Ask Dayton 48 – That’s when you know you’re doing it right
Star Trek is famous for its unique presentation and commentary on social issues, holding them in plain sight for the viewer while cleverly cloaking them behind the funny foreheads, cheesy special effects, and most importantly, slinky silver mini-dresses. As the lord-protectors of all Trek lore, what advice can you offer to the budding Trek writers out there that want to infuse their scripts and fanfics with biting social commentary along with their gratuitous phaser fights and Kirk/Orion/tribbles sex scenes?
How do keep our opinions from sticking out like giant golden space cows?
How can we help avoid unintended messages from overriding and contradicting the central themes?
TELL US, oh great wise one!
P.S. – What does a girl gotta do to get a shout-out these days? There was a time once when all we had to do was bat or tempt a podcaster with a burlesque dance or two. When did it all becomes such hard work?
And Dayton, passing up another opportunity to best Getty once more, having the Captain Kirk woo the blue haired babe of the week while Ensign Minecci III takes yet another arrow to the knee? For shame, sir, for shame!
Anyone who’s been watching Star Trek for any decent length of time knows that it’s made a habit of commenting on various social and political issues. That’s one of the things Gene Roddenberry hoped to do from very early on. Yes, it’s true that Star Trek hasn’t always been subtle, or even effective, in conveying whatever message a particular episode tried to take on, but I still give it points for trying. Can Star Trek still do that? Oh, hell yes, particularly when considering that many of the issues the various series have tried to address over the decades are still with us. You know, the classics: Racism, sexism, civil liberties, self-determination and the power of the state over the individual, just to name a few.
When you decide your story, whether it’s a Star Trek tale or something else entirely, is going to take on something like that, you have to figure that you might just raise some hackles somewhere along the way.
My response to that, usually, is: So fucking what?
Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s only natural to want to write the sort of stuff other people want to read, but it’s not your job to make them “happy.” Besides, if you’re doing your job right, and someone’s happy, then somebody else likely will be angry with you. It’s impossible to ever make everyone happy, so are you going to worry about pleasing one group at the expense of the others? Which one? For how long? What will have to happen to make you decide it’s time to start ego-stroking another group? You can’t win. So, you don’t worry about suppressing your opinions, and if you’re looking to say something, then you figure out how to make it an organic part of the narrative, rather than “overriding or contradicting the central theme.”
You write for you, and that means writing what you want to write, the way you want to write it. It’s your job to entice everybody else to read what you’ve written, whether it makes them happy, sad, scared, aroused, or just flat honked off. Maybe you’re lucky and you can do all of that at the same time. I’ve had people tell me a book of mine was an escape from a shitty day, or a nice way to wind down after spending time on a convoy avoiding IEDs in Afghanistan. At the same time, I’ve had people tell me my writing is an affront to the written word. Do you know I’ve been called a right-wing whack-job and a liberal commie bed-wetter from different people talking about the same book? How that even happens, I don’t know, but I must be doing something right, if I managed to irritate people across such a broad political spectrum.
If you piss off somebody, then so be it. Some people may be a tad unhappy with you, while others will be flat pissed off at you. Shit happens. They’ll get over it. Or, maybe they won’t. Perhaps they’ll even write a terse e-Mail full of SENTENCES WRITTEN IN ALL CAPS explaining how they’re vowing to NEVER READ ANOTHER WORD YOU WRITE SO LONG AS EITHER OF YOU CONTINUE TO DRAW BREATH.
Then they’ll do it again some time down the road when they read something else of yours. Welcome to the writer’s life.
As for shout-outs, what are you looking for? While others might not be swayed by the promise of a burlesque dance or two, I’ll state for the record here that I’m a dude who harbors no such problems on that point. Dance away. Got pics? Pics, or it didn’t happen.
And regarding that last bit with Ensign Nick suffering yet another in a long series of bad days, what can I say? Some days you’re the captain, and some days you’re the red shirt stepping on the exploding rock.
Sucks to be the red shirt, yo.
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He is the co-owner of Busy Little Beaver Productions and is the producer and co-host for G & T Show and Gates of Sto’vo’kor. He’s directed voice actors, and produced and edited audio podcasts and dramas because he doesn’t have the face for video. He plays well with others and is always on the look out for the next project, the next thing, the next next. If he wasn’t working on something with a half dozen other projects waiting in the wings, somebody please check to make sure he’s still breathing.
During the day, he’s a mild-mannered computer repair man who dabbles in web design in his small, rural, Central California community. He lives with his lovingly dysfunctional family and loyal canine companion and spends most of his time in the closet concocting some hair-brained scheme or another. He’s got an unhealthy obsession with Lego video games, Klingons, and Star Trek Online that borders on the neurotic.
Despite all this, he still finds the time to write the words. Find out what he's doing here.