8 Ways Star Trek and Shakespeare Are, In Fact, Exactly The Same-Reason #5

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So, I’ve been one of the biggest proponents of this belief for about a decade now, and as much as I scream it from the rooftops, no one seems to listen. And though I know I’m not the first to say this…

I’m making it official. Because once it’s posted in a blog, it becomes the truth. You know what I mean? It’s like on that State Farm commercial. “They can’t put anything on the internet that’s not true.” Right? Right?!

Anyway, as the title says, I wholeheartedly believe that two of my all-time favorite things in life are in actuality the exact same thing! (In the vein of Superman/Clark Kent, Batman/Bruce Wayne, or Green Arrow/ Oliver Queen)

In this series I am going to list out 8 different reasons why the Genius of Star Trek is really just the Genius of the Bard himself repackaged.

Reason 6 can be found here

Star Trek and Shakespeare #5 – Dramas Meant to be Seen

So, right now you’re saying, “Really, I’ve waited this long for the next reason and I get this?!”

Hold on there, Buster. There’s more to this than you think. Let me explain…

 

Now, another aspect about Star Trek and Shakespeare that makes them identical, and seems almost obvious, is that they are both dramas meant to be watched.

netflix-logo

I know the guy eating his nachos reading this just before another Netflix binge is shouting at his screen, “Cheap connection!” and probably getting nacho cheese all over the keys as he mashes the letters to pull up Real Housewives.

real-housewives-of-beverly-hills-title-cast

But to this I say, “1) You wouldn’t believe how many people try to just read Shakespeare plays and complain they don’t get it, and 2) To quote the indomitable Vin Diesel, “I don’t care if you win by an inch or by a mile. Winning is winning.” #winning? (ok, weird context)


Anyway, look, it’s obvious to everyone today that Star Trek is something to be watched. And, yes, I know how many books and comic books have been written. (Ok, scratch that, I don’t “know” the exact number, nacho guy, but you know what I’m saying.)

But let’s set aside the literature for now and focus on the basics. I’m talking about original concept and function. TOS, TNG, DS9, VOY, ENT. And I guess I’ll include ’09 but anyone whose honest with themselves should agree it doesn’t “really” fit with the others. (That’s another post.)

Concept: Shakespearean. Function: Meant to be watched.

In conjunction, and something I have to train students to understand, Shakespeare is a play which means it is meant to be seen! If you have ever had an English teacher who made you only read the plays and not act them out, then let’s be honest, he or she failed you. To understand a play, it needs to be read, seen, and acted.

But I digress, simply put another reason it is easy to see why Star Trek and Shakespeare are exactly the same thing is that they are both meant to be watched. (And if you count conventions, acted too) 😉

ConventionPhotoStock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ok, so it was a short post. Whatevs. You still enjoyed it. 🙂

 

8 Ways Star Trek and Shakespeare Are, In Fact, Exactly The Same-Reason #6

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So, I’ve been one of the biggest proponents of this belief for about a decade now, and as much as I scream it from the rooftops, no one seems to listen. And though I know I’m not the first to say this…

I’m making it official. Because once it’s posted in a blog, it becomes the truth. You know what I mean? It’s like on that State Farm commercial. “They can’t put anything on the internet that’s not true.” Right? Right?!

Anyway, as the title says, I wholeheartedly believe that two of my all-time favorite things in life are in actuality the exact same thing! (In the vein of Superman/Clark Kent, Batman/Bruce Wayne, or Green Arrow/ Oliver Queen)

In this series I am going to list out 8 different reasons why the Genius of Star Trek is really just the Genius of the Bard himself repackaged.

Reason 7 can be found here

Back at the Helm again with the 6th reason why Star Trek is the Superman version of Shakespeare’s Clark Kent. (Or is that the other way around?)

Star Trek and Shakespeare #6 – The Stories Pushed the Envelope 

Let’s take a look at Shakespeare on this one first.

One of the geniuses of Billy Boy Shakes is his ability to put audiences in situations where they have to come face to face with their own morality especially with regard to aspects of Elizabethan society.

Ian McKellen, KING LEAR photo: Simon Farrell

For example, in King Lear, one of the main motifs of the play is betrayal. Betrayal of children to their parents, betrayal of parents to their children, betrayal of siblings. But the real crescendo of this motif is played out when Shakespeare suggests that betrayers will ultimately turn on one another as seen in the love triangle between Edmund, Goneril, and Regan.

goneril-and-regan  King_Lear,_Act_I,_scene_2_Edmund's_soliloquy,_by_William_Shakespeare

In fact, this “love triangle” is really more of an “adultery triangle” as the ladies cheat on their husbands for Edmund and Edmund cheats on the ladies with each other. Of course Shakespeare, can’t just let the ambiguities in the story speak for themselves. He has to give King Lear, the catalyst of the betrayals and paramount betrayer, a speech denouncing not only his daughters’ adulterous activities, but the adulterous activities of the world.

 

lear 1 lear 2

Though Lear’s diatribe here is mainly about his daughters, it is impossible not to see a corollary to the Elizabethan world as well. A society known for its façade of devotion and yet promiscuous behind the scenes. Did Shakespeare’s words change Elizabethan society? Not necessarily, but they had to press upon the consciousness of the audience.

In the same way,  Star Trek pushed upon the societal mores of the world in which it was produced. One great example of this is the episode “Plato’s Stepchildren”.

TelekeneticGames

In this episode, the crew of the Enterprise are forced to be slaves to a superior race called the Platonians. The Platonians have the power of telekinesis, and it is through this mind control that they force the crew to do whatever they wish. This is most powerfully illustrated when they force Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) to kiss. The first interracial kiss on television. (gasp)

Plato's_Stepchildren_kiss

Now, NBC didn’t want to air this on television in certain areas of the country, but according to Shatner and Nichols, Shatner purposely made funny faces to keep the studio from airing alternative shots forcing them to go with the kiss. Were people upset? Yeah, but this wouldn’t be the first (or last) time Star Trek forced viewers to deal with their prejudices. (But that’s for reason 4). Did this change people’s minds? Hard to say, but the episode did definitely make audiences uncomfortable.

In both instances here, Shakespeare and its counterpart Star Trek left audiences with a chance to check themselves about how they view the world and how they act within it. I can’t say conclusively that both wanted to change society, but the genius doesn’t lie in the ends simply in the means.

8 Ways Star Trek and Shakespeare Are, In Fact, Exactly The Same-Reason #7

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So, I’ve been one of the biggest proponents of this belief for about a decade now, and as much as I scream it from the rooftops, no one seems to listen. And though I know I’m not the first to say this…

I’m making it official. Because once it’s posted in a blog, it becomes the truth. You know what I mean? It’s like on that State Farm commercial. “They can’t put anything on the internet that’s not true.” Right? Right?!

Anyway, as the title says, I wholeheartedly believe that two of my all-time favorite things in life are in actuality the exact same thing! (In the vein of Superman/Clark Kent, Batman/Bruce Wayne, or Green Arrow/ Oliver Queen)

In this series I am going to list out 8 different reasons why the Genius of Star Trek is really just the Genius of the Bard himself repackaged.

Reason 8 can be found here

Star Trek and Shakespeare #7 – The 5 Act Play

Ok, so everyone knows about this old ditty.

five-act-play

And, you’re probably thinking, “So, what? Every story follows the 5 stages of a plot.”

To this I say, “Yes, mostly, and this concept is taught in every English class and has been since the beginning of time.” (I’m speculating here. I wasn’t there.)

But what I’m talking about is so much more than Exposition to Denouement. What I’m talking about it is a structured design which mirrors one another in both feel and scope. The 5 Acts of both Star Trek and Shakespeare follow a distinct pattern.

 

goals
ACT 1-The Goal is Established

In each and every Shakespeare play, the end goal for the protagonist is always given in the first Act.

 

act1scene4-hamlet-ghost

In Hamlet, his father’s ghost tells him he needs to avenge his death.

In Macbeth, Macbeth and his wife learn that they will become King and Queen.

In King Lear, Cordelia is banished and Regan, Goneril, and Edmund all divulge their intentions for greatness.

In Julius Caesar, Cassius begins his quest to get Brutus to join the conspiracy.

Some Naysayers may claim that this is simply the exposition, but I believe it is more than that. It is not just setting up characters and storylines, but also weaving a realistic story that draws in the audience.

How does Star Trek do this? In two parts actually. First the teaser, then the opening Act. To illustrate my points, let me use two popular episodes.

First, Space Seed from TOS.
 
Here in the teaser the Enterprise discovers a 200 year old Earth vessel with systems oddly still running. After the theme song and the credits, an away team beams over to the ship to discover that the people in cryogenic stasis are still alive, revives one and brings him back to the ship. Obviously, the goal now is for the crew to figure out who these people are.

Second,  Darmok from TNG.
 
Here in the teaser the Enterprise is directed to an uninhabited system by a signal that is an attempt at communication. But when the crew makes contact, Captain Picard is beamed to a planet with the captain from the alien ship and neither can understand each other. After the theme song and credits, Picard and the alien captain begin to survive on the surface and make a break through in communication. The goal: figure out the reason for the signal and find a way to communicate.

 

 

villains

ACT 2-The Villains Gather Enemies

By the second act, the good guys and the bad guys have already been established, sort of, and now it is time for the bad guys to start putting motion to their plans.
 
In Hamlet, Claudius brings in Rosencranz and Guildenstern to spy on Hamlet.
 
In Macbeth, Macbeth kills Duncan.
 
In King Lear, Regan, Goneril, and Edmund all trick their parents into giving them more power.
 
In Julius Caesar, The conspirators commit to a plan to kill Caesar.

 

Here, once again, detractors to my theory may claim that this is simply the rising action, but nay I say. Focus on the action of the villains; that is which binds these acts.

 

In Star Trek?

Space Seed

Khan begins to turn some of the Kirk’s crew to his side including the Historian McGivers.

Darmok 

Picard hears the roar of an unknown beast and wonders if the other captain knows they are not alone.

 

 

chess
ACT 3-The Villains Make Their Move

In the third act, the bad guys are ready to make good on their plans.
 
In Hamlet, Claudius stops the play within a play telling Hamlet that he did, in fact, kill his brother.
 
In Macbeth, after killing Duncan, Macbeth turns to securing his kingship by killing his good friend Banquo.
 
In King Lear, Regan, Goneril, and Edmund pluck out Gloucester’s eyes while King Lear goes insane.
 
In Julius Caesar, The conspirators kill Caesar.
 
Sure, call this the climax. Say that I’m just saying the same thing in a different way. But you know I’m right. Stop fighting it.
 
Star Trek’s Climax Third Act?

Space Seed

Khan takes over Engineering.

Darmok

The energy beast attacks and nearly kills the alien captain.

 

 
562557-bigthumbnail
ACT 4-The Heroes Are Going To Win

When the fourth act arrives the bad guys have done their thing, but we get to see the light of hope in the darkness.
 
In Hamlet, Hamlet escapes Claudius’ attempt to have him killed in England and returns to take his revenge.
 
In Macbeth, the witches tell Macbeth he will be killed by Macduff, though he doesn’t get it.
 
In King Lear, Cordelia arrives as a Jesus figures and brings back Lear’s sanity meanwhile Edgar prepares to meet Edmund.
 
In Julius Caesar, Caesar’s ghost appears telling Brutus his end will be in Phillipi.

 
At this point, those of you who have been doubting me should start to see that these 5 acts are nothing like that infernal plot map and this act is not the falling action. But if you don’t, all I can say is, “Alas, there will always be haters.”
 
In Star Trek?

Space Seed

Khan holds Kirk hostage by himself.

Darmok

The two captains begin to communicate.

 

 
quote-T_-S_-Eliot-what-we-call-the-beginning-is-often-92063
ACT 5-The End is the Beginning is the End and Lessons Learned

The fifth act. We have reached it. The moment of enlightenment for us and the characters. Here, we find an end to our story, and we are left with a thought to ponder.
 
In Hamlet, Claudius, Gertrude, Laertes, all die along with Hamlet, thus he secures his revenge, but he also leave us with the line, “The rest is silence” as a possible answer to his musings about death.
 
In Macbeth, Macduff kills Macbeth setting Malcolm back on the throne, and we learn the idea that “life is a story told by an idiot full of sound and fury,” or something to that effect.
 
In King Lear, Cordelia, Lear, Gloucester, Regan, Goneril, and Edmund all die and Edgar teaches us that we should say what we need to say. (John Mayer, anyone?)
 
In Julius Caesar, Cassius and Brutus commit suicide, and Antony tells us Brutus was noble for killing Caesar in that he was trying to protect the freedom of the people from tyranny. Aww.

 
Now that we have reached the end, if you still think this is just the denouement and the plot map, I don’t know what else to tell you….
 
Star Trek?

Space Seed

Kirk holds a trial for Khan and maroons him on a deserted planet. And Spock’s discussion about planting seeds teaches us that our actions today will have vast consequences in the future.

Darmok

Picard uses this newfound communication to establish diplomatic relations with a new alien species. And though his discussion with Riker with learn that knowledge of the past with help us with the future.
 
Thus we conclude another entry into our study of how Shakespeare and Star Trek are alter egos. (Bizarro world?)

 

 

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