Monday, February 24, 2014

Boldly Going Where Tons of People Have Gone Before

By Elizabeth Jones

So I would love to talk to you about Star Trek. More specifically about the Star Trek Reboot series—the J.J. Abrams juggernaut. I was raised on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Let's hear it for some Patrick Stewart.

Patrick Stewart doesn't want to hear it.

I have watched most of the other spinoff series, all of the original series, and I absolutely love the universe that was created by Gene Roddenberry. I think the idea of peacefully seeking out life wherever it might be found is fascinating and ultimately incredibly difficult for humans to be able to do at all. There is part of our culture, or possibly our nature, which tells us to fear the unknown or the other, and in Star Trek, we see a crew of people willingly heading into the unknown. And I was so excited that they were going to reboot the original series. And I did love the first Star Trek Reboot movie. And I love the second reboot movie, "Star Trek: Into Darkness". But I have a few problems with calling it Star Trek and placing it within the Star Trek universe.

Now let's talk about what the original Star Trek series did. First off, it was filmed during the civil rights era of the 1960s. The fact that there was a woman of color as a main character in a science fiction show is astounding. That this woman had a complex character, that she was more than a passive, sexual object for her male counterparts, that she was intelligent and held an important job is impressive. Not only does the show address issues of feminism and racism
I wouldn't mess with her.
it also addresses issues of militarism versus peace—the rest of the spinoff series like The Next Generation and Voyager spend a good bit of time in each episode contemplating the ethics of war and peace. Star Trek was shown during the period of time where protests over the Vietnam War were at their highest point. Furthermore, if you look closer at Star Trek: The Next Generation, you see their issues of philosophy, of humanity, of absolute power, of religion, and (my favorite) of language that are integral to the show and contribute greatly to its popularity

The 2009 "Star Trek" movie is fantastic but it's not really Star Trek as we know the Star Trek universe to be. Instead, it's an awesome action movie ... in space! I mean, I would totally go to see a movie that like that. And I totally did. There's a little bit for everyone. The fear of Armageddon, invading aliens, technology that is used to protect and/or end the world. Plus ice beasts ;)

I so hungry!

So I'm not arguing that the new Star Trek movie or that "Star Trek: Into Darkness" was a disappointment. It had its good moments (see Benedict Cumberbatch).

Can you feel the feels?
Does the Abrams series really contain any of these integral parts of Star Trek's progressivism? Not that I could see. The original series tackled issues that were very controversial at its time. In order to keep this trait alive the Abrams series would've had to tackle equally important issues for our day and age. Perhaps issues of gay rights of xenophobia or immigration, of an enhanced interrogation. Those were a couple of issues I pulled right off the top of my head and certainly are not the only issues that could possibly have been tackled within a more confrontational adaptation of Star Trek.

So where does that leave us? Space Cowboys!
Oops! Sorry, no relation to this movie, whatsoever.

But you know what have been really cool? Star Trek: the political thriller. Think about it. In many of the spin-off series, the Starfleet admirals and politicians connected to Starfleet are shown to either be weak, or incompetent, or corrupt. Could that has been an interesting point of controversy to define the reboot series? I can't answer that. I can only say ... I would go watch it.

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