The following op-ed was written in fifteen minutes.

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The power of the brand. It’s what propelled Donald Trump into fame and celebrity and ultimately the Presidency.

His facade of financial prowess afforded him a level of respect and admiration and even worship from millions. After all, Bernie’s hopes and dreams aside, America is and always will be the home of capitalism and what is more capitalist than a vulgarian with no qualifications, no moral compass, no ideas or originality, and no skills beyond promoting himself, rising to literally the highest office in the history of the species. …

Here we go, folks.

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Ugh.

Three things I like

The future! Oh look, all of my aesthetic and creative complaints have immediately gone away. Shocking! Who could have possibly guessed that? Oh and it was smart to address the “Temporal Wars.” It was a dumb idea when Enterprise did it and I’m glad that they dialogued it away.

Series Reboot! The end of season 2 was the finale of a failed experiment. I know it, you know it, even that fuckwad Kurtzman knows it. So they correctly rebooted the series — it’s still all about Burnham and it’s still overwrought with unearned melodrama, but now, free from the suffocating constraints they placed on themselves, they can actually maybe make a sci-fi show. …

Lower Decks is CBS’s third attempt at making Star Trek and their first attempt at creating developed characters and interesting character dynamics.

It’s also a 24-minute cartoon.

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It’s warp time!

It’s only been two episodes, but I really, really like Lower Decks. I shy away from the l-word, though, because as Mr. Spock says, there are always possibilities. The most plausible of which are:

  1. I actually do love the show.
  2. I have been so desperately aching for so long for anything that resembles Star Trek, that I’m not thinking clearly.
  3. I’m being held hostage and this is my cry for help.

Number One is what I want to be true, but Number Two is what I fear to be true. Number Three is what my twitter friends have concluded. Either way, though, as I wrote last week: mediocre is a giant improvement. …

For the first time of the CBS era, they actually produced a Star Trek series.

The biggest hurdle is the animation style, and if that doesn’t work for you, it just won’t. Luckily for me, I like it. The second biggest hurdle is CBS. And just from the first episode, it seems like Mike McMahan did the damn thing and managed to keep Kurtzman’s slimy hands off the show.

There are still way too many listed “producers” but this is clearly written and produced by someone who understands the franchise. That alone makes this a success. Now it’s up to Lower Decks to really throw the CBS playbook out the window and tell good stories. …

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Richmond will be removing its gigantic statue of Robert E. Lee. Why? Because symbols matter. Symbols are expressions of values, of truths and beliefs, of love and fear. Symbols tell stories and stories are what create our communities. As human beings we need communities — and their stories and symbols — to help tell us who we are and where we’re going in this ocean of chaos.

Almost exactly five years ago, in the wake of another tragic, senseless loss of life, I ranted against the continued use of the Confederate flag, and happily, it resonated with millions of people. I was doing a radio interview while that inhumane flag of traitors was being removed from the South Carolina state capital and it felt like a real step forward. The past week has seen many more steps forward in the long trek toward justice and truth. I believe that the journey is not quixotic, however, and eventually the pain and hardships of the past will be reconciled in the open discourse of our national community. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I sure hope not. It’s easy to be nihilistic when you’re surrounded by hypocrisy. It’s easy to feel hopeless when progress is hidden from so many for so long. But believing in a better tomorrow — not in a sanitized, perfect utopia, but in a dirty, ugly world where we each consciously embrace the constant challenge to do the right thing — is what fuels my own willingness to act. …

After reviewing five thing I liked about Star Trek Picard, it’s time to get critical, critical. Yeah, let’s get critical. Let me hear your keyboard talk… ok, joke’s over.

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…and the sky’s the limit.

This is a difficult one to write because I can’t just go “the entire premise and the execution and every creative choice.” Clearly I wasn’t in the writers’ room and this isn’t a show I would have written. A lot of people get caught up in this mode of thinking — that’s not the show I wanted! — especially with Star Trek because every single Trekkie has had their entire life to imagine the show they would make. For example, I would write “The Adventures of Captain Jack Pierce and the Quest for Bettering Humanity”; Kurtzman and Chabon wrote “The Adventures of JL Magoo and His One True Love, Data.” …

STP was hardly “nothin’ but blue skies,” but for every cloud there’s a silver lining. In listicle format.

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Hello there.

1 — It moves forward with Star Trek aka It’s not a prequel!
Prequels are never a good idea. At best, you end up explaining things that don’t really need to be explained. At worst, you create something so infamously scarred into pop culture it’s known simply as “The Prequels.” Enterprise was bad— although it had an interesting premise that they never fully realized. Discovery is laughably bad, as we’ve covered in-depth. If they make a Pike series it will be bad because it will just be a dumbed-down TOS reboot. I thought we learned this lesson: stop making prequels, Hollywood. …

Note: this was written before Episode 9 was released so whatever maybe I’m wrong about everything who knows.

Star Trek Picard has a few interesting ideas smothered in boring, derivative nonsense. I liked the pilot. I liked the Troi-Riker episode. I even liked this last episode, in a way. The Holo-Rioses were endearing and when Raffi isn’t a stereotypically offensive drug addict welfare queen, she’s pretty great. And in a meta moment, Picard as a character seemed to really find himself after visiting the Troi-Rikers. But let’s be real — the show is still largely a big ol’ mess. …

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Pictured: Three characters I don’t know and an awesome-looking drink.

First, a mea culpa: Last time I said that Agnes Jurati was “clearly” Maddox’s daughter. I even emphasized “clearly”! She wasn’t. They were lovers or married or something, whatever. That’s my bad. I made a fundamental mistake: I assumed a level of competence that the CBS Trek regime hasn’t earned. See, Star Trek Picard is a show rooted in themes of personal rebirth and generational redemption, in which major characters are trying to resolve something from their past by finding their children — the physical manifestation of their future. …

This was originally published in June 2015 and redistributed on Huffington Post.

While I was out jogging this morning, I passed a neighbor’s house that I have passed every day for almost three years. Usually I stroll right on by without giving it a second thought. Today, though… today was different. I stopped in my tracks and blankly stared until a car honked at me to move out of the way.

This house flies a Confederate flag.

I don’t live in South Carolina or even Maryland. I live in a small town in Central Pennsylvania, 50 miles north of Gettysburg — the site of the most famous victory of the Civil War. …

About

John E. Price

Academic and Trekkie. I talk about the politics of culture, review nerd stuff, and golf a lot. Co-host: @podmeandering, #TopFive, Folk Futures.

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