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bencanuck
Sat, Aug 3, 2019, 7:44am (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: Living Witness

I remember liking this episode when I was younger, but after recently rewatching it, I have to say that my reaction is something like T'Paul's or Daniel's.

The episode is creative, certainly. And the use of fun 'mirror universe' elements to tell a substantial story and contribute to ideas of a philosophical or sociological order is really appreciated. This episode is well thought out on several fronts, as well as well produced, designed well, and acted with conviction. But...

The narrative sets up oppression that is happening, for the characters in the story, *right now*. There are people being oppressed un the *now* of the characters. Everyone knows it. It can be seen with their eyes. They just have to open them.

Meanwhile, the plot focuses in on the historical accuracy of events in the past. This is where the problem lies. Anyone with a mind for justice is more concerned with oppression that they can see is definitely, without a doubt, happening right now. But because of its design and theme, the plot of 'Living Witness' expects us to care more about the intricacies of the past, and this is framed in terms of justice, too, not just accuracy.

And that's where it all collapses. Right, establishing the truth is about justice. We can all agree to that. But this historical justice is not of a lesser value than *known* contemporary acts of oppression. Anyone who thinks that is, in practice, supporting those contemporary acts of oppression. If, today, someone were to divert thinking about contemporary racial injustice towards one specific incident on one specific day 700 years ago, most of us would consider this to be racist distraction. Conveniently shifting priorities like this is usually a sign of support for racist activity. And rightly so. Emphasis and priority say a lot.

That's why some people feel as if the episode is saying the oppressed 'deserved it'. The episode doesn't say this. But the writers *do* definitely say that, for this episode's themes and plot, definitive contemporary injustice is less relevant than historical accuracy. After all, one drives the plot, while the other is just part of the story, background, and environment.

And that... is just odd for a Star Trek ethos. It is bound to be upsetting for some people. The episode needed a significant contribution saying that the oppression that definitely exists was the major issue (because we *know* it is happening *now*), though this does not imply that historical accuracy is unimportant. But... if the episode takes this direction, it also ceases to be recognizable as 'Living Witness'. Thr narrative consistency, tightness, and focus will diminish. If, however, narrative consistency and focus win, then the implication is that the contemporary theme is secondary to the historical theme. But if the contemporary theme of *known* oppression is secondary to establishing the facts about one day 700 years ago, basically any sort of racial diversion tactics are left uncriticized. This is a gaping hole for anyone who is concerned about *both* sorts of (in)justice. Thus the episode is both a creative masterpiece and an unsalvageable thematic disaster from the get-go. Once you see what is missing and what choices were made in the narrative focus, it becomes disconcerting.
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bencanuck
Sat, Mar 23, 2019, 12:29am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Project Daedalus

@Skyelord

"speaking crew on the actual ship"

Bryce and Rhys are male characters; they're on the bridge in most episodes (in season 2, nearly every episode or perhaps every episode). They have names and talk. They're certainly more important characters than Pollard ('Replacement Doctor').

Not sure why you don't see the black man and the Asian man on the bridge. They're there.
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