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Is the Federation human-centric?

satyrquaze

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POSTS: 163

Report this Nov. 09 2010, 10:48 am

I want to point out that there is a sort of unspoken human "hubris" in the Star Trek universe. Here are a couple of examples:


Ever notice how in the Federation everything seems to revolve around Humans and their homeworld, Earth? I’m not talking about how almost every single invasion targets Earth and not Andoria, Tellar, or Vulcan. But, how the Federation President makes his or her home in Paris regardless of what species he/she is. Presumably, the President is almost always a species other than Human to show how cosmopolitan the Federation is. And yet, all the importance is placed on Earth.


* Earth was somehow chosen to be both the Federation’s capital planet and to house Starfleet headquarters despite that both the Andorians and the Vulcans were clearly more qualified and had much larger fleets. I understand that the other three founding races were suitably impressed by the human race’s abiltiy to earn their trust and get them all to work together in the face of adversity.


* Earth is in sector 001 while Vulcan and Andoria are both in a neighboring sector. As if Mankind's late (by centuries in some cases) achievement of Warp Drive allows them to redraw galactic maps with Earth as the center of known space. I can’t help but feel this would be a little like me moving into your house and rearranging your furniture and relabeling everything to fit my needs.


* Deep Space Nine. The name alone conjures this hubris which was touched upon briefly by Major Kira in "Emissary" when the young Doctor Bashir refers to the Bajoran system as 'practicing frontier medicine in the wilderness' because to him Earth is the center of civilization. Kira responds: "This 'wilderness' is my home, Doctor." This is also notable as Bajorans were creating lasting works of art and literature 'before humans were fully standing erect' according to Picard in "Ensign Ro".


* As was already pointed out the unit of measure for warp stability is called the 'Cochrane' despite that almost every other major race in the Alpha and Beta quadrants was warp capable before humans were. Let alone before Zefram Cochrane was even born. So, what did the Vulcans and other early developers of Warp Drive call it?


* Seemingly the standardized language of the Federation is English. English isn’t even the most common language spoken on Earth today, let alone by the 23rd – 24th centuries.


* Azibur pointed out in STVI that Starfleet was little more than a Homo sapiens only club. She’s not that far off even when considers Starfleet of the 24th century. Though we do hear of one Constitution-class Starship manned entirely by Vulcans in TOS, but they were killed by a giant amoeba. I mean the ratio of Alien to Human major characters in all of canon Trek is something like 1:5.


I mean really, how self-involved are the Humans of Trek?


We think we've come so far. Torture of heretics, burning of witches it's all ancient history. Then - before you can blink an eye - suddenly it threatens to start all over again. -Captain Jean Luc Picard

UNTRugby

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Report this Nov. 09 2010, 12:07 pm

the trek audience is 100% human, they wouldnt watch a show not human centric

Matthias Russell

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Report this Nov. 09 2010, 12:29 pm

I think the human centric aspect of trek is not realistic. This was brought out well in ST VI when discussing inalienable human rights. The shows kinda have to be presented this way for us to understand it necessitating a human captain for instance, but at the same time, I wish it tried to be more alien to us to encourage viewers to open their minds to a change in paradigms.

satyrquaze

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POSTS: 163

Report this Nov. 09 2010, 12:32 pm

Quote: UNTRugby @ Nov. 09 2010, 12:07 pm

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 10pt;"> style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: small;">the trek audience is 100% human, they wouldnt watch a show not human centric


 


Characters can be non-human and have humans identify with them. Some of the most popular characters in Trek are non-human: Spock, Worf, T'Pol, Dax, Odo...


Many of the most popular episodes barely show a single human "Face of the Enemy", “Birthright pt.2”, many later DS9 storylines went for much of the episode without seeing one human character.


Besides, that’s not the point. The point is how human-centric Starfleet is, not the shows at large. The shows are human-centric because actors as a rule don’t care to spend hours in make-up getting foreheads glued on.


The Federation and Starfleet however both claim to be this unified, cosmopolitan organisation where there are 150 member worlds spread out over 8,000 light years and yet we only see the odd Vulcan, the odd Tellarite or Andorian. Maybe a random Saurian…


Hell, I’d settle for a few more people of asian background since the Chinese alone make up 1/6th of the world’s population.


 


We think we've come so far. Torture of heretics, burning of witches it's all ancient history. Then - before you can blink an eye - suddenly it threatens to start all over again. -Captain Jean Luc Picard

satyrquaze

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POSTS: 163

Report this Nov. 09 2010, 12:35 pm

Quote: Matthias Russell @ Nov. 09 2010, 12:29 pm

I think the human centric aspect of trek is not realistic. This was brought out well in ST VI when discussing inalienable human rights. The shows kinda have to be presented this way for us to understand it necessitating a human captain for instance, but at the same time, I wish it tried to be more alien to us to encourage viewers to open their minds to a change in paradigms.


Thank you, thats basically what I'm trying to get at.

But most of what we see in Starfleet are White North American or Europian males.

We think we've come so far. Torture of heretics, burning of witches it's all ancient history. Then - before you can blink an eye - suddenly it threatens to start all over again. -Captain Jean Luc Picard

Matthias Russell

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POSTS: 7705

Report this Nov. 09 2010, 12:46 pm

You are right, but trek does a better job presenting positive race relations than most shows. All the crews retired to represent all the major human races. Then take major contemporary network shows that rarely have races inter mingling. Trek could do better, but already does better than most sci fi shows.

satyrquaze

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POSTS: 163

Report this Nov. 09 2010, 12:50 pm

I personally feel Doctor Who does a better job. But it has the luxury of a very liberal main writer. And the FCC doesn't jump all over them for being risque.

We think we've come so far. Torture of heretics, burning of witches it's all ancient history. Then - before you can blink an eye - suddenly it threatens to start all over again. -Captain Jean Luc Picard

UNTRugby

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POSTS: 1212

Report this Nov. 09 2010, 4:34 pm

Look at trek history and that most people are dead from ww3 when wrap flight starts in the US. It would make sense that they are the ones who quickly prosper from this and the next generations are built with their ancestors.

satyrquaze

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POSTS: 163

Report this Nov. 09 2010, 4:35 pm

Quote: UNTRugby @ Nov. 09 2010, 4:34 pm

Look at trek history and that most people are dead from ww3 when wrap flight starts in the US. It would make sense that they are the ones who quickly prosper from this and the next generations are built with their ancestors.


Where is that information available in canon format?

We think we've come so far. Torture of heretics, burning of witches it's all ancient history. Then - before you can blink an eye - suddenly it threatens to start all over again. -Captain Jean Luc Picard

UNTRugby

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POSTS: 1212

Report this Nov. 09 2010, 5:06 pm

Quote: satyrquaze @ Nov. 09 2010, 4:35 pm

Quote: UNTRugby @ Nov. 09 2010, 4:34 pm

Look at trek history and that most people are dead from ww3 when wrap flight starts in the US. It would make sense that they are the ones who quickly prosper from this and the next generations are built with their ancestors.
Where is that information available in canon format?


they mention it several times, first contact once in voyager and once in ds9 i think

lostshaker

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Report this Nov. 09 2010, 8:17 pm

" Earth was somehow chosen to be both the Federation’s capital planet and to house Starfleet headquarters despite that both the Andorians and the Vulcans were clearly more qualified and had much larger fleets. I understand that the other three founding races were suitably impressed by the human race’s abiltiy to earn their trust and get them all to work together in the face of adversity" -satyrquaze


Starfleet wasn't chosen to be on Earth, as it was shown to pre-date the Federation and originated as an Earth based institution. And despite the Vulcans, Andorians, and Tellarites having an earlier stellar presence, they all displayed hostility towards one another. While the human ability to foster trust is no doubt a factor, one should consider The Romulan Wars and Earth's Stafleet rising is a formidable force. Thought not canon, the ENT novel "The Romulan Wars: Beneath the Raptor's Wings" posits several likely possibilities. The most notable being:


T'Pau: I presume you may or may not also be aware of the Vulcan fleet's high degree of vulnerability to this Romulan weapon?


Soval: I presume this vulnerability is a technological analog of the close genetic and cultural relationships we share with the Romulans. Similar genes and memes giving rise to similar technologies and therefore similar technological vulnerabilities. (Beneath the Raptor's Wings, Michael A. Martin)


Again, while this is not canon, it reinforces many elements of canon. First, the shared genetic and cultural history of the Vulcans and Romulans. Additionally, ENT's "Kir'Shara" established a Romulan presense on Vulcan and penetration of the Vulcan High Command. The Romulans at least had access to Vulcan Technology to pursue technological vulnerabilities. The relevence of this is mutual spying between Andoria, Vulcan, and Tellar. "The Andorian Incident", for example, showed a case of Vulcans spying on Andoria. It's not unreasonable to assume such spying extends to acquiring and back engineering technology. If Andorians and Tellarites back engineered Vulcan technology and applied it to their own fleets, then they could have a relatively high vulnerability to Romulan attacks. In contrast, the Vulcans guarded their technology from humans. This alone could have provided the humans a military advantage, if the scenario described above is accepted as a possibility.


"Seemingly the standardized language of the Federation is English. English isn’t even the most common language spoken on Earth today, let alone by the 23rd – 24th centuries." - satyrquaze


Don't forget the universal translater, however, ENT established that English is relatively easy for other species to learn. Also, 21st Century commerce is propelling the use of English as a second language in many countries.


Ultimately, Star Trek is a humanist philosophy. Thus, it would be illogical for it not to be human centric.

Roboto

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Report this Nov. 09 2010, 8:40 pm

I am surprised that someone has not already mentioned this very obvious fact...

... generally speaking, every civilization on every planet everywhere has the ability to speak fluent English, whether they are part of the Federation or not.

Just saying.

Oh, I know that I am getting technical but I could not resist bringing it up!

Matthias Russell

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POSTS: 7705

Report this Nov. 10 2010, 5:23 am

English dominates for the same reason roddenberry made the transporter, it saves time and money when telling a story.

satyrquaze

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POSTS: 163

Report this Nov. 10 2010, 6:18 am

Quote: Roboto @ Nov. 09 2010, 8:40 pm

I am surprised that someone has not already mentioned this very obvious fact... ... generally speaking, every civilization on every planet everywhere has the ability to speak fluent English, whether they are part of the Federation or not. Just saying. Oh, I know that I am getting technical but I could not resist bringing it up!


I always had a similar problem with old Doctor Who with not only every alien species speaking English, but the Queen's English at that.

We think we've come so far. Torture of heretics, burning of witches it's all ancient history. Then - before you can blink an eye - suddenly it threatens to start all over again. -Captain Jean Luc Picard

satyrquaze

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POSTS: 163

Report this Nov. 10 2010, 7:08 am

“Starfleet wasn't chosen to be on Earth, as it was shown to pre-date the Federation and originated as an Earth based institution. And despite the Vulcans, Andorians, and Tellarites having an earlier stellar presence, they all displayed hostility towards one another. While the human ability to foster trust is no doubt a factor, one should consider The Romulan Wars and Earth's Stafleet rising is a formidable force. Thought not canon, the ENT novel "The Romulan Wars: Beneath the Raptor's Wings" posits several likely possibilities. The most notable being: T'Pau: I presume you may or may not also be aware of the Vulcan fleet's high degree of vulnerability to this Romulan weapon? Soval: I presume this vulnerability is a technological analog of the close genetic and cultural relationships we share with the Romulans. Similar genes and memes giving rise to similar technologies and therefore similar technological vulnerabilities. (Beneath the Raptor's Wings, Michael A. Martin) Again, while this is not canon, it reinforces many elements of canon. First, the shared genetic and cultural history of the Vulcans and Romulans. Additionally, ENT's "Kir'Shara" established a Romulan presense on Vulcan and penetration of the Vulcan High Command. The Romulans at least had access to Vulcan Technology to pursue technological vulnerabilities. The relevence of this is mutual spying between Andoria, Vulcan, and Tellar. "The Andorian Incident", for example, showed a case of Vulcans spying on Andoria. It's not unreasonable to assume such spying extends to acquiring and back engineering technology. If Andorians and Tellarites back engineered Vulcan technology and applied it to their own fleets, then they could have a relatively high vulnerability to Romulan attacks. In contrast, the Vulcans guarded their technology from humans. This alone could have provided the humans a military advantage, if the scenario described above is accepted as a possibility.”


-lostshaker


Sure it reinforces a few elements of canon and then the author draws their own conclusions, I have exactly zero problem with the Vulcans themselves taking an advisory role to new position of leadership in the Federation. The Andorians and the Tellarites however have very large egos when it comes to taking a back seat to an upstart species.


Add to that according to the timeline, Starfleet couldn’t have had more than 5 NX-class ships in service during the Romulan War.  


“Don't forget the universal translater, however, ENT established that English is relatively easy for other species to learn. Also, 21st Century commerce is propelling the use of English as a second language in many countries.” –lotshaker


I wasn’t forgetting it. I was actually thinking of the time that Jean Luc said “Merde” on the Bridge of the Enterprise and it wasn’t translated. (The Last Outpost)


It’s all well and good that the English is on the rise and is being taught as a second language, but for every 1 person speaking English there are three people speaking Chinese, and it’s going to continue to be that way for a very long time.


Ultimately, Star Trek is a humanist philosophy. Thus, it would be illogical for it not to be human centric. –lotshaker


That “humanist philosophy” that you speak of is that no matter what our race, creed, religion, culture, or gender we will always be able to work together towards a common goal. I like to think that this philosophy also includes all the species of the Federation as far as Starfleet is concerned. My point is based on all appearnaces, it doesn’t. I mean, they pay lip-service to it all the time, but as near as I can tell Starfleet is about 80% Human.


We think we've come so far. Torture of heretics, burning of witches it's all ancient history. Then - before you can blink an eye - suddenly it threatens to start all over again. -Captain Jean Luc Picard

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