There’s an odd line in Weird Al’s “White and Nerdy” where he sings “The only questions I ever thought was hard–is do I like Kirk or do I like Picard?” It’s weird because there is no Trekkie I’ve ever met who thinks that’s a hard question. Everyone has a strong and clear opinion on exactly who is the better captain, and why. Sure, the half who say it’s Kirk are wrong, but there’s no waffling on the position.
I was recently in a discussion with an older geek and a younger geek, both of liberal persuasion. And the younger, more zealous geek stated that Captain Kirk is morally disgusting due to his regressive attitudes, and everyone should distance themselves from that abomination. To which the older geek got royally upset, and for good reason.
The young geek, watching TOS nowadays, sees only that a hero of SF nerdom is a womanizer, and feels disappointed that this is what people look up to. They either don’t know or don’t care that Star Trek was incredibly progressive for its time. It had perhaps the most diverse cast on television. It portrayed a socialist utopia in the thick of the cold war. It snuck in pro-feminist and anti-segregation lines. It showed the first interracial kiss on television during a time when that got them nearly kicked off the air in almost half the country.
And yeah, Kirk was a womanizer. This was also the decade of free love, where that wasn’t necessarily seen as a bad thing. Regardless, it is not acceptable behavior nowadays, and therefore Kirk must be disavowed and publicly excoriated.
In the progress of ethics, much like in the progress of science, we are where we are today only because we stand on the shoulders of giants. If we see farther, and know better what is good, than those below us, it is in large part because we stand on their progress. So while we don’t have to hold them up as moral exemplars in the current light, because they aren’t, neither should we call them moral monsters for being ahead of their time and pushing progress forward! Society progresses fast enough nowadays that the people who fought for the rights and morals we have now are still alive, and turning on them seems particularly cruel when their around to see it.
This sort of thing has impacts on the real world. It was brought to a head for me last weekend, when a con I was attending had a panel on a culture war topic. It got heated, as they tend to. A young liberal defended the SJW position in what I’ve heard was a particularly courageous manner. While I spoke to them later that day, an older white gentleman came up to praise them for their good work. This is a guy who is very obviously strongly on the side of the liberals, but the instant he came over, the circle of people I was in froze up. Tension weighed down the air. He was instantly unwelcome because he was old, and The Olds are always vile monsters from the barbaric past. He took a moment to praise the young liberal, complementing them on how well spoken they were. There was a murmur of anger, and my heart sank. This poor guy was just trying to praise her, but he didn’t know that you can’t tell a minority they are well spoken, because that’s something only a racist would say. He moved away after another minute, probably not knowing why he was getting so much hostility. He didn’t realize he never had a chance, he was judged an enemy before he’d opened his mouth.
I know it’s a cliché now, but this is just another example of how the Left eats its own. How does *anyone* feel safe in a movement that is THIS cannibalistic?
As for how things can be done better – I recently was linked to the concept of “Value Over Replacement.” If a person hadn’t existed, would the people who would have taken their place been better or worse than them? I don’t know much about the original Battlestar Galactica (the only real comparison I can think of on American TV, though I realize it was years later), but I haven’t heard anything about their progressive philosophical agenda.
This whole “destroying those who helped get us where we are” thing? Yeah, guys, let’s not do that.
I agree but I’m not sure it goes far enough.
The problem isn’t only being hostile against people that are actually in the same camp. I think that’s another issue, the whole “if you’re not with us you’re against us” mentality. A lot of people just want nothing to do with either side of those issues because they have their own, different problems to deal with. Being hostile against them also makes the movement look bad in the public eye.
There’s people fighting against government surveillance and privacy intrusion, people fighting for environment protection, people fighting for better healthcare for poor people.. I think of them as “good people” for those reasons. The fact that they’re not fighting for more diversity in workplaces or so should make them at worst neutral and not enemies.
And actions like a human chain to prevent white students from entering a campus are even worse, they don’t even know if those are on their side or against them but they’re working hard at making enemies where they can.
I agree, for me the biggest issue I see in this regard is cultural appropriation. You have left wing sites literally telling people that their skin color defines what kind of book they get to write. For JK Rowling in particular I imagine it was a shock having people who she likely agrees with on most subjects publicly denouncing her for writing a couple of paragraphs on magical history in North America. Especially when they were attacking her for the kind of tropes she does through pretty much everything Potterverse related she has ever actually written.
I am kinda into it. Self improvement is a life long process. I know I will. But I hope I don’t calcify and stop growing as a person. Especially if we all upload our brains.
This is kinda the plot to Rainbow’s end and that has stuck with me.
You might not calcify and stop growing as a person, but the original Star Trek series kinda has to. They won’t re-shoot the same series every five years.
Isn’t that kinda what they do though? Every new serious is a re examination and all that.
I’m a leftie and have been for a long time. I haven’t eaten any lefties and none have eaten me. I get that the left isnt a unified front any more than the right is (and I don’t think I would agree with you on the definitions of left and right when it comes to politics either).
I’ve not watched the original Star Trek. I have sat through TNG and I found it to be fairly disappointing but /shrug.
I don’t know how everyone else things progress happens but I though progress happened by rejecting the old and finding new. If you hold onto old ideals and icons then growth discontinues. The reason we would disavow ourselves of Kirk is because he is no longer relevant. What is the harm in throwing away dross to move forwards. Picard at least was overall a fairly decent guy. (and without patrick stewart I think TNG would have outright sucked). Why hang onto old ideals when they don’t work or fit modern times and we can move on to bigger and better ideals.
Stagnation is death. Maybe the left likes to clean shop but so it should. Do you prefer the right? They cannot take the vote back off women and they cannot reinstute slavery but by GOD will they fight to stop abortions and sex education and same sex marriage and immigration. The left doesn’t cannabilize itself. The left evolves.
> I haven’t eaten any lefties and none have eaten me.
Woot! :) I am glad there are good places around!
> I have sat through TNG and I found it to be fairly disappointing but /shrug.
Blasphemy! We will burn the heretic!
To be fair, some of it was… sub-par. But man, when it was good it was really good.
>Why hang onto old ideals when they don’t work or fit modern times and we can move on to bigger and better ideals. Stagnation is death. Maybe the left likes to clean shop but so it should.
I agree completely! This is what I love about progressivism – the progress part! I cringe sometimes listening to Weird Al’s earlier hits, because a fair bit of them were very fat-shaming. That was totes hilarious back in the day, and we basically didn’t know better (I certainly didn’t).
But I don’t see any reason to destroy the Weird Al of today for that sort of thing. Unless there’s things I don’t know about him (always possible) he’s better than the average person of his day today, and he was better than the average person of his day back then.
It basically boils down to me to the same thing that the recent “Baby Its Cold Outside” commentary exposed. By today’s standards it’s horrible, and it exposes awful things about the society of it’s time. But it wasn’t awful back then, it was an expression of the woman’s agency in the only way possible in that shitty culture, and to tear it apart without knowledge of the surrounding context doesn’t make you “woke,” it just makes you vicious.
And for someone to say that Kirk is horrific and we should all shun what was literally the most progressive show of its time is the same sort of viciousness. If you know that you can be risking your career to be on the leading edge of civil rights, only to have your community in forty years call you a monster and eject you from the society you fought for because you aren’t upholding ideals from forty years in the future that you aren’t even aware of yet… it makes you think maybe your community needs some serious reform.
Which is what I’m saying.