Is Even STAR TREK Capable of Overcoming Racism?

I intended on writing a post about how Star Trek is the ony Sci-Fi I can think of that has a positive standpoint on us and our future, but recent events reminded me of our very human faults.  

Star Trek boasts no hunger and no poverty, but is even this utopia able to eradicate racism?

Sadly, no.  Not on a basely human level, anyway.  

Earth, itself, seems to be alright.  Some episodes of DS9 point to major class upheavals in the 2020s, but the human-specific racial issues take place before then and are alive in thier awareness, which is important when trying to avoid repeating the horrors of our collective past. 

But that doesn’t mean that racism is solved.  We, as humans, just needed some other to marginalize and discriminate against.  

“‘Speciesism’ is the idea that being human is a good enough reason for human animals to have greater moral rights than non-human animals. …a prejudice or bias in favour of the interests of members of one’s own species and against those of members of other species.” – BBC 

Spock is the most obvious example, being bi-racial (bi-speciel? bi-special?) in heritage.  Oh how we laughed and laughed as the good country doctor spun some good old country racism at the half-breed.  

Although he was the most repeated (and most passive) victim of offense, Spock was by no means alone.  Cardassians are called spoon-heads and Klingons are often referred to as smelly and loud.  

Humans have a need to categorize and differentiate.  It is what set up our language and systems of contextual understanding.  

This doesn’t mean that we need to label other as lesser, but we still do it. 

Memory Alpha has more on racism in STAR TREK.

SUPERMAN IS DUE FOR A LOSS

Superman is like Floyd Mayweather.  He never loses.  And much like the undefeated boxer, there are many who would like to see Superman knocked on his cape.

But who is going to make it happen?

Superman vs the DC Universe

Batman4511210-6299223343-Batsu

Let’s start with the first hero on everyone’s mind.  Superman and Batman have had a long history together.  However, in spite of recent hype, they are more often seen working together than at each other’s throats.

There were many tense moments between these two heroes and they have fought at times.  Batman tried to attack Superman without much success until he started carrying Kryptonite with him everywhere he went. This evened things up, but not always.

Batman vs Superman2826167-1443200_bat_vs_supse_super4494097-9711140097-41448static1.squarespace

In the end, these two are best friends. One’s strengths balances out the other’s weaknesses.  Besides, Batman even admitted in Hush that, despite having Kryptonite and a plan, “He (Superman) can’t be stopped. But he can be stunned.”

This may be why they settled their differences, at least until the next marketing push. 1374342468_bats_supes

Wonder WomanGalleryComics_1920x1080_20141119_WW_Cv36_5452787849e291.60244249

The iconic Amazon Princess is often seen as Superman’s equal in physical strength.  Depending on which story you are reading, she has one of two origin stories.

Option One: Hippolyta wanted a child so badly that she created one out of clay.  Hera blessed it with life and that child grew to be Wonder Woman.

Option Two: Hippolyta was one of Zeus’s conquests and Wonder Woman is the demigod child of that union.

Either way, she is divine in birth and trained in war.  She has defeated Hercules and Ares on several occasions.  Her fights with Superman are epic.

c54-44454454839-8207223665-378311246586-wonder_woman_v2__219___page_2018lrl49hwe7pejpg

They have knocked each other out and even nearly killed one another in fits of rage.  Superman has the edge in the number of victories, however, and is considered to be slightly stronger and faster than she is.

Again, these two are great friends and seem to have found a way to get along.superman_wonder_woman

Captain Marvel (SHAZAM)GalleryChar_1900x900_JL0_var_52ab9027a66018.51207574

Billy Baston is a young orphan who is granted the powers of the gods so that he could be their champion.  He says “SHAZAM” out loud and is transformed into Captain Marvel.  Each letter in the name SHAZAM represents one divine gift.  S – The wisdom of Solomon. H – The strength of Hercules. A – The stamina of Atlas. Z – The power of Zeus. A – The courage of Achilles. M – The speed of Mercury.

He and Superman have had wars, so many that it came to the point in which he and Superman decided it would be best to determine who was the strongest in an arm wrestling match.

4515583-7856484125-366264005098-1745778140-capta

Superman and Captain Marvel don’t like each other.  It may be out of mutual jealousy that their powers and station in the DC Universe are so similar.  It could also be that there are just some people who don’t get along.  Everybody gets one.  The Hero Envy blog has a full tally of their fights here.

Gods in the DC UniverseGodwave001

Superman has beaten men, monsters, and demigods.  So how does he fare against actual deities in the DC Universe?

Pretty damn well.

In War of the Gods, Superman defeats the Aztec God, Quetzalcoatl.

tumblr_njocik8iZ31sat64io1_500tumblr_inline_njoexcPssN1qgjgsbtumblr_inline_njoljdLLTi1qgjgsb

Atlas and Samson challenge Superman to an arm wrestling match in All Star Superman.  He accepts both of their challenges at the same time.

superman-arm-wrestle-o

Superman’s biggest victory in the god division is over Darkseid.  There are many, many fights between these two characters as Darkseid has quickly become Superman’s #1 adversary (even over Luthor, who can’t seem to get the job done after nearly seventy years).

Darseid is one of the New Gods, a race of beings that make up the top pantheon in the DC Universe.  His power is on par with Zeus, Odin, and other chief gods of their realms.  He is the architect of so many horrible things that he has earned his place as the ultimate evil in the DC Universe.  He has beaten Superman in their early meetings, but not lately.  Superman has grown beyond even Darseid’s ability to defeat.

6618cfb7-c363-4fcf-8bf5-ace5d36bd9badarkseid21762274-10gn5

So what happens when the hero of your universe has overcome all challenges, godly or otherwise?  The same thing that happens when you are the champion of your division, he starts taking challenges from the other league.

Superman vs the Marvel Universe

Think of it like the Superbowl or the World Series.  The top teams are already champions where they come from.  Now it is time to determine who is the overall best of the best.  The same is true for comics characters.

The first one up to bat…

Spider-Man

After Lex Luthor blasted Spider-Man with a power-boosting ray, he was doing pretty well against Superman.  Then the effects wore off and “The Battle of the Century” turned out to be a dud.  Sound familiar, boxing fans?

250px-SupermanvsSpider-Man1976Superman vs Spiderman copy

Just because you are the most popular character in your company doesn’t mean that it is a good idea to fight the most popular character in the other company.  Maybe try to find someone in your weight class next time.

The Incredible Hulk

The hype was out of control over whether the Hulk was stronger than Superman.  It culminated in a fight in book three of the Marvel Versus DC collection in which Superman put the green monster down.

Marvel_Versus_DC_Vol_1_3Superman vs Hulk004 copy

Some argue that this fight shouldn’t count because the winner was voted on by the fans.  I disagree.  Who better to decide these type of arguments than those who are invested in keeping the characters alive and thriving as a part of our culture?  These two have fought a few more times and the Hero Envy blog has those listed here as well.

The Mighty Thor

Marvel’s resident god of thunder has it all:  strength, toughness, magic, centuries of hardened combat experience.  Again, the comic world was hyped for a huge showdown between Thor and Superman.

It finally happened in Avengers vs. Justice League #2.  Both teams were in a “capture the flag” style competition and were busy fighting each other for the various prizes.  At one point, Superman and Thor found each other on the battlefield and went at it without holding back.

JLA_Avengers_Vol_1_2Superman vs Thor001 copy

As usual, it ends with Superman standing over his challenger as the clear winner.  Many, many Marvel fans were upset.

Why Does Superman Always Win?

This is a hard question to answer.  My guess is that it has to do with the combination of his powers.  His faster-than-light-speed movement and planet-crushing strength are just too much to overcome when used together.  Most characters are either strong or fast, not both and usually not at his level.

So Who’s It Going To Be?

Someone has to be the one to put Superman down.  It happens to all great champions eventually.  There is just that one guy who has your number.

Tito Ortiz took out Ken Shamrock.

Buster Douglas took out Mike Tyson.

___________ will take out Superman.

As of right now, the top contenders are…

Son Goku Goku-Wallpaper-hd-for-PC-1

With his ultra fast martial arts, mountain-crushing punches, and planet-destroying energy blasts, Son Goku is a famous Manga and Anime character who is a much-debated challenger to the Man of Steel.

The gaming company, ScrewAttack, came out with a video detailing and predicting this fight.  Although they use a good deal of math to come to their conclusion, the video seemed to create more controversy than already existed before its release.

The Silver Surfersilver_surfer_wallpaper_by_nickhrh-d5sx3ng

The Silver Surfer is a herald of Galactus, a world-devouring cosmic being.  He travels at speeds well beyond light, is incredibly strong, and manipulates energy.  It is that last part that makes him dangerous to Superman.

Superman absorbs solar radiation as food and uses that energy to power his abilities.   The Silver Surfer can manipulate all types of energy, including solar and kryptonite radiation.  Even if the Silver Surfer is not as strong or as fast as Superman (which he may not be considering his losses to Thor), he potentially has the ability to drain Superman of his power source, weakening him to a manageable level.

The problem is pulling this off before catching a beating and waking up a statistic on Superman’s bout sheet.

SUPERMAN IS DUE FOR A LOSS

The question is:  Who is going to be the one to do it?

More By Cynical Sci-Fi

Why did Batman have to go so dark?  Answer: We became cynical.

An (Overly Simple) Explanation of the Difference between Science Fiction and Fantasy

Proof that Peter Pan is an Abusive, Child-Murdering Sociopath

Light Speed for Writers without a Science Background

In my post Questions to Ask When World-Building, I wrote:

If you are writing science fiction, what physical settings or laws are different or exaggerated?  Is there space travel?  If so, how does it work?  Warp speed in Star Trek gets you to a distant planet at a different speed than a Star Wars hyperdrive.  These decisions make the difference between going from “one end of the galaxy to the other,” as Han Solo once bragged, and the entire Voyager series, in which the plot was centered on a near-hopeless trip across the galaxy back to Earth.

Well, now I’ve started writing a science fiction series that takes place beyond our world and it’s my turn to make some decisions regarding space travel.  Will there be hyperspace?  Will they use wormholes?  Will they have some other folding of space/time?

Warp Speed

There was recently a flurry of excitement regarding the possibility of Warp Speed.  It lasted about one month before the same site renounced the EM Drive because it would “produce more energy than is put into it, violating the law of conservation of energy, which (simply put) says that energy cannot be destroyed or created” (Elizabeth Howell, Space.com).

Quantum Entanglement

I also played with space travel through Quantum Entanglement, which is the idea that linked particles remain linked once they are separated regardless of distance.  There are some great ideas in the areas of using Quantum Entanglement for communication, but not for travel.  Decoherence, the decay of unity between once-linked particles, happens even at the atomic level.

Light Speed

I discounted light speed immediately.  In order to go that fast, you would need an infinite amount of energy.  It is, by testimony of all articles and peer-reviewed science, impossible.  Every forum conversation turns sour when somebody mentions moving at light speed, so I had a sour taste right away.

Then I started thinking about Near Light Speed.  After some consideration, I decided that this was the way I was going to go.

Are We There Yet?

According to Time Dilation, Yes!  A person traveling at near light speed won’t notice a long wait time between their departure and destination.  They could be en route for hundreds or thousands of years, but their trip will feel like hours or seconds if they are moving at 99.99% of light speed.  This is great for your main character, who will be the same age no matter where he or she ends up.  They are free to move about the universe, but what about those they leave behind?  They’re already dead.

Every Goodbye is Forever

While your characters are accelerating to near light speed, the rest of the universe goes about their business at their own rate.  Time passes for everyone differently depending on a myriad of factors:  gravity, speed, etc.  This poses problems for cultural interconnectivity between different star systems, but I prefer that writing challenge to some mystical and unexplained system of travel.

Why Bother Explaining At All?

For some, research is silly.  One of my friends said, “Just use hyperspace and call it a day.”  I can’t do that.  I need to know (at least to a layman’s approximation) how things work.  The Star Wars type of hyperspace is too convenient for my characters.  I need limits in order to work well.  Not only that, but I think Star Wars when I hear “hyperspace,” just like I think Stargate or Babylon 5 when I hear “wormholes.”  I’d like to carve my own path and cynically go where no massive property has gone before.

Fact-Checking

One of my reasons for writing this post is to put my ideas out to the world for fact-checking.  There are many who know more about this topic than I do, so please comment below if you feel I have made any great errors in my understanding or if you feel I am on the right path.  I’ll repost with corrections, if need be.

Why did Batman have to go so dark? Answer: We became cynical.

One of Us

Batman and Robin in the Batmobile

Batman and Robin in the Batmobile

As the only pure human, Batman represents us in a world of superpeople.  So why does he need to go so dark to do what he needs to do?  Moreover, what does it say about us that he needs to be so dark for us to accept him as a relevant hero?

The Batman of the ’60s didn’t have armor.  He wore bright clothing and drove around in a convertible with his teenage sidekick.  He made jokes.  He spent his money on expensive cars and state-of-the-art technology like Shark Repellant.

Shark Repellant

Shark Repellant

He didn’t need any help winning fights.  Going dark didn’t help with that.  It’s probably the opposite.  Try convincing someone today that the modern Batman could take down the Hulk.

Batman beats the Hulk

Old School Batman beats the Hulk

So What Changed?

We did.  The last fifty years has shown us some pretty harsh truths about our world.  Wars.  International Terrorism.  Pervasive Economic Greed and Instability.  All of these things existed before, but are now a daily part of our lives thanks to the global network of cameras and information that are nearly impossible to ignore.

Somewhere along the line we stopped believing in Shark Repellant.  The convertible Batmobile was fine until snipers rose out of solely military use and into our collective awareness.  Soon, a man in grey and blue tights looked small compared to the problems we saw.

So Because We Changed, Batman Changed Too.

Dark Knight Returns

Dark Knight Returns

First came Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns (1986), the story of an aging Bruce Wayne and how he deals with the way the world is turning out.  This story didn’t take place in the regular Batman world.  It was a possible future, one way that the character could turn out.

We liked it.  It changed our view of Batman.  He became colder and more detached.  We liked it so much that we began to take things from him, most notably Robin.  A Death in the Family (1988-1989) gave us the chance to tear a piece off of Batman and we took it with glee.  DC let fans vote whether to kill off the current Robin.  We did, permanently darkening Batman.

Tim Burton's Batman

Tim Burton’s Batman

Also in 1989, Tim Burton directed the first Batman feature film since Adam West wore the costume.  The tone was dark and Batman was in an all black armored suit.  He was a fierce and humorless fighter and we couldn’t get enough of it.

The Jokes were gone.  Batman became an overworked and under supported shell of himself.  Even after training a new Robin, he was still driving himself past his limits.  One villain caught on to this and exploited his weakness.  In Knightfall (1993-1994), Bane broke the Batman we knew once and for all.

Bane Confronts Batman

Bane Confronts Batman

Bane Breaks Batman

Bane Breaks Batman

He came back as something different.  Batman is now someone who we consider believable.  He is aggressive.  He is armored.  He is unwilling (or unable) to make friends.  He drives a tank and has extensive training.  He has access to technology that keeps him ahead of his friends and foes.

The Modern Batman

The Modern Batman

He’s More Cynical, Like Us.

The weird part is that we like him better this way.

Why Pavel Chekov Deserves to Outlive His Crewmates

Star Trek: Renegades is a web series on Kickstarter that is due to start up soon and features many familiar faces.  The one that caught my eye as the most odd was Admiral Pavel Chekov.  To be clear, this series is set ten years after the events of Star Trek: Voyager, which is a century after Chekov’s Enterprise went on its five year mission.

So why does the accident-prone punching bag of the franchise live to be 143 years old?

Because he deserves it.

As an ensign, he’s been shot, beaten, slapped into unconsciousness, converted into a baseball-sized cube, possessed, blinded, tempted by deadly robot sex slaves, and driven insane.

Chekov Shot

Chekov Shot

Chekov beaten

Chekov Beaten

Chekov Insane

Chekov Insane

After being promoted to lieutenant, his hands were burnt from a console feedback.

Chekov Unconscious

Chekov Unconscious

As commander, he was infested with mind-controlling ear worms and treated for severe head trauma after falling off of the deck of a battleship while traveling into the past to save whales.

Chekov Beaten (Again)

Chekov Beaten (Again)

Ear Worms

Ear Worms

Head Trauma

Head Trauma

Pavel Chekov watched Jim Kirk “die” saving the Enterprise B from the Nexus, then heard that Kirk returned 80 years later to die saving the Enterprise D.  Spock got himself stuck in some parallel dimension escaping from a Romulan mining ship.  Scotty trapped himself in a transporter for seventy years, but is now dead.  McCoy’s gone.  We don’t know about Sulu and Uhura for sure, but they are most likely dead.

Yet through all of this, Pavel Chekov was loyal to Starfleet, its mission, and his crewmates.  He had earned their respect and friendship and, to be honest, I can’t imagine a better person from the original cast to have the last word.

Admiral Chekov

Admiral Chekov