STAR TREK: INSURRECTION

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STAR TREK: INSURRECTION. Jonathan Frakes, director. Rick Berman, story, producer; Michael Piller, story and script. USA: Paramount (production and distribution), 1998. 103 minutes.[1][2]

Lower-case "c" classic Star Trek episodes, at greater length and with more sophisticated production values, starting with the anthropological "duck blind" from the Next Generation episode, "Who Watches the Watchers?" (14/16 Oct. 1989), so there is a minor use of the motif of surveillance.[3][4] For the plot, check the Wikipedia entry: as of June 2022, here.[5]

Relevant for this wiki, the culture being observed is a pocket (e)utopia — Good Place — of some 600 non-Terran humans who seem to be pre-Industrial, let alone pre-Warp-Drive. For reasons having to do with the planetary environment, in the cosmic sense, the inhabitants don't really age beyond the prime of life, and older humanoids (e.g., the bridge officers of the Enterprise) get anatomical and physiological repair just being on the surface of the planet. Actually, these people are from a very high-tech culture and have chosen a simple life (think Amish minus the church and facial hair with a kind of hippy-commune aura; insofar as they're a threatened small group, think small tribes displaced — sometimes long distances and lethally — by colonialists). These utopians are contrasted with the Enterprise culture, with Mr. Data as a kind of synecdoche, and with a closely-related people who prolong life technologically. Note a growing friendship between Mr. Data and a very mildly technophobic youngster of the pocket eutopia, with the youngster helping Mr. Data learn about childhood by learning to play. (Members of the audience who grew up with the idea of humans as Homo ludens — "Man, the playing animal"[6] — can see this as another step in Mr. Data's learning to be more human. The Data/child significance also works if one notes that one aspect of our humanity is neoteny: retaining childlike characteristics into adulthood.[7])

The very positively presented (and good-looking [healthy and White]) pocket-utopians are saved by Captain Picard and the Enterprise bridge crew with the aid of such high-tech as Transporter[8] disrupters and advance fire-arms that can take down drones. All together, the film endorses the Federation's Prime Directive of non-interference — except when needed to help nice people and/or to advance the plot — and for appropriate technology kept to a minimum and balanced by being mindful of the "Now" and of a sense of play: attitudes arguably childlike but not childish. And, in a very old motif, taking care with the temptation to immortality.

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Among the high-tech portion of the non-Federation species, note with their longevity treatments the familiar image of the superimposition of the — not mechanical and perhaps not cybernetic but — advanced-technological upon the human. It is their choice, though, to undergo the treatments, but to push a point, one could see these males constrained by their immoderate pursuit of a kind of bodily immortality, with the high-tech treatments a stop-gap measure. (These images include strongly gendered female ... cosmeticians? and could prove useful for studies of sexuality and sexism is SF film. The denouement of the film is an image of one of these people humbly reconciling with his [younger-appearing] mother in the pocket utopia.)


RDE, finishing, 16/17Jun22