Saturday, April 11, 2009

Trampling the Alter of Roddenberry

Alot of scifi geekery surrounds the line from Stargate that talks about 'worshiping at the alter of Roddenberry.' Am I the only person that finds that statement scary? Clearly, Roddenberry would be happy with it, but his imaginary world has more holes than a collander.

The idealistic utopia that Roddenberry has created is far from reality. Granted, we call it fiction for a reason. Personally, I don't believe that it is even a plausible reality. Let us begin with the fact that a true Utopian society would not be able to produce a fleet as large and powerful as the ships portrayed in the Star Trek universe. Good cannot exist without evil and an evil force that is not a direct threat is not always strong enough to hold a society together.

What about the people? How does a peaceful Utopian society produce men like James T. Kirk and William Riker? They would be shunned by society for their dominant 'Type A' personalities. Their questionable sexual dalliances could be excused but their liberal use of violence could not. His basic premise is that the human race is driven by the desire of knowledge and the exploration of the known universe. I do not think that this idealistic society could produce such strong characters. I do not believe that the needed stimuli would be available to mold such strong leaders.

This is not to say that all sci fi shows are stuck with a Utopian model. Firefly only ran half a season and their characters were incredibly fleshed out and believable. All of the characters from 'that whore' to 'the captain' seemed real. That world was one of oppression and strife, a world where nothing was given to you. Even Jayne had his bad side, but you understood him, you accepted the fact that he may stab you in the back, but he would never let you down in a firefight.. the fact that Captain Reynolds was going to look after his crew, no matter what and you understood why. Zoe developed her loyalty towards Malcom after years of war and hardship.

Which world produces the most believable characters? Which society is willing to cause violence to survive? Which universe accepts the fact that there is good and evil in all of us? One final twist, how does the firefly universe look from the Alliance perspective? Are they doing what they must to maintain a Utopian society? Or is it the appearance of a Utopian society? How close is that Alliance world to the one that Roddenberry created? Maybe we have approached this all wrong. Maybe, just maybe, they are all superficial Utopian societies that have alot of underlying strife. A perfect world may be unobtainable, but to some, the appearance of one is good enough.

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