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Ten examples of social commentary on Star Trek: The Next Generation

star trek refused to shy away from social issues and commentary, using a sci-fi lens to tell needed stories. In the original series, there was a metaphor for the Cold War, which presents an imperfect utopian future where nations and races attempted to live in peace and co-exist together. As a result, they explored and examined other cultures against the threat of perpetual war and nuclear annihilation between the superpowers.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation created in 1987 at another time of social upheaval. He carried on the tradition of his predecessor by occasionally commenting on individual social topics debated in public discourse in addition to themes of war and peace. Some topics were provocative and remain relevant today.



Rabal and Serova in Star Trek: The Next Generation "Force of nature"

The Enterprise encounters two scientists, Raval and Serova, while searching for a missing Federation medical transport, who claim that the use of the warp engine in their region of space is detrimental to the survival of their planet. When Chief Engineer Geordi LaForge and Data fail to corroborate their evidence, Serova takes matters into her own hands and sacrifices herself to prove their theory.

The seventh season episode “Force of Nature”, aired at a time when pollution of the earth’s ozone layer was a hot topic frequently debated by politicians. Science fiction often examines real-world events and uses narrative motifs and plot points that illustrate their significance, thereby encouraging the audience to seek perspective.

The definition of humanity

The data is a unique example of artificial life and, therefore, attracts the attention of Starfleet’s science division. When Data is forcibly transferred into their custody for further study, he threatens to resign and must prove that he is fully aware that he has Federation rights and protections. He asks for Picard’s help in disproving the idea that he is Starfleet property and has a right to freedom.

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One of the most recurrent themes in science fiction is the question “what does it mean to be human?” Data is an android designed to mimic the appearance and behavior of a human. However, his programming allows him to pursue higher aspirations. Similarity and capabilities to replicate data have become a theme of Star Trek: Picard first season.

Learn to cope with trauma

Star Trek: Next Generation Family Picard

Following Captain Picard’s experience as Borg’s Locutus in the two-part episode “Best of Both Worlds”, he returns home to La Barre, France to visit his only living relatives. After discovering that her brother Robert has become like their overbearing father, Jean Luc confesses to feeling helpless after being forced to help the Borg take out an entire Starfleet armada during the Battle of Wolf 359.

Picard’s trauma of enduring bodily harm and psychological torture shines a light on the experiences of those who survived horrific acts of violence. In the aftermath, Picard is quiet and resentful of Robert’s demands, but when confronted directly with a sibling fight, he realizes that telling the emotional aspect is a good coping mechanism and ultimately helps him reconnect. with Robert.

The implementation of justice

Wesley Crusher became the subject of a death penalty debate in the season one episode “Justice”. The Edo lived in a practically anarchic, peaceful and harmonious society. However, an archaic law on the disturbance of plant life suddenly plunged Wesley into a war of words between Captain Picard and the Council of Eido.

In addition to the death penalty, the issue of religion came into play when the Edo council insisted Picard that their deity in orbit with the Enterprise enforce their decision. The dialogue to close this episode posed several profound questions about the virtue of absolutism and the ever-evolving philosophy of justice.

Culture exchange

Riker Klingons Star Trek

Commander Riker volunteers to serve aboard a Klingon cruiser as a first officer in order to learn aspects of the Federation’s longtime rival that are unknown or misunderstood. He finds that Klingons value honor above all else, that their worth is the sum of their deeds in battle. Additionally, he learns that they have family values ​​similar to humans, but their cooking is for the strongest of stomachs.

The preaching of cooperation with other species (races) is a central theme of the star trek franchise. Its mission statement is reviewed in each episode; “…to explore strange new worlds. To seek new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no one has gone before.” This season two, the gem “A Matter of Honor” is perhaps the most reinforcing example of this superior ethos.

Quirky personality

Dwight Schultz as Barclay in Star Trek the Next Generation

Beginning with “Hollow Pursuits” in season four, TNG introduced one of its most memorable characters in Lt. Reginald Barclay. Portrayed by Dwight Schultz (The A-team) as a recluse on the holodeck, at first the audience learns that he is fairly knowledgeable in engineering but struggles powerfully in social situations. Crew members acting childish and senior officers publicly expressing their frustration with him don’t help.

With autism being the subject of much discussion in the public and the medical community, the purpose of Mr. Barclay’s character was to convey that some forms of genius seem narcotic and strange, but these people have feelings deep within the surface. . Barclay’s screenplay argued that her gifts were not to be ignored or ridiculed, but considered essential qualities.

ritual suicide

The topic of suicide is difficult to examine in everyday society, let alone represent it in film or television. The next generation attempted to offer a unique perspective in “Half-A-Life,” starring David Odgen Stiers (M*A*S*H) as Timicin, who, according to the tradition of his people, had to submit to voluntary euthanasia after his 60th birthday.

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As Timicin’s potential love interest, Lwaxana Troi pressured Timicin to seek asylum aboard the Enterprise to avoid the rite. A brewing diplomatic incident ensued that required one of Captain Picard’s classic sermons regarding the First Directive, the Federation’s supreme law preaching non-interference in law-abiding cultures and unusual traditions, to be resolved.

Alternate communication

Picard and a Tamarian captain trying to communicate in Star Trek: The Next Generation

Establishing first contact with another extraterrestrial race is not always easy. Picard found this out the hard way in “Darmok”, where he and his Tamarian counterpart participated in a bonding ritual that reenacted the most storied event in Tamarian legend; Darmok and Julad in Tanagra about two strangers who cooperated in a battle against a great beast.

Tamarians speak an incoherent language and communicate by example or “metaphor” as Picard finds out. The award-winning episode highlighted the idea that the ability to communicate with different people and their cultures is difficult, with patience and practice becoming a virtue, like using sign language to communicate with someone who is hard of hearing.


The Star Trek Game

In the fifth season episode “The Game”, virtual reality interface activity spread like wildfire aboard the Enterprise. Before long, the crew began neglecting their daily routine, and without Wesley Crusher’s foresight, they nearly abandoned ship to an alien race determined to bring the game to every corner of the galaxy.

An ongoing health crisis in Western society is addiction derived from drug addiction. Without specifically citing the drugs, the overall tone of the episode can be attributed to any activity or action that leads to a habit that leads to destructive behavior. The example used in the story was that gambling overstimulated the pleasure center of the brain.

gender identity

Soren and Riker in Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Outcast

When William encountered Soren while working with the scientist J’naii to rescue their missing colleagues, Commander Riker becomes interested in their androgynous race and learns that they once identified as male and female. Soren is a remnant, embracing their curiosity and emotions, determined to pursue a romantic relationship with Riker.

Gender identity is a divisive issue in Western culture. This 1992 episode offered perspectives on this sensitive subject. Riker’s distaste for the official J’naii policy of emotional suppression brings his Starfleet oath into conflict. Soren desires his individual freedom which is a threat to the state, which employs therapy techniques that eliminate Soren’s forbidden traits. In the end, the prime directive forbade any member of the Enterprise crew from intervening.

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