My Promise as a Writer

I promise to entertain you to the best my twisted little mind can manage. I will take you from the light, and into darkness. I might even let you see the sunrise at the end of the journey, but that I can't promise. My stories will sweep the hair from you brow, leave your stomach in knots, and suck the air from your lungs. But no matter how far we descend, I will offer you a fragment of hope to cling to. I will treat you to dark fantasy, science fiction, horror, and anything that falls into the strange and disturbing. Will we re-emerge into the light? Well, that is the point of taking the journey. I hope you will join me on these adventures.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


2. The crew of Voyager is filled with uninteresting morons. This truly is the Federation's D list crew. Not even the inclusion of the Maquis officers and crewmen can excuse the lackluster line up we will be examining.

Captain Kathryn Janeway:
Kate Mulgrew was not the first woman cast to play Captain Janeway. That dubious honor went to Genevieve Bujold (only her Janeway was named Nicole rather than Kathryn.) Apparently Bujold was so bad the producers started looking for a replacement before filming on the original episode was finished. Kate Mulgrew earned the roll by proving she was better, but that is like saying Christen Hayden was an improvement as Anakin Skywalker after Jake Lloyd.

What we know of Janeway is that she has a boy friend, has a Golden Retriever, and she is the captain. We learn all of that in the first episode, and little to nothing more is revealed over seven seasons. I suspect the writers were thinking of Picard when they drafted her character, and attempted to dress Jean-Luc in drag. They gave Janeway the sense of duty Picard clung to, but failed to infuse her with his charm, compassion, and love of culture. This lack of character development shows in Mulgrew's performance in that she had no idea what to do with Janeway. Every so often the writers seemed obligated to allow Mulgrew a chance to show her acting ability (must have been contractual since it seems grudging), but those moments come across as awkward and forced. Simply put, she is a mediocre actor in a bad role. Not even Commander Riker's beard could helper her, though it might improve her appearance.

Imagine for a moment what the show would be like if Janeway was no longer the captain for any given reason. That's right! Chakotay, as executive officer, would have to assume the position because a ship needs a captain, even a bad captain like Captain Janeway of The Exxon Voyager. Perhaps Chakotay would have returned the crew to Earth in a faster and safer manner, but even that is uncertain. I doubt much of anything would have changed if Janeway had been removed as captain, and that makes her a worthless character. You should feel the absence of a character when they leave the story. You are not going to find that here. (And what is up with Janeway's hairdo?)

Commander Chakotay:
Robert Beltran is a rather humorous individual, but you would not know that unless you watched the gag reels for Voyager. His character, Chakotay, however, is bland since Star Trek has a horrendous habit of relying upon their Vulcan template when creating a spiritualist. With all the spiritualist gurus in the Los Angeles area, you would think the writers would have an unlimited supply of personalities to draw from.

Chakotay is a Native-American who was born on a Federation colony planet. Does this still qualify him as Native-American? I'm not sure, but it still qualifies him as a member of the . . . Well now we have a problem. What tribe did he belong to? At one time it was the Sioux, then he was descended from the Hopi, and later his ancestry shifts in favor of the Rubber Tree People/Mayan. In this regard, Chakotay is like a Tootsie Pop: the world may never know. No matter the tribe Chakotay originated from, it is well established they left Earth due to an abhorrence for technology--never mind they required technology to get them away from technology. Later they decided to make a pilgrimage back to their ancestral lands on Earth. In order to make the round trip, a starship was required, unless they have learned how to fly and their skins have evolved to ward off the effects of the vacuum of space. Last time I checked, spaceships lie in the purview of technology.

Latter in life, Chakotay decided his father was right in turning his back on technology, and embraced his ancestral heritage in a manner that only Hollywood can accept as authentic. Despite this decision, it is unexplained as to how Chakotay rationalized using technology to engage in a terrorist war with the Cardassians, or how he was so knowledgeable over the workings of the Federation's state of the art starship, Voyager. This display of laziness in forming the character of Chakotay is laughable at best, and shameful at its worst.

Chakotay was the first Native-American character in Star Trek to have his name appear
in the opening credits, and he was the executive officer of the ship to boot! (Though he was not the first Native-American in the Trek universe. That honor went to an extra in a crowd shot in Star Trek: The Original Motion Picture.) Suffice it to say, this was a pivotal moment for Star Trek, akin to the first interracial kiss on television brought to you by Kirk and Uhura, but the writers failed miserably when it came to fleshing out the first billed Native American in the franchise.

He was given a tattoo on the face that serves as nothing more than set dressing. Truly! There is nothing more to the tattoo than to make Chakotay look more interesting. At least it did not change in appearance from season to season, like Worf's forehead. The way they handled Native-American heritage is shameful to say the least. I imagine their research began and ended with Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown. Perhaps they threw in a few John Wayne movies to round things out. Voyager would have been better off leaving this insult out of the show. Actually, it would have been easy. Think about the ship without it's first officer, and what do you have? The same show.

Lieutenant Junior Grade B'Elanna Torres:
I can imagine Roxann Dawson was cast in the role of B'Elanna Torres to bring the strong, no nonsense attitude that made Nana Visitor's Kira Nerys such a success in Deep Space Nine. In that aspect, Dawson succeeded, but the writers failed her. As the seasons passed on Deep Space Nine, the writers realized they needed to show Kira's softer side, and this only improved a character who was fun to watch to begin with. The writers of Voyager failed to do the same for Torres until somewhere around the sixth or seventh season. By then it was too late. She had already become annoying and predictable.

To make matters worse, the character gives all appearances of serving as the counter argument to Worf. Though she is half human and half Klingon, Torres was raised exclusively by her human father while Worf was raised by human foster parents. Torres rejected all things Klingon, where as Worf had embraced his birth culture to the point of obsession. This pigeon-holed Torres in how she was going to respond to any given situation, making her predictable, boring, and annoying by the time season two was wrapping up.

Removing Torres from the show changes nothing. Granted, a ship requires a chief engineer, but at this point we are all well aware that Starfleet is filled with genius engineers (because the future is awesome!) Lieutenant Reginald Endicott Barclay III had more depth crafted into his character by the conclusion of his first appearance in The Next Generation with the episode Hollow Pursuits. He is the worst engineer, personality wise, that Starfleet has to offer, and he is far more interesting than Torres. The producers missed a great opportunity by failing to give us seven seasons of Barclay's antics. Instead, we are forced to endure yet another Klingon without a sense of humor--at least with Worf his lack of mirth was humorous in itself.

For a show that earned the reputation of dressing women in as little as possible with The Original Series and The Next Generation, the producers of Star Trek remained slow in understanding the value of sex appeal. They kind of got the idea with Jadzia Dax in Deep Space Nine. When it came to Voyager, they pretty much failed for three seasons straight. Jennifer Lien's character, Kes, was suppose to serve as Voyager's hot item. She was cute enough, but nothing to make the patrons of sports bars worldwide demand the channel be switched from the Super Bowl to Star Trek: Voyager. That was not the only failure in conceptualizing her character.

Kes is on Voyager for one other reason, and that is to increase the nonhuman population. That is as far as the producers and writers got to thinking when they added her name to the opening credits. Her function on the ship is tending a garden in a storage bay, but that was not enough to ensure she was in every episode, as we will see with Neelix in the galley. The writers had to think of something else for her to do, so she became The Doctor's assistant. Think about this for a minute. Star Trek still grows fruits and vegetables in dirt, and occasionally combat wounds are so severe the doctors and nurses still have to stick their hands into folks. Now we have a gardener who moonlights as a nurse. I sure hope she cleaned well under her nails!

Now that Kes has something to do other than pick fruit and prune shrubs, you would think to see some growth, to become more interesting. Not a chance! She is dull, borderline whiny, and mopes more often than not. Besides, Star Trek works best when there is only one medical guru in sickbay, which is why Nurse Chapel was on screen only when necessary (with the exception of her cameo in Star Trek: The Original Motion Picture). Kes is forgettable. In fact, that is what we promptly did at the end of season three when she left the show to be replaced by Seven of Nine. Kes who? There was some other blond on Voyager before Borg Boobs?

Lieutenant Tom Paris:
Rick Berman and Brannon Braga truly failed us with this character. Tom Paris is played by Robert Duncan McNeil, who first appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation as Cadet First Class Nicholas Locarno in the episode First Duty. Locarno was drummed out of the academy for executing and lying over a banned flight maneuver that resulted in the death of another cadet. Tom Paris (also a fighter pilot) was kicked out of Starfleet for an unspecified accident that resulted in the deaths of three fellow officers. He then joined the Maquis, was captured, and sentenced to a Federation correctional facility where Janeway found him (because he was, apparently, the only Maquis prisoner in Federation custody despite all the folks rounded up by Captain Sisko).

What we have here is Berman and Braga plagiarizing from their previous work as though fans would not notice. Furthermore, they made Tom Paris a rather annoying little boy when a young man with a grudge would have been much more interesting. They missed a golden opportunity when they cast McNeil to play Paris to resurrect the character of Nicholas Locarno, a character of whom fans of The Next Generation were already familiar with. Give him a bit of an attitude resulting from bad luck and worse decisions, and now we have a loose cannon Janeway is forced to rely upon. Much more interesting than a misunderstood good boy who only wants a third chance.

Reason 1
Reason 2 (Part 2)
Reason 3
Reason 4 (Part 1)
Reason 4 (Part 2)
Reason 5
Reason 6
Reason 7
Reason 8
Reason 9
Reason 10
Reason 11

Related Links:
Genevieve Bujold as the first Captain Janeway

Kirk kisses Uhura

Chakotay links
The Rubber Tree People
Chakotay's Tribe in Voyager
Memory Alpha: Chakotay

Author Links:
Shadows Beyond the Flames
J. M. Tresaugue Books


  1. I do think you could do this about any series of Star Trek. Troi? Geordie? Troi? Data? Reiker? Troi? Taken separately they are all ridiculous and slightly pointless. Perhaps slightly less so (I must admit that I do think Deep Space excels at characterisation, but the extras in Deep Space are among the most ridiculous to ever grace a television screen, especially the Bajorans.)

    As a young woman in the nineties, I have to say I appreciated a female captain in an extended science fiction series. I liked Janeway. Macrocosm is probably my favourite of the Janeway eps. I loved it when she let her hair down (literally). That was the point of the hairdo surely, it was all her sexual repression in that hair.

    I personally love B'Elanna. I think her personal story arc and character development is the most interesting of any of the Star Trek franchise. I agree that Paris's character is cliche, but I think B'Elanna and Paris are an interesting couple - and theirs is the only Star Trek romance I've ever been really invested in, I think they got the pacing of it right over the series.

    The biggest Voyager crime (in my book) (well, besides Neelix) is that Chakotay and Seven didn't get together while Chakotay was still hot.

    The "Year of Hell" was an excellent structural device for implying "passage of time where stuff happens" without slowing down the series.

    1. Penni, I thank you for your well thought out counter argument, and you bring up some undeniably valid points that I deeply appreciate.

      I cannot think of Trio without the mental image of her from "Encounter at Farpoint," wailing, "Pain! Excruciating pain!" Her character is nothing but a place holder. Geordie, well he creeps me out. Holodeck romances? Need I say more? Data, I actually enjoy him though he is nothing more than a contemporary retelling of Pinocchio. Riker I am on the fence about--particularly after the beard. He has his moments, but becomes useless. This is glaringly seen when TNG made the move from television to film. Of course part of this problem is Star Trek has always tried to be an ensemble cast, and barely manages. TOS focused on Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, and it worked well. TNG was slow to learn they were strongest with Picard and Data working together. DS9 did well with pairings: O'Brien and Bashir, Dax and Worf, Kira and Odo, Captain Sisko and whomever, Jake Sisko and Egg Nog. I personally think Voyager's decision to focus so much attention on Paris and Kim comes across as an after thought.

      I understand your appreciation for the first female captain in Star Trek (that is, a female captain who appears in more than two episodes.) I am a father of three girls, a teen, preteen, and the youngest is 5 months. It is a challenge to find strong female leads in film and television for them to find a connection with. More often than not, I rely upon Sigorny Weaver and Jodi Foster. Seems the powers that be in movie land are slow to advance their thinking. Still, I might be wrong on this since we avoid cable like the plague. Lt. Cmdr. Shelby from the two part TNG episode "The Best of Both Worlds" would have been perfect for Voyager. She was motivated, willing to break protocol, and insanely smart. I also liked the way she busted Riker's chops. She would have had the courage to break with Federation standards when necessary to ensure the safety of the ship and crew. This would have resulted in some fun tension between her and the bridge officers--namely Tuvok. I believe a female captain was a long time in coming (too long), and preparing what was perceived as a mostly male audience for such an event has its roots in TNG. We have Beverly Crusher as the chief medical officer, easy for a 1980s audience to swallow since women have a longish tradition in the medical field. Next we have a female executive officer in DS9, and it worked magnificently. The next step was (sorry) logical. I don't think Kate Mulgrew was the right choice. I'm willing to be wrong on this, and accept the character of Janeway was poorly conceptualized. Honestly, Voyager soured me so much on Mulgrew to the point I avoid any other show/film in which she appears. I'm willing to take any recommendations on her other works if you have any.

      B'Elanna I would have accepted better if she did not feel like another version of Kira Nerys. Still, that argument can be made for Spock and Data; Kirk and Riker; and Scotty, Geordi, and O'Brien So why B'Elanna? Perhaps the blame rests in the writing for the series. After spending some time thinking about it, her character would have been better placed in TNG or DS9.

      At least I will make you happy next week with the write up on Neelix. Chakotay and Seven of Nine's romance seemed rather abrupt and forced to me. Granted, it was not as ridiculous as the on again off again romance of Troi and Riker (and without explanation!) But nothing beats Troi and Worf as far as silly Trek romances. There might be a solid reason for the Chakotay and Seven romance, but I'll be addressing that in Reason 9.

    2. On "The Year of Hell" I am willing to concede this is a preference to my geek side. I love epic space battles, and was left with "Return of the Jedi" and Ewoks until DS9 proved amazing space battles could be done and done well on the small screen. Once Kes glimpsed Voyager's future I got all weak in the knees. I was disappointed with the end result. So yeah, I'm willing to accept my frustration on this has more to do with me than the series.

      I truly enjoyed your comment. It is the perfect counter argument to my post. I doubt we will fully change each others minds (not that I wish to brainwash you), but your comments allow the fans of Voyager a chance to find in this blog series a voice that supports them rather than being stuck with my viewpoint alone. I hope to see your comments on the following Voyager blogs, though I'm sure you will really hand it to me when we get to Reason 3. I'll have my crash helmet on!

    3. I loved Janeway as a captain, and Kate Mulgrew was an excellent choice--she's attractive but not such a sexpot that you'd automatically assume she slept her way to command. Janeway's writers gave us someone could carry a position of authority without having to go over the top, and Mulgrew didn't have to project by eating the scenery.

      And as Penni Russon said, as a young woman in the 90's seeing a strong female captain meant a lot. They could have just as easily written her as a sexpot who flirted and batted eyelashes at the first sign of conflict, but the modern franchise's standards trend away from that, trotting it out either to lampshade it, or for comic relief (Lwaxana Troi). Janeway's character brilliance comes in when viewed in contrast to Chakotay (her science/his spirituality in a bit of a gender-focused role reversal) and Torres (Janeway's journey from rules-stickler to playing fast and loose with The Rules, vs Torres' emotional journey from angry anarchist to wife, mother, and model officer).

      I have to disagree with you about Kes, though. I don't think she was the series' intended sex symbol--I honestly don't think they had one in mind when they put the show together. First off, she's two when the series begins. Sure, exotic alien, different life span, all that, but two? Secondly, she's in a stable relationship with Neelix. Sooo...hints of underageness, bad taste in existing relationships, and not critical to the story beyond the first episode. My personal (unsupported) theory is that they intended for Kes and Neelix to be much more of a couple of rogues than they turned out to be. Neelix hustled the Voyager crew at first, Kes was in it to get off her homeworld and find adventure. They could have made a great pair of shoulder-devils encouraging Janeway to veer off the Federation path for expediency's sake.

      I think Kes's problems were part of the overall problem that plagued the series--redundancy. The Doc did not need another Nurse Chapel, just as he didn't need another Real Boy in Seven. Just as we didn't need another "I, Robot" with the Doc after Data, and we didn't need *two* starry-eyed aliens or *three* wide-eyed intergalactic innocents (Kes, Neelix, and Kim), or to double up on the emotionless stoics (Tuvok and Seven). I think they were reaching for the exploratory feel of TNG with a new region of space, but keeping the personal drama parts of DS9 without having it descend into evening soap opera drama...but at a time and on a cable network where that was all there was.

    4. PS: Janeway has what we called "Cosmic Bun Syndrome" - Nurse Chapel had it, Uhura had it, Deanna Troi had it. Our college group theorized that it came from some Dark Dark time in Starfleet where evil alien brain suckers nested on people's heads, and the cosmic buns are so that We Never Forget

    5. Athena, Your comment on this post is fantastic! Thank you for posting!

      Somewhere (here, or on Twitter, or both. I'm really not sure. Sorry!), I've mentioned the advent of a female Star Trek captain leading the show's lineup was too long in coming. The order should have been TOS, TNG, ST:V, DS9, Star Trek: Excelsior (with Captain Sulu), then ST:E. But that's not how it happened because you, Penni, and I are not the ones in charge, arguing over the next series. We should change that! Seriously, Janeway was too long in the waiting. And she had some huge size twelve shoes to fill. The writers failed her. She needed to be larger than life like Kirk, Picard, and Sisko. (I love Archer's clumsy approach and insecurity, but he does not belong in that list.) I understand the void Janeway filled for many Star Trek fans. I'm a father of three girls, and quite frankly frustrated of hunting through male centric movies and TV shows to find a character they can identify with. Ripley and Buffy work. I know Jodi Foster will provide them with substance whereas Twilight is poop. I was curious to see the reaction of the two oldest girls in regard to Voyager during this last marathon. One refused to watch after the second season. The other heralds the show as her favorite. I was curious, and asked why. Unfortunately, she is not yet mature enough to articulate her fandom beyond, "I don't know. Because I like it." I suspect Janeway is the reason behind this, and that is perfectly fine. I simply wish the writers gave her the care the gave to Picard and Sisko. She deserved it, didn't get it, and the character and show suffered as a result.

      Your dissection of the redundancy within the series is perfect. That seems to be a Star Trek tradition that blew up all over Voyager. Each series has it's Kirk like ladies man, the stoic, and the crabby pants. Then there are the deadly virus episodes, mutation episodes, and AI gone awry.

      I love the Cosmic Bun Syndrome! Please, if you have time, write a blog on this theory, and share the link here. I'd love to read it!

  2. We're working our way through Enterprise at the moment. Took about killing the franchise dead.

    Actually, these posts, while doing nothing to dispel my affection for Voyager, they are making me remember how truly fantastic DS9 was in terms of writing and overall vision. I think the starship is actually a fairly static environment for extended series (certainly that is how I feel watching Enterprise), DS9 offered something far more malleable - a thriving hub where the population is always shifting. A space that could be reinvented and indeed was significantly altered in meaning both by excursions into the past and when it changed hands in the series' timeline. I realise a space ship travels and encounters, but the largely "reset mode" of TNG and a little with Voyager means that nothing really significantly changes, whereas DS9 was able to support a long term narrative arc.

    I think what works for me about Voyager is they have a goal throughout the series, something far more imperative than to boldly split infinitives. So that even though some of the episodes definitely follow that "reset" model, ultimately everything they do either pushes them towards or pushes them further away from that goal. It is quite melancholic really, because as the series progresses you get an increasing sense that returning to earth is going to also destroy a life that they have built for themselves on Voyager.

    I think TNG is really Picard's story. It's the Federation as it is played out in the heart, mind and experiences of one man over the course of his entire life, and I think all the other characters shed further light on Picard's arc and his choices. I think Voyager is more disparate because it is ultimately problematising the Federation, questioning all its core principles, its history, its dominance, so the series enters the hearts and minds of Federation drop outs, dissidents, faithfuls, enemies, and couldn't-care-lesses in a Federation black hole where the name doesn't mean anything except within the hull of one ship. Seven of Nine appears for all these conflicts to play out in a singular body and so Voyager becomes her story, as the series tests all its new ideas about the Federation on someone who represents all the above categories.

    Now, you be gentle with my Doctor.

  3. But Doctor Flox and the Xindi! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I liked the hard choices Archer had to make in season three. Even more than that, I liked it when he made the wrong choice, knowing you could never fully respect him again. But that is me. I like it when the characters are a bit more human, and not larger than life like Kirk and Picard. Humans fail miserably at times, and Archer did just that when he committed Enterprise to that act of piracy. I know not everyone feels the same, and I've had to come to terms with that after years of counseling and crying into my pillow at night.

    I love the dark places DS9 takes us. We are introduced to Section 31 (a rather ugly side of the Federation), Sisko makes a planet uninhabitable for Maquis colonists, and Bashir pretty much murders a man to figure out what secrets are locked within Sloan's mind. Like you, I hate the "reset button" that is hit at the end of TNG. DS9 did a good job of forgetting about that button.

    Based on your comment, I am in for it when it comes to Seven of Nine. I missed the connections you pointed out, but I'll be leaving the next installment as is. It's only fair. Your counter argument will be well thought out and a joy to read.

    The good doctor, The Doctor . . . ? I suppose you will have to wait a few more days to find out.

    Thanks again for challenging my arguments and bringing your insights into this series.

  4. Wait, did you seriously just object to Kes on the grounds that she's a not-sexy-enough sex object?

    1. mhuzzell--First off I must apologize for such a lengthy response. However, I felt your concern demanded a well constructed reply.

      You bring up an excellent point in the matter of sex appeal in "Star Trek." On the surface, the comment in question concerning Kes comes across as piggish and sexist. However, "Star Trek" has a long history of objectifying both women and men, and that makes sex appeal a valid point of criticism when discussing the franchise. STOS had short skirts, women adorned in quarter sheet togas, and Kirk struggled to keep his shirt intact. TNG focused more on the guest stars for sex appeal in that the series kept the stars mostly covered. DS9 did it best with Jadzia Dax in that she had it all: smarts, competence, a sense of humor, courage, and she was pretty. "Voyager" (come season four) and "Enterprise" went extreme with Seven-of-Nine and T'Pol.

      The point I was attempting to illustrate in the blog--and quite possibly failed in executing--is when the production team intends to accomplish something they are obligated to do it right. That is the agreement between entertainers and the audience.

      So this begs the question: Is sex appeal necessary? It depends on the story. Few "Star Trek" episodes would be significantly altered if Kirk's shirt was not ripped, or legs were not flashed. "Star Trek" understands, for right or wrong, that sex sells, and they are not ashamed to use the knowledge.

      This is not a matter limited to the objectifying of women. Think of another highly successful franchise: James Bond. The character is suppose to ooze sex appeal from his pours. Sean Connery succeeded in this. George Lazenby failed in "On Her Majesty's Secrete Service", resulting, among other reasons, to a truly forgettable Bond. Roger Moore did better in his first two films, though soon after he left men wondering how he seduced so many women, while the women were left saying, "Eeeeew!" By the time "A View to a Kill" came around no one wanted to see him with his shirt off. Timothy Dalton, well the biggest complaint about him was that he was not sexy enough. Then comes Pierce Brosnan who brought back the sexy. Men wanted to be him, and women . . . Well you have to forgive them when confronted with Brosnan's smile. Now we have Daniel Craig, who is perhaps the sexiest Bond. A shirtless Craig is the only time I have heard a large number of women and men cheer while viewing a Bond movie.

      Since the sex appeal of Bond is a valid topic when renewing an actor's contract, I postulate the same is true when it comes to any sex symbol on any show. "Star Trek" seems to feel the same as they replaced Kes with Seven-of-Nine. What it comes down to is marketing, and offering a new product when the one that exists does not sell. I would also like to point out the "sexual exploitation" of Patrick Stewart in the TNG films after he was voted the sexiest man alive. Selling through sex is not going to go anywhere, and when a creative force makes the attempt and fails it has opened itself up to criticism. The comments about Kes as sex symbol are not so much piggish or sexist, but a simple statement much like saying Jim Butcher is a sloppy writer in comparison to George R. R. Martin.

      I do appreciate your addressing this issue, and hope to read more of your comments. Thank you for taking the time to read the blog, and this lengthy comment.

    2. Okay first of all, I think we can all agree that Evil Kira was the hottest of all the Star Trek women ever. (Amirite? Ladies?)

      But to the main point: I think you're missing the thrust of my objection. Ultimately I don't really care whether you find Kes sexy or not; the real problem is your assumption that her primary function on the show was as a sex appeal object for your enjoyment. You could, reasonably, complain about her being a fairly poorly developed character, as you did quite convincingly for Janeway (although I don't think it's fair to criticize her character for both gardening and nursing -- you know that in real life quite a lot of medical professionals also garden in their spare time, right? And wear gloves while sticking their hands into people?) All that would be fine, although I might disagree. But to simply assume that because she's a "cute enough" female character, her primary purpose on the show must be to increase its overall sex appeal? It's simply misogynist.

      Just to be clear: I'm not saying that shows aren't allowed to have sexy characters or to cast actors or write characters with deliberate sex appeal. I'm afraid your Bond references are lost on me -- I've seen about two Bond films ever, and without looking it up I'm not really sure what Pierce Brosnan looks like -- but you seem to be using them to defend the idea of characters being sexy, or sex appeal being used intentionally to promote viewership. Which is neither here nor there, really. Sex(y) sells, sure, and I certainly don't have any problem with characters being sexy, even "gratuitously" so (see above re: Evil Kira). My problem is with the assumption that if there is a pretty woman on-screen, her primary function is to appeal sexually to viewers -- who then feel entitled to complain that their sexy woman is "not sexy enough".

      Imagine saying the same about, say, Tom Paris. That he was obviously just there to be the sexy lovable rogue for female viewers to fawn over, but he was a total failure because, ugh, I just don't find him that attractive. Plus he's always wearing that chest-covering uniform! What a dud.

      ... Isn't that so much less satisfying than your analysis of why Tom Paris was such a dull character? Maybe because the latter wasn't predicated on some BS assumption about Paris' reason for being on the show at all?

      Finally, for what it's worth:

    3. mhuzzell--I apologize this response is chopped into multiple parts.

      Evil Kira is a fun character, but remains little more than an oversexed bisexual dressed in leather from head to toe--not that any of this is bad. I understand the above description is the basis of appeal for many viewers. Simply does not work for me. Too common. (Vampire Willow and Darth Willow in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" comes to mind.) Many fans of "Star Trek" felt Evil Kira was a bold move for the franchise. I disagree. Bisexual and lesbian love stories were the latest trend of female exploitation in the 1990s. (Notice the focus on steamy loves scenes in this time period.) "Star Trek" was simply following the trend. Don't get me wrong. They did it well, but the market was already inundated by the device before Evil Kira arrived in the Mirror Universe. A gay or bisexual Doctor Bashir (or dare I say Benjamin Sisko) would have been cutting edge, and rather interesting. (Now that I think about it, a story arc concerning a gay Worf seems fascinating.) Of course an openly gay male character would have brought an end to the franchise. Certainly the reception of "Brokeback Mountain" twelve years later suggests male gayness in "Star Trek" would have shut down the warp engines indefinitely. (A sad commentary.)

      I have no doubts a large number of people in the medical industry enjoy gardening. These real life heroes have no choice but to wash their hands and pull on gloves before operations. But in "Star Trek," medical personnel do not wear gloves except in a few rare occasions in TOS and TNG. Not once have I seen a gardener in "Star Trek" wear gloves, and this includes Kes. Gardening in the real world is different than on a ship set in a science fiction show. Real nurses and doctors are not elbow deep in the soil while on shift. On a ship, a person is on call at all times. Kes is simply not allowed the time to wash up when a crisis occurs if she is tending garden. My problem here is the lack of hygiene as she is not a germ free hologram like The Doctor. I am sure hand washing could be accomplished off camera, but without establishing the protocol the viewers are allowed to make their own conclusions. I can assume she is hygienic like our nurses, or I can assume, since we followed her from the hydroponic cargo bay to sick bay without pause at a wash basin, she is like a teen who considers wiping her hands on her pants as cleanliness. Since she has the life span of a dog, and therefore a teen in dog years, I further assert she is a teenager with teenager habits.

    4. Actually, I do not think a pretty woman on the screen means her entire focus is for sex appeal. This is an assumption based on inaccurate interpretation. I feel it necessary to reveal a secret that is bound to earn me scorn among family and friends: Kate Mulgrew is a pretty women (there! I said it!) when not trapped under that horrendous pile of hair. Though Janeway is a terrible captain, Mulgrew did accomplish two things rather well with her character: 1. A command presence. 2. Strength. Though attractive, she was never intended to garner sex appeal. B'Elanna Torres, with or without Klingon ridges, is a lovely woman. Her purpose was to create tension between herself and anyone she came across while ensuring the warp engines did not blow the ship apart. Like Janeway, Torres was not meant to be a sex object. So why do I say this is true about Kes? It is the visual clues. Nearly every costume she wore accentuated her body more so than any other lead female character in the show. This concept was used again, but in a more extreme manner, with Seven-of-Nine and T'Pol. Then there is the on again off again hints of a love triangle between Kes, Neelix, and Tom Paris. Such a ploy is generally reserved for the most desirable female character in a story when the other points on the triangle are male. (Or the only female character if this were "Star Wars" 4-6.) I assert Kes was intended as the break out sex appeal character for no other reason then that is what "Voyager" tells us to expect. Kes does not offer strength. She does not offer tension. She offers no skills of which "Voyager" is in desperate need. Kes offers nothing of value.

      Due to "Voyager's" treatment in presenting Kes, it is not me who is a misogynist for drawing attention to the failure of the casting department and writers' intended goal. If this accusation must be leveled, then it belongs with those who envisioned the character. And yes, when an audience is presented with an actor, and told, "You are to desire this person," the audience has the right to decide for themselves if they do indeed desire that person. There is nothing wrong with saying, "Nope, that person just doesn't do it for me." To deny personal taste in regard to attraction is dishonest. It shapes our choices in relationships--and not simply limited to the physical. So if I am presented with a sex symbol, and I am told to like her/him, do I have the right to say, "No thanks"? Absolutely!

    5. I encourage watching "Star Trek V," particularly Uhura's feather dance. She is naked. The male response of the henchmen is unhinged lust. The manner of this scene's construction is to reassert Nichelle Nichols as the sex symbol in "Star Trek." Though I applaud Nichols for the courage to film this scene, I am forced to admit it does not work for me. This is an opinion. This is also a case of the sex symbol not being sexy enough. (I do wonder if the opinion would be the same if the film had a talented director who knew how to put a scene together.) To accept William Shatner's direction in this instance means I am not permitted to think for myself. To say I am wrong to want sex symbols to be sexy or sexy scenes to be sexy is to say I am to allow the film to think for me. If that is the case I might as well lower my standards, and watch "Family Guy."

      When it comes to Tom Paris' looks I have heard quite the spectrum of arguments in favor and against. None of the comments bothered me since they were based on opinion. Taking a look at "Enterprise," Scott Bakula and Conner Trinneer do a marvelous job of loosing their shirts as though in homage to Kirk. I personally think Bakula is the better looking of the two. The women I live with have a different opinion. Bakula does not exist when Trinneer is shirtless. Bluntly, Bakula is not sexy enough for them. This does not insult me. Rather it informs me as to the shape of their opinion when it comes to physical attractiveness. Should I accuse them of misandry?

      I did not tackle the male sex symbol (figuratively) in "Voyager" since I am unable to identify who that character is suppose to be (and yes, every movie and television show has it's eye candy for men and women. That is how they sell the story, and why Hollywood is filled with pretty people.) Is it Tom Paris? I don't know. Harry Kim might have worked well with his clean and youthful looks. Tuvoc has a strong face, and a well chiseled physique. Chakotay would have been the best choice with his mature and rugged looks, but that was not emphasized until it was too late--somewhere deep in season seven. None of these characters were thrust against the screen like Kirk, Picard, Riker, Sisko, Archer, and Tripp. Had the male sex symbol been easily identified, I would have taken on that subject without any problems, and I did try. I asked a number of women what they thought of the men in "Voyager" and each answer was different. The responses I received concerning Kirk and the others was pretty much uniform. Should a person feel Tom Paris is a sex symbol dud for any reason, then she/he is entitled to hold that opinion guilt free. Attraction and desire are valid human responses to beauty.

      I appreciate the link, and found it informative. I feel compelled to point out language is not static. Generally, evolution in language occurs due to the widespread perversion or misunderstanding of a word, term, or phrase. I truly do appreciate such insights. Thank you!

    6. Hmm... I almost wrote "the assumption that if there is a pretty woman on-screen who does not have some clearly-defined essential function (e.g. captain, engineer, etc.), her primary function is to appeal sexually to viewers", but left out the part in italics because it was late and I couldn't quite think how to phrase it succinctly. This was obviously an error on my part, since you're so clearly still not getting it.

      What's particularly telling is your comparisons between Kes and Jadzia Dax. I suspect you identify Dax as DS9's designated sex object not simply because you personally find her attractive, but because her role as "science officer" on the station's crew seemed so nebulous and poorly defined -- and apparently the idea of a "useless" character (as opposed to one with an essential function in the running of the ship/station) being there for dramatic reasons beyond "sexiness" is only applicable if said character is male.

      Also, you might be surprised to learn that lesbian and bisexual women actually do exist in real life, and usually appreciate seeing their generally-under-represented sexuality get some air time. And sure, Evil Kira went in for a little lesploitation, but Jadzia was more sort of bi the way. And as for Dark Willow... did you ever watch the later seasons of Buffy?

    7. mhuzzell--I fully understood your point clearly, and have from the beginning. I also clearly see the construction of Kes' character rather clearly. I suppose we will have to disagree on Kes.

      Putting words in people's mouth works in high school debates, and here on the Internet, but I try to avoid that since in real life it requires me to be a mind reader to ensure any accuracy. I do not have that skill at present, but working on it. I have learned personal biases tend to form fallacious connections when attempting to construct another person's pattern of thinking. Again, I did not pick Jadzia Dax. The problem with these arguments is the assertion I choose who the sex objects are on television shows. I can assure you this is not the case. Not once has a producer called me, and asked to identify the sex symbol for her/him. I can provide phone records if necessary. The producers accomplish this entirely on their own. I pick up on it due decades devoted to the study of story development and being a sexual human. Jadzia Dax is the DS9 female sex symbol because that is one aspect of her character development. as is obvious when viewing her growth through the series. And for the record, I never felt her role as science officer was nebulous. DS9 was fantastic in many ways. One such example is how (with the exception of Jake Sisko) they created a team where every member was necessary--including Jadzia Dax.

      Yes, Jadzia is bisexual. Good for her. That is her choice. Perhaps my favorite episode concerning her is when she comes across an old lover who happens to be female. I wanted that relationship, and not for the titillation, but because the love story was beautiful. They deserved happiness. I don't need Evil Kira raunch for a good lesbian or bisexual love story.

      There seems to be this notion I favor male Star Trek characters over female, or expect more from the male characters. This is simply not true. I expect well crafted characters. That is it.

      You might be surprised to learn I talk to all sorts of people--including those who scare the hell out me like fundamentalists. I understand gay love stories are still struggling to make it into the mainstream, and that is truly sad since a love story is a beautiful thing. Lesbian love stories have a larger showing, but that is not due to Hollywood being cutting edge. It's about money and knowing most people find lesbian sex scenes to be sexy. Pretty bisexual or lesbian women on the screen brings in the money. The point is, I'm actually bored with the Evil Kira type character as I would expect a gay or lesbian movie goer to be bored with yet another love story revolving around a straight couple. Gay men have it harder when it comes to mainstream. I implore you to watch "Mysterious of Pittsburgh" (the book was better), and take a look at the climatic sex scene. It was beautiful. I was the only one left in the room when the scene was over. Why? Because many (not most or all) people who support gay pride still have a hard time seeing two men kissing.

      People are complex. Even the most unassuming person is a rather complex construction. That being the case, I refuse to claim knowledge as to what another person is thinking, how they think, or what they believe when that person has not voiced a full opinion on a matter. Reading between the lines is flawed at best. Most often such mental exercises when applied to another person are filled in with the biases of the person conducting the exercise. That is not sound reasoning.

      Open and respectful discussions are far to lacking in society, and to have a place for such debates is one of the many purposes for this blog. Again, thank you for your time and participation.

  5. Star Trek Voyager is a TV show. It was a TV show on the fledgling UPN network - a network that was very much looking to attract the valuable 18-34 male demographic (Since every single show on the air wants to attract that group of people). If you think that any show that includes any female characters is not designing those characters to appeal to that group, then you are ascribing higher artistic goals to a TV show than it deserves. TV Shows are on the air to make money - if they do more, then that is just gravy.

    I may not like that fact. You may not like that fact. Normal, mature adults may not like that fact. And in real, day to day life, nobody looks at every woman as only a sexual being and judges them based on their appearance. But we are not discussing a real life woman here - we are discussing a fictional construct known as "Kes" that was designed, cast, clothed and written to serve one primary function : To drive young men to buy products advertised during the show. It would be wrong to think that the sexiness of a character is not it's primary function on any bit of media that is supported by advertisements.

    Women in fiction have it tough. Women in real life have it tough. This world is not a paradise for females because there are so many people who place a premium on cultural standards of beauty when it comes to women. And in real life that is wrong. But when evaluating a fictional character designed to be sexy one has to consider that.

    Yes, it was her function - perhaps not her in-universe function, but it was her function in terms of marketing of the show, in terms of keeping the show on the air and in terms of making the show profitable.

    And to make it clear - that is the function Janeway, B'Elanna and 7 of 9 served. And for that matter, what Buffy, Willow, Dawn and Tara served on Buffy. And what Rose, Martha, Donna and Amy serve on Dr Who.

  6. Mhuzzell--for what it's worth:

    1. That's a rather simplistic definition, but if we're gonna play that game, let me revise my description to "symptomatic of the patriarchy".

  7. I didn't start playing the game, that was you when you used the word incorrectly while at the same time trying to correct J.M. on his use of grammar in his reply to you. You seem to assume you know what he is trying to say when he talks about these characters, when in reality you don't. Let's remember that his original post was speaking about the writers and what he interprets as their main goals when putting together characters and plot lines, etc. he didn't go on any personal attacks towards them, only speaking of what he interpreted from the way they developed characters, and their use of wardrobe in that said character development. In your first reply you began addressing J.M. with "you" and "your" and made it personal towards him, not staying within the scope of the blog and referring to the writers in what their attempt at the characters had been. Reading your responses it appears to be a personal attack towards J.M. In telling him that he was misogynistic, when in reality he couldn't be further from that assumption. Your viewpoints are welcome, but try to refrain from personal attacks, it makes your arguments less credible.

    And as for the "simplistic" may be your opinion that it's simplistic, however, it IS the actual definition of the word, concurred by Merriam-Webster. Maybe the word you were searching for was "chauvinistic"? That word usage would have fallen in line with what your were getting at, at least that is the only word that comes to mind while reading your response accusing J.M. of only seeing women on the screen as sex objects. Truth be told he would rather see strong female characters used more often on stage and screen instead of solely relying upon their sex appeal, so that makes him neither a misogynist nor a chauvinist. Remember it was the ST writers, not J.M., who chose to strip Kirk of his shirt or have him kiss/sleep with a woman in almost every episode. The writers are the ones that put T'Pol and 7 of 9 in tight-fitting uniforms that left nothing to the imagination. If you are trying to say that J.M., and even myself, should not have felt they were to be looked at in a sexual manner, then that would imply that we are blind and have no innately human sexual desires that draws our attention to the fittest, prettiest, most desirable people we come in contact with. It is in our nature to be drawn to those we feel will makes the best mates and will produce the healthiest off-spring, that just so happens to be sexy people. I am lucky that I have found that person who possesses not only a strong physical attraction for me, but a mental and emotional attractiveness too. And let's not beat around the bush: if you are going to wear something that shows me every curve, every erect nipple, every line of your genitalia (male or female) then I'm going to look! I see it everyday in women I work with who wear low-cut tops that hug their breast, and then they get upset because people look. They wore those outfits for a reason, to show what they had, and good for them! I think if you've got it, flaunt it! Just don't get pissy when people only see you as a sexual being, instead of the intelligent, self-assured, and most likely engaging person you may be. Men and women don't get their hair done, wear makeup, exercise, shave, primp and prep because they want to necessarily, they do it to look good and have others notice them. There's nothing wrong with that, I do it myself. But If I wear something that accentuates my physique then I can't act surprised when they look at me in anything less than a sexual nature, as a matter of fact, I'd probably be offended if they didn't.

    I would love to hear what other readers think of his opinions, and what they feel ST (the franchise) has done when developing it's female characters. Anyone?

  8. 'Misogyny' doesn't refer to the literal hatred of women any more than 'homophobia' refers to the literal fear of homosexuals.

  9. What dictionary are you using exactly?

    1. Dictionaries have never been a particularly good tool for grasping complex and multi-layered concepts -- although for what it's worth, the OED does define 'misogyny' as 'hatred or dislike of, or prejudice against women'.

      Still, you might be better off reading:

  10. Considering we weren't talking about concepts, I'm just going to take your response as you don't have any defense or valid argument for incorrectly using the terms, but instead want to pull a Palin and make shit up as you go along. Therefore this is my last response, I have better things to do than try to have an intellectual discussion with someone who doesn't know grammar, word definitions or what should be used as valid, intellectual reference in a debate; considering Wikipedia allows the general public to put up information without regard to credibility, when that becomes the point of reference entirely, or because you decided to change the definition of a word on the fly, that's when I move on, so thanks for proving my points, I'm sure the other readers found your point of view entertaining, if nothing else.

  11. Okay, I keep meaning to leave, because it's clear that you and J.M. and I are coming at this with very different sets of conceptual tools, and I just cannot be bothered to do the whole "Male Privilege 101" speech. But...

    "Grammar"? Seriously? Do you know what that word means? (I'm aware I made a subject-verb-agreement error in one of the comments above -- pretty common when revising sentences halfway through -- but the site doesn't let you edit comments, so I couldn't go back to fix it, and it ultimately didn't seem that important.)

    As for Wikipedia, there have been multiple studies comparing it to other encyclopedias, generally favorably. You can read the nitty-gritty of one of the more well-known ones here. Encyclopedias in general tend to be fairly inaccurate compared to scholarly research, but they are a good starting point for understanding whatever it is you're wanting to learn about. Obviously, no encyclopedia should be used as a formal reference in academic writing, but this isn't academic writing, this is the comments section of a blog post about Star Trek.

    Besides which, if you'll look again, you'll see I did provide an OED (that's 'Oxford English Dictionary') definition that includes 'discrimination' as well as 'hatred' of women among the semantic referents of the word 'misogyny'. I hope we can at least agree that applying different standards to male characters vs. female characters can be described as 'discrimination'.

    1. * Ah, sorry. 'Prejudice against', not 'discrimination against'. Though it amounts to much the same thing.

  12. I used to ignore "STAR TREK VOYAGER" for years, because I heard about the low opinion of the show. I watched . . . or tried to watch "STAR TREK NEXT GENERATION", "STAR TREK DEEP SPACE NINE" and "ENTERPRISE" from the beginning. I watched "STAR TREK" because I really had no choice, due to my father being a major fan. But I ignored "VOYAGER" for years, until my sister recommended that we watch it. We began watching the show in early Season Five and immediately became fans. We also did catch up by watching the Seasons One and Four on late night . . . and became bigger fans.

    All of the TREK shows are not without flaws. "VOYAGER" had them. And I have written articles about them, because I mainly watch that particular show. I have always felt that the quality of "STAR TREK" had declined by late Season Two and into Season Three. There was a quality about "NEXT GENERATION" that seemed a bit unreal to me at times. I think it was the cast of characters that came off as a bit idealized. And it also declined in quality during its last two seasons. The premise for "DEEP SPACE NINE" had the potential to make the show be the best in the franchise. But some of the writing - especially - during its last three seasons seemed to have undermined that potential. One aspect of the show that irritated me is that whenever it seemed willing to portray the Federation or humanity in negative terms, it would back off at the last minute to resume the franchise's ideal portrait. Frankly, I thought "ENTERPRISE" was a mess, especially its last season. I'm still surprised that it lasted four seasons. But it did produce a handful of episodes that I found admirable . . . including that fabulous two-part Mirror Universe episode.

    In terms of writing quality, I thought that "NEXT GENERATION", "DEEP SPACE NINE" and "VOYAGER" tied for the best. None of them were perfect. But I have always been more impressed with the writing for these three shows than "STAR TREK" or "ENTERPRISE".

    However, I do suspect that a great deal of the negative opinions of "VOYAGER" stemmed from the show having a female lead.

  13. I used to ignore "STAR TREK VOYAGER" for years, because I heard about the low opinion of the show. I watched . . . or tried to watch "STAR TREK NEXT GENERATION", "STAR TREK DEEP SPACE NINE" and "ENTERPRISE" from the beginning. I watched "STAR TREK" because I really had no choice, due to my father being a major fan. But I ignored "VOYAGER" for years, until my sister recommended that we watch it. We began watching the show in early Season Five and immediately became fans. We also did catch up by watching the Seasons One and Four on late night . . . and became bigger fans.

    All of the TREK shows are not without flaws. "VOYAGER" had them. And I have written articles about them, because I mainly watch that particular show. I have always felt that the quality of "STAR TREK" had declined by late Season Two and into Season Three. There was a quality about "NEXT GENERATION" that seemed a bit unreal to me at times. I think it was the cast of characters that came off as a bit idealized. And it also declined in quality during its last two seasons. The premise for "DEEP SPACE NINE" had the potential to make the show be the best in the franchise. But some of the writing - especially - during its last three seasons seemed to have undermined that potential. One aspect of the show that irritated me is that whenever it seemed willing to portray the Federation or humanity in negative terms, it would back off at the last minute to resume the franchise's ideal portrait. Frankly, I thought "ENTERPRISE" was a mess, especially its last season. I'm still surprised that it lasted four seasons. But it did produce a handful of episodes that I found admirable . . . including that fabulous two-part Mirror Universe episode.

    In terms of writing quality, I thought that "NEXT GENERATION", "DEEP SPACE NINE" and "VOYAGER" tied for the best. None of them were perfect. But I have always been more impressed with the writing for these three shows than "STAR TREK" or "ENTERPRISE".

    However, I do suspect that a great deal of the negative opinions of "VOYAGER" stemmed from the show having a female lead.

  14. I don't think she's a "terrible" actor, but, to be honest, I always found Kate Mulgrew's acting style a bit forced and affected. Her eye and eyebrow "acting" and her posed hand gestures almost make me giggle. It's artificial. Also, her voice continuously sounds like she's just inhaled helium.

    One note: Janeway's dog Molly was an Irish Setter not a Golden Retriever.