Warning: This review will come off angry to some. Maybe it is. Eff it. Time to piss off some so called liberal white women!
First things first.
The more illiterate among us will only see the surface story of USS Callister and say “ha, they are talking about Star Trek. Cool dude!” and leave it at that. If this is you, please leave this article now, nothing past this sentence will make any sense to you. Seriously. GTFO.
The more obvious reading of USS Callister is that it is the perfect story telling mechanism to showcase all of the current drama surrounding sexual harassment, diversity and woman empowerment.
After all, this is a show about human beings, how we live, and how technology weaves into the discussion. Each episode then, tackles many other topics.
Most reviews will talk about how brave and timely the episode is in tackling such a topical narrative. They will champion it and call it brave. However what we see is less a substantial, honest and nuanced discussion, and more a commonly more derivative and ironically tone deaf take on current issues. Where this author would have loved to think that most people are missing the subtext of the episode and that the writers are actually cleverly twisting the story and hiding the real message of fake diversity and white women in power simply looking to replace white men in power, I know I am probably giving them way too much credit. So let’s really delve into what is going on in this episode.
Lets quickly recap with real world context that most see:
The USS Callister = False reality of American remembrance of the “good ole days”
Captain Daly = good ole American leadership
crew: subordinate workers and citizens beholden to their leader
The USS Callister is lead by a confident white male with good hair. His subordinates are nearly all minorities; a black guy, an Indian guy, a black woman, and a white woman. Then of course the other white guy. Who actually comes off gay for the leading white male and thus a minority in his own regard. The setting for this show is also the past, obviously riffing off Star Trek. So digest that for a moment. The so called diverse cast that worships their good guy fearless white male leader. This is what we consider the standard. This is presented as the face that America has prided itself on for years.
However, the facade is then revealed, as we find out the fearless good guy white male is actually a creeper loner unattractive loser with bad hair. None of the diverse hires respect him. This is what we could consider the problem of the present. The creepy sexual harassment allegations across entertainment and politics surrounding mostly slime ball, unattractive white men that are now seen as creeps and are not respected by anyone.
So we see the real world mixed in with the USS Callister reality pulled back:
Daly = actually a misogynistic, insecure, power hungry man child with bad hair stuck in the past
crew: angry, frustrated, scared and hopeless at the state of their lives under so called white male supremacy leadership
Enter the confident white female in Cole. She respects the loser white male for his work. She is presented as intelligent and capable from the get go and most importantly, friendly. She soon learns from another woman that Daly is a creep that should be avoided. Cole represents the change that must be needed to address the problem of the present. And that change comes in the form of a white woman. And this is where it goes bad.
This is important. The question is not why is she is a woman. The question is why is she a white woman? Why not Korean? Why not Iranian? Or Black? Latina? Why is she a white woman? Diversity, amirite? I digress.
VR version of Cole confronts the diversity crew of the USS Callister and wonders why they have not challenged the white male power structure. They tell her they have tried and there is no use. They always fail. They are helpless babes in the woods who have accepted their fate.
But the single white female is determined to right wrongs and fight injustice, and she rallies the diversity crew to work together to defeat white male supremacy. She tricks Cole and destroys his hold on them. This represents the new future, the solution. Which, as we all know, is White women pushing white men stuck in the past, out of leadership positions.
This is also problematic because the crew cannot solve their problem without a new leader that just so happens to be a white woman who is the only one with any solutions. Because white women know that all the diverse people need is some direction from them and then and only then can they be happy in life. Sound familiar? Hell, we even get a blink if you miss it ‘big black penis’ joke in there for good measure. Ah, diversity. Smells good.
They then join a new universe with unlimited potential. But what has truly changed? The diversity hires are still in the exact same positions on the ship, doing the same exact jobs.
The only change is a white woman is now in charge instead of a white woman.
She is now cocky, self assured, different hair style, different attitude and completely in charge, with a diverse crew happily following her into battle. Again, sound familiar?
The irony that perhaps that the show itself does not even realize, is that the end of the show very much resembles the beginning. We have this seemingly happy crew of diversity working together to fight the bad guys. Only now we as an audience are to accept that this end result means the crew of diversity are now truly happy. But in reality, those minorities are still following yet another white person.
Are they really that happy, still in their positions of being subordinates, simply following orders of yet another fearless white leader? Or is this ending really telling us what white women replacing white men in leadership roles believe other minorities will think? It just looks like white supremacy all over again, only with a nice white lady in charge.
Perhaps a better ending would have shown Nate, the black guy, as still uncomfortable with his situation. But that would not be the ending that white women would be comfortable with, right?
The take away:
Fake diversity runs rampant in Hollywood. White women have simply worked to replace white men as the dominant power but are not really interested in diversity. Real diversity would have new people from all walks of life taking on the leadership roles, but inevitably, they are always white people, and in this new future, nearly always white women, and always at the expense of men. White men should be rightfully annoyed with this episode, but so should any non white women, too. Because despite the hurrah women message, this is not about you.
What we really should learn from USS Callister is that whether a white man or a white woman is in charge, your position on the ship will still never change. So pretend to be happy! Yay fake diversity!
— Liz Heron (@lheron) May 20, 2016