jaylee_g: (Shatner as Kirk)
posted by [personal profile] jaylee_g at 06:00pm on 04/12/2011 under , ,
An in-depth analysis on James T. Kirk from both universes...

~*~*~*~*

"The greatest danger facing us is ourselves, an irrational fear of the unknown. There is no such thing as the unknown - only things temporarily hidden, temporarily not understood." ~ Jim Kirk, 'The Corbomite Maneuver'

"No wants - no needs? We weren't meant for that. None of us. Man stagnates if he has no ambition, no desire to be more than he is." ~ Jim Kirk, 'This Side of Paradise'

"Without freedom of choice, there is no creativity. Without creativity, there is no life." ~ Jim Kirk, 'Return of the Archons'

"We show them compassion-- it may be the only way to earn peace with Romulus.It's logic, Spock! I thought you'd like that." ~ Jim Kirk, 'ST:AOS'

*~*~*~*

The above quotes, to me, pretty much sums up the character of James T. Kirk. And also sums up my endless fascination with him. He is a firm believer in the quest for knowledge. He's normally, as a general rule, open-minded going about it, and the only trait of his that can rival his intelligence are his passions.

It's interesting to me that he is either thoroughly loved or generally disliked by Star Trek fans, even amongst those who ship him with another character. So I'll just be openly honest and frank here at the beginning of this post and admit I am one of the former. I adore Jim Kirk, and, as someone who has an endless fascination with psychology, I've always tried to examine why. What is it about this character that speaks to me? Why have I imprinted on him so thoroughly?

A friend I've known since high school is a huge TNG fan (so am I for that matter) and we used to engage in the infamous Kirk vs. Picard debates all the time when we were younger. And while I love Picard a whole hell of a lot, and think Patrick Stewart a wonderful actor, my loyalties had already been set before the first episode of TNG aired. I remember going to see 'Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan' and 'The Search for Spock' with my family at the drive-in movie theater wearing footie pajamas and fighting with my older brother over the last red vine. Those are the memories that stick with you. Anyway, I digress, so back to these friendly debates, I remember, one day, my friend turned to me, exasperated, and stated "Kirk is sooo arrogant. It's like he thinks he's god's gift to the galaxy."

At the time I just snorted and said something along the lines of "And you think Picard is NOT arrogant?!" As an adult and someone whose joined the workforce and have had enough bosses to form more educated conclusions, my answer would be different, but also kind of the same.

A good leader needs strong self-confidence. Especially one in charge of a ship where the lives and deaths of his crew weighs in the balance of his decisions. In other words, you have to make snap decisions and you have to make them fast and you have to the confidence to not only make these snap decisions but to have faith that they're are the right ones. Being wishy-washy can get you, and your crew, killed.

"If I have the belief that I can do it, I will surely acquire the capacity to do it, even if I may not have it at the beginning." ~ Mahatma Gandhi

I think we can all agree that Kirk is a very tenacious character. He doesn't give up, no matter the odds, and he's more than willing to play hard ball to get his way. Or put on his best poker face. The Romulan Commander in the TOS episode "Balance of Terror" said this of Kirk's skill at strategy: "He is a sorcerer, that one"... which might have something to do with the fact that Kirk handed the guy's ass to him on a platter, but I digress.

The point is that Kirk's confidence is directly proportionate to his ability to pull off the impossible.

We see the beginnings of this tenacity in a young, cadet Kirk in Abram's 'verse as well. In fact, an example would be this exchange between Kirk and Spock as they go together to engage the Narada:

Spock: Jim... the statistical likelihood that our plan will succeed is less than 4.3%...
James T. Kirk: It'll work.
Spock: In the event that I am unsuccessful, please tell Lieutenant Uhura...
James T. Kirk: Spock. IT'LL WORK.


And it did.

The point of all of this, Kirk's self-confidence, or arrogance, if you like, is exactly one of the things that make him an effective leader.

Says the man, himself: "There's only one kind of woman...or man, for that matter. You either believe in yourself or you don't." ~ Jim Kirk, 'Mudd's Women'

[livejournal.com profile] nix_this and I were talking about our combined love of Kirk one night and we both agreed that one of Kirk's more charming qualities was that he is(was) an individualist who exists within a militaristic organization. Kind of an oxymoron, right? Not for our Jim-boy! No, our Jimmy thrives on existing in dichotomy.

In other words, he is a nonconformist, if you will, or, for you Frost fans, "Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."

Kirk is defined by his ability to think outside the box. This trait has also contributed to his success as a leader and has saved his crew many times over. For example, in the TOS episode "Corbomite Maneuver" Kirk lies through his teeth, hee, telling an antagonistic life-form threatening to blow up the Enterprise that Kirk has a substance on-board the Enterprise that will kill the dude if he carries out his promise. Kirk calls this his 'poker' strategy. It works, the enemy ship is deterred from acting on the threat.

As a side note, the events I just summarized are followed by one of the cutest exchanges in all of Star Trek, but this may be my K/S shipper bias talking XD. You can watch this exchange here:



Now, back to our regularly scheduled rant *cough* I mean, essay, in AOS, this art at creative problem solving is the primary reason Pike was insistent that Kirk enlist in Starfleet.

Christopher Pike: You know, I couldn't believe it when the bartender told me who you are.
James T. Kirk: Who am I, Captain Pike?
Christopher Pike: Your father's son.
James T. Kirk: [Turns toward the bar] Can I get another one?
Christopher Pike: For my dissertation, I was assigned the USS Kelvin. Something I admired about your Dad: he didn't believe in no-win scenarios
James T. Kirk: Sure learned his lesson!
Christopher Pike: Well, it depends on how you define winning. You're here, aren't you?
James T. Kirk: [as beer is brought to him] Thanks.
Christopher Pike: You know that instinct to leap without looking, that was his nature too. And in my opinion it's something Starfleet's lost.


Kirk's handling of the Kobayashi Maru in both universes also exemplifies both of the character traits I've highlighted thus far, Kirk's confidence, his sheer tenacity, and his ability to approach problem solving using inventive means.

From ST: TWoK:

Saavik: Admiral, may I ask you a question?
Kirk: What's on your mind, Lieutenant?
Saavik: The Kobayashi Maru, sir.
Kirk: Are you asking me if we're playing out that scenario now?
Saavik: On the test, sir... will you tell me what you did? I would really like to know.
McCoy: Lieutenant, you are looking at the only Starfleet cadet who ever beat the no-win scenario.
Saavik: How?
Kirk: I reprogrammed the simulation so it was possible to rescue the ship.
Saavik: What?
David Marcus: He cheated.
Kirk: I changed the conditions of the test; got a commendation for original thinking. I don't like to lose.
Saavik: Then you never faced that situation... faced death.
Kirk: I don't believe in the no-win scenario.


From AOS:

James T. Kirk: [to Spock] The test itself is a cheat, isn't it? I mean you program it to be unwinnable.
Spock: Your argument precludes the possibility of a no-win scenario.
James T. Kirk: I don't believe in no-win scenarios.


For all of his impenetrable will and creative thinking, Kirk is not without his compassion. And he is extremely loyal to those he holds dear.

Kirk, of Spock, in the TOS episode 'Amok Time'... "He's saved my life a dozen times over, isn't that worth a career?"

In fact, pretty much all of the plot of ST:tSfS (and ST:tVH for that matter) highlights Kirk's loyalty and ability to love rather wholly, and without restraint, beautifully. In 'The Search for Spock' Kirk risks his career by stealing the Enterprise and disobeying a direct order, to save his two best friends, Spock and Dr. McCoy. In 'the Voyage Home' he risks life and limb to go back in time and retrieve an extinct species to save Earth.

In AOS, Kirk offers assistance to a fallen Nero when a lesser man would have jumped at the chance of watching his father's murderer, and the man who committed genocide against one of the Federation's founding members, fall.

"This is Captain James T. Kirk of the U.S.S. Enterprise -- your ship is compromised -- too close to the singularity to survive without assistance -- which we are willing to provide." ~ Jim Kirk, ST:AOS (2009)

In the world of Harry Potter, the character of Hermione Granger once accused the protagonist of having a 'saving people thing' (HP and the Order of the Pheonix). I feel that the character of Jim Kirk, in both universes, has shown that in his heart of hearts, he is also a Gryffindor.

Want more evidence? Picture this: Kirk and Sulu are standing on a drill high up in Vulcan's sky. Sulu falls over the edge. Kirk... jumps after him (ST:AOS). 'Nough said.

For me, however, Kirk's best trait is his remarkable intelligence.In ST:AOS Pike referred to Kirk as "...the only genius level repeat offender in the Midwest." And in the TOS episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before" Gary Mitchell referred to Kirk as "a stack of books with legs".

Or, if you prefer the full episode quote:

Mitchell: "Well, I'm getting a chance to read some of that longhair stuff you like. Hey man, I remember you back at the academy. A stack of books with legs. The first thing I ever heard from upperclassmen was, Watch out for Lieutenant Kirk. In his class, you either think or sink."

No slouch, our Jimmy. But we knew that. His actions, as well as his mean game of chess, more than proves it.

In TOS, Jim Kirk was the only Captain, of twelve, to bring his ship back intact from a five year mission. AOS Kirk, although almost a decade younger than his TOS counterpart was when we first met him, and with far, far less field experience, showed us in AOS that he is also starting to follow this same trend, managing to best a ship of advanced, future technology and return the Enterprise relatively intact (minus a warpcore ;)) from an emergency mission.

But I guess I've waxed enough poetry on one of my favorite characters of all-time. So I'll wrap this admittedly long-winded post up with this: love him, hate him, admire him or curse him, the one thing you can't argue... the man gets the job done, and he does it with flair.

Quintessential Kirk:

"Intuition, however illogical, is recognized as a command prerogative." (Obsession)

"Leave bigotry in your quarters; there's no room for it on the bridge." (Balance of Terror)

"We think of ourselves as the most powerful beings in the universe. It's unsettling to discover that we're wrong." (Errand of Mercy)

"I want all departments at battle stations and ready in ten minutes. Either we're going down or they are. Kirk out." (ST:AOS)

...(as he is being choked by a Romulan who tells him to speak) "I got your gun." (ST:AOS)
Mood:: 'contemplative' contemplative

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