I like both Star Wars and Star Trek. I’ve seen all of the Star Wars and Star Trek movies, and while watching the kids, even saw a number of Clone Wars cartoon episodes. I’ve seen most episodes of Star Trek, every series, though I’ve barely been able to watch Star Trek: Discovery except the Mirror Universe episodes. I say this so that my criticism is not mistaken for “you just don’t like the franchises.”

And I think modern politics and shifts in storytelling are hurting both science fiction universes.

Editor’s Note: See the previous entries in this series:

David Swindle: When Did Star Wars Jump the Shark?

David Churchill Barrow: How the Star Wars Sequels Could Have Succeeded

 

Lights, Camera, Action – Logical Consistency? Optional

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a decent action flick set in the Star Wars universe if you ignore the massive plot-hole it creates. For the Empire to have a gigantic planet-killer with a tiny flaw no one likely knew about is not unreasonable. Complex technology can be gummed up somehow. To know of such flaws and consider it irrelevant because of shields, armed forces and multiple layers of defense is reasonable. To have the designer admit he intentionally created a flaw in what is otherwise unstoppable and he’s communicated said flaw to those who want to destroy the ship…? This could be an interesting reveal if he says it without the Empire’s leadership knowing it. That he told his superiors to their faces, and they literally did nothing to defend said vulnerability point for years is a massive logical flaw.

In that vein, the major failing in Star Wars: The Force Awakens of having Holdo stupidly refuse to share critical information even in the face of impending mutiny because of said silence … is stupid. To merely state once, “Yes, we have a plan, but because we may have a spy, or we aren’t sure who is listening” would have solved the whole problem. Mutiny quelled, and the massive plot hole because Holdo is supposed to be obeyed because she’s the new woman in charge is also filled. But no, let’s have mindless drama, un-relatable characters acting in ways we’re supposed to admire, and a side quest that nearly kills the Resistance, bores the audience and injects far left politics… Even the Rebellion/Resistance led by Vader’s children don’t care to free child slaves, let’s take the alien horse things and free them instead. Luke was raised by the children raised by his former slave mother on Tatooine. Surely he would have said, “Free the slaves, everywhere you find them.”

Much of the last Star Wars movies seem to be “Let’s have all the action and excitement and minimal, cute dialogue”. That’s a necessity when appealing to an international audience that relies on subtitles and wants immersive fun over detailed world-building, logical consistency a distant second.

Granted, this isn’t just Star Wars. Star Trek’s reboot with Khan suffered the same failings. “We have to get Khan to save Kirk!” Wait, what about the dozens of siblings of his still in suspended animation you could use who cannot fight you. Then again, if you have walk up transporter booths, why do you have trains?

Other mistakes are easy to forgive. STD says the Mirror Universe population’s difference is due to an environmental difference on lighting thousands of years ago while Star Trek Enterprise said it was due to a choice Cochran made after the Vulcans showed up? Given how few Star Trek fans kept watching Enterprise, a slip like that is no big deal. Trying to make things more interesting by making it more violent, darker, and with more plot twists is keeping in vein with what they think is engaging story telling. That it hurts the story is missed by those writing and presenting it. Battlestar: Galactica set the standard for this. Star Trek trying to imitate that edgy style of both storytelling, environment and personality is failing. I hate saying it, but The Orville is a much better Star Trek spinoff. It honors the intent, the look, the story-telling style and cultural analysis.

 

Let’s Go Modern Trope! Believability, Relatability, Irrelevant

Both Star Wars in the latest series of movies and Star Trek have failed on the relatability side. I read someone else say that the reason we like Kylo Ren is that we can relate to him and understand him. He’s failing to live up to a family legacy, feels rejected by his parents, abused by a teacher. He’s evil-in-training, but we can see what drove him there. Finn has a redemptive arc, the man who upon facing combat rejected it and ran, finding himself as he tried to overcome a lifetime of programming. It is a very human personal development story.

What’s the relatability of Holdo? New woman in charge, now obey me, I don’t have to tell you anything. Committing kamikaze with a last warship is more a matter of correcting her mistakes that killed so many subordinates than grand battle tactics. It is a final redemptive act that would have been meaningless if Rey hadn’t been able to save the few survivors.

We see the same mistake in Star Trek: Discovery. “We’re dark! We’re gritty! We literally rule, well, Mirror Universe!” The main character checks tons of diversity checkboxes, but she’s unrelatable and unrealistic. She’s raised by a human foster mother and a Vulcan, not totally raised by aliens. She’s on a planet with other humans around the same way Earth’s moon has a Vulcan outpost… but STD acts like she’s been raised completely by aliens contrary to human instinct, totally unable to control her emotions. You could have a fish out of water story based on this, but there is no believability to say that Star Fleet would put someone this emotional and emotionally unstable in a command position. At best, she’d be a Red Shirt on a science vessel, selected because of her Vulcan science training and willingness to take the risks.

You sure as heck wouldn’t have someone who literally attacks crewmates and runs back to Daddy for consultation in the middle of tense situations in any leadership position. Who doesn’t really care who is killed and risks her life and others needlessly. Yet the audience is supposed to respect her, root for her, LIKE her.

Star Trek Discovery’s other failure was remaking the Klingons per SJW biases. Yes, in the original Star Trek, Klingons were stand-ins for the Soviet Union as rivals while the Romulans were stand-ins for the Chinese. The problem is what they did and how. Let’s ditch canon regarding culture and make it as gross as possible. Let’s ignore canon on how they look and make them as ugly and intimidating as possible while clearly saying they’re a stand in for Trump supporters… you think half the country are evil to the core, vicious aliens that can only be held in check by threatening to kill all of them? Uh, check your bias.

Few characters in Star Wars: The Force Awakens are as shaped by liberal biases. The assumption that the only way you get really rich is buying children is one. Rey as a naturally superior at everything Mary Sue is another, though her relationship with Kylo Ren adds depth that would otherwise be totally lacking.

 

Solutions?

One solution for the movies would be caring less about the shoot-em-up action and more about logical consistency, though this may mean more dialogue that is harder to translate and subtitle. Another is for those making the movies to seek broader opinions than the authoritarian left, so that they don’t kill the story with characters we’re supposed to root for but end up wanting to see dead.

What else can we do? Letting Axanar hit the market would be an improvement over the current trend in Star Trek remakes, though the legal challenges seem to be too high to surmount. Changing directors and writers who copy old plots before filtering it through far left plots that are the movie equivalent of sensitivity readers would be progress.

Turning the Clone Wars into a series of movies, given its complex plot and character development, diverse viewpoints (including of the Force itself) and ease of production because it is a cartoon would be better than another Star Wars movie along the same trend. Or Lego Star Wars. Lego anything is hard to mess up, as the Batman Lego movie that was far better than multiple Batman movies demonstrates. Oh, and it has massive marketing potential, something Lucas has always valued.

What else would you do to save these science fiction universes from the invading ideology that is sucking out the fun, the logic, and the soul of these franchises?

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What do you think about the Star Wars and Star Trek franchises today? Agree or disagree with Liberty Island’s contributors? Send your essay to [email protected]

Image via Consequence of Sound

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