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horatio 03-07-2011 03:40 AM

Differences between TOS and ST09
At least in terms of goofiness the new movie seems to be very much like TOS, even more so than TFF. But there is something fishy about this idea.
I couldn't put my finger on it until now and I think that the concept of virtue might provide some insights.

Let's approach the issue first via the humour and then via the three main characters.

TOS is often funny and virtually all of the folks, except for perhaps Sulu and Uhura, frequently fool around. They enjoy their company, ease their daily troubles but basically they are all serious, hard-working folks.
In ST09 on the other hand you get more self-ridiculing humour. The postmodern kind of eternally self-reflexive, relativizing big puff. We don't just try to have a good time during our long days but it's all just a game.
That's an easy but not a virtuous way to deal with the troubles of life. Scotty's jokes are perhaps the best example of this kind of humour and it is worthwhile to point out that the old Scotty was usually involuntarily funny (except when he drank Scotch or got written and directed to bump into a bulkhead by Shatner) precisely when he was deadly serious.

McCoy is his cranky old self and due to Urban's brilliant performance there are no apparent differences. If you have just seen the movies and a few random TOS episodes you could easily get the impression that he is just an ill-tempered old guy. But from time to time we see how much he really cares about his patients and his friends. Beneath his bickering with Spock their deep friendship only appears a few times.
As McCoy's warm side has appeared so infrequently it's not a big deal that we haven't seen it in ST09. That's indeed true but NuMcCoy has gone through some trouble in his life which makes it seem as if he is cranky precisely because of that. The acting was top notch but the writing changes the temperamental but warm old country doctor into a cranky and cynical young man.

Kirk has experienced fascist horrors on Tarsus IV in his youth, bullying in the Academy and failure when he faced the vampire cloud on the Farragut as young ensign. Despite of that he turned into a thoughtful and self-doubting but at the same time playful and confident young captain.
NuKirk has gone through similar experiences. Too much and wrong order on Tarsus IV now became too much and wrong order at home, he got bullied by other Starfleet cadets even before he entered the Academy and he also faced failure when he cheated during the Kobayashi Maru test and was reprimanded for it. So like his first version he faces nasty order (Tarsus IV, evil stepfather) as well as nasty chaos (bullying, personal failure) but instead of balancing them wisely he just becomes the stereotypical adolescent who rejects order and enjoys chaos.

Spock who is even more so than Kirk in an eternal struggle between chaos and order chose his Vulcan side. The main theme in TOS is that his human side is lurking underneath the surface and that Spock is more human than he admits. This is most clearly visible in This Side of Paradise and Amok Time. His saga ends in TUC, Unification and ST09 with him accepting his human side openly.
While Spock joined Starfleet in order to secretly explore and embrace his human side (that's precisely why he is so uber-Vulcan in TOS) EmoSpock did it in order to flip off the racist Vulcan establishment. Mummy was insulted so he has to indirectly defend her. With mummy being the main reason he is in Starfleet he consequently goes nuts when she dies (which would also have impacted Spock but not so strongly) and he is later encouraged to continue along this path of being an unorthodox, more relaxed type of Vulcan by Sarek as well as his future self. The consequences of this ill advise to continue to be EmoSpock are clearly visible when he calmly tells Kirk that he yearns to avenge the death of mummy.
On the surface it appears that there is not much difference, after all the balanced old Spock gives his younger self the advise to be like him. Yet Spock's happy state is the result of a life-long struggle from discipline to slowly letting it go and realizing that it is possible. He can't reveal the end result to his younger self without telling him about the path that let to that goal.
Same with Sarek, he can't tell Spock to not suppress his emotions because his beautiful admission that he has loved Amanda (as if Spock hadn't known that) gets perverted into an injunction to let the inner Romulan out.
Spock slowly allowed himself to let his guard down and create some space for intuition, gut-feeling and love whereas EmoSpock allows himself quickly to do whatever the hell he wants to.

All three main characters have one thing in common, they are virtuous people. Not necessarily heroes, in the case of McCoy not even special but precisely that, being just a good old country doctor, makes McCoy so grand.
The second versions of these characters which were truly fantastically played on the other hand all lack virtue. This doesn't mean that they are vicious or wicked, that they do bad work or that they aren't capable of heroic deeds. After all Spock and Kirk did gamble with their life when they went on the Narada. But all the big heroics can't substitute the emptiness in their hearts which are filled with cynicism and despair, adolescent arrogance, reveling in your own emotions ... but not virtues.

It's not easy to be a virtuous person, I personally don't think I am one so this is not meant to be some moral superiority game. It's perhaps not even a writing issue but indicative of these materialistic and cynical times that fictional characters adapt these qualities.
I am perhaps simple-minded and unhip but I mainly enjoy Trek because it features good people who do good things for good reasons.

So I hope that this doesn't get misread as a hateful bashing of a movie which I truly enjoyed but as a mourning of things that got lost. :sad:

Pauln6 03-07-2011 03:48 AM

I agree that the moral compass of the movie was a bit off, although it's worth noting that the TOS characters were not always so virtuous.

horatio 03-07-2011 04:04 AM

I'd say that it's less the actions in themselves (e.g. in terms of self-denunciation Spock behaves virtually identical to Amok Time when he declares himself unfit for duty in ST09) which were as you pointed out sometimes questionable in TOS but more the vibe between the lines which is problematic in ST09.

martok2112 03-07-2011 09:51 AM

I'd like to think that perhaps in the second movie, we see the characters mature with being virtuous.

But, as long as the second movie is as enjoyable as the first, they could be as moralistic and virtuous as a cathouse patron for all I care. :D (I keeeed....I keeeeeeeeeeed). (runs....hides)

kevin 03-07-2011 10:54 AM

I'm not usually so enamoured of the wholly virtous (in real-life perhaps at times, though there's usually an issue or two lurking somewhere because no-one is that good ALL the time) for TV characters so much anyway nor am I remotely one myself, and I think that H has some points.

Maybe there has been a repositioning of some things in terms of the percieved drivers of the characters origins and directions from TOS. Warning - The following isn't entirely focused yet and may involve some rambling as I try to put across what I'm thinking..............I should probably wait before typing but nevermind, it's like a stream of consciousness.

I think there may be an element of what perhaps individuals want or need their characters to be in Star Trek at play in certain responses to the perception of the characters. I'm not going to dismiss H's lament to what was lost, but I'm wondering whether it's not so much an intentional loss as a restructuring of some of the necessities of dealing with characters and settings coming up on 50 years since the franchise began.

Since I wasn't around in the 60s I hope I'm not speaking out of turn too much, but in terms of TV characterisation the 60s were a less complex time for creating characters and there was a tendency for TV shows to be very clear cut over who was good and who was bad. The 'good' guys were almost routinely without significant vices, always made the right call, always wanted to do what they were doing for some important reasons - or put another way 'good people doing good things for good reasons'. TOS absolutely fulfils this structure with it's trio. Even if, they themselves had their moments. Kirk was a user. He usually did it for some good reason, but he was a user when he wanted to be.

And doing so never remotely hurt it at the time, but the relative simplicity of it is there still.

Nowadays the audience is often less prepared to accept necessarily these simpler constructs in favour of something they can more easily relate to and understand. We know now the 60s were not simpler in reality, they were just presented that way by umpteen TV shows. That doesn't play for audiences in the 2000s so much anymore because the audience is I think less receptive. It doesn't mean the character can't be someone to look and and in some way look to, but I think possibly that in a larger sense people don't want characters of completely unadulterated virtue. Humans have foibles, different motivations, many, many things. I think that they find that doesn't translate to something that they can erhaps always engage with because in the post-modern, post-deconstruction era of just about everything they want to see people who have a variety of motivations and reasons for doing what they do. And they don't need to be perfect, selfless individuals to accomplish that.

Or maybe that's solely me. Answers on a postcard.................

However, it's also the case that some people do want and prefer that more cleanly defined state of, well, the word we're using is virtue so may as well stick with it. I don't think preferring one or the other is wrong, it's simply what said person needs from the characters. And I don't pretend to be consistent any more than I pretend to be virtous. I like the TOS goodness, and I also like the slightly different reasons/motivations contained within the reboot. For me, they work within the context of the underlying story in Star Trek 2009, in as much as the TOS ones did then.

In essence what we may have with the reboot is the equivalent of 'good people doing good things...........for a multitude of reasons that don't damage them, but have their own origins'. The important parts (for me, I'm not saying anyone else should agree) are that they are and remain basically good people doing.......or attempting to do good things. Will they always succeed, or make the right choices? Well, certainly I hope not. There's little mileage in characters who never err, or do something the audience can be divided over sometimes.

- Spock's reaction to the offer of help on Nero. Should he have acted the way he did? Would he come to regret thinking that way? Should he regret thinking that way? Discuss least it's provoking a discussion and not leaving the viewers passively watching something perhaps obviously right.

The fact that Kirk in this new universe was for a while lost and aimless because of a lack of inspiration provided by his father in this universe doesn't prevent him from finding his way back around to the life that best suits him. And he will likely do good things in the future. His experiences to this point are different, but he gets on track. In becoming a Captain he undergoes the journey from aimless to having true purpose.

That perhaps at this point McCoy is still hurting from his divorce is one thing. Of course, we know that the theoretical character history of TOS his story was much the same. He was driven to Starfleet in the wake of a divorce and since we saw him in the show long after that we don't really know he wasn't hurting in much the same way when he signed up to Starfleet in the 'original' timeline. Divorce hurts people. It causes them to at times make great changes in his life. He makes a transformative move in the wake of his pain, to do something which will help and heal others. He'll keep his phobias, his grouchiness and his charm. But in time, he'll also move on from his pain and serve his ship well.

That Spock is more emotional has always intuitively made sense since even in the film he's much younger than when we first saw him in the series TOS. Is it or is it not a coincidence that in some ways he even at times feels a bit like Spock from 'The Cage'. A much more emotional performance and character. And also a younger one. His struggles haven't even reached the level of balance they have by TOS Season 1 - and we all know he never really balanced them that well anyway. His pretense simply became 'better' until many years later he was able to indulge himself in it and not be caught in the struggle to even try and balance it. To be himself. As it may also unfold in this timeline.

I'm at the end of my thoughts at present. I may have more later.

horatio 03-07-2011 01:03 PM

No, that's not solely you, I also perceive it to be to a large extend a matter of times.

Kirk uses woman for personal or professional gains (I remember Conscience of the King and By Any Other Name as examples for the latter) in both versions. The feminists might lynch me but I don't consider this to be a problem. He is horny, playful and he doesn't do anything nasty except for sometimes playing with their feelings and for not being the most professional Starfleet captain.
Kirk is horny, McCoy is cranky but they are good folks and definitely preferable to some decaffeinated guy who doesn't annoy his fellows with such traits but doesn't have any guts or principles either. Just think about what kind of doctor you'd like, somebody who treats you with velvet gloves but doesn't really give a sh*t or someone like McCoy who is angry with you when you don't care about your health or don't do what he says.

About McCoy, isn't it interesting that this kind of pain is something he has to forget or get over whereas the pain from TFF is a pain that drives him? To stay with TFF, isn't there also a difference between Spock hearing his father pejoratively speaking at his birth about his humanness which drilled itself right into his heart and the same message uttered when he is a young man? In the former case humanness becomes something integral to him which he has to struggle with from the beginning on whereas in the latter he reacts like any adolescent, with anger.

I like the idea that they are still growing up but I have my doubts as to how far these issues are just a matter of adolescence.

kevin 03-07-2011 01:16 PM

I think the thing with McCoy would be that they are sources of pain, but like everything, there are many different things that cause pain, and thus different outcomes to getting through that pain.

In TFF (which, to be honest, I'm only a fan of how Kelley played that scene, I thought the scenario itself was a little too convenient) it's implied that was perhaps something that drives him towards being a doctor. The divorce, on the other hand is something he can get over easier, but which drives him into a specific place where he can be a doctor.

If in the first film they were 'kids' (and at the end of the day they weren't really kids strictly, apart from Chekov, they were young adults although sometimes there can be little difference because life isn't always deadly serious at those ages yet) then I'd surmise that maybe the second film may present an opportunity for them to 'grow up' and become adults. They have the responsibilities now that they were just being presented with as they found their roles in the first film.

I mean, Kirk will always be horny..................but he might be more constructive in his sleeping arrangements next time!

horatio 03-07-2011 01:24 PM

She spread her legs and helped him cheating, that was pretty constructive. :D

I might like Chekov too much (that is not meant the way it sounds) but doesn't he appear young and ageless at the same time? For example when he gets the conn he sighs which creates the impression that sitting in the big chair is an old hat and more of a burden to him. Not to mention that this incidentally makes him so much better than the other, more over-ambitious whippersnapper Kim.

FireDevlin 03-08-2011 01:28 PM

Zachary Quinto is 33, Pine is 30, and Urban is 38.

I for one, would like to see a bit of a jump in time and they consequently act their age. (less childish stuff, experience, suited to a beefier script, etc)

I figure this to be unlikely however.

martok2112 03-11-2011 07:55 AM

I think it would be cool in the second film if there was a scenario where McCoy's divorce could somehow serve to upend all that he's worked for to this point. (vindictive b*tch of a wife? child with daddy issues? some heretofore undiscovered issue in the divorce case?) It doesn't have to be a major plot point. Indeed, it could be a sub-plot. If woven in just right, it can help with the main tale, and perhaps serve to make it even more compelling.

Or perhaps Spock dealing with more of the racial issues among his people, despite the cataclysm that befell them in the first film. Something where Spock points out that most Vulcans have learned nothing since the disaster.

Or a sub-plot (or shorter teaser story) where Kirk returns to Earth, only to find a not-so-impressed stepfather who still seems, somehow, to try and run Kirk's life into misery...since stepdaddy seems to be miserable himself. Perhaps Kirk's mother dies, and when he and his brother return home to take care of the funeral arrangements, he comes into conflict with a stepfather who somehow blames the siblings for his mother's death. (Broken heart leading to failing health, and a loss of the will to live, or so the stepfather indignantly and pettily claims...when in truth, she could not have been prouder of her children--perhaps Kirk's older brother took on a profession that also made his mother proud, but stepdaddy ain't gonna tell him that.) There could even be some kind of slight sibling tension....but nothing near the hostility that the Kirks' stepfather holds toward them both.

Just spitballin'. :)

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