Like if you could throw up, without making any noise.
|| I Love Short Songs ||
I am having a hard time understanding all the love for Star Trek: Into Darkness. I know we sort of already got over all the fan backlash from the first Abrams Trek, but with time comes perspective so here’s my perspective:
I thought Abrams & Co. did a really good job of rebooting the Star Trek universe in the first movie. It’s not a clone of its predecessors, and with a nifty bit of structuring involving time travel and alternate timelines, it manages to remain canon instead of being a clean-slate start-over. The first Trek was incredibly confident. It had its own voice and made the point to say, “this is not old Star Trek. This is new Star Trek. Do not expect old Star Trek, but still expect Star Trek.” The movie was also zippy, exciting, visually dramatic, featured really good characterizations of Spock and Kirk, and didn’t completely sideline Uhura as the movie’s sole female protagonist. After seeing the first movie, I didn’t feel obliged to compare it to previous incarnations of the show. It was its own thing and I liked that it was its own thing. I wasn’t interested in picking apart the details or finding minute fallacies because as a movie it was undeniably successful.
Star Trek: Into Darkness, on the other hand, begs comparisons not only to its prequel, but also to the original show, and to one original movie in particular.
If you have not seen Into Darkness yet, and you don’t want anything spoiled, well, SPOILER ALERT:
Into Darkness is basically a stealth remake of The Wrath of Khan. Why that had to be a secret, I don’t know. Everything about the way this movie treats the reveal that Benedict Cumberbatch is omg KHAN is confounding. Amid an episodic, rambling structure that fails to build tension or stakes, Into Darkness features several “twists” so obviously telegraphed I don’t understand how anyone could be surprised by them. The penultimate sequence in the movie mirrors Wrath of Khan’s, with one key difference: Kirk and Spock’s roles are switched. The role reversal adds nothing to the proceedings except making it obvious that the stakes here are dramatically lower than Khan’s (meaning: I never once actually thought Kirk would die, because it was obvious he wouldn’t). In fact, it feels quite calculated and cynical, a switch-up in an attempt to make it fresh, rather than to gain further insight into character or universe. Most of the theater cracked up at the “KHAAAAN!” line, and I don’t think that was intentional.
I’m going to pause here to stress that I am not a trekkie. I like the original series alright, have seen and love most of the movies and intermittent bits of TNG shows, but I am no means an obsessive or a completist. But after seeing Into Darkness I had the distinct impression that I know more about Star Trek than J.J. Abrams does.
Additionally, Into Darkness is egregiously, unrelentingly sexist in its portrayal of women. Women exist in this movie solely to be ogled and to be injured and/or captured (thus providing motivation for vengeance from the heroic male characters). This is a criticism that could be leveled at other movies, to be sure, but it’s especially bad here. Even Uhura, whose characterization had promise in the first film, is entirely reduced to the role of Spock’s generic girlfriend. I can’t believe sexism can still get this bad in movies so popular. It’s disheartening, left a bad taste in my mouth, and I’m afraid if this didn’t bother you, then you might be a huge sexist.
Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto reprise their roles in Into Darkness as Kirk and Spock to diminishing returns. Their performances fall flat and are hindered by terrible dialogue. Kirk is straight-up unlikeable in this movie, and Spock is borderline psychopathic, incredibly moody and apparently switching between emotional-Spock and logical-Spock whenever it suits the story, rather than the character. Personally, I think Spock is interesting because he’s half-Vulcan, not because he’s half-human. That is to say, I’m not interested in a poorly-plotted character arc about an unfeeling alien learning how to feel. That’s goddamn stupid and it completely misunderstands Vulcan psychology. I can’t believe I just typed that last sentence.
There is also a dangerous amount of fanservice in this movie (which I think is what is making it go down easier for most people) but all those problems aside, the action sequences in the movie are quite fun, though lacking in any sort of real stakes or momentum.
tl;dr: Star Trek: Into Darkness was a steaming pile of shit and I can’t believe people liked it so much
Hello, I’ve been holding my tongue for a while about this, but now that the fourth season of Community has aired, here is my judgment of it as a whole: awful, just awful. This is what happens when you remove the vision and drive from a creative hierarchy. As someone who is interested in writers and writing, I can appreciate the moments in Community that are funny and well-written, but it has become painful to see a show I once listed as an all-time favorite take a drastic nosedive into a death-spiral of fanservice, lazy plotting, reductive character work and increased sexual objectification of its female characters.
In theory, sitcoms have a staff hierarchy that would be most open to a change in showrunners without any damage done to their integrity. A perfect example would be Cheers. Though it slightly dipped in quality right at the change-over, it quickly found its feet again and continued on in success for years. Sitcoms tend to be much more committee-written than other shows, and even when someone else is in charge that same voice can be maintained.
This is not the case with Community. Dan Harmon is not Chuck Lorre. And no one outside of the cast and writers seem to be invested in the heart of the show. This puts them at odds with the new showrunners, along with Sony and NBC, who are all more interested in turning a profit in the quickest and easiest way possible, by making superficial changes dictated by an outmoded ratings system.
It is bitter to watch this happen. Community continues to be a ratings failure, and it is now a complete artistic failure as well. Community is not likely to find a larger audience (it was always a cult show), and corporate meddling has only lost it more viewers.
If you don’t want to think of it as art, then here’s another question for you: What does Dan Harmon know about getting viewers that NBC and Sony don’t? Because he was better at it than they were - this has become fact. What does somebody who sides with the “artistic” bend to television know about successful television that a television executive doesn’t?