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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 1:27am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Episode 4.    Hmmm.

*The Klingon intrigue is interesting but they really need to drop the subtitles.   Not only are they on screen for too short a time (I had to rewind a few times) but the font is annoying to the eye.   Deliberate design choices for alien-ness are not necessarily the right ones for audience engagement.

*I'm not sure how to process the revelation of the Klingons eating Captain G's body.   Definitely a writer shock-value tactic, no matter how practical it appears from a resource standpoint or what religious connotations can be wrung from ritualistic cannibalism.   I think someone's been reading a little too much Heinlein.

*I'm sure it's no coincidence that two of the main characters are named after Archangels.  Additionally, a semi-androgynous human character named "Michael" who was raised in an alien environment is a little too obviously on-the-nose.   More Heinlein cribbing.

*Leaving your opponent alive on a derelict vessel instead of killing him outright is a fail worthy of the worst James Bond villains.  Yeah, that's *never* going to bite you in the ass later.

*You'd think Starfleet would send someone to salvage intact battle wrecks, if not for the resources then surely for data security reasons.
(yet *someone* thought to retrieve sentimental junk like the Captain's telescope?  huh?)

*For that matter, you'd think Binary Stars site where the whole goddamn war started would be full of Starfleet ships or at least cleared of Klingons.

*Why does the derelict Shenzhou even have any power or life support?  Why isn't access to the crew records and logs protected?

*The sensitive-alien-hooked-into-the-ship-as-navigator thing has already been done (better) by Sci-fi author Stephen Gallagher in a Doctor Who script. ('Warrior's Gate')

*While we are already ripping off Doctor Who authors this week, why not make it a two-fer and borrow some of Douglas Adams' ideas like the Infinite Improbability Drive while you're at it?

*Here we see tech that makes all of the secret-squirrel stuff Starfleet has developed over the next 100 years completely irrelevant.  That includes the transwarp technology used by Voyager and the phase-cloaking of the Pegasus.

*So holo-projectors can function as personal mirrors too?

*Michael doesn't officially exist and officially isn't part of the Discovery's crew so how did Starfleet's mail service even find her on a top secret ship on a top secret mission that no one is supposed to know about?  
 


Edited by Rob Ocelot on 10 October 2017 at 1:28am
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Richard Stevens
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 8:19am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Social-justice agenda-stuff is pretty much all over the entertainment industry, now, 

****

Pro tip: Phrasing stuff like this never sounds good.
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Richard Stevens
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 8:20am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

I wonder how much the choice of "Michael" is also due to it sounding like "Myco" AKA mushrooms/fungus?
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 10:21am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

Look at this:


Why would 45 watch it? It isn't a mirror. It doesn't praise him. Why would he watch it? 
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Michael Casselman
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 11:10am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

The only thing I got out of that Screen Rant article was the word "Internert".
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Shaun Barry
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 4:34pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply


I just don't understand this "SJW agenda" stuff you keep posting, Greg... nothing wrong with putting more women and minorities into lead roles in prominent sci-fi/fantasy/film or TV franchises.

Rey or Burnham may be poor characters, but that's due to the writing.  Why these "SJW" qualifiers all the time?  I'm assuming you don't have any real problems with Sulu, Uhura, Leia, Lando, Sisko, Janeway, Padme, Mace Windu, etc.

And hey, at least Rey and Burnham can stand on their own as their own characters, and not gender- or race-swapped previously-established ones.  I'm just trying to wrap my head around this.




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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 5:46pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

Ugh.

Mr. Isaacs should just concentrate on acting rather than this turgid armchair politics.   He comes off as a poor man's Alan Alda.  

STAR TREK should be both entertaining and thought-provoking and not feel like a political propaganda film.  


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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 6:15pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

I just don't understand this "SJW agenda" stuff you keep posting, Greg... nothing wrong with putting more women and minorities into lead roles in prominent sci-fi/fantasy/film or TV franchises.




Rey or Burnham may be poor characters, but that's due to the writing. Why these "SJW" qualifiers all the time? I'm assuming you don't have any real problems with Sulu, Uhura, Leia, Lando, Sisko, Janeway, Padme, Mace Windu, etc.




And hey, at least Rey and Burnham can stand on their own as their own characters, and not gender- or race-swapped previously-established ones. I'm just trying to wrap my head around this.
++++++++++++

I didn't subscribe to the idea, at first, but I keep seeing it more and more as I look closer at these modern iterations of beloved franchises. Female and minority characters being shoehorned into popular IPs without regard for good storytelling. Call it tokenism, call it pandering, whatever.

Burnham is an unlikable character and a mutineer, yet other characters seem to go on about how talented and special she is, with no onscreen evidence to support it.

Same with Rey. She's awesome because she just is, without having earned anything or received any Jedi training. She's as prominent and powerful as she is because Disney wants to sell toys to girls, not because it makes for good storytelling.

I really, really hate coming off as some sort of anti-diversity person, here (believe me, that's not at all the case), but I find myself increasingly disturbed by escapist entertainment and quality storytelling being shoved aside in favor of political agendas regarding "diversity".

THE ORVILLE is doing it right, with a diverse cast of likable characters all working together as equals, and without Mary Sue-type characters being shoved down viewers' throats.

Y'know, just like STAR TREK used to do.
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Richard Stevens
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 6:21pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

You make some interesting arguments without using a loaded term. I wouldn't want to come off anti-diversity either. It's easy to do! Don't use the weird, gross term of reddit basement diaper trolls.

Strong disagree on Rey, but at least asking why people look up to a mutineer is a valid question. (I like Burnham and can't wait to see how her arc turns out, but YMMV.)
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 6:35pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply


 QUOTE:
I wonder how much the choice of "Michael" is also due to it sounding like "Myco" AKA mushrooms/fungus?

Random aside, I had a cute neighbor that I thought about asking out, but her name was Michael, and I just couldn't deal with asking out someone with the same name as me.
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 6:36pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply


 QUOTE:
 Female and minority characters being shoehorned into popular IPs without regard for good storytelling. Call it tokenism, call it pandering, whatever.

With all the reboots and remakes, you have white male characters being used for popular IPs, but when they fail, it's just blamed on shitty writing. I think the issue with what you are saying is that you are arguing that attempts at diversity have a causal effect on shitty writing, rather than it being a correlation. NuTrek Kirk is as much a Mary Sue as you accuse Rey of being, but people just blame the writers and not some forced social agenda.
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 6:45pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply


 QUOTE:
You make some interesting arguments without using a loaded term. I wouldn't want to come off anti-diversity either. It's easy to do! Don't use the weird, gross term of reddit basement diaper trolls.

Yeah. If people aren't aware, "Social Justice Warrior" used to be an insult for a certain type of internet persona who'd make a big stink over some social issue in order to win brownie points, but who had a very shallow understanding of the issues involved. The GamerGate/"Alt-Right" crowd transformed that into a reductive insult for anyone who supported a progressive cause. When you SJW in that manner, you are literally adopting the language of the people marching side by side with Nazis.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 8:19pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply

I'm going for more of the "whiny Internet nerds who insists that all properties shoehorn in women and minorites" use of the term "SJW". I am not trying to imply that the people in charge of these properties are neo-Nazis, and apologize if my use of the term comes off as such. It's an easy term to type, though!


I just find it more than a little eyebrow-raising that STAR WARS, STAR TREK, and DOCTOR WHO are all quickly becoming female- and/or minority-led properties. And comic book Iron Man now a Black teenaged girl, Thor is female, and so on.

In this particular point in history, in this particular political climate, I just can't help but question the motives behind these sorts of creative decisions, which are all happening at once. I have absolutely no problem with strong female or minority characters. I don't believe in the notion that there's some kind of ongoing crusade against White male characters. I just can't shake the feeling that it's about money, demographics, and social-justice agendas more than it is about casting the right person for a role, or making a positive statement.

STAR TREK made a number of bold statements about diversity, politics, and race-relations in the 60s, at the risk of ticking off sponsors and the Bible Belt. It was about sending a message (often under the radar), not boosting ratings, generating clickbait (...er...newspaper) articles for publicity purposes, or pandering to demographics.

I have a lot of friends who are women, LGBTs, and minorities, and a good number of them have agreed with my assessments about the pandering nature of some of these projects. It should be about good stories and interesting characters, not shoehorning badly-written female and minority into an IP just to make a point.

I mean, I don't care if DISCOVERY has the first LGBT character in STAR TREK, because the show is badly-written, and I don't care to watch it! Good job, CBS! If the show was well-written, and focused on story and characters instead of spectacle and of-the-moment social politics, then I might have a different opinion.

Bad writing is bad writing. nuKirk and AbramsTREK is full of bad writing. Bad writing combined with a social agenda is one more step in the wrong direction. Burnham's race and gender don't matter to me. Her being badly written and executed as a character does. Bad writing should not get a pass because a character is cast with a minority actor.

I mean, Finn is a prominent Black character in the new STAR WARS films...but he's a Black janitor (which borders on being uncomfortably stereotypical), a liar, a coward, and did nothing particularly brave or useful in the first film. I can't help but think that he was depicted in this way to better serve the character of Rey, who is ridiculously competent at everything she does, and goes full-Jedi with zero training (...and is White).


It all just makes my Spider-Sense tingle. A gut feeling. A sense of foreboding. A feeling that our escapist entertainment is backsliding--morally, ethically, and socially. To see it happen to STAR TREK is especially disconcerting (although my points are aimed more at Disney's STAR WARS than at what little I've seen of DISCOVERY).
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Richard Stevens
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 8:29pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

When you SJW in that manner, you are literally adopting the language of the people marching side by side with Nazis.

***

Exactly. But hey, if that's where one wants to plant a flag, go for it.
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Richard Stevens
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 8:32pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

In this particular point in history, in this particular political climate, I just can't help but question the motives behind these sorts of creative decisions, which are all happening at once.

***

It could just be that the existence of the internet has made it more obvious than ever that non-white, non-male fans of these properties make up a huge portion of the audience. People should be able to see people like themselves in the stories they read. It's inspiring!
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Paul Kimball
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 10:07pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

Finn is a prominent Black character in the new STAR WARS films...but he's a
Black janitor (which borders on being uncomfortably stereotypical), a liar, a
coward, and did nothing particularly brave or useful in the first film.
++++++++++++++
Wow Greg I did not see him that way as all. To me he's a soldier who took a
ethical stand to leave probably the only home he's ever known and then puts
his life at risk to fight the 1st order when he could just disappear. He fought
Kylo Res one on one and while he didn't defeat him he held his own for a brief
time(with no training just like Rey) and likely saved her life.
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Paul Kimball
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 10:11pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

Same with Rey. She's awesome because she just is, without having earned
anything or received any Jedi training. She's as prominent and powerful as she
is because Disney wants to sell toys to girls, not because it makes for good
storytelling.
+++++++++++
So as a white male I feel like for so long we got almost all the good characters
and definitely had more than our share of what is being called a "Mary Sue"
but we rarely got called out for it. Now that other groups are getting more
casting its a change but let's give someone else a chance. All kids deserve to
grow up with some heroes that look like them w/o being label a "Mary Sue." N
one ever told me how Luke was.a Mary Sue when I was a kid.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 10:20pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

It could just be that the existence of the internet has made it more obvious than ever that non-white, non-male fans of these properties make up a huge portion of the audience. People should be able to see people like themselves in the stories they read. It's inspiring!
++++++

Perhaps. I'm glad that people are inspired by Rey and the others. Personally, I'm put off by the execution of the Disney films on a story and character level. I'm also creeped out by the narrative that Disney has built about STAR WARS basically being a White Boys' Only club, until now. Which is demonstrably untrue. It's as if they're saying, "Now, STAR WARS is finally for everyone!"

...what, like it wasn't before?!?!?

Call me crazy, but I think race and gender don't matter as long as stories and characters are well-constructed. I have plenty of female and minority friends who loved STAR WARS long before Disney came along. I don't need a character to be a white male in order to relate to him. Give me a compelling character, and I'm onboard. As are many of my minority friends. DISCOVERY's Burnham didn't hook me, and it's not because she's a woman and/or a minority. 

I also find myself wondering where all the truly-underrepresented minorities are, in this brave, new entertainment world we're living in. Where are the Indians, Arabs, and Native Americans? Filipino? Eskimos? Canadians? These diversity pushes in entertainment often seem to come down to women, Blacks, Latinos/Mexicans, Asians, and LGBTs. You could probably count the number of Indian, Arab, and Native American characters in all of STAR TREK on one hand (Chakotay being the most prominent, of course). Heck, I can't recall seeing any Arab/Muslim characters at all. Correct me if I'm wrong.

I sense a certain hypocrisy in all of this. All this championing of "diversity", and yet all is NOT equal for the truly marginalized minorities. Michelle Yeoh's character could just as easily have been as Indian woman, but appealing to the Asian market with a famous Asian actress would be more financially and commercially viable and for CBS, wouldn't it?

I dunno. I just think it's important to talk about this stuff, and to ask the hard questions. Every time I get into a discussion, I feel uneasy, and worry about unintentionally offend people. After all, there's already a lot of tension regarding race and gender relations right now, particularly here in the States. 



* Edited to change "Phillipino". I have no idea how my predictive speller turned "Fillipino" into that!


Edited by Greg Kirkman on 11 October 2017 at 2:07pm
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 10:23pm | IP Logged | 19 post reply

Wow Greg I did not see him that way as all. To me he's a soldier who took a 
ethical stand to leave probably the only home he's ever known and then puts 
his life at risk to fight the 1st order when he could just disappear. He fought 
Kylo Res one on one and while he didn't defeat him he held his own for a brief 
time(with no training just like Rey) and likely saved her life.
++++++++

I think he's a good idea for a character (Stormtrooper-turned-Rebel), but he really serves no purpose to the plot except for his trying to rescue Rey, and failing several times. His first instinct seems to be to run and hide, most of the time, and his primary motive for sticking to the adventure is his romantic interest in Rey.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 10:39pm | IP Logged | 20 post reply

So as a white male I feel like for so long we got almost all the good characters 
and definitely had more than our share of what is being called a "Mary Sue" 
but we rarely got called out for it. Now that other groups are getting more 
casting its a change but let's give someone else a chance. All kids deserve to 
grow up with some heroes that look like them w/o being label a "Mary Sue." N 
one ever told me how Luke was.a Mary Sue when I was a kid.
+++++++

Yeah, but, as I've noted elsewhere, Luke was not a fully-formed hero from the start. He had to work at it, made mistakes, and was barely survived his first duel with Vader. Rey, on the other hand, is impressive to everyone she meets, and is somehow using the Force and having lightsaber duels with literally zero training.

What does Rey as a character tell us, since she really doesn't have to work for anything? She comes from poor conditions and longs for a family, yes, but beyond that, she's hyper-competent in everything that she does, and ends up with Luke's lightsaber, the Millennium Falcon, Artoo, and Chewie within days of hooking up with the Resistance. Because...girl power? Leia and the Resistance just decided to give all this stuff to a girl who is pretty much a stranger and a wild card? Heck, Leia hugs her without having even met her or knowing who she is!

At least Luke risked life and limb to rescue Leia and get the Death Star plans to the Rebellion. That, combined with the Rebellion's need for pilots, earned him an X-Wing to pilot during the final battle against the Death Star. In TFA, Han came along and found Rey and the map to Luke. Rey didn't really do much to prove her value and loyalty to the cause. She escaped Jakku with a Resistance droid carrying vital information, was found by Resistsnce supporter Han Solo, got kidnapped, and defeated Kylo Ren in single combat, which boiled down to self-defense. Not quite at the setting out on a risky mission to save the Rebellion. Heck, the map to Luke isn't even that vital, really. It has no bearing on the destruction of Starkiller Base.


Gah! Please, back to STAR TREK!

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Paul Kimball
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 10:44pm | IP Logged | 21 post reply

Yeah, but, as I've noted elsewhere, Luke was not a fully-formed hero from the
start. He had to work at it,
++++++++
Thank you for the polite response and you're right, we should get back to Star
Trek. I have to say one last thing though since I thought of this originally when
I saw Star Wars as. child....when you say that Luke had to work at it, well not
to hard. He saves the galaxy more or less and destroys the Death Star in what
2 days after leaving the farm with no fighter pilot training except for 10
minutes in a totally different ship with Han?
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 10:49pm | IP Logged | 22 post reply


 QUOTE:
I'm going for more of the "whiny Internet nerds who insists that all properties shoehorn in women and minorites" use of the term "SJW". I am not trying to imply that the people in charge of these properties are neo-Nazis, and apologize if my use of the term comes off as such. It's an easy term to type, though!


I don't think you have the luxury of using that term without giving implicit support to neo-Nazis. And it was never really a good term to begin with, which is why it was so easily co-opted.


 QUOTE:
Call me crazy, but I think race and gender don't matter as long as stories and characters are well-constructed.

People keep saying that race and gender don't matter, but then complain about an agenda when a character is not a white male. People keep saying that race and gender don't matter, but blame an agenda if a minority character fails to connect in the same manner that white male characters are allowed to fail. If race and gender don't matter, then it doesn't matter if Disney is pandering to a demographic or not, because the manner in which they are pandering is supposedly inconsequential.


 QUOTE:
I also find myself wondering where all the truly-underrepresented minorities are, in this brave, new entertainment world we're living in. Where are the Indians, Arabs, and Native Americans? Phillipinos? Eskimos? Canadians? These diversity pushes in entertainment often seem to come down to women, Blacks, Latinos/Mexicans, Asians, and LGBTs. You could probably count the number of Indian, Arab, and Native American characters in all of STAR TREK on one hand (Chakotay being the most prominent, of course). Heck, I can't recall seeing any Arab/Muslim characters at all. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Speaking as a Filipino-American and an Asian-American, I can answer that part:

1) Filipinos /are/ Asian.
2) Where? Disney Channel. Seriously. Disney Channel loves mestizas.
3) While I think it is a good point that Hollywood can be lazy with their attempts at diversity, it would be a bit patronizing to use that to dismiss their attempts at diversity.


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Shane Matlock
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 11:13pm | IP Logged | 23 post reply

As for replacing male leads with female ones, I know it wasn't very beloved but I thought the recent Ghostbusters did it better than either Star Trek: Discovery or Star Wars: The Force Awakens. You want to have female leads in these previously male roles? Fine. But make them at least just as capable or incapable as the male leads that came before them. Not great at things they've never done or great at literally everything, including the stuff their science officer should be better at. 

Anyway, Star Trek already had a show with not one but two female leads and did it in much better fashion than Discovery and much more like Star Trek. It was called Star Trek: Voyager. It wasn't perfect, but it was a lot better than this, at least as far as living up to the name Star Trek goes. You can't really argue that Discovery doesn't look great.


Edited by Shane Matlock on 10 October 2017 at 11:48pm
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Shane Matlock
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 11:16pm | IP Logged | 24 post reply

Yeah, but, as I've noted elsewhere, Luke was not a fully-formed hero from the start. He had to work at it, made mistakes, and was barely survived his first duel with Vader. Rey, on the other hand, is impressive to everyone she meets, and is somehow using the Force and having lightsaber duels with literally zero training.

****

This. Exactly this was my biggest problem with the Force Awakens as well as Burnham on Discovery. 
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Rob Ocelot
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Posted: 11 October 2017 at 5:42am | IP Logged | 25 post reply

There's a very thin line between hero prodigies and hyper-competent Mary Sues.   

The budding prodigal hero has been around as long there has been oral storytelling traditions.   The HCMS is a more recent invention to get people quickly invested in a character within the arbitrary time limits decreed by Hollywood.   If you know your film might be edited down later you need to get the audience on board with your main character as fast as possible -- it's not surprising that the easiest characters to write are a wish-fulfilling avatar of the author surrounded by a bunch of incompetent boobs that serve to prop up the main character.  Most of these characters are white males simply because the majority of the scriptwriters were white men.   Indiana Jones, John McClane and every other modern action hero are HCMS characters, IMO... even when they screw up they still win and get off a witty one-liner to boot.  

The reason HCMS characters are being noticed now is the storytelling framework around them has changed from short-form to long form and there's a greater (but still not large) proportion of female and minority scriptwriters. Hollywood is now in a phase where they are compensating for the historical lack of diversity by overcompensating.   It's a phase.   If having minority female or LGBT characters in lead roles gets bums in seats then Hollywood will continue to make that product.   I think it will settle down eventually but it's never going to go away.

My real beef is the sociological stuff that's happening outside of the story -- actors and directors spend just as much time arguing with their audience outside of the medium as they do entertaining them in it.   There's also overcompensation for any type of criticism.   Eventually the audience will get sick of this and the shitty films that play the racism or sexism card as a defense against constructive criticism will stop making money.  

To bring this back to STAR TREK -- the way CBS All Access is funded DISCOVERY doesn't even have to make money for it to continue.  Without the negative pressure of money to dictate the content I think DISCOVERY will be it's own little perfect echo chamber of these extreme ideas.  Overcompensating Mary Sues are probably the tip of the iceberg.





Edited by Rob Ocelot on 11 October 2017 at 5:49am
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