“I command your respect, not the other way around.”
No matter the gender, that’s a bad attitude for command, and it’s a bad attitude on several levels. As much as regulations attempt to command respect through the use of customs and courtesies, it doesn’t much work. Subordinates will work for slavedrivers, but they’ll just as often skate and do the bare minimum since they don’t feel respected themselves. “Commanded” respect is barely real respect at all in general, and put into the greater context it suggests that respect is not necessary if it isn’t commanded.
The real-world example I’m thinking of is Captain Bligh of HMS Bounty. That’s right, the one with a mutiny. Bligh was a past-master expert at seamanship (which is how he got his raft back home), always factually correct, and arguably even less severe with his crew (with regards to punishment) than was the standard in the Royal Navy of the time. Thing is that by having no charisma and approximately zero respect for the crew, he could neither inspire nor command respect.
One then has to point out that, objectively, the mutineers had it pretty good on the Bounty and were mostly selfish morons – many of which died at each others hands in their white chieftain paradise. Which brings us to the real point: Why are so many people discussing Barrett and her attitude as opposed to the entitlement and lunacy of five of her crew who endangered the rest of the ship based on different, irrational motivations? Ignoring the statistical likelihood of your bias is not so different from the mutineer’s belief in an unlikely, enemy ship.
Statistics comment on populations, not individuals. Using statistics to comment on the individual is stereotyping. I’m trying not to take the mention personally, but I don’t appreciate it. I’m not going to be talking about “ethics in games journalism” anytime soon.
I can’t comment on why other people think the way they do; I’m not them. I find Barrett’s ‘command’ grating–just like most Starfleet Commodores, who were either incompetent (which Barrett is not, barring getting within knife-fighting range of a small boat which we’ll grant for drama’s sake) a la the starbase engineering bloke or treated their subordinates like assets to be expended a la Decker or straight up jerks like the guy from The Ultimate Computer–because authority based purely on “respect /my/ rank” and competence breaks down the instant incompetence is shown. Demanding–or even merely /appearing/ to demand, a la Jellicoe–one-way respect is inherently counterproductive to a commanding officer.
The mutineers actions, in both cases historical and fictional, are /understandable/ but not /justifiable/. That the mutineers are going off half-cocked I take as a matter of course and I see no point in commenting on them. Pointing out the heels of a story as heels adds no value.
I suppose, upon reflection, that my motivation for ragging on Barrett is that she should be /better/, or rather that I’m disappointed in her attitude. It’s that attitude as displayed and/or interpreted, plus my experiences with officers both direct and second-hand, that inform my opinion–not, to my personal understanding, gender. I fully admit that, since this is in the format of an anthology, we don’t have all the information and so there are dogs that aren’t barking. I’ve only got what I’ve got ‘on the screen,’ as it were, and my own background, and that’s the judgment call I’m making.
Even if I was being sexist (let’s get the word out in the open here), it would serve no purpose to point out that my criticism is motivated by sexism. The motivation of a statement does not influence the truth value of a statement–if I think she’s a bad officer, point out what makes her a good officer. If I think she’s a bad officer, don’t deflect by pointing out that the mutineers were, on the whole, bad crew (since you’re not going to get any disagreement from me). It’s quite possible we’re just using different metrics of “good” and “bad,” and that’s fine.
I think you’re creating a false dilemma. My thinking bias may play a part in people’s judgement of Barrett doesn’t mean I think they (or you) are #gamergate members. Statistics used against superficial criteria like skin color or gender is stereotyping. But using it when dealing with certain key words and behavior like “attitude” and “grating” is relevant. I’m not here to tell you outright Barrett is a good captain or not. I can state facts and make comparisons to “good captains”. She hasn’t done anything many other male hero captains haven’t done in the past. Neither Kirk nor Picard have ever known the names of the lower ranks or even some officers (Space Seed, Hollow Pursuits). Her only real mistakes were an off-color joke to her XO – Kirk has made a few shameful remarks in the past including some nonsense about his female officers leaving the service to have babies (Who Mourns for Adonais) – and her inability to stop when she was ahead while berating her misbehaving crew. If we’re to judge her on that then I’d have to ask: under the stress of a burning hot ship that is hours away from blowing up what exactly would you say to a bunch of clearly stupid people? Kirk did not do as well in Corbomite Maneuver when McCoy threatened to report him in his medical logs. That was an episode where he is pressuring a lieutenant, shows him little mercy, ignores a warning from an unknown alien, and almost gets the ship destroyed. This follows on the heals of Where No Man Has Gone Before where Kirk doesn’t even bother scanning the barrier before insisting they enter it despite yet another warning to not proceed. You can say that we know little of Barrett but her failures, but we know equally little of Kirk’s successes when these two episodes air. Where No Man is only a win in so far as the ship is saved. Corbomite is a success only in that Kirk comes to terms with Baily. We don’t know the ending of Basis of Proof, but we do know that Barrett and Das understand each other in a way they did not before.
I can find men’s attitudes quite grating as well.
All of your counterexamples make the presumption that /they’re/ good officers (or, for that matter, that I am, with the “what would YOU do” canard). Kirk is a headstrong 1800s frigate captain who never met a rule he couldn’t break (he effectively /conquered/ Sigma Iotia for the Federation, after all) and most certainly in the early series only stayed in command through brazen luck. Picard’s quite a bit better, and a thousand people is well outside of Dunbar’s number so as a baseline human there must be some forgiveness for not knowing everyone’s names. This being said, he also had an uncanny knack for getting commands shot from under him.
Being the designated face of the story does not a good officer make. Being a “good captain” is generally an informed virtue anyway, since by hook or by crook the heroes “win” by some metric unless Greek tragedy is involved somehow.
I’ve got my opinion as an unimportant reader, based on my metrics; you’ve got yours as a creator, based on yours. I think we’ll have to leave it there.
I can only take you at your word, but most people don’t ever use the words “grating” or “attitude” in relation to men just as “thug” has it’s specific demographic target. You would certainly agree, no matter what you seem to think of Captain Kirk, no one’s ever referred to him as “grating”.
If you’re a Picard fan I can probably cite a million examples of him being pompous, cold, aloof, and condescending. He is good to his immediate officers, but he has zero interest in fraternizing with them (no poker night) and actively avoids the parts of the ship where he’ll run into the lower ranks. Hell, the biggest tell that Picard’s doppelganger exposed in Allegience was that he showed up in Ten Forward and was *gasp* sociable. He can’t even reprimand Sonya Gomez in Q Who for drinking chocolate over the most important consoles on the ship because he’s too busy awkwardly extracting himself from her. Riker has always been presented as the ideal, likable and competent CO.
It’s not my contention that the protagonist of any story is particularly good at what they do and likable in the least, but I am very interested in the focus on Barrett and the unique language used to describe her. I’d have to be dense not to be.
As Major Winters put it, “We salute the rank not the man.”
But you’re right Tim. Demanding respect without giving it is the sort of thing that doesn’t turn out so well, as we see.
Enlisted people are not impressed into service or draftees. They know their jobs, generally more specifically than the more generalized wider skill-base of the officers they serve under.
We could substitute Christopher Pike for Barrett in this story, leaving most of the captain’s dialog intact, and a ton of the criticism you guys have been spewing about Barrett would vanish.
Pike was only really cold towards the new Yeoman, after losing his old Yeoman who was his best friend since academy.
We don’t hate Spock because he’s a cold bastard. But I bet you Spock wouldn’t do the “You are stupid grunts” or have an attitude of “Enlisted people are kind of stupid”.
That’s what’s gotten people’s danders up.
But hey you get 75 points for trying to use the sexism card I guess.
I don’t think you need to get offensive. Your opinion on the topic has been balanced and nuanced. What Moeskido is referring to are people who are outright calling Barrett a bad captain and that has a lot to do with statistically proven gender bias. Because, as I’ve said a few times, other than her outright, private admission that she doesn’t mach care for the enlisted, she hasn’t done anything other hero captains haven’t.
Quite right, that was unbecoming of me.
It is unfair to assume that the dislike is related to Barret’s gender, though.
But the barb in your direction was likewise unfair.
I wonder what the inquiry will have to say on this whole affair.
With the Hood, Defiant, Intrepid, and Constellation gone there are only nine (or eight) big ships left in the fleet. Whether you can blame this incident on her or not, I don’t think she would get another one of those when there are so many other officers in line who haven’t lost a command. A smaller vessel, maybe, but a star ship? Probably never again.
TV show logic of Trek says her career would be fine, then again she never saved the universe, the galaxy, let alone the Federation, now brought Voyager home, and it is questionable how much she did to really save her captain even if she did well that one time. At the very least, despite the mini-mutiny she only lost one crewman, the ringleader, and presumably will have saved the majority of her crew. That should count for a lot in the eyes of Starfleet, especially with all the issues stemming from an ambush, even if I believe there were measures she could have taken to foil that attack.
It is also very easy to imagine the show having the ship rebuilt from the secondary hull, even if it seems excessive.
Well she did come in right on the attacking ship’s backside, but then I expect Cruiser Captains are expected to be a bit ‘aggressive’. Gotta be bold.
But the attempted(?) Mutiny, if it’s logged somewhere is one things that ends to make Captains and Admirals go “Tut tut”.
And yeah, losing a ship…or mostly losing a ship tends to be bad for one’s career.
Then again Starfleet is weird, in that any Admiral or Commodore can hop aboard and take command to go fight some planet-eating space monster despite the ‘Captain’ being the one legally on the books as the one in actual ‘Command’ of the ship.
She’s a good Captain, though. I mean she was Pike’s XO and he comes across as a bit of a hardass too.
I think she’s just too used to being the XO, the “one that the crew hate” because the CO has to be beyond reproach.
Atleast that’s the impression I get from the bit about the crew just ‘getting used to her command style’ and her having to replace the previous Skipper who had died.
A saying passed onto me from someone whose uncle served in the submarine corps: the Captain should be loved, the XO should be feared. Obviously there are exceptions to this, but it seems to be a good mix for current long range missions, and generally is the kind of model that Star Trek has followed.
I feel like Barrett is perhaps still getting used to not being an XO anymore, because she acts very much like the kind of officers my friend’s uncle talks about. The other comparison that comes to mind is that of an army captain, with the culture there being very different.
That said, the fact is that Calhoun was quite obviously not fit to serve on the Hood in the first place. And as poetic as it was to have Calhoun disappear off in search of his alien ship, his safety was still her responsibility. Overall, I’m not entirely sure where I come down on her as a Captain as she is now. But as far as the fleet goes, there’s no question that the fault, if there is any to be found, ultimately lies with her.
Well, when the shit hit the fan, this captain wasn’t leading the crew. Plainly many of the surviving crew already believed she considered them fodder to be used up. Her uncaring observation of the shuttle destruction highlighted that clearly.
Claiming that she commands the crews respect doesn’t make it so. It is not so when even a ‘minor technician who sees spirits’ can overcome the crew’s ‘respect’ for their captain and lead them over her objections.
She needs to personally validate the crew as a whole or the crew won’t validate her as their leader.
And that’s her problem.
I do wonder how it is, Officers go from ‘shut-up-and-listen-to-what-the-senior-enlisted-person-says-because-please-god-don’t-let-me-screw-up’ to ‘You-will-respect-me-by-god-or-I’ll-give-you-bollucking-you-won’t-soon-forget’.
I do wonder if they get to starbase, someone has told the incident…and the mutineers get punished but the inquiry balls her and the XO out for letting this happen?
I mean aside from Fleet letting any jackass with more rank take command of a ship, the perscribe to the “Your monkeys, your circus, your problem”
Anything is the Captain’s fault, regardless of whether they were on watch or not. That’s why there’s so much trust and responsibilty placed in the hands of being a Skipper.
How should she have reacted the shuttle exactly? Also, by “most of the crew” you mean “five”.
True. Only five completely disregarded her authority in person.
But, her first officer was worried about her crew ‘transitioning’ to her ‘command style’ and the possibility of the captain losing something if the crew believed she didn’t have ‘faith in their abilities’.
Perhaps the captain could have convened a panel of experts to advise her how to react to the shuttle deaths or published a ‘full report in two hours!’ Maybe she was waiting for ‘solid proof’ that having any kind of reaction was better than marking a check box on a report.
Still, you’re right, most of the crew was working the problem & not wondering whether the CO thought they were fodder or not.
I get she wants solid proof. Her backstory, if I remember is she trained on Vulcan…or just has one of those sorts of personalities.
But in regards to command, it’s better to do something and be wrong than simply do nothing.
Not quite sure who said that.
Also, will we see more of species what with not being restricted to live action or having to animate? Gorn, more “starfish aliens”? I love that the CHENG is a…umm…whatever species he is.
One of Cheng’s species appeared in one of the movies, and I believe he is a Mopyrobofacoid. I would love to see a ship and crew from his civilization.
She is right in that respect and she is justified in being pissed off.
But I do hope this doesn’t get swept under the rug. This mind of conflict is galvanizing and makes for mpre interesting reading than a crew that adores their CO.
I like the character of Captain Barret, her attitude rubs me the wrong way, but thats fascinsting as well. Even the Maquis were snuggle-buddies with Janeway before the first episode was over.
I hope this incident of the crew being…disobedient and these niggly grating conflicts raise their ugly head again. It’s oddly refreshing to see them have quibbles and conflicts lf personality.
Also, where was the COB in all this? Shouldn’ he/she/it have given these crewmen a bollocking before it got this far?
And this isn’t just a male Captain thing.
I liked Picard more than Kirk in the sense that Picard was a better “Captain”.
I liked nBSG because, problems or not, they had faults and issues and idosyncracies anf bitched and moaned.
But in the end, they sucked it up and got on with it.
But nor did they always get away with their frak-ups. The fact that they got bit in the arse was refreshing too.
Same reason I liked Babylon 5 too. Conflicts, past screw ups, and having to own up.
Barret might not formaly punish the mutineers (I’m guessing she won’t even do a Captain’s mast..) but boy howdy are their lives going to be a living hell…probably make them *want* to transfer, that way the onus of dismissal is not on her.
I didn’t see the episodes of TNG with Jellicoe…I think it was.
But apparently he was recieved just as poorly as Barret. But hey. It’s good to have galvanizing characters.
I mean we all love to hate on Commander Ferretf—Maddox,even if the whole Officer plus years in starfleet plus promotion recomendations from Divsion Heads, XOs and Captains and only now trying tp figure out of he’s sapient/sentient?
Man, they really could have done that episode so much better.
Or maybe I’ve been spoiled by JAG.
I liked Jelico, actually. A lot. Everything he did was within reason and his mission succeeded. Riker was just being pissy because he didn’t get the seat in Picard’s absence.
It took me a long time to get a handle on the Jellico episodes, and nothing he asked was impossible, the only issue was the staff not being used to operating in a stricter environment, the captain making decisions without first hearing options from the staff, and running things at the edge of capability. Riker wasn’t actually resistant, his primary issue was being used to working things out optimally, in what ever time they take, then implementing them, unless it is an immediate life and death situation; he also likely never had to report back to Picard that something was done, Picard likely assumed it would get done when needed once an order was given. The only time Riker really has a hissy fit is when Jellico refuses to blow the diplomatic talks in order to get Picard back, by admitting Picard was ordered into Cardassian space.
This strip hits that kind of neither-side-is-wrong aspect, although, maybe with more of everyone-has-a-point.
I didn’t know the COB position before now. Maybe they died in the saucer.
Have we ever SEEN a COB on Star Trek?
Well we had O’Brien. He was SNCO of the station.
That’s sort of the Chief of the Boat.
And he was a mentor for Julien..of course Julien not being a Line Officer, he could afford to be all “Bugger the obey-my-rank-stuff, I see vaginas, penises and cloacas for a living…rank isn’t a big deal. Lets go have a beer!”
I agree, her disagreeableness has made the situation and her far more interesting. But, if she learns from this situation, all the better, since learning to do better and getting along are Trek principles. It is also unlikely she will get punished, considering how lenient Starfleet can be about things like ship destruction and Prime Directive violations, what’s a little mutiny, right?
It was easy to overlook, but you’re right, there is a distinct lack of the lower officers handling things. Calhoun talks to the XO and she fail in assuaging his fears; honestly not surprising given his characterization. Outside her and the captain we don’t read or see any other officers trying to manage morale, although, seeing more of that probably wouldn’t add to the story. Either way it all comes back to the captain being responsible for how the ship is run and for what happens from that.
Look. No sweat. 😉
Just an aside. Back in the late ’70’s, the Captain of the salt water enterprise would play football with the crew. He was one of the quarterbacks. If he called good plays and threw well; his team won. If he got sacked; he landed on his butt. He was well respected. That was his style. There are others.
She doesn’t seem to understand that attitude makes her a poor captain. A captain needs to respect the crew under her command, and treat them like people, not machines. The crew carries out the captain’s orders. If they lose respect for their captain, the ship can’t function. Respect goes both ways.
Honestly, the Kirk/Picard command style is more a product of needing a likable leading man than reality. Very few leaders, military or industry, even know who’s running about below decks, nor do they care. Also worth a read.
Don’t you want your leading woman to be likeable? If not, you’re doing a great job. If a male captain acted like her, he’d be an incompetent jerk, and I’d say so. Still a good comic though, and I admire your draftsmanship of the star ship and shuttles, very nice.
Likability is subjective and very different from competency. Just like disliking someone is very different from endangering a ship of 430 to spite them. The joy of a one-off is that you can have this conversation instead of trying to instantly endear the audience to your lead.
Respect the rank, not the person.
Hah! She’s got no place to be saying that, still an awful Captain in the grand scheme of things.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Notify me of new posts by email.