Friday, August 24, 2007
The Real McCoy: Exclusive Interview with Terry Lee Rioux, author of From Sawdust to Stardust: The Biography of DeForest Kelley
Trekdom: Your biography of DeForest Kelley, From Sawdust to Stardust, is a wonderful and charming book. Can you tell us what motivated you to write it? Why did you choose DeForest Kelley?
Terry Lee Rioux: Thank you for the kind words about the book. I think I was as stunned as anyone to learn of his death back in 1999 - I don't think we as fans could know what that would mean to us. I was in touch with a friend of his (who has since written her account of her experiences with Kelley - see - Kris Smith's works as listed on Amazon.com -) and within 90 days I was talking with Mrs. Kelley - and the rest is - biography. I don't know how to explain my connection with him - but I do know that his friends became my friends and their stories became the biography. It will always be a cosmic mystery how everything worked out.
TD: Was it difficult to research Kelley’s life, considering he was such a private man?
Rioux: It was emotionally difficult, since I began the research only 90 days after his death - everyone was in mourning and there I was asking people to tell me about him. Hard times. Yes he was a very private man - but one who had so much to say! When he knew his time was short he put his papers, scrapbooks, photos and item into suitcases, and those suitcases went into a cabinet in the garage. He meant to be remembered, he meant to be understood.
TD: Based on your extensive research with friends and family, would you say that Kelley viewed Star Trek as a privilege, a mixed blessing, or a curse? Did he struggle, as Nimoy and Shatner did, to escape the Trek typecast? Would he have ever written I Am Not McCoy or told fans to Get a Life?
Rioux: Kelley loved Star Trek, he loved Gene Roddenberry. He loved what it meant. The best times of his life were Trek, the worst was living without it. He hated the cancellation, the wheeling and dealing, the in-fighting and the typecasting. When he learned that Nimoy had written 'I am not Spock' he said that he had better write 'I am McCoy'. He knew his fans had lives, great ones, challenging ones, ones full of kindness and healing - that is what he loved the most about the whole thing - the good people he knew that deep in his heart that he had inspired.
TD: You mention that, at one time, Kelley lived across the street from Rick Berman, yet they were not close friends. It seems bizarre that a legendary Trek actor wouldn’t have a closer relationship with his neighbor, a man essentially in charge of the Star Trek franchise. Any thoughts here?
Rioux: Yes Kelley lived across the street from where the Bermans lived for a few years. Even then Kelley had a well established 'wall of privacy' that few people were allowed to climb over. Kelley would put out Berman's trash cans when the family was gone and he was a good neighbor all the way around. I suppose on a professional level Berman and Kelley were in very different places in their lives.
TD: Lastly, a fun question. Any thoughts about the next Star Trek film, which will be a “re-imagining” of the original Enterprise crew? How can the writers give us a new McCoy that pays homage to the real McCoy?
Rioux: I think Kelley would caution anyone trying to create a vision of Trek without those who know it inside and out. Without Roddenberry - Without Nimoy, Shatner, Bennett, Meyer, he would strongly doubt it could be done at all. I know that because he has said as much - he would also ask 'Why?'
If McCoy was to be reincarnated in some way - the key that so many miss (the fans don't) is transcending Kindness. Kelley/McCoy were all about kindness, in danger, in adversity, in everyday life, Kindness was his power and it was the only thing he really had that put him in the 'superhero' role. It is why we remember - - and why we still miss him.
*To purchase a copy of From Sawdust to Stardust, click here. Trekdom highly recommends this book to our readers.
*Read TrekNation's review and StarTrek.com's review.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
The Ethics of Star Trek, by Judith Barad, Ph.D (with Ed Robertson) is by far the most readable and well-argued scholarly work on philosophy and Star Trek. Readers will come away from this text with a deeper understanding of classical and Western philosophy, as well as a deeper appreciation of how the "messages" of Trek remain relevant today. The book demonstrates, quite forcefully, how Trek has risen above the mainstream of television entertainment by seriously exploring the ethical, moral, and philosophical dilemmas of our world.
The author, Professor Judith Barad, graced us with an exclusive interview about her work and her perspective on the Trekverse. Enjoy!
Trekdom: Your book, The Ethics of Star Trek, is a wonderful text, because, while delving into the complex teachings of many philosophers (Socrates, Plato, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, etc.) the chapters are very readable and accessible, especially for those of us lacking a strong background in intellectual history. Was it challenging to present these complex philosophies in a way that a general audience would understand, or did Star Trek make it easy, considering that so many episodes explore philosophical issues, ethical dilemmas, and existential choices?
Judith Barad: Since I started teaching these philosophies in 1982, I have tried to explain them in a way that a college freshman would understand. Star Trek made it easier to explain the philosophies because it illustrated the concepts and theories in a concrete yet entertaining way. The first time students are exposed to philosophy, many find it quite daunting. Like others who don’t have a background in intellectual history, beginning students won’t always “see” the importance of philosophical reasoning because it deals with issues from an abstract perspective. But Star Trek enables people to “see” for themselves the importance these issues have in the lives of characters they grow to care about. In contrast to the abstract concepts of philosophy, the Star Trek episodes are much easier to follow since they have a plot and characters that engage the viewer’s emotions. These episodes are designed to be interesting, designed to be entertaining. Moreover, Star Trek dramatizes ethical dilemmas in almost every episode, a fact I became aware of in 1966 when it first aired. It was and still is, to the best of my knowledge, the only prime-time popular series designed to motivate people to think about ethical decision-making. Roddenberry, who considered himself an amateur philosopher, said that underneath all the action and special effects, he was creating moral fables. As a result of his influence, Star Trek has continued to reflect the ethical issues current during each of its five series.
Although I found it easy to apply the philosophies to the episodes, Ed Robertson helped to make the book even more entertaining to a popular audience.
Trekdom: While reading your book, I was surprised by how different the ethics or “messages” of each series are in your analysis. Can you tell our readers more about the changing ethics of Trek, from the original Star Trek to Star Trek: Voyager?
Judith Barad: One very striking change from series to series has to do with the issues that were addressed. In the late sixties, Star Trek confronted racism, war, genetic engineering, and drug usage. Later, The Next Generation dealt with euthanasia, assisted suicide, and terrorism. In the nineties, Deep Space Nine and Voyager tackled sexual harassment, homosexuality, homelessness, animal rights, the injustice of HMOs, dumping toxic waste, and other environmental issues.
Another dramatic change involved the way women have been depicted in the various series, which is itself an ethical issue. In The Original Series, sexism was rampant, expressed in everything from some of the story lines (“Turnabout Intruder”) to the way actresses were clothed. In The Next Generation, women were clothed, generally, more in keeping with their professions. However, Doctor Crusher and Deanna Troi weren’t in the top tier of leadership positions. By the time of Deep Space Nine, Star Trek gave us a female first officer and the evolution was completed by Voyager’s Captain Janeway.
As I argue in The Ethics of Star Trek, The Original Series emphasized virtue ethics in a way that values the free choices of individuals over the dictates of machines or other kinds of more powerful beings. The Next Generation, while not abandoning virtue ethics, highlighted the ethics of duty. At the same time, it continued The Original Series concern that the free choices of individuals should triumph over that of machine cultures, like the Borg, or more powerful beings, like Q. Deep Space Nine wasn’t as concerned with virtue ethics or with affirming the choice of the individual over machines or more powerful beings. While it continued The Next Generation’s interest in the ethics of duty, its primary ethical principles are drawn from existentialism. Although The Next Generation did feature some existentialist principles, Deep Space Nine applied them far more regularly. Voyager, in contrast with the two earliest series, is more comfortable with the collective good and the Platonic notion of a philosopher queen.
TD: Were those differences a reflection of the broader cultural context? Would you say that Cold War beliefs in moral certainty gave way to existential doubts in the 1990s and that Star Trek reflected those changing perceptions?
Barad: Certainly, the changing issues were a reflection of the broader cultural context. This was also true of the changing role of women in Star Trek, although the positions of Kira and Janeway may still be a little ahead of the time.
If I were to grant that the early series expressed moral certainty, I must stipulate that this moral certainty wasn’t that of the traditional values found in the culture. For example, The Original Series was opposed to racism and war, unlike the traditional, conservative culture of the time. Yet it’s true that Kirk wouldn’t have violated his personal ethics, the way Sisko did in The Pale Moonlight. Kirk doesn’t feel such existential doubts about his actions as Picard does (Conundrum), and Picard isn’t as extreme in his existential doubts as Sisko. Janeway, on the other had, doesn’t seem to go through any more existential doubt than her two earliest counterparts. Since Deep Space Nine and Voyager were very contemporary with each other, I don’t see a clear progression from moral certainty to existential doubt.
TD: Despite the different outlooks of each series, you write about a “moral tapestry” of Star Trek, which unites seemingly contradictory philosophies into a coherent ethical system. Can you please say a few words about that?
Barad: The Ethics of Star Trek contains a list of principles, drawn from the great ethicists, which are used in most episodes in each of the series. These principles include the following:
1. Choose to do that action that you could rationally will everyone else to do.
This principle helps us to determine which actions are our moral duties. In deciding what to do, we should always ask ourselves as honestly as possible: (1) What’s the principle behind our actions? and (2) Is this a principle everyone should follow? Would we rationally want everyone to do what we intend to do? What we think is right (or wrong) for one person to do in certain circumstances must be right (or wrong) for any other person to do in relevantly similar circumstances.
2. Act so that you treat sentient individuals as an end and never as a means only.
A sentient individual is one who is capable of perceiving and feeling. The principle means that we should never use the services or skills of sentient individuals simply as a means for our own purposes. We must always recognize them as individuals with intrinsic value over and above our needs.
3. The intention motivating an action is more important than the consequences of an action. It’s not just what we do that matters, but also why we do it. In “The Measure of a Man,” Louvois ordered Riker to prosecute the case against Data for Starfleet. She warns Riker that unless he gives it his best effort, she will automatically decide that Data is a “toaster” and should be turned over to commander Maddox. Caught between a rock and a hard place, Riker does his best in the courtroom. Doing the right thing doesn’t always guarantee a good outcome. At the end of the story, Riker is devastated by his part in the trial. Yet the long-term outcome was that there won’t be a race of android slaves and Data was saved. Recognizing Riker’s intentions, Data tells him, “That action injured you, and saved me. I will not forget.”
4. The goodness of an action is assessed in terms of both its means and its end.
A bad means can’t justify a good end. The term ‘end’ refers to someone’s goal or purpose. If there’s something morally objectionable about either the end or the means to accomplish it, the action isn’t a good one. If alternative means are necessary, we must choose among them rather than an ethically objectionable means. For instance, in Insurrection, the Federation discovered a virtual fountain of youth, but to utilize it, an entire population would have to be displaced. There’s no other means available to achieve this benefit. While the end of prolonging people’s lives is a good one, the means necessary to accomplish it, in this case, is unethical. Seemingly conscious of this principle, Picard strongly opposes the Federation’s attempt to use the “fountain of youth.”
5. Freedom cannot be separated from responsibility. We should exert control over our inner life and our outer life, accepting authority and accountability for making decisions affecting ourselves and others. We’re personally responsible to set rules and limits for ourselves. No matter how tempting it is to shirk our responsibility, we can’t blame anyone else for the choices we’ve made—not our parents, not our bosses, not our friends, not television, not our economic system, nor any other aspect of society. If we say “I was just following orders,” we’re just as responsible as the person who gave the orders, even though we’re trying to fool ourselves into thinking that we had no choice in the matter.
6. Moral decisions are made by reason—not emotion or tradition. Reasoning, rather than emotion or tradition, gives us the tool we need to review, evaluate, and revise our ethical decisions. Good ethical reasoning requires us to recognize and go beyond self-deception, uncritical conformity, and ethical intolerance. Only by reasoning can we question our assumptions and objectively consider alternative ways to address problems.
7. Altruism has priority over egoistic concerns. When faced with a situation where we must choose between doing the unselfish thing or acting selfishly (all things being equal), we must act unselfishly.
8. We must not injure or harm others.
9. We must deal justly with others. The formal principle of justice states that no one should be treated differently from someone else unless it has been shown that there’s a difference between them morally relevant to the treatment at issue. This is why the question of Data’s sentience in “The Measure of a Man” is important. If he’s sentient, then the formal principle of justice requires us to treat him as equal to everyone else. If he isn’t sentient, then that fact would count as a relevant difference, justifying unequal treatment. Sentience, is this instance, is a relevant difference for whether someone should be treated as a disposable item.
TD: Fascinating! Lastly, do you have any advice for graduate students and colleagues who, while trying to write dissertations on Trek or use Trek in the classroom, have faced resistance from advisors or committees?
Barad: Not only had my Star Trek and Philosophy course been approved as a standard course within philosophy at Indiana State University, but I also had it approved by committees for general education credit. At first, there was some resistance because the notion of the course seemed to have nothing to do with philosophy. However, committees are required to look at a proposal more deeply and not abide by their first superficial impression. My syllabus and rationale for the course made it clear that students would be required to read standard primary sources. Then I argued that the value of philosophical material (or any academic material) is in its application. Star Trek shows students how the principles enunciated by the greatest philosophical minds can both be illustrated and used in interesting situations. Although I didn’t appeal to the increasingly recognized field of philosophy and popular culture, I also recommend that this be part of someone’s argument arsenal. There are several popular book series by publishers like Open Court that appreciate the marriage of popular culture and academic subjects. Finally, the best way for an academic work to receive attention is to appeal to people beyond the halls of academia. If the work is capable of receiving this attention while simultaneously edifying people who wouldn’t otherwise read such material, the work is far more successful than a work that only has other Ph.D.s for its audience.
*Purchase The Ethics of Star Trek here. Visit Ed Robertson's site here. Trekdom highly recommends this book for all Trek fans and students of philosophy. We also encourage Indiana State University students to take her Star Trek and Philosophy course when offered.
Also read TrekWeb's review.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
- AfterElton, "Star Trek's Forbidden Gay Frontier," April 20, 2006.
"Berman was ultimately responsible for killing almost every pitch for gay
characters, and in interviews, was mealy-mouthed and waffling about the need for
GLBT representation. At the very least, he was gutless and didn't care about
GLBT representation. From the information and evidence I've seen, heard, and
read, I believe that Berman is the reason we never saw gays on Star
Trek. I shed no tears that he's gone, except that he did his best to ruin
the franchise on his way out.” (AfterElton, 3)
Sunday, August 12, 2007
In the classic Star Trek episode "Catspaw," the intrepid crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise beams down to the surface of the planet Pyris VII. Once on the ground, they investigate and are confronted by three witches who chant: "Winds shall rise / and fog descend / So leave here all / or meet your end." At this point, the logical character Commander Spock (Leonard Nimoy) replies, "Very bad poetry, Captain." Thus, we have not only a reference to Shakespeare's Macbeth, but also a rather wry comment on the immortal bard's rhyming ability.
Shakespeare and the science fiction series Star Trek have always been linked together in an almost symbiotic bond. Characters in the series quote the bard, episodes are titled after his works, and stories are adapted to fit the outer space locales. Captain Jean-Luc Picard (played by the noted Shakespearean actor Patrick Stewart in the series Star Trek: The Next Generation) has a worn copy of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare handy. Alien species such as the race known as the Klingons, created for the show, quote Hamlet, both in English and in their own fictional language. If Shakespeare is the foundation for modern theater, it is only fitting that he becomes the basis for drama in the future.
With all the gratuitous use of Shakespeare language and imagery in the series (including its four spin-offs, a successful franchise of feature films and a short lived animated series), is there an underlying reason to the use of the Bard's works? Does the combination of classic literature and pop-culture sci-fi result in something greater than the sum of its parts? According to Stephen M. Buhler, the use of Shakespeare in the Star Trek universe, specifically the film Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, serves to define which characters are the villains (Buhler 18). In general, he says the contemporary popular film use of characters who have the ability to quote Shakespeare is used as a device to establish moral ambiguity and to symbolize personal viciousness (Buhler 18). Here he relies on the many quotes of the villain of the film, General Chang (Christopher Plummer) and the chameleon shape-shifter Marta (supermodel Iman) (Buhler 22).
The United Federation of Planets, the governing body in Star Trek with the Enterprise belonging to its military service Starfleet, is a product of the second season of Star Trek - prior to this the governing body of Star Trek is a united Earth government. Terry Worland in his article "Captain Kirk: Cold Warrior" offers and enlightening discussion of the relationship between the Federation and its adversaries. During the first season, the Enterprise has a few isolated skirmishes with both enemies, but as soon as the Federation is introduced, conflict between them takes on an ideological flavor in the episodes (Wortland 110). "It became clear that the Federation controlled a definite sphere of influence and a vital interest [that was being] continually challenged and threatened" (110). Moreover, Wortland believes that the Federation is not another United Nations, a rather weak organization with limited tools for achieving policy, but rather resembles the "free world" being defended by Starfleet, representative of NATO and the United States (110). "If the Federation represents America and the Western alliance, consider that during the time of Star Trek's production the U.S. government was seeking to challenge two principal adversaries in the Third World, especially in Vietnam" (112). According to David Gerrold, just as America was supposed to be the policeman for the world, Star Trek is the policeman for the galaxy, all at a time when it was being questioned whether or not America should play that role (Gerrold 156). Starfleet's originally scientific mission becomes one to "spread truth, justice, and the American Way to the far corners of the universe" (156) as well as to defend the Federation against its cancerous adversaries.
Just as the Federation comes to represent the "West" of 20th century earth, The Klingons seemingly come to represent America's staunchest adversary- the Soviet Union. William Blake Tyrell in his essay "Star Trek as Myth and Television as Mythmaker" compares the Klingons and the Romulans to the Indian tribes the U.S. fought in the western part of the country. The Klingons are the "Magua- sly, perfidious, and fallen" while the Romulans are the "Chingachgook, the noble warrior ever outside the white man's world" (Tyrell 712). However, I believe that given the time period in which Star Trek ran on NBC that examination of both the Klingons and the Romulans in terms of 1960's superpower relations provides a better interpretation of these two forces.) The Klingons are a race of warriors from a part of the galaxy contiguous to Federation territory. They are thoroughly rotten creatures capable of such brutality and violent conquest as to make Josef Stalin in the Soviet Union seem like a mere street corner bully. "Think of the Mongol Hordes with spaceships and ray guns. To the Klingons, Genghis Khan was a phony and Attila the Hun was a fairy. And Hitler was only a beginner" (Gerrold 22). They seem to live by the maxim that "rules are made to be broken by shrewdness, deceit, or power" (qtd in Tyrell 712). The Klingons are ruthless, planet-conquerers who use violent means to colonize "third- worlds". Kor, the Klingon commander "Errand of Mercy" (airdate 3/23/67), establishes Klingon rule on Organia with an iron-hand, issuing orders banning public gatherings of more than two people and a whole host of other repressive measures. Klingons are also creatures of duty and fatality- the hope of every Klingon is to die in battle. During the episode "Day of the Dove (airdate 11/1/68), Kang, the Klingon commander of a small force holding part of the Enterprise, responds to Kirk's threat to kill his wife with a fatalistic statement that she knows the costs of final victory and is willing to pay with her life in order to further the greater glory of the empire. According to Worland, the Federation is locked in a "Cold War" with the Klingon Empire over the colonization of "third worlds", and moreover, the Federation is committed to stopping the spread of "Klingonism" at all costs (Worland 110). Indeed, the Federation does conflict with the Federation over developing planets in the episodes "The Trouble with Tribles" (airdate 12/29/67) and "Friday's Child" (airdate 12/1/67).
However, one episode of Star Trek including a battle with the Klingons over a developing planet that makes a seemingly direct comment on the Vietnam War is "A Private Little War" (airdate 2/22/68). In this episode, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beam down to a planet in the Organian-imposed neutral zone where Kirk was once stationed. They find the Hillpeople and the Villagers engaged in a war, and oddly enough, the Villagers have flintlock rifles- weapons they could not have possibly developed in Kirk's absence. Kirk suspects the Klingons of supplying the Villagers with their relatively advanced weaponry, but he needs absolute proof. After obtaining that proof, and a few flintlocks to boot, Kirk returns to the Hillpeople's camp to arm them with the exact same weaponry. He justifies his action to Dr. McCoy by referring to the "20th century brush wars on the Asian continent" and noting that the only way to deal with the situation then was to maintain the balance of power between the two opposing sides. Kirk feels that he must do the same thing now as was done them in order to fight the Klingons. But by the end of the story, Kirk realizes that he has opened a Pandora's box by arming the Hillpeople and does not arm them anymore than he has. Oddly enough, this episode was broadcast during the Tet offensive, the bloody two month long attack by the Viet Cong on every major city in the Republic of Vietnam, including Saigon. This is widely acknowledged as the turing point of the Vietnam War as far as American public opinion. In this episode, "[Kirk] adopts the rhetoric of five presidential administrations in describing the causes of a civil war and the rationale for American/Federation involvement" (Wortand 114). Here, the Hillpeople come to represent the South Vietnamese as the U.S. government would have liked the public to view them- peaceful, unaggressive, and good-natured. Likewise, the Villagers come to represent the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong who readily take aid from the Klingons/Soviet Union. However, Wortland believes that Star Trek stopped just short of making a strong comment on the war. Instead, he feels the episode is ambivalent, wavering between a pro and anti war stance (Wortland 113). Because of this, both sides probably labeled it as either "treasonous" or "sharp criticism [of the war]" (Wortland 114). Either way, it seems that this episode was lucky to make it on the air given this very touchy subject.
The episode "The Enterprise Incident" involves an act of blatant espionage by the Federation on the Romulan Star Empire. The episode opens by Captain Kirk, in a seemingly insane state of mind, orders the Enterprise across the neutral zone and into Romulan space only to be captured. While aboard one of the Romulan ships, Spock "kills" Captain Kirk with the Vulcan Death Grip (there is no such thing, but the Romulans do not know that!) after Kirk accuses him of selling him and the rest of the ship out. Back on the Enterprise, Kirk is given plastic surgery so that he looks like a Romulan. Then the true nature of the mission is revealed: the Enterprise is to obtain the Romulan cloaking device, a device the Federation considers a major threat to its security. They steal one of the devices and escape safely back to Federation space. It is widely known that Dorothy (D.C.) Fontana wrote this episode in response to the capture of the U.S. spy ship Pueblo in 1968. The vessel was allegedly spying for the U.S. in North Korean waters when it was captured. The captain was then told to sign a confession of spying or risk losing his crew. According to Wortland, the original plot was an exact parallel of the Pueblo incident, putting Captain Kirk in the same position as the captain of the Pueblo. But, intense pressure demanded that the episode be rewritten as to remove and doubt that the spying was justified (Wortland 113). "In fact, the way Star Trek told it, we were justified because our side was right and theirs wasn't" (Gerrold 159). Indeed, the episode could have served as a dramatic stage for television to make an argument about whether the U.S. was right in spying in this manner (it was widely believed that the government was lying about the position of the Pueblo when it was captured, but like other aspects of the show, Star Trek neglected this opportunity as well.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force was one of the best Trek games of the last decade, especially in terms of multiplayer FPS action. It is telling that, while Bethesda's Star Trek: Legacy multiplayer community is now dead after 6 months of release, you can still find loyal EF players on servers, and the game is 7 years old!
We invite all Trekkies to join us for the nostalgic rebirth of this older game. Although the graphics show their age, the original Elite Force is still a wild romp, and it is well worth re-installing, if you have it on a shelf somewhere. Trekdom, with its emphasis on Trek history and nostalgia may soon host a server. For the meantime, we'll see you in "gladiator."
It's dirt cheap to buy. Or, if you'd like to download the multiplayer side of the game for free, it's now available at beer garden. We recommend re-installing or grabbing a used copy off Ebay.
So join us as we relaunch our LCARS Holomatch, set phasers to frag, and kick Tribble-ass. You'll have a great time.
Friday, August 10, 2007
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Assistant Professor of English, Connecticut College
Lily (Alfre Woodard) in Star Trek: First Contact is an African-American woman freedom fighter in the ravaged Earth of the twenty second century, on the verge of the titular first contact meeting with the Vulcans that dramatically changes, in the Trekverse, the course of human history. Jean-Luc Picard’s Enterprise is only present at Lily’s Earth because they have followed a Borg sphere on its journey backwards in time, in an effort to retrocolonize the Earth, so resistant to Borg assimilation in the 24th century. First Contact is Picard’s Ahab film, in which, in his maddened, vengeful determination to destroy the Borg, who have infiltrated Enterprise, he resembles Melville’s tormented and terrible anti-hero in his hunt for the mythic White Whale. (The Moby Dick references are nothing new for Trek—they also saturate Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.)
At one point—after Picard has denounced the fierily masculinist (and often hysterical) Klingon Worf (Michael Dorn) as a “coward”—and ordered the Enterprise crew to fight the Borg hand-to-hand if they have to—anything to avoid blowing up the ship—Lily storms into Picard’s ready room. She lights into him, attacking him for essentially ordering the crew to commit suicide by fighting hopeless battles with the Borg, when if Picard simply blew up the ship, they could all at least survive. “I forgot,” Lily says, “Captain Ahab always has to get his whale.” “What?” Picard angrily responds. “You do have books in the 24th century?” Lily challenges him. After Picard demands she leave, Lily shrieks, “Blow up the damn ship, Jean-Luc!” Thunderously, Picard bellows, “No! Noooooo!” With that, he bashes his glass display of model ships throughout the centuries, which loudly shatters. He says,
They invade our space and we fall back. They assimilate entire worlds and we
fall back. Not this time. The line must be drawn here—this far, and no further.
And I will make them pay for what they’ve done!
He piled upon the whale's white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate
felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a
mortar, he burst his hot heart’s shell upon it.
Trek is a mythos that staunchly prides itself—to a fault—on its intertextual and avowed connections with the Western literary/aesthetic tradition. Given Trek’s old-fashioned liberal humanist belief in the importance of great literature, it is highly ideologically suspect to have a black woman character simultaneously deploy the Western canon’s cultural power and disavow her own familiarity with it. For Lily to announce that she has never read the text is for Trek to deny the intellectual, thinking life of African-Americans and women in one fell swoop.
by J. William Synder, Jr.
It was during the late 1960's that the contemporary feminist movement began. Major progress in women's rights in America was still years off, but the movement was gaining strength in the face of backward and reactionary ideas. Star Trek was almost destined to collide with the movement for women's rights in some way or another. Star Trek's attitude towards women was intended to be progressive from the very beginning. However, circumstances would not permit this progressive attitude of women as full equals to their male counterparts to achieve its proper position. Instead, the series seemed to embody the 1960's status quo as far as relations between the sexes and the role of women was concerned. Star Trek had the opportunity to have a woman play a character in a clear authority position but it instead backed off, preferring to use regular female characters that either came just short of what was originally envisioned or reaffirmed the traditional roles for women. According to Karen Blair, the rest of the female characters that appear in Star Trek are shallow, femme-objets that are disposed of at the end of each episode (292-3).
In the earliest conception of the series and during the first pilot, the script called for a character by the name of "Number One," the female first officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise. A strong, cool, almost emotionless character, she was intended to have experience and knowledge of ships' operations superior to that of the Captain (Compendium 9). Number One (she was never given a proper name) did make it out of the notebook and into the first pilot for the series, "The Cage", produced in 1964. Portrayed by Majel Barrett, she comes across as an extremely competent, authoritative officer committed to duty. When Captain Pike is forming up an away team to investigate the crash of the S.S. Columbia on Talos IV, Pike purposefully leaves her behind, not because she is a woman, but because he feels her to be the ship's most experienced officer, and she would be needed most on the ship should anything happen to the away team. When the pilot was shown to NBC executives, who in turn approved more work to produce the series, they ordered that Number One be cut from the format. According to a behind-the-scenes look at Star Trek hosted by Leonard Nimoy that was produced a few years back, their rationale was that the audience would not be able to identify with a woman in such a powerful authority position on board a starship (Nimoy). Unfortunately, the sexism of the 1960's was preventing the establishment of a progressive character because of traditional attitudes. Along with Number One went her costume design that differed very little from the costumes for the male characters. Throughout the rest of the series after the two pilots (The second pilot, the one finally accepted by NBC, was titled "Where No Man Has Gone Before"), all the female members of the crew were dressed in short, skimpy skirts instead of the trousers that Number One and other female characters wore during the pilots. (Although her character was cut, Ms. Barrett returned to the series to play Nurse Christine Chapel, a character more in line with what the network executives had in mind.)
With the demise of Number One, Star Trek's portrayal of women was to be, at best, ambivalent- wavering between an implicit belief in women as equals but an unwillingness to exemplify, in a tangible way, what was being professed. In general, "the Enterprise's female crew...are a generally placid lot, passively observing the action or servicing the male endeavour" (Greenberg 63). The characters of Lt. Uhura and Yeoman Janice Rand speak to this ambivalence well. Lt. Uhura, played by Nichelle Nichols, is the highest ranking female officer to serve aboard the USS Enterprise during the three years that the series ran on network telvision. Lt. Uhura serves as communications officer and as fourth in command of the Enterprise (Gerrold 141). To have a woman in such a prominent position on board a starship with her responsibility is truly amazing for a television show in the 1960's (Editor 37). She is almost never portrayed as a stereotypical woman incapable of accomplishing anything without male assistance. As a strong, fierce character, she can take care of herself quite well. In the episode "Mirror, Mirror", Uhura's task is to divert the attention of parallel-Sulu from his helmsman's post so that Engineer Scott can divert power to the transporter room necessary to send her, Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy, and Lt. Cmdr. Scott back to their own universe. Taking advantage of parallel-Sulu's desire for her, she moves in to "divert" his attention with a seemingly sexual advance, only to violently slap him back once the indicator light on the helmsman's position warning of the power shift has gone out. She then defends herself quite nicely against the angry parallel-Sulu with a knife. Nichelle Nichols had much to do with portraying her character and fighting for her character's status. Ms. Nichols, during an interview with David Gerrold, mentioned that in the script for one episode, Lt. Uhura was to assume the helmsman's position because all the senior officers were on a planet, but the script was rewritten to exclude that action by the Lieutenant. Nichols "pitched a bitch" over being written out. "When you're out in space, in a dangerous situation. you're not going to have some female that goes, 'Ooooh, Captain, save me, save me!'" (81). Ms. Nichols was bound and determined to secure a prominent place for Lt. Uhura and the rest of the women aboard the Enterprise. (Much also can be said about Uhura as a Black in a prominent position aboard a starship, but this will be discussed later.)
Unfortunately, another prominent female character on board the Enterprise was not as progressive as Lt. Uhura. Yeoman Janice Rand, portrayed by Grace Lee Whitney, comes to exemplify the ultimate "dumb blonde" and damsel in distress in a skimpy outfit that could possibly exist in a male dominated environment. Her main duties aboard the Enterprise entail having Captain Kirk sign orders, bring him coffee, and a host of other duties typical of a secretary for a male chauvinist pig. Yeoman Rand gets especially bad treatment in the episode "The Corbomite Maneuver" (airdate 11/10/66), as she appears as a "glorified maid" who enters the bridge to bring the Captain hot coffee and to make sure that he takes his pills (Compendium 32). The episode also includes a rather snide remark by Captain Kirk about what he was going to do to the individual who assigned him a "female yeoman". The series did back off of the overt sexism directed towards Yeoman Rand, but nevertheless she remained a sex object for the male members of the crew to gaze over. During the episode "Miri", Yeoman Rand remarks in a delirious state that she had always tried to get Captain Kirk to look at her legs. She now openly asks him to look at her legs, which are now discoloured due to the disease caused by the Life Prolongation Experiment attempted by the native adults of the planet several hundred years earlier. She is also captured by the children and held until Captain Kirk comes to rescue her. Eventually, the character was written out because of Ms. Whitney's bouts with alcohol and diet pill addiction (Interview 88). Ironically, Ms. Whitney not only loved the outfit the show gave her to wear, but also the roles the show had for her - she thought that "[when] we put legs into the format I think that helped sell the series" (Interview 87). While other actresses, particularly Nichelle Nichols, were pushing for larger, more important roles, Ms. Whitney helped to perpetuate classic sexism and sex roles during the series through her portrayal of Yeoman Rand, and the writers, producers, and network executives seemed more than happy to oblige her.
As far as other female roles in Star Trek are concerned, Karen Blair proposes in her article "Sex and Star Trek" that female roles in the series have sought to "affirm traditional male fantasies in a most direct and unenlightened way" (292). Blair maintains that the female characters, especially those created for specific episodes, fall into Simone de Beauvoir's concept of femme-objet, an objective view of women in a male-dominated world. Her focus is on three episodes, "Requiem for Methuselah" (airdate 2/14/69), "Wink of an Eye" (airdate 11/29/68), and "The Mark of Gideon" (airdate 1/17/69), and the female guest stars that are presented and then "disposed of" at the conclusion of the episode. In "Requiem..", the Enterprise has come to a planet inhabited by a mysterious Mr Flint and his android "daughter" Rayna in search of medicine for a plague that has broken out on board ship. The beautiful Rayna is extremely intelligent but appears to lack human emotions. Flint enlists the aid of Captain Kirk in getting Rayna to develop her feelings, only what actually happens during her emotional awakening is that a conflict between her love for Flint and her love for Kirk results in her death. According to Blair, Rayna is a "femme-objet par excellence," an android cast in the male image of what is female created by Flint to keep him company. "The supposed moral is that one can't program or control love, but a feminist perspective demands that one ask what kind of love, for what kind of person, living what kind of life" (293). In the episode "Wink..", the Enterprise is responding to a distress call from a planet claiming that only a tiny portion of their race still exists. The aliens are, in fact, living in an accelerated state enabling them to beam up with the away team and take over the Enterprise without anyone noticing. The men of the planet are sterile and the women are, therefore, left with no other option than to secure men from spaceships that happen to respond to the distress call. Deela chooses Captain Kirk to be her mate, but Kirk does not oblige her wish to take him back to the planet. She gets little if any sympathy for her endeavour. In "..Mark..", the female character Odona has volunteered to spend time with Captain Kirk so that she might acquire the various deadly diseases Kirk has been exposed to during his lifetime. She does this so that she would act as a carrier of deadly disease that would start to cure her planet of its dreadful overpopulation problem. Odona ends up receiving the viewer's approval. "Odona, the germ bank, is applauded; Kirk, the sperm bank, is unthinkable" (293). In short, Blair feels that Star Trek fails to provide female viewers with any female characters that serve as "viable role-models" in a male-dominated ideological environment (292-294).
Clearly, Star Trek gives rather short shrift to women at almost every turn. It turned down the opportunity to break new ground in the area of women's rights and opted for a largely passive and secondary role for its female characters. This is reflective of America during the late 1960's where the feminist movement was starting to gain momentum but failed to exert the force that it came to during the early 1970's.
*Original article published here. Permission granted for academic purposes. Visit the homepage J. William Synder Jr.
[Trekdom editorial insert: According to Bob Justman and Herb Solow's Inside Star Trek, network executives told Roddenberry to lose Number One because of Majel Barrett's acting. Also, Grace Lee Whitney disputes the claims that onset inebriation caused her dismissal. See our review of her book.]
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
After Captain Kirk demonstrates Starfleet ethics by not taking needed dilithium crystals by force, a transporter malfunction leaves him and his away team (Uhura, McCoy, and Scotty) in an alternate reality. There, he discovers that this mirror universe reflects the imperialistic opposite of known Federation culture.
No longer is the Enterprise a ship of exploration and discovery. Instead, it is a warship, intent on plundering neighboring worlds, exploiting resources, and conquering the less advanced at gunpoint. No longer is the Federation a peaceful coalition of sovereign planets. Instead, Starfleet polices and expands the "Empire."
No prime directive hinders conquest in this mirror reality. Rather, the purpose of the Empire is domination.
In this militaristic future, the crew of the Enterprise has ceased to be a meritocracy of order, discipline, and self-sacrifice. Male officers advance in ranks by assassinating superior officers, while women climb the ranks through sex and subterfuge. Trust among crewmembers is nearly absent, while violence and death are everyday occurrences. Crewmen who make mistakes or fail to kill superior officers are subjected to "agony booths" and "agonizers." Additionally, with the aid of a secret device, the captain vaporizes his enemies from the comfort of his quarters.
In this author's opinion, the message of "Mirror, Mirror" is unambiguous: We see the Communist version of the Federation, meaning that this alternate reality matched American perceptions of the Red Menace in the late sixties.
It was totalitarian, imperialistic, and savage. The writers saw no contradiction in mixing Fascist salutes with "Eastern barbarism," exhibited in fighting, clothing, and hairstyles. Many Cold Warriors at the time grouped fascism and communism together as "totalitarian" evils, both arising from the same dangerous and violent types of ideology and authoritarianism. And, in "Mirror, Mirror" we see the everyday realities of that evil, with its corresponding bloodshed, political purges, inhumane torture techniques, and "survival of the fittest" environment.
Left unchecked, the Empire, similar to the Klingon sphere, would cover the universe in a blanket of oppression and slavery. Like its Stalinist version in the 20th century, it cares not for the sovereignty of satellite states and conquered territories. Unlike the United States of the 20th century and Kirk's familiar Federation of the 23rd century, this Red Menace disposes of notions about human rights and unalienable freedoms. The only rule is the rule of force and violence. Independent thought or self-determination are corrected with agonizers, knives, and phasers.
Everyone is a potential enemy of the state and traitor of the Motherland (or should we say Fatherland?).
Opposing this alternative reality is the United States, the universe that Kirk eventually returns to (after convincing mirror Spock to become a freedom fighter and revolutionary). There, Kirk regains his role as a benevolent guardian of the Third World, spreading freedom, democracy, and the rights of self-determination to less advanced peoples. There, he is no longer helpless against the evil empires of the galaxy bent on totalitarian expansion. He can defend the South Vietnamese in their "private little war." He can read the constitution, spreading the power of the West's "Omega Glory." He can destroy the oppressive super-computers that control peoples' minds.
The double-speak and propaganda of Landru, The Oracle, Stalin, and Hitler are no match for Kirk's message of freedom, hope, and liberty.
This is the relevance of "Mirror, Mirror," and it's a message that later Trek writers ignored. Understandably, the Cold War had passed, and the images so familiar to a 1960s audience no longer resonated with later viewers.
Yet, more than many other episodes, "Mirror, Mirror" was a product of its context, and it reflected a worldview shared by many Americans during the 1960s and beyond. It was a message of hope amidst red scares, the threat of nuclear war, and the dangers of isolationism. Undoubtedly, it voiced support for U.S. victory in the Cold War, just as other episodes voiced support for U.S. intervention in Vietnam.
Today, we can criticize the contradictions of this message, and we can point to examples of U.S. foreign policy which differed from these propagandized goals. Yet, to do so misses the point of why Trek resonated with so many people. It projected a future when the United States stood victorious over the totalitarian empires of the past. Try as they did, these evil empires failed to extinguish our innate love of freedom, liberty, and individuality. No matter what tools they used at their disposal, from the gulags and gas chambers to the agonizer booths and reclamation chambers, we will never succumb to slavery and domination.
Instead, we will evolve.
Monday, August 6, 2007
Many Americans during the Cold War Era saw the Soviets, often known simply as "the Russians," as a major threat to the "American way". They saw a Communist threat to the government, a threat that was just being made known to them, a subversion of the people by the "Godless Communists." The common person was now on alert to his neighbors, each of which could be a commie.
During this trying time of McCarthyism and fear of Communism, religion was an important part of the everyday life of many Americans. Many believed that the Soviets' rejection of religion was a true signal of their barbarism and evil nature. This only helped to build a feeling of intolerance and fear in the hearts of Americans for the Soviets.
While it was known that the Soviets had practiced Christianity in the past, the Chinese idea of religion was different from anything most Americans had ever seen. They had no solid idea of a supreme deity and were therefore placed in the framework of atheists. This did not cause as much of a problem for the Americans, as the Soviets were the most obvious threat while the Chinese played a smaller role in the Cold War Era.
Another reason for the Cold War was the presence of Soviet troops in European countries, encouraging the spread of Communism and enforcing that ideology with weapons, as they did in the Hungarian uprising of 1956. This show of brutal force did little to ease tension between the United States and the Soviet Union and did much to irritate the problems more.
To understand how Star Trek ties into the imagery of the Cold War and the politics of the time, one must know a little about the powers of the genre and their place in the fiction of the era. These powers include the United Federation of Planets (also simply called The Federation), the Romulan Star Empire, and the Klingon Empire.
The United Federation of Planets, the largest known galactic government, includes Earth, Vulcan and many other worlds as members. Its headquarters are in San Francisco on Earth, placed there due to Earth's initiation of the idea. The Federation is a democratic/representative type of government similar in structure to the United Nations. Each member of the Federation sends a delegate to the Federation council and each has an active voice in the proceedings. Bordered by the Romulan Star Empire, the Klingon Empire and enclosed within the Ferengi Sphere of Influence (their trading area), the Federation area of space covers a large portion of the galactic arm.
The Federation Council is the legislative and judicial branch of the Federation government. Each planet represented here is considered an equal member as any other, though there are some offices and committees that have permanent members and chairs. Each planetary delegate is entitled to one vote per issue, no matter the size of the planet or the amount of influence it wields in the Federation.
Starfleet, the military and exploratory arm of the Federation, is a military type of organization, though not purely military in structure. They have an academy on Earth, and encourage the use of peace as a way of meeting new races and exploring the universe. Starfleet has a large following among theexplorers of the Federation, in that Starfleet has, discovered many of the homeworlds of the members of the Federation and has brought peace to much of the galaxy.
Mostly, the allies of the Federation are members of the organization, although some consider themselves neutral in standing. These members are most often on the fringes of the Federation and have ties to either the Klingon or Romulan governments as well.
Currently, the Federation is at peace with the Klingons and gives them aid as needed since the explosion of the moon of Praxis is still causing problems in the area of food growth and economic stability. The Romulans are quiet, although on the rise in activity. The peace treaty made with them is still in effect, and war has not been called, but they make Starfleet nervous with their ventures into Federation space.
The Romulan Star Empire lies between the Klingon Empire and the United Federation of Planets. This position is a tenuous one, and has caused much hardship on the people of the Empire in the times that the Klingons and the Federation were at war.
The governmental structure of the Romulan Star Empire is a tri-cameral system, with nearly equal power divided among the following branches: the Praetorite, the Senate, and the Tal Shi'ar. Each of these has a specific duty in the Empire and each serves as a check and balance on the others to insure that no one else has more power than the others think they should have. This setup is similar to the Chinese form of government, insuring that no one office or person becomes too powerful and upsets the delicate balance of power.
The hereditary Praetorite is the judicial branch of the Empire. They write and enforce the laws and control the Star Navy, the military arm of the Empire. While the office is lifelong, people have been removed from office for non compliance with the Empire and other various crimes. Such people usually do not live very long after removal from office, if at all. The Senate is in charge of legislating the laws of the Empire and making sure that the people pay their taxes. This office is also hereditary and carries a lifelong term. These offices correlate to the lifelong offices of the Chinese government, though they are not generally hereditary.
The Tal Shi'ar, the intelligence gathering arm of the Empire, is a very thorough organization, considered the best in the galaxy. They are ruthless in their loyalty to the Empire and have ways of finding out information that would impress most of the known galactic governments. This branch of government is generally given free rein in their work, as the citizens of the Empire do not wish to be arrested for trumped up charges of treason for their interference. Similarly, the Chinese intelligence corps is known for its torture methods and is a feared tormentor.
The Romulan Star Empire is an aggressive enemy of the United Federation of Planets. Their first contact was when a Starfleet exploration vessel entered their system, setting off a perimeter alarm of satellites. This frightened the peoples of the twin planets, evoking memories of the pirates that had originally caused them to break away from their mother-world of Vulcan. This ship named the planets Romulus and Remus, after the two Roman children raised by wolves.
The second encounter was no better, and by that time the Romulans had re-established space travel, and launched a full-scale attack on the invaders. This led to an all-out war. The Romulans soon discovered the technology of warp drives from destroyed Starfleet ships and adapting that technology for their own ships.
This war ended when the United Federation of Planets took the advice of the Vulcan Ambassador, Sarek, to end the war and "close the door on them", meaning for the Federation to leave them alone and ignore them. The treaty to end the war was the only one in Federation history to be completed solely by data transmission, and the Federation never got a glimpse of a live R omulan, only dead and vacuum-damaged ones. This peace treaty, named The Treaty of Alpha Trianguli, established the Romulan Neutral Zone, and has remained intact since the signing. While there were breaches in the Zone, none of them were sufficient to lead to a war between the Romulan Star Empire and the United Federation of Planets.
Currently, Ambassador Spock is addressing a movement in the Empire to return to the Vulcan philosophy and way of life. This movement was set back by a Senator Pardek and his actions with the Praetorite, but continues to be an underground revolution. While the initial response to this is unclear, the Federation hopes to contact this movement again in the future.
In the past seventy years, the Romulan Empire and the Klingon Empire have had two major wars, with the Klingons winning the first. This war led to the development of an economic dependence on the Klingons for weapons and ships and led to an economic depression in the Romulan Empire. This action led to a very strong dislike for Klingons and their goods, since it is commonly said that the lowest bidder gets the market in Klingons arms deals. Whether this idea is true is up to the reader, but evidence proves that Klingon weapons and ships are prone to disaster.
This war between the Klingons and Romulans closely resembles the problems between the Soviets and the Chinese following the death of Stalin. By 1963, the two countries were exchanging insults across their shared border and engaging in competition for Communist leadership on the planet. This split replaced the original Soviet face for Communism and added the Chinese ideology.
The second war between the Romulans and the Klingons ended in the Romulan's favor, ending the economic dependence on Klingon technology and leading to a seventy-year isolationist period where the Empire tried to recuperate from the loses entailed during the two wars. Currently the two Empires are at an uneasy peace, as the Klingons are now an ally of the Federation, due to the destruction of Praxis's moon and the peace treaty of Khitomer that followed. The Romulan Empire and the Federation are also at an uneasy period of peace, although it is unknown how long this truce will last.
The Klingon Empire, with its long tradition of warfare, has traditionally resolved its problems in battle and dealt with all their enemies in the same way: submit or perish. This policy was adapted against the United Federation of Planets but was unable to resolve in the way the Klingons had expected. A delegation of one person was sent to the Klingon homeworld in an effort to spread peace between the two governments, but this ended in failure when the Ambassador was removed from office while in transit and was told to return to Earth. This was before the first of the Federation Babel Conferences.  Later, the Klingon Empire and the Federation would establish a border and a 'neutral zone' of sorts so that each side could develop and grow in size.
The government of the Empire is based on a High Council, which rules with an iron fist. This council is in charge of all aspects of the government, including the military and the Imperial Intelligence. The council members are headed by the Emperor, though his position is more honorary than most believe. The members of the council are elected from the most prominent families in the Empire, and the term is lifelong.
The Imperial Intelligence branch of the Empire is in charge of gathering intelligence for the Empire and assuring that each member remains loyal. Each ship has a central room aboard that is the center for the I.I. Agent aboard, where all conversations and actions monitored and recorded for later review. If an action or conversation appears to be against the Empire or detrimental in any way, that person is reprimanded and does not become a repeat offender under threat of death. This extreme amount of surveillance was also true in the Soviet Union, with the KGB monitoring every action made anywhere, even in its own offices. The KGB, easily identified with the Imperial Intelligence of the Klingon Empire, had hidden and secret agents in every branch of the Soviet government and on every ship, plane, or space capsule operated by Soviet personnel.
The history and culture of the Empire consist of resolving problems through combat, it is no surprise that the military arm of the government is given as large a portion of the moneys as they are. The traditional way to advance in rank is to kill your most immediate superior and keep from being killed in the process.
The Klingon Empire and the Soviet Union are similar in governmental structure and military nature. Both governments are based on a hierarchical system that keeps the strongest person, whether his strength comes from political cunning or actual physical might, at the top of the government and in charge of the government. This person had to remain strong, as fools and weak leaders do not last long. This strong-leader type of system is readily apparent in the Soviet Union, especially during the years that Stalin was in charge. The founder of the Klingon Empire's warrior society, Kahless, was responsible for bringing the Klingon culture together. He and Stalin can be seen as mirror images of each other, as both were ruthless and Stalin, to be sure, used cruel tactics to insure his rise in power within the Communist Party, tactics that can be seen as the norm for the Klingon Empire.
During the Cold War, much of the moneys of the Soviet Union went into the military, in areas of weapons development and production, as well as the keeping of a large standing army for use in its outlying provinces and areas of control in the Eastern Bloc countries as necessary. This compares to the Klingon Empire, with its militaristic society and desire or need to show great amounts of militaristic strength. Both governments were drained of economic resources during the drawn-out war / non-war, as can be seen by the current Russian economic situation and as shown in the sixth Star Trek film, in which the Klingon Empire has to ask for help from the Federation due to an explosion of a weapons plant on the moon of Praxis. This is an obvious parallel to the meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear facility in 1986.
The episodes of the classic Star Trek series sometimes mirrored the actions and events of our own world. Each episode that had either the Klingons or Romulans in it led to a conflict, much like any real-world meeting with either the Chinese or the Soviets. A few of these correlations are blatant, while the majority are more subtle in scope. nuclear devices in the two countries.
Another correlation is the episode entitled "A Private Little War," in which the Klingons have given weapons technology to one faction on a planet and Starfleet upgrades the other faction to keep both sides at a status quo, where they had been for years. This type of cultural contamination relates to various places on the globe where the Soviets attempted to aid governments in their attempts to become Communist nations.
While there are a few direct correlations of Cold War actions, there is one episode that directly mocks the Cold War itself, "The Omega Glory." This episode takes place on a world that parallels Earth with its imagery and ideals, most especially the United States. There are references to Comms and Yanks and the Enterprise crew realizes that a world war that did not happen here happened there, with dire consequences. This war, avoided on Earth, used biological means to destroy the enemy, nearly destroying all human life on the planet in the process.
The Chinese, like their science-fiction counter parts the Romulans, are seen as a secretive and xenophobic people, strange in their ways and non welcoming to outsiders. The Romulans base their actions on a system of honor unique to the Eastern world. They, both the Romulans and the Chinese, also see themselves as superior to all other cultures, seeing these other cultures as barbaric and unworthy of more than the merest of response. These similarities make the ties between the two cultures, one real and one fictitious, easily seen.
Our first view of the Romulan culture, while limited, was in the classic episode The Enterprise Incident. They were shown to be in p ossession of a new type of technology, a cloaking device that hid their ships from detection. This showed them to be an unknown factor in the galactic political structure and a worthy enemy for Star Fleet. This new enemy, while rarely seen, proved to be a worthy addition to the genre of Star Trek.
The Sino-Soviet Alliance of 1949, which allied the Soviets and the Chinese in defense against Japan and any of her allies  can be compared to the alliance between the Romulans and the Klingons. Both the Klingons and the Soviets extended military aid the other power (the Romulans and the Chinese) which was to be repaid in full, and both treaties were ended prematurely, the Sino-Soviet treaty with the death of Stalin on 1953 and the Klingon-Romulan treaty in a war. The first showing of the Klingon-Romulan military pact was in the episode The Enterprise Incident, which showed a Klingon ship manned by a Romulan crew. Each treaty also bound the weaker government to the stronger in an unwanted and, at times, uncomfortable way. The Sino-Soviet pact was structured so that China had to pay for all aid received and this led to a distaste for Soviet-style Communism, especially after the de-Stalinization of the Soviet society and a perceived weakness to the West. Later, after Stalin's death, the Chinese and the Soviets became bitter enemies, each fighting to become the world leader in the Communist sphere, much like the Klingons and Romulans after the cessation of the treaty became enemies and had little official contact.
The Klingon-Romulan treaty forced the Romulans to buy Klingon ships and equipment, or face the possibility of war. This treaty, backed by the military strength of the Klingon Empire, forced the Romulans to buy Klingon military goods and ships, and forced the Romulans to give the Klingons the cloaking device. While Klingon goods were powerful in battle, they had a tendency to be shoddy, as well as expensive to buy and maintain. This economic strain on the Romulan Empire caused hard feelings to develop between two already strained governments.(26]
The Chinese and the Romulans have secrecy and xenophobia in common, as well as a nonequal alliance with an ally that becomes a hated enemy. Each rises above unfair treatment to become a powerful opponent to their enemies. This is normal for oppressed people, and holds true for societies as well.
In conclusion, Star Trek enemies and the actual enemies of the Cold War era share many similarities. The Klingons, antagonistic and warlike, truly portray the American image of the Soviet Union. The parallel is strongly reinforced by the continual threat they, the Klingons, were to the Federation. The recurring encroachment into Federation territory and their multiple attempts to undermine the lifestyles of Federation planets solidly parallels the Soviet attempts to replace capitalism in small countries around the globe.
While the parallelism between the Romulans and the Chinese is not as strong as the Klingon-Soviet correlation, each is seen as 'the other enemy'. They are not as continual or dangerous a threat as the major foe, but they are still a force with which to be reckoned.
The Star Trek series parallels aspects of the Cold War in a manner that not only educates its viewers but shows a certain humor about the era. Star Trek also helped the children and adults of the late 1960s, and beyond, understand the Cold Way by bringing it into a format devoted to entertainment and education, television.
1. Fred Inglis, *The Cruel Peace: Everyday Life and the Cold War*. (New York: BasicBooks, 1991), p. xviii
2. Ibid., pp.134-135.
3. *Star Trek VI* Produced by Ralph Winter and Steve-Charles Jaffe, 1991.
4. Diane Duane, *The Romulan Way*. (New York: Pocket Books, 1987), p. 165.
5. Ibid, pp. 190-191.
6. Ibid, pp. 194-195.
7. Ibid, pp. 195.
8. *Unification (Parts I and II)* Produced by Rick Berman, 1991.
9. Duane, *The Romulan Way*, p. 196.
10. Ibid, p. 197.
11. W. Scott Morton, *China: Its History and Culture* (New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1980), p. 212.
12. *Star Trek VI*
13. John M. Ford, *The Final Reflection* (Boston: Gregg Press, 1985), p. 238.
14. Inglis, *The Cruel Peace*, p. 130
15. Hal Schuster and Wendy Rathbone, *Trek: The Unauthorized A-Z*. (New York, New York: HarperPrism, 1994) p. 233.
16. Inglis, *The Cruel Peace*, p. 35-36.
17. Ibid, p. 34.
18. *Star Trek VI*
19. Okuda and Okuda, *Star Trek Chronology*, pp. 56-57.
20. *The Omega Glory* Produced by Gene Roddenberry, 1967.
21. Whitfield, *The Culture of the Cold War*, pp. 160-162.
22. *The _Enterprise_ Incident* Produced by Gene Roddenberry, 1968.
23. Morton, *China: Its History and Culture*, pp. 211-212.
24. Ibid, p. 212.
25. Ibid, p. 212.
26. Diane Duane, *My Enemy, My Ally*. (New York: Pocket Books, 1984.), p. 38.