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27 June 2009 @ 12:11
James Tiberius Kirk, ladies and gentlemen.  
Dear Star Trek (2009) Fandom:

I love you guys. I really do. I haven't been this taken with a fandom, falling so hard and so fast in a long time. And I've had a blast these last two months. But I do have a beef with you.

Jim Kirk is more than just a drunken letch of a frat boy.

Yes, he's a hound. Yes, he's cocksure and a bit of a douche. A loveable douche, but still a douche, in the first half of the film. But you know what? Even when you want to smack him across the back of the head--often with a pry bar so you can hear that lovely deep ringing sound the metal would make--under the sense of humour and bravado, he's still a brilliant tactician and strategist who inspires others to follow him, and earns their trust and respect.

He's still got an impressive academic record, and zoomed through Starfleet Academy in 3 years (which may in fact be quicker than his Prime Universe counterpart). He performed the Kobayashi Maru simulation 3 times not because his ego was bruised, but because he believed (rightly or wrongly) that a no-win scenario where the computer stacks the deck against you was not an accurate measure of Command abilities. He did not cheat in order to thumb his nose at Spock and the Academy Board. He did it to prove a point. In both timelines. Regardless of whether you believe it's a valid point, it's not merely about being unwilling to lose. And even if cheating isn't winning, it still showed more strength of character and insight than it does rebellion and laziness. There is in fact nothing in canon to suggest Kirk's lazy, or didn't have top marks, so this whole him-flunking-out-if-Bones-wasn't-there-to-rein-him-in thing while novel the first time, gets wearying as it becomes a default for story after story.

Please, next time you watch the movie, look beyond the surface and see how his brain works and his relationships with McCoy, Spock, Uhura and Pike function. See how he accepts the consequences of his actions in the Hanger Bay and genuinely wishes McCoy good luck, and is prepared to stay on Earth while all his classmates go out to meet new challenges, even tho it hurts like hell. See the respect he gives Pike on the bridge and the way he connects events based not just on luck and circumstance, but understanding of tactics, even if he is snarking at Spock at the same time. See the seriousness with which he takes his command after The Battle of Vulcan, and his valid arguments about the importance of diverting Enterprise from rendezvousing with the fleet in the Laurentian system, as well as Spock's also valid arguments about being outmatched and outgunned. Pay attention to the way he frames arguments, and how the personality conflicts with Spock go both ways, and how much better they work together than either of them alone. Watch how much he values Uhura's opinion, and how winning her respect as Captain is a huge part of winning the audiences' faith and respect by the end of the film.

But mostly, please don't continue to sacrifice the character's integrity on the altar of cheap LOLz unless you've a point to make that's worth the sacrifice.

(unless you're writing crackfic, cos as we know, crackfic is cracky and has its own set of rules re: characterisation)

Or, you know, you can ignore me. I'm just another reader and writer in the rapidly expanding fandom, and my opinion isn't worth more than anyone else's. But the trend is starting to wear on me, and it's sucking the joy out of my fannish experience just a bit. And I figure, if it's happening to me, it's probably happening to others as well.


Cheers,

LJC
 
 
 
The Chad: ST - Dammit Jim! I'm a BeeGee!anothersuperboy on 27th June 2009 18:42 (UTC)
Amen my sister!
Taiamu: Shego Fire and Raintaiamu on 27th June 2009 20:07 (UTC)
Lo, I do not have a Trek icon yet
Here, have a "Shego, in fire and rage" icon instead.

I am so with you on this, on all counts. Kirk, for all that he is a playboy, sucks it up and does his /job/, when he needs to. Every time.

After seeing the movie, I was surprised that there were a few folks out there that thought Kirk was being a douche to Spock in the fight scene on the bridge. Not many, but a few.

And...wow. That scene was not about one-upping Spock. That scene was about doing what was best for the Enterprise(and Spock himself).

Fifth of nothing, I would love to see a fanfic that goes into Kirk's reactions to that mind meld with Spock Prime. SP basically told Kirk he was the best person for command, at a point where I don't think Kirk believed it of himself. It says a lot about Kirk, that he's willing to have faith in a man he's just met, mind meld nonwithstanding. And this is a man whose counterpart Kirk isn't even sure he likes. That says a ton about Kirk's instincts, imho.

Anyway, I think I wandered off a bit there. LOL.
SLWalkersl_walker on 27th June 2009 20:07 (UTC)
But mostly, please don't continue to sacrifice the character's integrity on the altar of cheap LOLz unless you've a point to make that's worth the sacrifice.

Sounds like what happened to Scotty.
(Deleted comment)
Hippie Geek Girl: MST3K - ewgypsyjr on 27th June 2009 21:37 (UTC)
Just one of the many reasons I got twitchy at that British newspaper article comparing him to Dubya.

... whut.
(Deleted comment)
eee1313 on 27th June 2009 20:17 (UTC)
See, this is why I just don't do fandom anymore. Instead, I surround myself with friends with the same opinions as me. Heh.
Bruce d.b.a. Jamesir Bensonmumbktheirregular on 27th June 2009 20:36 (UTC)
>"I don't believe in the no-win scenario."

"I don't like to lose."</i>

Completely consistent between Prime and AOS continuity, isn't it? Oh, and not just a tactician or strategist either, but a guy who recognized the value in offering a helping hand even to the guy who imploded Vulcan and came thisclose to doing the same to Earth. And in re-watching the original Motion Picture, yeah, there were times when you'd want to clock Kirk over the head with a pipe wrench, even Prime Kirk, even more-mature Prime Kirk.

Although sometimes when I think about it, I suspect that the point of the Kobayashi Maru might be that sometimes the universe at large will throw you into a situation from which there *is* no escape, and it *won't* be fair, and what do you do then?

(lord, I wish Trek were still playing in Athens)
pbristow on 27th June 2009 22:16 (UTC)
"Although sometimes when I think about it, I suspect that the point of the Kobayashi Maru might be that sometimes the universe at large will throw you into a situation from which there *is* no escape, and it *won't* be fair, and what do you do then?"

I thought that was *quite explicitly* the point of it. Or have I just munged stuff I've read in the tie-in novels into my memory of the movie...?
this nerd.mekosuchinae on 27th June 2009 20:39 (UTC)
Agreeeeeed, so very, very hard. There is a reason he is captain! (Says the girl who mostly uses Kirk for lolz, eek.)
colebaltblue on 27th June 2009 20:53 (UTC)
THANK YOU!

Thank you for saying this! Seriously. I hate the awful characterizations of him out there and usually refrain from reading Kirk-centric fic because of it. I actually think that Spock ends up being more of an asshole than Kirk does (although he redeems himself towards the end of the movie).
myownspecialself: uhura2009mos_self on 27th June 2009 21:02 (UTC)
Yes to everything you said above.

Also, tangentially speaking: If we put aside the superficial and LOLworthy (horniness, cockiness) aspects of the character, there's a whole lot of intellect as well as strategic!Kirk to be found. I think it's interesting that one of the reasons he recognizes the significance of the lightning storm is that he actually read Pike's dissertation.
sunfell on 27th June 2009 21:14 (UTC)
I like the new Kirk. Not as much as I like Spock- but I really like Kirk's integrity.

Both Kirk and Spock were total assholes, but they were both raw and young! I might need to do some deep-diving and come up with a good Kirk fic to clear the air. I also think I need to dig into Spock's time with Pike- because I really liked him. Pike was the Adult Supervision on that ship, and he felt so much like commanders I had while serving in the military that it helped seal the deal for me with this new universe. A starship captain who was NOT Kirk who was also competent and reasonable- what a pleasant surprise! (Rosteau, too!)
nicolasechs: bloody kirknicolasechs on 27th June 2009 21:24 (UTC)
YES. I haven't read too many stories where Kirk is a dumb frat boy who's only interested in women, but I do wish there were more stories where his brilliance and compassion are on display. Which is why I *loved* this story from the kink meme because genius!Kirk is my favorite. :)
09 f9 11 02 9d 74 e3 5b d8 41 56 c5 63 56 88 c0laura47 on 27th June 2009 21:39 (UTC)
i am so glad i haven't run into kirk that badly mischaracterized!
Hippie Geek Girl: ST - Kirkgypsyjr on 27th June 2009 21:41 (UTC)
You know, I really like the archetype of these characters. They're cocky and brash and seem to get by on pure attitude, but the reason they pull it off is because they've got brains and talent under the surface. That so many people don't seem to get this makes me facepalm.

Edited at 2009-06-27 21:42 (UTC)
these points of data make a beautiful linebiichan on 27th June 2009 22:01 (UTC)
There is in fact nothing in canon to suggest Kirk's lazy, or didn't have top marks, so this whole him-flunking-out-if-Bones-wasn't-there-to-rein-him-in thing while novel the first time, gets wearying as it becomes a default for story after story.

Bwuh? Does not compute. James T Kirk is like Sirius Black: he fucks around and acts like a douche and pretends not to be paying attention, then he walks into that classroom and gets TOP FUCKING MARKS WITHOUT EVEN BLINKING. Only he doesn't turn into a dog. That we know of.

(... please stop me from asking the kinkmeme for Kirk Turns Into A Doggy fic.)
Slightly touched: Kirk captainsundara on 28th June 2009 16:30 (UTC)
OMG, he is *so* a dog. hahahahahahahaha

(sorry, that analogy's just hysterical)
(no subject) - feanna on 2nd July 2009 12:19 (UTC) (Expand)
a joyful girl getting loud: [stxi] to boldly goperi_peteia on 27th June 2009 22:43 (UTC)
I agree with your observations!

I like nuKirk about infinity times more than Kirk Prime who I seriously never really had any use for and while a HUGE part of that is the fact that he can be sort of a frat-y douche and the narrative lampoons him for it (because I generally don't have much time at all for his archetype otherwise), that in is what makes me like him enough to be interested in actual stories about him! It is not...the sum totality of my interest.

I mean, I enjoy humorfic in which Kirk is hilarious because there are genuine tones of that in the movie! But I don't really get where the idea that he is NOT a super competent genius as well comes from. I mean, they're ALL super competent geniuses. That's kind of the whole point.

It's not the Enterprise senior officers are all super competent geniuses except, FOR SOME REASON, their doofy, slacker captain. How does that even...make sense?