TV

Thrills, Trills and Outcasts, But Still No Happy Homo in the 24th Century

Diepiriye Kuku

Is Star Trek only able to come out on the Internet?

"The Outcast" shows our Enterprise crew on a peaceful mission on some far off planet. That’s the back-story. The front story is that this new species is a genderless society, or as Trekkie Michael Ricci writes: an androgynous species (cast entirely of female actors) known as the J'naii who do not have typical gender roles of male and female.” The episode, "The Outcast", then proceeds to thread through several clichés to establish the fallacy of ‘gender’ when it comes to sex. One of the genderless people falls in love with the Enterprise’s First Officer Will Riker. Riker is the known playboy of this crew -- he embodies the libido of captain James Kirk from the original series. I suppose someone has to screw their way around the universe.

The Star Trek franchise has dealt a lot with sexuality, but always through the backdoor. In the Deep Space Nine (DS9) series, for example, there is the character Dax, a genderless worm that is hosted by a gendered humanoid being, a Trill, through several lifetimes. Hence, Dax is effectively transsexual, having lived several times in male and female bodies, always retaining the life experiences and memories of each previous host. In an episode from The Next Generation, "The Host", Dr. Beverly Crusher fell in love with a Trill in male host, only to end the relationship when the worm remerged with a female host -- although still the same ‘person’. Yet, that was just one episode. There are loads homoerotic and homosocial moments through DS9 built around Dax, including a Ferengi cross-dresser who comes out to her.

A back-story to DS9 is captain Sisko’s longtime friendship with Curzon Dax, a man, who hosted the worm before the very pretty Jadzia Dax, who is presently a part of the DS9 crew. There is even a famous kiss between two female bodies, although the worm inside is allegedly genderless.

In an episode of Voyager, the male holographic doctor uploads himself into the hybrid human/Borg seductress 7 of 9 who literally wears next to nothing. In that body, the doctor has to fend-off men. This same body-snatching theme is repeated in the episode "Warlord", where fans see another out-of-context same-sex kiss. For a die-hard Trekkie who happens to be queer, and of color, these omissions appear more than just whimsical, in spite of decades of homoerotic and homosexual subtexts. Though modern fans can queer the Star Trek universe by clipping and circulating a few choice scenes, Trekkie Michael Ricci sums the phenomenon best:

“In more than four decades Star Trek has produced nearly a dozen feature films, more then five hundred episodes between five series, numerous video games, and countless books, comics, role-playing games, and magazines. The ground-breaking sci-fi franchise has broken through many barriers, such as being the first to have an interracial kiss (between William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols) on broadcast television, as well as touting the values of peace and tolerance for all.”

Indeed, in the entire Star Trek franchise, there's not a single happy healthy queer person in the 24th century anywhere in the galaxy. In that same vast galaxy, across any species, there are also few people of color -- none of whom are in charge of anything, save for Sisko. Sisko shatters plenty of racial stereotypes often through his relationships with his father and son. Yet, these examples are the exception, and besides, war is still the order of the day. How ironic then, that another Star Trek back-story is that George Takei, an original Enterprise crew member, is now an outspoken queer rights advocate. I guess we’d better not wait for future salvation, and take our chances in this century.

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image