Springingtiger's Blog

Beyond Startrek


After a fallow period I have been getting some use out of my Unlimited Cinema card again and thoroughly enjoying it. I was writing the other day about how in many films and television programs the morality of those who are supposed to be upholding the law is as suspect as that of the enemy. Two of the films I saw recently showed the establishment adopting the attitude that expediency is more important than ethical integrity, however it did not make them bad films.

Jason Bourne was very much about how the state can, in the name of a perceived greater good, manipulate and destroy individuals. I think we all now accept the existence of ‘Black Operations’ programs and I suspect most of us prefer not to know too much about their reality (safer that way!). I doubt whether many of us are happy with thei ethical premises that underpin them. It is because of that we enjoy seeing an individual triumph over the secrecy and manipulation of the establishment. I can’t help but reflect that as long as the government insists on snooping on its citizens, those citizens are going to cheer on heroes like Bourne who defy the System. It seems to me that the actions taken to suppress dissidence and rebellion in society effectively perpetuate it, and as long as we know it’s happening there will be people who will want to model themselves on Bourne or Lisbeth Salander and fight back.

In the Suicide Squad it quickly became apparent that the guardians of civil society may be worse than the socio-paths who oppose it. Again a ‘Black ops’ film this time the Secret Service compel dangerous criminals to take on an impossible mission by coercion. It’s not a bad film, I enjoyed it. However its message that the forces of government are both a lot more immoral that super villains and a lot less fun is, perhaps counter productive. It makes for an enjoyable, if utterly ridiculous, story, but it sets up a dangerous assumption that the law is bad, law enforcers are soulless apparatchiks, and law breakers are glamorous and a lot more fun.

Star Trek Beyond was a welcome relief from other action films. There was no question of its ethical underpinning. The heroes managesd ti be both honourable and interesting. They had real personal problems of relationships, crises of conscience and confidence, self doubt, even personal character flaws. However they didn’t allow these challenges to prevent them from doing the right thing. Star Fleet has a code of ethics (not to mention the Prime Directive – nothing to do with this film) and no matter how bad their circumstances the crew of the Enterprise followed the code. Sounds boring? Well it wasn’t because it illustrated integrity adds lustre to any action however dutiful. Of course as long as James T. Kirk is around there will always be a degree of bending, breaking, and even opposing the rules. The difference is that when Kirk breaks the rules it’s never because it’s the easy option, not merely expediency, it’s always because his integrity and commitment to his values compels it. In an age of cynicism and moral ambivalence we need Kirk, Spock, Bones, Uhura, Checkov, Sulu and Scotty to remind us that there is a better way, an honourable way to do things.

I was going to end by suggesting that Jeremy Corbyn was like Kirk whereas the Blairite clones of the PLP were like the faceless and unethical establishment manipulators of Jason Bourne and the Suicide Squad, but that would be just too obvious, so I wont!


1 Comment so far
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I enjoyed this take on the movies and our society, thanks

Comment by Robert Frost

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