On “Kirk drift,” the strange mass cultural misremembering of Captain Kirk


Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/04/30/on-kirk-drift-the-stran.html


Wow, that was a struggle to read. The kind of thing the SNL Shatner would say “Get a life!” to, but nowadays that kind of nerd shaming isn’t tolerated.


The disingenuous “we.” “We” are so sexist and “we” are such fools.

You don’t really mean “we” at all. You mean “you.” Pretending to include yourself in the idiots you’re judging doesn’t change the fact that you think you’re judging idiots.



If someone has a different idea of what’s happening on screen even as they watch it then that’s not “misremembering,” it’s “disagreeing.”


That article was unbearably smug, riddled with pseudo-insightful “theory-speak” and at least twice as long as it needed to be to get its point across.

However, given that the pull quote in the blog post was:

I guess I shouldn’t have expected any better.


Well, my mileage does vary, so to speak.


Even the Frankfurt School is namedropped!


Sort of, but I think that would be the elusive “naive view” they spoke of. Their point was that people already have an idea who Captain Kirk is as a memetic construct of popular culture before they even watch it, so there is always a perceptual filter. I agree with this, but I think it is true of pop culture generally and not much different with regards to Kirk.

Besides the pop-culture filter, I think that a lot of sci-fi suffers from a sort of retro-futurism of progressive values. Star Trek and Kirk’s character were I think quite progressive for 1960s US television, but modern viewers get the paradox of a 1960s perspective of the 23rd century. I made a similar observation a few months ago about Heinlein’s novels. There is no reason for their achievements to still appear progressive to 21st century sensibilities.

Back to the topic of the Kirk Drift

I largely agree with the idea behind the essay but the excessive length made me skim a lot of it so maybe it did go off the rails. A general rule of thumb has always been: Sexist Trek? Roddenberry had a strong hand in the script. Quite progressive about women Trek? DC Fontana.

At least the writer hates Fratboy Kirk in the reboots as everyone should.


Evidently “We” have never watched Star Trek right.


I love reading the old Sci Fi (Heinlein included), and was a bit amused to read the phrase “that’s mighty white of you” referring to some kind deed by a denizen of the future. I can’t remember which book it was, but I seem to remember it dated from the early 50’s.

Man, apparently people in the future are also casual racists.



Yeah, everyone knows that the only appropriate color for goodness in the future is…


“Slander and lies! I bid you good day, sir. Let’s go, ladies.”


I’m willing to let that slide, because the knowing “now, this may seem like fatuous nonsense, but actually…” in that paragraph was the nearest the writer ever got to self awareness.


I foresee a tenured position in the author’s future.

Fortunately we have people to tell us how things really are and how wrong we have been all along.


The first time I had that one pointed out to me was when some friends and I were watching Dolemite about 15 years ago, and the corrupt detective tells the minister who is hiding Dolemite that “That’s… mighty black of you, reverend.” So somebody starts explaining the whole “mighty white of you” expression, which I had either never heard before, or had not wanted to consciously acknowledge because it was so wack.



It’s as if Carlyle specifically had Erin Horáková in mind when he wrote this: