Imagination Connoisseurs wonder aloud if their favorite franchises are able to stay current with the changing social landscape or if their “better days” are behind them.

Has one movie ever made you completely change your view of certain stereotypes?

Martial artist Cynthia Rothrock starred in 1988’s CHINA OBRIEN.

Greetings and salutations Rob.

I wanted to write in and ask you if – after watching a particular movie – had your views changed.

For me, it was CHINA OBRIEN (1988) with Cynthia Rothrock. Up until that point, all the action movies I had seen had women as cannon fodder or helpless victims. It was a revelation to see her kicking more arse than the men.

I would love to get your thoughts.

Yours sincererly,
martin lawrence

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Are there any modern filmmakers who have defined a “style” that sets them apart?

Hi Rob, moderators, and Post Geek Singularity,

Something I don’t think we have anymore in filmmaking, is how certain types of movies are made, with people saying it’s very much in line with filmmakers of the past.

What I mean is, if you watch someone’s movie now, you would say it’s very similar to a filmmaker of the past, but not any filmmaker now.

For example, Frank Capra made a number of movies about the underdog succeeding like Mr. Smith Goes To Washington and It’s A Wonderful Life. So, if a filmmaker now made an underdog movie in that type of way, people would say it’s very Capra-esque. The same thing would be with Alfred Hitchcock. If someone makes a suspenseful thriller type of movie the way he did, people would say it’s very Hitchcock-esque or Hitchcockian.

However, that’s not that case with the big name filmmakers now, like Chris Nolan, Denis Villeneuve, David Fincher, Quentin Tarantino, Guillermo Del Toro, Edgar Wright, and all of them. You don’t see people watching movies and say, it’s very Nolan-esque, or Fincher-esque, or Tarantino-esque, or anything like that.

I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s just because the movies people like Capra and Hitchcock were very influential and steeped in pop culture, so people are more aware of them.

That’s just how I feel. I don’t know if you and others feel that way or not, but that was just something I’ve observed with movies.

Thanks, live long and prosper.
Omar 94

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Why do comic books gain and lose popularity?

Hi Rob, moderators, and Post Geek Singularity,

One of the more compelling things about comic books, is how they can start off not being high profile series, but creators come in later and make it something worthwhile.

John Ostrander’s run on The Spectre (for DC Comics) was outstanding.

At D.C, a lot of the comic series, which were not hugely popular, got reworked to become part of the Vertigo line and made into very popular and acclaimed comic book runs, like Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, Grant Morrison’s Animal Man, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, and Peter Milligan’s Shade The Changing Man. Examples for other titles at DC which were not hugely popular when they first got published, but later became more high profile, are runs like Dennis O’Neil’s The Question, John Ostrander’s The Spectre, Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol, and Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern.

Marvel was like that as well, as some comic series were published for an extended period of time, but did not became high profile until later on, with runs like David Michelinie and Bob Layton’s Iron Man, Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s X-Men, Frank Miller’s Daredevil, and Ed Brubaker’s Captain America.

That was just something I found interesting about the long history of comic books.

Thanks, live long and prosper.
Omar 94

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Has Star Trek had its day in the sun?

Hi Rob,

I was thinking recently about the morality in Star Trek.

I’m not a fan of Star Trek Discovery.

We’re in almost total agreement about why it sucks. On that, you and I definitely park our shuttlecraft in the same shuttle bay.

I’ve liked almost every other incarnation of Star Trek. Even the weaker ones had their good points. Some good or even great episodes, and good or even great characters.

I remember the discussion here around the non-binary character and the trans character on Discovery. It got me thinking about the Federation attitude toward gene editing. DNA resequencing is allowed only for severe birth defects. Although what is considered “severe” is never made clear.

You’d think, for example, that Geordie’s blindness would qualify. In “The Masterpiece Society,” his disability is key to the solution. But isn’t it better to not be blind? In that society, he wouldn’t have existed. Instead, resequence his DNA to eliminate that defect. In the real world, there’s often resistance to “fixing” problems like deafness. Resistance to the cochlear implant involved possible damage to “deaf culture.” But isn’t it better to be able to hear?

Prenatal testing exists for a lot of genetic defects, e.g. Downs Syndrome. But not as yet the ability to gene edit these problems away. This has resulted in termination of a lot of these pregnancies. In Denmark, 95%. In Iceland, almost 100%. In the U.S. it’s about 67%.

This kind of thing would be perfect for Star Trek to tackle. Old Trek could have. Nu-Trek only wants to trot out token characters to show their Wokeness.

We can’t yet resequence DNA. Like you, I’m a fan of Bret Weinstein’s Darkhorse Podcast. He’s talked about the CRISPR gene editing discovery. He points out that we have the typewriter but don’t yet have the Rosetta Stone. So we’re limited in what we can do there. He’s also talked about the possibility of a “gay gene.” His belief is that it’s unlikely homosexuality is caused by a single gene, but discovery of the actual cause, along with prenatal testing, presents a moral problem. It would put Wokeness to the test.

Balance the Woke desire to show how inclusive and accepting they are against the easier life their child might have if their homosexuality or trans were removed through gene editing. If we could alter the genes to eliminate what some might see as a defect, then it’s win-win, right? It might result in a bland, homogenous society. The moral question is also not just do we eliminate what causes them to be trans, or do we gene edit them into the sex they will believe they should be?

Where do we stop?

What would the Federation consider a “severe” birth defect? It’s open to interpretation. Ugliness? Because it’s a TV show, everyone in Star Trek is good looking. (They haven’t eliminated baldness, but there are no ugly men.) In-universe, what’s the explanation? Great plastic surgery? Or DNA resequencing? I can see how in the real world this could get out of hand.

A society where everyone has the body of a god, the brain of super-genius, no psychological problems of any kind, everyone is straight, etc., etc., might be bland and boring. And stagnant. We all know how mental illness sometimes goes hand in hand with great ability. Newton, Tesla, Michelangelo, for example. Yet I can’t help but wonder if those guys would have sacrificed their genius to be happy. And whether that genius could still exist minus the mental instability.

Is Star Trek’s approach to moral dilemmas too rooted in the past?

Morality in Star Trek often mirrors the kind of moral superiority from which we in the real world often suffer. In “The Neutral Zone,” Picard can be contemptuous of the greedy revived stockbroker. Easy when you have a society that doesn’t need money. (Although DS9 later said money does still exist.)

Just like it’s easy for us to be disdainful of slavery in the ancient world when we have machines to do those slave jobs. It was a kind of Catch-22 situation. After the fall of Rome in the West, necessity brought about the technologies to replace slaves and so slavery gradually withered away. There was no abolitionist movement.

Inventions like replicators and warp drive mean that in the 24th century Janeway’s boyfriend can be a philosopher and not be a complete joke living like a bum.

I’m reminded of Quark’s opinion about humans. From The Siege Of AR-558. “They’re a wonderful, friendly people. As long as their bellies are full and their holosuites are working. But take away their creature comforts. Deprive them of food, sleep, sonic showers. Put their lives in jeopardy over an extended period of time. And those same friendly, intelligent, wonderful people will become as nasty and as violent as the most bloodthirsty Klingon.”

CRISPR opens the door for us to eliminate certain genetic disorders, like Huntington’s. Or achondroplasia, i.e. dwarfism. Or Down’s Syndrome. Or lots of other things. Once we have the Rosetta Stone, then how far we should go with gene editing becomes a problem. Star Trek could take a stab at defining that morality based on what we know now. As they’ve taken stabs when it comes to A.I. and what rights it might have. The reality might be quite different.

Part of the value of science fiction is what it says about what we believe now. What we know now. As often also with fantasy, it lets us talk about things in the real world in easier or more digestible way.

So, it made me wonder. Trans, homosexuality, Downs Syndrome, etc., will they exist in the future? Both in the real world, and in Star Trek. It would be interesting to explore the morality of this in a science fiction context. By finding it among aliens, rather than in the Federation. It could be explored without making any moral judgements.

For now, we lack the ability to easily gene edit our way out of the moral quandary. All we have so far is prenatal testing and termination of the pregnancy. There might not be a single gay gene, but it could still be “corrected” through genetic engineering. The same with trans. Or with whatever. Is it moral to do so? Are we more “enlightened” if we allow babies with these defects to be born without “correction”?

Quality of life would be increased if we tinkered with DNA in this way. I’m reminded of the writer Patricia Highsmith, writer of the Ripley novels. She was a lesbian who didn’t want to be one and took the “cures” of the time. (If she was born later she might not have wanted to. This was in the 50s. But some people might want a “cure,” if I can call it that. Some parents might take choose gene editing to make their child’s life easier.)

Julian Bashir wasn’t happy his parents altered him. He argued they didn’t give him the chance to see what he might contribute. (That said, unaltered I doubt he would have got into Starfleet Academy. Never mind graduating second in his class.)

Discovery instead gives us token characters who lack depth. There’s no point to them, except to allow the production to pat themselves on the back. “How wonderful are we!” They’re trotted out, everyone does a quick daisy chain, and then it’s back to your cages till we need you again. Like The Gimp in Pulp Fiction.

Star Trek nowadays might just be “on the wrong side of history.” No one can make that judgement yet. But they’re not the progressives anymore. Discovery comes across as a show from a Mirror Universe to our own where the Original Series did episodes that were pro-segregation or something.

I wonder if Star Trek has had its day. As much as I love it, that might be the case.

It might be the job now of other sci-fi properties to deal with this stuff. I know you love all the accumulated Trek history, Rob. I do too. But maybe it’s resulted in something inflexible or stagnant. Or maybe they’re constrained by that history because they keep going to the past for some reason. I’d hate to see Star Trek die, but it might have to. Or even if it doesn’t have to it might anyway through mismanagement. Maybe The Orville?

Star Trek feels like a sports team that hasn’t won in 50 years, but their delusional fanbase still believes.

Maybe they should try a new Star Trek set in the future, after TNG and DS9 and Voyager. I’m not sure if it’s even required for the showrunners and writers to be fans, since many in the past weren’t fans. But they should at least understand what makes Star Trek work. Focus on the morality. Those were always the best episodes.

It’s a huge cliché, but Star Trek really was best when it gave us something to think about rather than telling us what to think. Thinking is hard, Rob. ‘Nuff said.
Joe Dick

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