Society & Culture

The Orville and Star Trek Discovery – Comparative review / meta commentary

I will give a virtually no-spoiler review of each one and then a comparative conclusion, based on my current view and understanding and in contemporary context of the shows emerging; what role they play, what influence they might have. So it’s highly colored by sociology; very meta, if you want to use that term. I will also look at The Orville in light of the obvious Trek knockoff it tries to be. The reviews might jump around key points a bit since I wrote these from plenty of notes I took during my watching of four episodes of The Orville first and then three episodes of Star Trek Discovery.

The Orville
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The overall story writing is OK and relatively enjoyable. That’s like a crucial basis that one needs to get right or everything else suffers from it. The problem is, it suffers a lot from the details as well as its agenda. This show knows exactly what it’s doing and it is showing.

The humor is relatively natural and doesn’t go too much into tryhard territory, although it can be borderline at times. It’s just the characters being their slightly quirky way, although the show tries a dissonant mix of wanting to be serious and believable but then throwing that out the window. Characters are basically not at all different from people of our time. This can be seen as a strength but also as a weakness, because it means that the sci-fi setting is nothing but window dressing. This could work just as well in any other setting. There is no inspirational factor that has something to do with the future, and some references (usually attempted humorous) to our times in fact test the suspension of disbelief of the show happening any time in the future, and that’s not the only factor in that. Sometimes the show pretends that there is a professional qualification to serving on board a starship and that it is still embedded in a military context, but then again all too often the Orville seems more like a privateer ship with a family sitcom going.

One detail that I had to facepalm about – one of those things – was when a fly-by of the Orville featured dirt specks on the screen, as if it was being filmed by a camera. This stuff bothers me all the time.

There is a lot of standard-recipe at work. It’s a show like many others. If The Orville wasn’t sci-fi, it would need more quality to make up for that space-filler. Watching it feels like someone thought: “Hey, let’s make a show that looks like Trek, but with low-brow humor and hitting home our progressive message in a way that everybody gets what we’re trying to tell them, but while at the same time making it not too obvious; throw some seeming self-reflective tendencies in there for intellectual self-congratulation, but make sure the outcome is right.”
A show absolutely emerged from our times.

In detail the show’s entertainment value suffers a little to a lot from not well thought-through events (gross logical flaws, seeming continuity errors, just not explaining HOW some outlandish things are supposed to work or why people do the weird things they do, generally dissing the actually potentially intelligent part) and bad action scene choreography and such. Too often I find myself thinking that something really doesn’t make sense, regardless of the sci-fi setting, but that I am witnessing lazy writing. This is like what Star Trek TOS would sometimes have, too, but in Orville it doesn’t quite work as an homage thing. TOS was a bit cheesy, another age of sci-fi TV, and had some really good things going for it to compensate, while The Orville features an abundance of such writing while at the same time trying to give it a STTNG paint job.
Why make a sci-fi show when it’s not backed by interest in actually exploring science? The script just says something magically works and that’s it? Makes me assume the writers would even have difficulty explaining the stuff we can do today. It’s not entirely comparable to Abrams Trek (because the storytelling is not ridiculous), but they do pull some Red Matter maneuvers in The Orville.

The show features old themes with a new paint. Some people might claim this show is exactly what the world needs, but I would posit that its thinly veiled proselytizing is exactly not what the world needs, is not making any difference, because it is a mere reflection of the two-sides-of-the-same-coin issue that has gained traction over the years. This show provides zero enlightenment over what we had decades past. It is unimaginative in that there is no interest conveyed in envisioning anything new. It is purely designed for social commentary, with the most basic construct created to deliver a narrative, no love for making it work for an intelligent audience, and mixed with light comedic entertainment. It’s like someone didn’t quite understand the franchise they’re trying to so closely base the show on, or didn’t care to.
If you just keep doing the same formula for every new generation, at best you’re standing still, but more likely it’s like that saying: If you’re not making progress, you’re going backwards.

The Orville thinks it’s progressive, but it’s just totally trendfollowing the road to hell.

Trek was thought-provoking. In The Orville someone has already done the thinking for you and is now portraying the results.

Again, there is certainly some overlap with TOS if you consider that one in the context of its time, but then you also have to realize not just the similarities but also the difference of that time to now. In TOS and Trek in general the spirit behind it seemed a bit different, more tied into the idea of a naturally more advanced future society, more of the positivity that is lacking in The Orville. TOS dealt with the same kind of themes as The Orville, so I am quite sure I am not just imagining the crucial difference.
The Orville is pretty much a product emerging from our increasingly disturbed and polarized times, i.e. making it potentially less of an inspiration than TOS.
The thing I am sensing is that the show is reflecting the elaborate mind’s idea of heart, the best a mind can do in terms of an imitation, without actually containing its energy. And there is the great social divide. If you need an example of what I’m talking about: Firefly got what The Orville hasn’t. Hell, even My Little Pony with its relatively simplistic writing, plenty of plot holes and strong messaging that it shares with The Orville has it.
You just gotta consider that Joss Whedon is a feminist and then realize how that totally didn’t bother us in Firefly. And there you have that elusive but crucial difference I am pointing at. That which cannot be imitated, cannot be faked. You either got it or you don’t.

To use the show’s language and add my spin, The Orville is a self-content artificial ego system.

Star Trek Discovery
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Discovery throws some nostalgia references, some fit better than others, so it’s a mix. TOS bridge sounds effects fit surprisingly naturally into the new setting. They’re kinda timeless I guess, but also this show is situated in the early time of Starfleet. Bridge consoles explode with more energy than ever before. *sigh*

Otherwise the visual and sound effects remind me way too much of Abrams Trek. STD does the camera dirt thing, too, and disappointingly they almost dropped the phaser thing altogether, while hand guns look exactly like phasers. Action is shaky, noise, flickery, the lens flare crap is back, and because of said phaser issue everything is *bwip-bwip* now, including warp travel. This kind of design reminds me way too much of the crappiest of sci-fi.
In odd contrast to that, just like with the hand gun design, ship design is done well in terms of fitting into the timeline.

Some logical flaws in this show’s writing, too, but very few and not a big issue. Merely cosmetic, if you will, although there’s a hint of clumsy attempted nostalgia reference. It’s just all not in-your-face. Just your usual lazy writing here and there to push events in a certain way that is more the norm than the exception.

Putting the focus of the show on one character is a somewhat new approach, and it’s done moderately enough to not break with Trek style. It’s an interesting direction to explore, although this of course comes with some risks. The main character being female with a male name could be an agenda-driven thing at its core idea, but don’t get yourself trolled. I was just wondering that this wasn’t explained right-away considering the show’s otherwise eager exposition, but I guess at some point we will learn about the story behind that and it might not at all be what you expect.

I just settled for accepting you can’t expect too much continuity in the show. It seems they got an android on board.

As for the klingons and their design, well, at this point I look at the show more like a spin-off, and the execution of the storytelling is done well enough that I can live with it. Their portrayal is maybe a bit inconsistent in detail to make them a clichée, but it’s hard for me to have any strong view on these things.

Some segments of the show are a bit doo dark for my taste and there’s some disaster porn, too. To me some scenes seem too artifically set up for drama and don’t quite work. There’s no buildup to a climax. You are served whatever course you are supposed to swallow.

Conclusion:
In both shows the first episode was relatively pleasant to watch, probably since it’s new and I had to process all that first. But it soon became clear to me that if there is too much deliberation and agenda in a show’s design, it is pretty much an invitation for nitpicking, since there’s no heart to compensate for it, that could diminish the sterility a bit. And to me that is worse in Orville.

Trek or not, I can accept Discovery as an interesting and thought-provoking series. Orville I cannot quite enjoy because it is a mess of thrown together concepts and ideas of things instead of those things themselves. Doesn’t take itself fully serious but wants to be taken serious. Tries to look like an homage, but pays homage to the wrong things and merely tries to imitate others. I tried taking it for what it is without seeing any Trek in it but that didn’t make it any more entertaining.

I will have to see how the shows evolve further, but, in peculiar contrast to so many voices, I definitely see more of the core spirit of Trek in Discovery than in Orville. Discovery might have less of its familiar form, but more of its core, and Orville is the opposite, and that’s how its humor can even work in that frame; It cannot do any damage. Orville is a clumsy hybrid of comedy skit and fanfic. For different reasons neither show fills me with particular optimism. Orville doesn’t because it’s exactly a reflection of the mindset of our times and Discovery because it’s dark and full of war.

Maybe all this explains why I also like Rogue One better than The Last Jedi. Or maybe that totally confuses you now, haha.

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New Youtube interface yet another example of the growing madness

Youtube did it again. “Polymer” looks very much for mo’bile, and naturally, LESS space-optimized, no visual section distinctions, and less info in that more space used.

“Clean, fresh, new, going with the times”, these are words marketing people always use to describe beauty-less shit. Just recently I encountered exactly this with Störtebeker beer bottle labels. Boring white rectangular fields introduced where there was a parchment style before, less theme-appropriate beauty, and those words used, while proudly bragging about what an eye-catcher their unique bottle-surrounding label format allegedly is and how everybody loves their new design.

Youtube, too, now did the step we always see with the Grey Gentlemen taking over more of the world. The pleasant red gradients I see in my bookmark bar and tabs has turned into an eye-burning intense monochrome red and the website itself is stuff thrown into a sea of white.

As it is reported, ‘plenty of white space allows you to focus on a site’s content instead of its interface’. The idiocy! Suddenly visual helpers for distinguishing content sections and types, those white boxes on a gentle light gray background, are seen as DISTRACTIONS!

It is very depressing to see this deranged shit happen more and more wherever you look, especially in web design. Verschlimmbesserung everywhere.

UPDATE 2017-09-07: And the bits of genius keep coming. Now Youtube informed me I got early beta access to the new Community tab, which replaces the Discussions tab. So my first thought is: Review and maybe archive all the old Discussions content before it’s gone. Where can I do that if the new tab replaces it. And those eternal numbnuts point me to my comment history, as if that helps in any way. The comment history can’t even be searched, let alone filtered by date, and it’s definitely not useful for finding people’s more or less old comments on my Discussions tab and my responses to it.
Youtube – the 24/7 fucking joke
If they offered me a paid job to bring some brains into their conduct, I might see hope, but I’m smart enough to know the problem lies elsewhere, not in intellectual resources. At least not only.

When I hear “cowardly terror attack” in the news

It’s not the first time I hear something like this, exploiting an incident for incitement and personal commentary. For a news speaker such language should be forbidden, but it shows how much they have become propaganda speakers for the establishment.
People allow themselves such transgression because THEY are cowards and are trying to distract from that, by rallying against their nemesis. Standards of proper conduct and professionality are thrown out the window when people think they can get away with it, because it’s popular and because peer pressure tries to stifle critique of that mainstream.
This shows how troubled our society is and how the demons we fight originate in us.

Cowardice is rooted in existential fears and its derivatives. Calling someone a coward who is deliberately giving up their life … well, as I said, that’s what cowards do who refuse to understand the real causes that drive people to such ultimate self-sacrifice, because then they would have to see their own responsibility and involvement, and that is inconvenient, and cowards fear personal inconvenience.
Speaking of a “cowardly terror attack” is barking from the cheap seats, self-importance from the safety of peer support. It is only a small step away from a news speaker saying “Those evil barbarian enemies of all that is good need to be eradicated”, and things have moved in that direction and still do. The example in the title is not the most extreme case of an ignorant inciteful mindset I have witnessed.

People with some spine don’t kick downwards, but punch or at least look upwards, towards the source of collective suffering, the influential war-mongering psychopaths. They are given power through the convenience of fear, through cowardice, through refusing to confront your inner demons and thus manifesting them in the world through your denial-fueled actions.

You either become a common rabble puppet of the age-old game of divide-and-conquer or you find some courage and hone your character. And if these words upset you or create antagonistic thoughts, then that’s where you need to start that work. And that involves the most scary thing: opening your heart. Because the heart is not just the source of true kindness, but also of courage. Mind without heart is nothing but fear. It makes you ascend in the ranks of those who further the suffering in the world, which you will then call being successful.

Are the mids the music’s heart?

I had this thought when I considered the strong mids that music has and had in times and areas that ‘have heart’. Look at where and when you find music that very much focuses on anything but mids. Powerfull bass, aggessive highs. Electronic music, often. Electronic being more based on machines, logic, technology. All digital. Zero and one.
And I thought how this could match the visual scale of frequencies and thus also relate to the chakra model. The heart is in the middle. Its color is green. Green is the color of that powerful, defining part of nature, the ego-less sun-drinking plant life, and it doesn’t seem to be very popular if I look at trends like car paint colors and such. All kinds of strife to focus on other phenomena, as long as it avoids the heart.
In music, you could say the mids are unspectacular. They even don’t work if you intensify them a lot. They are like the epitome of boredom. But without them, something is missing. Maybe not to the mind, but to the heart. They are not the show-stealer, but the crucial support to make it well-rounded. The slow, deep breath.
You can see how frequency always matches a spiritual state. Powerful bass puts emphasis on the primal, the foundation of life, the power from below, felt with the whole body. Powerful highs are all about the mind, perceived with the ears only, and only if that chakra is healthy.
You could say the heart is the most elusive force. Naturally, since its domain cannot be fathomed by the mind. But the mind can allow it to be, or not to, and that might not be the ideal situation.

I won’t make a refined essay out of this. Use it as food for meditation if you like.

Star Citizen – Operation Pitchfork to turn humans into Vanduul?

In the game Star Citizen, Operation Pitchfork is a fandom idea where at the end of the beta phase all kinds of people, not just the military, will invade the space of the war-minded aggressive Vanduul race as an act of retaliation and such. Thus the name: Basically a lynch mob of commoners armed with pitchforks.

And I suddenly realized while reading a news report from the galactic front…

Operation Pitchfork would mark the victory of the demons that drive the Vanduul by turning humans into their enemy; making them a tribe fully committed to being aggressors, fully expanding the war mind to civilians.
While I say that all the people should support good values like freedom and keep society healthy, the methods are very relevant. Among the most valuable functions of the military is their sacrifice of directly facing and dealing with the horrors that war inevitably brings with itself so that civilian life can remain that. Then military people will also have a healing sanctuary to return to and recover and remind them of what they fight for. The Vanduul is exactly what you get when you expand the ‘culture of war’ far into the civilian life.

Act on fear and fear you will serve.
Sometimes it is the coward who fights and the brave one who refrains.

The Darwinian 1-try question test

You need to answer a question given.
You have only one try.
If you fail to answer it right, you die.
You are allowed to use the internet.

Exemplary question: “Why do bronies love My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic?”

You’d be amazed how people can suddenly experience a seemingly miraculous intelligence boost.

You’d also be amazed how some people are willing to rather die than wisen up.
(They have dumbed themselves down too much to be aware that they did.)

Fear makes stupid.
Fear kills.
Afraid to die?
Stop being afraid.
It’s the best you can do, for yourself and others.

De-Individualization (“the customer” vs. “the customers”)

You often hear it when businesspeople speak. “The customer” instead of “the customers” even when talking about the totality of them. That totality is treated like a single entity, as a type.
That is convenient, because it helps to generalize and to deny the individual interests and thus potentially causes thought patterns of dehumanization to creep into the mind.
It is a common thought pattern in the business world, because ideally the whole customer base is conformant, homogenous. That helps with maximization of efficiency and thus profit. Deviants are inconvenient for that, as is proven again and again not just in the business world, but anywhere where fear reigns, often fueled by big money.

Think about where else you usually find this rhetorical tool for mind (self-)conditioning:
“The Jew”
“The Negro”
“The foreigner”

Note the quite crucial, intentionally left out word “average”. (Which comes with its own set of problems somewhat related to this topic, but is not as severe as when left out altogether.)

Not a coincidence. Same thought pattern. If you saw a group of people as individuals, you’d have to accept the mental effort and practical inconvenience of allowing each individual their relevance.

Marketing has learned a lot from Hitler and such, and Hitler learned a lot from people before his time.

As I often point out: Thought shapes language and language shapes thought.
(That’s the whole point of applied rhetorics.)

Airspace violation cases bring NATO depravity to surface

When several parties fight against a common enemy, this should have a uniting influence, but as always, when you put someone to the test, you learn about their true character.

So the IS is fought by NATO and Russia. Russian fighter planes operate in Syria because of this. And then one accidentally violated the airspace of the neiboring Turkey and was shot down! Russia enacted economic sanctions against Turkey because of this, and rightfully so.
Because realize the implications: What a psychopathic trigger-happy warmongering government does Turkey have? They knew it was a Russian plane and they knew it was there as part of fighting the enemy of NATO and Russia, the IS. Turkey is in the NATO. They couldn’t have possibly been so insane as to believe that Russian plane might have intended to attack Turkey. You don’t react like that unless you want conflict. (And let’s not forget how NATO themselves treats their putting pressure on other countries through close military presence like a right they have. They are experts at offending.)

Recently there was another case of a Russian plane scratching that Turkish airspace, and again the NATO (not just Turkey) plays the outraged.

The motivations for all this are mostly known, NATO being an instrument of a Cold War mindset that never really ended, always keeping the separation intact and discarding good will from Russia (pretty much what USA did and does with Iran), but there are also some less commonly known non-secrets, and cases like these airspace violations might actually serve to fully dig up the ugly truth.

You see, while the IS is an enemy of NATO and Turkey is a NATO member, Turkey doesn’t really consider IS their enemy. They have quite an interest in its continued existence. (They’re not the only ‘Western ally’ with such an interest.) And this is what is being brought closer to the surface of public awareness with such incidents. And that can be considered healthy. It is ‘Teacher Discord’ at work.

These things reveal more and more the underlying nature of shifting allegiances of the West (the USA and its lackeys), determined by who serves the imperial agenda. In such a system, there are no friends or enemies based on values of decency. It is all profoundly egoistical; a game of sociopaths, of fear, cowardice, denial of responsibility and fanaticism.

National socialism – The only USA-compatible socialism?

America – greatest nation in the world. One of those powerful ideas on which the society of the USA still rests to a significant degree. Also quite telling when you realize “America” is not a nation, and not a country either. The hubris is right there, totally obvious. But that’s not the most interesting part.

Ron Paul follows the idea that the USA shouldn’t meddle in other countries’ affairs and try to dictate ideas onto them. That is based in humility, personal responsibility and a caring for others – not to screw them over, and that leading to more time being dedicated to care for internal problems so that everybody wins.
The thing is though that this easily insults those who still cling to that ego-boosting idea of being the greatest. The mindset that causes so many problems in the first place.

Now we have a somewhat different approach. Bernie Sanders is much more daring, one could think, by openly calling himself socialist. (Although Ron Paul’s approach might ultimately have been more socialist in spirit, without mentioning it.) How does he pull it off? By not putting blame and thus responsibility on people. His target demographic are people who see themselves as total victim of corporate greed and corruption. It’s a self-image all-too-willingly adopted by people. But this also puts Sanders into a champion position. And that’s the same maneuver that Obama pulled. People who saw themselves desperate and helpless (and innocent!) in the face of social struggles looking up to him as the one person who will fix things for them. Extra-convincing because he talks loudly and with fervor. And the hype train is moving yet another time. The fact that Sanders considers Russia a problem that needs to be contained (through crippling economic sanctions, what a novel idea) further underlines that rejection of responsibility for the external consequences (imperialism) of the same corporate greed and corruption he decries as the scourge of the own people.

And the historical parallels keep growing.
We need to pay attention to how this develops.

This could lead to a state where the USA’s foolish foreign policy will no longer be blamed for the suffering of the common people of the USA, but instead fortified by the justification that the (gloriously stolen) wealth is now distributed fairly. This is a situation that, if it cannot be avoided by the corpo-rats, would still work for them. If you THEN criticize their imperialist foreign policy, you will be considered opposing the functioning well-being of their nation, of every single person.

If Sanders becomes president, let’s hope he will do better than Hitler did, shall we?

Or maybe we should stop hoping and start making sure.
(Hope and hype is just one letter difference.)
 
 
 
P.S.: If Hillary Clinton becomes president, we at least have some nasty puns ready, hah.

Why China’s information policy is less worrisome than the Wild West’s

The rogue always likes to divert attention from their malice by accusing others of what he himself does.
Western governments are always eager to condemn China for their policies in regards to information flow. The rogues are the Wild West.

China doesn’t hide it. It is totally open and admitted that they are censoring certain aspects of information flow and beyond. And not only does that openness hint at the nature of the thing, but they have some good reasons for it that would even weaken the condemnations of the Chinese government allegedly merely wanting to stay in power for power’s sake.

The USA are an empire, and the empire uses many different means to expand its influence. That is all a form of war. If no missiles fly, then computer viruses might go to work or people are rallied with lies to topple their democratic government. Just to name a few.
Another weapon of the empire is the spread of culture. And this is the openly stated reason for what the Chinese government does. They are aware that the USA will do whatever they can to slowly convert China, this to the paragon of capitalism huge delicious economy, into a vassal.
Any restrictive policies of China or any other more or less unadmitted enemy of the empire need to be seen in this context. And even this necessary defense reaction against covert aggression is being exploited by the empire and used as a weapon. For they know that if they practice such an onslaught, the people of the target country might eventually become dissatisfied due to the restrictions. And then the empire only needs to succeed in telling the people lies and divert attention away from the true motivations for such measures. Then the people would, in ignorance, fight that which tries to protect them from those very lies and culture of corruption.

Naturally this will not be a pretty process. But in all cases people need to understand the big picture. (And they need to understand that I’m not talking about flatscreen TVs here.)

Now look at what power China has. It is a strong country. They resist the imperialist pressure. But now look at North Korea. They are much less powerful, but are subject to the same pressure. If they didn’t have nukes, they’d be a ‘McDonald’s outpost’ now.

Don’t blame the small party in massively asymmetrical warfare. That’s the rogues’ game.

And now let’s compare China to the USA and its vassals: Daily propaganda, lies, distortions, deceptions, omissions. News media censoring itself, massively, covertly, while spreading the myth of openness and freedom. Again, the rogue keeps talking about that which they don’t feature. Constant repetition hammers it into people’s heads, and egoes are tickled with honeyed words and pleasant self-perceptions.

That is the mark of fascism.

And now traitor politicians try to enforce a free trade agreement (TTIP) with that fascist system while insulting the people who oppose it AND letting them pay for TTIP propaganda ads with their tax money. It is disgusting, and people swallow too much of this crap. Too afraid of repressions from their government. Another trait of a fascist country.
Just like the mafia can bully business owners into compliance, the government mafia, the great crime syndicate, has bullied people into submission. They might speak, they might act, but only when it is allowed to, not when it is right and should be allowed to.