Saturday, March 22, 2008

Captain Kirk and the Cowboy Hero Coming of Age

- from Star Trek Inspirational Quotes

I was listening to the Make It So
podcast, and was reminded how truly ridiculous a character the original Captain James T. Kirk is. Gallavanting around the galaxy, romancing any number of alien women, dressing in all manner of mid-to-late-20th century garb, and generally, kicking ass and taking names.

Let's zoom ahead a few years to the end of the film series.

How do you reconcile a reckless, dashing hero of a TV character, with a film series that takes place some number of years later. The actor is clearly older, and there is an expectation of some sort of gravitas. In short, what happens when the gallavanting cowboy comes back on the scene, to find himself a middle aged grownup.

He takes a job that he probably shouldn't have, and sees other people doing the job he always loved. He breaks the rules, he meets a son from his wild oat sowing days, and ultimately, he finds himself demoted-- bumped from Admiral down to Captain, the job that Spock described in Star Trek II as his "first, best destiny."

Patrick Stewart's Jean-Luc Picard is cut of a much different cloth. His career ups and downs have far less peaks and valleys over the course of his respective film tenure. But despite Stewart's awesomeness, there is something in Kirk's impudence, and his flaw, that is appealing.

Foremost of which, is the notion that you can make the wrong turn, at some point in your career. Even if that turn is advancement, that may well not be you. Like my disagreement with the mug that says you can create who you want to be, Kirk can't escape being Kirk, he can't escape being the space cowboy, and when he resists, he finds himself the lease happy.

Pressfield's The War of Art argues a similar case. You do not choose and create yourself to be whatever you like. Whatever it is you are meant to do, or be, is likely already a part of you and your skill set. It may take some doing to determine what exactly that is, but even from a matter of effort-- why bother creating yourself, when it'd just be so much easier to do what you are most inclined to in the first place.

Like commanding a starship, and having an inability to hear any other voices-- over the sound of how awesome you are.