CVG 2018 Day 2, Part 1 - The Orville Fan Panel

Content Warning: Rape gets brought up in this both this post and in the recording. Where “Cupid’s Dagger” is discussed (approx. minutes 29 through 34 in the audio) in the post will be marked in case you’d rather skip it.

CONvergence 2018 was July 5-8, 2018, 2 months ago now. I had meant to write these posts shortly after CVG ended, but as I’ve explained in previous posts, I have been dealing with broken technology, depression, and other things that have been occupying my time. This year, the theme was “Natural Twenty: Celebrating The First 20 Years Of CONvergence” - for the full archive of all twenty years of CONvergence, click here.

On Friday the 6th, I was a panelist on the following panels: “The Orville Fan Panel” and “When is Star Trek Space Opera?”. For Part 1, I present to you the audio recording of the Orville panel as well as my additional written thoughts about what we discussed. Listen to the raw audio recording here (I am still learning audio editing software - please excuse the sound imbalance and the occasional coughing).

The Orville Fan Panel

Panelists: Michael Zecca (mod), Jeanne Mealy, Laura Okagaki-Vraspir, Walter Parker, Justin Grays

AKA: “The Orville: The Best Star Trek Show On Television Right Now”

Targeted Advertising Works Very Well - I gave The Orville a chance despite the fact that I do not like Seth MacFarlane. As I discussed in my review of the pilot episode, MacFarlane is incredibly transphobic (for example, the Family Guy episode “Quagmire’s Dad”), sexist (the song “We Saw Your Boobs” during the Oscars), racist (the Family Guy episode “Baby Got Black” - especially the song “Thank The Whites”), homophobic, ableist, anti-Semitic, and a litany of other things. Seth MacFarlane is not a great satirist. However, I gave The Orville a chance for three reasons:

  1. MacFarlane knows Star Trek well and has a great love for it. He made a Star Trek fan film as a teenager (and the clip that I could find was not terrible), he was in two episodes of Enterprise as Ensign Rivers, he frequently has Star Trek cast and crew members on his productions, and he brought in many people from Star Trek to work with him on The Orville.

  2. Gene Roddenberry was a highly problematic individual, which is something warrants its own post.

  3. The Orville is well-made Star Trek: The Next Generation fanfiction that shows stories of real people in space instead of bigger-than-life heroes in space.

The best, shortest way that I can describe The Orville to someone who has never seen it before is that Fox paid someone to make TNG fanfiction. Think about it this way: a Star Trek fanboy gets to make Star Trek episodes and puts himself in the captain’s chair. And I’m not saying that it’s not good! It is very good. But it also rings of very good TNG fanfiction (and I actually appreciate that).

Watching the first three episodes of The Orville is rough. So is watching the first two seasons of The Next Generation, the first season of Deep Space Nine, and the first two seasons of Enterprise. In my opinion, Voyager was rough the whole way through, but that was because the writing staff wasn’t opened up to new faces yet, as well as other issues to be discussed on a Star Trek: Voyager post.

If the stars should appear once in a thousand years, how would man believe and adore and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the City of God?
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

If the Stars Should Appear” - “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky” (TOS 3x10) & “The Return of the Archons” (TOS 1x22). Star Trek uses Shakespeare a lot. It’s refreshing to have other classic works used.

[U]nless we encounter help, we are doomed to drift indefinitely. For space is vast and very dark and very lonely.
— Captain Jahavus Dorahl
Many people refuse to accept an irrefutable truth simply because that truth puts them in the wrong.
— Kemka

Captain Jahavus Dorahl is the person whom I called Captain Qui-Gon Jinn - I couldn’t remember Liam Neeson’s name for the life of me. Aside from Emerson and Dorahl having great quotes, there is another beautiful quote in this episode, one that I did not bring up during the panel, one by Kemka. How true that quote is, as well. This episode is one of the deeper episodes - perhaps the deepest episode, when it comes to introspection about what we are and how our environment has shaped us.

The Orville handles religion better than Star Trek, with the exception of Deep Space Nine. It gets the chance to explore religion and how it influences and is influenced by society, which Star Trek was not allowed to do while Roddenberry was alive (and as it gets discussed in the Deep Space Nine Fan Panel, DS9 gets to explore that influence).

I mention that the Krill are the low-budget Klingons; the Klingons from Discovery are not the low-budget Klingons because there is no one type of Klingon. The Klingon Empire is an empire (there is some debate as to how large the Empire is) and with so many planets and space, and the different kinds of Klingons and traditions that we have seen over the years, the Discovery Klingons are just as legit as the other series’ Klingons. The YouTuber EC Henry has a great video about why he likes the Discovery Klingons and how "The Klingon Death Ritual" Doesn't Exist.

Be careful of Rotten Tomatoes ratings - they might not tell you whether or not a show or movie is good. Here is a Vox article about it.

About a Girl” is a very complex episode. The entire subject is very complex - first, we have to recognize that there is a difference between sex and gender: sex is a categorization that is determined by five factors, whereas gender is a social role based off of the sex of a person or their own identification through self-awareness. Second, we have to recognize that sex is a construct (gender is also a construct, but that’s for a different post). I viewed this episode as talking about how the United States (I cannot speak on behalf of the world) treats intersex individuals. I would suggest that everyone check out the Intersex Society of North America and the history behind the intersex rights movement.

When we bring up the J’naii, we are talking about the episode “The Outcast” (TNG 5x17).

Begin “Cupid’s Dagger” Section

Cupid’s Dagger” was a terrible, rapey episode. In short, Darulio removed the ability for several people to give consent or make informed decisions. His pheromones draw people into sexual situations, whether or not they’d normally want it, and they no longer have the ability to accept or decline. It is as if they are intoxicated or drugged - they are forced into wanting it. Furthermore, Yaphit has been harassing Dr. Claire Fynn all season, and should have been reprimanded and possibly removed from the ship for his actions.

It gets suggested that The Orville is deconstructing the sex-pollen trope - I don’t believe this. Also, it gets mentioned during the panel that Liz Heldens wrote the episode and that Jamie Babbit directed it - what doesn’t get mentioned was that MacFarlane effectively re-wrote the script. I believe that a serious story was being attempted and MacFarlane, who should not be allowed near anything that has to do with sex, sexuality, and/or gender, screwed it up.

End “Cupid’s Dagger” Section

A Ship Named Francis” - Honor Harrington reference.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has ships and is one of the seven uniformed services - however, it is a scientific agency. The United States Coast Guard is difficult to get into, is also a uniformed service, and is a branch of the United States Armed Forces - however in peace time, it is a part of the Department of Homeland Security, not the Department of Defense.

Lieutenant Alara Kitan would be a very interesting character, if only they’d explore more of her and her history. We talk more about her dating history than why she went to Union Point, and though we know that she was in a fire with her mother and that her father wants her to return home and get a degree, we don’t know much else than that.

I like Isaac because it lets us question how we interact with human-level AI. There is another YouTuber whom I follow, Isaac Arthur, and he has a wonderful video that explores the uses and dangers of androids, ethical dilemmas with androids, and so forth. Also, look at CVG 2017 - Day 3 and MarsCon 2018 - Day 3 for more discussion about androids and AI.
In short, though, the crew of the Orville find themselves explaining humor, practical jokes, and euphemisms. We discover that one will have to word what they are saying carefully, or else an insult (“what a dick”) will be seen as a compliment or a practical joke will take an extreme turn (the removal of a limb). In daily communication, we give information with no context because as a society, we assume that the other person has the sociological and contextual background to understand what we mean when we say a thing.

What is Classical Music? Wikipedia has an in depth explanation of what Classical Music is, and so I will not repeat it in detail, but the music includes medieval, renaissance, baroque, and romantic music. The lay person tends to agree that Johann Pachelbel, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven are all classical composers, even though they are from the Baroque era, Classical era, and Romantic era, respectively. Who is to say that the Beatles (Doctor Who) and the Beastie Boys (Star Trek) won’t one day be considered classical music? Even now, music from the 1980s is being considered oldies.

Beautiful Starship shots - what I like to call “Starship Porn.” The Orville joins along in this, and has its own humorous take on it. We get it with Kirk & Scott in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Picard & Yar in “All Good Things” (TNG 7x25-26), Kirk & McCoy in the Star Trek reboot, and now Mercer & Malloy get it too.

“When is Star Trek Space Opera?” is the next panel. Taylor Cisco was on it, too.

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