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Temporarily embarrassed proletarians

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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.

5 Comments

  1. elvwood
    July 26, 2015 @ 11:27 pm

    Oh, this one! I wasn't particularly politically aware when I first watched TNG – I tended to be a pretty passive viewer – but even I thought the ethics were scrambled here. That's another one coming off my "maybe 50% good ones" list (which was originally based on the Kethinov ratings but has been considerably modified by this blog already).

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  2. Froborr
    July 27, 2015 @ 10:09 am

    Hrm… while I agree the episode misfires badly, I disagree on some of the specifics of where. First, it is a right-to-die situation in my opinion, because to make any sense at all the right to die has to be based on when the patient feels life is no longer worth living, not some arbitrary doctor-imposed limit. Certainly I personally would say that Worf's attitude that death is preferable to physical disability is ableist, but that doesn't change that it is his attitude and his choice, and it's not an out-of-character attitude at all (unlike the way that, say, his fretting over Troi beating him at poker is out of character, as you rightly point out).

    As far as experimental surgery is concerned, AFIAK that is only ever done with patient consent. Unless I'm misremembering badly (which is entirely possible, it's a long time since I've seen this one), the problem is that there's at least one past case where Russell DIDN'T have that prior consent, and as a result Crusher doesn't trust her, even though IIRC she does get Worf's consent for this procedure.

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  3. Josh Marsfelder
    July 27, 2015 @ 10:34 am

    " First, it is a right-to-die situation in my opinion, because to make any sense at all the right to die has to be based on when the patient feels life is no longer worth living, not some arbitrary doctor-imposed limit. Certainly I personally would say that Worf's attitude that death is preferable to physical disability is ableist, but that doesn't change that it is his attitude and his choice, and it's not an out-of-character attitude at all (unlike the way that, say, his fretting over Troi beating him at poker is out of character, as you rightly point out)."

    Yes, totally. This is a more nuanced and compact way of phrasing what I was trying to say. When I complained about it being framed as a right-to-die situation, I was aiming my critique at the writers equating paraplegia with something like brain death. Obviously as you say it makes sense in-universe for Worf to hold the beliefs he does, though it is worth mentioning IMO that Ron Moore pushed for that and Worf wasn't originally going to have such hardline views.

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  4. K. Jones
    July 27, 2015 @ 11:53 am

    I always thought Will's attitude here, albeit pretty closed off for an Enterprise space traveler, was terribly human. Maybe his attitude isn't right … but it does feel like a natural reaction that he might have, thanks to the way Frakes plays it.

    But possibly more importantly than his personal hang-ups, Riker does something here nobody has actually done in Star Trek yet but which eventually we'll see more of. He calls out the inherent cowardice of the whole Klingon Honor Dogma.

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  5. Daru
    August 31, 2015 @ 9:29 am

    "So I mean first of all, Worf gets paralyzed in the most humiliating way imaginable. He's “distracted” because he was too busy thinking about losing to Deanna in poker? Seriously? That's not a tragedy, that's a black comedy farce"

    Understanding the issues you go onto mention here, one thing I do like in the show is whenever the hardline image of the Klingons as a race of pure warriors is taken apart a bit. I'd like more comedy Klingons (though I know this one isn't funny).

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