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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. Daru
    March 6, 2016 @ 1:47 am

    "For one, Armin Shimerman is just really good at playing that kind of character, and not only is Quark just about the only person on the station who you could do this with, he's pretty much custom tailored for it, which is something the people who constantly write him as a sniveling latinum-obsessed comic relief never quite manage to get."

    Shimerman is pretty wonderful when given the chance, and the noir stuff really suits Quark well as a character. I think that there are many layers to Quark and really do feel he utterly and quietly does worship Dax.

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  2. Dustin
    March 11, 2016 @ 4:04 am

    Actually, I hated it. I hate when ass-slapping behavior like Zek's is played for laughs, as the antics of a lovable scamp. Pop culture overflows with depictions like this of men feeling entitled to women's bodies, and women just tolerating it (like Jadzia's reaction, which is barely distinguishable from "They're just men, they can't help themselves, it's your fault for being so uptight about it.")

    I also really hate the warped vision of feminism the episode presents: that women's liberation lies in aspiring to be just as cutthroat and amoral as the most powerful men. Shouldn't we rather be trying to completely destroy patriarchy and capitalism, not say "You too can be a robber baron!" That's "Lean In" feminism.

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  3. Dustin
    March 11, 2016 @ 4:23 am

    I seriously can't get over the fact that Kira is repeatedly sexually harassed (and arguably assaulted) and everybody's cool with it. Sisko gives her a smirk, Jadzia gives her a "What do you expect? Get over it."

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  4. Josh Marsfelder
    March 11, 2016 @ 10:44 am

    I think this gets at the inherent problem of trying to do anything positive and redemptive with the Ferengi whatsoever. It's Ira Steven Behr's fatal flaw as a creative figure. The entire species exists in this awkward place where nobody really wants to use them as originally intended and you can't really use them for anything else. You'll notice I more or less tried to sidestep Pel's story here.

    I, for one, agree that it's ugly (though in my defense that business is significantly downplayed in the version of the episode I experienced). I still think you can make something out of Dax's reaction, but any effort to portray the Ferengi as inherently lovable is going to be wrongheaded from the start.

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  5. K. Jones
    March 22, 2016 @ 8:15 am

    I don't want to pile on the redemptive idea, but it's at least apparent to us that Zek is meant to be repugnant when he does these things. But assuredly the Federation folks witnessing his harassing should call him on it – they might be a little too 'well, it's not our culture or custom' about the Ferengi regressiveness.

    But then again – Sisko does immediately turn around and hit Zek where it hurts a Ferengi the most – his wallet.

    I think it's important to hold Zek accountable for being a particularly egregious example of an outmoded Ferengi, and it's equally important then to hold up Quark and then particularly Rom as indicative of progress on that front. Although for the most part this episode in particular isn't a showcase of that eventual progress.

    This episode is one of my favorites, but obviously that's because of Pel and Dax and some of the innate charm of Quark's obliviousness. The regressive nature of the Ferengi is on full display here, but right alongside the positives about Ferengis. At this juncture it's possible to show both sides of them and kind of let viewers start make their own judgments. The only thing that bothers me more than not enough being done to deal with the harassment is actually the fact that Pel is a textbook "one and done" guest star character who we'll never see again.

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