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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.


  1. Adam Riggio
    December 14, 2015 @ 2:36 am

    I remember when I first saw this episode, I felt confused because the Sirah story seemed strange to be happening on Bajor. Certainly Bajor isn't a pure monoculture, but I thought the whole planet was shaped to different degrees by the Cardassian occupation. So seeing this apparently untouched village seemed weird, and it put me at a distance from the story. The Dal'Rok would have been something the occupiers would have come after greedily, so I just couldn't make sense of how they would have been isolated from the cultural cataclysm of the Cardassians.

    Also, your point about the value of barter and cost-benefit analysis strikes on something that's very important to me philosophically and politically. That's the difference between markets and capitalism. I first came across the distinction in Manuel DeLanda's early work, and it answered so many perplexity e's I had. A market, in this context, is the field of local businesses in a community or locality more broadly. Capitalism is when that function of commerce and profit blows up beyond the community and moves massive flows of money and goods across continents and planets.

    I've known people who are very opposed to the left because they believe that the only alternative to modern capitalism is a totalitarian or at least bureaucratic state controlled economy. Where this market-capitalism distinction lets you see things differently, with a little more nuance and detail.


  2. K. Jones
    December 14, 2015 @ 7:39 am

    Upon rewatch I expected to grimace a bit at the Jake and Nog stuff but actually, and this is pretty impressive considering how much of it there is and how much the B-Plot is more of a co-plot/parallel plot to the A-Plot, I felt like they wisely underplayed the tomfoolery. I mean Nog takes the piss out of Jake and laughs like a hyena about it, but it's all of about 15 seconds of material before Odo walks in.

    I like this one. I like O'Brien's stretching for an excuse on the Runabout, Julian's observational skills, the pulpy way that Varoth's stabbing attempt is prevented by a mirror. Seeing three different Bajoran cultures in tandem. Seeing Varis Sul deal with being a teenaged adult, seeing the boys dealing with not having to act as adults, but quite understanding of her dilemma, and not whiny about it.

    The Dauphin, this is not.


  3. Froborr
    December 15, 2015 @ 4:10 am

    It occurs to me that one show which actually does pretty well at NOT depicting its fantasy cultures as monocultures is, of all things, Avatar: The Last Airbender. The only culture which comes across as somewhat monolithic is the Air Nomads, and that's because there's only one of them left. Elsewhere we see significant cultural differences between the Southern and Northern Water Tribes, at least three very distinct ways of life in the Fire Nation (the town where Aang goes to school, the town that worships the Painted Lady, and the capital), plus the Sun Warriors' enclave, and of course one of the "hats" of the Earth Kingdom IS diversity, and that's very much on display with at least 8 or 9 towns with their own architectural styles, traditions, clothing styles, even ethnic variations. It really all done quite lovingly and with massive attention to detail that demonstrates the animators' near-worship of Miyazaki included learning all the right lessons from him.


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