Monday, July 6, 2009

STbtM 025: Safety Belts

Previous: Bike Ride

It is a bright, shiny morning as Jim Kirk rides into Starfleet's Riverside Iowa shipyard on his motorcycle with wheel rims, but for some reason possesses no hub or spokes. Alas, there are no more shots of the Enterprise under construction, but we do see lots of workers running around and one of them comes up to Kirk, admiring his bike and Kirk tosses him the keys and says: "It's yours." This is apparently another sad and misguided effort at substituting apathy for virtue and arrogance for style. On a more basic level, one wonders why discard a perfectly good motorcycle? Are personal vehicles not allowed at Starfleet?

Captain Pike, who has been watching Kirk approach, is standing at the shuttle hatch when Kirk strides by and says: "Four years? I'll do it in three." Is this claim anything other than arrogance? As far as we've seen, Kirk only asks for information when he's trying to ridicule, as in the sarcastic and drunken "Who am I, Captain Pike?" or trying to get laid questioning Uhura, also while intoxicated. True to self-centered form, Kirk declares "I'll do it in three" while walking away. In virtually all cultures, this is considered dismissive at best. The higher authority or decision-maker is the one who determines when discussion is sufficient, not the subordinate or advisor.

Kirk comes grinning onto the "shuttle for new recruits", looks around, and plows his head on the beam, perhaps in an homage to James Doohan's Scotty knocking himself out on the Enterprise. Kirk then walks past some of his fight opponents from the night before in their red silk cadet uniforms. It seems Pike lied yet again: this is not the shuttle for new recruits, it's the shuttle for cadets who have been accepted and are at least a year in the program, and all of whom have been issued their uniforms, of the 34 passenger appearances I counted on screen. Obviously some of these shots are repeats of the same people, but if there are new "recruits" we might expect to see at least one other violent & destructive addict-criminal on board without a uniform, but apparently Kirk is well, "special".

One notable thing we do see which has been all but unheard-of in the Trek universe: safety belts or harnesses. There are dramatic reasons for omitting them, like having people fly across the screen during explosions, but at least we have some on the shuttle.

As this segment ends, Kirk catches sight of the spectacular-looking and well acted but horribly written Uhura, played by Zoe Saldana.

Next: Addicts Aboard!

8 comments:

Lionel Braithwaite said...

On a more basic level, one wonders why discard a perfectly good motorcycle? Are personal vehicles not allowed at Starfleet?

Most navies don't allow you to keep a car or any other possession when you join them-what make you think Starfleet is any different?Also, as shown in the novelization, Kirk realizes at that point that he is no longer interested in things-his motorbike being one of them.

As for Uhura having a vehicle, that probably was a rental.

BurntSynapse said...

Hi Lionel,

Before accepting the claim that "most navies don't allow you to keep a car or any other possession" I'm going to require some evidence. I have never heard of any service anywhere in the world that required people to give up cars, houses, clothes, money, family photos, etc. If this claim were true, a recruit would not be allowed to maintain a home for children, or even military medals awarded to ancestors - which seems unlikely in the extreme.

Do we want to reword "Most navies don't allow you to keep a car or any other possession when you join them" which might be more accurate to what you want to communicate and what we might call a realistic situation?

Lionel Braithwaite said...

All right, fine, you got me on that one. But I still go by the novelization's description of Kirk getting rid of his bike as a symbolic act of freeing himself from all possessions (kind of like a man or a woman getting rid of all the stuff they have in the world once they enter a monastery or convent.) Kirk doesn't need a bike now that he's about to start Starfleet Academy-he'll have the Enterprise or any other ship to be on.What need does he have of a motorbike?

BurntSynapse said...

Hi Lionel,

I’m not trying to score points on you – but I thought it was strange for an intelligent person to propose something so obviously unreasonable (militaries disallow any private property) in support of a dodgy position.

As for the justification using the novelization, you are totally free to use this, but my review is of the film, and in that film Kirk shows nothing but contempt for “things”, morals, people, public safety, etc. The only non-criminal thing he exerted ANY effort toward was seducing Uhura while drunk – and I would point out that this was a high point. It was right before he committed sexual battery against her. If she had been an 8 or 9 year old male, perhaps Kirk would seem more like the monastery type to me...

I spoke to Foster about the novelization, but had not known it was out yet…

R. Anthony Steele said...

The bike sequence is the moment in the film when I could no longer suspend disbelief. The antique car at the beginning, far fetched as that sequence was, was an artifact of the past.

Kirk's bike a is tool of the modern age, and it has wheels, which is completely outside of the trek universe (It's also why Nemesis doesn't make it as a trek film, btw) and it's appearance pulled me right out of the film. So much so that I couldn't even enjoy the grand entrance of the under construction Enterprise.

The 'giving away things' comment in the novelization is probably a wrong-headed attempt to incorporate the (poorly conceived) notion of money and property in the ST universe that previous screen writers have failed to communicate in their own right.

They would have had to have some grounding in philosophy, money and ethics in order to understand it themselves, much less communicate it to others.

As you pointed out, the film addresses none of this, doing even less (if that's possible) to incorporate past conceptions of Trek into the story.

-RAnthony

BurntSynapse said...

Interesting points. I agree 100% that the writers were ill prepared to tackle a Star Trek assignment other than to pretty thoroughly rape the franchise for easy cash, and they show every sign of drooling at the chance to do it again.

I can't blame them too much, it's clear they don't know any better, but such ignorance and arrogance in charge of a property that really tried for better is disheartening.

muser said...

What evidence have we that it's even Jim Kirk's bike? He might have stolen it from his uncle. And why not give it to his uncle, or his uncle's son, or whoever he passed in the corvette, or SOMEONE he knew, instead of a total stranger? Or why not get a ride to the base and keep the thing garaged? Of course this whole sequence might reinforce the idea that in the age of replicators, things are practically valueless. In which case his gesture actually means nothing at all, since everything would be pretty much disposable.

R. Anthony Steele said...

I like the theft idea. That actually fits with this Mirror, Mirror Kirk.

-RAnthony