[personal profile] wingedbeast
Note: Being that this is text, I cannot place an echo on Privilege Power. For full effect, please imagine one each time you read the phrase.

Additional Note: I have not, neither do I intend to see Star Trek: Into Darkness.

This was almost a case for the remake, and it could very well be so. But, there's really only one major problem in this movie, James T. Kirk. And, that's a problem in other movies and other fictions. It's the problem of (ready your imaginary echo effect) Privilege Power.

For those that haven't seen the movie, in the reboot, a time-travel mishap alters the timeline so that James T. Kirk's father dies while young James T. is just born. As a result, young James is not inspired, by the image and model of his captain father, to study and improve himself for the purpose of being a good Starfleet officer and Captain. Instead, he leads an aimless, selfish life that, by all indications, is marked by casually using and abusing those around him.

What puts Kirk back on the path to Captain Kirk is that Captain Pike has faith that Kirk will make a good captain. Captain Pike *claims* this is about young Kirk's ability to leap before he looks, which I'll take as the ability to act quickly and decisively without being balked by excessive contemplation. (That's my attempt at being generous, here.)

Are we to expect that the entirety of Starfleet is built of people who are, down to each and every cadet, frozen by the need for more information or in terror of making a decision when the right decision isn't absolutely clear? I'm doubtful. Are we to expect that, of all the young civilians that Captain Pike might ever have the opportunity to observe, not a one of them has the courage to make that leap? I'm even more doubtful.

That leaves one reason for Captain Pike to have such faith in the leadership abilities of one James T. "drunken bar fight" Kirk, James is his father's son. No other reason can be applied. James has not displayed either skill, judgment, or character that Starfleet would need. But, half of his chromosomes came from a heroic captain, so...

Part of that is the story of the bad boy redeemed. But, the bad boy redeemed story needs Privilege Power (imagine echo here) to work. The Bad Boy gets into trouble, but not so much trouble that it totally derails his life. The cops don't like him, but the off screen judges must because the worst he gets is community service. He's just so great at (insert whatever here) that the sports team/band/dance troupe has to have him on their team so they can have a shot. For whatever reason, he comes to care about the team and, at the end, everything comes down to him, because he's the only one that can do whatever the big thing is.

We saw that in Battleship. I don't remember the main character's name, so I'll call him Privilege P. Privilegeson. He starts out the movie by breaking into a 7/11 to grab a burrito and not going to jail over the matter, but somehow becoming a naval officer with enough rank to be second in command. If young Mr. Privilegeson isn't heavily privileged, he's an ex-con and barred from service. There's even a moment where someone asks him "if not you, who?" in regards to who will captain the ship. The answer should have been "the next officer in line". The inspiration for him to get up and do something shouldn't have been "nobody else can do this" but "shit or get off the captain's pot".

So, the bad boy redeemed needs Privilege Power (imagine echo here) to really work. Otherwise, it's "bad boy crushed by the consequences of actions and an uncaring criminal justice system".

Privilege Power is endemic, even with more likable characters. Harry Potter is The Boy Who's Major Accomplishment That Made the Entire Wizarding World Pay Attention to What He Has to Say Was Not Dying. Everything was about him just because, nothing he had to do to accomplish that. Superman, as I discussed in Superman and The Jesus Problem*, is someone who's superior as a matter of birth. The word "hero" comes from the Greek, literally meaning the child of a god and a mortal (in other words, someone who is privileged, from birth, to have supernatural power). King Arthur is the rightful born King.

This is a big problem, in part, because it's so heavy in our history of stories. It's almost difficult to tell an alternate story. But, we have to.

It should be noted that the alternate stories are out there. Within the Star Trek reboot, we have the story of Spock, who's accomplishments are the result of his own personal vision. Spock is not entirely without privilege. His father, being an ambassador, likely had status and resources not available to the average Vulcan. But that privilege did not take Spock and make him great. His own intent and vision did so, granting him more right to the Captain's chair than Kirk would have.

Yes, I did just make the argument that the reboot should have seen Spock in the Captain's chair and Kirk should have considered himself lucky to be a first officer.

* http://wingedbeast.dreamwidth.org/3214.html
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