All the buck passing, responsibility ducking and lying coming out of Washington last week prompted me to think about what constitutes leadership and where can examples of it be found today. As a good American, I immediately started rummaging around through my pop culture archives to discover illustrations of the real thing and came up with the name of Jonathan Archer.
“Jonathan Archer, who is he?” you exclaim in unison. Well, I’ll tell you lads and lassies. Jonnie Archer was the captain of the Star Ship Enterprise, and never was there a better man at the helm. “Mason, come now, a man with your education and upbringing dredging up models of selfless heroics and true leadership from that tired old series, get a grip.” Perhaps you’re right and my mind is going more rapidly than I feared, but over the last few weeks I have been watching in embarrassed fascination the adventures of Cap Archer and crew as they navigate the good ship Enterprise through the myriad perils of deep space.
I’m by no means a Trekie but I’ve become attached to this guy and the series – Star Ship: Enterprise the last installment of the TV franchise which ran for four years beginning in 2001. Though the last one filmed, chronologically it was actually the first in the Star Trek series. It begins around the year 2150, sometime before James T. Kirk fouled the space-time continuum with his overripe presence.
Archer and Enterprise succeeds because it was built around a strong believable character, (ably played by Scott Bakula of Quantum Leap fame). Archer is someone you would entrust the command of a Star Ship to. Level headed, steady, creative yet ready to take risks, technically savvy but not a nerd, open to the opinion of his underlings but ready to broke no debate once he’s decided on a course of action, Archer was the real deal – someone you would follow into a black hole. Much like his female counterpart, Kate Janeway of the earlier series – Star Trek: Voyager (played by Kate Mulgrew) Archer exhibited the knack for holding the center without insisting on the need to constantly occupy it.
Archer stands in sharp contrast to the rambunctious cowboy and Lothario, James T. Kirk whether played by the lovable method ham William Shatner or by the grinning bro Chris Pine of more recent fame. But as obnoxious as Kirk could be he was a prince compared to Jean Luc Picard, the preening, bureaucrat of hyper drive, who mistook acting for elocution and had as much vitality as a trunk full of tribbles. No, Picard made space interesting only because it offered a possible escape from this politically correct dogmatist. Someone should have been fragged him in his ready room as he was straightening his tunic.
No Archer’s the man, and if this blog has any purpose under heaven it is to advance him to the highest rung of the captaincies of Star Trek or God Damn It I’ll eat a warp coil.
Next week: Why Star Trek: Enterprise is the greatest ever, man!