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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.


aimeekitty on 27th June 2009 23:38 (UTC)
his redeemable qualities combined with his less-than ones are what make him such an interesting and admirable character. Either without the other is just 2D.

Hopefully the fanfic will improve! I've found some great doctor who ones (I was surprised... honestly, I hadn't read fanfic since Gargoyles. I wasnt expecting something AWESOME.) Since getting back into fic with DW, I tried looking for good fic in some of my other fandoms and was quite completely horrified... *____*
nodestro on 28th June 2009 00:57 (UTC)
Ishtar: trek:kirkishtar79 on 28th June 2009 01:16 (UTC)
So much word to the whole post! This trend drives me insane, especially since it's established very explicitly in canon that the opposite is true. I believe the words 'genius-grade' were used and even if fandom didn't want to take Pike's word for it, the whole scene of him figuring out about the Romulan trap was fairly badass.

I don't mind the focus on the more superficial aspects of the character if it's humour fic, because he also *is* about the women, booze and getting into trouble, as long as the fic doesn't go out of its way to say that's all he's about.
Merimeri_oddities on 28th June 2009 01:24 (UTC)
OMG, thank you! I've been writing an essay like this all week. I have read several too many stories where the characterization of Jim Kirk is so bad that you wonder what movie were they watching.

I've seen writers I respect do that. I'm like, wait, didn't you see what he did through the movie. Didn't you get the part where he did 4 years of course work in 3.
infiniteviking: 11infiniteviking on 28th June 2009 02:38 (UTC)
he's still a brilliant tactician and strategist who inspires others to follow him, and earns their trust and respect.

THIS. So much this.
(Deleted comment)
ljc: star trek (uhura prime)taraljc on 28th June 2009 03:27 (UTC)
See, I can completely see AOS' Kirk growing up to become the Kirk in your icon in 10 years. At least in the ways that count.
Moneypenny: pinekirkjeanne_dark on 28th June 2009 04:12 (UTC)
I love you so much for this. Seriously. I can't count the amount of times I've headdesked over Reboot fandom's characterization of Kirk because, wow, really not paying attention much. Kirk is so much more than that, and it seems like so few people recognize that that it boggles the mind.
Slightly touched: Kirk BITCH PLEASEsundara on 28th June 2009 16:23 (UTC)
THANK YOU. I'll give you my firstborn for voicing those sentiments (you might like him: he's beyond gorgeous, 29 yrs old and very nice guy. Married, but...since I'm getting tired of my daughter-in-law's issues, that's not a problem....)

I've been writing off the extreme crap I've been seeing re: characterizations, particularly Kirk, as immaturity rearing its head, given the influx of much young people (some very young) into the fandom, and it seems to stem from an inability to see and understand *depth* in characters/people, which, admittedly, is common in the very young. That said, what in the hell is wrong with people who aren't teenyboppers and they're still writing that crap??? (See? I have no patience with it. I just want to rant with expletives. Your logical arguments were *so* much better.)

Thanks for posting it.
anodyna: dru fresh hell 2anodyna on 28th June 2009 20:52 (UTC)
I totally agree with you here. I do think a lot of the bad characterization we see is a reflection of immaturity and inexperience on the writer's part--inexperience with writing fiction as well as with life and observation of people in general. I don't think it's limited to just the very young--a person can have a tin ear for characterization no matter what their age. It's a subtle sensibility and, like many subtle things, if someone doesn't get it it can literally be impossible to explain!

I've opened a few fics that include a version of the "Kirk as stupid womanizer, jeopardizing the safety of the ship and its entire crew to go get laid in an alien brothel"-type characterization, and I've just backed right back out again with zero interest in going further. I think we have a lot of the same values when it comes to fiction--probably fiction of any kind but definitely fan fiction: that the story be consistent with the established reality of the 'verse (or if it changes it, that it does so with a compelling and plausible reason); that it fit within "canon", again unless crackfic or for other compelling reason; but most of all that it respect the characters and show some skill in portraying them in a believable and consistent way. Although I'm in no way prolific as a writer, I read like a writer--I'm always aware of the writer as a presence behind the story, making choices and achieving different things in more or less satisfying ways. Maybe it's this level of engagement that I want to have with a story that makes it feel so much worse an insult to my sensibilities when a story actively sucks, or is obviously just an excuse to abuse some characters or play "marionette" with others. I'm like, I brought my English Literature -wired brain over here and this is what you have to say to me??

Ooh, I just got a tiny bit ranty!

Still Waiting For My Jetpack: trek ds9 (worf&jadzia)azewewish on 30th June 2009 00:06 (UTC)
I don't know you, but all I have to say about this letter is YES. THIS.

Rachel Cobleighreveilles on 30th June 2009 02:21 (UTC)
I heartily agree. If you find any *good* fics in this department, please rec them!
Rachel Cobleighreveilles on 30th June 2009 02:28 (UTC)
Jedi Buttercup's Throwing Down the Gauntlet is a great Kirk - Spock fic, with both of them treated well, Kirk especially.
xstitchedxxxstitchedxx on 1st July 2009 02:05 (UTC)
awww...you changed the way I see him. ^____^
the drummer to beatdrummertobeat on 1st July 2009 04:02 (UTC)
Ack, WORD.

May I offer another example? Take his douchiest moment in the film, when he's goading Spock about the immediate death of his mother and loss of his planet; when he's using everything he has to get under Spock's skin.

What does he do when he gets what he wants? When Spock resigns his command?

His face falls. He quietly walks to the command chair, sits down slowly, and with a hard, determined look on his face, tells the crew of the Enterprise that they may be going straight into a deathly battle.

No joy was taken in that moment. No sorrow, either. Just the unbroken certainty that it had to be done, even if it was a horrible thing.

*that* is the Jim Kirk I see.
turtle_goose: ST:  Enterprising Young Menturtle_goose on 24th July 2009 18:23 (UTC)
What does he do when he gets what he wants? When Spock resigns his command?

His face falls. He quietly walks to the command chair, sits down slowly, and with a hard, determined look on his face, tells the crew of the Enterprise that they may be going straight into a deathly battle.

No joy was taken in that moment. No sorrow, either. Just the unbroken certainty that it had to be done, even if it was a horrible thing.

midnightsjane: Awesome Kirkmidnightsjane on 1st July 2009 22:06 (UTC)
Yes, Kirk is a smartass who has an eye for the women, but he's a brilliant smartass. It's plain that Pike thinks he's a genius, that he did his homework even when he didn't appear to be doing it, and he has what it takes to make people follow his lead.
He also has compassion and a genuine concern for his crewmates. In my book that makes for a very good captain, in both universes.