Thursday, September 24, 2009

Classics: DS9 1.10 - The Nagus - Response to the Response

My co-author will have to forgive me, but I believe I did see through the premise in my original review. I quote: "There is nothing inherently wrong with the writing in this episode once you get past the premise." The score it received on the writing rubric reflected my level of enjoyment and my perception of the episode's depth outside of the underlying set-up.

Now - as to why I felt the need to broach the subject of the Ferengi society's untenability in my review, I think my co-author nears the correct answer when he quotes Behr: it's true that the audience response needs to be addressed, but I believe it all comes down to authorial intent. It is necessary to critique both Ferengi and Federation society (as my co-author did in part in his review of Captive Pursuit - and as I intend to do at a later date) more stringently because in both cases, the authors are making significant claims about our Western society - either regarding what our culture is like at present or what it should become - that are largely absent in the world-building for other alien societies in the Trek universe.

And just to head off a possible objection: yes, the above claim includes the Vulcans, for while it may be true that much of the audience has received the traditional depiction of Vulcan society as a prescriptive ideal - and it may be true that later Trek authors have since embraced it as such - it is my contention that this was not the Vulcans' original function in the narrative. When you watch the dynamics of the original cast, whether in the original series or in the movies, it becomes immediately apparent that Spock was created mainly to enable an Aristotelian dialogue between logic - Spock - and emotion - McCoy - with the ego - Kirk - playing mediator. Over and over again, a purely logical approach is demonstrated to be insufficient.

But going back to the Ferengi (the Vulcans shall be explored in detail another day), since the creators of DS9 are on record claiming that the Ferengi are a depiction of our own society - and as I said, this is a much more powerful and potentially pernicious claim than those underlying other societies in the Trek universe (save those which lay the foundation for the Federation itself) - they have left their portrayal wide open to criticism. And I intend to take advantage of that every chance I get. :)

1 comment:

  1. Readers should be aware that I am in complete agreement that the Ferengi are by far the worst example of a loaded message being sent by the writers that lacks in intellectual depth or resonance. In fact, as I mentioned to her, I believe it gets worse when the Ferengi and the Federation are put in the same room. You're essentially seeing a dramatized version of a straw man argument against capitalism. The heavy hand of the liberal Federation pitted against a straw man standing in for the true nature of capitalism...don't believe this represents the real choices we face today for one second. It's not even close.

    I think these are the kinds of discussions that need to be seriously addressed by alternative viewpoints on science fiction media. The voice of liberal fandom has been unopposed for many years and is backed by the voice of the writers and producers of these shows. When Ira Steven Behr gleefully proclaims that we are like the Ferengi, I think we need to take notice of that and call him on his faulty logic.