MYTH I) "Kirk is a playboy who is always lusting after the chicks. He had a new girlfriend in every episode."
That is just plain false. It's a popular fantasy about Kirk, but that's all it is. Kirk in fact was practically celibate. He did show some active interest in a small number of females, but nothing much came of it. The only times that we know of that he got laid are:
1) With his kidnapper Queen Deela, in Wink Of An Eye
2) With his wife, Priestess Mirimanee, in Paradise Syndrome.
In neither of these cases was he in command of the situation. In both of these cases, he was in some sense forced into it. Those are the facts.
There is this tantalizing scene in Corbomite Maneuver:
In that scene, Kirk makes it abundantly, explicitly clear that - in his own opinion about himself - he is not a playboy who is lusting after all of the chicks. In his own opinion about himself, he's too busy for ANY chicks, and he frankly says as much outright to Dr. McCoy.
People point to Carol Marcus and say that Kirk must have also "done it" with her, since Kirk was David's father. We don't actually know enough about David's conception to prove it wasn't via artificial insemination. In fact, the facts support the artificial insemination scenario: David was not told that Kirk was his father, and Jim never had a relationship with the boy. There's no mention of Jim ever even paying child support. Neither Marcus nor Kirk refer directly to the love they once shared. It doesn't look like they ever did love each other.
Kirk is credited with many "conquests" for which there is actually no solid evidence.
EXAMPLE: Like lots of people still do, I used to count Kirk's encounter with Drusilla in Bread and Circuses, but when I watched the ep on DVD recently, I realized I was mistaken. There was no sign that they did anything but kiss a little. I mean NO SIGN WHATSOEVER. When he is awakened in the morning, it's not by a giggling, frowsy Drusilla wearing nothing but a sheet and a smile. He is awakened by the proconsul, his captor. That alone is enough to make you say, "Hmmm!", except for one thing: Kirk is lying fully dressed on the top of a fully made bed, all alone. The whole apartment is as neat as a pin. Drusilla is nowhere in sight. There is no sign that any whoopee went on. None.
Furthermore, Kirk never states or implies that any whoopee did go on. Just because he could have doesn't mean he did. I personally feel that we have good reason to believe that Kirk wouldn't go for it. In the beginning of the scene when Kirk walks in and sees the woman, his first reaction was not joy, it was repugnance. He cried aloud, "It Won't WORK!" He said it twice. He was pretty emphatic about not liking the whole idea from the start.
I have no personal reason for wanting to believe that Kirk did not get laid on that occasion. If it makes you happy to think he did, go ahead and think he did. I don't care. I'm just stating the facts, in case anybody reading gives a rat's ass about the facts.
If he did boink Drusilla, it would fit the pattern established. It's another case where he did not chase the woman, and he had no control over the situation. Neither did she. They were both captives at the time. She's a slave, he's a prisoner, and neither one of them had any choice about where else to be that night. It's not like he picked her out for himself. It's not like he found her, and approached her, and wooed her, and won her. It wasn't like they were on a date.
MYTH II) "No woman has a chance with Kirk because he is really in love with his ship."
That is just plain false. It's also a direct contradiction of MYTH ONE, above. Obviously they can't both be true... but they can both be false, and they are.
Kirk loves his profession, he is devoted to his duty, but no, he likes girls. His captain's duties interfere with his ability to enjoy a relationship with a woman the way he would like to, but in Naked Time, he complains about that.
There is this tantalizing scene in Corbomite Maneuver:
But that could be interpreted as Kirk making it very clear that he feels nothing for RAND. It could also be Kirk tipping his hand about being GAY.
There ARE other occasions where Kirk proves that he can/does find OTHER women distracting. So it's not like he never is attracted to other women on other occasions, and it's not like he always thinks of the ship only, because he pretty obviously forgets the ship completely, sometimes. He also uses the ship like a rented mule, sometimes, so it's not like the ship is so precious to him, either. In ST3, he disposes of the old girl completely, and steals a Klingon ship instead.
Harry Mudd is the one who explains to Eve McHuron that starship captains are married to their ships. He was speaking metaphorically. He didn't mean it literally. In any case, Kirk never said of himself that he felt married to the ship.
Spock said of Captain Kirk that the Enterprise infected Kirk before The Dolman's tears did, in Elaan of Troyius, but again, that was someone else speaking poetically. Kirk did not say it about himself. Besides, "infection" and "marriage" are not equivalent terms.
The truth is that Kirk presents himself as a single gentleman who is available. Or who would be available if he could only find the time. He rarely has the time, and that is the ship's fault - but in Naked Time he complains about that. If he thought that is how things should be, he'd have no complaints.
OK, that one is so false that it's practically a crime. The exact opposite is much closer to the truth. Kirk asks questions and answers any questions that are put to him first. That's the truth. He is in fact extremely reluctant to engage in battle. He does not choose that option lightly. He'd always rather make a friend than an enemy. He is slow to anger, and quick to forgive.
It's true that he is briskly businesslike when he does get into a battle. He is decisive, bold and confident in battle. Once the battle is joined he doesn't agonize over it, he just does what he has to do as efficiently as possible - but he doesn't delight in it. Naturally he prefers winning to losing, but doesn't everybody?
He is not sadistic or merciless. He ends the battle as soon as he can, and is compassionate with his defeated foes.
He is a very physical guy, however, and he does seem to actively enjoy hand-to-hand combat. I think he primarily enjoys it for the exercise. He's a hyperactive mesomorph, and does seem to welcome any chance he's offered to grapple, wrestle, or fist-fight with an opponent. He doesn't start the fights, he's just not afraid of them. He is not a bully, and he is never excessive in his use of force.
MYTH IV) "Kirk was prejudiced against Klingons, by his own admission. He didn't overcome this until ST6."
OK, the way Kirk and others bandied about the term prejudice in ST6 is a red flag that marks what I like to call A MISTAKE. The writers wanted to use the word really badly. The people who were making the movie wanted to make a point about overcoming prejudice. They thought it would be great if Kirk was the one who did this.
Unfortunately, it was a mistake, because it flies in the face of everything we know about Kirk. Even worse, the word was used incorrectly. Basically, making Kirk "prejudiced" in ST6 was not one but two flagrant writer's mistakes:
1) The word prejudice was used incorrectly. What Kirk was experiencing was antipathy born of painful experience, not unreasoning prejudice.
2) They attached the prejudice to the wrong character. It's against type for Kirk to be prejudiced.
Kirk told Spock in private about his repugnance for Klingons. Kirk mentioned his perfectly good personal reasons for his negative feelings about Klingons in a private entry to his personal log. That is a long way away from public policy, my friends.
Actions speak louder than words. Let's look at Kirk's actions in ST6.
Kirk was asked to facilitate the peace process in ST6, and it wasn't ever necessary for him to go through all the hell he went through to accomplish that. Obstacles were put in his path by traitors and Klingons. He overcame the obstacles and his own negative feelings and fulfilled his mission AS PER USUAL.
Kirk didn't have to overcome his own prejudice, or in any way go through any personal growth in ST6, to give us a dramatic story. Kirk has always been able to set his personal feelings aside to fulfill his missions and foster the aims of the UFP. All Starfleet has to do to get something done is to ask Jim to do it. He was asked in ST6 to facilitate the peace process, and that is what he did. It is all that he did. That is business-as-usual, for Jim, not something extraordinary. All Kirk had to do to facilitate the peace process as he was asked to do in ST6 was to be himself, and do what he normally would do. He was the keystone and fulcrum of a dramatic situation. There was no need for there to be dramatic shifts inside of himself for drama to be created. The situation itself was dramatic.
Kirk did not EVER in any way oppose Klingons except when they attacked him directly. He never threatened or threatened to threaten a single Klingon non-combatant.
Remember: Whatever negative PR the Klingons of Kirk's day had, they had earned. The burden was on them to repair the damage they had done, and to earn trust. Of course Kirk was on his guard against them. Don't be ridiculous. The Klingons of Kirk's day were not the cuddly, lovable Klingons of TNG, you know. TOS Klingons were from day one cast as the bad guys. That was not Kirk's fault. It was his job to oppose them. For him to do otherwise would have been a dereliction of duty.
I am sick of this idiotic misconception about Kirk somehow being the guy who was opposed to the Klingons in their desperate hour. Don't forget that Kirk suffered great personal risk and great personal hardship for the Klingon's sake. Kirk was framed by traitors, imprisoned by Klingons, attacked by traitors and Klingons, and - in spite of all of this - he saw to it that his mission was fulfilled and the peace process was moved forward. He suffered humiliation and hardship (at Klingon hands!) and the risk of death in a dozen different ways, along the way. Nevertheless, Kirk was the one who saw to it that the traitors were stopped and that the peace process went forward - which was entirely to the Klingons benefit. Kirk proved to be a great friend to the Klingons!
What more could he have done to make it even nicer for the poor Klingons!? ~Do tell~!
Kirk didn't have to change in ST6, and in fact, he didn't change. He's the same noble soldier in ST6 that he ever was. He NEVER WAS PREJUDICED. Those were STUPID LINES in ST6. It takes more than two or three stupid lines in one movie to obscure the facts about Kirk. The very idea of defending Kirk from such a ridiculous charge is laughable. He's not that kind of guy.
MYTH V) "Kirk is a rules-flouting yahoo. A maverick: a rebel. He frequently disobeys orders, and casually violates the Prime Directive."
That too is false. There is not one clear cut case of him EVER violating the Prime Directive. There is not even one canon instance of Kirk having been either punished, rebuked, or even questioned by Starfleet, about alleged PD violations. There is no canon mention of any such activity on the part of Starfleet. Kirk's record in this regard is unstained.
Mr. Spock was in a position to refuse to comply *and* arrest Captain Kirk if he observed Kirk attempting to violate the PD. He would have been honor and duty bound to assume command under such circumstances. He never did so. He never even threatened to do so. We have no reason to believe that he even came close to even thinking of doing such a thing. To the contrary, Kirk never had any trouble in keeping Spock's unalloyed obedience in Prime Directive questions, as we have seen.
There's much good reason to believe that Kirk didn't and wouldn't violate the Prime Directive.
Even if the PD is interpreted and enforced differently in later Treks, by the internal logic evident in Kirk's universe, he was obviously held to be blameless. Therefore from now on when any misguided individual asserts that Kirk violated the Prime Directive, the correct response is: No, he did not. There is no ambiguity about it. That is not a matter of interpretation, or opinion, it is verifiable. He simply didn't ever do it.
The only time in TOS where he did indeed disobey a direct order was in Amok Time, when he decided it was worth the loss of his career to save his best friend's life. In the end, T'Pau got Kirk off the hook, but my point is that he knew and cared that he was breaking the rules, and he knew and accepted that there would be consequences. He no doubt would have calmly and bravely submitted himself for judgment, as he later did in ST4.
In Star Trek four: The Voyage Home, Kirk returned to Earth to face the music. He understood that he had broken the rules and he understood that there would be consequences for his choice, and he accepted that. That's not casually breaking the rules, that's playing by the rules.
People who don't care about the rules also don't think there should be consequences for their misbehavior. If Kirk were a true scofflaw, he would evade capture, and try to escape having to face any judgment.
Speaking of judgment, according to DS9's "Trials And Tribblations" Kirk was judged long after his death for "temporal violations".
NOTE: NOT FOR VIOLATING THE PRIME DIRECTIVE.
Bear in mind there were no regulations against him time traveling in his day. In fact, he saved the world a couple (three?) times by doing it. So, within the universe of his day he was a pure and simple hero, whose only "crime" was being willing to sacrifice his career for the life of his friend.
The truth is that Kirk regularly goes to extraordinary lengths to fulfill his mission and obey the rules, and Starfleet goes on record as recognizing him as that kind of a guy. Kirk isn't opposed to the rule of law, he loves the rule of law. He's an agent of the law himself, and made a career out of enforcing the law himself. He loves the UFP and Starfleet. He is dedicated heart, body and soul to what the UFP and Starfleet are about. Kirk received numerous medals, commendations, and acknowledgments for his conspicuous and uncommon excellence in this.
Kirk was not usually at odds with his superiors. The events shown in Amok Time, and ST3 were unusual. In both cases, Kirk risked everything he had ever lived for, against orders, because he was motivated by love for Spock. Kirk's most faithful comrades helped him, out of love and loyalty for him. We are supposed to see their extreme actions as acts of extreme courage and devotion to high ideals - NOT as Kirk acting like a drunken teen on Spring Break.
Star Trek 3: Search For Spock has one really incredible conversation in it that all Kirk defenders should become familiar with.
When Kirk-critics start their usual screeching about how Kirk was a "loose cannon", we have canon PROOF that he was NOT seen that way by Starfleet command.
Admiral Kirk sits down for a drink and some conversation with the top Starfleet administrator, and the first words out of the guy's mouth are:
"...Jim...you are my best officer"!
Got that? Not one of the best. THE best. But he doesn't stop there. During the course of the conversation he also says:
"Jim, your life and career stand for rationality, not for intellectual chaos..."
So much for Jim being perceived as a reckless hothead.
Even though he refuses Jim's request, he does it gently, with respect, calling him "my friend".
What this shows quite clearly is that Admiral Kirk's record up to that point was unstained and exemplary, and that he himself was respected and liked/loved by his superiors.
In fact, Kirk was so exemplary at representing the United Federation of Planets, and Starfleet (in TOS) that at the end of his historic five-year mission, they promoted him to admiral.
Admiral Kirk returned to face judgement and accept the consequences of his choices in ST4, LIKE A MAN. Starfleet was gentle with him out of respect for him. They understood and respected his motive for his outlaw acts, and they also were grateful to him for his long career of heroism and faithful toil, not to mention the fact that he just saved the whole world from certain doom, again!
They demoted him to Captain, and gave him a gorgeous new starship to command. Gee. That'll teach him, huh!? I'm sure he felt thoroughly well spanked then, huh?
Even in "disgrace" Kirk was honored and trusted, so the bit about how he was a problem child for Starfleet is now shown to be nothing but swamp gas.