Archive for future

The Work of The Federation

Discovery, meet Enterprise.

Image courtesy of Cinemablend


As I watched the conclusion of Star Trek Discovery’s first season, one phrase came to mind.

“Do the work.”

I think it’s an overriding thematic element that runs through all Star Trek, but it tends to get ground under discussions of starship physics and alien physiology.  After all, Starfleet and the Federation are supposed to be the utopian, post scarcity-ideal.  They are us, ARRIVED at our best version of humanity.

They did the work.

But static systems, societal or otherwise, are nigh-impossible to create.  The “Golden Era” that we often ogle fondly in hindsight is usually just that, a short-lived blip spanning five to ten years. Often shorter, often well-defined only in the history books, that “best version” only comes around after it’s been fought for, after an ideal has been set and reached for.

You have to do the work.

And the work is not easy, or expeditious and sometimes while in pursuit of an ideal, you’re going to get kneecapped by someone who thinks it’s just too much trouble.  Throughout this season of Discovery we have seen characters who felt that ideal was nice and all, but ultimately unattainable.  It was simpler to get dirty.  It “had to be done”.

It’s not always the right work.

But in the end it didn’t help.  The dirty work that “had to be done” in order to service the utopian ideal did nothing but drag that ideal closer to the trashbin.  It wasn’t until an entire crew put their food down and said “NO”.  Until that crew chose the harder path, the more complicated path, the more HUMANE path that we saw Starfleet’s course righted again.  Starfleet and the Federation headed back towards that utopia that every one of us fans lionizes and holds dear.

This is the way the world….

I had the privilege today to hear a 90 year old newspaper man catch himself using an insensitive term in a pitch and correct himself with grace.  The world did not end.  The ground did not shake.  Everyone in the room took one, very small, step closer to being better than we were before.

The Fashion-Forward Jumpsuit of the Future


Can we discuss the jumpsuit? I’m going to discuss the jumpsuit. For a very long time, and even now in contemporary stories, the jumpsuit has been the default future wear.  I get it, it’s easy. There is a long, established, visual canon of anybody wearing a jumpsuit being from the future (just look at any sci-fi movie from the 80s).

It makes sense for certain professions, right? Most of the time a jumpsuit is a cover-all of some kind used to protect your clothing if you are, say, scraping the coal out of the chimney or painting the walls of an orphanage.  If your characters are working int he bowels of an interstellar freighter, the jumpsuit (or more properly in that case “coverall”) is a good plan.  It makes sense.  As a universal, culture-wide clothing phenomenon, however, it misses the mark a bit.

I can see how the idea of a future society having moved away from trivialities like matching your purse and your shoes or making sure the blacks in your pants and your sweater vest to go together, is an attractive one.  But, I suspect, the people who dress their future societies in jumpsuits have never actually worn one themselves.

Jumpsuits are, perhaps, one of the most inconvenient forms of clothing outside of the vinyl catsuit. Probably easier to wear for men than women, but the logistics of every day bodily functions almost guarantee your jumpsuit being dipped in something nasty before the end of the day.  And don’t tell me that future bathrooms are cleaner than current bathrooms. People are messy. End of story.

Add to this the fact that one size fits all means that it never actually fits anybody.  Leg length, arm length, torso length in your average everyday human is highly variable. There’s not much room for slack in a jumpsuit, it’s almost guaranteed that you will either have to roll up the pants or roll up the sleeves.  Now, granted, in TV shows and movies you have a costuming department that custom-creates these suits for the actors who will be wearing them, so they always “look” fabulous onscreen, but that’s a very one-percent portrayal. Generally speaking your average person doesn’t have the funds or time to have their clothes tailored, so their jumpsuits are going to be ill-fitting and uncomfortable.

Jumpsuits are, in fact, one of my favorite examples of a lack of institutional memory. Every 10 years or so the fashion industry attempts to bring back the jumpsuit. It usually starts in the “Junior Miss” section of one of the major retailers. They look cute on the hanger, they often come in bright colors and a reasonably priced. But they sit there and get moved from the new item rack to the discount rack to the clearance rack in record time.  I’m not sure why they keep trying to bring them back, as even in the jumpsuit heyday they seem to have been a low volume product. It feels like some Junior exec finally got promoted and said “Hey, I just saw Logan’s run! Jumpsuits are the future!”

Our collective fashion consciousness takes one look at the jumpsuit and says “NO”.  Unless we are looking at a Dystopian future where humans are required by law to wear jumpsuits as part of their daily dress, I think the jumpsuit as a future forward fashion trend is a dead end.

And don’t even get me started on pockets.