[personal profile] blcwriter

The New York Times posted this Op-Ed piece about Star Trek’s 50th today and how, essentially, the franchise has become too corporate and it’s all spoilt because it’s not low-budget and fly-by-the-seat-of-its-pants anymore.

As I read the piece, all I could hear were the sounds of whiny Comic Book Guys everywhere complaining that no one was allowed to enjoy anything new anymore because it had changed over time, adapted, survived, and as all things do, evolved into something that other people than the “Original” fans could also enjoy.  (TL:DR, this op-ed is the sound of one fanboy fapping about kids on their lawn.)

I have no problem with the criticism about retreading old ground-- but every version since TOS has done that, starting from TNG, which re-did TOS storylines all the time.  Star Trek invented tropes that are the backbone, now, of all episodic and genre entertainment:  the costume episode? the musical episode? the undercover episode? amnesia? long lost love? kidnapping? alternate universes?  All of that comes from Star Trek, and I have no problem with each iteration of Trek telling a new story through a commonly understood narrative framework that provides enough trope-y comfort that the more philosphical lesson of the episode can hit home.  (Perhaps the author is unfamiliar with the concept of archetypes.)  I have no problem with the criticism that the series could be less action, more thought.  I have no problem with the criticism that Paramount, et. al., are too corporate, restrictive, etc.-- but that is a critique of Hollywood.  Not Star Trek. (The author also seems to have missed that many, many, many Trek fans have all agreed that Into Darkness didn’t happen, and that the Reboot series is Star Trek, 2009, and Star Trek Beyond.)

The author seems to have missed that there are hundreds of thousands of Star Trek fans who are happy-- no, overjoyed, even-- to attend cons in whatever fashion they currently exist.  The author seems to believe that only memorized dialogue snippets and ship stats make a proper, Ultimate Fan.  The prescription this author takes against anything but the “old” way of doing things excludes the very valid, very real lived experience of Trek fans who didn’t live at the time of TOS, or who didn’t get into the series until DS9, or who only got into the back-catalogue of shows after the ‘09 reboot.  All those fans are not wrong.  They are not required to have watched every series and to be able to craft Memory Alpha pieces on demand.  All those fans are not misled because they revel in the tropes’ power to frame otherwise difficult conversations within the confines of a story narrative that assures us we can handle the content because the trope itself assures us everything will, ultimately, be ok.

And isn’t that the message of Star Trek?  That despite the slings, arrows, Tholian webs, android ex-boyfriends, salt monster ex-girlfriends, genocidal colony governors, and holodeck dysfunctions, we will come out of it more or less OK, and still be able to keep pressing forward, to explore, to learn, and to do it in the company of infinitely different, but infinitely combinable, companionable, like-minded people?

The essential message of Star Trek is hope.  (The other essential message of Star Trek is that it is a truth, universally acknowledged, that a Captain in possession of a starship must be in want of a nemesis, but that’s another essay.)  The author is allowed to have a problem with the often prohibitive cost of cons (and don’t get me started on how often Karl Urban cancels appearances), or the officially sanctioned merchandise (did the author not know about Etsy, Redbubble, and other non Paramount websites where you can get homemade Trek stuff galore?) or the fact that new fans don’t talk about Trek in the same terms and in the same fora as him.  He is not, however, allowed to tell the rest of the world that their experience of Trek is the lesser for having occurred later in time and in a different world than his first encounters with new life and new civilization.  He is not allowed to tell Trek fans that their experience is not allowed to evolve over time.

The author’s attempt to impose his supposedly superior understanding of the “real” Trek on we lesser, later fanbeings seems directly in contravention of the prime directive, if you ask me.

Live long, fellow fanbeings, and prosper in your varying appreciations of Trek.

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