Breaking Taboos, A Star Trek Tradition

The one thing Star Trek has always done is cross the boundaries of what is deemed acceptable, like it or not this is what makes this series a true inspiration to everyone, and last night on Discovery that trend continued.

In last night’s episode titled “Choose Your Pain”, we saw Star Trek’s first use of the F-word, now to many this is not an issue, however, it has caused some debate online as to the need for it at all, especially within the Star Trek universe. Now, before we get into that, I want to take a quick glance at the record of things that the writers of Star Trek have tackled in its 51-year history.

 

 

Back in 1968 in the episode “Plato’s Stepchildren”, the crew of the Enterprise respond to a distress call and upon the arrival they find a planet inhabited by a race called the Platonians, after giving them medical treatment the Platonians insist Dr McCoy, must stay as their full-time Doctor. When Cpt. Kirk refuses, the Platonians decide to use their unique psychokinetic abilities to mess with the crew, in doing so they force Kirk and Uhura to kiss. Back in 1968, this would have been a big deal, however, Star Trek decided to cross that boundary and as a result, the episode went down in history as the first onscreen interracial kiss.

The next time Star Trek decided to tackle a controversial issue, it came about in The Next Generation episode “The High Ground”, this episode was about Terrorism, and because of that was banned in some countries, the UK being one of them due to the IRA.

 

Soren stands trial for her love of Riker

 

In Addition, during other seasons of The Next Generation, there were several episodes that would also tackle issues that mirrored real life, in the episode “The Outcast”, setting out on a mission to retrieve a missing shuttle, lost in a spatial anomaly called “Null Space” the crew of the Enterprise help the J’naii in its retrieval. During the episode Cmdr. Riker falls in love with Soren a J’naii scientist, the controversial issue comes about since the J’naii race does not endorse gender specificity, it is seen as taboo to fall in love with a person of gender, and they are branded a deviant.

The Outcast not only tackles, Asexuality, as the J’naii are depicted as a race of one gender, the episode also touches on the cruel and damaging practice of conversion therapy, as due to her love for Riker, Soren is forced to undergo a medical procedure called Psychotectic Treatments, in the hope she is “cured”.

Even though these examples are but a minuscule fraction of the times that Star Trek has touched upon certain issues that, would not only relate to the real world but at their time they would have, and still could be seen as a taboo and cause people to complain about them.

Even though these examples are but a minuscule fraction of the times that Star Trek has touched upon certain issues that, would not only relate to the real world but at their time they would have, and still could be seen as a taboo and cause people to complain about them, I am left wondering is the use of the F-Word really out of place for Star Trek?

Well, the simple answer is no! Swearing in Star Trek is nothing new, it has been used in varying degrees ranging from Damn or Bloody Hell to the more coloured use of words like “Screw You” in the song being played by the punk on the bus in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, to the completely unexpected, yet funny use of the word Shit in the 1994 TNG film Star Trek: Generations, whereas the ship is about to crash land on Veridian III and Data says “Oh Shit”.

 

 

So that brings us to the use of the word “Fucking” in last night’s episode of Discovery, so many people are complaining that the word was shoehorned in to the episode for shock value, but not too unlike Discovery’s Episode 3 title “Context Is For Kings”, it is all about the context.

 

Cadet Tilly and the team have a breakthrough in “Choose Your Pain”

 

The use of the word did not just come out of the blue, it was well positioned and said by a character that has been, not only known for eccentrics but is not as mature as the rest of the crew, Cadet Tilly has shown herself not only to be loveable but lacking in social graces that come from maturity. Nevertheless, the context doesn’t end there, the use of the word was used to describe a scientific breakthrough, and anyone who has worked with a scientist knows, the use of that word is commonplace when someone has a light bulb moment or a breakthrough in something they have been working on.

Consequently, people have been saying, do the shocks end there, what’s next?

Well To be honest the only line that in its half-century-old history Star Trek has not crossed yet! Is full on sex shown onscreen, and even though Discovery is rated TV: MA and is shown on platforms like CBS All Access and Netflix, it may or may not happen, only time will tell. But! If the use of the F-Word causes the uproar it has, it will be a fascinating time to see the potential fall out of that, but one thing is for sure, Star Trek has grown up. 

 

If you haven’t signed up to watch Discovery yet follow the links below to sign up now. 

Discovery Airs on CBS All Access & Space – Sundays and Netflix to the rest of the world Mondays

 


» Pictures: CBS