The gate continues to connect our current crisis to ideas expressed in the popular culture.
Perhaps the one franchise that gives me comfort in these trying times is Star Trek.
I started watching the original series when it was first syndicated in the early 1970’s.
At that time the show returned on Saturday mornings with animation. Series regulars also returned to voice their characters.
Today I often think of the original stories as a way into thinking about our present situation.
The starship Enterprise had over 400 passengers. The sick bay had 6 beds.
It was mentioned on many episodes how humanity overcame inequality, war, poverty, and illness.
As a nation we are still reaching for the stars. Before Covid-19 NASA was talking about Mars.
Around the world there are never ending wars, poverty, and sickness. How can we ever hope to reach distant galaxies when our own is in such disarray?
This is what makes the Star Trek Universe so appealing and comforting. It presents a future in which all of humanity are exploring deep space as a United group.
Any perceived threats are met on a United front as an assault against Earth.
The mythos of the series competed against the realities of the 1960’s. Vietnam, civil rights, and political corruption were raging.
By decade’s end NBC canceled Star Trek after 3 seasons and just 79 episodes.
Viewers campaigned to save the show. Known as Trekkies, fans were devoted enough to get the animated series and a convention at the Statler-Waldorf hotel in Manhattan.
It’s important to note that the term Trekkie became stigmatized by those who felt Star Trek was too altruistic for it’s own good. Most of the fans today use the term Trekker instead.
The franchise now stands at 7 TV series, 13 feature films, and the animated series. Over 700 hours of viewing available on Amazon Prime, Netflix, and CBS All Access.
Discovery and Picard are the current series. I have not seen them since I don’t subscribe to CBS All Access.
I am returning to the original series and all of its sequels and films.
Of all the episodes “The Naked Time” stands out for today. The crew becomes infected with a virus.
Most notably the ship’s helmsman Mr. Sulu runs amok with fever as a barechested swashbuckler.
Every time the ship’s crew faced illness Dr.McCoy would complain that vaccines take time. His many retorts have become part of the long list of famous lines from the series.
By the end of an episode you knew an answer would be found. We cannot ever be so lucky in reality.
But, Star Trek makes you feel better about humanity’s prospects for survival.
The Vulcans are a race of half-human people ruled by logic. Mr. Spock represents them as chief Science Officer. His most famous line is “Live Long and Prosper”.
As a signifier of how positive the affect the series has had on its viewers 1 in 3 Americans are fans.
Around the world millions more are dedicated to its ideals of possibilities and respect for all cultures.
The United front of science fiction must still be an aim for humanity. The United Federation of Planets may still be fiction but we at least have a United Nations in reality.
I am a Trekkie. After a long break from it I have come back to Star Trek. Now there are many episodes to explore and favorite films to enjoy all over again.
Future blogs of The Gate will discuss Star Trek’s philosophy as well.
Please keep in mind this statement at the end of the first Star Trek feature film in 1979—The Human Adventure is Just Beginning…