Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Nothing happening

I haven't really had much chance to play recently, which is why I haven't been blogging. I have been pretty busy at work too so I haven't been keeping up with the MMO blogs like I usually do so I haven't had much to comment on.

I have been playing the EQ pen and paper RPG with my Friday night group. It has been a lot of fun and we have a new player who seems like he will fit in really well with our group.

Personally I have been pretty busy studying for my second round of the LSAT and the Patent Bar Exam.

I have some stuff I want to say about the Star Trek MMO, I know it has been floating around the last week or so as a discussion point. Here is what I had to say about Star Trek in general on the Fear the Boot forums:

Since they are going back to the original I hope they plan to push the boundaries out as far as the original did. This is why I am excited about J.J. Abrams being in charge. The original really pushed the envelope out where women and race were concerned (for the time) and I hope to see that upped here. J. J. is known for pretty strong and competent female characters (Kate, Sidney) and actually using minorities' culture to round out their characters (Sun), so I hope we will see that really pushed.

The Treks since then have just gone with everyone is just a different colored version of the same basic guy, which when compared to a lot of other sci-fi is admirable. It would be nice to see females and minorities be equally as capable but explore the cultural and psychological diversity of character it brings (this has been done on Lost a lot more than on almost any other sci fi).

There is no reason Sulu cannot be a competent helmsman and still be culturally Japanese, that would be far more interesting. Likewise there is no reason that a woman can't kick butt but still maintain her feminine elements. Kaylee on Firefly was an expert mechanic and and still a woman character, Zoe could kill everybody in the room but was not reduced to a big boobed version of Rambo.

Like it or not Firefly presented a cast more diverse personality wise than a Star Trek crew and no one was even an alien. Firefly's humans had more differences than Star Treks aliens do. It was goofy, campy and over the top but it was better characters than we usually get in space.

TOS was great sci fi TV when it came out in the 1960s. It would have been good 1950s written sci-fi by comparison. Frankly the Star Trek series have not really raised the bar when compared to what written sci-fi has done in the meantime. Maybe it has climbed up to the level of mid-1960s written sci-fi.

I hope that by returning to original series they are planning to do this. There were far less forehead variations in TOS but still good crew diversity. He will have to waste less time explaining strange alien cultures and can instead just explore the very interesting ones we already have on board. Plus since J.J. is involved there is a good chance of Greg Grunberg and that makes me happy.

Further in the conversation I expanded on it with this:

I know what Star Trek is currently about, I am saying it is time to bump it up a notch. We don't have to use caricatures for many of those issues anymore. Sci-fi could get away with dealing with issues that other forms of entertainment could not because it could use aliens as stand ins for humans. The problem is, Star Trek is still using aliens as stand ins for issues that the rest of entertainment has long since addressed with real people in realistic settings.

In the 1960s the only way you could have a Russian and an American working together like that was in the far future in space. That is not true anymore, and hasn't been in a long time.

Star Trek needs to have more realistic human behavior. Instead of idealized humans dealing with their race and gender issue through conflicts with aliens we can have humans dealing with those same issues amongst themselves now. It is OK we can talk about race and gender using real humans in TV and movies now.

They can still use the aliens to deal with issues that people would be uncomfortable with presented in a realistic setting. Things like the reasons someone becomes a terrorist for example.

Sci-fi is at its strongest when it uses its ability to abstract difficult issues so people can examine them without real world emotional attachments. Once people become more comfortable discussing those issue they need to be moved into the realistic section of the setting so that the characters can become more 3D and able to tackle tougher issues.

I am not arguing that aliens should not be symbols for our issues in Star Trek. I am arguing that aliens should not be symbols for the same issues they were in the 1960s. Everyone else has moved on and Star Trek has been left behind, and it shows. People are smart they have been looking for something else.

I love Star Trek and want to see it succeed. Star Trek is about the future, always in motion the future is. By holding it slave to 40 years of continuity we hamper its ability to address current issues in a meaningful way. The future is not what it used to be, by claiming it is all Star Trek can express in a meaningful way is denial.

Keith Curtis, frequent FtB poster, all around nice guy, and talented artist pointed out that a Russian and an American worked together on The Man From UNCLE before Star Trek. I'll be hitting on these sci-fi commenting on real life themes through metaphor when I talk about the MMO and how it could be used to comment on MMOs themselves.

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