“Good morning, plastic people!”
First, let’s talk about the cussin’ on Star Trek: Picard. I don’t know anything about Michael Chabon’s life and what he draws from for his screenwriting. I don’t know anything about Akiva Goldsman and where he comes from and what he’s been exposed to and why he thinks people swear, but these two just don’t understand how to write it, convincingly. It seems incredible for me to write that here because, Pulitzer Prize, accolades of all sorts, undeniable success, nobody is saying different. But there is an art to expressing yourself with the naughty words, and these guys don’t know how to write it.
Look, shipyard workers grousing and bad-ass Romulan fixers can swear all they want. The cussin’ really isn’t the issue. Starfleet officers on a flagship? Admirals facing down heroes? It’s not so much that they are doing it, as it is that they’re not doing it believably. The first example serves the story; the second takes you out of it. And, really? Forget that, until the CBS All Access shows, Star Trek has always been about the best of us. I realize it’s ironic for me, of all people, to tut-tut this crassness, but it’s not the crassness that bothers me. It’s that the adults writing these shows don’t know how to swear. The profanity comes in like their attempts at inclusion… ham-handed and inartful. But more on that in a minute. I still want to talk about the swearing.
If you’re really going to curse in a show, if you’re really going to let go with the blasphemy and the expletives and whatnot, it has to be situational. Nobody in a science lab says “This is fucking cool” like Tilly did in Star Trek: Discovery. You can’t say she was a cadet and didn’t know any better because that belittles the character and doesn’t work in real life. When was the last time a noob at your job started with the foul-mouth? It just doesn’t happen. The Utopia Planitia guys get a pass because “I know what this brown shit is” is just the kind of thing blue collar workers say. The dialogue is its own context.
But Admiral Romulan-pretending-to-be-a-
Vulcan facing Admiral Picard at a sit-down and saying “the fucking hubris” is just not right. It’s not Star Trek, and it’s not how people swear. First, if you’re letting fly, no one in the history of conjugating “fuck” ever uses the full word. Not in the past; not in the future. The nature of cursing is that it’s a reversion to pure passion, which precludes schoolboy elocution. Come on. Remember the last time somebody swore at you? I’ll bet real money they didn’t say, “My word. You have to be fucking kidding me, with your explanation about paper and plastic in the correct recycling receptacle.” That’s just not the function of what the kids call foul language. Vulgar is vulgar. It’s gutter talk; it’s the language of the streets. Everyone who has ever cussed in passion has dropped the G at the end. I don’t know if it was in the script, or an atonal choice by the actress, but if you’re mad at Picard walking in and demanding a warp-capable craft and a small crew you get mad. “What? You’re joking, Picard. Sure, the lobby has a holo of your fuckin’ Enterprise-D hanging over everyone’s heads, but you are out of your fuckin’ mind if you think I’m givin’ an old fossil the fuckin’ keys to the fuckin’ starship yard for one last fuckin’ mission.”
That’s swearing. “Ooooo, the fuckING hubris.” Come on. It’s wrong and it immediately stops the scene dead. The audience doesn’t know what to make of it.
No one in history has ever said “fucking” and “hubris” right next to each other in a sentence. This “swearing because you can” thing on CBS All Access is a cancer amongst their writers on Star Trek and adults should know better.
But they just don’t. Everyone working on this show should just keep their mouths shut. Every time somebody talks about their work, it just takes a turn for the worst. For example.
One of the worst bees the new stewards of the Star Trek IP have in their bonnets is “inclusion.” While that is an admirable thing to want to include, they do it in such a bazooka-kills-mosquito way that the sloppiness outlays any good they intend. Why does Romulan guy wear an obvious hearing aid? Why does everyone on the Disco crew have some sort of tech bolted to their faces? Why is there a guy in a wheelchair in the 23rd century, when every sort of disease is blotted out, every sort of injury repairable, every sort of malady addressed? Reason I bring this one up is because George Alevizos, the actor who plays Wheelchair Guy on Star Trek: Discovery posted a thing about it on his <a href=”https://twitter.com/
GeorgeAlevizos_/status/ 1222583094743654401“>his Twitter feed.</a> I’m sure he is heartfelt in his complaint, but he needs to know that it’s not about him, or about “inclusion” or differently-abled, or anything.
It’s feels wrong for the Star Trek audience because it hasn’t been explained. Star Trek will spend minutes on how an isolinear chip is a pivotal part of a 47 minute episode, but won’t give George a character. Inclusion is important, but CBS needs to include him. A guy in the future in a wheelchair is a story point, not an extra.
His appearance isn’t one of inclusion, it’s of pandering. Give that character a name and put him on an away team, and then congratulate yourselves. Otherwise, it’s pointless counting coup at the expense of real people.
Anyway. Star Trek: Picard is really very compelling. At least I can tell you what it’s about, what they main intrigue is, and what the main character wants. I’m afraid this is going to be the Star Trek version of Old Man Logan with Picard’s One Last Mission… but at least he’ll go out with more dignity than Captain Kirk.