'Enterprise' Cast & Creators Talk 'Stigma'By Caillan
February 1, 2003 - 5:04 AM
See Also: 'Stigma' Episode Guide
Members of the Enterprise cast and crew recently contributed to a UPN featurette promoting the show's upcoming AIDS awareness episode, 'Stigma'.
The three-minute featurette, which is available to download online at Vidiot, intersperses comments from the creators and actors with scenes from the episode, in which T'Pol discovers she has contracted an AIDS-like disease called Pa'nar syndrome.
"I think that it's very appropriately titled 'Stigma,' because the disease has a stigma," said Jolene Blalock (T'Pol). "You know, many kind and loving and good-hearted and great-intentioned people - they want to turn their head to it."
But sufferers of Pa'nar syndrome are also ostracised because of the method of contracting the disease - mind-melding. As one Vulcan puts it, "We don't condone the intimate acts these people engage in. They defy everything our society stands for."
"We thought it would be an interesting idea if Vulcans who are able to perform mind-melds are a minority and a stigmatised one at that," explained Enterprise executive producer Brannon Braga, "because it's considered such a strange and intimate act that mainstream Vulcan society does not accept, and that there's a terrible disease that can be transferred through mind-melds."
Uncertain how to treat the terminal disease, Doctor Phlox plans to discretely consult a group of Vulcan doctors at a medical conference, but encounters an inbred prejudice against sufferers - something that Captain Jonathan Archer can't quite comprehend. "My character is astounded a) that this exists in their culture," said Scott Bakula (Jonathan Archer), "and [b)] that these doctors are not willing to spread any information about it because they want it to go away, they want to ignore it."
Executive producers Brannon Braga and Rick Berman penned the episode as part of Enterprise's contribution to Viacom's HIV/AIDS awareness campaign, designed to educate the general public about the disease. "In the true fashion of science fiction, and more specifically, in the tradition of Star Trek, we decided to create the premise with metaphors," Berman said. "We dealt with an alien situation, something that would turn the whole idea, the whole initiative, on its ear to be looked at in a different way."
For her part, Blalock is proud of how Enterprise deals with T'Pol's struggle as a sufferer of the AIDS-like disease. "Basically we go through how to deal with this. How do we dealing with living with it, how do we deal with treating it, and how do we deal with people out there chose to be ignorant to it? I think that's pretty wise, I think that's an angle that not many people would take on it."
At the end of the day, the goal of 'Stigma' - and Viacom's whole AIDS awareness campaign - is one of education. As T'Pol says, "Maybe this incident will encourage others to speak out."
'Stigma' airs February 5 on UPN. The full three-minute featurette is available for download as a 32MB MPEG file from Vidiot.