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April 1994


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NIGEL CURSON <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 11 Apr 1994 17:43:00 BST
text/plain (57 lines)
>        From: Jordan Stein
>        Star Trek is an obvious utopian society.  What's interesting about
>the society on Star Trek is that it never seems to be threatened by any
>outside forces.
The Star Trek Universe is frequently threatened by outside forces - in the
original series and films the Klingons, in the later series the Borg and the
Cardassians, for example. Whether the limitations of a weekly primetime
series allow these threats to develop to the point where the Star Trek utopia
is damaged/modified is another matter.
>However, what do people think of the fact the " ideal "
>earth of the future only seems to include the western scientific culture.
>English is the only language that seems to survive on the future earth, and
>all references to human culture are usually to the european classics.  What
>do people think of the exclusion of other cultures as part of the ideal
This is a complicated issue. Virtually from the beginning Star Trek's crew
were ethnically diverse, although most of the non-white crew seem to be
American-born, so there is not much cultural diversity on hand, I would
agree. The newer shows incorporates alien species into its cast of characters
as well, and there have been attempts to move away from the purely 'western
scientific' approach. For example Deep Space 9 often trades on the tension
between the Federation's scientific worldview and the Bajorans
religious/mystical worldview. In many episodes there is an ambiguity
apparent, in that the mystical and scientific views of an event are both
shown to have some validity. The extent to which the alien cultures depicted
are non-Western in their outlook depends on the skill of the writers and
producers in depicting these other societies, which has been variable. I
think it's a lot harder to portray aliens convincingly on screen than in
printed science fiction.
And as for the language ... almost everyone speaks English because the show
is produced in America! But there are some hints from time to time that what
people are supposed to be speaking is the dominant trading language of the
Federation (which is not English), and that those who do not speak it are
enabled to communicate by means of computer-based translation devices.
Star Trek makes a lot of mistakes - there's plenty to be said about the
portrayal of women as well in both the original and later series - but your
view of the show seems a little harsh.
Nigel Curson                                    [log in to unmask]
Computing, Library and Media Services, University of North London
166-220 Holloway Road, London N7 8DB ENGLAND
Tel: 071-753 5173       Fax: 071-753 5120
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