Here at Treknobabble, we're going to start reviewing Voyager at the end of DS9 Season 3, and start switching between full seasons of both shows. But I came across this article by Ian Grey tonight on Rogerebert.com, and I had to share it. It is simply one of the best-written pieces of bloggery regarding Trek I've ever read, our site included.
One of Mr. Grey's most trenchant insights is this one:
"Voyager constantly meets races and species that are starting a war or recovering from
one, and keeps stumbling upon the ghostly remnants of obliterated
civilizations. This strain of sadness is so persistent that the show often
feels like gentle critique of the military-macho strain that ran through the
original series, the films based on it, as well as many episodes of the more
self-aware The Next Generation."
It's really interesting to hear this perspective, and an instructive example of the vast variety of messages people glean from Star Trek. I had always considered Voyager a meditation on how hardy Trek's core principles were. I hadn't considered the other side of that coin, a meditation on how societies lacking those principles would be caught up in a cycle of violence. The added meta-insight on how prior Trek's style of presentation sometimes conflicts with the core value is an impressive one.
Another terrific insight is this one:
"In the context we're exploring
here, Paris is particularly fascinating. In theory, he was there carry the flag
for straight male heroic signifiers, but there were clues that he was actually
there to tweak people's expectation that science fiction adventures had to put
a straight white guy at center-stage. The character spent his off-time saving helpless women in his virtual
reality simulation of ‘30s SF serials, Captain Photon -- a
sweet spoof of the brand of outer-space swashbuckling that Roddenberry
embraced on the original Star Trek, and that continued, in a more
intellectualized way, on The Next Generation."
I had always viewed Tom Paris as the tale of a down-and-outer in paradise, making good on his potential after squandering the sorts of chances such a world affords a person. But this critique gives me a new way of thinking about the writers' intentions with him.
I don't know yet whether Grey's overall thesis on the Voyager-hatred is a sound one. My inchoate opinions on why Voyager is so hated centered more on the
female captain and the oft-molested "Galactic Reset Button." But it's given me a lot of food for thought. I )and I can only assume Kevin) will think about this idea of gender role and Trek concept subversion and as we systematically review the show.