I think about stuff. I do it a lot. I also believe that one’s greatest strengths are also one’s greatest weaknesses. I was reminded of that recently by … Netflix.
Since for long periods there is nothing new on TV (aka cable/satellite/whatever) I take the opportunity to fill in gaps in my viewing. I now have access, via Netflix, to a great many well-received shows that I either missed or didn’t bother with when they were current. I found the Sherlock series from the BBC which was compelling and fascinating, for example.
Since I am a science fiction fan, I have been going back and viewing all of the episodes of the various Star Trek series that I skipped over. There were quite a few as there were hundreds and hundreds of episodes of the various manifestations of these series. As I was watching many of the episodes of Star Trek Voyager (subtitled “One Damned Thing After Another in the Delta Quadrant”) I had skipped over I encountered, again, the character of 7 of 9. The transformation of a human being to a mindless drone and back is a compelling story line but why was actress Jeri Ryan in an extremely tight, skin tight actually, body suit? The point was? Was it to emphasize the beauty inside of people ugly on the outside (as she was in both appearance and behavior as a drone)?
Finally I settled on this thought: series creator Gene Roddenberry emphasized a positive view of the future, that in the 24th century humans will have solved the problems of hunger and discrimination and war, at least between humans on Earth. So, in the 24th century women could wear whatever they wished to wear. Members of the crew wore uniforms, per Star Fleet regulations, but 7 of 9 wasn’t crew, so she could wear any damned thing she wanted to and if it made the male members of the crew drool, tough for them. The Captain didn’t take her aside and talk to her about dressing appropriately for a Star Fleet bridge. She wasn’t molested or raped because “she was asking for it, look how she dressed.” Surely this was the message the show’s producers were delivering: in the 24th century, women would finally be free of male patriarchy.
So, I went on to The Google to see if I could confirm my hypothesis and … nope, it was just T & A to boost ratings. Same for the manner the character of T’Pol on Star Trek Enterprise was garbed (and disgarbed). Science fiction fans tend to be male and young and, well, the first rule of making money making TV shows is “to know your audience.”
Thinking, all by itself, is a very important activity but it has to be put into context and tested against other’s thoughts in order for us to come up with good explanations for why things are the way they are. Currently our culture seems to be going in the opposite direction. Where that will lead us is unknown but I tend to think a well-thought out and tested path into the future will be superior to one taken at random or at whim.
So, do you think we will make it to the 24th century?