I don’t know how Rambam would have adjusted to our era.
Seth Gilman is a New York-based classical vocalist navigating the treacherous waters between dynamic and formal equivalence, while thinking Big Thoughts.
This is my (mostly) political blog. Click the post title and it will link you to the article on which I'm commenting. Also, feel free to check out video and audio of my performances at http://sethsings.tumblr.com/.
I don’t know how Rambam would have adjusted to our era.
Pitch perfect. Postman is rather a chicken little, but he has been eerily prescient when it comes to the dangers of entertainment and technology, even if the doom and gloom is a bit much and the extolling of the past myopic.
Please don’t make me make noise about all the kids who thought the Obama election would “change everything,” banish politics, and perfect the world according to the contradictory models abiding within the minds of each individual supporter. Affecting politics is about more than signal boosts and online petitions. It’s not even about systems and networks of online opinion, or about activism or community or NGOs. Politics is about public service. It’s about going inside the central system, not chatting or lobbing stinkbombs from the periphery. It’s about meeting face to face with you diametric ideological opposite, from the person whose purpose is to disadvantage you, and to calmly make compromises on other issues that serve both of your needs. The yelling-at and shouting-past that occurs online or at demonstrations is antithetical to that. Having the media you want when you want it, isolated from the preferences of others, is no way to develop the skills necessary to swallow the bile, bad taste an all, and make the deal with the enemy. And worst of all, the belief in the private sector and private actions as being pure and uncompromised, and government work a corrupting influence. It’s a drop-out generation, not a buy-in, and that’s a great way to forfeit your influence when you (as is true of much of the youth) are not blessed with massive assets.
In a way, we attribute these characteristics to Millennials, but these have been traits of American society for a long time. They are exhibited most strongly by the generations in power now, in the zero-sum partisanship and gamesmanship supplanting statesmanship in Washington. These are the actions of a middle-aged Baby Boomer set’s maladaptation to technology. It did not start with the kids, they didn’t start the fire; it started with their parents. The Millennials are merely following in the shaky footsteps of their elders in their worst excesses, but at least have some chance left to learn from the mistakes made before them.
Nes gadol hayah sham?
Or is this memorial for ghosts in lieu of a living Warsaw Jewry?
There are more women in this screenshot than there are in the entire reboot
This scene right here in many ways encapsulates many of the frustrations I have with the Star Trek reboot, and most reboots in general. When you reboot a “groundbreaking” show, you should reboot the ideals of the show and the mission of the franchise, not just play on the nostalgia of old fans. Star Trek in the 60s comes in the middle of the Cold War and in the midst of the Civil Rights Era, so including different nationalities, a female black lieutenant, and an alien was a huge deal. Now? The same characters look dated in a reboot because Star Trek completed its original mission. Moreover, the reboot movies just don’t make any sense.
Too often, Star Trek traditionalists rage over J. J. Abrams “destroying” Star Trek by rewriting its history. That isn’t my biggest issue. Gene Roddenberry himself said that one day Star Trek would continue without him for a new generation and he would be okay with that, because he believed Star Trek belonged to the people. My issue is not a reboot itself, nor is it a fresh timeline. My problem is that this reboot makes Star Trek look so out of touch. The Cold War is over. The Civil Rights Movement has passed, and we have Star Trek as a reference piece of culture now. It’s time to “boldly go where no one has gone before” again.
It starts with the crew. The original Enterprise crew are heroes for sure, but their time has passed. They are the people we look back to for guidance now. Since Kirk, we’ve had a much more diplomatic and reserved captain in Picard, a more spiritual and combat-ready captain in Sisko (who also happened to be black and from New Orleans woot!), and we had probably our toughest captain ever in a woman with Captain Janeway. We’ve seen people of color and women take on larger roles within the shows for decades, so why must we now go back to play on nostalgia from the 60s. I would have hoped to see a more gender-balanced crew, and with all of the tensions in American politics between the US and the Islamic world, I think it would have been a Star Trek move to include a Muslim character on the crew just like the original Enterprise had a Russian flying the ship. Americans continue to debate whether gay people should be able to live their lives, so I think it would be a Star Trek move to have a gay character featured and have them be as competent and professional as Uhura and Chekov. Hell, we’ve represented various groups in Harry Kim, Nyota Uhura, Julian Bashir Chakotay, Chekov, Scotty, Sulu, O’Brien, Travis Mayweather, Hoshi Sato, and more. We’ve touched briefly on genderqueerness with Dax. Star Trek has gone there before. Why not go there again? In “playing it safe,” they’ve made Star Trek look dull and out of touch.
Next we have the plotlines themselves. Kirk and Spock’s friendship is legendary, obviously, but that friendship built over three seasons of television, and five movies, all of which hit the screen over the course of thirty years. What has boggled me by the last two Star Trek movies is the overwhelming focus on Kirk and Spock to the detriment of everything else going on. The last two movies have had the same arc: Kirk needs to learn to cool his jets, and Spock needs to learn that it’s okay to have feelings sometimes. Why? We already covered that. You established a crew, now go do something. I could pick apart the plot of Into Darkness for about four paragraphs here, but most of it comes down to too many references to Wrath of Kahn and other Star Trek media without any context to make it blend into a cohesive story. Fandom inside jokes can be great for a franchise so long as they don’t compromise the story for the uninitiated. If a good portion of your audience has no idea why we’re tossing around names and places, they’re not going to care and disconnect from the movie.
All of this leaves Star Trek as something uninspiring, and to be fair I think we’ve been here for a long time. Star Trek has always been a cult show, but we’ve been trapped in a movie franchise that you are only invested in because your parent(s) raised you on Star Trek since Star Trek: First Contact. Star Trek has just been a series of action movies set in space since the Picard movie era, and it has never pulled itself out of it. I want my competence Star Trek back. I want to see people from all sorts of backgrounds coming together to do their jobs as they explore new frontiers. I want to see outlets for conversations about the social, political, and economic issues we face in our society. That’s the Star Trek I want back. The characters and set pieces themselves do not make Star Trek what is it. It’s the stories that it tells with those characters.
Please, make Star Trek relevant again. Empower people. ALL PEOPLE. Women, men, people of all color, orientation, etc. We have too much apocalyptic fiction out there, where the only hero worth noting is the tough average joe. Give me a future where we continue to learn and grow by embracing our differences and working together.
I’ve seen this post before with this commentary, but I’d forgotten how spot-on it is.
Yeah to this! I mean, I’m one of the traditionalists raging over the rewritten history, but for pete’s sake - the reboot had opportunities right there! Okay, ditch Janice Rand - but you introduced Gaila. Why the heck couldn’t she be on the “Enterprise” serving right alongside Uhura? Why introduce a female character and then throw her away?
You don’t want Chapel? Fine, where’s our Assistant CMO to fill the part of Doctor M’Benga?
Instead of Keenser, comedy relief turn alien, how about giving us a little bit more of some of the background crew you’ve created, like your cyborg/cybernetic character, or ‘Madeline’, or the rest of them?
I’ll happily stop moaning about the Good Old Days if you remember the idea of the Trek universe, which is yes, adventure in space, but also why they’re going out into space in the first place. The two reboot movies have been reactive - a threat appears and has to be dealt with. Give us a reboot movie that has them being proactive, instead; that shows us the “Enterprise” and the Federation going out into the black and discovering “strange new worlds, new civilisations”.
Just read everything above. Great commentary.
***throws this ^^ at Paramount.
For all the plot turns of the reboot, the Abrams films are entirely about formal over dynamic equivalence. They hike onto the coattails of names and places out of slovenly nostalgia and commoditization and brand, while sacrificing that one most essential element of the original: to go where no one has gone before.
Unless that “where” is a dimension existing entirely of lens flare.
The canine heart of darkness.
Really great summary of the problems faced by female characters, from writing to execution to audience perception.
Seen in Union Square.
I want to imagine this man a Maquisard.
I appreciate how the author frames working out - not end gaming it for the purpose of appearance, but connecting it to a true physical fitness that allows for and encourages universally beneficial activity. It’s notable that hiking or running or bicycling will not necessarily give you the artificially “rock-hard” abs and butt that are considered “sexy” in the popular imagination, they being class markers of someone who has the money and leisure time to spend isolated in the gym, rather than shaping their body through daily activity. Therefrom grow so many neuroses about health, weight, and body size and shape, translated into morality rather than practicality.
I take issue only with her point about discipline. I would love to believe discipline is a practice, but all the data seems to conclude that discipline in one facet of life does not imply discipline in others. In fact, most people focus discipline in one area while letting it lapse in others, even if that means broadcasting signifiers of discipline while in reality taking shortcuts. Those who can legitimately apply discipline to all their pursuits do often exercise, since there is discipline necessary for it, but it is because they are attracted to exercise as an outlet for a innate personality trait, not because the exercise taught them discipline. Ah, causality arrows…
We didn’t know this already? I’m not saying we must now ban everything at airports, but safety precautions, when not mere security theater, are about mitigating risk, not eliminating it. It’s not about making it impossible to do something bad, it’s about making it hard enough that it is a) not worth it, or b) more likely to fail.
The fantasy of security is a privilege, and a badly misleading one. Even as we do all that is reasonable to protect ourselves, bad things will still happen. We can only weight the percentages in our favor, often by placing others at risk, but even then there are no guarantees. Acceptance of risk and of losing, acceptance of random death even, is a sensibility with which we will have to reacquaint ourselves, if we are to make wise gambles that effectively improve our chances to succeed.