Star Trek Original
Sexism and the Plight of the Buffalo
Dear Husband recently created a wonderful birthday for me. My jubilee celebration!
I am not a difficult person for whom to buy the birthday, or any other, presents. My needs are simple, my interests varied, easily pegged, and forever evolving. I furthermore enjoy, every spring, a new hard-copy batch of vintage filmed stories to amuse away the heat of summer, especially on nights after I’ve worked during the day with projects of imagination, research, and even more inventive fancy.
I do not separate the worlds of dream and reality, of illusion and actuality with thick walls that must be blasted through with phasers, set on max power, not stun!
The summer will soon be upon us, here, in the Sierra Nevada foothills. A week or two of relaxing, even enjoyable, entertainment is all I ask during my breaks from writing THE LAST WALTZ. [Update: Evidently, that expectation was too much for me to ask of this series! It’s 9 May and I’m nearly finished with the laborious work of traipsing through the too few decent episodes of The Adventures of Spock.]
Hubby bought me the Blu-Ray Original Series of Star Trek, which I did not watch during its original air-dates. Actually, I have a hard time recalling much buzz from my peers about this “sci-fi” show during my childhood. That lack of demographic-interest, however, might have been the New Jersey setting of that reality in my inescapable life, in which I did engage in fantasy and daydreams and night dreams and a measurable amount of wish-fulfillment.
As a young adult, during those Carter
years of working several jobs in Washington, D.C., I occasionally
watched re-runs of the by-then famous Star Trek, after returning to my
steam-heat barely furnished apartment from the work sites. The television was an old, very old,
black-and-white Zenith, so I did not partake of the lushness in living color.
Tonight, amidst the creative creature-comforts of my Dream Home, I watched the First Pilot, The Cage. That episode stars the phenomenally handsome Jeffrey Hunter and the gorgeously lovely Susan Oliver.
First and foremost, I must state that Hunter was a vastly superior Captain Pike to the Captain Kirk that was canned-ham rendered by William Shatner!
Hunter exhibited controlled passions that ran a rather large gamut from resentment to rapture, alongside a crafty, canny, sternly cunning intellect. By comparison, Shatner’s emotional span as Kirk always veered wildly toward those hot-tempered tantrums, before pinging back to smirking sensuality. Mr. Spock was, purportedly, the thinking side of Kirk.
I’d like to think of the emotional development that the character of Spock might have been forced to undergo if the movie-star Jeffrey Hunter hadn’t walked away from a performing gig that didn’t do it for him. But then all of those glitzy theatre-films of the 1980s wouldn’t have been fabricated to fan out across the Morning In America that was Ronald Reagan country.
Piggy-backing on the Star Wars franchise was the modus operandi for Star Trek: The Movies. Although Star Wars was built off of the inter-galactic vapor-trail of Star Trek — and the two time-space continuums tagged-team and pre-queled each other for decades.
The embryonic female, the woman called Vina (as in vine, clinging but fruitful) was portrayed by the dazzlingly blue-eyed blonde Susan Oliver. Just this one woman, alone, even without her green skin and writhing limbs, gave blue-eyed blondes a wretchedly bad time in the sales pitch department of trust where men were concerned. Other vixens have replaced this demurely voluptuous vamp, but none have bested her.
The second episode, The Man Trap, astounded me with its archaically dated dialogue. And this scriptwriting hearkens back only fifty years!
Also laughably ridiculous is the inter-planetary concern over the plight of the buffalo. That tragic man-as-hunter circumstance has since reversed itself on the plains of the U.S. West. There are, in fact, plenty of buffalo rebounding on the Wild Plains of America.
My character in NORTHSTAR, Gus Corrigan, was prophetic in his take on the environmental wackos who would endanger all of us humans. That goal, however, might be their intended result. I’m not sure how they, the human-haters, escape the fates they’re foisting on every one else.
The physical man-trap was a woman-creature undergoing a fearsome bio-chemical imbalance that seemed to have triggered a similar response in Dr. Leonard McCoy.
His lack of analytic skills and amorous dewy-eyed dumbness for this woman from his past was, in my womanly and objective opinion, insulting to a profession that has put itself through the corrupt wobbly analysis-wringer during the past few years. TV-Western actor DeForest Kelley replaced the Doc of the Original Pilot. That medical doctor was played by John Hoyt, an old-time stage thespian who went Hollywood in the 1940s and appeared in many films of the 1950s. Hoyt displays an earth-world weariness that is intriguingly realistic and immediately convincing. His verbalized comparisons between the role of the physician and that of the bartender are extremely accurate.
I think the dialogue in both of these initial episodes was extremely sexist — not in a bad or offensive way because the attitudes smack of the instinctive sensibility that must nowadays reinforce the reality of normal:
Adam and Eve = man and woman, the starter set for two sexes.
The characterizations of the men and the women of the Original Star Trek are sexist in patronizingly insulting ways that only a moral relativist like Gene Roddenberry could have imagined, produced, and preferred. The only women with telling intelligence do not possess blonde hair. Uhura, the marvelous fictional character crafted by Nichelle Nichols, is the smartest woman on-board the starship, using her womanly intuition to the hilt. She was also blessed with a beauty that once too often got exploited, for shock value and for the ratings that the 1960s went after. All, of course, in the name of social justice and cosmic harmony.
The subservient roles of women in this fascinating world of commanding and scientific men were further degraded by the obvious sex appeal that SpaceBabe A had to have for The Captain or for RedShirt B (who was doomed anyway).
The number of female bodies used for ornamentation would not feel as jarringly and awkwardly palpable were this fictional setting that of a Matt Helm flick, but the universe and the voyages of the Starship Enterprise were pitched on a higher plane of human relations. When I think of “boldly going where no man has gone before,” I do not visualize the Captain and the Yeoman, with that tower-of-babel beehive hairdo, frolicking on the pleasure-planet whilst they analyze the alien life forms and tend to the allocation of supplies and checking on how those strange life-forms were all doing on planets that would, today, be in sore need of the W.H.O.
Maybe we can gaga-beam that ghastly, beastly head of the WHO up there, anywhere!
That favorite sport of men (though not of women) took up a lot of the ratings-grabbers. Which is fine, as long as the advertising matches the image, which, fundamentally, it did not do. I think that the two virulent strains of this space-western, the science-fiction fare and the cheesecake servings, never co-existed! Ergo, the low network ratings.
I have observed the first few Star Trek movies. I have not witnessed the subsequent versions and re-vitalizations of the Star Trek tv-franchise, as it has morphed into hyper-strong womanoid characters who, despite this obvious and abject attempt to negate the sexism of the 1960s series — only reinforces it. 180 degrees of abnormal is not normal.
To watch a classic Hollywood film from the 1940s is to NOT experience the type of dated dialogue and hyped “social significance” that mar the original Star Trek. This show is not a classic, but I’d thought that it was, perhaps because of the archetypes that are believed to have been created by those prototype characters of the initial template. Those fictional persons do not rise to the occasions that have been made of them in the current era. Sad it is, how a viewpoint of today can so easily, with a sort of helpless necessity, impose itself on the celluloid works of the past.
Television, as it once was during the Days of Desilu, no longer exists, and hasn’t existed for a very long time. The bottom line formerly ruled decisions, even to the point of casting a stink-eye at the casting (not once, but twice) of Majel Barrett in the original series.
Lucille Ball, the chairwoman of Desilu, couldn’t understand the possible appeal of this hour-long outer space soap opera; she only knew that the production was costing a lot of money! And I gotta say, the sets at the Universal/RKO lots look incredibly cheap! Lucy nevertheless continued to produce this unusual televisual clambake of the Final Frontier.
It was the network NBC that cancelled the series, thereby setting into motion the ever-growing hunger for a tv-show that, originally, wasn’t very popular, or highly rated. Star Trek became famous, wildly famous with cult followers — after its time on the tube.
The bottom line is no longer drawn much anymore where viewers, the paying customers, consumers, citizens, taxpayers, or even voters are concerned. That line has to be redrawn, not copied, or recopied. I trust the generations who have lived in the boring wake of searching for that final frontier have found much better adventures to search for — with or without characters with weird ears or communication devices.
The technical geniuses who restored this enhanced digital creation from the 1960s materials had to go to the Smithsonian Institution to make use of the model/replica of the Starship Enterprise. It is comforting for me to think of the U.S. Government as playing a positive and edifying role in reconstructing, rehabilitating, and modernizing a televisual tour de force that, for me, has lost its force. The cans of Star Trek celluloid didn’t get burned in that Universal Fire that destroyed so many millions of dollars worth of past productions in a Hollywood that no longer produces entertainment.
The plight of the buffalo got solved inside of thirty years in the United States. No longer were they hunted en masse, and the prairie grasslands remained intact and in place for them to graze and roam once more. Maybe the plight of man and woman, without the sexism, can get solved even more quickly in these United States (as in today). This nation is chock-filled with people who are not aliens, illegal or otherwise. These life forms are red-white-and-blue patriots, and they follow the laws that their leaders routinely, rashly, rudely, and willfully break.
They don’t have Zen, but they’re getting karma!
We the People just want to live, and raise our children, of either sex, to become honorable Americans in this glorious frontier of the New World.