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You Are Dumb, which is not a blog, posts new columns every weekday, except for a couple of days each month when it doesn't. It is also a Twitter feed, @youaredumb, with content in a similar vein but much shorter. My spinoff food site, Forkbastard, can be found easily enough by the clever.
Archive - Jun 26, 2009
Memo to Heather Smith: I AM RISKING THE TIME-SPACE CONTINUUM TO TELL YOU THAT YOU ARE DUMB.
Time travel is a dangerous thing. It can create an entire alternate universe where things unfold differently from the way we remember them. But "dangerous thing" is my middle name. I'll risk it all - the possibility that my site will be covered in lens flare, the chance that I'll suddenly start looking like a dude from Coldplay, even the risk that my cat will turn into Simon Pegg.
So let's slingshot around the sun, back to a simpler time. A time before I wished there was a way for Google Reader to filter out feeds containing the word "Jackson". A time when Mark Sanford was considered a 2012 frontrunner. A time when we were all innocent and the world itself seemed new. Mid-May, 2009.
The new Star Trek movie was imminent. Smart nerds everywhere approached it warily, as if it were a cornered skunk, knowing full well that at any moment JJ Abrams' rebooted franchise could spray us all with its horrible stench. But other nerds had other concerns, and brought those concerns to the pages of Big Hollywood. You Are Dumb Dot Net, a website noted for its extensive knowledge of both Star Trek and the horrible writing on Big Hollywood, inexplicably failed to comment on Heather Smith's article, "Where Have All The Kirks Gone?", and that is the mistake we are traveling back in time to rectify.
One common trope of conservatism that I find particularly insipid is the idea that, thanks to changing mores, pesky feminists, and rampant acceptance of homosexuality, American society has lost its vital manliness. That men are no longer real men like they were a few decades ago, and that those vital elements of condescension, macho bullshit, and dick-waving patriarchy should somehow be dragged upstream against the cultural current and restored to its former glory. And I find it even MORE insipid when it's expressed by a woman, given that the age of manliness she pines for would wonder why she's pining and not making dinner and a martini for her husband.
But such is the pining of Heather Smith, who clumsily injects the American Pussification mindset into one of the least appropriate venues it has ever been applied to - comparing William Shatner's James Tiberius Kirk to Chris Pine's James Tiberius Kirk. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!
"Consider four attributes of the ideal man: self-control, bravery, confidence and sex appeal. In the original series, Kirk has supreme self-control. He sacrifices himself for the safety of his crew and, in more than one episode, even chooses duty over true love. In the latest “Star Trek,” Kirk is Peter Pan, an irresponsible, reckless man-boy. The new Kirk tears down an empty Iowa highway in a stolen hot rod and drives off a cliff, jumping out to save himself, not the car. He gets into bar fights to serve his vanity, not some higher cause like rescuing the crew from aliens."
Let's just completely ignore Smith's "ideal male" definition, and take it as a given. A warped, deeply psychotic given, but a given nonetheless. You're going to sit there and tell us that Captain Kirk, as portrayed by William Shatner, exhibited SUPREME SELF-CONTROL? That Shatkirk only got into bar fights in a calculated attempt to save his fellow crewmembers? First, this view is completely unsupported by the text. And second, the Kirk character was deliberately set up to contrast with a character who actually does exhibit "supreme self-control". By those standards, Smith should be exhibiting Chapelesque fits of embarrassing lust for Mr. Spock.
The only way to make Shatkirk look like a real man and Pinekirk look like a modern feminized wimp is to invent a completely fake Shatkirk and contrast him with a completely fake Pinekirk, which she manages first by acting like the Kirk in the car-cliff scene isn't twelve years old, and second by portraying the same bar fight setup used in thousands of movies over the years as an act of vanity. But it doesn't stop there.
"The 1960s Kirk destroyed evil computers with logic problems to save the ship. The new Kirk almost gets thrown out of Starfleet Academy for manipulating the computer program to his advantage." - Yes, dumbass, in a scene that was only IN the new movie because cheating on the Kobayashi Maru was established by...the 80's Kirk. You're gonna write an article about James T. Kirk and act like you've never seen Wrath of Khan? Only on Big Hollywood, folks.
You want to know how flimsy her premise is? So flimsy she abandons it two points into the meat of the thing:
"The original Kirk bluffed aliens, threatened planets, started wars and keenly understood the necessity of maintaining peace through strength. The new “Star Trek” punishes Kirk on an icy planet because of his aggressive desire to take the fight to the enemy rather than consulting with the bureaucracy of the Federation. But then again, what do we expect with the headquarters of Starfleet being based in San Francisco?"
See? New Kirk is, um, just like Old Kirk, only his actions are portrayed as dangerous and rebellious by those liberal elitists at Starfleet, even though he's vindicated in the end. Which is something that happened all the time in, well, the original Star Trek, which was thought up by a fucking hippie.
I will spare you the section on Kirk's relationship with women, because Big Hollywood should really keep it in a box and only let it communicate through a blind empath, lest the sight of its ugliness drive men mad. Suffice it to say that New Kirk struck out with Uhura because feminists have abandoned women's traditional role as a check on male behavior. No, really. That's her point, or at least as much of her point as I can parse without clawing my fucking eyes out.
Here's a startling revelation for you, Heather. Men are, overall, better people than they were 40 years ago. Even if a man COULD manage to be like Shatkirk, which he couldn't, because Shatkirk is a fictional construct in a consequence-free universe, we don't want him to be. Because even if those qualities you admire so much are as desirable as you say, they're the product of a regressive context. For all our flaws, we're better than we were then. More free, more equal, and happier because of it. Unless my meddling in the timestream turns us all evil and makes us wear gold vests*. That'd suck, and I'd feel just awful about it.
*Or become bisexuals in leather catsuits, for you Deep Space Nine fans.