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Peter G.
Wed, Sep 22, 2021, 12:47pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S5: A Matter of Time

@ Jason R.,

Yes, although even a really good preparation isn't going to provide as many facts as present themselves even in a simple walk down the corridor. There are just too many details in life, or things people bring up. He can spend weeks memorizing stuff and even then I imagine he'd need to fake some stuff to get through a conversation. So while it does seem reasonable to suppose that some of what he says is a straight-up con job, I think it's hard to believe he would come in totally unprepared.
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Peter G.
Wed, Sep 22, 2021, 11:10am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S5: A Matter of Time

It seems impossible for us to know whether he's conning them about the facts individually, or just conning them about his general purpose (theft). For years when I watched it I just assumed he had first gone to the future, read some stuff about their ship and about this mission to study up, then came aboard using the info to impress them and gain their confidence. He has a time machine, so it would be pretty trivial to travel ahead of time to know how everything went, and then go back in time again to cash in. That's just what happens in Back to the Future. So maybe he's actually got some studied knowledge up his sleeve, and maybe he's really stretching credulity and knows nothing at all and is just making it up as he goes along. In the end it doesn't matter that much. But one thing I'm pretty confident about is that Matt Frewer did not dissect the episode moment by moment and decide for himself whether he was making up a particular fact or whether he really knew it. I think he generally went with an offbeat tone and was riding that through the scenes, without as much attention to minute detail.
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Peter G.
Tue, Sep 21, 2021, 9:28pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

There does seem to be some difficult in crafting a review that disentangles technical achievement of a plan from the plan itself. I fondly remember Ebert's review of Basic Instinct 2, where he talked about how there was no way he could recommend the movie, even though from a certain perspective its low and almost embarrassing goals seemed to be achieved with gusto. So he gave it something like 1 star, but hinting that it could have been 4 if he gave in to his baser impulses.

The Rise of Skywalker is a film that, conceptually, I would have to give around zero stars. Somewhat like its predecessors, there is scarcely a single major plot point that yields a response even from its proponents of "Alright! Finally, this is what we wanted!" Even the big fans of these films seem to have to moderate their praise with disclaimers like "well, it's true this part didn't exactly make sense, but.." Jammer, I think you are completely correct about this overbearing responsibility for the creators of these sequels to do...something. Certainly they can't do everything, as you suggest. But what should be an embarrassment of riches seems instead to have been treated by the creative team as a struggle to do come up with what to do. I just wonder how that's possible. I bet most posters on this site, even the Trek fans who aren't as hot on Star Wars, have a laundry list of things they'd find really cool to see features in a SW film. I have such a list myself. So to say that finding arc after arc as recycled material is more than just frustrating, it's almost unfathomable.

From the standpoint of looking at the plot and character outlines on paper, I really find The Rise of Skywalker especially to be almost without any merits at all. But because the team executing this plan has state of the art technology, design teams and editing that are unparalleled, and a legacy that can feed even an empty schematic, it can still play energetically and even get a rise out of you despite yourself. I actually felt something near the end, even though it was totally unearned. It's one of those times it makes you have more fun than you even want to have, because of how undisciplined the writing and concept are. It's sort of like a jerk who makes a joke in terrible taste, but you're ashamed to find a laugh sneak out of you from some primal sub-intelligent place in your psyche.

From a certain perspective, getting any result at all from a pathetic concept sort of deserves an award of its own. But do we really want to give out such an award? At least when Bach wrote fugues out of lame musical fragments, he did cool things with them. This is more like a pop song cutting and pasting from lame musical fragments, using the same tired hook you've heard 1,000 times, and yet it makes top 10 on the radio anyhow. And you know this because you've got the radio on yourself.
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Peter G.
Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 8:03pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@ Trish,

I actually thought of Elaan of Troius as well, for just the reasons you mentioned.

The main reason I find William B's suggestion troubling - that Kamala cannot really be said to have wants *at all* - is that it eliminates her entirely from any conversation about whether she's being used or not. Of course she is, she literally cannot be anything but be used if that's her nature. I have to say in all my years of watching this ep, it never really occurred to me that she literally cannot have thoughts other than those generated by the nearest man's fantasy. If that were really true, it would be possibly the most alien being in all of Trek, so distant from our notion of free will and self-sovereignty that I do not even know if there are reasonable terms we could use to describe her participation in any scene at all. How can we tell that anything she says to Picard at any point is coming from her? Maybe it's all just a house of mirrors reflecting his own mind back to itself. What about when she's with Data? Well maybe she's close enough to some man somewhere to pick up something or other from him. I guess it could make for an interesting alien of the week, that it's incapable of having thoughts that are its own.

But as William B and Trish both mention, I don't think the episode is at all about exploring what it would be like if an alien could literally only reflect someone else's personality. I don't even know whether your idea, Trish, that it's about the person we can become when with others, is really emphasized (although it is of course at least obliquely present). That idea that it's a Picard episode seems pretty evident from the story progression...but what's the actual story?

If Kamala absolutely has no personal agency, then every moment Picard spends with her is just him fooling himself that he can have a real conversation. Nothing she says can be taken seriously as having a unique perspective. And likewise, it can't be a sexist piece, really, because we're dealing with a being so unlike us that there's no comparison. On the other hand, if she does have personal agency, and if indeed she does have thoughts of her own about Picard and about her life, then we have to completely reverse our assessment and look carefully at everything she says to inspect whether it's purely her own idea, or whether it's being tempered to please the man she's nearest.

I will say one thing, though: the episode always played (to me) as one where she admired Picard, and drew from him the strength to *truly* go through with her mission of her own free will. Prior to bonding with him Beverly was probably right that she was saying what she was conditioned to say, but afterward, she knew exactly what it meant and she chose it. So we could perhaps say that bonding with Picard was a choice to be a person with free will of a particular sort, and that being like him was in her eyes the best version of herself she could be. I always come out of the episode with the idea that she did have some will of her own in this, that she knew she was different with different men, and that she actively preferred the person she was when with Picard. So in the end, her bonding with him isn't just the playing out of his personal fantasy of loss (although this is a neat idea, William), but is actually the best outcome for her since now she doesn't have to devolve into being a prostitute for her husband. That she leaves Picard is because he taught her duty (as Trish points out), so this leaves us with hints of Pygmalion, where he gave her the best he had, and in becoming his ideal she had a more important mission to complete than making house with him. She rose above the need to please a man, and instead took on the mission of saving two worlds. So the ending is bittersweet, rather than a lesson in mere loss due to Picard sowing his own doom. It's not really his doom, after all: he did save her. And that is, finally, his mission.
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Peter G.
Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 12:17pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

If all that is true, William, then it ironically means that not only is Kamala an empty shell, but the role of Kamala as written into the episode is also an empty shell whose only purpose to exist is to show off Picard's attributes.

But again I have to say that Kamala does seem able to think for herself even apart from morphing into people. Or rather, the actress portrays a common Kamala across various scenes which doesn't particularly seem to be a fantasy of anyone in particular. I dunno.
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Peter G.
Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 11:01am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

@ Trish,

Yeah, there's no escape from the fact that the show throws us a sexy lady as the centerpiece, so the exposition line doesn't impact us that much. I wasn't really talking about whether it's sexist per se, and more exploring whether they're trying to map the situation onto the real world at all.

About women changing themselves vs men, I wasn't making the case that women don't have to do anything. Obviously the game is two-way. But the action of the game typically is the woman does certain preparatory procedures (which can include make-up, costume, etc) to put beauty on display, and then the males come to her. This is similar to (but inverted from) the peacock situation, since in the Western human culture it's the female that is adorned. Her preparation may involve a lot more work than males do, and may be stressful, etc, so I'm not trivializing things into 'the woman does nothing.' But if the woman does do these things typically she can be assured of some result; she won't have to go around asking men out just to get a date. A guy, by contrast (perhaps because of the social system) can sit around minding his own business, and will get nowhere. He will usually have to get out there and try to make something happen. Actually I'm not particular fond of this dichotomy, but in my experience this is the setup. It just is what it is. And more point, in any case, was that in the final analysis, the women select the men more than the men select the women. Sure, any given women might not be able to get a particular arbitrary man, but she will have options within bounds. A guy will have typically have zero options unless he creates those possibilities for himself, unless he is unusually attractive. I have seen the odd guy that women throw themselves at, but it's pretty rare. With women, not so rare. So functionally they gatekeep dating (this is not a complaint on my part, I think it is actually good).

About point 2, I think you are speaking about Kamala like she's a biological sex machine rather than a sentient being who can choose to govern her choices (maybe not her desires). It's sort of analogous to arguing that a horny guy is only doing what his biology has programmed him to, so it's not his free choice whether to ask like a horny animal or not. But I think the Trek mentality is that we really are capable of being civilized no matter our base impulses; this topic was more prevalent in TOS then TNG, I think. So yes, Kamala has a tough job to be at the peak of her sexual maturity, and yes it's what she was born for, but if she is an intelligent adult she should also be capable of saying "You know what, my desires are really strong and it would be bad for me to act them out, I need to try to discipline myself." It's like, ok, maybe you have a need as strong as a powerful addiction. Well people IRL do face that problem, and steps are taken to deal with it if you're being responsible. But she seems really unconcerned with the effects of her actions, to the point where they are really quite wanton. From that standpoint I can't be sure whether to blame the script, the actress, or what. She just looks like she doesn't give a damn whether she starts a brawl or whatever. I mean, what, is she supposed to be a sociopath?

And maybe your objection about what we're shown is in line with mine, because I don't really see any metamorphing going on in the episode. Every scene is just her coming on to the nearest guy in the same way. She doesn't strike me as changing for them, just using the same smile and pheromone routine to guy any guy to like her. Is that supposed to be respectable? It may be an issue with the show's directing in the end.
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Peter G.
Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 8:06am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S5: The Perfect Mate

Watching this one again reminded me of a few things.

First of all, they claim that male metamorphs are relatively common, but that it's the female metamorph that is so incredibly rare. This means not that the episode is painting women as being a mere object of our desires; in fact if we take the premise seriously then on this world it's more the norm that the men will do anything the women want to conform to their needs, and it's a rarity for the reverse to be true (to this extent, anyhow). To be honest, if we're looking at contemporary (90's) society, this episode more or less maps onto reality in this sense, that women in the West mostly control sexual selection and that guys must 'win them', meaning, do whatever is required for the female to accept them. For it to be the reverse case - for a woman to have to change herself and jump through hoops to appeal to a man - is, I think, much more rare. I'm assuming an analogy between being a metamorph and having to bend oneself to appeal to someone else. If I'm right about the analogy, then rather than saying that women are subservient, on the contrary the episode is saying that women have won the sexual revolution, and that it's now super-rare for a woman to have to go through any kind of ordeal to win the attention of a men.

Regarding the slavery angle and whether Kamala is being treated with respect, Beverly at breakfast certainly makes the case that this is slavery, and Picard is particularly irate at having to defend against this point. But why is he irate? And his irritated response continues when he tells the ambassador that Kamala is going to be let out to visit the crew. I think he may be irate because despite his intention to stay away from Kamala and not get involved in any interaction with her, Beverly is goading him on to go and save her from imprisonment, and by the time he goes to the ambassador he's being cornered into taking a macho "not on my ship" attitude. His overdone bluster about this shows that even though Kamala isn't present he's still having an interaction with her, impressing her with his boldness. And it's mostly against his will at that; he'd rather not be fighting for her. And when the ambassador says that she'll drive every man on the ship nuts, Picard mutters "not every man!" as if Data is going to somehow shield the ship from her effects. It almost seems like Picard knows exactly what's going to happen and is daring his own ship to take her on. But why? I think it's macho bravado. He's already not thinking clearly.

The problem with this theory is that Kamala has to have driven him wild already from their first interaction, which is sort of implied but doesn't quite come off properly on-screen. And in fact overall I'm having a problem with Janssen's performance. Every scene features her looking cute and knowing she's looking cute, and speaking in this really flat tone that says little else than "I know you think I'm cute". Considering what her abilities are supposed to be, this is really monotoned on the seduction scale. And frankly all she ever seems to do is be trying to seduce every man she sees. Sure, I can understand if she can't turn off her metamorph power and her emapthy, but I don't see why that has to mean that she's also actively choosing to go forward with seductions, kissing Riker, going over to the miners, etc. She seems to sort of be a dunce. Or maybe this is just too much of a one-note performance. I actually found that to be the case in X-Men as well, that Janssen's scenes were all one-note and pretty boring.

So I was definitely missing Janssen actually portraying someone who's personality changes depending on who she's with. She seemed pretty much the same in every scene regardless. You'd think that, being alone with Picard, her demeanor and attitude would immediately change, and moreover, into something more respectable, someone who could challenge Picard on a level he respects, rather than just animal attraction. I did not get that he left her quarters with something to prove to her about how tough he is, despite the fact that from then on this is how the episode has him act. So really the scenes that fail for me are the one's she's in. It would have been so much better if, instead of just smiling at everyone she sees, she actually changed into different people with different priorities. Her priorities in every scene, as it is, seem confined to making the men go crazy for her. At that point I'm inclined to agree with the ambassador that she should have been locked up in her quarters, if she's going to be irresponsible like this.
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Peter G.
Fri, Sep 17, 2021, 4:27pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S1: When the Bough Breaks

Yeah, I just spotted Brenda Strong in Starship Troopers 2, in which she's one of the stars. I had a similar reaction...
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Peter G.
Fri, Sep 17, 2021, 4:11pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S7: Attached

Ok, I just watched the whole episode to see if that last scene plays differently if I pretend they've just slept together, and I don't see it. I suppose it's possible the writer thought he was leaving the door open for us to interpret it however we wanted, but based on the direction and the acting what I actually see is Picard and Crusher dressing up for a date for the first time to see if something happens. The apprehension suggests to me they don't know how it will go, whereas if they had just slept together you'd think they would be more relaxed about this point. And if you look at Crusher's last line, it makes it pretty clear to me that they don't have the nerve or the will to cross that threshold after all. To me this goes beyond ambiguity, to the point where I am for my part sure they did not do anything special offscreen. And why should we need to think they did? What they experienced was already far more intimate for them than sex would have been anyhow.

Regarding "attached at the hip", this has more of a connotation to me of marriage than of sex. I've never heard the expression used to imply having sex, but it certainly means being together all the time and inseparable. And I think the implication of "we're not attached at the hip anymore", beyond being a reference to the plot, is maybe saying something like they've been on this ship for seven years for reasons never clear to either of them, and now that things are out in the open they may have to actively decide to remain even in their current relationship, to say nothing of advancing it somewhere. They certainly can't just stay side by side on the ship as they have been without some kind of understanding of where they are going (if anywhere).
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Peter G.
Wed, Sep 15, 2021, 10:17pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S3: Who Watches the Watchers

@ Trish,

An interesting idea, to further break the Prime Directive for a beneficent aim. While TNG is much more adamant about the PD being about total and absolute non-interference, in TOS it seems to me it was more a repudiation of the Cold War practice of manipulating weaker nations/planets in the false guise of the greater good. Kirk and the Enterprise did seem able to visit and even negotiate with 'primitive' worlds all the time, without having to avoid them due to lacking warp drive. Examples of this are the Capellans in Friday's Child, Kirk's friend and his people in A Private Little War, and others. And I think Kirk would not have been above your idea, Trish, of using his soapbox to give a friendly word of advice to a younger world. Back in the world of TOS, it doesn't even seem like this would be a prohibited or questionable thing to do, provided it was just words spoken as a friend. In the TNG world, of course it's a serious breach of the Federation's most sacred law.

You reminded me of the other thread with the "what would Kirk have done" side topic, and honestly this is something that I have thought of from time to time over the years. One good thing about Picard is that he's very different from Kirk. I wouldn't go as far as to say Picard is flawed, but more that as the examplar of a particular way of seeing life, he is simply incapable of relaxing his self-imposed outward dignity (which is reminiscent of the British navy stiff upper lip). From this standpoint, his inflexibility is more of a feature than a bug, and he could no more accept a little worship than Kirk could become a celibate monk. Not to dispute your idea of what would have been good for the Mintakans, but that would have to have been some other guy in Picard's place to do that. It's his impenetrability to what he perceives as impropriety that makes him the guy we respect. This is one of the reasons I was irked by PIC, incidentally, because trying to pick apart his character and show how it's flawed is sort of like writing an essay to prove that alll role models can be deconstructed and disassembled. So what if that's true, why would I want to do that even if I could?

So I guess what I'm saying is I'm satisfied with Picard being the stick in the mud he was :)
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Peter G.
Wed, Sep 15, 2021, 10:39am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

@ Jeffrey Jakucyk,

SPOILERS

In regard to the Dominion, "Changelings" is what the shapeshifters call themselves, although it's probably an ironic term rather than a name originally of their choice. "Founders" is their role in the hierarchy of the Dominion. The Vorta seem to call them "Founder" as both a term of rank and also of godlike stature (since the Vorta were 'made' by the Changelings).

But regarding the Prophets, it doesn't really matter what the Prophets call themselves, since the issue at hand is respect to the Bajorans, not to the Prophets.



"if "Wormhole Aliens" or "Wormhole Entities" is too offensive then maybe "The Bajoran Prophets" would be an appropriate term
[...]
So requiring Keiko to refer to the Wormhole Aliens as "The Prophets" is a bridge too far."

Maybe that would have been enough to be respectful. It wouldn't have been enough for Winn, but we can put that aside. The issue of making it clear it's the "Bajoran" Prophets seems to me that a bit overdone in terms of specifying "I just want to make it clear I don't believe in this". I think it would be pretty clear either way that Keiko is not a believer.

If you were doing Old Testament bible study, for instance, even as an atheist, I think it would be pretty normal when discussing what part you're reading to say, for instance, "I'm reading about the prophets." There would be no need to insert a disclaimer in the form of "I'm reading about the Jewish prophets", or "I'm reading about the dudes the Jews believe are prophets." That kind of disclaimer is simply not necessary when simply referencing them, and to say "I'm studying the prophets" is not any kind of profession of belief. But just as a point of nitpicking, if someone didn't know you were doing Old Testament study, then it would make sense to say you're reading the "Jewish prophets" since it tells them what book and what part of the book at the same time. But if they already know you're reading the Jewish scriptures then calling the the "Jewish prophets" is not technically inaccurate but it's really redundant and doesn't do anything to disclaim your opinion about it.
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Peter G.
Wed, Sep 15, 2021, 9:56am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: TNG S5: Ensign Ro

"Plus, too, we had the maverick Keneally. What is it about Starfleet admirals? There seems to be less care about their appointments than there is about Captains!"

Starfleet probably has some similar problems to modern day militaries, which is that certain people end up moving up through the ranks but are really bad commanders. Some guy ends up a Lt Cdr, finally a full Commander, and lo and behold he eventually gets command of some garbage scow somewhere. Meanwhile he has no leadership skills and is a jerk, but this has never been put to the test because it's peacetime. Finally they resort to the easiest way to get rid of him without firing him, which is to make him an Admiral and station him at a desk job somewhere out of harm's way. Sure, he can still make trouble there, but at least not put an entire ship's crew at risk every day.
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Peter G.
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 2:19pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

@ Booming,

Obviously Winn was trying to undermine the Federation and get Bajor under her thumb, so there's nothing mysterious about the absence of her being reasonable. But Keiko gave her all the rope needed to hang her school with. Winn had no doubt already got wind of the tenor of these lessons prior to coming, so it's not like she needed to sit in on a whole class just to find out.
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Peter G.
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 1:30pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

Haha, we sort of wrote the same thing at the same time.
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Peter G.
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 1:30pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

Good question, William. In fact this is the discussion that should have been had if both Keiko and Winn were being reasonable. And as you mentioned above, part of what this very good episode captures is that this discussion was needed and hadn't happened yet. I'm not going to pretend I know the correct approach to how to run a human/Bajoran school on a Bajoran station, but it does do to remember that it's a Bajoran station. The non-Bajorans (presumably the families of station staff) there are in effect present in order to help the Bajorans, which would I suppose be up to the Bajorans to decide whether that includes de-religioning the wormhole.

But yeah, it might not work to expect Jake and Nog to call them the Prophets...or maybe it would? I'm not sure if calling them by that name implies any kind of agreement with the worship of them. Even if that line could be straddled, it's hard to say how far down that road one could go before "chronaton particles" and stuff like that ended up being blasphemy too.
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Peter G.
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 12:54pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

@ Booming,

"Keiko is not coming up with names, she is using scientific terminology. That is not imperialistic."

Sorry, but "entities" is not a scientific term for a being you're not familiar with. Trek sometimes uses it, so maybe Keiko picked it up on the Enterprise or something (Crystalline Entity, etc). But it is not some kind of standard term of use for which there is a natural confusion here. She knows full well the Bajorans think of them as gods, and is calling them entities anyhow. Are they entities? I guess. That might make it accurate in a sort of non-descript way. That's orthogonal to whether it's disrespectful or not. I can call your mother a "water-filled meat sack" and argue that I'm being "scientific", when it's plainly obvious that my choice of terms has removed any sort of respect for her right out of the equation.
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Peter G.
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 12:23pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

@ William B,

I guess I could address one or two other points of yours. I think Kirk tends to knock down the false gods not on principle but specifically when he encounters an oppressive force literally controlling people that they cannot get out of on their own. And of course it doesn't help that he frequently ends up trapped by this false god as well, so freeing himself goes in lockstep with freeing everyone else. Maybe it's good to think of it like a war of liberation; Kirk doesn't believe in killing, but he'll do it under certain circumstances. But you're right that we don't see Kirk interacting with people on a planet and just having conversations about their religion with them.

About the mirror universe, I personally feel that he was reaching out to Spock specifically, rather than trying to change that world. He saw in that Spock something of his own, and wanted to be a friend to him, to help him be the Spock he could be.
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Peter G.
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 12:14pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

@ William B,

About the Kirk comment, I meant more to say that his default was to call things by the name the locals used. We don't get his inner monologue about why, and sometimes we might get the idea he's playing along to get more information or to keep the peace. But one thing Kirk doesn't do is speak to strangers from another planet and start calling their object of worship by a name of his choosing. Now that I think of it in these terms, it has a vaguely imperialist tinge to it, and there has been a strong movement of late in North America to repudiate the colonialist practice of coming to an already populated place and re-naming their stuff. As I mentioned before, I think Kirk had a lot more diplomatic tact than what Keiko is showing here. Her moral superiority seems more important to her than being respectful, or keeping the peace; take your pick.
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Peter G.
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 11:29am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

"Of course Peter is correct that the big joke is that Winn ends up being 100% vindicated by the end of the series because the wormhole aliens are literally "Prophets" in a Celestial Temple and all of Winn's hocus pocus is factually correct!"

It's true that this can be retroactively galling for a writer who most likely intended to use the Bajorans as a placeholder for backward Christians on Earth (more specifically, in the USA). But at this point in the series they did make at least a few attempts to burst the bubble of the Federation having all the answers. In the pilot itself Opaka makes it very clear to Sisko she knows some stuff, and shows him the artifact as proof. That may not be proof for Keiko, but it's proof for the audience that it can't *just* be hocus pocus. By the end of S1 it's a bit one-sided to turn things into a science vs religion standoff and expect the audience to dismiss the Bajorans on principle. I mean, because of how it's written I expect it's actually quite natural for the audience to side with Keiko (as I did), but objectively speaking Keiko is not standing on firm ground. We're talking about a universe - unlike our own - where Kirk and Picard met their fair share of godlike beings, non-corporeal entities, old gods moving on, and so forth. At that point the issue of whether they're 'gods' or 'entities in the wormhole' becomes a semantics game, and yeah, why call them in a way that's antagonistic to the beliefs of the locals? Kirk wouldn't have done that, I can tell you.

Regarding science taking the place of religion in daily life, we should note also that the Bajorans at this point in the series are centuries ahead technologically of where we are IRL right now. They have science, and in fact it later becomes a plot point that they were more advanced than the Cardassians or Humans at the equivalent point in history and simply weren't expansionist technologists, so they didn't go full-throttle into weapons tech and stuff like that. But they are not by any means anti-science as one might be tempted to conclude from this episode. What Winn seems to be taking exception to is the science *about their gods* being taught with a materialist backdrop rather than a reverent or theological one. I doubt Winn would have cared how Keiko taught botany or geology.
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Peter G.
Mon, Sep 13, 2021, 8:02pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

The real joke is that based on what we come to know over the series, Winn's statements are not mystical mumbo-jumbo sitting in the place of scientific fact, but in fact turn out to be literally accurate descriptions of how the wormhole in fact works. Ships don't go across the wormhole safely just like that, as Keiko claims ("it allows us to travel secure"). No, it's actual the 'hands of the Prophets' literally causing ships to pass through or not pass through safely as they desire. It operates according to their design at all times. It's not a natural phenomenon, and only is "stable" insofar as they desired and designed it to be. So Keiko's built-in assumptions about it being a 'stable' wormhole are scientifically invalid. Stable for how long? Under what conditions? For what reason? The Barzan wormhole looked stabled too, until it wasn't. And the Bajoran wormhole looked stable as well...until it also wasn't. So Keiko's claims are completely unscientific in the sense that neither she personally, nor anyone else in Starfleet, knows anything substantive about it other than it appears to be stable so far. That she's teaching thing in a class to Bajorans - you know, educating them about their own resource using her own inadequate understanding of it - and Kai Winn thinks it's heresy doesn't only happen to be valid on a narrative basis like Jason R points out, but it's in fact more *scientifically* valid than what Keiko is saying too. Not that Winn did experiments to come to her conclusion, so it didn't follow a scientific method per se, but it's scientific in the sense of being borne of experience and repetition. It's easy to forget that these are people who received not only mortal-made manuscripts claiming things about the gods, but artifacts *from the gods* backing it up. So if Winn says Keiko is stepping on their religion, Keiko is really foolish to ignore her. At worst it would be good to establish good ambassadorial protocols, since this wife of a noncom is risking scuttling a major Federation initiative; at best there might actually be something to learn from consulting with the locals. All of this is notwithstanding the fact that Winn was obviously grandstanding, but another more honest Vedek might well have made the same objection in this scenario.
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Peter G.
Mon, Sep 13, 2021, 4:27pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

Well for one thing it pretty well clearly implies they're not gods. And besides that, it's not what the local people prayerfully call them. Calling them some other secular name is just not respectful, is it. Try to distance yourself from your particular background and inspect how life is for someone who not only has religion but needs it. Not imagine someone calling the most beloved, revered part of that as some secular term implying it's just the Wizard of Oz. It's really not complicated.
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Peter G.
Mon, Sep 13, 2021, 3:44pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

I guess I'd have to watch it again, but I thought the line Keiko crossed was calling them the wormhole aliens. If I'm remembering right then I do think that's pretty disrespectful, regardless of the writers' intent.
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Peter G.
Mon, Sep 13, 2021, 2:26pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

As it turns out it was a power play, yes. But at this juncture in the series Winn had just enough credibility that her argument could play both sides of the fence: securing her anti-Federation position, while also making true statements about what's best for Bajoran children. And to be frank, if I was invited to teach in a situation like Keiko's I'd be a lot more inquisitive about local beliefs before going all cavalier into my western education stance. As far as I'm concerned she's sort of a dunce in this respect, and it's totally legitimate to call her out on basically not respecting local beliefs. As Sisko says (and I agree with him most above all) there is room on the station to have science taught, alongside a respect for the local values, without the one having to be at the expense of the others. If I went into a mission school right now in Catholic Africa to teach children, and I opened with "and so when we read the stories in the Bible about the charlatan Jesus" the game is over, and I'm at fault. I can believe what I like, but taking the local deity and referring to it in my choice atheistic terms would just be asinine, and also strategically stupid if my goal is to get through to them. If a community leader comes to you and says "hey we believe this, it means a lot to us, can you please be more respectful about how you call the Prophets", I think it's a no-brainer to listen (and by the this logic accords with the current stream of left-wing claims about respect about terms). They wrote Keiko as a jerk here, I suspect, because they were alluding to the fundamentalists in the U.S. and the encroachment on science education. But as I mentioned before, it's a bad analogy and should never have been in their minds unless they wanted to undercut any credibility the Bajorans had.
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Peter G.
Mon, Sep 13, 2021, 12:20pm (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

I'll choose not to get into any of that, to preserve the integrity of the thread. I'll revert to my original point, backing up (to an extent) Michael Z Freeman, in that while I think DS9 was trying to be high-minded about respecting the Bajorans, it was coming from *such* a secular Hollywood background that even its attempt at conciliation with the Bajoran perspective still ends up unfortunately making Keiko look right and the Bajorans backward. Kira's POV goes a lot further than what the show perhaps had in the back of its mind, with Southern evangelical Christians wanting to shelter their children from facts about the world. In the case of the Bajorans the analogy is really a failure, but the show doesn't give them enough credit for having their own unique position (in a few different ways). Just the fact that they were coming out of a massacre alone should be enough to give them a wide berth about 'educating them'.
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Peter G.
Mon, Sep 13, 2021, 10:41am (UTC -5) | 🔗
Re: DS9 S1: In the Hands of the Prophets

@ Booming,

I won't really answer all of those points, because it looks more like you're trying to find excuses to nitpick rather than argue substantively. I know what I'm talking about re: Galileo to a pretty decent extent, have studied the Copernican situation circa 1550-1600 to a good extent as well, and in any case, overall it looks like you're doing that thing (I can't remember the technical history term) where you assess historical actions based on a present-day standard of values. It's generally considered to be bad history to read any situation that way. Most of your comments read as "I don't like what the Church did" rather than inspecting why things were the way they were. I'm no history buff, but history of science does interest me.
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