Saturday, June 17, 2017

Shooting People You Disagree With, Father's Day, & Good Trek/Bad Trek #24 A Taste of Armageddon

Intro: I’ve loved Star Trek since I was a kid. I started by watching TNG in 6th grade. I’ve been a fan since then and though I’ve spent a lot of time watching Stat Trek, I’ve never watched The Original Series. So, I’m watching and reviewing them as a fan of Star Trek, but one whose never seen any of them. So I’m watching all the TOS episodes for the first time and saying whether or not they suck. At the end, I give examples of better Star Trek to watch that remind me of this episode. That’s it. 

When debating health care people often complain because Congress doesn’t have any skin in the game. These folks can say and do whatever they want about health care because it doesn’t matter to them. They’ll be fine. They have their precious government health care so they can afford to be libertarian about because they know their shitty libertarianism will never bite them in the ass. Maybe it's the same thing with the gun debate. They don't ever have to worry about guns because they don’t have to worry about it. Members of Congress rarely get shot at. Not only do they rarely get shot at, but when politicians do get shot it's usually by a drooling Mark Levin fan. That’s why folks on the right fell they can say stupid fucking shit like this:
"No, I meant please shoot the OTHER shitbag politicians in THEIR dumb faces." - Paul Ryan

You realize that’s you, right? You have to realize that includes you. You can't be that fucking stupid to where you think that you're some beloved politician and that nobody could ever find a reason to think your politics tyrannical. People think that of you. Again, I'm not a fan of shooting people because you disagree with them or because they vote differently than you. But if folks are going to get shot for their politics then the crazy has to be bipartisan. If we're going to have crazy mother fuckers targeting folks, then we need crazy mother fuckers on both sides of the isle. Seems if we’re going to be this divided of a country then both sides should suffer the consequences of a system that seems to celebrate and reward brain dead dumb dumbs who take in only inflammatory propaganda from dubious sources. What can I say, I guess I've always been a centrist at heart. 

The footage of the shooting was pretty boring, mostly consisting of empty platitudes about toning down the rhetoric. The empty platitudes on toning down rhetoric lasted all of three minutes before devolving into hyperbolic cries for the other side to be tried for incitement and charged with treason. Other than that, there was a lot of shaky-cam footage of a baseball field. Know what wasn’t boring though, and that’s the TOS episode A Taste Of Armageddon. It was pretty solid. Let’s go. 
A few good episodes in a row. Now we're cooking with Dilithium. (Or now we're cooking with anti-matter and it goes through Dilithium? I have to say I don't actually know how the tech actually works) 


The Enterprise is on a diplomatic mission. When they get to the planet they’re told to stay the hell away. That’s weird. The diplomat in charge tells them to ignore the warning and proceed to orbit. Kirk goes down to check it out. Turns out at, despite being highly advanced, the planet wanted them away because they’ve been engaged in a war for over five hundred years. 

Turns out they use computers to simulate war. They’ve come to an agreement where they only have to theorize an attack. When they do both they and their enemy vaporize the real people who were theoretically killed. This includes the Enterprise which Kirk does not like and most the episode is him trying to stop this practice. 

He of course does. He destroys the computer and this makes the folks think that if they don’t reach out with some real world diplomacy then the theoretical attacks are going to start becoming very real. 

Good Trek / Bad Trek?

An emphatic good Trek! This is everything great about Star Trek. I was watching this and it wasn’t until half way through that I remembered when this first aired. 1967. Even though that was the “Summer of Love,” 1967 was also when America was in the middle of draft fever. This wasn’t an episode about how awful reporting to a disintegration chamber was because a computer told you to, it was an episode about the draft. It was a good episode. Looked at in historical context, it’s just awesome. 

I’ll admit sometimes the analogy is a little too on the nose and a lot heavy handed, but still, it works. I’d be curious the cultural impact of it at the time. I don’t think a lot of folks were watching Star Trek then, but those that were must've been blown the fuck away by this episode. I know there was a lot of shit going on where people were protesting and whatnot. Rock music had only been political for like six months. And then a low-rated primetime TV show up said “fuck you” to the US government.

"Hey hey, First Councilman Anan 7, how many kids did you order to the disintegration chambers today!"

Couple qualms, but nothing major. Boy does this episode ever make diplomats look like pieces of shit. Scotty has a weird hatred of them. It’s justified in the episode because this particular one is a real jackass. Still, it’s weird that in an episode about making peace they make the folks who are tasked with making peace to be these dumb villains. 
This person looks a little blasé about the whole "about to enter the eternal void thing"

You can also tell that this was in a different era for war. Where even a civilized war involved just dropping bomb after bomb in the middle of a city. No smart bombs here. Carpet-bombing was still in the gentlemen’s war quiver. That’s how shit was done in the sixties. 
Disintegration chamber, getting a taste of its own medicine

The plot gets in the way of the metaphor a bit by the end. But it doesn’t really matter that Kirk risks two planets to save his ship, everything that happens towards the end is overshadowed by the first half. I mean that in a good way. Especially since the diplomat tries to redeem himself at the end. Staying on the planet in the hopes of helping the two sides come to an agreement. Though it should be said that he was so dumb throughout most the episode that I think there’s a good chance both sides completely destroy each other within a couple of days. 

Better Trek?

I was going to recommend Star Trek 6. It’s my favorite Trek movie and it’s also about diplomacy and it mirrors a real conflict. That one a stand in for the Cold War. Watch that one if you want. It’s great, but I think I’d be better off recommending a completely unrelated episode and that’s DS9’s The Visitor. 
FYI Avery Brooks, if anything ever happens to my dad, you're on deck

It’s common in movies and on TV to give a relationship meaning because it’s strained. That’s particularly common when showing fathers and sons. The only way you can get an audience invested in their relationship is if they start out hating each other, or the father is absent and looking for redemption, or has wronged the son in some way and has now changed. Sometimes it’s done well. Sometimes it’s cheap and emotionally manipulative. What’s harder though is making a real relationship between a good dad and a teenage son who both love each other, but have issues from time to time, because that happens. The relationship between Jake and Ben Sisko is one of the best showings of a good father and son that I can think of. So, in celebration of Father’s Day, tomorrow watch Avery Brooks and Cirroc Lofton in this perfect hour of TV. I don’t want to give too much away if you haven’t seen it, but in it, Jake is forced to learn what his dad means to him growing up. Again, it’s absolutely perfect. I’ve seen it dozens of times and have never made it through without tearing up. 

So to both the amazing Avery Brooks, and to the amazing David Sokol, I say happy Father’s Day. And to Paul Ryan, I want to reiterate I don’t want you to get shot. I will probably laugh if/when you do though. 

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