So, it’s the 50th anniversary of the beginning of “Star Trek” the TV show. As a friend said recently, “the show that changed everything”. There have been movies, four TV shows with “Star Trek” in the title, and a movie reboot, with its own sequel. I pretty much like them all — some more than others, of course, but all of them, nonetheless. My Trek friends, when they see the title, are going to be able to tell me about the shows and movies I have just mentioned and any updates, reboots, comics, etc. That is not what I mean.
What I mean are where are all the hopeful shows — the shows that push us to be our best selves? Where are the shows that tell us we can be better than we are? Where are the shows that say we can be one, that we can bring peace, that diversity is good, that at the end of the episode make us proud to be human? That is what Star Trek is to me.
Star Trek was hopeful about the future. The future is dystopian in all the media that are out there right now. Space is militarized. The difference between Star Wars and Star Trek is actually pretty immense in terms of story line.
Star Trek was diverse, but you noticed it. While we fought Vietnam, Sulu was Asian. While we fought the cold war, Chekov was Russian. Spock wasn’t even from here. Nowadays, diverse teams are everywhere, especially on TV, but the show never mentions their diversity. No African-American brings his girlfriend over to meet his parents and have soul food. No Jews celebrate Passover or go to temple. It’s as though diversity is a given, but not a reality. Everyone’s perfect, so there’s no reason to mention it, I guess. What happened to character development?
Star Trek was written, and written well, of course. Reality television dominates today. Uhura had an elegance and an intellect that Kim Kardashian will never be able to convince us she has.
Nowadays, everything goes boom and terrorists predominate, blood and gore is everywhere, and people are all perfect. Fantasy is about superheroes, and maybe that’s close to hopeful — Good guy wins and all — but even that has a dark streak now. Corporations are more powerful than humans, and what issues are described are squeezed for every drop of drama or political correctness. Nobody works hard or has a life after work that involves family.
Maybe I’m missing something that was only once in a lifetime, but I’d like to see something as hopeful, real, conflict ridden, but not necessarily violent or over-dramatic. Even Barney Miller was that, (without a lot of hope, really, but friendship sufficed enough).
Is it too much to ask for — hope, fully human characters, diversity, and scientific possibilities? I don’t think so. In the meantime, though, the Star Treks we have will have to do.