Chabon has addressed
the level of violence shown in Stardust City Rag...
I am not unambivalent about the violence, myself. The choice was not made lightly, though it was made collaboratively, and therefore with a good deal of conversation and debate among the creators. And so I assure you that it is not there simply “because we can,” or because we are trying, as you somewhat uncharitably put it, to be “in.” My partners would all have their own reasons for its presence in this story, as some of us had our own reasons for shying away from it. For me, it came down to this: there has always been violence (and even torture) in Star Trek. Sometimes that violence has been implicit, sometimes explicit, according to the dictates of censorship, the nature of the situation being depicted, the aesthetic of individual creators, or technical and/or budgetary limitations. And the reason that there has always been violence in Trek is that Trek is art, and there has always been violence—implicit and explicit—in art. It belongs there. It belongs in any narrative about human beings, even human beings of the future. Violence, often, *is* the narrative. Its source. Its engine. The question of whether it’s “too much” or not is ultimately a matter of taste. Personally, I come out closer to the “less is more” end. But that is just me. In the end, I saw how little time and space we had to convey a sense of Seven’s history post-Voyager, and the things that drive and haunt her. I decided, with my partners, that intensity was warranted. Seven lives outside the rational confines of the Federation, because that is where she finds her sense of purpose. But life is hard, out there. If it wasn’t, people wouldn’t need her help so badly. And she wouldn’t have found such a compelling reason to carry on, in spite of her history of trauma. But, I hear you.
So the reason, for Chabon at least, was that it "is art" and previous series were limited by censorship or other limitations? I'm sorry, but I'm not seeing how that's really any different from saying "because we can". And justifying it by saying "it's art" just comes off very pretentious. Sure, there has always been a degree of violence in Star Trek, but only to what degree it was necessary. Which this episode I'd have to say went well beyond. That's not a matter of "taste". There's a reason why Discovery and Picard are the only two Star Trek series to have gotten a TV:MA rating. I even saw one review where the person said, because of how their country handles mature content, they had to verify their age before being allowed to watch this particular episode. And I'd have to disagree with his assertion that "violence often is the narrative. Its source. Its engine". One of the biggest points of Star Trek is about looking for peaceful solutions, with violence being absolutely a last resort. Humanity is supposed to have evolved beyond this sort of behavior. As far as I'm concerned, he's admitting he doesn't understand the message behind Star Trek here by saying "it belongs in any narrative about human beings". Heck, some of the best Star Trek stories doesn't even involve an actual conflict with any body, but rather is just a situation they have to figure a way out of. Even Johnathan Franks said
Gene Roddenberry would have never allowed that scene.