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William B
Mon, Jun 21, 2021, 2:12pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: First Contact

My take is maybe distinct from Jason's, but I do interpret the "some laughable edge case" as not female-on-male rape, but on the absurd specifics of this situation as depicted in this episode (Riker is a starfleet officer undercover on an alien planet escaping from a hospital being offered escape in exchange from sex by an alien-groupie "Lilith from Cheers"), which has so many elements that it's not a situation anyone could plausibly be in, once you factor those in.

I know technically every situation depicted in fiction has a lot of unique elements, but I do think that this one is wild enough (particularly since part of the scene is playing on the "I slept with an alien!" tabloid idea) that playing for laughs doesn't strike me as being harmful in terms of real-world stigma of female-on-male rape (which I do take seriously), though I'm willing to accept otherwise.
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William B
Mon, Jun 21, 2021, 12:33pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: First Contact

Good point about Vash.

"It's tedious to have to preface anything and everything with a pre-emptive apology to account for some laughable edge case hypothetical and even if the episode was somehow watched by the guy who was coerced into sex with an alien to escape prison I don't believe watching this episode "harmed" him or anyone else, ever."

Ha. Well, I mean, yeah, I get what you're saying. I sort of agree.

I guess what I'd say is that as long as we're talking about this academically, I think that the storytelling conventions and the bizarre situation mean the episode is fine. I disagree academically with the criticisms of this one. If people were genuinely upset based on their lived experience or whatever then I'm willing to concede that my more dispassionate, "this would never happen and is about alien invasion/spy movie tropes" take on that scene is inadequate. I haven't gone through the whole thread and I don't know how much the objections are deeply felt and personal and how much they're more academic/literary.
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William B
Mon, Jun 21, 2021, 11:31am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: First Contact

That said, I'll concede that female on male rape via coersion irl is not taken seriously by many and I can see the argument that this episode perpetuates that and so maybe contributes to social harm (and to causing harm to certain viewers in particular!). I don't read it that way but I don't want to minimize others' experiences.
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William B
Mon, Jun 21, 2021, 11:27am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: First Contact

I don't think how traumatized Riker would be by the sex is that important for evaluating Lilith's morality, but it is relevant for whether the show is inappropriate for playing it for laughs. Storytelling context is important, and the sex happens within the episode as part of the Riker spy plot crossed with POV-reversed alien invasion paranoia story, which IMO does not play as Realism but as a zippy adventure. It's true the plot wouldn't work Wtth Crusher or Troi, but Crusher and Troi wouldn't volunteer to go undercover for a few weeks and then have a wacky adventure. I think, perhaps with some modifications, I could see the scene basically working with Jadzia, for instance, or another sufficiently adventurous spirit. As Peter says, Lilith is more bartering using sex than directly coercing, since she's not responsible for her predicament and is taking risks. I guess it's kind of a "highway robbery" prostitution situation, in that the fact that Riker has few options means that he doesn't have the option to negotiate the most appropriate price.
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William B
Sat, Jun 19, 2021, 12:16pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S7: Extreme Measures

I like some things. I like Sloan's trap for Julian at the end, of giving him his secrets, and Miles' role as Julian's conscience/connection to the everyday world rather than the information/spy/hero fantasy, dragging him out of there.
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William B
Fri, Jun 11, 2021, 9:29am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: Time Squared

"I did a tally just for fun and the average Jammer star rating for Season 2 is 2.45 compared with 2.9 for Season 3. Not exactly a massive difference."

Jammer has said that he rates relative to expectation/season to an extent, so that the 3 stars for The Icarus Factor doesn't actually mean he thinks it's equally good to season 4's Family. So perhaps his actual opinion would show bigger spread.
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William B
Tue, Jun 8, 2021, 3:01pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: The Host

@Peter, yep, that's what I thought you were getting at (and what Horvat seemed to be gesturing to). Again I really appreciate you reaching out to him. I think the episode has some of episodes like TOS' Metamorphosis and Is There In Truth No Beauty in its DNA, and adds gender to the physicality themes.
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William B
Tue, Jun 8, 2021, 11:45am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: The Host

Yeah. I want to add that if the episode is saying that this is a flaw, it's a flaw shared by any monosexual people, gay or straight, who can only romantically love someone of a specific gender; or, indeed, anyone who can only romantically love someone good looking, or anything like that, or a host (lol) of other physical issues. It's a very, very general human condition, for romantic love to be tied in with a physical form. I think Beverly is not being strongly, sharply criticized, in any version of the episode, but rather *possibly* shown to be limited.
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William B
Tue, Jun 8, 2021, 11:19am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: The Host

I think those arguing that the authorial intent may be to depict Beverly's not going for Kareel to be a sort of flaw have cause from within the episode.

CRUSHER: Perhaps it is a human failing, but we are not accustomed to these kinds of changes. I can't keep up. How long will you have this host? What would the next one be? I can't live with that kind of uncertainty. Perhaps, someday, our ability to love won't be so limited.

Beverly acknowledges that it *might* be a failing, but one shared by humanity as a whole (or, perhaps, a large proportion). I think that a plausible read of the episode is that Odan represents a philosophy of love which is about the person's soul, where the body is irrelevant, or nearly so, and Beverly here represents the practical reality that the majority of people attach romantic love to the body. Odan's disappointment that Beverly does not have the same ability to maintain a relationship across physical forms that the Trill (in this episode's incarnation) do maps nicely onto human people who feel similarly. Beverly seems to be suggesting that there may be an ideal possible future where the physical form is no longer a deal breaker. So the idea is presented that it is not necessarily a non-negotiable aspect of humanity, but something which might be "grown out of." Beverly and the episode hedge their bets. Maybe she's just letting Odan down easy and Odan's expectation that Beverly *should* be able to roll with the body (gender) changes is not aspirational. But it's a possibility raised anyway.

If it's a flaw that Beverly can't or won't adapt to Odan's female form, it's presented not as a personal failing but as a general one. But that doesn't mean it can't still be a failing. Whether we agree or not, I think the episode allows the possibility that it is a failing. IMHO.
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William B
Sun, Jun 6, 2021, 8:28pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: The Host

Interesting discussion. Major props to Peter G. for seeking out the author - very cool.
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William B
Tue, Jun 1, 2021, 1:17pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: The Loss

@Tomalak, I agree, but I said that it is not "entirely" resolved because (arguably) the episode's arguments are not entirely sufficient to show Troi has moved on from using her powers as a crutch. That said it's been a while since I've watched it.
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William B
Tue, Jun 1, 2021, 11:12am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S4: The Loss

The meta discussions of what discussions people are having can get tangled, so I hate to add to it, but:

1. Not liking Frakes, Sirtis and McFadden's acting isn't uncommon,
2. This ep in particular is widely disliked,
3. It's often easier to write about the things that one doesn't like than things one does.

That said personally I actually kind of like this one. I criticized it above and all, and stand by those points, but I also kind of like that Troi flails about, doesn't really take her sudden, traumatic loss of a part of her ability to relate to the world with much maturity, and I like the Riker scenes where he criticizes her. It's kind of a double edged sword because the episode acknowledges but then can't entirely resolve what are ongoing unanswered questions of the series, mostly whether Deanna is actually good at her job for real reasons or if she's mostly just coasting on her "superpower" (yes it's a species trait, but she is basically among others who don't have it).

I think episodes like this one maybe show up part of the cracks in TNG, where the show is both aspirational and a more traditional character workplace drama. Troi is an aspirational figure because she has insight into others' emotional state which she primarily uses to help them heal or cope with problems that they cannot deal with; she's a flawed imperfect person because she has this nosy insight into others that others don't really want her to have and she uses this to hold onto an advantage wherein she decides what is best for them. Troi deciding that the widow was wrong about her strategy for dealing with grief and defying her wishes to throw out her husband's stuff is representative of the ambiguity of Troi's role on the ship and the show: it's helpful and kind, and high-handed and manipulative (aristocratic, as Riker says). Take away her emotional insight and she's flying blind and loses her advantage and just has to guess like the rest of us. I think the episode maybe doesn't really "work" because it doesn't really go deep enough, or do enough on how the experience changes Deanna, but I kind of like that it's playing with it a bit.
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William B
Fri, Apr 30, 2021, 8:49am (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Paradise Syndrome

I thought that happened in Requiem for Methuselah. I guess it's possible it happened in both.
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William B
Tue, Apr 27, 2021, 10:08am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Tapestry

Thanks Jason. And yes I'm well aware of the fertility situation.
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William B
Tue, Apr 27, 2021, 8:41am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Tapestry

Thanks, Booming and James.

For what it's worth, my mother is a lovely, loving woman - but had some extraordinary challenges (incl mental illness). She did well under the circumstances, but it could be tough.

I'm married and in love. Things have worked out well for me in many respects. The "next stage" of parenthood, if we go that route, is very daunting. We'll see!
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William B
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 2:21pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Tapestry

Thanks again, Peter, and thanks, @Maq. A lot to think about.

I'm not sure why I decided to pipe up on this topic today. I guess it was just on my mind and intertwined with the subject of the thread.

One thing I wanted to add about Picard is that Picard's willingness to take risks is what we see with both modern day Picard and his younger self, but a difference is that the current Picard takes risks on things that matter. By itself, Picard would not let himself be stabbed on a point of honour over a game anymore. He would let himself be shot with an arrow to prove his mortality and reverse cultural interference in Who Watches the Watchers; he would sacrifice himself or crew members in battle or to prevent a catastrophe. It's not that he is no longer bold and daring, but uses his boldness in a *directed* way.

It reminds me a bit of Q Who. Lt jg Picard would, in this episode's framing, probably hide under the bed in recognition of the Borg threat. Ensign Picard would likely not be able to put his pride aside to tell Q that they needed him, even with a thousand lives in the balance. Captain Picard has courage and boldness but uses it carefully and judiciously, when warranted, and recognizes when it is not worth it. I think the message is not that he specifically needed to be stabbed as that to have the part of himself that got himself stabbed prematurely is not the answer, but to tame and incorporate it.
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William B
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 1:00pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Tapestry

@Peter, thanks, and I appreciate your kind words.

I understand what you are saying about suffering. It's not so much that I'm not aware of the way meaning and suffering are often intertwined philosophically, as that I've also seen a lot of evidence of people's lives hitting the skids because of an inability to manage pain in a healthy way, despite their best intentions, in a way that has hollowed them out. It's not that I think this will always happen, or that there aren't ways to minimize it, as that it sometimes does happen. I maybe haven't been able to separate out the kind of pain or deprivation that "breaks" a person and the kind of inevitable suffering in life that can be generative of meaning.

I've read that people generally speaking do all right with "good enough" parenting, so I would possibly do all right. Still, without trying too hard to overstate the case, I've worked pretty hard to be more or less functional, but it's still a frequent struggle, and I do have many flaws "IRL" that are more obvious than my posting might suggest. I guess at this moment I'm avoiding certain real life obligations I should return to! Lots of people have had it much worse than I, I know. That I generally try to be cucumber cool but occasionally lash out on here unexpectedly is maybe a symptom. Anyway.
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William B
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 12:22pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Tapestry

(Obviously I'm not issuing criticisms of anyone else's experience or view on this.)
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William B
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 12:20pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Tapestry

It might be a bad idea for me to say, but just speaking personally, I've had a very hard time wrapping my head around wanting to have children. It's not so much that there are other things in life more valuable as that it's such a huge responsibility, and life comes with such pain and sorrow. I imagine a child cursing me for bringing them into the world and resenting me for my inevitable failures. I think a lot of this has to do with having had an unhappy childhood, with an absent father and mentally ill mother, myself, and I feel like it's hard to imagine how not to pass this experience on. It's certainly possible that I'll change my mind.
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William B
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 11:08am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Tapestry

The problem I think is that we are looking at the question of whether Alt Picard has a satisfying life on his own terms. If that Picard genuinely loved filling astrometric reports, his life would be as meaningful as Prime Picard's. If he filled reports but mostly he did archaeology as a passionate hobbyist, his life would be meaningful. If he had a family. If he was an amateur artist. If he devoted himself to charitable work (I know all Starfleet is kind of charity since there's no money). If he -- There are all kinds of ways for a life to be meaningful. Alt Picard's life was empty and not meaningful on its own terms. Picard was unhappy with it. Of course Picard doesn't spend much time with it, but I think we're meant to see this as symbolic.

The real issue is that Lt jg Picard was too risk averse to have a life that was meaningful for him. There are all kinds of ways to cultivate meaning in life. It doesn't have to be career or family or public service, though these are some of the more common ways. Again, a person could have Lt jg Picard's job and no family and still have a full, meaningful life, but I think we're meant to infer that this is not the case for Lt jg Picard. And while there are people who have empty lives in our world because of circumstance, we know this isn't the case for this Picard, because he has a fuller life elsewhere.

Now I guess the question is whether the use of Lt jg Picard as the representation of this empty life is unfair and unkind to workers who aren't in leadership positions. And maybe. I can't say for sure that it isn't an element, particularly given some of the way Moore sometimes writes about ambition, military, and other things.
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William B
Sat, Apr 24, 2021, 3:51pm (UTC -5)
Re: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

@Booming ha okay that clears it up.

@Rahul, without litigating Booming's entire past on this site, I was just curious what the actual SW rankings were. Thanks for the compliment, in general.
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William B
Sat, Apr 24, 2021, 11:13am (UTC -5)
Re: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

@Booming your rankings are hard to understand. I don't mean your opinions, I mean literally what is your ranking? You seem to have episode 1 and 2 twice, don't have ep 4 or 5 at all.
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William B
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 10:39am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Masterpiece Society

Dave, I am very sorry for the loss of your friends overseas. Genuinely.

Jason is a lawyer, and lawyers are interested in the law. I might be mistaken but it doesn't seem even to be very emotional for him. I think he is interested in what the laws should be regarding drone strikes. And he should be, because it is important to be able to consider how to deal, via the law, with the conflict between different values (universal human rights versus safety, etc.).

I am grateful that you, Dave, care about the crimes being committed in the world, by terrorists and by the Chinese government.

I am grateful that Jason cares about the judicial process, because I would rather have a lawyer be attentive to these details rather than be tempted to cut corners when faced with wrongdoing. Note that as far as I can tell, Jason didn't even say he thinks drone strikes are wrong, but that he doesn't know whether he supports the black box nature. I think it's a really important point.
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William B
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 10:30am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Masterpiece Society

"I also don't believe non-interference is a Western concept at ALL, that's a HUMAN concept. (To say otherwise is to say that non-Westerners like to interfere .... which is another uncomfortable unspoken truth about this line of thought). Maybe that's part of the "break" too."

Sigh, of course it's a human concept.

Look, maybe the Trek writers were much more universalist than in this theory. Trek certainly reaches for a unified earth future. But it strikes me as being very inspired by 1960s American culture, and reacting to that. American foreign policy is on their minds. It is not, at all, a statement that only Americans can do evil, but that Vietnam and the "good intentions gone awry" narrative that tended to dominate thinking about American involvement is relevant. It's about what might have been on the writers' minds.

From Wikipedia (I know, it's just Wikipedia):

"Creation of the Prime Directive is generally credited to Original Series producer Gene L. Coon.[7][8] The Prime Directive reflected a contemporary political view that US involvement in the Vietnam War was an example of a superpower interfering in the natural development of southeast Asian society; the creation of the Prime Directive was perceived as a repudiation of that involvement.[9][10]"
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William B
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 10:05am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S5: The Masterpiece Society

I say "in this context" in the extremely specific context I am mentioning. Of course anytime can say reasons why general noninterference is preferable. But there are particular arguments about the PD that are stronger when more ambiguous cases are being argued, IMO. The concept behind the PD applies not just in the worst cases in the world, but in more ambiguous cases, and indeed more ambiguous cases are a better arena for litigating the PD in some respects.
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