Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Star Trek's Golden Anniversary: Boldly Going To A Future Where No One Has Gone Before

Tomorrow will be a very special day for admirers of Star Trek. It'll be the 50th anniversary of the original series of the show first airing on NBC. There has been some vital Trek related events this year. The first was the third edition of the still controversial reboot movie series staring Chris Pine called Star Trek Beyond-which as of this writing I have yet to see. Even more exciting is the announcement of the first Star Trek TV series in over a decade to be premiere early in 2017. Trek alumni Bryan Fuller and Nicholas Meyer will be prominently involved in its writing as well.

Personally, I don't think there's much to say about Star Trek that isn't well known to many. Especially in the post 9/11 world,much of which has been devoid of any new Star Trek on TV,the shows ability to entertain and enlighten with vital science fiction concepts and a socially progressive message is actually becoming a lot more seriously understood than it was in my own personal generation. So to celebrate Star Trek's 50th anniversary,I'm going to run down the pros and cons about Star Trek's production and impact on society. It will be rather subjective. But you may still find some universal truths in it too.

Trek Pros:
*Seeing racial equality and understanding as a strength. This point was brought up by YouTube columnist Steve Shives on his list video about Star Trek. Its also somewhat ironic that another YouTube user I'm aware of pointed out the need for Star Trek in current society without realizing it. And all by this person stating that racial diversity was actually a huge weakness.

*Star Trek has provided us with many unique scientific concepts. It practically invented the cell phone,the smart phone and the internet tablet. Not to mention the ideas of tricorder's,phasers,
holodecks and food replicators all being studied as possible future technologies. Have to wonder when humanity will be able to handle the invention of Isaac Asimov's positronic brain that Data had in Star Trek The Next Generation.

*During times when the positive social changes of the 1960's were being challenged by regressive and theocratic politics,Star Trek remained in existence in some form to remind its viewers not to give into cynicism. That the future could be hopeful,productive,full of new adventures and even humor.

Trek Cons:
*Taking Star Trek out of syndication. After the negative personal experience Gene Roddenberry had the original Star Trek series,the following two spin offs The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine were sent straight to syndication. And became very successful. The next spin off Voyager launched the now defunct UPN (United Paramount Network).

That series popularity faltered some. After the failure of its followup prequel Enterprise in 2005,the series ended and took UPN with it. There has not been another Star Trek spin off on TV since. With much of the upcoming new series set to air on CBS's new streaming channel All Access,one can only hope the people in charge will soon learn the lesson from the terrible mistake of making Star Trek exclusive to a specific network.

*Star Trek being considered cheesy. I was in adolescence in the 1990's. So this part may be the most subjective. As early as the mid 80s,stand up and skit comedy began depicting some of the acting and low budget effects of the original Star Trek. This often led to Star Trek being seen as "wonderful cheese" or some other such thing,even within its own fandom. Luckily after the demise of the prequel series Enterprise,this attitude began to change. And most people began to realize how significant Star Trek was socially and to the world of technology.

*Star Trek post 9/11. Realize this was already hinted at. But while its true any long running TV show (including spin offs) needs its breaks to keep from growing stale,Star Trek's decade off TV after 2005 was a gaping loss. When reality was dominated by reminders that many of the 60's social changes in race,sex and politics were not yet fully resolved,I personally cannot think of a time when something such as Star Trek,with its implicit social commentary,was more needed.

So there's the basic pros and cons to Star Trek. They don't apply that much to the actual content of the show. But more so to how Star Trek has been presented at different times. Its a happy decision to see that Star Trek has such a strong,positive and above all more well rounded understanding with people today. Even the satire of it is more affectionate so it seems. Now as it is about to return to the small screen,Star Trek can harness its great cultural power and influence to help humanity boldly going to the future it really could use to go to.

Steve Shive's YouTube Video '5 Awesome Things About Star Trek'