Dec 1, 2017

Star Trek Beyond Homophobia

I don't usually post reviews of single episodes of tv series, but I'm being forced to work my way through Star Trek: Enterprise (2001-2005), the classic Trek prequel about smug, simpering Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) and his best buddy Trip (Connor Trineer) leading the Earth's first baby-step exploratory mission into deep space.

It's awful.  No continuity at all.  Sometimes they're hundreds of light years from home, sometimes close enough so friends can visit.  Sometimes space is empty, and sometimes it's crowded with dozens of species.

Every species looks, dresses, acts, and eats exactly like us, with a few very minor differences.  The universe is depressingly monotonous.

And they all speak perfect colloquial English.  In the first season they at least tried to introduce some translation problems, but by Season 2, there was no question: aliens (or should I say humans with things on their foreheads) don't need a translator.  English is the universal language of the galaxy.

Oh, well, at least Connor Trinneer's physique is on display a lot.  He is  jaw-droppingly huge beneath the belt.

They should call the show "Star Trek: Trip in His Underwear."

But last night's episode was bad.  Really bad.

In "Cogenitor" (April 30, 2003), the Enterprise encounters the Vissians, exactly like us in every way except for some forehead bulges and the fact that they need three sexes to reproduce.

Members of the third sex are treated as slaves, or the handmaidens in Margaret Atwood's novel -- no, worse.  At least slaves have names.  At least the handmaidens got to do the shopping  Cogenitors, referred to only as "it," are passed around from couple to couple like shared property, not allowed to do anything but eat, sleep, and make babies.

After Trip overcomes his homophobic horror over the thought of sex between beings other than a man and a woman, he takes an interest in the Vissian cogenitor, teaching it -- "her" -- to read, giving her a tour of his ship, showing her some movies, encouraging her to rebel against her oppression.  The Vissians are furious.  So is Captain Archer!  Trip has no right to interfere with the "customs" of another species!

When the cogenitor realizes that her condition will not change, she asks for asylum aboard the Enterprise.  Archer refuses -- oppressing the "third sex" is part of their culture!  She is returned to the Vissian ship, where she promptly commits suicide.

Archer calls Trip into his office and chews him out.  This is your fault!  You introduced subversive ideas into her head, made her think that she wasn't inferior to the Vissians, encouraged her to rebel!   Now somebody is dead, just because you were stupid enough to promote social equality.  We should never lift a hand against oppression if it's part of their culture!

Trip, contrite, agrees.  He should never have interfered.

The episode was probably meant as a homophobic rant against gay rights: LGBT people should not try for social equality, because it's part of our culture to treat them like scum.

But it goes far beyond that, to condemn the abolitionist movement -- enslaving black people was part of their culture!  And women's suffrage -- denying women the right to vote was part of their culture.  And the Holocaust -- if genocide was part of Nazi culture, we have no right to criticize it.


The episode was written by Rick Berman and Brannon Braga.  I'm not going to do any research to determine how prejudiced they are.  It's rather obvious.

I don't think that a picture of Trip's chest is going to be able to fix this one. 


  1. The Prime Directive is the trolley problem in a nutshell: I didn't do it, not my problem.

  2. Star Trek in its near entirety is about heterosexists enslaving the universe.


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