Yesterday I wrote about how, like any good Star Trek fan, I celebrated the 50th Anniversary on September 8th with a marathon of episodes and movies, including Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home which I first saw in the theater with a friend who I thought was a bigger Trek fan than me. He had a whole series of books, and comic books, and was the only person I knew–prior to the recent reboots, anyway–who knew Uhura’s first name.
And then as we were coming out of the theater he said, “Well, it was pretty good except for that crap about the whales.” And I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I thought every fan knew that Star Trek’s science fiction was merely a smokescreen that allowed Gene Roddenberry to take on controversial subjects like racism, sexism, and, um, the environmental threat posed by invasive species.
And for a while I thought, Well, he’s just not a real Star Trek fan. It was a terrible assumption on my part. I was falling into the No True Scotsman fallacy, and not just because James Doohan’s accent was fake, but that’s another story. Fans come in many types and varieties. All that makes someone a Star Trek fan is that they enjoy Star Trek, right? Besides I have a conundrum that’s got me questioning whether I’m really a fan. In his book Get A Life William Shatner shares a story about his decision to walk from his hotel to a horse show one morning. It was a crisp, sunny day and he was feeling his oats. It was only when he realized how many miles he’d be hoofing it that he started to panic. At an intersection he talked to a couple in a pickup truck stopped at a red light, explaining who he was and begging for a ride. They pointedly ignored him but before they drove off the woman yelled, “Kirk sucks! Picard rules!”
I have trouble believing this story because I don’t think any true Star Trek fan would turn down the chance to give Captain Kirk a lift, and yet I also don’t think any true Star Trek fan would doubt William Shatner, especially since that book was such a love letter to fans. So, how do I solve the conundrum?
I’m relieved and pleased at your lack of judginess when it comes to the definition of ‘true’ fandom (although I cannot believe that idiotic whale comment either) because while I love Trek – ALL incarnations! well except for the fifth movie which The Shat directed, that was bloody awful except for the campfire scene – I didn’t actually know about the 50th anniversary and I haven’t watched any movies or episodes to mark this milestone yet! Yet. Trek TOS is on Netflix I see…
PS. I was late watching The Day of the Doctor, too. Like, two years.
One of the nice things about the time we live in is it’s always possible to go back and catch up on things you’ve missed. There are some TV shows I didn’t start watching until they were in their third or fourth year, and I completely missed Firefly when it first aired and binge-watched it on DVD. Then again so did everyone else, but that’s another story.
Anyway missing something like The Day of the Doctor is okay unless someone else says something that gives away the big surprise. And if you think there’s any danger of that you just quote River Song and say, “Spoilers, sweetie.”
Yep, I totally just watched that sketch here at work. I believe the episode Bill meant to reference was “Mirror, Mirror” rather than “The Enemy Within.” But I’ll give him a pass.
Well, technically “The Enemy Within” had an evil Kirk in it too, and one who might have even been worse than the Kirk from “Mirror, Mirror”. The evil Kirk in “The Enemy Within” lacked a conscience; he was pure id, whereas the Kirk from the mirror universe had to have some semblance of self-control in order to–okay, I’m slipping off the geek cliff here.
I grew up with The Next Generation, so my apologies to Mr. Shatner but Picard really does rule.
Speaking as someone who grew up with the original series I still have to admit that Picard was so much cooler than Kirk. Yes, Kirk swaggered across the galaxy and had his way with numerous women, not all of them human and not all of them necessarily women, but Picard didn’t need to rip his shirt and stick his tongue down an Andorian’s throat to prove his coolness.
I was listening to NPR earlier last week I think, and they were talking about how bold the show was with its themes. It’s really amazing how courageous Roddenberry was, taking all sorts of risks to push the boundaries for what many at the time thought of as a silly space show.
Yes, and I think it’s because it was thought of as a silly space show that Roddenberry was able to get away with so much. Once while I was watching a rerun of “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” my mother sat down and watched it with me and she was amazed to realize how much depth the show had and how daringly it made a statement about racism during the civil rights movement.