Warning: If you explore other parts of this blog you’ll learn of Human Rights Violations against the disabled and Living Nightmares in the United States. Also, minor Star Trek spoilers ahead.
In so many visions of the future we see in sci fi & fiction, mankind is in bad shape, Earth is often a crappy place. Often an oppressive totalitarian empire is in control responsible for creating a dystopian future. Reflections of the despair in the real world perhaps.
What makes Star Trek special is not that it’s in the future on spaceships. It’s that it’s a vision of humanity that has united as a planet and has overcome poverty, hunger, war, corruption, disease, greed, intolerance and has a more enlightened sensibility. Pretty much most of the problems we face today. It’s a future where mankind is able to accept cultures from different worlds, where “normal” is different on different worlds.
Instead of fighting oppression, it’s about exploration. In my opinion at least, by using the exploration of new worlds and alien life, it actually explored being human, the human condition and philosophical questions. It also explored tolerance to differences and ethical questions.
Obviously to keep things interesting there had to be some hostile encounters and unique threats.
A common theme in each series is a character that doesn’t fit in with a bunch of humans but learns to or vice versa. An android with no emotion that wishes to become more human. A liquid shapeshifter that struggles to fit in and relate to “solid” lifeforms. A hologram that was designed to be temporary software, not an individual person, yet is forced to become one and to grow. A borg that had all humanity and individuality stripped away and had to rediscover that humanity.
Then of course there were all the highly logical Vulcans that had to learn to live with Smelly, Emotional Humans. There was also the half Klingon, torn between two worlds, struggling with that identity. Though I can not emphasize enough how much of it was also about humans accepting differences.
One of my favorite episodes of Star Trek The Next Generation is “Darmok”, which has emphasis on how much can go wrong and be misunderstood when there are communication difficulties.
Deep Space Nine was a cultural melting pot of Aliens, not without trouble of course, but I suppose it’s the stories about unlikely friendships and heroes that count.
Star Trek inspired a lot of scientists back in the day, including NASA. It wasn’t just about reaching the moon anymore, it was about a bright future for humanity. My father, being a genuine “rocket scientist” was one of them. My parents married in 1966, same year Star Trek came out. My parents used to worry I’d grow up in a world without Star Trek, luckily ST:TNG came along.
Before I continue, I thought I’d share a story my father likes to tell, names and places withheld for privacy(not mention he’s still slaving away working a job only a few years from being 80).
“In 1951 at X High School 8th Grade in X, X — in General Science class I contradicted what was taught: that we could not send man to the moon. Then, the current scientific “consensus” was that it was not possible to carry enough fuel on board a rocket for the return flight. What my fellow students and teacher were not aware of was Werner Von Braun’s book on rocketry, which I had studied. A little later (1959) I would be one of the co-founders of the X School of Mines (now X U. of X and X) chapter of the American Rocket Society. Just 10 years later in 1969 man landed on the Moon.
What happened to that spirit?
In the real world when faced with differences, we fear the unknown. Never thought I’d experience being that “unknown.” We look at people who are different as “wrong”, broken, less, incapable. We judge according to whatever we happen to consider “Normal” and assume everything should be similar and alike. Like I like to say, Normal is just an averaging of the most common variables. Who wants to be average?
In the Star Trek universe, we explore the unknown with open minds and curiosity.
The idea that we can be a people that accept truly alien differences is what I find most beautiful about the vision. It’s a far healthier way to look at differences. In some cases they had to make special accommodations for the more extreme differences or find ways to adapt to everyone’s mutual benefit. Fresh thinking, new ways of doing things.
A mankind capable of accepting aliens wouldn’t have so much trouble accepting each other or humans that are different, but not less.
Sometimes when I look at the real world, I just start weeping. If I came from the Star Trek universe I would probably be Part Vulcan, Human and a little Klingon.
Something else I want to mention, is how much I appreciate seeing Star Trek actors reprise their roles in unofficial “fan productions”. Seeing Nichelle Nichols as Uhura, Walter Koenig as Chekov, Tim Russ as Tuvok, etc. Not to mention seeing Garret Wang, Chase Masterson and other Trek actors playing other roles in unofficial Trek films.
Star Trek just isn’t Star Trek without a series. The new movies are ok, but they do lack something deeper. I rather like the idea of how Agents of SHIELD interacts with the stories of the Marvel movies. *hint*
I hear Mr Dorn wants to do a Captain Worf series, I’d love something back in the TNG/DS9/Voyager era. Wish some of these Indie Studios would collaborate their stories so that they kind of lead into each or or at least hint, opening doors to possible future collaborations. Would love to see TNG+ era cast guest starring reprising roles, etc.
As a currently out of practice 3D CG artist, something I plan to post about
soon(hopefully) is alternative film making possibilities in the CG department that could potentially empower Independent Film Makers to compete with Hollywood quality like never before. Addressing 3D digital cloning methods, photo-realistic rendering and dealing with the aging actor problem. Reversing the aging process so to speak(sorry, only for the digital clone). How about some uses for 3D printing?
But I have to stress again, this isn’t one of my usual topics. It should be.
Peace and Long Life,