tanithryudo: (IDIC)
[personal profile] tanithryudo
I've read several KS fics now where the author takes the chance to get all soapbox about defending nuKirk's cheating on the Kobayashi Maru test. Mostly it's all waxing poetic about how Kirk is smart and wise and better at designing tests than all of Starfleet, with a retread of the usual criticisms of the idea of the Kobayashi Maru test that I've seen floating around fandom/fanon...

IMO, the idea that the author feels they have to put themselves in nuKirk's mouth to defend him like that says a lot. (Then again, the excessively Mary Sue treatment I'm generally seeing of nuKirk in fanfics is a whole separate issue that I have.)

I agree with nuSpock that nuKirk completely missed the point of the exam. However, I also think nuSpock might have missed the point too. Or, at least, he was horrible at trying to explain it during the inquest (and not just because he hits on nuKirk's berserk button). The meta reason for this is obviously whoever wrote the scene failed to think things through and just wanted to stir up interpersonal drama between the two main characters. In-story however...

Look, the Kobayashi Maru as shown on screen in the reboot movie cannot be to experience "fear in the face of certain death", because the people taking it are aware that it's a simulation! This isn't Wesley Crusher's academy entrance exam in TNG where he doesn't know it's a simulation when he's psychologically tested. If it's fear the test taker is experiencing, then it's the fear of failing the test, not the fear of death!

On the other hand, I don't agree with nuKirk's argument that "the test itself is a cheat" just because the simulation is unwinnable either. Because the fear of failure is still a valid driving force and stressor, and the test itself is not asking for the testee to have a "correct answer". It's not asking them to find the "right" solution, it's trying to reveal the *method* by which the cadet approaches a problem, under stress.

I'm reminded of interviews I've done at work (for a sorta IT-ish position) where the question is an opened scenario of "the customer reports this thing is not working, what do you do?" Then as the interviewee goes through the things they'd ask or check for, the scenario builds with "and then what happens if this didn't work out?" and "what if you get this result back?", etc. The point is not to actually fix the hypothetical problem, but to test if the person knows enough about the technology to go through enough relevant steps, and if they can approach troubleshooting in a methodical way rather than just throw wild guesses at the board.

Anyway, IMO this is what should've happened in the movie:

nuSpock would've reported that nuKirk cheated on the exam. Instead of a formal inquest, whatever admiral is in charge of the academy should've called Kirk in for a personal interview to determine why Kirk did what he did, and then set him right on what's the point of the Kobayashi Maru exam. Giving him a commendation for original thinking may or may not be in the picture, depending on Kirk's answers and/or attitude. No disciplinary actions are filed though, since extreme persistence in the face of overwhelming odds in and of itself does say something about Kirk's suitability for command - which is what the exam is testing for to begin with. Now, afterwards, Spock may protest the decision, in which case, the same admiral should also take *him* aside and explain what the Kobayashi Maru is supposed to be testing for, and why Kirk's actions is not so much cheating as a valid solution to the exam. And then of course both of them are ordered into silence on the specifics of what happened, as well as maybe forced to work together to secure the exam against future tampering (you can sneak in interpersonal drama that way much more organically).

(I also think nuSpock should've taken the exam too, before he's handed the job of programming it, since he's obviously changed over to the Command track once Pike chose him for his future-XO. IMO the Academy should not be setting precedents of letting students skip critical exams based on race, and rather should be adjusting said exams to non-humans. Prime!Spock not taking the exam is more reasonable since he was Science track all the way, and served more as CSO than XO to Kirk, honestly. He basically had to pick up "how to command" on the job, as seen in the Galileo 7 episode, and didn't have the luxury of a stint at the Academy in between deep space missions.)

For my own reference, some interesting and relevant online discussions of the Kobayashi Maru exam and it's treatment in original TOS and the reboot movie:

https://www.reddit.com/r/DaystromInstitute/comments/4kwqbq/did_they_keep_the_kobayashi_maru_test_around_for/
https://www.reddit.com/r/DaystromInstitute/comments/1xxdkf/abrams_idea_of_how_kirk_solved_the_kobayashi_maru/
https://www.reddit.com/r/startrek/comments/580cjo/the_kobayashi_maru_ethics_discussion/
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