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Author Topic: David Brin on Star Wars vs. Star Trek
Miles
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Icon 3 posted December 19, 2001 18:50      Profile for Miles   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I was surfing around late last night and ran acrossthis old Salon article from 1999. The sci-fi author David Brin writes a very interesting essay on why he thinks the message of the Star Wars movies is bad. Nevermind that the political correctness of Star Trek gets overbearing at points, he prefers that to the "Homeric", classical tale presented in the Star Wars epic. To support his argument he says that the way you tell good guys from bad guys in Star Wars is by their appearance: Nazi-like uniforms=bad, teddy-bear uniforms=good. In the Star Trek world the good guys are logical and democratic while the bad guys are tyranical and autocratic. I don't buy his point totally: he doesn't seem to acknowledge that the Empire was a Republic with a Senate before the shit hit the fan, reminiscent of Ancient Rome. But the social message of the Star Trek world is more present. So is Star Wars just sci-fi candy with no message?

Entertainment value aside, I think Brin has some good ideas about what sets good sci-fi apart from other genres. His article was written after the release of Phantom Menace, so maybe a reread before Attack of the Killer Clone Droids is relevant.


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GrumpySteen

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Icon 1 posted December 20, 2001 09:06      Profile for GrumpySteen     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I wouldn't say that Star Wars was exactly sci-fi candy. It's a heroic epic and the adjective homeric suits it. Heroic epics are concerned with heroic deeds for the most part, not the morality behind those deeds. Star Trek, in comparison, varied the type of story from episode to episode. The episodes have covered everything from heroic epic to morality tale to comedy to romance and even parodies of 50's sci-fi.

Both Star Wars and Star Trek have the implicit goal of entertaining the audience... who would watch otherwise? Star Wars has had 4 movies totally only 8 hours and 32 minutes (disregarding later cuts with extra footage). Star Trek, on the other hand, had 79 episodes totalling 59 hours and 15 minutes in just the original series (going by the average of 45 minutes of footage in a 1 hour tv show). That's a lot more time for the script writers to get bored with heroics and start putting in more interesting stories, thus the diversity.

Not that I think anyone wants to know, but if you sum up all the series to date, Star Trek consists, so far, of 610 TV episodes and 9 movies totalling 4,642 hours and 50 minutes of programming (going with 45 minutes/episode), and that doesn't count special bits like anniversary shows, extra footage in director's cuts and so forth. That's over 193 days worth of programming! I'm thinking they need a Star Trek cable channel at this point. All Star Trek, all the time (hey, it's better than freakin' all soap operas all the time which I'm already stuck with on one channel).


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ginacanadiangeek
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Icon 1 posted December 20, 2001 19:50      Profile for ginacanadiangeek     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Star Wars vs Star Trek
Hmm, I'm really torn on this one but I'd have to say that Star Trek wins by just having more episodes, movies and therefore, greater impact on pop culture.

And yes, there should be a Star Trek channel but for now, we'll just have to settle for TNN on Fridays.


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theJacob
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Icon 1 posted December 20, 2001 19:54      Profile for theJacob     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Come on. You are forgetting the Star Wars expanded universe. (novels, comics, etc). I'll rant on this latter.

What really annoys me are the people who think that Lucas is somesort of sexist beacause "all the boys are soliders and all the girls are princesses" and that "there are only two female pilots in Phantom Menace. And they get blown up". If there is any sexism at work here, it is probably uninterional. Even if Lucas is a sexist, many of the expanded universe novels and comics are quite deferent, and many females kick a**, and many males are helpless worms. Also, gender roles may have been appropriate for the ages that the moves were written in. In the 70s, people were unsure if they should purchase a Princess Leia action figure. And now it is the rarest one. In the first non-movie based novel, "Splinter of the Mind's Eye", there is a scene in which Luke slaps Leia across the face.
Also, there are many themes amoung the novels as well. From comedy ("Wriath Squadron") to romance ("Children of the Jedi"), each novel is different. One of the main plot lines in "The Krytos Trap" is a murder trial.
The villians in Star Wars range from uniformed imperials to battle droids to mindless clone armies to aliens with all types of agendas to barley organized pirate gangs and the occasional opponet who is "good", but a strong rival, and the villian with a change of heart.

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BlueAntoid
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Icon 13 posted December 21, 2001 10:26      Profile for BlueAntoid   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Now that I've read this article, I'm not sure whether I want to laugh nervously or throw up. IMO, this guy is a few enchiladas short of a combo plate.

I can forgive him for making the common assumption that Starfleet is a naval force. Obviously, the Federation will open up a can of whup-a** if they have to, but their main mission is - and always has been - scientific and diplomatic. To boldly go and whatnot.

But it's the commentary about Star Wars that really steams me, starting with Yoda's line in The Phantom Menace. Where he says "fear makes you angry and anger makes you evil" it should be "fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to the Dark Side. Thus, his rambling points like "In other words, getting angry at Adolf Hitler will cause you to rush right out and join the Nazi Party?" lose their meaning entirely.

Which brings me to another point - Vader is by no means equal to Hitler. Sure, they were both responsible for the death of a lot of people. But, other than that, he has the roles mixed up.

Shortly after WWI, the German economy was horribly damaged. The people were full of fear and uncertainty about the future. Then, a political extremist named Adolph Hitler came along and promised the people a glorious new future as a great empire. The German people, desperate for some stability, clung to the hope that this twisted man provided, and were seduced into the Nazi party.

Star Wars tells a similar tale (However, I'm not as sure of the facts here, because I'm not too familiar with the books and such.)

Anakin Skywalker was horribly injured. Along came Senator Palpatine, who was unbeknownst to most was really the Sith master Darth Sidious. He promised Anakin a new lease on life as part of a glorious empire. Anakin, afraid of what might come, clung to the hope that the Senator provided, was seduced to the Dark Side, and became Darth Vader.

The point the author fails to miss is simply this - ANAKIN SKYWALKER WAS A VICTIM JUST AS MUCH AS THOSE HE WOULD LATER KILL. He was not the mastermind behind his evil. (Come to think of it, because of his high midichlorion(sp?) levels it would probably be easier for the Dark Side to consume his mind.) It's not right to go around present-day Berlin calling random people Nazis - they were not responsible for the utterly inhumane acts that occured during WWII. Having Anakin as the hero of the prequel movies is NOT the same as rooting for "Lil' Adolph."

"By making its centerpiece the romanticization of a mass murderer, "Star Wars" has sunk far lower. It is unworthy of our attention, our enthusiasm -- or our civilization." Ahem? I think he's focusing on Vader a little too much.

George Lucas doesn't have any secret agenda about twisting the children of the world into little goose-stepping neo-Nazis. If this guy is so totally against the message that Star Wars gives, maybe he should shut up and stop going to see the movies.

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sniper
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Icon 1 posted December 21, 2001 14:20      Profile for sniper   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
steen, buddy, you've got a lot of numbers, but i know a little saying that says, "quality over quantity". sure, there's a truck load of trek episodes. that would be expected when they take scripts from anyone who writes one. they can bang out shows one after another, but most are bland and pointless. george does or oversees almost everything in his movies, and he makes sure they're all visually, auditorilly, intelectually, and emotionally satisfying.

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GrumpySteen

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Icon 1 posted December 21, 2001 16:26      Profile for GrumpySteen     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
sniper wrote:
steen, buddy, you've got a lot of numbers, but i know a little saying that says, "quality over quantity". sure, there's a truck load of trek episodes. that would be expected when they take scripts from anyone who writes one. they can bang out shows one after another, but most are bland and pointless. george does or oversees almost everything in his movies, and he makes sure they're all visually, auditorilly, intelectually, and emotionally satisfying.

My point was that, because of the mass of material, some very good material has shown up in amongst the lesser stuff and a far broader range of social commentary has been made. Your point is that there's a lot of Trek material, thus Star Wars must be better. Which argument stands up under examination?

As for Mr. Lucas' vaunted efforts at making sure his productions are "all visually, auditorilly, intelectually, and emotionally satisfying", I refer you to Leprechaun, Howard the Duck, Captain Eo, and Body Heat. George Lucas has made some very good films, just as Trek has produced some very good episodes. They've both produced their share of utter crap as well.


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sniper
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Icon 1 posted December 21, 2001 17:10      Profile for sniper   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
i said "quality over quantity". the number of films or episodes is irrelevant. i'm saying that star wars is more consistantly good. with the 4643 hours of trek, the law of averages forces some to be good.

when i said "george's movies", i meant star wars movies. i won't argue that he's had his bad flics, but this is star wars vs. star trek.

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platypus
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Icon 1 posted December 21, 2001 17:40      Profile for platypus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think it's a somewhat silly comparison.

Star Trek is highly political. Star Wars... well, ... isn't. Yes, they talk about the government, the people are in government positions, but that's not the idea. Government in Star Wars is more of an excuse. Star Wars approaches a good versus evil theme, with the good and the evil being in everyone, from Yoda to Luke to Anakin to Obi-Wan to Palpatine (ok, not much good in that last one).

Star Trek doesn't approach it that way. Yeah, you can compare the two, but it's like comparing apples and oranges. There are fundamental differences, even though they're both fruit. Whether you like one or the other is completely subjective, because they do different things.

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GrumpySteen

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Icon 1 posted December 21, 2001 20:25      Profile for GrumpySteen     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
sniper:
when i said "george's movies", i meant star wars movies.

To which I can only reply:

Jar Jar Binks is "visually, auditorilly, intelectually, and emotionally satisfying"?

/me falls over laughing


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sniper
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Icon 1 posted December 22, 2001 05:33      Profile for sniper   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
first of all, i don't mind jar jar. i don't find him annoying. also, i think it's hipocritical the way people criticize george for star wars being "ethnocentric" but when he puts a different species in a lead role, they say that character ruined the movie.

but that's not the point. once again, steen, you're twisting my words around to make me sound wrong. that satisfaction quote was, in the original text, referring to the movies. there's no way every individual character or thing could fulfill that.

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GrumpySteen

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Icon 1 posted December 22, 2001 21:25      Profile for GrumpySteen     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
sniper wrote:
once again, steen, you're twisting my words around to make me sound wrong.

No, your original quote was that "george does or oversees almost everything in his movies, and he makes sure they're all visually, auditorilly, intelectually, and emotionally satisfying." I haven't twisted anything around. What I have done is respond to that orignal statement with examples of Lucas' crappier works. When you backpeddled and limited your statement to just the Star Wars movies, I responded with a humorous, but valid, example of crappiness in the Star Wars franchise. Now you're backpeddling and trying to dodge again with the statement "that satisfaction quote was, in the original text, referring to the movies. there's no way every individual character or thing could fulfill that." If this were a minor character or a single scene, I would agree, but Jar Jar was a major character in the storyline. If you don't think the major characters in a story should be well done, I'm glad you aren't making movies.

So, anyway, have fun backpeddling and redifining your statements yet again (also known as twisting your own words around to make them seem right). I'm sure if you keep trying long enough, you'll find some way to justify every mistake Lucas has ever made and then you can go back to worshipping him or whatever it is that you're doing.


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Akira
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Icon 1 posted December 23, 2001 03:37      Profile for Akira   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
I think it's hipocritical the way people criticize george for star wars being "ethnocentric" but when he puts a different species in a lead role, they say that character ruined the movie.

I think it's very fair to say that Jar Jar ruined the movie -- not because he's an alien, but because of the way he was used as low-brow comic relief rather than an archtypical Fool. Had Lucas stuck to his Homeric origins, Jar Jar should have been less a bumbling doofus and more an innocent who gets swept into events greater than himself and, through a combination of good fortune, skill, and mentorship to a wise sage or warrior, manages to rise above and save the day. (You know -- the Luke character...) Instead, we get a "what does dis button do?" klutz who serves no purpose but to entertain 6 year olds who've seen "Home
Alone" one too many times. My friend Preston summed it up best: "Star Wars characters aren't supposed to step in camel dung."


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sniper
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Icon 1 posted December 23, 2001 07:30      Profile for sniper   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
how convienient it is for you, steen, to distort what i say and then discredit me for clarifying. but even though you don't like my "backpeddling", i need to continue my clarification due to your lack of reading comprehension.

"george does or oversees almost everything in his movies, and he makes sure they're all visually, auditorilly, intelectually, and emotionally satisfying." the last plural subject of the phrase before the pronoun "they're" is "his movies", so the sentence WAS referring to his movies. that's how written english works. this is a "Star Wars vs. Star Trek" forum, not a george lucas vs. gene roddenberry forum, so any of george's other works are useless in debate. as i said in my last post, i think jar jar was well done. i think there's room in star wars films for characters that aren't noble all the time.

yep, you called it, i am once again clarifying what i said. that tends to happen when people misconstrue what i write. perhaps you could study up and reach high school level reading ability.

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Icon 1 posted December 24, 2001 02:56      Profile for Angry Rooster   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ugh... flame war brewing in the Star Wars vs. Star Trek thread, how cliché...

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GrumpySteen

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Icon 1 posted December 24, 2001 17:35      Profile for GrumpySteen     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Nah, no flame war here. No point, really.

My orignal post said what I wanted to say about the topic, which is that Star Trek has a great deal more material available than Star Wars and that the quality of that material varied widely. Some was really great, some sucked. sniper started in about quality over quantity and implied that Lucas didn't make crap, so I poked some fun at him by pointing out a variety of the crap Lucas is responsible for. He decided that he was just talking about Star Wars movies, so I laughed at him for the implication that Jar Jar was "visually, auditorilly, intelectually, and emotionally satisfying" (how could I not laugh, after all). I guess we should just be happy that a character with bad dialog and a long tongue is to be capable of satisfying someone

As for this last post sniper made... I could have sworn Jar Jar Binks was part of Star Wars but, since sniper is taking the time to try and sound smart, even if that is a lost cause, by going on and on about how he was just talking about the Star Wars movies in response to my post about Jar Jar Binks, perhaps he's trying to say Jar Jar wasn't a part of Star Wars after all. otherwise, the little trollbot must be caught in loop that's causing him to continue responding to the one post I made that mentioned Lucas' other movies, because all the other posts have referenced only Star Wars.


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sniper
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Icon 1 posted December 24, 2001 18:51      Profile for sniper   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
that's exactly it. i'm caught in a loop. a loop of trying to keep an intelligent debate with someone who constantly misreads and takes tangents.

but i will agree that this is no war. just some (relatively) friendly debate.

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Miles
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Icon 7 posted December 28, 2001 13:01      Profile for Miles   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Whee, back from visiting the inlaws, and now I can finally see the replies to this topic. I can't say I agree with all of Brin's points in the article, but his pointing out the different philosophies got me thinking. It was especially interesting to have in mind while I watched Fellowship of the Ring
(twice).

I certainly don't endorse a flame war between
the two series, as both Star Wars and Star Trek rock! I think it is safe to summarize by saying that the Star Wars and the Lord of the Rings sagas belong to an older fantasy-type archetype while most good science fiction seems to break the standard archetypes and create new ones, Star Trek being the obvious example, but also
A Brave New World (not really a saga, I guess). Perhaps the Foundation series would be a good example, if I could recall enough of it.

On a different note, someone gave me the trilogy by Philip Pullman, His Dark Materials, for Christmas. I'll see how that fits into this picture soon.

Cheers!


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Angry Rooster
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Icon 1 posted December 29, 2001 00:41      Profile for Angry Rooster   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I said brewing, I'm well aware that an actual flame war wouldn't erupt over this

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Icon 12 posted January 02, 2002 03:08      Profile for Swiss Mercenary     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Flame wars do not brew, they smolder.
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Icon 1 posted January 02, 2002 23:07      Profile for Angry Rooster   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Originally posted by Swiss Mercenary:
Flame wars do not brew, they smolder.

What about in the case of combustible gases? Would they waft?

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GrumpySteen

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Icon 13 posted January 04, 2002 21:55      Profile for GrumpySteen     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Angry Rooster wrote:
What about in the case of combustible gases? Would they waft?

Having just returned from a wedding in Texas where the rehersal dinner primarily consisted of dead animals slathered with barbeque sauce served along side huge bowls of potato salad, coleslaw and pinto beans, I can attest to the fact that combustible gases do indeed waft... and linger... and cling.


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Icon 12 posted January 09, 2002 23:23      Profile for iballoondesign   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I love Star Wars very much than Star Trek is more dunno but interest in galaxy. But Star Wars already discovery all planets than Star Trek. Interest, they never actually meet each other in far far galaxy.

Star Wars Rule!


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theJacob
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Icon 1 posted January 13, 2002 14:01      Profile for theJacob     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Originally posted by iballoondesign:
I love Star Wars very much than Star Trek is more dunno but interest in galaxy. But Star Wars already discovery all planets than Star Trek. Interest, they never actually meet each other in far far galaxy.

Star Wars Rule!


Actually, as any Star-Wars expert (like me) would tell you, there are large portions of unexplored space throught the galaxy. There is a huge region known as the "unknown regions"

Star Wars Rules!

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Icon 1 posted January 19, 2002 16:02      Profile for FatGnome     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
OK OK here it goes you are all bringing up good points (well most of you) But Star Wars and Star Trek belong to two differant generas of entertainment. Star Trek is a Sci-fi and Star Wars is a space fantasy. Star Trek attempts to recreate (for the most part) thoughts and ideas that are prevelant today and spit them out again in a format that disguises them a little.

Star Wars is an epic fight between Good and Evil. You are suposed to know exactaly who the good guys are and exactaly who the bad guys are. This is why it is so easily lumped in with Lord Of The Rings you always know who is the good guy and who is the bad guy.

I do believe that Star Wars was better produced but that comes from its higher budgets.

Star Trek was never made to be a competetor of Star Wars, or vice versa, it had and has a totaly differant pourpose. So arguing over which is better is stupid. It is like asking what is better a Cordless power drill or a hack saw? The answer is that they both have their uses but neither one can take the place of the other.


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