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I Hate Linux

Friday, May 11, 2007

LOST: Taking the lesson from Star Trek to far?

My name is Brendan, and I'm a trekkie.

I admit it. Sure, I've never had a uniform, but I've been to the conventions, read quite a few of the books (less so in later years) and even wrote a few episodes (never submitted them) and know my trivia pretty well.

One of the truly amazing things about Star Trek (like most good science fiction) was the moral stories it told each week, enabling it to deal with contemporary issues in a way that might not otherwise be possible.

One way it would do this would be to explore the humanity of non-human characters. Spock, Data, Odo, The Doctor, T'Pol (just to name a few) were the primary avenues for this... only there was one direction they'd take from time to time.

The enemies.

Remember the Borg? The ultimate evil right? Na, they were just misunderstood and trying to achieve perfection, that's all. It's not evil, it's noble. The Dominion? They just want to subjugate the galaxy under the rule of The Founders... but so what? They are nice folks and have their own problems... persecution of the Founders by the solids, genetically engineered slave races and a whole quadrant of folks who don't see eye to eye. How about Species 8472? They are only defending themselves against the incursions from the Borg and whatever they do in self-defense is quite alright, after all, they hate the Borg about as much as we do. The Xindi? They were just misled. The Hirogen? They are just trying to hold onto their culture. The Klingons? Sure they started out bad, but later we all became one happy Federation.

Each of these groups started out as the ultimate (or really scary) enemy and threat to all that we knew and loved... and yet though some exploration of their humanity we came to know them more and like them... even if they were still 'bad' we would move from "oh no, it's the ____" to "awe, it's the ____. Sure they look scary... they are just misunderstood."

What does this have to do with LOST? They've been doing the same thing from the start. We get to know a character on the island and come to love or hate them but then get a more... balanced view of them after their back story airs.

Just this week we had one of those where the island's very own super villain Ben is found out to be not that bad of a guy... after all, his father was pretty emotionally abusive which lead to Ben's having a rotten childhood.

Whenever they'd do this on Star Trek it'd annoy me a bit because it assumed that we could understand the motivations of some alien group and that we could in some way relate to them... something we may not be able to do with a truly 'alien' race/people. Call me crazy, but I like the idea of dealing with a total and pure evil or at least unrelatable enemy from time to time and something we don't often see in science fiction... with the one exception being of Stargate SG-1 where they did a great job of maintaining the 'evil' aspect of the Goa'uld and the Ori in ways that Star Trek never did and unlike what LOST seems to want to do.

Sure we don't know anything about him, you just know we are going to have a Jacob episode that makes him seem like a sympathetic character, no matter how bad he might be (if he is bad)... of course, I'm still waiting for a Predator episode.


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