportunity of a normal life' - blech, again.

I also seem to recall Melora really only spent her free time with the Dr. That just strikes me as so lazy, so 'medical model' - she's disabled so of course(!) she spends time with the doctor - !!! as if a disabled person's identity revolves around their disability. (and URGH I still can't get past how he fell for her initially because of her disability),
- In-universe I understand that it was a character episode for Bashir, it's just unfortunate he was also the doctor. It might have felt less unsettling if the character falling for her and spending time with her were, say, an engineer, but with the established characters that wasn't really possible. An unfortunate situation with a result that just didn't sit well with me.

The conclusion, again I don't know what to make of it. Perhaps I might have to watch it to see how well her decision was explained.

Maybe it's a good thing the episode didn't go with the abled/'normal' saviour conclusion? After all, any 'cures' in the real world come with a huge price and are extremely rare (think, exoskeleton suits, wheelchairs that can climb stairs - all prohibitively expensive) and for some people such as in the Deaf community, autistic people, their disabilities are an integral part of their identities and they wouldn't change it. If the world were made truly, fully accessible, they would have zero problems.
But then, those of us disabled by chronic illness - despite fully embracing our disabled identity - would very happily have our health back given the chance! The most that the majority of us can hope for, however, is increased accessibility and understanding.


Phew.

Having read Memory Alpha and seeing how it ends - and having sorted my feelings out - I might be able to watch it again. I'll have to see. I just remember feeling profoundly unsettled through the entire episode before, because I really felt it had the potential to say something but completely missed that opportunity.

I didn't mean for my first comment (I think?) to be an SJW tirade; this episode was the only one to leave me feeling so conflicted and so deeply uncomfortable (even though I was watching it at the time as an able-bodied person). And I do like Julian as a character overall, by the end he's certainly one of my favourites; just the writers unfortunately chose to play the VERY long game with him. Underneath the initial arrogance and lusting after women though, there are glimmers of a good heart - I remember him making me cringe a bit early on when I first watched DS9 through, but not hating him.

Just remembered - did someone mention this was written by a disabled writer?! Oh yes, @Andrea did. My heart just sank again. I mean, it might not have been completely ableist, but for a disabled writer to completely miss the mark is really disappointing. Many of us do have to struggle with internalised ableism but one would hope before putting something out so publicly, it would have been scrutinised a bit more carefully. *sigh*

My final niggle is that Of Course the disabled person was played by an able-bodied person - however, as it was way back in 1993 I can forgive them. (House M.D. on the other hand ... !! I can only recall three disabled actors in the entire eight years. That's disgraceful for a medical show.)

End rant. Thank you Jammer for both your thoughtful reviews and hosting space for our varying opinions, and debate. I haven't read all of TNG, DS9 and VOY yet but it is so interesting to come and read analyses of certain episodes - really adds an extra layer for me as someone who doesn't usually have the brainpower to think too much about what I'm watching! I hope to get through the three sets of reviews some day.
[If Farscape had been your thing, I imagine your reviews and the comments from regulars here would have been fascinating!]
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