Here’s my latest Write Club piece. I read this idiot thing at the Shakespeare Tavern, which would make both Shakespeare and (more importantly) Patrick Stewart probably cry. Topic: MAN vs. MACHINE. I was assigned “Man.”
Super. Spider. Bat. For these, my beauties, are the heroes. They are man.
The self-identified few who sew themselves into slippery spandex outfits that best convey their noble masculinity. Their lives are guided by a higher power that makes Jesus look like a bit of a shammer. Get it together, Jesus, because Ant Man is armed with a helmet that could control ants, and he maintains the ability to shrink down to the size of insect to become a mystery-solving ant. I hope you’re not both up for the same promotion, Jesus, because you’ve done nothing but create a bunch of mysteries.
And it’s driving both myself, and Ant Man, crazy.
Look. I’m no Ant Man expert. I’m not one of those nerd girls skanking it up on Tumblr making dudes everywhere all hot and bothered pretending to know jack shit (no offense, Jack) about the Avengers. I don’t really know that much about them. I’m not going to sit here and claim to be an Ant Man expert. I wouldn’t insult you like that, nor would I insult the robust and thriving community of Ant Man fans.
You know who you are.
Nay. I am one of those nerd girls skanking it up on Tumblr, and in real life, dropping fucking knowledge bombs when you ask me about things I actually do love.
Like Star Trek. And the book The Physics of Star Trek, by Laurence M. Krauss, whose name I didn’t even have to look up.
I started watching Star Trek: The Next Generation when I was too poor to afford cable, and I had rabbit ears. TNG came on at 6, and being both lazy and complacently addicted to Divorce Court starring the honorable Judge Mablean Ephriam, I just kept the TV on. Like most hideous Americans, I just wanted to watch TV and ignore my intolerable, whiny musician boyfriend while I stuffed my face with whatever was happening for dinner.
At first I thought Next Gen was kind of stupid. Dianna Troy constantly lamenting her headaches, offering no real insight except for the most obvious assertions. Oh, the aliens don’t trust you and seem to be hiding something? Way to fucking go, Nancy Drew. We’re all taking you really seriously in that purple one piece jump suit that so clearly designates that you’re not part of the actual crew.
Wesley Crusher, who, at this point in my life, I basically think is the coolest man in the world, was once 80 lbs of Next Generation-runing pubescence, just bumbling across the screen with his teenager falsetto, declaring his own brilliance and ruining my proverbial boner for the badassery that is the Enterprise.
And then there were what I disdainfully refer to as the “Holodeck episodes.” You know the drill: for some reason, the crew of the Star Trek Enterprise is inexplicably stuck in some bullshit time period because their horribly dangerous fantasy machine is malfunctioning for the 40 billionth time. Our heroes were whisked away to places like the semi-wild west, or the 1940s, where had to watch Patrick Stewart play detective Dixon Hill instead of watching him play a character we actually liked. For some reason, they were in Robin Hood at some point. Don’t get all shitty on me—I know it wasn’t a Holodeck episode, but it felt that way in my heart.
It was like watching Wish Bone with humans.
Despite it’s moments of clunkiness, I slowly came to love the show. And then, I slowly became obsessed. I purchased a chunky piece of literature called The Star Trek Encyclopedia, and I kept it in my car in case I needed it.
Which I didn’t.
I loved Picard for being gentle and decisive. I was obsessed with the tender consideration Data gave humanity, and that humanity gave him. Even Riker’s 90s swagger did something for me. Crusher and Polaski and Yar were ladies people called “sir,” and who were weirdly un-sexualized in a landscape of vacant, dripping, anorexic models and coked up Calvin Klein child porn ads.
In the end, this was a show about man, and, despite Dianna’s stupid dear-eyes, it was a show about women too. I love the Enterprise. A ship thundering across the screen and gloriously reminding me of the way I feel when I look into the universe, and of the possibilities there.
Our heroes demonstrate that humans aren’t just gritty, selfish creatures clawing our ways towards death, fucking and killing and accelerating entropy. We’re the ones who define the universe. We’re the ones sticking to our guns and yelling THERE ARE FOUR LIGHTS at our enemies, because we can stay unbroken in moments of weakness.
Because we are human, and we are brave.
We can sew ourselves into Spider-based outfits, fight crime, and kiss women upside down.
We can dress like a bat and futilely try to avenge our dead parents. I’ve always been extremely attracted to Batman, but when I really think about it, I feel like he’d be worse in bed than Spiderman. I think, actually, he’d be pretty disengaged, like maybe he’d be fixated on his dead parents while I tried to impress him by stripping to “Bad Girls Do It Well” by MIA.
I figure if this piece is about man, I should probably talk specifically about how I’d seduce Batman if given the opportunity.
And, so: I love humanity for inventing heroes, and Watchmen, and the TARDIS, and sci fi, and for literally putting robots on Mars, and for inventing the Large Hadron Collider, and jello shots. And jean shorts.
We are fucking excellent.
And what is machine but an aggressive, physical and profound announcement that we won’t be limited by our failing flesh?
What is machine but a reflection of man?