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Abrams' New "Star Trek" Loaded with Political Parallels: Kirk as Obama

ReelPolitik By Anthony Kaufman | ReelPolitik May 14, 2013 at 8:14PM

Oops, Hollywood did it again. It seems every big-ticket summer movie these days gets loaded with overt political content. First, it was "Iron Man 3"; now it's the latest "Star Trek" installment. You people sometimes think I make this shit up. But judging from the early reviews, "Into Darkness" is the most obvious popcorn appropriation of international geopolitics since, well, "Iron Man."
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Oops, Hollywood did it again. It seems every big-ticket summer movie these days gets loaded with overt political content. First, it was "Iron Man 3"; now it's the latest "Star Trek" installment from JJ Abrams. You people sometimes think I make this shit up. But judging from the early reviews, "Into Darkness" is the most obvious popcorn appropriation of international geopolitics since, well, "Iron Man."

kirk obama


As L.A. Weekly critic Amy Nicholson writes: "In the opening minutes, Khan terrorizes London, then makes like Osama and flees to the mountains of an enemy planet, causing Starfleet Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller — welcome back, RoboCop!) to make like Dubya and order his assassination, sans trial. Picture Zero Dark Thirty with bright pullovers and laser guns and you'll have Darkness, whose heavy-handed political parallels just might feel smart in a summer of Vin Diesel crashing cars."

"Instead of Jessica Chastain's overrated ice queen, vengeance here will be served by the blubbering James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), who so bleeds his humanity across the Enterprise's deck that it's a wonder Chekhov (Anton Yelchin) doesn't slip. Again, the central conflict is between the captain's swaggering impetuousness and the cold-blooded logic of First Mate Spock (Zachary Quinto)."

According to the Socialist Worker, "Kirk talks about going back to 'who we once were and who we must be again.' It almost feels like he’s replying to the recent Batman and Transformers films that made a virtue out of torture and militarism.."

The review even goes so far to compare Kirk to President Obama. "To make Kirk relevant again Abrams has reinvented him as what he wishes Obama could be. Kirk is an Obama trying to lead a recovery from a time of darkness and defeats."

And if you think critics are over-stating the case, even star Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays the evil Khan, said the film explicitly takes on recent American politics. The British actor told the BBC, “It’s no spoiler I think to say that there’s a huge backbone in this film that’s a comment on recent U.S. interventionist overseas policy from the Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld era.”