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Theo
Mon, Aug 12, 2019, 10:35pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@Trent RE: Episode

"But as the constant shots of the alien posed in a mirror emphasize, the metamorph's merely reflecting back to the watcher what the subject wishes to see."

This is a very cool observation that I missed.

"The more the metamorph drifts toward Picard's ideal ... the more he cares about her well-being."

I disagree here. He clearly cared deeply about her well-being before he even met her. His concern over her treatment is what set the entire plot into motion. I'm sure he probably liked her more later, but that's pretty standard.


"This is not a "sexist episode", or a "juvenile fantasy", as others have labelled it above, but a critique of sexism,

I understand how you came to this conclusion but I don't think the writers injected a sufficiently unambiguous repudiation of the tropes they apparently celebrate elsewhere to firmly establish this as a critique of sexism as opposed to an indulgence in it. I think it can really be seen both ways. I think the writers purposely left a lot of things ambiguous to both avoid taking any strong position, and to allow people to entertain themselves by projecting their own interpretations.

"""How did you resist her?" the ambassador asks, before leaving the ship. But Picard didn't, and that's what disturbs him."

This is a good example of that intended ambiguity. They keep Picard silent so that you can fill in the blanks however you like.

@Skeptical wrote a pretty brilliant hypotehtical interpretation that comes to precisely the opposite conclusion as you, suggesting that Picard may have actually 'saved' her to a degree (Wed, Aug 7, 2019). It's worth reading and I'm going to paste it below:


"Yes, there is a clear tragedy if someone is a perfect match for person A but must be with Person B, even if her Person A personality is a better ideal than a Person B personality. If she imprinted on a stuffed shirt like Picard and then married someone who loved adventure and excitement and wanted a partner to share those loves, that could be a tragedy. But that's not really what happened here. IIRC, it was pretty explicitly laid out that her husband-to-be didn't really care about obtaining her as a person or as a wife, but rather just saw this ceremony as a means to an end. She was nothing more than a tool for his political position and power.

If that's the case, what would she be like if she imprinted on him? If he sees her as a mere tool, will that be how she sees herself? Will she just sit passively in a chair for the rest of her life waiting for the few moments when she will be useful either in the bedroom or in state functions? Is that even much of a life?

But back to Picard. In a way, Picard and the king are similar: they both have some strong desire for independence and solitude. Presumably, for both of them, the idea of a perfect mate is someone who is not around them all the time. The difference, though, is that the king doesn't care about her one way or another outside of when she is pleasing him, while Picard presumably wants her to live a rich and fulfilling life when they are not together. So her new Picard-centric personality is one where she wants to fulfill her duties, wants to make her partner happy, but also is perfectly fine with her partner being alone for long periods of time and will happily find fulfillment by herself in those time periods. Her king-centric personality would have been wanting to fulfill her duties, wanting to make her partner happy, but would be a passive blob during the long periods of time when she is left by herself. Nothing of the Picard imprint would contradict what the king would want, and perhaps there's some tragedy that she would rather make Picard happy than the king, but at least the 80% of her life where she would be alone is much better for the Picard imprint.

So I disagree with your analogy. Instead, she may not be able to, say, pursue being a Shakespearean actress, and she may be forced to go to Miley Cyrus concerts once a week, but she is now perfectly able to read and listen and watch Shakespeare in her downtime when she wouldn't have been able to before. Thus, introducing Shakespeare into her life is making it better, even if it isn't the perfect life. It's not that she imprinted on a good person like Picard that makes her life better, it's that she imprinted on a good person AND a loner."
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Theo
Mon, Aug 12, 2019, 10:34pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@Trent Re: Comments on social sciences

"The social sciences tend to expose forms of past and present exploitation which modern western conservatism deems natural, good or non-existent."

I'd be careful here, because it almost sounds like moral judgement, which for the most part is not a part of scientific research (pretty sure that's not what you intended). To be clear, exploitative relationships may be detailed, analyzed, etc. but social scientific work also frequently reframes historic events we've come to see as evil and exploitative, simply as amoral strategic responses to external factors.

"The conservative is always ranting about..."

Correction: POP-conservative/pundit. There has been plenty of legitimate work in social sciences that has supported and lined up with politically conservative viewpoints. My criticism was regarding the unscientific, biased and sensationalist nature of a host of media pundits, politicians and activists who have gained traction in attacking academia. Political leaning itself is not really the problem, as there is a long tradition of respected work from "conservative" schools of social science. I would welcome any legitimate work to debunk the notion of gender roles (for example), but that's not what we're getting.

Finally regarding "patriarchy" it's also important to remember that this label doesn't carry any moral judgement one way or the other. It is just a useful way of describing the structure of power and decision making in any given society. There are certainly conditions under which patriarchy can be the more efficient option.
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Theo
Sun, Aug 11, 2019, 3:51pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@Peter G .

Wow. You're super sensitive. I called you (and everyone else who's been contributing) an interesting person and established that I'm not an academic and am 'blue collar' That's credential flashing? I'm guessing you haven't experienced real 'hateful diatribe'.

I mean, I was waay harder on @Booming and he took it remarkably gracefully.


@Jason R.

"These are scientific theories that are falsifiable."

Everything is a scientific theory that is falsifiable. The difference between the theory that "93% of senators are male" and any of the other theories listed above, is that the observational evidence required to strengthen your confidence for the first theory, is much easier for you personally to collect given your limited resources.

In either case, you will rely on scientific consensus at the end. Sure, most senators look biologically male, but if you really needed to be certain, you would want DNA tests and medical exams. You are not capable of collecting this information yourself, so you would probably end up relying on expert consensus to validate your theory.

With social science theories, the data capture and analysis is even more difficult for you to collect personally. For that reason you should be even more suspicious of your personal judgement and double down on the scientific method.

"I don't think this discussion is really reflecting well on any of its participants ... bitter ideological debates"

Strongly disagree. I think everyone has acquitted themselves pretty well. I've taken shots at pretty much everyone on all sides and been generally impressed with everyone's ability to articulate their thoughts.

I don't think anyone here has been inflexibly ideological and I would've never characterized the conversation as bitter. I actually thought it was kinda cool that we have a fan base that is so diverse in their opinions and can so seemlessly jump from topic to topic while talking about a simple tv show episode.

Anyway, if it's your preference I'm always comfortable having the last word. That's just the kind of guy I am. [double finger snap, spin move, applies more hair gel]
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Theo
Sun, Aug 11, 2019, 5:28am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@Yanks & @Shannon

I think it's more that a bunch of interesting people happened to hit the forum at the same time. That said, IMO it's a dope episode.
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Theo
Sun, Aug 11, 2019, 5:07am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@Peter G.

"Not being a sociologist doesn't actually disqualify people to make commentary.."

@Booming didn't say that, he said that it makes it less likely that you are correct. Particularly as your analysis begins to shift from general episode commentary to thoroughly uninformed meta-analysis of technical terminology and contemporary research trends in an academic field you have no expertise in.

There's a reason why Trent, myself, and (I'll bet) pretty much anyone with more than a passing familiarity with social sciences got a laugh out of how easily @Booming sniffed out Jordan Peterson's prejudicial influence on @Jason R.'s ostensibly autodidactic impressions of Sociology.



@Skeptical

"when it comes to fiction, it's better to have good themes and a good story than to try to tell a message."

Seems like very presumptuous over-generalization and false dichotomy. I'll be sure to tell George Orwell & Nathaniel Hawthorne they're trash. Maybe Tom Clancy can tutor them.

Nah, for real I can see how a good writer can do either or both well.


"And yet, when I suggested that women could get a moral message out of this episode, Booming started ranting..."

Perhaps because it's a bit perverse to suggest that women claw through 20 metric tonnes of sexist bullshit to find a single nugget of fortune cookie advice that I guess maybe applies to everyone kind of, if you jig it a little. Not saying it's not there, but I'm damn sure not telling my local rabbi he might get a moral message out of Mein Kampf. (and with that I announce the Christening of this thread with Godwin's Law. We made it people, cheers.)


"Star trek's messaging is poor and all over the place"

Definitely true. But @Booming's conclusions are not only based on the writer's intentional narrative and thematic decisions, but also the implications of fairly radical choices that they clearly did not even notice they made (or at least, failed to understand the importance of). In that sense we can glean a distinct sense of a patriarchal world view, even in the presence of some divergent thematic directions. (Although tbh, even the conscious thematic & narrative choices, while differentiated, certainly skew overall in a clearly androcentric direction).



@Jason R.

"I implied that most of the people in your field are feminists."

Sounds like you're guessing. Dude most of the people in the developed world are feminists, so this is a good, if meaningless, guess.

Since the conclusions @Boomer arrives at are not exclusive to feminist theory and have widespread interdisciplinary support, bringing it up just sounds like an attempt to apply a reductive and often purposely misconstrued label to a group of people in order to subtly suggest that their objectivity is compromised by the limitations of a narrow ideological framework. We can see what you're doing.

You might as well sneer "most of you are *academics*." Technically it's not an insult, but clearly their is an implied appeal to the popular trope of a disaffected ivory tower intellectual masquerading his myopic prejudices as universal truths.


"Claiming 'society' is patriarchal isn't just a fact like saying 93% of senators are male..."

Nah, it's more like saying, "evolution is real" or "the measles vaccine is generally safe" or "Real Politik driven alliances in an increasingly multipolar world were a major factor in triggering World War I"

One is an easily verifiable fact, and all the others are more complex theories that through mountains of inter-disciplinary work have overwhelming acceptance across virtually all related fields. The idea that the society that produced this episode ('92 USA) was patriarchal is so generally accepted across not just Sociology, but many other social sciences that questioning it at this point puts you in the same fringe company as climate skeptics and anti-vaxxers. Not saying you can't do it, but the burden of proof is fairly high.

I guess as an alternative you can claim a shared consipiracy across the social sciences. I mean, social scientists have gotten it wrong before. It was not so long ago that ethnocentric and androcentric bias created anthropological, economic and sociological conclusions that reinforced white supremacy and patriarchy. Similarly, doctors once considered heroin and tobacco healthy.

However, the difference here is that reform emerged from within the field, in the form of scholarly work and critiques that stood up to peer review, and were as intellectually unassailable as they were damning. Often this work was produced by representatives of marginalized and under-privileged groups in the face of immense opposition.

This is a far cry from the current trend of self-interested heavily financed pundits and entertainers rousing large groups of uninformed people to rage against positions they don't understand and don't care to read about. There's a reason why conservative forces have chosen to wage this war on the battleground of popular entertainment and political strategy as opposed to scholarly work that seeks to produce knowledge. hint: It ain't because they don't have the money.



@Booming

"I know I know. I'm snobbish again."

No way man. I appreciate how quickly you changed your tone and appreciate even more your taking the time to respond to me directly.

I understand exactly what you're saying. I think you probably have a lot more experience being in this frustrating situation than I do as I am not in academia and am blue collar as fuck (for now).

I agree that the increasing wealth gap has contributed to greater political polarization. Tbh, I'm pretty sure this whole regressive nativist uproar is just a clever redirection of the rage created by elites' capture of the surplus generated by globalization and their escape from the worst fallout of the financial crisis.

Silly me, I thought globalization surpluses were supposed to be channeled into the welfare state in order to facilitate transitioning displaced workers into more productive industries. Ironic that they would be used to construct a white male identity politics wherein the disenfranchised would be taught to rage against the welfare state that never was. Well, I guess it's easier to just #LearnToCode your bigotry.

That said, I think it's important not to catastrophize. Every few years another Jordan Peterson emerges, captures the public's interest and is shortly thereafter relegated to the wrong side of history, as the work of people like yourself moves society forward.

Remember Herbert Spencer, or Jihad vs McWorld and the Clash of Civilizations.. or the Brontosaurus? Yeah me neither. Believe me, one day soon people will look back at the events of this decade sheepishly and you'll be able to put on your best Picard voice and say: "We've grown out of our infancy" (S1E25: The Neutral Zone).
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Theo
Fri, Aug 9, 2019, 11:30pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@Jason R

In fairness to you, @Booming has a fairly insufferable passive aggressive tendency to resort to academic snobbery, argument from authority and to be excessively dismissive. So, I think tonally speaking, you have nothing to apologize for. I mean it doesn't get much worse than engaging a conversation while constantly reminding everyone you don't have time for this & you're better than this.

As stated before, I agree wholeheartedly with @Booming's explanation of sociological terminology, and the episode in question is so obviously blatantly sexist that it's unlikely even the writers would defend it today. I mean the episode is really almost its own caricature in that regard (@Anna laid it out briefly in 2015, but you could really write a whole essay on this).

In spite of that, I don't think @Booming's actual episode analysis is particularly good and I think he's a bit quick on the white-knighting trigger to the detriment of that.

I also don't think we should refrain from appreciating the episode or analyzing various aspects of the storytelling as we have been. Discriminatory art can still be good art and many adults learn to balance their progressive concerns with their aesthetic appreciation of a piece with problematic elements.


@Trent

Tell us how you really feel.

Jordan Peterson is a tool who survives by exploiting that segment of society that has just enough smarts to recognize a street level hustle, but insufficient education and experience to distinguish between legitimate academia and pseudoscientific hucksterism (eg: Joe Rogan). He's also a remarkably bad writer.

I do have to admit that he's very business savvy and has an excellent mind for marketing.
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Theo
Fri, Aug 9, 2019, 6:09am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@Booming

I agree with basically everything you said in your last comment. Obviously the concept of patriarchy exists independently of feminist theory, and is commonly referenced in the social sciences. It's crazy that you even have to explain this.

It's equally obvious that you can arrive at a number of conclusions that feminist theory shares without ever having analyzed the issue from a feminist perspective (eg: humanism, marxism, libertarianism, game theory, pareto optimization, etc.).

In the same way a Christian can arrive at the same conclusion as a Buddhist without being accused of being a Buddhist. Or a geneticist and a paleontologist can arrive at the same conclusion without being accused of ascribing to one another's theoretical frameworks.

Your analogy to the problems climate scientists deal with is particularly apt.
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Theo
Wed, Aug 7, 2019, 7:51pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@Skeptical

Ok, so your first argument rests on too many assumptions to be very strong. Eg: that Minuet is in fact Riker's true ideal, that the strategy for seduction taken will be based solely on what the person's ideal is, and not other factors (time available for the game, person's current mood/objective, who's watching, etc.), that Kamala's escalation would proceed along a linear trajectory and not have twists and turns and ups and downs, and so on.

Your ideal mate will behave very differently depending on whether you've come to a bar specifically to focus your attention on her for some time, or she is trying to hook your attention while briefly passing you in a hallway.

But your second argument - damn! I'm trying to debunk it and I can't. I'm going to read this a few more times but I think you may have changed my mind on this. Which is pretty unexpected having felt the same way about the episode's ending for a long time. It makes me actually feel a little happier about Kamala's fate.

Obviously, it was still a boneheaded move by Picard because this entire argument rests on the very unique and rare personality that Picard happens to be. It could have easily gone sideways.

In either case man I really like the way you think and construct arguments. I'm gonna think about this for a bit.

Note: don't take any of the prior as agreement with what you wrote to Boomer. We probably have different opinions here, but I didn't really read that section carefully.
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Theo
Wed, Aug 7, 2019, 11:36am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@Booming

I'm gonna wear a trench coat so it's extra creepy.
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Theo
Wed, Aug 7, 2019, 4:38am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@Peter G.

1) " Just because it's her nature to imprint on a guy doesn't mean any result at all will make her happy."

Solid point. Both her behavior and things that she and her handler said, suggest that she does derive happiness from service. That to be the ideal mate, is not just an imperative, but also her desire (ie: what brings her happiness). I agree that it's reasonable to think there might be some upper limit to that. The there is some upper limit of direct harm that can't be displaced by the pleasure derived from fulfilling her mate's wishes.

However, one thing that really helps is that in addition to deriving pleasure from service, her opinions and genuine preferences are altered to match her mate's. This helps push that upper limit even further up.

As such, her unhappiness is probably not a realistic risk when the structure is aligned properly and she is married to the person she imprinted on.

However, when the situation is misaligned and she is imprinted on (a) and married to (b), when her attitudes and preferences are directly opposed to the actions she is required to undertake daily, and when she knows hurting the person she imprinted on is inevitable due to the paradox she is trapped in, the robustness of her ability to absorb difficulty is greatly compromised and unhappiness is probably a more real risk.

So beyond very fringe cases, it seems the only real risk for an empathic metamorph is imprinting on (a) and being married to (b). The rigid structure of Kriosian courtship system in instances where this is a threat, is designed to compliment the rigidity of the metamorph's biology.


2) They didn't use the words empty shell, but she basically said she's incomplete, purposeless, etc. If she's in a room with a computer, she probably has no personality of her own (assuming she hasn't already imprinted). I tend to think they've basically set her up as a symbiotic organism that requires a host to graft a personality from.


3) This whole section you wrote is an absolute mess.

"in the case where you have a literal slave, they're not going to go free unless (a) they overpower you (usually they won't be able to) or else (b) if you want to free them"
"... There is nothing dehumanizing about suggesting that slavers actually have to agree to free slaves for them to be freed ... it takes *someone* in a position of power to say that it's not right for things to begin to change."

First no, this is definitely not true. You don't overpower them outright. You raise the cost of their continued persecution of you by resisting. This forces them to re-evaluate their strategy. Usually this is precipitated by some external destabilizing event that hinders their ability to absorb the cost of resistance.

More often than not, "No" is not followed by "this is not right", it's followed by "this is not worth it any more... and it's probably not right." Even in instances of "this is not right" it's usually as a result of a shitload of subversive groundwork that has already been laid.

They "want" you to be free in the same way I "want" to give a mugger my wallet. I'm responding to duress. This is where slave revolt, wars of independence, terrorism, boycotts, repeated legal challenges, writing and circulation of literature, public protests, theft, strikes, work slowdowns, underground railroads, etc. all come to play.

Second, in all of these cases you're describing a simple power imbalance, between sides that are fundamentally equal beings. One side is not learning to be human from the other, they just have less guns.

"What she needs is for someone like him to *value* her freedom, so that she in turn can copy that value by wanting what he wants."

In this case there is no power imbalance, the sides themselves are actually unequal beings as one is a complete human and the other is not, but can be taught to be.

**There is no paternalism in the human history of freedom movements. Whereas Kamala's path to freedom is entirely paternalist.**

Even hinting at this analogy is a tone deaf, patronizing, regressive backslide into the ideologies that underpinned the most embarassing periods of human barbarism.
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Theo
Wed, Aug 7, 2019, 3:09am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@Skeptical

"Trying to fit an allegorical message to it just screws it up. Which I think is what Theo is saying."

Basically yeah. But that doesn't mean I always hate allegory.


"Do you think Kamala actually did lie to Picard at the end?"

I think it's pretty obvious the writers meant for us to believe she genuinely imprinted. But I think if we follow the premises they established the truth is that it is impossible for us to know. As we would expect her to say exactly the same thing in exactly the same way whether she had imprinted or not.


"I think, for most of the time with her, he is not seeing her as a potential mate at all. He is seeing, essentially, a child."

This is a cool and unique idea, but I think everything about the way these scenes are acted and filmed clearly indicate a romantic if not outright sexual subtext. Obviously they're not mutually exclusive since in both real life and fiction there is often some paternal/maternal dimension to a May December relationship.


"she still is attuned to pleasing others. But she now has the gifts that Picard passed along to her with it. "

The problem is that before she was attuned to pleasing others, and derived pleasure from it. Now (if actually imprinted) she is attuned to pleasing others, but derives pleasure from actions diametrically opposed to this (free will, independence, adventurousness, etc.). Picard trapped her in precisely the paradox that her handler was trying to avoid.

Whether an empath has a good or bad husband, she will be happy, as upon imprinting, her personality and preferences will align with his. The only real risk they face in their lives, is that they are imprinted on (a) and married to (b). This is why their courtship is so tightly managed. The rigidity of the system is designed perfectly to complement the rigidity of the empath's biology.

The story tries make us feel this is better, because (a) is in the abstract a superior man to (b), but because the system is too rigid to accomodate a change up, introducing a wild card only causes pain. There is no point in giving someone a love of Shakespeare right before condemning them to a life with only Miley Cyrus albums on repeat.
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Theo
Wed, Aug 7, 2019, 2:31am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@Booming

At this point pretty much everybody has already accepted that the script is obviously an androcentric expression of creepy fantasy fulfillment by an an all male writing team. We all get it. We've kinda moved past that at this stage.

We are discussing more nuanced things like the internal consistency of the story, the degree of allegory, and the certainty or ambiguity of the plot, etc.

"Isn't it nice how a bunch of reasonable men (or did a woman slip in?) can so rationally debate the pros and cons of two patriachical societies exchanging a woman as a gift under the supervision of another man. :)"

Literally no one is discussing this. There is a more nuanced conversation as to whether Kamala qualifies as a woman at all. As she is essentially a symbiotic organism that requires an external host to achieve full sentience. What are the preconditions to her happiness, etc.

Lindsay Ellis is good, sometimes I feel she stops short of great. My favorite is her Guardians of the Galaxy series. I liked Anita Sarkeesian's old videos more and obviously Contrapoints is a boss (but these are general social & pop culture commentary moreso than film specifically).
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Theo
Tue, Aug 6, 2019, 9:37pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@Chrome

" If Kamala's last conversation with Picard was a big fat lie it essentially guts the entire piece - we can't take any part of the climactic dialogue seriously. "

That is *exactly* my point.
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Theo
Tue, Aug 6, 2019, 9:29pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@Peter G.

1) "If we're going to look at the meta-narrative here..."

The meta-narrative is actually a jumble of contradictory points with hints of commentary at many things (arranged marriage, cultural relativism vs imperialism, utilitarian morality vs virtue ethics, etc.) but no commitment to any specific position.

The authors chose to reject telling a strongly allegorical tale in favor of turning it into a fun ride culminating ultimately in a very personal story of romance. In order to do this, themes are hinted at and then undermined elsewhere. Nothing so strong as a unifying message or coherent stance ever emerges.

The idea that Kamala's freedom of expression is being suppressed is hinted at, then undermined by the fact that she is literally biologically incapable of having a personality of her own. The idea that Kamala is being imprisoned is suggested, then undermined by the genuine danger to herself that she is if not quarantined. The idea that Starfleet are actually the oppressors is suggested by Picard's admonishment of Dr. Crusher's cultural imperialist attitudes, but then undermined by the juxtaposition of Picard's endearing behavior to recipient Kriosian's boorish attitude. Even the idea that the existence of a female empathic metamorph is seriously dangerous to men is undermined by how indifferent her recipient Kriosian is to her. For some men she will be very valuable, for others she's just a toy.

Kamala is indeed "the portrayal of the patriarchal ideal of days yore." But this is not unambiguously suggested as a bad thing in the episode. Consider that without Picard's interference, all parties would be happy. Kamala, the husband, and all the Kriosians. It is only Picard's insistence on doing things his way that causes anyone any misery (even that is ambiguous since it's unclear anyone besides Picard is suffering).

So I don't think the story holds any real allegorical weight. Honestly, the second you establish as a true premise that your character is incontrovertibly genetically linked to their social standing, the social commentary ship has sailed.


2) "Maybe we should be assuming that since [Picard would] be averse to someone flattering him and lying (unlike Riker who probably enjoys a bit of coy games) that her statements would be coming from a place of integrity when with him."

But see, she and others already tried honesty and integrity with him. They told him she is an empty shell with no personality and it really turned him off. So she corrected.

3) "In a culture where women just adapt to be whatever men want, the way out of this is for some men to begin wanting them to be independent. "

This is a morally deranged message that I think even occasionally thick-headed Star Trek writers wouldn't be so reckless as to make. It might make sense on a totally alien planet, but the risk that any viewer draw any comparison to anything even remotely human is too great to ever write this kind of garbage.

Persecution of any social class is not primarily a result of the victim not understanding their own humanity. Nor is the way out for the oppressor to teach the victim how to be free. This is some white man's burden shit that wouldn't even fly in the 80s.

The suffrage movement, feminism, the civil rights movement and decolonization were not gifted by the oppressors to the oppressed. They were fought for by people who insisted on their humanity in spite of a staggering effort by the oppressor to tell them otherwise. They were assisted by a changing balance of power that weakened the oppressor. But one ingredient that wasn't there was the oppressor teaching the victim dignity. Even in a fictional context, this is too dangerous and offensive a suggestion to even hint at.
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Theo
Tue, Aug 6, 2019, 1:31pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@Booming

I agree with essentially everything in your previous post, down to the meat & alcohol diet lol.

Despite the internal validity of the Kriosian social structure, it's definitely creepy fantasy fulfillment on the writer's part. Especially considering they: a) didn't balance it by having male metamorphs in the episode. b) didn't have Kamala interact with any females on board. c) portrayed Picard's comportment and decision making as honorable and the relationship as a legitimate tale of love & loss.

Also, yes everything I said previously falls apart if the ambassador is lying. I didn't focus on that since it's fairly clear by the end of the episode that we're supposed to accept this premise as true. I think that distinguishes this episode from many others where the seeming moral quandary is resolved through the escape hatch that one side is lying about the true nature of the situation. But I think it's important you brought up the possibility.
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Theo
Tue, Aug 6, 2019, 11:43am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@Chrome

We'll have to agree to disagree on that. If it's any consolation I've literally provided you with 6 equivalent analogies to choose from.
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Theo
Tue, Aug 6, 2019, 5:43am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

To be clear, Kamala does receive training, but the training is to assist her in attaining what she already wants naturally (genetically): to imprint perfectly on a mate and thereby receive a personality. She explains, that in the absence of a mate, she is basically an empty shell. Thus her training is not a system of oppression, it is actually schooling for her benefit.

The closest comparison we have on Earth, is a system in nature known as symbiosis. Symbiosis comes in 3 forms: Commensalism (1 organism benefits, 1 is unaffected), Parasitism (1 organism benefits, 1 organism is harmed), and Mutualism (both organisms benefit).

For empathic metamorphs and their mates, the relationship will always be either Commesnalist or Mutualist, since the empaths will always benefit (they need the mates to achieve their final stage of development), but the mates may not necessarilyl get much benefit from the empaths (eg: the mate already has another lover and is fairly indifferent about the empath).
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Theo
Tue, Aug 6, 2019, 5:27am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

I think you are so eager to launch into a feminist/progressive rant that you're not actually paying attention to either the episode or what I'm saying.

First, I never judged either strippers or Kamala. I like both of them. I don't see stripping as some sort of evil that needs to be blamed on anyone. It's a job and it pays pretty well. I am capable of describing what something is without the need to indict it.

My comparison of Kamala to strippers is not that they are both bad. It's that they're both unreliable sources of information given the nature of the activity they're engaged in (creating fantasy). Kamala saying she imprinted on you is like a stripper telling you she loves you. Not evil, just impossible to believe without verification.

Second, you are wrong regarding how Kamala became what she was. As explained in the episode, Kamala is not a product of some oppressive social engineering. Metamorphs are born this way genetically. They literally cannot do anything else but adapt to their mate's preferences. I was using the phrase 'job' metaphorically. It's not her job, it's literally what she is. You shouldn't waste your time trying to find a human analog as there is none.

Third, calling Kamala a slave is fairly bigoted of you. You are forcing the paradigm of human sexism on an alien situation. By virtue of her very DNA Kamala is at her peak state of self-actualization when she is perfectly adapted to her mate's wishes. She isn't pretending to want to mold herself to her mate, this is sincerely what she wants and to deny her this is cruel.

Finally, it's important to understand that once she imprints, she is permanently actually the thing she has adapted to. It isn't an act. If what you want is a woman who will challenge you, she will actually be that. If you want a submissive woman, she will actually be that.

For humans, risk tolerance is admirable in the pursuit of long term romantic relationships because it plays a specific role: It is a proxy for honesty, since the only way you eliminate risk is if one person commits to forever subordinating their own desires to their partners'. With an empathic metaphorph, the relationship is already equal and honest since both sides are sincerely pursuing their peak happiness. In this context, pursuit of risk simply for the sake of risk is pointlessly reckless and destructive.
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Theo
Mon, Aug 5, 2019, 10:22pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@Booming

You seem upset. I'm not sure why. Or even exactly the point you're trying to make. I can't tell if you're angry at me or strippers or everybody.

Yes, when your livelihood is directly attached to creating a false narrative, you tend to do so more often and more fluently. This is precisely the point i was trying to make.

I guess I could've said Kamala's an ad man, but considering the fairly obvious sexual/seductive angle, stripper seemed apt.
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Theo
Mon, Aug 5, 2019, 4:14am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@Booming
Yeah, and both me and Michael Phelps swim.
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Theo
Mon, Aug 5, 2019, 4:08am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@Chrome

I agree that at other points in the series, Picard's solitude is presented differently, peaking (IMO) with the brilliant depiction in All Good Things. But that's not how it's presented in this episode. I think his comportment throughout this episode is presented as being venerable and his self-abnegation as honorable. In actuality it is indulgent, and his decision-making is pretty myopic.

Remember Kamala's job is to be the perfect mate. This is different from actually mating. If she encounters a person for whom the perfect mate is the one he is denied, she will behave like that.

For example, if I'm only interested in a woman that makes me wait 10 days to mate, Kamala *must* make me wait 10 days. Even if she knows her plane leaves in 5 days, she would sooner sacrifice mating, as long as she knows that what I truly prefer is pining after her eternally, than having her in less than 10 days. So she'll give me the tearful dramatic airport goodbye I crave, promising eternity. But that won't stop her from seducing some guy on the plane.

She is not a complete person. She is a pathological liar who is only capable of telling you what you want to hear, a child trying to impress every adult, an automaton following an unyielding program. She only looks like a person.

As humans, we find that concept so deeply repugnant that we don't want to see it for what it is. But the Kriosians understand, and therefore do not treat her like a person. Crusher and Picard, ultimately make the same mistake interpreting an alien situation through a purely human paradigm. This is small minded and self-centered. It's ethnocentrism (kinda). But Picard makes it worse by additionally playing out his romantic fantasies upon this alien landscape.
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Theo
Sun, Aug 4, 2019, 7:32am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@Chrome

I've gotta disagree with your last paragraph.

I can't take Picard's tragedy seriously. I think the show betrays its serious reflection on this alien custom by using it as another opportunity to build on the reputation of Picard as this "stoic, solitary, sea captain."

The truth is, he put himself in this situation by brazenly ignoring every warning given to him and behaving like he knows better than everyone. It comes off as either incredibly stupid or some masochistic desire to put himself in a position of maximum emotional suffering in order to play out a savior fantasy.

I can't take Kamala's romantic tragedy seriously, because it is unclear that it is really a tragedy. She will say *anything* to make you like her. There is no reason to believe anything she said to anyone throughout the episode, including the idea that she "permanently imprinted" with Picard. She's a stripper, and strippers spin stories.

It also doesn't help that Patrick Stewart is bald and 25 years older than Famke Jansen. Kinda drives the point home in a very meta way.

I really liked this episode, but I think the least interesting part is Picard's blue balls. At least Riker is a bit more good humored about it.
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Theo
Tue, May 28, 2019, 12:57am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@Polly

You'll probably never read this, but I think you're being too harsh.

Yes, this episode is a bit of the born sexy yesterday trope. In the context of a series that has already had problems with it's depiction of women, I can see why this would be another annoying offense.

However, judged on it's own, I think it's alright. There's nothing particularly sexist or juvenile about being attracted to a mate built solely to transform seemlessly into a fulfillment of your every desire. Rather, it takes a certain degree of humility and maturity to admit that in spite of our lofty pretenses, we would probably find such a mate ideal.

I know you think you want to be challenged, but you don't actually want this. You want a bit of pushback to keep things spicy, but overall you want someone on the same page as you. Your desires are not nearly as sophisticated as your internal narrative would have you believe. Much like Picard, the deception necessary to seduce you may require one additional step, but the game is still the same.

Here's the kicker though: there is no deception. The mate in this story is actually changing into the thing that you want. They are not pretending, they actually are that thing now. In that way it is an honest relationship. In fact, your tendency to automatically describe it perjoratively (slavery, fembot) is reflective of your inability to see past the limitations of your own cultural paradigms (this was Dr. Crusher's problem as well).

I think this episode presents a sufficiently interesting premise, explored well enough, as to forgive the obvious androcentrism this time around. It's a shame that the rest of the series was so problematic.

PS: The only things I didn't really like here were that: 1) There were no major interactions between female crewmembers and the mate 2) We really should have gotten to see a male transformer-mate too.
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Theonethatwas
Wed, Jan 2, 2013, 4:11am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Civil Defense

I do love this episode. However this whole thing could have been averted if Dax went to the Defiant and beamed Sisko, O'brian and Jake up. The whole station wasn't locked down until Dax messed with the computers. They could have made it to the runabouts and Defiant and beamed the commander up. I do not think Shields were raised at that time.
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