That ‘Star Trek’ Geek You Know
Ever wonder why you have that one friend – perhaps not a close friend but an acquaintance – that references Star Trek too often for comfort and comes off as a bit of a geek or goof because of it? Why is it they reference Star Trek at seemingly irrelevant times?
Well it’s likely you’re about to get a lot more of this behavior from them and others. There’s a new TV series in the works. Launching September 24th 2017, “Star Trek Discovery“ is the latest show in the franchise. In case you didn’t know, there haven’t been new episodes of the show since 2005.
Forget that friend/acquaintance for a moment because I’d like to explain to you, in my words, why Star Trek Discovery is important. I mean to everyone. That means you too, non-fan.
And while you’re forgetting things, also forget everything you’ve ever seen in any Star Trek movie – if you’ve seen any at all. The first thing you need to know is that “real” Star Trek exists in television episodes. What you see on the big screen is “watered-down Trek” and meant to appeal to the masses. Whether it achieves that goal or not is debatable. The television shows are meant to appeal to the soul.
To understand why Star Trek Discovery is so important to you and the world at this time and place in history, let’s review a bit of the franchise’s history. I’ll try and keep this quick, but lengthy essays can easily be written on the topic.
Possibly The Most Brief History of Star Trek Ever
The setting: it’s the 1960s and the Cold War is on, racial tension is at an all-time high, and it has barely been a decade since the internment of Japanese-Americans.
Star Trek takes to the television airwaves, bringing with it an optimistic outlook of the future of humanity. Not just some but for all. Everyone is equally privileged.
Present on the bridge (that’s the command center) of the Starship Enterprise are a mixed-race Vulcan-Human named Spock, a Japanese helmsman, a Russian science officer, Scottish engineer, Black communications woman, and Captain Kirk. These are all people of intelligence and power, working together for a common goal of exploration and discovery. The best that humanity has to offer.
Star Trek took on the most difficult issues of the day and put them on the television screen in plain sight for everyone to see. It did it in an unapologetic and matter-of-fact way.
That’s ‘Star Trek’, But It’s So Much More
And therein is Star Trek at it’s core; a series of television shows that present humanity, and individuals, at their best. In that regard it’s something to aspire to, and yet is completely believable because there’s someone on the show that you will find relate-able. And that thing you relate to is usually what makes you different and unique, or in many cases undervalues or even oppresses you. Star Trek presents those things as valuable.
I so much want to see the Star Trek world transposed into our world that it inspires me to make it so wherever I can. I’m not alone. There are countless professionals in the sciences, technologies, bio/health, and many other industries that chose their career path as a direct result to their Star Trek fandom. It has inspired countless real-world technologies and advancements that have made lives better. That’s the kind of power and influence the television series has because it speaks to people in a very real and intimate manner.
All this is why Star Trek is very much needed in today’s world. Never have things felt so divisive, split, polarized. Politics unrelentingly play on emotions like fear, anger, and hate to win votes in the loudest echo chambers – rallies. Cost on society and civilization be damned. These strategies and emotions are now the world currency, and it’s ugly. The different, be it idea or person, shunned, not valued. Civility and respect often forgotten. Ignorance approved.
Who’s to say if we’re now seeing life imitating art, or art imitating life. Today’s entertainment aligns with these same problems and values in a seemingly-direct causation – or at least correlation. Any wonder it’s often difficult to see the good?
Star Trek Discovery Has Much to Live Up To
We need to bring back optimism about the future, ears to our conversations, and value to knowledge and the betterment of all. On the chance life is imitating art, Star Trek needs to lead again.
It has already made the kind of positive impacts within my life that I wrote about earlier, and now is the time for it to happen again. For a new generation and those in need of it. That’s why so much is riding on Star Trek Discovery, and the people involved in the show understand this. Many of them were touched by Star Trek long before becoming involved in the new production.
Now you, non-Star Trek fan, have some idea of what the show is really about behind the flashy science fiction and aliens. How much of a real impact it’s had on many lives for the better. How it addresses difficult topics of the day. Perhaps you’ll think a little bit differently about that Star Trek geek you know the next time they reference it. There’s a good chance they may be looking to make their own positive impact.
One More Thing
I believe that the good things in humanity are instinctual. I believe that humans, all things considered, are good at their cores until driven to part from that good. That a desire to better oneself and those around us, and to learn and understand, are innate to the human experience. We desire to know what’s around the next corner.
I believe that all these things and more are obligatory to our survival in a very literal sense, and, more immediately, enrich our lives and those around us.
If you’re interested in seeing the very real impact Star Trek has had on the lives of fans, you must check out this Twitter thread from June 2017. Click below to read them.
— Star Trek (@StarTrek) June 30, 2017