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Spock and Obama, Kirk and Bush

Most people get annoyed when I try to read politics into popular movies, so I'm somewhat relieved that I'm not the first one to notice the Spock/Obama connection made clear in the latest "Star Trek." Such as: both are mixed race, both are logical, both have funny ears and are in love with an African American woman. And "Live Long and Prosper" might just as well be Obama's slogan for his health care and economic proposals. (One of my favorite analyses of this is from ever amusing Debbie Schlussel; eg: "Spock: in real life, he's a Jew; Barack . . . in real life, he's a Muslim." Fun-nee!)

Could that aspect of the film have contributed, however subconsciously, to its warp-sized $76.5 million opening weekend? (Answer: not as much as the $100 million or so marketing campaign or the lemming-like compulsion of Trekkies past and present to go see the film again and again and again...).

At any rate, I feel justified in analyzing the subtext  in "Star Trek" and in other summer movies. Take "X-men Origins: Wolverine," for example. It's not like the filmmakers of that one are trying to sneak their politics by you, what with the character of Major Stryker (played by Danny Huston, replacing the more menacing Brian Cox from the previous episode) with his special ops "Team X" consisting of mutant commandos and given carte blanche to kill anyone anywhere to "defend the country." Sound a little familiar? Stryker is a kind of mix of Dick Cheney (whom Cox actually looks a little like -- Huston looks more like Donald Rumsfeld), Lee Marvin from "The Dirty Dozen" and Dr. Moreau as he takes his mutant specimens to a secret island to transform them into an ultimate weapon. With it he hopes to eliminate threats to the nation before they exist -- his rant justifying this "Pre-emptive strike" policy sounds like it was  plagiarized from Richard Perle.

Which brings to mind a "Star Trek" comparison that I haven't seen many pick up on. What about the resemblance of Kirk to George W. Bush? For example:  Both have dissipated, good old boy (Iowa looks like the Texas of the future) backgrounds that they have to shake off to become respectable leaders. Both have father issues, with both fathers being military heroes whom they begrudgingly want to emulate. But I think the key similarity, and it's what distinguishes Kirk from Spock and Bush from Obama, is that both have a "from the gut" style of leadership and decision-making. When Commander Pike tries to woo Kirk away from his dissolute days and put on a uniform and serve his Federation, he tells him that he's got the kind of seat-of-the-pants, go-for-broke style that Star Fleet Command has been lacking lately.... I guess after two centuries they might have forgotten just what that kind of shit that lind of decider can get you into.

So it would seem that "Star Trek" is praising the new administration at the expense of the previous one. But that notion overlooks the fact that, at least for the most part, Spock is seen as a pigheaded, priggish jerk who is invariably wrong and Kirk as a regular guy who is always right. In the film Kirk's more intuitive strategies of dealing with problems, which the namby pamby rationalizer (or is he relying entirely on reason in his decisions?) Spock dismisses, prove to be correct. So maybe Spock's resemblance to Obama is not necessarily complimentary according to the movie, which appears to be endorsing the macho, shoot-from-the hip style of Kirk/George W.

Or maybe not. I won't give away any more of the story than I have to, but the basic motivation of the villain is not so much revenge as it is to make a pre-emptive strike, through  the plot magic of time travel, to save his own civilization and family. And that backfires even worse than the invasion of Iraq.

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