Like many crafters, I’m a great big sci-fi geek. I can quote you chapter of verse of most iterations of Star Trek, hold an intelligent discussion of where George Lucas went wrong with the Star Wars franchise, compare and contrast many of the societies visited through the Stargate, and quote virtually every line from Galaxy Quest (That was a hell of a thing).
But there’s one thing that has always bothered me about all of these sci-fi icons and many, many more that I’ve seen and read over the years: nobody makes crafts for enjoyment.
Sure, sometimes on Stargate or various versions of Trek they would come across a charmingly bucolic society. In these places, everybody had to produce food, clothing, shelter, etc. so that everyone would survive. But virtually all of these charming, peaceful, gentle worlds are utterly without artistic addition. Nobody makes jewelry that doesn’t have a specific, ritual meaning. Nobody adds a flourish to the legs of a chair, or embroiders a pillow simply so it will be pretty. Nobody is shown making something of a purely decorative nature or just for fun. It’s all simply, rustic, and utilitarian.
And when these shows visit advanced societies, everything is about scientific advancement. Nothing wrong with that, of course. I’m in favor of finding cool ways to cure diseases, travel longer distances with lower environmental impact, provide inhospitable lands with food and water, and all sorts of things like that. I find these ideas and many like them to be entirely fab and gear.
But these societies seem to have little or no art. Sometimes there’s a terribly refined style of music (which sounds much more like Muzak to my ears), but nobody seems to create visual or textural art. Nobody creates a thing that isn’t either scientific or intensely practical. It’s all smooth, shiny, refined and utilitarian.
Come on, producers of sci-fi worlds! Would it kill you to have some form of embroidery or model making survive the millennia? If there’s someone on a starship who plays the trombone, couldn’t there also be someone on that ship who tats? It takes up a lot less space and makes a lot less noise, after all.
Okay, Data paints. There is that, and I’m in favor, entirely. But wouldn’t there have been one traditional Bajoran craft that Ensign Ro picked up in the camps? Didn’t Guinan’s people have to do something when they weren’t all listening to each other? Out of all the human societies the Goa’uld transplanted into outer space, wouldn’t Daniel Jackson have found one that still created purely decorative jewelry? Couldn’t Amy Pond scrapbook about her journeys with The Doctor? Well, no, actually I don’t think she would. But Rory totally would. In fact, I feel quite sure he does it whenever Amy isn’t looking.
I love speculative entertainment. But I also love making lace. I appreciate many forms of craftwork, and want to encourage them. I don’t believe that the human race will ever get to a place where we don’t need to express ourselves creatively by hand.
Just once, I’d like to see someone create a sci-fi show or film that agrees with me on that.