Star Trek by the Minute 019: Ladies’ Night
Previous: Vulcan Racism
As Spock finishes his interview with the council, we cut to a car driving down a lonely Iowa cornfield with the last flames of dusk dying on the horizon. Without stopping (or slowing) at the crossroads, the car pulls up to a what we discover is a futuristic roadhouse bar. The driver appears to be the Uhura, and we follow her swishing red turtleneck mini dress through the club as she approaches the bar and orders a Clavian Fire Tea, 3 Budweiser® Classics (another shameful product placement), 2 Cardassian Sunrises, and what sounds like a "Slushle Mix" at the bartender's suggestion. Now we see there are women everywhere, but at least they're just functioning as scenery, and ordering drinks. At GirlBar in Hollywood one might see 5 to 1 ratios like this…but in Iowa? OK, it's the future in an alternate universe. The bartender goes to work on her order.
"That's a lot of drinks for one woman" comes from our tipsy future hero James T. Kirk, slumping forward to reveal himself from behind another patron who looks like Michael Dorn with a long face. Uhura looks at him and decides she's going to need "a shot of Jack, straight up." Kirk slurs: "Make that 2, her shot's on me." "Her shot's on her; Thanks but no thanks."
A short scene, but in it we've learned Uhura is in Iowa where Kirk was supposed to have been born in the original timeline, and Earth is aware of not only klingons and vulcans, but also cardassians. Also, we've learned that Kirk has survived a delinquent, destructive adolescence to become a young man who goes to bars alone and drinks too much. While there is no real logical problem with such characterization, the question of the writers' values and dedication to producing good work seems inevitable. This screen time could have been used to portray the triumph of hard work over adversity – which is usually more impressive than apathetic depravity. Perhaps the writer's schedule does not allow for the kind of careful thought a substantial and valuable story requires, and only had time to write the kind of bar fights and chase scenes that Roddenberry so detested as profit-maximizing pandering. Yet, to gain the approval of TV production gatekeepers for making Star Trek, he had to include them. They would not tolerate the intelligent portrayal of a wise hero who avoided violence.
From a larger perspective, this kind of decision makes perfect sense for a country like the United States that was started as a colony for exploitation and profit maximization by the English crown, founded on war against the indigenous population and dedicated to exploitation of the resources for increasing the wealth of the rich. As the inventor of the free market model Adam Smith observed and described: merchants and manufacturers support wars during which they work to ensure "their own interests are most particularly looked after." Media corporations are today's equivalent, and are driven by profit goals to support conflict where velocity of the aggregate money supply is increased. Avoiding violence and war by establishing peace and democratic management reduces profit – so television shows that portray avoiding war and establishing democracy in markets is like kryptonite to US style state-socialized capitalism. Roddenberry had a beautiful dream of something better than those who boast they are "not fans of Star Trek" (e.g.: JJ Abrams), understand.
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