Saturday, December 8, 2012

Why Star Trek is better than Star Wars, and why new Star Trek sucks.

It's one of the biggest debates in the nerd world, Trek vs Wars. Now before I get into this let me say I don't hate Star Wars. I like the original trilogy. But not only do I come down firmly on the side of Star Trek being the superior franchise, I fail to see how this is even a question. Let's take a closer look at both for a second and hopefully all you Lucas worshippers out there can maybe see the light.

Now these are franchises that have been around 50 and 40 years respectively, so let's all agree up front that both have had low points. You don't crank things out for that long without some of it being dog shit. So while Trek may have things it's fans would rather forget, Star Trek the Motion Picture for example, Star Wars of course has this.
So let's try and examine the high points of both. At its best, Star Trek explored the complexities of when cultures collide, it asked deep questions about what it means to be human. Star Wars at its best was about rebel monks who fight in space with magic powers.

I'm reminded of a Star Trek: TNG episode called Measure of a Man. In it, Data, an android, faced a trial to determine whether or not he was a person with rights or merely property of Starfleet. At the end of this you couldn't help ask yourself "What does it mean to be a person?" It made you think. Does anyone walk away from Empire Strikes Back asking deep philosophical questions?

But it's not as though Star Trek isn't capable of some balls to the wall action as well. Certainly one could look to Kirk and his hard fighting hard fuckin ways. But I think the most bad ass thing in the Trek universe is the Borg.
The Borg are some of the most terrifying bad ass antagonists in modern fiction. A race of hive mind cyborgs who seek to assimilate every race they encounter. They can not be negotiated with, and they can not be intimidated. They just keep coming at you, like a force of nature. And they don't even want to kill you, far worse then that, they want to steal your fucking soul. They want to take away what makes you you. They want to leave you a shell to spend the rest of your days in a living hell. What is the supposed pinnacle of bad ass in Star Wars? Boba Fett.

Yes Boba Fett. The epitome of style over substance. This supposed Chuck Norris of the Star Wars galaxy is nothing but an interesting character design that Lucas never got around to adding character to. This so called expert bounty hunter who, as Spoony pointed out, had to be reminded not to disintegrate the person he is supposed to bring in. Doesn't really seem like the kind of thing you should need to point out to an expert.

So when it comes to the substance of the two franchises, one makes you ask deep questions, the other has monks fighting with laser swords. When it comes to pulling out the bad ass, one has an unstoppable swarm of mind raping cyborgs, the other has an incompetent bounty hunter who was ultimately taken out by a blind man.

So in my eyes, it's truly no contest as to which is the superior franchise. But it also doesn't surprise me that Star Wars is the more popular of the two. It's a simple case of it being more lowest common denominator.

Now my final thought. This new Star Trek, the J.J. Abrams Star Trek, sickens me. It is a betrayal of what Trek was. Again Trek was the thinking man's sci fi. That new movie was nothing but crap blowing up in space. It was turning Trek into Wars. It was 90 minutes of Abrams raping Gene Roddenberry's corpse. If all Abrams wanted to do was a dumbed down Michael Bay style movie he should have made another Star Wars movie or a sequel to Battlefield Earth or some shit and let the grown ups have Star Trek. Fuck this new Star Trek. And fuck J.J. Abrams.

8 comments:

  1. I agree that Star Trek is superior to Star Wars. In all fairness, the original trilogy was great as far as movies go, but I wouldn't consider myself a "Star Wars fan" by any means.

    As for the JJ Abrams stuff... I wasn't too terribly thrilled with it at first, but I didn't hate it, either.

    You're giving Gene Roddenberry too much credit here. Sure, he created the characters, but a guy named Gene Coon (and even Leonard Nimoy himself) made them more interesting during the original series, and Harve Bennett and Nicholas Meyer made the movie series great while Roddenberry sat around trying to recycle the same "Let's go back in time and save JFK" script every time.

    I have my issues with JJ Abrams' stuff (the lens flare, the extreme youthfulness of the cast, the Spock/Uhura romance, the fact that Bones' role is diminished, and most of the casting), but I honestly believe what he's doing is better than what what they did with those terrible spinoff shows (though I admit that TNG occasionally had its moments as a good show).

    Star Trek Into Darkness should be pretty good. I think Benedict Cumberbatch will make a great villain. I think he'll steal the show and carry the whole movie.

    You have a good blog, but man... you swear way too much.

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  2. Thank you for the compliment, as for the swearing, it is what it is. This post was actually pretty tame compared to other ones.
    As for the Trek spin off shows I think TNG was the high point of the franchise. To me it was a better show in every way then the original. Better acting, writing, stories. I liked a lot of what Voyager was doing. I didn't care for DS9, I didn't hate it or think it was bad, it just didn't appeal to me. Enterprise I think kinda sucked.

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  3. Okay, I get that you didn't like the new Trek film... but I thought it was neat. I did like the fact that it didn't just simply 'retcon' the old series and create a whole bunch of continuity glitches. I'm glad they took time to respect the old stuff by saying 'it happened in another reality and here's Spock to prove it' and not just rewrite continuity to fit their story, a la current Marvel or DC.

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  4. This is pretty much rather stupid as a whole. Cultures meeting and clashing in Trek? More often than not, it's them being stupid to the point of adherence to the Prime Directive, or when they do get involved, they get involved in the most asshole way possible. Like, take Star Trek Insurrection for a moment: they have a godlike resource on their hands, and they can't use it because some hobos who took up residence on Federation soil forbid technology from being used on their world?

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  5. Let's take what you have here and analyze it: no philosophical questions after watching Episode V? Are you blind? There were many such questions that Luke threw at Yoda. Like, how far does the Spartan Jedi training override one's care for one's friends? Is it right to sacrifice your friends if it means victory and achieving what they wanted? Or can the whole "Force" thing be easier for someone who keels over to the world, like how Luke almost did towards Vader in the end, when he lost? Unlike the majority of the Star Trek conflicts where they have cheesy moralizing towards the end of the evils of cultural imperialism, a narrative peddled by the worst Western Liberalism has to offer, Star Wars breaks the heroes will and tells them "this is what happens when you deal with a superpower." As for the Borg, do anything they do have any permanent effect? They infest Picard, he comes back. The fact that they showed that Borgification can be reversed destroys the drama and tension of the whole thing. With Luke, what happened to him in the hands of Vader was permanent. In Star Trek, they use contrived means to wrap up dramatic plot twists to restore the status quo.

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  6. And let's compare villains: the Borg are supposedly an awesome army of mind-raping cyborgs. Well enough, but there's also the fact that they can't deflect more than one frequency at a time. So, why don't the heroes create some phaser chain gun that has each barrel lined up to a different frequency? Or fire different torpedoes with different payloads? And seriously? You're going to compare the Borg to a one-shot character that wasn't even that important in the film? The ultimate badass of the Original Trilogy isn't Fett. Fett is popular in the Expanded Universe crowd. And before you start bitching about the expanded universe not being proper Star Wars because Lucas didn't think of it, there's two things: first, the Original Star Wars wasn't all Lucas either. He was just an idea bucket. Gary Kurtz, Lawrence Kasdan, and Richard Marquand are your guys to thank. Same for the golden age of Star Trek; people like Gene Coon made it happen. Roddenberry was nowhere near the center of the writing action; he was just the producer in the TOS era. So yeah, EU is fair game, especially since Lucas didn't want to do a regular movie series 2-3 years all the time. Hell, there are more Trek movies than there are Wars movies. But the Borg would get utterly raped by the Empire. Why? The Imperials have power and numbers on their side. Borg ships get obliterated by the Species 8472, whose firepower is similar to the Death Star. They've been fighting the Borg for God knows how long, so the Borg ought to know the frequency of their weapons, yet they haven't formulated a counter against this age-old foe, proving that their adaptations are worthless against superior firepower. What's worse, is that neither faction has ships that can survive ship ramming. In EPV, two Imperial warships accidentally collided, none were hurt. One was decapitated when its shields were down, but that's the same for most science fiction; unshielded ships are asteroid chow. A shielded Millennium Falcon deflected the same asteroids anyways. Then again, the Borg can and do get defeated by torpedoes that bypass their shields. The torpedoes in the original movies? They bypassed Star Destroyed and Death Star shields and exploded on their hulls. Hell, the Ion cannon would be enough to stun Borg ships, and with them getting disabled in the first shot, they can't adapt. Ergo, even the rebels, the TRUE heroes of Star Wars, can defeat the Borg with their limited resources.

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  7. And as for old shames, we had Jar Jar. You had Neelix. Jar Jar as important to only one movie. Neelix stuck for a whole series.
    Have fun with that.

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  8. Wow, lot to unpack here. OK, first of all in the future I would prefer one long comment over a shitload in a row there. Now as for some of your actual points. Now some of the things you've pointed out, like Star Trek 9 are generally ripped apart by Trek fans as a whole, myself included. As I said before, both franchises had their low points, and seeing as how Trek as produced more than Wars Trek is bound to have more low points. I have no interest in debating the franchises at their worst. I highly doubt you want to debate the merits of the Star Wars Holiday special for instance.

    Now as for the Borg, regardless of whether some MacGuffin from the Wars universe can defeat the MacGuffin on a Borg ship, the Borg are still fucking scary for their intent alone. What they want to do is way worse than set up an oppressive empire. They want to take your humanity. They basically want to steal your soul. Sure it can be reversed at great length, but it still leaves the trauma of having your mind raped. And as for what happened to Luke being permanent, didn't he get a spiffy robot hand? It's not like he just had a stump from then on out.

    You talk of philosophy. I think of the TNG episode where Data was on trial to determine if he had rights. Compare that with the sentient droids who are treated as slaves in the Wars universe with no thought whatsoever by any of the characters about it. Trek explored a question brought up by the concept of artificial intelligence, but to the best of my knowledge Wars glosses right over it.

    And about Neelix, he never really bothered me. He was kinda annoying in the first few seasons of Voyager, but quickly became a background comic relief character after around season three. Never really saw the intense hatred the character got. Hell I always found Wesley Crusher to be more annoying than Neelix and I would take either of them over Jar Jar or the kind who played Anikin in Episode I.

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