Here’s the thing: the new Star Trek is about the reconciliation between Obama and Bush, the same reconciliation which we are, ironically, seeing unfold right now with regard to Obama’s week of moral collapse on the issue of torture. After all, while Spock is clearly Obama, this version of Kirk is just as clearly George W: he’s got daddy issues, he breaks all the rules because of an unwavering faith in his own righteousness, his staffing philosophy is to surround himself with personal friends (rather than examining competence), and, as a young man, he’s a total fuck-up until someone hands him the world on a platter. But it’s not even that he inherits third base and thinks he hit a triple; he defines what a triple is based on his destiny to end up there, such that it becomes fully natural to staff his command crew with people he just sort of came across and to have complete and absolute faith in his own baseless intuitions (“A magnetic storm? Why it’s clearly a Romulon attacking from the future!”).
What is most pernicious, though, is that the movie makes all his intuitions right. The magnetic storm is a Romulon from the future. He is destined to be captain, destined for something great. There is a ticking time bomb scenario where extracting intelligence from a downed enemy combatant saves the fucking day. And his command staff from the future all turn out to be savantish prodigies, with Scotty being the best example: he enters the plot because he has to have invented the equation to transport people at warp speed, except that actually, it has to be handed to him on a silver platter by Spock from the future.
But, then, why shouldn’t Spockbama and James T. Bush reconcile? They have a common enemy: an angry dark-skinned laborer whose ignorance has led him to believe he’s got some grievance against the civilized races of the galaxy and who is now using their own technology against them. And while it is George W. Kirk’s birthright to actually lead the war against these terrorists, Spockbama brings with him a “cultural” knowledge that allows him, at a crucial moment, to extract intelligence from the bad guys allowing them to rescue the hostage without using harsh interrogation methods (since, as the movie reminds us, only dark skinned terrorists use torture!). And more generally, isn’t Spockbama’s narrative arc that of learning his place? Of choosing (three times!) to righteously fight for his white mother against the ethnically marked people on his father’s side? And of transforming that mixed race heritage into a thing that cannot be lived, only preserved and instrumentalized in service of civilization?
Bollocks! But I’m troubled by something just a little different than Adam was, though I fully agree with what he said too. Instead, what bothers me is that the Spock who valued both friendship and cold rationality and who, in his vexed and creative mixedness, transcended the petty limitations of either, is long gone, and the fact that he has been replaced by a façade of Vulcanity covering over an essentially carbon copied version of Kirk’s blustering desire to fight everybody — the appearance of difference obscuring essential continuity in policies — pisses me off a little. Not as much as Obama deciding that it’s all good when it comes to torture, though; that shit pisses me off a lot.