STbtM 021: Barfight!

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The Starfleet cadet friend of Uhura, looming large over Kirk tells him, "Hey, you better mind your manners." Apparently thinking that getting pummeled by Uhura's friends would be more important and fun than spending time alone with her, Kirk ignores her to pick a fight with her friends. Now, this makes sense in the Abramsverse because while Uhura may be gorgeous and intelligent, she's still only a female and to our "hero", simply not worth much time or attention.  So Kirk starts slapping this cadet in the chest and sophomorically trying to insult him with "cupcake". Kirk is supposed to be some super Einstein and this is the best he can do for an insult?

The cadet suggests to Kirk "Maybe you can't count; there are four of us and one of you." Kirk replies "so get some more guys and then maybe it will be an even fight," now slapping the cadet in the face twice, and then in an incredibly stupid move, turns his back on the guy he has just struck! The only thing he's really indicated is that he really wants to get into a fight, and is willing to put more effort into that than into the beautiful language genius he's just met and ostensibly wants. Kirk actually feigns surprise when this guy finally gives him the punch for which he's been begging.

Kirk is knocked to the bar with that hit and turns around to confront his opponent, who throws another punch but without setting his feet or drawing back to strike, Kirk lands a hit right in the sternum of a guy who outweighs him by about 30%. His lightning-quick punch throws the cadet up in the air and away in a backward summersault that reminded me of Kung-Pow: Enter the Fist, when some guy punched a bloody-but-hilarious tunnel through 8 opponents. If a table had not been in the way, that large cadet probably would have done a reverse half flip. That should have broken every bone in Kirk's hand, or striking with the palm, every bone is his wrist. Also, he would have been thrown backward with a speed greater than that of his rapidly receding opponent, if the laws of momentum were operating.

Taking on the other three, Kirk stumbles over and violently gropes Uhura's chest and starts smirking at her, (wannabe rapist?) and takes a TOS saurian brandy bottle to the NECK of one of the cadets in a sweeping slash. In plain language: he has just committed sexual battery against one cadet and attempted to murder another by trying to slit his throat with a deadly weapon. I am absolutely dumbfounded as to why it would be considered valuable to show a hero of space exploration as a perverted, violent would-be rapist & murderer. I tried to find out on the forums whether this kind of depiction was troubling to anyone, and my comments and questions were deleted. There was no answer from the admin as to why the objection and related question was deleted, and I could find no one objecting to this, but if others were asking such questions or similarly concerned, perhaps their feedback was expunged as well.

Eventually Kirk winds up on the floor, bleeding and motionless, when the large friend of Uhura picks up the limp Kirk, lifts him onto a table and starts hammering Kirk's face with his fist. Was Kirk motionless because his neck was broken? Had he passed out or been knocked unconscious? Apparently not a single member of the public, the bar security, management, nor a single member of the Starfleet personnel in the crowd were willing to stop the brutal beating (torture?) well on its way to becoming a very public murder that this out-of control cadet was committing, and in front of his friends and what look like senior officers looking on. If this cadet is the kind of moral character the Federation wants representing them to the galaxy, a Starfleet officer should miraculously appear to save Kirk, and encourage him to apply to the Academy.

Miraculously at just the moment to save Kirk's life, a Starfleet captain shows up at the door, whistles, and everyone stops fighting; Kirk's life is saved! It's not just amazing, it's "amazingly amazing!" (Zaphod Beeblebrox)

JJ Abrams is selling what I see as a new, cheaply written, depraved universe for Star Trek. Granted, he's not just selling it for money, but in the words of Lone Star "…for a shitload of money!" This term "depraved" may seem harsh, since the leadership is not actually pulling the trigger on real violence the film idolizes in fantasy form, but it does seem fair to observe that the director and associates are making a mint from producing "don't think, fight" propaganda and directly undermining the noble aspirations for Star Trek.

Overreaction? In the sequence that follows, the film makers remove any doubts viewers might have as Captain Pike explicitly voices support for dangerous, reckless action. I can't help but wonder how closely some version of this worldview is emphasized within Al Qaeda, knowing more than I want to about analogs in Shin Bet, US SOF & many policy makers. In the US military, the conditioning of young men is horrifying as psychological manipulation techniques are used to break down moral values learned from their families. Their strength of personality is weakened through physical exhaustion, sleep interruption and other scientifically designed techniques of indoctrination and they are cut off from any potential contact to civil society that might inhibit them from killing on command, which is practiced to numbness. Recruits are ordered to yell "KILL!" while thrusting knives into human shaped dummies in an effort to overcome the natural, healthy human inhibitions against murder. They are conditioned to respond to the question "What makes the green grass grow?" by yelling "BLOOD!" three times. While Roddenberry's preferred captain was a thoughtful man of peace, Abrams' Kirk is a reckless man of violence, only more advanced than an indoctrinated killer as this foolish sociopathic Kirk needs no encouragement to harm others or himself.


muser said…
You note, correctly, that Kirk is "apparently thinking that getting pummeled by Uhura's friends would be more important and fun than spending time alone with her..." I believe this at least is consistent with what we know of TOS Kirk. He's more than a bit of a masochist, and constantly provokes larger opponents, groups, or the better armed to attack him. In one instance we find him offering to take a whipping in his crew's stead in "Gamesters of Triskelion"; in another we see Kirk having Spock stand on his back AFTER being whipped in "Patterns of Force". In "Shore Leave" he could have any fantasy he can imagine. What does he come up with? Cadet Finnegan from his Academy days (missing from THIS movie!) punching him in the face. For more on this I refer those interested to:
BurntSynapse said…
Thanks for the great link!

I'm not sure I can agree original Kirk "constantly provokes larger opponents, groups, or the better armed to attack him." Offering to take a whipping for your crew is a noble act, as was the "Patterns of Force" example: non-aggressive self-sacrifice for a constructive purpose.

The Shore Leave Finnegan was created prior to understanding the fantasy nature of the park, and once he had that idea, didn't he stay with his old flame?
muser said…
He did eventually conjure up a woman named "Ruth" I believe. I still think he's a masochist. BTW I always thought it was Ruth who was the one who got away and that he should have been with her in the Nexus in "Generations". Although I've seen it speculated that "Antonia" was no more real than Picard's Nexus children. Sorry, total digression there.
BurntSynapse said…
Your Trek is strong, Master Muser.
Flashman85 said…
Y'know, you *could* argue that there *is* a moral here: "Don't marry a guy who'll get himself blown up and leave you as a single parent, because your kid will turn out like Kirk."
BurntSynapse said…
True, provided that we lived in a universe where we could know what our spouses (and ourselves) would do or turn into prior to getting married.

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