Captain’s Blog, Personal: Further Introductions

Greetings, captains! Last time, I talked a little about why I’m here, but not what brought me here, or anything about my general interest in Star Trek, other than the fact that I don’t currently play Star Trek Online. So here are the top seven things I feel you should know about me and my nearly lifelong affection for Star Trek.

1. The first episode I remember seeing was “Miri” from the original series. I was five years old, and the makeup scared me. Nevertheless, I was a solid fan by the time I was twelve. I don’t remember how that shift happened, but I know it did, because here I am.

'Miri': Diseased Kirk

Blue blotches are scary when you’re five.
Picture courtesy Memory Alpha

2. My favorite character across the franchise is Dr. Leonard H. McCoy. I will elaborate on this later.

DeForest Kelley and Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy

The Real McCoys

3. My favorite species across the franchise is Vulcans. I adore them. I love their logic, their calmness, their bewildered-older-sibling relationship with Humans… everything. I love that they were able to turn themselves away from a path that would have led to their destruction. I love that despite being a species that prides itself on rationality, Vulcan culture is steeped in mysticism and tradition. I desperately wanted to be a Vulcan from the beginning of my fandom to about my mid-twenties. (To forestall the question: I am approximately a million internet years old.) So why isn’t my favorite character Spock? Well…

Vulcan IDIC symbol by Robert Aehnelt

They’re not perfect, but I love them.
Symbol by Robert Aehnelt (page in German)

4. My favorite relationship across the franchise is the friendship? between Dr. McCoy and Spock. Kirk and Spock I never found terribly interesting as a relationship (platonic or otherwise) because they’re too at ease with each other. The most upset Kirk ever got with Spock that I can remember was in the Kelvin universe, and that didn’t last. Kirk and McCoy are more interesting, because Bones is a spiky, spiky man, but ultimately, they’re also very much alike. Spock and McCoy start out having irreconcilable viewpoints, and they go at it hammer and tongs. Some of the things McCoy calls Spock are basically slurs, when you think about them. And yet. Underneath it develops a respect and affection nearly as deep as the one between Spock and Kirk. Spock doesn’t choose Scotty to hold his katra, after all. To me, Spock and McCoy’s friendship is ultimately defined by them each seeing the other as the personification of their own inmost, disliked, self. Their arguments mirror their inner struggles towards self-acceptance.

So why is McCoy my favorite character? Cartoon director Chuck Jones once explained the difference between Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck by saying, “Bugs is an aspiration; Daffy is a realization.” I want to be Spock; I know I’m McCoy. I want to be cool and dispassionate, but I know I’m an irrational little bundle of feelings. Someday I will accept this fact. (I’ve just realized this analogy makes Captain Kirk Elmer Fudd, yet I still feel like it works.)

Daffy Duck yelling at Bugs Bunny

Let’s be honest: this is nearly every conversation McCoy and Spock have.

5. My favorite series is probably the original series. I have a better working knowledge of Next Generation because I’ve seen it lots of times, but I love the original series because of what it meant. When the world seems unstable, and personal and political differences seem insurmountable, I think it’s important to show humanity as being able to work together, to compromise, and to negotiate. I know there’s a lot of criticism that dismisses Star Trek‘s view of the future as hopelessly naïve and unrealistic. Frankly, I’ve always found reality to be all the realism I need. It’s why I don’t read George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. If I want to be depressed and horrified, I’ll read the news, thanks.

6. I will confess right now that I haven’t seen all of Deep Space Nine, Voyager, or Enterprise. I also have not seen Star Trek: Beyond. I realize these are egregious oversights on my part, and I’m sorry. I blame my missing DS9 on the fact I was also watching Babylon 5 at the time, and apparently I could only tolerate one show set on a space station at a time. I tried to get into Voyager because of Captain Janeway, but I seem to remember Neelix and Kes being a big storyline that first season. I have to admit that Neelix annoys me. A lot. I’m considering a feature where I finally get around to watching DS9 and/or Voyager and writing reaction posts about them. We’ll see. (I’m afraid I have been spoiled for the general overall arc of both series, so I do know how they end.) I don’t feel quite as pressed to watch Enterprise, but I expect I will at some point. I may also eventually watch Star Trek: Beyond. Maybe.

The logos of Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise

The to-do list

7. I have strong feelings about the Kelvin Universe movies. Strong. Feelings. I didn’t watch Star Trek: Beyond because after watching the first two movies, I wasn’t interested in those characters or in their universe. When I watched the second trailer for Beyond and heard Kirk muse about the difference between his father and himself, I thought, “That would be really interesting if I cared at all.” Say what you want about the original series movies: when things happened in those films, they continued to matter in subsequent films. (This was not as great a strength of the Next Generation movies, but the best one, First Contact, was all about Picard’s PTSD from being assimilated into the Borg.) Spock’s death in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was not only the basis for the plot of the very next movie, which was literally titled The Search for Spock, but Spock rediscovering himself was a subplot of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. When David Marcus, Kirk’s previously unknown son, died on the Genesis planet in The Search for Spock, it affected how Kirk felt about helping the Klingons in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. In the first Kelvin universe movie, they blow up one of the founding worlds of the Federation, and if you skipped that movie and went right to Star Trek: Into Darkness you would never know it happened. I can and have forgiven a lot of goofy things in the name of fandom–I saw Star Trek V in theaters–but I have a really difficult time forgiving lazy storytelling.

The destruction of Vulcan from Star Trek (2009)

I swear I’m not bitter just because they blew up my second-favorite planet.

As you might imagine, I have a lot more to say about the Kelvin universe, so I’ll be coming back to this subject. But for now, I think I’ve said enough about myself. If there’s anything in particular you’d like to discuss in the days to come, please let me know, either in a comment here, or through my e-mail: whitby at priorityonenetwork dot com. Thanks for sticking with me, and I’ll see you all on Tuesday (hopefully) for the Captain’s Blog following Monday’s show!

Whitby, out.

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