There are two kinds of people in this world. You’re either a Star Wars person or a Star Trek person. Sure, you can like both. But when the chips are down and you have to choose between the two, there’s gonna be a clear answer. Now for me, that’s honestly a question that has kinda shifted and evolved over time. If I had to choose, I’d go with Star Wars. But the gap between the two has grown closer and closer over the years for me. Now, that has nothing to really do with the quality of the two franchises or the current crop of output from each. It hasn’t been for the last few years that Star Trek has had any positive output, and it’s been 7 years since the last good story (2009’s Star Trek). And Star Wars has essentially been dead since 1999, going through varying degrees of decay until the phoenix like rise from the ashes at the end of 2015. Hell, both are still in such early parts of their renewed lifespans. It could easily fall apart for both of them. These two franchises and their places in my heart has more to do with their entry points in my life than the actual quality of the product.
Like many people who fall into this fandom, I was introduced to Star Wars as a kid. Now, it’s different in the sense that I was born in 1990 so my introduction wasn’t with the sense of change that accompanied the original trilogy. No, the franchise was an iconic thing at that point. I got the VHS box set of the original trilogy for a birthday one year from an Uncle, which got me into the franchise. Then some time soon thereafter, the Original Trilogy was rereleased back into theaters for a short time. An aunt took me to see Return of The Jedi on the big screen and it was an amazing experience. But for a kid in a lower middle class family in the early 90s, my experience with the franchise pretty much began and ended within the movies themselves. People I went to school with didn’t have the same interest in it as me, going for the things that were more current. There was no internet, so that about ended that. It was something I liked and nothing more.
Unlike Star Wars, Star Trek was never even an idea in my mind at the time. Nothing was even brought into the house or watched on the TV. Not a single person in my sphere of living, from immediate family to extended family to friends brought it up to even pique my interest. A common theme with the stuff I’ve grown to love in the area of art has come from my own experiences in high school, with the advent of the internet allowing me to research into more things and my experience in high school getting me into contact with a wider variety of people. My parents didn’t hate movies or anything by any means, but Sci Fi was and still is not one of their things. They just don’t have the mind for it. Which is fine, some people don’t like such blatantly fake stories. They didn’t even introduce Star Wars to me, it was outside help. Trek didn’t carry the kind of clout with kids, and still doesn’t, that would enter the life of an elementary school kid in the 90s. Toys or cartoons or pure popcorn entertainment. So even if anyone in my life was a closet Trekkie, they probably figured not to expose me to a franchise that was more thoughtful than it was explosive. In many ways, my distance from Trek as a kid helped me out in appreciating it in my older age. Even if it did make me a bit apprehensive about getting into it, as my only ideas about it as time went on and it was actually introduced to me was that it was super boring. By the time high school rolled around, Star Wars was essentially dead, and Trek was MIA. Lucas (seemingly) killed any good will towards the franchise with his truly misguided and terrible prequels, while Trek floundered about with bad movies and a truly forgettable TV show. The franchise that was born on TV wanted so desperately to be Cinema that it slowed itself down. I’d finally gotten a sort of idea about Trek by High School, but still hadn’t dipped my toes into the water. It wasn’t really until College that I was taken in by the franchise.
The reboot in 2009 is a bit of a divisive movie in the franchise, getting the extremist trekkies into tizzies because it was different but bringing in new people by highlighting the pros of the series by bringing it into the new generation. It was an energetic movie, pure popcorn bliss that stands tall amongst modern day blockbusters. For what it lacked in the trademark Trek intelligence, it made up for in charm and thrills. JJ Abrams brought his knack for breakneck pacing and pitch perfect casting to the series that had grown tired and stale. And while he brought a pair of bad writers with him, they lucked out by making a decent story. A story that was weird and sci fi enough to intrigue this uninitiated. Using time travel to make a reboot a sequel at the same time, JJ and company made a movie that respected the past while looking ahead to the future. It was ingenious, despite some plot holes regarding the insertion of a favorite character to the mix. Seeing this universe portrayed on the big screen for the first time, while slightly different from what came before it was, unknown at the time, a game changer for me.
While the sequel couldn’t quite live up to it’s predecessor, it entertained me enough while fully acknowledging that it’s very flawed. But it was the leadup to that movie that made me fully aware that I was becoming a Trek fan. Not a full blown Trekkie. I like women too much to become a sci fi monk like that. But enough so that I wanted to get into the older series and see what was what. The theories about what Into Darkness was gonna deal with were dense and I wanted to see what the fuss was about and maybe get a leg up against regular audiences. So I bought the Blu Ray of Season 1 of the original series, and got into it. Not as hardcore as I’ve gotten into some other series, but my interest was most certainly piqued. I liked what I was seeing, even if it was a little campy and dated at points. What sold me was the scripts and the tone of the thing. It was a Sci Fi property that stood apart from the others, even to these day. Hell, especially in comparison to todays Sci Fi. Hope reined supreme. It was brightness in a sea of dark. Intelligent in a sea of mindless drek. And it was just plain fun, hiding the medicine inside a nice bright piece of candy. But after reaching “The Menagarie” episode, I fell off from the show. The way my mind works, I can either be 100% addicted to something or I’ll jump around from thing to thing to keep my mind busy. I thought I was all in on Trek but it turns out I wasn’t. I’ve kept meaning to get back into it but the never ending selection of media has kept me busy. But the time is right for me to get back to it.
The third entry in the revamped series is coming out soon and that alone has gotten my ears perked up about getting into the series again. But it’s something bigger than that. Something more primal and heavier than simple dedication to educate myself about a show. What has gotten me interested in getting back into the series is the fact that the world is a miserable, hateful shit show right now. Our economy isn’t good. The workforce is a joke, with too many college graduates going without jobs or getting shit paying jobs while being crushed by the astronomical debt they had to accrue to get into college since a college degree has been so watered down these days that it’s essentially a high school diploma and everyone has to go to college now. The Presidential Race is a fucking joke, something that would be too silly for even The Onion to have made up with two false prophets running for office with a plan of bringing out all the worst elements in the country on both sides of the aisle. Racism, misogyny, homo/transphobia has all reared it ugly damn head. The idiots have taken control of the asylum, demanding that we go back to the old days where things really weren’t actually better. The middle class wants to blame everyone else for their lack of millions of dollars in the bank, instead of looking inward and realizing their decisions and/or limitations have kept them in place. The hypocrisy of them decrying the lower class for getting handouts when all they really want is hand outs is stunning. Basically, we have entered a mirror universe where the hateful and illogical are the majority. We have regressed and it is scary. I’m not one that gets too into politics. It’s just beyond me and bores me. But this is seemingly inescapable. It’s making me mad and making me scared. I’m honestly afraid of what will happen to this country come November. And in this day and age, there are not many TV shows that could be a balm to that.
The vast majority of shows these days are very dark and cynical, outside of comedies that is. Which makes the release of a new Trek movie all the more important. Every blockbuster this year has been dark and cynical, even the golden child of Marvel’s Civil War. If Trek can right the wrongs of Into Darkness, this could be a special movie in the year. But regardless of that movies success, there’s still a rich history of Trek to work with. No matter what, I’m going to get into the Original Series again and finish it. And thanks to Netflix, I’ll be able to get into the other shows in the franchise. I can’t wait to get into The Animated Series. The Next Generation is something that I’m so excited to get to, as it is a big series in TV/Sci Fi history. Hell, I even wanna get into Voyager and Deep Space 9, as they could be sleeper hits that connect to my tastes. Even Enterprise could be interesting for me.
While the world is burning, I’m gonna try to keep my mind sane a bit by delving into work that is in it’s very core an optimistic show. A show that’s very premise is the Planet got it’s shit together so profoundly that they managed to enter the rest of the universe(s) in the Space Travel game. A show that’s very much about preaching about hope and optimism and the capacity of the human race for good. In a world where a bloated sack of shit that is a part of the problem is bellowing out “Make America Great Again”, this is a show that actually believes it’s message of greatness. But not just for America. We as a people are great when we get past out bullshit. We can do anything when we come together. While everyone is too busy tearing others apart for disagreeing with each other, I will be living in a world where James T. Kirk gladly bangs any alien he can get his hands on. I won’t forget the message that Gene Roddenberry tried to send out to the world. And it will keep me strong in this neverending hurricane of horseshit that is the world. It may not be the final frontier, but hope is the one we need to traverse now. Hundreds of hours of a franchise dedicated to that ideal is there for the picking, with a new movie and a highly anticipated new show coming along to keep it going. Hopefully we deserve it.