22 Oct 2006

Was Star Trek Fascist?

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Captain Ed Morrissey (who confesses that his nickname was acquired as the result of an excessive fondness for Star Trek) links a couple of intriguing essays by Kelly L. Ross on:

The Fascist Ideology of Star Trek: Militarism, Collectivism, & Atheism

and

Firefly, the anti-Trek

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Dominique R. Poirier

I have read these two “papers” and I am unable to say whether I find them reliable or not, even though their author seems to be a reliable scholar. Like many do, I am often looking for possible deeper meanings underlying some movies, and, quite often, I can find some. The debate is rather interesting I think since further looking at comments made on imdb.com are indicative that each of us may find strikingly different meanings and interpretations about any given movie.
It seems it all depends of our educational background, social origins, fields of interest, and even our tendencies to be superstitious, and our mental balance. Sometimes, also, it is hard to find any meaning at all, simply because there is no such thing in the movie we are watching. But I am inclined to think that we are going through a period in which hidden or subtle meanings underlie movies more often than ever. Countless fictions introduce real characters and stories under fictitious names and plots. Countless fictions introduce real political or ideological or even subversive purposes under fictitious story, which often are fantasy or sci-fi story I see. Even cartoons are not spared by this phenomenon.

Usually, critics seem unwilling to dig too deep on a matter that, in turn, seems to be sensible.
The Da Vinci Code triggered huge polemic and controversy, simply because it went to explicitly provocative; but The Matrix was too cryptic and too implicitly provocative to trigger the same reactions. It was as if everyone implicitly agreed on a quiet consensus of a sort which some could somehow translate as “Sorry, but we think it is preferable not to probe deeper on the matter.” It is not disturbing at all, after all, since a vast majority never grasps the sense of those hidden meanings. Let face the realities; this sound and innocent majority takes, rightly I think, movies for what they expect from it: entertainment and fun.
Whether the hidden meaning will successfully get through their unconscious or not still depends on their intellectual performance and educational background. We do not have a full version of the Encyclopedia Britannica connected to our cerebral cortex.

Anyway, when, on occasions, I probed deeper in those “sensible” films, I finally came to realize that many of these subtle meanings underlying them were quite subject to interpretations, which could vary to a sizeable extent from one person to another, and even, from one period to another. I’ll go as far as to say that, in numerous cases, those meanings where subtle enough to be totally reversible. Thus, depending who judges and criticizes, and when judgment and critics are made; a given film could possibly fall under the contradictory accusations of being either communist or far rightist propaganda. This surprising phenomenon owes to two main reasons: the first is that the more subtle is a meaning the easier it may escape its intended purpose; the second is that political orientations are constantly changing while a given story stays what it is. The same happens with symbols, colors, and words, for the confusion of everyone. The Svastica is religious there, and devilish here; green is all about ecology and nature here while it is all about Islam there.

There is always a possible manner to claim that Dark Vader perfectly incarnate anyone you don’t like: Kim Jong Il, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Hugo Chavez, Howard Dean, George Bush, your boss, your neighbor, or your mother in law. Communists see America as an evil empire, while America thinks the exact opposite is true. Our differences will strongly affect the way we interpret the meaning underlying a given film. The unexpected outcome of The Da Vinci Code was that many unbelievers got suddenly interested in the Bible and in Christianity.
As example I personally lived some years ago, someone invited me to watch The Beautiful Mind, with the visible intention of suggesting me something that, I still cannot but assume today, had to do with politics or something. It happened that this film made strong impression on me, as the person seemingly expected it. But I guess it took a while before this person came to realize that the reason of this strong impression was that it communicated me a passion for game theory, a branch of mathematics! I bought and literally devoured many books on that topic since then, thanks to The Beautiful Mind. That’s why my comment, here, is to say that we see what we want to see, and not always what others would like us to see. The basis of such phenomenon has been scientifically explained by gestalt psychology.

To view comments on the movies you know, and so the different ways people interpret movies:
http://www.imdb.com/

To learn more about gestalt psychology:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gestalt_psychology



umbrarchist

Star Trek is a product of American culture and has to appeal to an American audience. American culture is a product of European culture. It is inevitable that some influence leak through.

How much different is what White Americans did to the Indians from what the NAZIs did to the Jews?

One of the most ironic things in Trek was Tom Paris in a Voyager episode saying, “the NAZIs were the Borg of their day.”

Europeans are The Borg of planet Earth.

You will be assimilated.

Resistance is FUTILE.



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