Most Read
Image 01 Image 02 Image 03

Star Trek Discovery: Progressive Ethics in the Age of Trump

Star Trek Discovery: Progressive Ethics in the Age of Trump

How Trump’s election changed the show’s tone

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hC7IMj7WFyE

The Star Trek franchise is in a strange place artistically and commercially. With the J.J. Abrams trilogy of films largely falling by the wayside due to financial problems at Paramount Pictures, the only thing fans have been able to enjoy for the past two years has been Star Trek: Discovery. Fans of Star Trek haven’t been happy with this new series. While progressive critics have come to the show’s defense, non-progressive fans of the show have largely disregarded the show, criticized it’s more overtly political elements and ignored it.

Politics in Star Trek

Star Trek has always been a fascinating gage of politics. Starting out as a utopian futurist series, Gene Roddenberry’s vision was always decidedly slightly to the left of wherever society was at any moment. This has brought about good and annoying things alike.

While the show gave us positive societal developments like television’s first interracial kiss, there are many such examples of the series delving into outright progressive activism such as Star Trek IV’s preachy anti-whaling message, Star Trek VI’s globalist themes which directly alluded to the fall of the Soviet Union and Star Trek TNG’s anti-interventionalist themes.

The recent films and TV shows didn’t initially have a consistent ideology given that they were more focused on action and character drama. Considering their violence and content though, they certainly disregarded Gene Roddenberry’s beliefs of peace and hope.

Star Trek: Beyond’s Hopeful Progressivism

Star Trek: Beyond was the first film in the series since Star Trek: TNG that actually bothered to articulate a worldview in between the Fast and Furious style action set pieces. It’s a vision of the future defined by cooperation, multiculturalism and scientism being challenged by a rabid cur resurrected from the past seeking to spark a war with the Federation to end it’s ceaseless utopianism.

This becomes more interesting in context as the film was released in July of 2016, right in the middle of the election between Trump and Clinton. That election cycle was particularly brutal but with this film we see a very clear vision of progressivism’s hopefulness. At this point in the year, the expectation was that Hillary Clinton would be the president and that the legacy of Barrack Obama’s progressive society would continue to evolve unabated into the mythical world “where the rise of the oceans would slow and our planet would begin to heal.”

The left assumed traditional societal standards would continue to break down in the face of post-modernist deconstructionism, capitalism would slowly break down and we’d get to live in the pseudo-socialist world of Star Trek. It’s as though progressivism merely perceived opposition as a gnat that needed to be swatted away to protect the glorious inevitable future.

Then the election happened.

Star Trek: Discovery

The following year, Star Trek: Discovery was released. As a show, it has a very similar setup. A group of highly militaristic combatants shows up at the doorstep of the Federation threatening war to destroy the uniquely progressive world that humanity had built up over centuries. The differences are rather striking, however.

The new show was a radical departure from the tone and style of both the previous movies and TV shows. Instead of stand-alone episodes, the first season was an entire story arc. The tone of the series was also radically altered, as the main story arc dealt with themes of war and military ethics in the face of an existential threat. The color pallet was washed out in favor of blacks hews and darker color contrasts. The story and production design reflected a more dower tone than any of its predecessors.

Among the fanbase, there have been plenty of criticisms for Star Trek: Discovery on numerous aspects of its story and production design. The Klingons look nothing like they do in any other Star Trek series. The technological development in this series doesn’t line up with TOS which is set 10 years later. Setting up a step-sister character for Spock who is never alluded to for the rest of the canon was a strange decision.

These complaints never bothered me. Star Trek has always been janky and has retconned several key story details. Consider that the Klingons got a new makeup job between TOS and The Motion Picture and the fanbase’s response to their change in appearance was to create a convoluted idea about the species developing a degenerative condition during the time jump. The truth is that they had more of a budget for the movies and wanted to improve the costumes.

What I find more interesting is the implicit meaning of the story and how the fanbase has reacted to it. Star Trek has always been liberal but with Star Trek: Discovery, the fanbase had contended that the series has become overtly and radically far left. As a conservative, I’m prone to ignoring progressive pandering in television shows. I wouldn’t have any television if I couldn’t enjoy liberal shows. For many fans however the show is pushing a lot of buttons.

The producers of the show have gone on record to say that the Klingons in this season are representations of white nationalists. With their battle cry of “Remain Klingon”, the combatants of the show are clearly intended as avatars of the most rabid and violent version of Trump supporters.

The Effects of 2016

It’s fascinating just how much the tone changed in the year between Star Trek: Beyond and Star Trek: Discovery. In that time you see the radical change from a movement hopeful about the future, worried that conservative militarism would destroy their utopia, to a bleak vision where the only way to stop that militarism is through drastic violent measures.

The bleak desperation at the heart of the show is what most bothers me about the series. There is something to be said about exploring the moral quandaries of war in the face of Armageddon. The problem is that for the writers of this show they’re already living in Armageddon. They feel like their backs are up against the wall and they have to win by any means necessary.

DONATE

Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.

Comments

I only watched Star Trek for 7 of 9. Maybe Yeoman Rand back in the day.

    legacyrepublican in reply to MrE. | January 17, 2019 at 7:50 pm

    How about Dax and Major Kira on DS9? Or the Dabo girls on DS9 too? Or T’Pol on Enterprise?

    Clearly, you are not sexist enough! 😉

      Phooey. I originally thought the show might be onto something with Laurel Goodwin in the pilot, but that’s all she was in. It was all downhill from there. Well, Sally Kellerman in the second pilot might have salvaged something, at least for those who appreciate that sack-of-doorknobs look. Nope, another one-shot.

      I suppose the Klingons were OK—as the series went on, they turned into downright snappy dressers. Everybody else, not so much.

      And the Star Trek movies blow goats. All of them. They started bad, and just got worse. More phooey.

      Clearly! 😉

    DrewCWSJ in reply to MrE. | January 17, 2019 at 8:17 pm

    Did you know 7 of 9 is almost directly responsible for Obama wining the Illinois Senate race?

    From Jeri Ryan’s wikipedia “In 1990, while dealing blackjack at a charity event, the actress met investment banker and future Republican political candidate Jack Ryan. The couple married on June 15, 1991, and had a son, Alex, on August 15, 1994. Throughout the marriage, they took turns commuting between Los Angeles and Chicago for their careers, but divorced on August 27, 1999. Although Ryan mentioned in an interview for Star Trek that the frequent separations had been difficult for the marriage, the reasons for the divorce were kept sealed at their mutual request.[25] A few years after she joined the Voyager cast, Ryan began dating Star Trek: Voyager producer Brannon Braga.[26] Between February and November 2000, they were stalked by Marlon Estacio Pagtakhan, who was convicted for harassment and threats in May 2001.[27][28][29]

    When Jack Ryan’s campaign for an open United States Senate seat in Illinois began in 2003, the Chicago Tribune newspaper and WLS-TV, the local ABC affiliate, sought to have his records released. Both Jeri and Jack agreed to make their divorce, but not custody, records public, saying their release could be harmful to their son.[30]

    On June 18, 2004, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Schnider agreed to release the custody files.[31] The decision generated much controversy, because it went against both parents’ direct request and reversed the decision to seal the papers in the best interest of the child. It was revealed that six years earlier, Jeri had accused Jack Ryan of asking her to perform sexual acts with him in public,[32] and in sex clubs in New York, New Orleans, and Paris.[30][33] Jeri described one as “a bizarre club with cages, whips, and other apparatus hanging from the ceiling.”[34] Jack denied these allegations. Although Jeri only made a brief statement,[35] and she refused to comment on the matter during the campaign, the document disclosure led Jack to withdraw his candidacy;[36][37] his main opponent, Barack Obama, then won the 2004 United States Senate election in Illinois.[38]

      I remember – lived in IL at the time. If memory serves, the GOP drafted Alan Keyes as a last minute stand-in for Ryan. I vaguely remember Keyes talking about reparation during the campaign, among other things that went over like a lead balloon. The man had zero traction.

      Even so, Jeri Ryan looks mighty fine in a form-fitting onesie with blue-tooth built into her forehead. If all the Borg were like that, I might volunteer to be assimilated.

I haven’t seen Discovery because it’s not on Netflix or Hulu. I guess I’m not missing much. Fine.

    Andy in reply to irv. | January 17, 2019 at 8:25 pm

    Netflix to their credit has a few series that are “original” as in they don’t do the awful cookie cutter crap and cheap political shots in made for TV programing.

    Example- Babylon Berlin- though the plot is slow, they don’t waste 90 seconds of a 20 minute episode hyping up with overly loud music on whether the character will get caught picking a lock.

    In comparison— Super Girl practically ruined one of the oldest hero franchises around.

      Jackie in reply to Andy. | January 17, 2019 at 8:41 pm

      Netflix gave Obama 50 million to produce content. It was actually a payoff for net neutrality. How would Obama who never worked in the industry even know how to produce content? Does Obama read scripts? Direct shows?

Tyler, story arcs were part of DS9. Mostly so they could compete with Babylon 5, but…..

Colonel Travis | January 17, 2019 at 7:57 pm

Entertainment writers today suck.
End of story.

“I wouldn’t have any television if I couldn’t enjoy liberal shows.”

If you want conservative shows, check out Taiwanese, Chinese, and Japanese television series. The Chinese might be our adversaries, but they’ve got their priorities straight. Their shows emphasize patriotism, honor, loyalty, family, and respect for authority. Male characters are strong and masculine; female characters (though often in positions of authority) are sweet and feminine.

A lot of the shows stream on the web, on sites like Viki.com.

    healthguyfsu in reply to Dantzig93101. | January 17, 2019 at 8:22 pm

    Chinese theater is not conservative.

      Valerie in reply to healthguyfsu. | January 18, 2019 at 9:43 am

      Well, definitely not American conservative. Considering their history of thousands of years of empire rather than anything like a Republic, it’s understandable. I did run across an amusing story arc about the judiciary, though.

      At an imperial court, there was this immensely aged, retired Emperor. Being a god, he looked young and studly, but for a bunch of white hair. He was pursued by a Monica Lewinsky type. He rebuffs her repeatedly. Turns out he’d taken a vow of celibacy. They are the comic relief, a lot of the time.

      So, it takes about fifty episodes to get to the point. Empire intrigue being as vicious as one would expect, a woman in a protected political position, a horrible jealous type, accuses another. There is an impromptu hearing before the Emperor, who is a hothead, and partial to the accuser.

      The retired Emperor points out that the Emperor could be accused of bias, and forces the Emperor to recuse himself. Then he proceeds to run a proper hearing, complete with pointed questions and recognizable due process. He can do this, because he’s not attached to any of the parties.

      One huge difference between an imperial court and our society is that we have plenty of judges. They don’t have to be celibate former emperors many centuries old to get the necessary status and objectivity. They just have to be well-trained, and unconnected with the people before them. Separating the role of ruler and judge is a wonderful idea. Our system is better.

Early Star Treks were Hornblower in space

Abrahm’s Star Trek is Lost in space.

Haven’t seen Discovery but have been enjoying The Orville. It’s the best thing to happen to Star Trek in a long time even though it’s not actually Star Trek.

I’m used to my favorite entertainers having political views I don’t always agree with.

Roddenberry borrowed heavily from morality play themes and contemporary popular TV westerns. He warned young radical leftists to show restraint when he refashioned The Lord of the Flies into Episode 8/1 Miri. Another example being civil rights allegory like episode 15/3 ‘Let That Be Your Last Battlefield’. Lots of right wing people wanted segregation ended, especially following WWII. And the Utopianist planet with the goofy plants that sprayed toxins in peoples faces? I wonder who and what was that was aimed at? Well, the Mao’s cultural revolution was in full bloom at the time?

Roddenberry was more of a Wilsonian League of Nations/United Nations type democrat than outright prog-communist which we see in these late series and films.

Klingons valued honor… which is in short supply with the New Federation and Progressives in general. Abrahm’s reboot was a great ploy to reset the universe. I’ll stick with Wrath of Khan and First Contact… and Galaxy Quest.

Discovery was doomed from the start because CBS forced it behind the paywall of their AWFUL streaming service.

Which already limits their MAXIMUM audience to the 2-3 million subscribers that CBS has.

Then they went full retard with their bullshit revisionism.

You may have missed it when they Unpersoned Avery Brooks and the main actress and a whole bunch of news outlets tried to claim she was ‘the first black Star Trek lead’.

Which served the dual purpose of demonstrating that their progressive bullshit was the most important thing in their minds, and that they knew FUCK-ALL about the actual Star Trek that came before them.

We’re not talking about some obscure episode. We’re talking about them not even knowing the lead characters of previous shows.

From there it went straight downhill. Obligatory gay character – CHECK. Obligatory crewmate with a disorder that would never have made it past the first day in actual military training – CHECK. Klingons as a metaphor for Trump supporters – CHECK. I could go on, I think that’s enough to make the point.

    Olinser…

    I think Star Trek started it’s downhill slide with The Next Gen.

    In the original ST the Klingons were suppose to be bad dudes but they looked like regular guys in dark make up.

    In the Next Gen, the Klingons looked like Baaad Mo Fo’s and Warf was a big guy who looked like he could head-butt you into next week…!

    Then comes the first fight scene and what do we see..??? Big Worf struggle with one guy while Tasha, a skinny blond chick, fills the room with upper cuts and kicks 6 guys asses…!!!!!

    I thought…WTF, who wrote this shit..????

    I watched the first yr and a half of Next Gen and I’ve seen a few of the “Star Trek Whatevers” (seems like there’s been a bunch of them) None of the reincarnations have grabbed me, but this “Star Trek in the age of Trump” sounds like dog doo…

Tyler, spell check is your friend. Use your friend. Embrace your friend.

In the next series, Captain Obama will have starship. First day out, he’ll crash it into the moon.

I grew up on the original series, watched Next Generation, DS9, Voyager and Enterprise. I refuse to pay for CBS streaming so I won’t be watching Discovery.. particularly after reading so much about it.

    Geologist in reply to Sanddog. | January 17, 2019 at 10:21 pm

    Sanddog, I too grew up with the original TV series. I had not even known that there was a Star Trek Discovery until I read this article. I had never heard of CBS All Access either. I’ll go back into my cave now!!

    RedEchos in reply to Sanddog. | January 17, 2019 at 10:29 pm

    I refused to watch Voyager for 2 reasons, the acting (especially the captain) and the stories (“get this cheese to sickbay”).

    Other than that…

On the Internet you can find fan-funded Star Trek shows not associated with the Stalinist wackos running the networks and major Hollywood studios.

For a treat check out Star Trek Continues and Star Trek: Of Men and Gods. They do a good job of capturing the fun of the original series.

Hollywood and their self absorbed actors have gone Far Left , believing they can spew their propaganda and we will drink it up. That only drives us further away and deepens the divide.

Full Disclosure: I was once a die-hard Trekker, however over time I have come to despise the show. Mr. Hummel is quite correct – Star Trek (or as I have come to call it Star Dreck) has been portraying a utopian future. What was once fashioned as ‘Wagon Train to the Stars’ continually pushes the Leftist ideal that humans are always good, never shoot at other humans (unless they are under some sort of alien mind control), and never start fights (except when Scotty started one in the bar. Then, again, we had to suffer through William Shatner’s over-acting (his contract mandated Captain Kirk ALWAYS got the girl). The Klingons, Vulcans, or the Ferengi were always the Bad Guys (except “Balance of Power” when Mark Leonard portrayed the Vulcans as noble).

    PaulM in reply to SeniorD. | January 18, 2019 at 1:28 pm

    In “Balance of Power” Mark Leonard portrayed a Romulan, not a Vulcan – although he later portrayed a Vulcan (Spock’s father), as well as portraying a Klingon in the first movie.

Discovery is made by illiterates. When I read that a black, female star of that show thinks she’s the first black lead, I knew that group producing the show had to be dumber than a box of rocks. Then, I started reading that the sound of axes grinding in the background overwhelmed it.

As with many other businesses, the corporate takeover of the franchise has led to a terrible drop in quality.

And I’m one of those who enjoyed the leadership themes in TNG, so there.

Star Trek has developed a monotonic and monotonous quality, which reinforces popular notions of diversity (i.e. color judgments), and, in the spirit of fantasy, a conflation of logical domains.

Is Pelosi really a Klingon? Or, is she Reptillian?

In 2001, a diplomat from one of the Arabic nations approached President Bush. “Sir, I am a big fan of your television shows, in particular Star Trek. But it bothers me that there are no characters from the Middle East. Can you explain why that is?” “Well,” replied the President, “first of all it takes place in the future.”

The pernicious and insidious ideology of the Rainbow Cult infects the legislators, administrators, media propagators, educators and entertainers alike
Unwatchable StarTrek Discovery has wound up lost in an Undiscovered Country, the same place where the BBC gave the venerable Dr Who a fashionable sex-change and 007 is mooted to be next on the ideological operating dais.
Progressivism, exhibiting an excruciating and unimaginative obsession with ‘trans’, offers no new characters, stories and dialogues, merely transcription and transgenderism.
It’s hardly persuasive or convincing but it is Orwellian, after all:
“He who controls the past, controls the future.”

I expected this article to mention Season 2, which started the day of the article!

I also recommend ST Continues. DS9 is not utopian, and they have money.

There was a character from the Middle East in TNG. Crown Prince Abdullah, who is now King Abdullah, was a big Star Trek fan. He got to play a blueshirt in a non-speaking role.

Font Resize
Contrast Mode
Send this to a friend