Star Trek: Exploring Emotion Through Non-Emotion

4:25 PM


 I love Star Trek a lot. Not all of Star Trek, but a lot of it. I have to say one of the things that I love the most about it is that the creators and writers knew how to tell a good story. In my humble opinion, Gene Rodenberry was one of the greatest film storytellers ever. He knew how to introduce casts of characters that people could easily connect with. 

Two of the most loved characters in the series are Spock and Data. Spock is the half-Vulcan half-human first officer in the original Star Trek Series. Data the android on Next Generation. While I could spend a lot of time analyzing these two characters, I'm going to talk about how brilliantly they were used to explore emotions through their non-emotions. 

There are many times we have all wished our emotions would just go away. We have loved and those feelings aren't returned. We get angry and are afraid of what we will do if the feelings aren't ripped out of us. We are sad and just want the internal pain to go away. These two characters do not have the same emotions as humans, so the technic of contrast is used to explore emotion. 

Spock struggles and experiences emotion, but also fights against it. I personally think that this is why he is a wildly popular character. His battle with his emotions is something we all face. My sister Rose (who doesn't like Star Trek) has told me a couple of times that I act like I'm a Vulcan in training. Translation: I tend to stuff my emotions. 

Data, being an android, does not experience feelings at all. He is often baffled by other's emotional outbursts. He also longs to experience emotion and often experiments with acting like he has emotion.

Because there is an absence of emotion in both these characters, we quickly feel the lack. One of my favorite episodes that shows this is when Data tries to enter into a romantic relationship with a girl who thinks his lack of emotions and willingness to learn will be an asset. Of course, Data's lack of emotion quickly becomes an issue. Yes, he doesn't get angry and wants to please, he also doesn't get excited, feel affection, or burn with desire. He simply finds the whole thing very interesting. We quickly see how important emotion is in a relationship. You want someone who can laugh and cry with you, someone who feels affection, and (at the right time) desires you.

As for Spock, I think the episode that really showcases a classic use of his lack of feeling is Bread and Circuses, which is my absolute favorite episode of the original series. Captain Kirk, Spock, and Dr. McCoy are on a planet that is technologically contemporary with the show (late 1960's) but is living under a Roman rule and has televised galdiaor fights. Now, in this episode, these free have to face fighting for their lives and Spock is faced with the fact that Kirk might be killed at one point while trapped in a jail cell. Spock keeps trying to find a weakness in the cell while McCoy goes on about Spocks lack of emotion. Finally, Spock stops and turns to face McCoy. In that moment McCoy realizes that Spock is worried about Kirk but he is not showing emotions. 

Honeslty, I think Spock (ecpscailly in this episode) is a great example that not all people show their feelings openly. Some people have feelings but cannot express them like the rest of us who are "normal". 

I probably could go on and on about the subject, but I'll leave you to ponder this.


Content notes: Immodesty is a constant in the Bread and Circuses episode as well as mild violence, and a some inuendo. Star Trek episodes vary in their content form episode to episode and should be watched with decernment. I don't recommend either series for young people or sensitive viewers. 

You Might Also Like

1 comments