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Pounded in the butt by dialectical materialism.

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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.

9 Comments

  1. Sean Dillon
    February 17, 2016 @ 5:07 am

    "…but you don't want to hear me go on about Dirty Pair and Urusei Yatsura again, now do you?"

    I do, it sounds interesting. Also, as someone with a relatively small knowledge of Trek (and by that, I mean the bits of this blog I've read and a few video series), I figured you wouldn't be getting furious with DS9 for another 11 episodes.

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  2. Josh Marsfelder
    February 17, 2016 @ 8:09 am

    Not every episode, even in these two seasons, is a classic. But there is a far higher ratio of classics to utter shite in these two seasons than there are in the twelve to come.

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  3. David Faggiani
    February 18, 2016 @ 3:00 am

    Excellent use of 'shite'. I think it is a shame we never got to know the pre-joined 'Jadzia' properly – maybe a full flashback episode, akin to 'Necessary Evil' would have been justified? (In fact, in a post-'Lost' TV environment, I'm sure a version of DS9 made now would have many such episodes…

    By the way, look what's going on next Friday at my work! To mark the 50th Anniversary… http://www.lse.ac.uk/publicEvents/events/2016/02/LitFest20160226t1830vWT.aspx

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  4. Josh Marsfelder
    February 18, 2016 @ 8:03 am

    That looks really cool! If you want, please feel free to let me know how the panels go-I'd be interested to hear what topic and concepts get focused on.

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  5. Adam Riggio
    February 20, 2016 @ 8:31 am

    Interesting, that you refer to the 12 upcoming seasons, because I was beginning to expect that you had a few redemptive readings of Voyager in store, for reasons I'll describe in my standalone comment in a few minutes.

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  6. Adam Riggio
    February 20, 2016 @ 8:47 am

    One part of what I like about having followed the Vaka Rangi project from the beginning is how its themes and emphases have shifted since it started. The main shift that I'd like to emphasize after reading and thinking about this post is how the image of the wayfarer has faded into the background (if an omnipresent background), and your revelations from the best of Dirty Pair has awoken Vaka Rangi's feminist heart more than I ever could have predicted at first.

    It seems to have always been there in your lifelong kinship with Tasha Yar, Ro Laren, Geordi LaForge, and Jadzia Dax. But it's become a constant issue that you grapple with. The central flaw of Star Trek in its Ron Moore period seems to be its writers' general failure to understand the female inspirational dramatic action hero. It really comes out here, in the writers' comments that the only way they could think to develop and round out Jadzia's character was to find ways to make her vulnerable. As if they only way to develop complexity in any female character is to build vulnerabilities.

    I now know this perspective to be ridiculously limited, practically tunnel vision. Granted, I hadn't figured this out when I was 11 years old watching Star Trek on TV in 1994. I hadn't developed much of a critical eye for television, drama, or narrative at all – I only knew what I liked, which sadly conformed to what you'd expect of a stereotypical 11 year old boy with absent-father issues. My best case was the Spielberg-style father-son trauma-healing narrative, and my worst (and sadly frequent) case was an adolescent love of grimdark action and male angst.

    It's really only in the past six or seven years that I've worked out for myself not only how tired and old-hat those narrative styles are, but how destructive they can be when you think through their lived ethics.

    It's why most of my own creative projects now only have male protagonists when the story's arc is how a female protagonist undermines and critiques them, or else don't have any male protagonists at all. And that second one is also a collaboration with a female actor/director.

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  7. Josh Marsfelder
    February 20, 2016 @ 10:53 am

    I have a redemptive reading of a sort for Voyager. But it's a markedly different sort of redemptive reading than you might expect. That section of the project will necessitate a different approach than the sort I've been employing to date.

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  8. Josh Marsfelder
    February 20, 2016 @ 11:03 am

    Dirty Pair awoke a lot more in this project than I could have ever predicted either. The decision to cover that series was a game-changer of the sort I'm still grappling with the full ramifications of two years later.

    I've been trying to bring some of the wayfarer/cultural anthropology themes back in recent posts ("Gambit" most notably, but there's some of that in next week's "Cardassians" too). I think I got away from that a bit more than I really should have, and I have a comparative mythology framework to approach this from now I didn't have when I started this project.

    To be fair, Ron Moore isn't on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in 1993. But to call this the "Ron Moore Era" isn't entirely inaccurate either, as Michael Piller, Peter Allan Fields and, most notably, Ira Steven Behr all share many of Moore's perspectives and weaknesses as writers.

    Though I'd point out anarcha-feminism has always been a theme in Vaka Rangi (don't forget how livid I was in the Original Series, after all) comparing this stage of Star Trek with Dirty Pair really does illuminate Star Trek's failings in this regard. Because there's no reason for it to be this retrograde and clueless in 1993. A lot of my anger and frustration during this phase of the project has come about through being constantly profoundly disappointed in a series that I held in much higher esteem in my memory.

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  9. Ross
    February 20, 2016 @ 11:12 am

    I find it easy to think of a redemptive reading of Voyager (After all, it's basically, "Let's get away from this grimdark war bullshit and go back to 'Ship all alone on the frontier meeting weird aliens we've never seen before'"), but hard to think of one that doesn't lean super heavily on "Bless their hearts, at least they're trying."

    Reply

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