Star Trek and I both made our first public appearance in 1966: the show aired and I was born. My first memory of the show was seeing the Alternative Factor episode on a tiny black and white TV. I wondered what the heck was going on, but I liked what I saw. After that, I watched Star Trek at every opportunity and got my friends to play Star Trek in between playing war.
While I liked the show, I managed to avoid becoming weirdly obsessed. I never dressed up as a Klingon or a Star Fleet officer. I never went to conventions. I did, however, play Star Fleet Battles a great deal.
When STNG came out, I eagerly watched the first episode and then wished it had been better. I liked the series and also liked DS9. I liked Voyager much less and cannot even stand watching Enterprise. When it comes on the Sci-Fi channel, I wince and quickly turn to something less painful, like Fox News.
While Star Trek was just a TV show, it had a considerable impact on my life. Naturally, it helped develop my imagination and contributed to my ongoing love of science fiction and technology.
But, the most important effect of Star Trek was that it helped develop my moral views and shaped my view of what the future should be.
While Star Trek has often been dismissed as presenting a naive and Pollyanna view of the future, many of the episodes engaged complex and serious problems such as race, issues of technology, and what it is to be human. Beneath the cheap sets and weak effects was some amazing depths. This is hardly surprising-some of the best science fiction writers of that time wrote scripts for the show. The original series also made it clear that humanity had paid a price in reaching a more enlightened state. For example, Earth had fought the terrible Eugenics War. The series also showed that humanity was still struggling with its flaws collectively and individually.
However, the overall tone was optimistic and positive. The Federation was presented as being ruled by law and devoted to enlightened moral principles. As such, Star Trek offered us a better future-admittedly, a very American sort of future. That said, the future was still fraught with perils and enemies. War still existed in the Star Trek universe, as did greed, anger, hate, and all the negative things. But without these things, there could be no heroes.
When I heard about the new Star Trek movie, I was somewhat worried. On one hand, I was concerned that the movie would desecrate what remained after the horror of Enterprise. On the other hand, I had hopes that what made the original series so great would be revitalized and polished up for a new generation. After all, Star Trek had a huge positive influence on me and I had hopes that it would have a chance to influence the youth of today in the same way. Again, it is just a show (or movie). But our myths and legends have a huge impact on reality.
I’ll be seeing the movie later today. So far, the reviews of the movie have been extremely good-so I am not worried that I will be wasting my money. But, I do wonder if the movie will have the true soul of Star Trek or if it will be just a flashy spectacle.