Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Borg

The family has been watching Star Trek Voyager, and we recently watched an episode from Season 6 entitled "Child's Play." At this point in the series, the crew of Voyager has liberated four children of various races from the Borg, and Seven of Nine has been assigned to look after the children and help them adjust to life on Voyager.

For those who are not Star Trek fans, I should explain that the Borg are a collective of humanoids who are mentally linked, technologically-enhanced, and constantly assimilating more species in order to add to their biological and technological "perfection." In short, after being essentially a half-robotic bee in a hive, it's hard to learn to think and act as an individual. That is Seven of Nine's story arc, and at this point in the story, she's trying to be a governess, because that's part of every woman's evolution, right?

Sorry--it's easy to fork off into feminist diatribes when discussing women in Star Trek.

There's a main plot to this episode, which is interesting, but what caught my attention was the side plot in which Seven of Nine is shown interacting with the children. She has learned that children need a variety of activities in order to thrive, including opportunities for education in multiple subjects and frequent play periods, and so she has scheduled exactly that, down to the minute.

It's meant to be funny, and it is--this idea that a Borg who is an expert in astrometrics and hand-to-hand combat and engineering doesn't understand play--but in 1999 it was only that. Now, it seems so much more. It seems like a parody of our educational system.

In 1999 it seemed like only a Borg could be so ridiculous as to think that all children needed was lessons that could be quantified. It seemed like only a Borg would think that every second of a child's time could and should be scheduled. That only a Borg would expect children to have fun in prescribed ways. And all of those ideas are meant to be utterly ridiculous--the comic relief in an episode about ethics, culture and the essence of parenthood.

What have we become?

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