Common Kirk Myths
by Laura Goodwin
MYTH I) "Kirk is a playboy who is always lusting after the chicks. He had a new girlfriend in every episode."
That is just plain false. It's a popular fantasy about Kirk, but that's all it is. Kirk in fact was practically celibate. He did show some active interest in a small number of females, but nothing much came of it. The only times that we know of that he got laid are:
1) With his kidnapper Queen Deela, in Wink Of An Eye
2) With his wife, Priestess Mirimanee, in Paradise Syndrome.
In neither of these cases was he in command of the situation. In both of these cases, he was in some sense forced into it. Those are the facts.
There is this tantalizing scene in Corbomite Maneuver:
In that scene, Kirk makes it abundantly, explicitly clear that - in his own opinion about himself - he is not a playboy who is lusting after all of the chicks. In his own opinion about himself, he's too busy for ANY chicks, and he frankly says as much outright to Dr. McCoy.
[People point to Carol Marcus and say that Kirk must have also "done it" with her, since Kirk was David's father. We don't actually know enough about David's conception to prove it wasn't via artificial insemination. In fact, the facts support the artificial insemination scenario: David was not told that Kirk was his father, and Jim never had a relationship with the boy. There's no mention of Jim ever even paying child support. Neither Marcus nor Kirk refer directly to the love they once shared. It doesn't look like they ever did "love" each other.
Kirk is credited with many "conquests" for which there is actually no solid evidence. EXAMPLE: Like lots of people still do, I used to count Kirk's encounter with Drusilla in Bread and Circuses, but when I studied the episode on DVD, I realized I was mistaken. There was no sign that they did anything but kiss a little. I mean NO SIGN WHATSOEVER. When he is awakened in the morning, it's not by a giggling, frowzy Drusilla wearing nothing but a sheet and a smile. He is awakened by the proconsul, his captor. That alone is enough to make you say, "Hmmm!", except for one thing: Kirk is lying fully dressed on the top of a fully made bed, all alone. The whole apartment is as neat as a pin. Drusilla is nowhere in sight. There is no sign that any whoopee went on. None. Furthermore, Kirk never states or implies that any whoopee did go on.
Just because he could have doesn't mean he did. I personally feel that we have good reason to believe that Kirk wouldn't go for it. In the beginning of the scene when Kirk walks in and sees the woman, his first reaction was not joy, it was repugnance. He cried aloud, "It Won't WORK!" He said it twice. He was pretty emphatic about not liking the whole idea from the start. I have no personal reason for wanting to believe that Kirk did not get laid on that occasion. If it makes you happy to think he did, go ahead and think so. If he did boink Drusilla, it would fit the pattern established. It's another case where he did not chase the woman, and he had no control over the situation. Neither did she. They were both captives at the time. She's a slave, he's a prisoner, and neither one of them had any choice about where else to be that night. It's not like he picked her out for himself. It's not like he found her, and approached her, and wooed her, and won her. It wasn't like they were on a date.]
MYTH II) "No woman has a chance with Kirk because he is really in love with his ship."
That is just plain false. It's also a direct contradiction of MYTH ONE, above. Obviously they can't both be true... but they can both be false, and they are.
Kirk loves his profession, he is fanatically dedicated to Starfleet, and passionately devoted to his duty, but sure, he seems to like girls. The official story is his captain's duties interfere with his ability to enjoy a relationship with a woman the way he might prefer to, but in Naked Time, he complains about that.
There is this tantalizing scene in Corbomite Maneuver:
That could be interpreted a couple of ways. Kirk could simply be making it very clear that he feels nothing for RAND. It could also be Kirk tipping his hand about being GAY.
There ARE other occasions where Kirk proves that he can/does find OTHER women distracting. So it's not like he never is attracted to other women on other occasions, and it's not like he always thinks of the ship only, either. He pretty obviously forgets the ship completely, sometimes. He also uses the ship like a rented mule, sometimes, so it's not like the ship is really so precious to him.
In ST3, he disposes of the old girl completely, and steals a Klingon ship instead.
Harry Mudd is the one who tells Eve McHuron that starship captains are married to their ships. He was speaking metaphorically. He didn't mean it literally. In any case, Kirk never said of himself that he felt married to the ship.
Spock said of Captain Kirk that the Enterprise infected Kirk before The Dolman's tears did, in Elaan of Troyius, but again, that was someone else speaking poetically. Kirk did not say it about himself. Besides, "infection" and "marriage" are not equivalent terms.
The truth is that Kirk presents himself as a single gentleman who is available... or who would be available if he could only find the time. He rarely has the time, and according to Kirk in Naked Time, that is the ship's fault - but in Naked Time he is complaining about that. If he thought that is how things should be, he'd have no complaints.
MYTH III) "Kirk shoots first and asks questions later. He's a pistol-packing hothead who's always looking for a fight."
OK, that one is so false that it's practically a crime. The exact opposite is much closer to the truth. Kirk asks questions and answers any questions that are put to him first. That's the truth. He in fact is extremely reluctant to engage in battle. He does not choose that option lightly. He'd always rather make a friend than an enemy. He is slow to anger, and quick to forgive.
It's true that he is briskly businesslike when he does get into a battle. He is decisive, bold and confident in battle. Once the battle is joined he doesn't agonize over it, he just does what he has to do as efficiently as possible - but he doesn't delight in it. Naturally he prefers winning to losing, but doesn't everybody? He is not sadistic or bloodthirsty. He ends the battle as soon as he can, and is compassionate with his defeated foes.
He is a very physical guy, however, and he does seem to actively enjoy hand-to-hand combat. I think he primarily enjoys it for the exercise. He's a hyperactive mesomorph, and does seem to welcome any chance he's offered to grapple, wrestle, or fist-fight with an opponent. He doesn't usually start the fights, he's just not afraid of them.
He is not a hawk, not a bully, in fact he despises such people. Kirk is moderate, never excessive, in his use of force, and won't resort to force at all if he can avoid it.
MYTH IV) "Kirk was prejudiced against Klingons, by his own admission. He didn't overcome this until ST6."
OK, the way Kirk and others bandied about the term prejudice in ST6 is a red flag that marks what I like to call A MISTAKE. The writers wanted to use the word really badly. The people who were making the movie wanted to make a point about overcoming prejudice. They thought it would be great if Kirk was the one who did this. Unfortunately, it was a mistake, because it flies in the face of everything we know about Kirk.
Even worse, the word was used incorrectly. Basically, making Kirk "prejudiced" in ST6 was not one but two flagrant writer's mistakes:
1) The word prejudice was used incorrectly. What Kirk was experiencing was antipathy born of painful experience, not unreasoning prejudice.
2) They attached the prejudice to the wrong character. It's against type for Kirk to be prejudiced.
Kirk confessed to Spock ~in private~ about his repugnance for Klingons. Kirk also mentioned his perfectly good personal reasons for his negative feelings about Klingons in a private entry to his personal log. That is a long way away from public policy, my friends.
Actions speak louder than words. Let's look at Kirk's actions in ST6. Kirk was asked to facilitate the peace process in ST6, and it wasn't ever necessary for him to go through all the hell he went through to accomplish that. Obstacles were put in his path by _traitors and Klingons_. He overcame the obstacles and his own negative feelings and fulfilled his mission AS PER USUAL.
Kirk has always been able to set his personal feelings aside to fulfill his missions and foster the aims of the UFP. All Starfleet has to do to get something done is to ask Jim to do it. He was asked in ST6 to facilitate the peace process, and that is what he did. It is all that he did. That is business-as-usual, for Jim, not something extraordinary.
He was the keystone and fulcrum of a dramatic situation. There was no need for there to be dramatic shifts inside of himself for drama to be created. The situation itself was dramatic. Kirk did not EVER in any way oppose Klingons except when they attacked him directly. He never threatened or threatened to threaten a single Klingon non-combatant. Remember: Whatever negative PR the Klingons of Kirk's day had, they had earned. The burden was on them to repair the damage they had done, and to earn trust. Of course Kirk was on his guard against them. Don't be ridiculous. The Klingons of Kirk's day were not the cuddly, lovable Klingons of TNG, you know. TOS Klingons were from day one cast as the bad guys. That was not Kirk's fault. It was his job to oppose them. For him to do otherwise would have been a dereliction of duty.
Kirk somehow was the guy who was opposed to the Klingons in their desperate hour? Don't forget that Kirk suffered great personal risk and great personal hardship for the Klingon's sake. Kirk was framed by traitors, imprisoned by Klingons, attacked by traitors and Klingons, and - in spite of all of this - he saw to it that his mission was fulfilled and the peace process was moved forward. He suffered humiliation and hardship (at Klingon hands!) and the risk of death in a dozen different ways, along the way. Nevertheless, Kirk was the one who saw to it that the traitors were stopped and that the peace process went forward - which was entirely to the Klingons benefit. Kirk proved to be a great friend to the Klingons!
What more could he have done to make it even nicer for the poor Klingons!? ~Do tell~!
Kirk didn't have to change in ST6, and in fact, he didn't change. He's the same noble soldier in ST6 that he ever was. He NEVER WAS PREJUDICED. Those were STUPID LINES in ST6. It takes more than two or three stupid lines in one movie to obscure the facts about Kirk. The very idea of defending Kirk from such a ridiculous charge is laughable. He's simply not that kind of guy.
MYTH V) "Kirk is a rules-flouting yahoo. A maverick: a rebel. He frequently disobeys orders, and casually violates the Prime Directive."
That too is completely and simply false. There is not one clear cut case of him EVER violating the Prime Directive. There is not even one canon instance of Kirk having been either punished, rebuked, or even questioned by Starfleet, about alleged PD violations. There is no canon mention of any such activity on the part of Starfleet. Kirk's record in this regard is unstained.
Mr. Spock was in a position to refuse to comply *and* arrest Captain Kirk if he observed Kirk attempting to violate the PD. He would have been honor and duty bound to assume command under such circumstances. He never did so. He never even threatened to do so. We have no reason to believe that he even came close to even thinking of doing such a thing. To the contrary, Kirk never had any trouble in keeping Spock's unalloyed obedience in Prime Directive questions, as we have seen.
There's much good reason to believe that Kirk didn't and wouldn't violate the Prime Directive.
1. Kirk critics can't show that Kirk ever actually did any PD harm. The best they can do is say that harm might have been done, if things that we were never shown had occurred - which they didn't.
2. Kirk critics can't show that Kirk was rebuked, or even questioned by Starfleet, or by UFP representatives, about alleged PD violations that he supposedly committed.
3. Nobody has or can show that Kirk is the kind of guy that would break the PD either deliberately, or inadvertently. All the evidence that exists shows the opposite: that Kirk was concerned about not violating the PD, and he disapproved of people who did.
4. Spock mildly questioned Kirk about the PD issue on very rare occasions (for example, in The Apple), but his questions were apparently satisfactorily answered, and that was the end of it. Spock is not the kind of guy that would let something like that pass. Oddly, nobody seems to be claiming that he is. If there were any PD violations, Spock was fully in cahoots and equally culpable, but strangely, nobody ever says such things about Spock.
5. Kirk several times explicitly demonstrates active concern about not violating the Prime Directive, and in fact his slavish adherence to the law caused him some difficulties on more than one occasion.
6. Starfleet thinks that Kirk is an exemplary Starfleet officer, not a rules-breaking rebel. They love Kirk, trust him, ultimately forgive him all of his oddities and excesses and give him a very long leash. It seems they think he "gets it", and they don't micro-manage him. To the contrary, they practically rubber-stamped every decision he ever made. I mean, if Starfleet has no complaint with him, why should we?
7. There is no mention of any PD violations on Kirk's record. Period. That in fact is verifiable. Not one example of such a stain on Kirk's record can be found, even by people who would love to find one.
8. Kirk in fact respects the rules and the law, and is not casual about flouting the rules, nor the law. He's loves the law to such an extent that he forged an utterly respectable career being an agent of law-enforcement. For him, it's an absolute lifestyle. Far from being an habitual offender, Kirk is the guy who is called in to enforce the PD when other people break it.
9. All the so-called PD violations that Kirk was alleged to be "guilty" of, were in fact not PD violations, except by some measure that TOS Starfleet doesn't use. It has been shown that Starfleet in the TOS universe interprets the PD very liberally, and Kirk apparently was always held to be blameless by TOS Starfleet standards. Even if the PD is interpreted and enforced differently in later Treks, by the internal logic evident in Kirk's universe, he was obviously held to be blameless - or better. I mean, if they said anything, it was "Great work, Jim! Have another medal!"
Therefore from now on when any misguided individual asserts that Kirk violated the Prime Directive, the correct response is: No, he did not. There is no ambiguity about it. That is not a matter of interpretation, or opinion, it is verifiable. He simply didn't ever do it.
So where did that misbegotten Outlaw-Kirk idea come from? The only time in TOS where he did indeed disobey a direct order was in Amok Time, when he decided it was worth the loss of his career to save his best friend's life. He knew and cared that he was breaking the rules, and he knew and accepted that there would be consequences. But he was obeying what he felt was a higher law at the time. In the end, T'Pau got Kirk off the hook, but if she hadn't, he would have properly and bravely submitted himself to his superiors for judgment, as he later did in ST4.
In Star Trek four: The Voyage Home, Kirk went to extraordinary lengths to restore Spock to life, AGAIN knowing as he did so that he would necessarily have face judgement. He understood that he had broken the rules and he understood that there would be consequences for his choice, and he accepted that. That's not casually breaking the rules, that's playing by the rules. People who don't care about the rules also don't think there should be consequences for their misbehavior. If Kirk were a true scofflaw, he would evade capture, and try to escape having to face any judgment.
Speaking of judgment, according to DS9's "Trials And Tribblations" Kirk was judged long after his death for "temporal violations". NOTE: NOT FOR VIOLATING THE PRIME DIRECTIVE. Bear in mind there were no regulations against him time traveling in his day. In fact, he saved the world a couple (three?) times by doing it. So, within the universe of his day he was a pure and simple hero, whose only "crime" was being willing to sacrifice his career for the life of his friend.
Kirk regularly goes to extraordinary lengths to fulfill his mission and obey his superiors, even when he thinks their orders are unwise, and Starfleet goes on record as recognizing him as that kind of a guy. Kirk loves the UFP and Starfleet. He is dedicated heart, body and soul to what the UFP and Starfleet are about.
Pay heed to the fact that Kirk received numerous medals, commendations, and acknowledgments for his conspicuous and uncommon excellence as a Starfleet officer. Kirk was not usually at odds with his superiors. The events shown in Amok Time, and ST3 were unusual. In both cases, Kirk risked everything he had ever lived for, against orders, because he was motivated by love for Spock. Kirk's most faithful comrades helped him, out of love and loyalty for him. We are supposed to see their extreme actions as acts of extreme courage and devotion to high ideals - NOT as Kirk acting like a drunken teen on Spring Break.
Star Trek 3: Search For Spock has one really incredible conversation in it that all Kirk defenders should become familiar with. When Kirk-critics start their usual screeching about how Kirk was a "loose cannon", we have canon PROOF that he was NOT seen that way by Starfleet command.
Admiral Kirk sits down for a drink and some conversation with the top Starfleet administrator, and the first words out of the guy's mouth are:
"...Jim...you are my best officer"!
Got that? Not one of the best. THE best. But he doesn't stop there. During the course of the conversation he also says:
"Jim, your life and career stand for rationality, not for intellectual chaos..."
So much for Jim being perceived as a reckless hothead.
Even though he refuses Jim's request, he does it gently, with respect, calling him "my friend". What this shows quite clearly is that Admiral Kirk's record up to that point was beyond unstained, it was exemplary, and Kirk himself was respected and even loved by his superiors.
Kirk was so outstanding at representing the United Federation of Planets, and Starfleet (in TOS) that at the end of his historic five-year mission, they promoted him to admiral.
Later when Admiral Kirk returned to face judgement and accept the consequences of his choices in ST4, LIKE A MAN, Starfleet was gentle with him out of respect for him. They understood and respected his motive for his outlaw acts, and they also were grateful to him for his long career of heroism and faithful toil, not to mention the fact that he just saved the whole world from certain doom, again! They demoted him to Captain, and gave him a gorgeous new starship to command. Gee. That'll teach him, huh!? I'm sure he felt thoroughly well spanked then, huh?
Even in "disgrace" Kirk was honored and trusted, so the bit about how he was a problem child for Starfleet is now shown to be nothing but swamp gas.