Taedium Edax Rerum

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I suppose, in the end analysis, I am not a Trekkie…

Posted by Doug on May 10, 2009

I saw the new Star Trek movie Saturday, and it was a decent, fun movie, just so long as you didn’t sweat the details (black holes and supernovae don’t quite work like that) and did not try to compare it to the Great Bird’s original works.  But ultimately, it was a forgettable movie, because it was just “a tale…full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”  It was only trying to be an enjoyable but disposable science-fiction flavored actiony popcorn movie, and it succeeded; it was not trying to be anything more than that, and in this regard, it also succeeded.

There was a time when I was an unabashed Trekkie.  I watched the TV shows (the Original Series and The Next Generation), read the novels, bought the technical manuals, the whole nine yards.  Heck, I even dabbled in the art of writing Star Trek fanfiction.  I enjoyed Star Trek as a futuristic extrapolation of the real-life space programs of the 1960s and 70s.  Star Trek was neatly summed up by the variations of its classic intro: “Space…the final frontier…”  I enjoyed the ultimately positive message it presented about our future.  The secular humanist themes Roddenberry wove into the storytelling resonated with me.

I did not care much for Deep Space Nine.  There was no “boldly go”-ing, there was a dump in space and the characters were stuck there.  And then there was a war, and a bunch of stuff that had nothing to do with exploration formed the core storyline.  Likewise with Voyager: they did not “boldly go”, they were stuck out in the middle of nowhere and their adventure was primarily to get back home, not to explore.  Oh, they had their little side jaunts into the purely exploration-for-exploration’s-sake department, which is one of the reasons I like Voyager more than Deep Space Nine, even though I’ve seen only a little of the former and quite a bit of the latter.

Nothing I read or saw of Enterprise inspired me to want to watch it, not even just to see how it turned out.

The movies were hit-and-miss; I’m one of the few, I suppose, who liked Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  But I really would not have liked the movies as much on their own—it was only because they were continuations of the stories of characters I liked, that I liked them at all.  None of the characters I liked are in the new Star Trek movie: in the reboot, Kirk and Spock and McCoy and the rest have been changed, some subtly, some egregiously so, but all might as well be entirely new characters who just happen to share the same name by coincidence. So, basically, what Star Trek is has been redefined since the (in my mind) heyday of the Original Series and The Next Generation; the things I enjoyed are no longer a part of the equation; and all that remains is a mildly entertaining action movie.

But this is what the scriptwriters and producers and the fanbase at large want Star Trek to be; this is what Star Trek has become.  J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek was good, mindless fun, but if this is what Star Trek is, I am not a Trekkie.

And maybe that’s a good thing.

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