Did STTNG have a smugly superior tone about Federation/human culture or not?

Sometimes I think back on some STTNG and and think “Boy those were some smugly superior attitudes in those scripts”, but then again maybe I’m being unfair.

Was the smug dialed to 11 in those scripts or not?

Nope, you’re not the only trekkie to take note of their holier than thou attitude. It explains some of the backlash in Deep Space 9, with rebels and futuristic realpolitik.

Yes, and I loved it. I got sick and tired of the “Earthling Worms” meme that pervaded sci-fi of the '70s and '80s.

Not sure what you are referencing. Could you give some examples?

I think it sometimes kind of did. I think it was a side effect of having its Spock analog aspiring to be human rather than repressing his humanity. It kind of put it on a pedestal.

Flash Gordon, 1980. “Puny humans, who will save you now?”

Just read the puny human section in TV Tropes.

One of the reasons they were exploring space was because they thought they’d solved all of Earth’s and humanity’s problems already, now it was time for them to fix the rest of the Universe so it operated their way.

Let’s face it, it’s probably what we really would do.

That was the whole story arc of the show, though.

In the very first episode, Q tells Picard that the Federation’s claim to have evolved into a more enlightened state was complete BS, and he says the same thing in the very last episode. Only Picard, as a result of his explorations and experiences, is able to open his mind enough to pass Q’s ‘test.’

I’ve recently been enjoying the Culture novels by Iain M. Banks. I think it’s a more interesting take on the futuristic utopian society meddling in the affairs of others. For one thing, there’s no Prime Directive; Contact’s attitude is along the lines of “Yes, interfering with less advanced societies can have unintended consequences, but we’ve been doing this for thousands of years. We’ve gotten very good at it, and helped a lot of people.”. They certainly have a smug streak, and come off as hypocrites about a lot of things.

Yes, the smug was dialled to 11 or even 12 sometimes. My least favorite part of the series.

Star Trek (TOS) was described by its creator as “Wagon Train to the stars!” The stories were fairly formula, as TV goes, just some tech gimmicks to spice up the range of material. TNG was not hugely different, they were each contemporary culture sanitized and projected onto a larger stage. Hey, I can jump in my starship and drive on over to Rigel is not very realistic or even very inventive. For all their creativity, the shows ended up being pretty mundane and unoriginal. Even Red Dwarf was more interesting.

The real problem is whole Planet of Hats thing. Klingons are warriors-and-nothing-else, Ferenghi are merchants-and-nothing-else, Vulcans are scientists-and-nothing-else, etc. Only humans seem to have a well-rounded culture.

The characters themselves were rarely smug about humanity in general, for the basic reason that TNG pushed tolerance to extreme levels. But it was still baked into the show in the form of the extreme restrictions on character conflict. Gene was rather smug about his philosophy of humanity becoming perfect in the future, and it showed in his shows.

The characters were, however, generally moral, and that itself is seen as smug by some–you know, those people who go around saying, “How dare you think you’re better than me!” even though the only sign is that you, well, really are often better than them at certain things.

The smugness was dialed way down after the first season. By the fifth, they even had the balls to introduce characters that were dissatisfied with the Federation (the Maquis.)

I admit I haven’t seen this episode in a while, but I never understood what exactly Jean-Luc did to show he’d opened his mind. Is it because he discovered the anomoly was growing as it went back in time (that seemed like it would be obvious to anyone), or is it because he used the ships in the three timelines to destroy it (again that seems obvious… why wouldn’t you do what it took to destroy something like that)? Nothing in that episode seemed to be such a wonderously new open-minded idea. I must be missing something here, can anybody help?

I always thought it was his willingness to sacrifice everything to save the entire species and the universe.

This Episode was a notable exception for me. And the one with Mark Twain. Basically, whenever they smugly proclaim that they’ve stomped out poverty and want and sadness, and that they don’t need currency or television.

Of course, like I said before, the change that came with the Maquis and the DS9 storyline–to show that there still is poverty and backroom deals in the federation–makes them out to be Jingoistic assholes for previous boasts about conquering wants and needs.

No, I think Tao got it. Basically, there was supposed to be some impressive zen koan-like mystery that would demonstrate, by Picard’s solving it, how advanced humans were. But the writers couldn’t come up with anything more impressive than a hackneyed sci-fi gimmick that everyone watching would have figured out by the second commercial break. So they decided to go with that instead.

I wonder if they’ll ever have the guts to do a series based on the premise that humans are a minor race in some more advanced races’ empire, and that’s how it should be, because that race’s culture really is superior morally, etc., and any human rebels against that empire are the bad guys.

I’ve thought for a while now that the next Star Trek series should have the Federation as the bad guys. After the finale for Voyager, Federation engineers should be able to reverse engineer much of the advanced tech from the ship. Starfleet gets beefed up with major upgrades; it steamrolls its enemies, and then steamrolls its not-so-enemies. Starfleet takes control of Federation politics (you may have noticed that most of the admirals in Starfleet are corrupt). Fast forward a few decades, and the Federation is The Evil Empire.