In the twenty-third episode of the sixth season of Deep Space Nine, this is nothing but garbage and should be shoved out an airlock. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
Trigger Warning: For extensive talk of transphobia, transmisogyny, homophobia, misogyny, sexual harassment.
There was an attempt here to do something worthwhile, and if you squint really hard, I think you can find it. It’s there in the scene where Quark argues viciously with his mother; there’s another spark of it in the moment where Quark realizes that he’s been sexually harassing Aluura. Both of these scenes, however, are undermined by one of the most offensive things I’ve ever seen.
I don’t use the word “offense” or “offensive” often here because it doesn’t hold much meaning for me. I’d rather describe things as they are – whether they uphold racist stereotypes, whether they’re homophobic, etc – than ascribe “offense” to them. That implies that it’s a personal thing, that an act or behavior or line or portrayal offends me and me alone. The problem I have with poor representation or the kind of terrible writing we see here is that it actually has an affect on a whole bunch of people and how they’re seen. What unconscious narratives exist in a story? What does a story say about a group of people that can be found in the real world? The writers are trying to address the experience of women in this episode, sure, but is that what this achieves?
Basically, if you’re not a straight cis dude, this episode feels like the writers see all the rest of us as a joke. There is not a serious consideration of any number of things referenced here: what it’s like to be a woman. What it’s like to be a man attracted to a man. What it’s like to be trans. All of these things are punchlines, jokes to be made at our expense, gags that exists solely for humor.
I don’t even know where to start. I know I don’t like Ferengi episodes in general, but this was just abysmal. If we are somehow able to look past the violent transmisogyny and homophobia present in this script (WE CAN’T, IT IS LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO BECAUSE IT’S HALF THE FUCKING POINT OF THIS TERRIBLE HEAP OF TRASH), the very story which introduces gender equality to Ferenginar can’t even avoid insulting women in the process. This episode says such horrible things about women!!! It paints them as overemotional and preoccupied with their appearance! HOW ARE YOU GOING TO CLAIM THAT THIS IS A FEMINIST UPHEAVAL AND DO THINGS THAT EVEN I AS A DUDE RECOGNIZE AS LIKE, FEMINISM 101???
Of course, gender equality in this show is achieved through a heinous invocation of gayness/queerness and trans identities, and it’s got to be one of the most glaring examples of… jesus, so many awful tropes. The Man in a Dress trope. The Trans Panic trope. The Men Kissing Men is Gross and Funny trope. The implication that trans women are really just men. I CAN’T EVEN NAME THEM ALL, THERE ARE SO MANY. Y’all, Star Trek just revealed that gender affirmation surgery is a real thing in their universe, AND THEY INVOKED IT NOT SO THAT SOMEONE WHO NEEDS IT GETS IT, BUT SO WE CAN LAUGH AT QUARK PRETENDING TO BE A WOMAN. We have our first on-screen kiss between two men on Star Trek EVER, and it’s so that we can laugh at Quark pretending to be a woman. Y’all, Brunt repeatedly yells at a woman that she’s not a real woman and no one thinks of how violent and revolting that is going to be for other people.
And really, that’s my whole point. It’s like no one gave one second of thought to how this would impact people who watched it. “Profit and Lace” sounds like it arose as a joke between the writing staff that somehow got committed to a script. Except not only are the jokes monstrously offensive, but in the final scene, THE SCRIPT UPENDS THE WHOLE POINT BECAUSE…. I DON’T ACTUALLY KNOW??? If this show was trying to make a serious point about how Quark has never been able to empathize with women because of the misogynist culture he grew up, well, you fucked it up by having him forget and ignore the entire experience. That’s just bad writing. Bad, bad, bad, irredeemable, unforgivable, and complete garbage. Why put Quark through any of this if it won’t matter in the end?
This is absolutely the worst episode of Deep Space Nine, and I don’t think anything comes close to it. At least that terrible game episode in season one was harmless. This actively insults huge portions of the audience, and for those it doesn’t personally attack, it gives them an ending that insults their intelligence. Fuck everything about this episode now and forever.
The video for “Profit and Lace” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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