May. 10th, 2009

beyond_the_pale: (Default)
First things first. I've never been a real fan of Star Trek. I didn't /hate/ it, but it just didn't grab me by the lapels and shake my imagination. I knew enough about the series, from hanging out in sci-fi circles, having Trek obsessed co-workers at one point in time and through pop culture itself. Whenever anyone asked me who my favorite Captain was, I always said "Sisko" because it would derail the conversation and protect me from fan boys and girls. Likewise, I've never really been a rabid fanboy about, well, anything.

With the wife and kids out of town, I went to above film with Ticktockman, who didn't have anyone to go with and was planning to see it by himself. I went in clean; I didn't even know J.J. Abrams was involved. I was just hoping that the film would entertain and not waste my $9.

It didn't. Sure, there are criticisms that can be leveled against the film. George R.R. Martin says his piece here, and raises several good points, mostly about the need for new content. I don't diagree with him at all on that point. Read this before reading more here.

Back? Ok. It is a reboot. That is it's strength. It takes the world you knew, cheesy special effects and all, and reshapes it into something that was able to reach into my inner geek and give it a cupcake. If you've ever read any of the Marvel "What If?" comics, this is the wide screen version of that. Which means (drum roll) it is new content. Sure, we have the same names and a lot of nods to the old series, but it's all new. A blank slate. Will there be tribbles? Who the hell cares if there are? This isn't the same Star Trek. The sky is the limit, and they have a real chance to do a lot with the franchise.

The original series was produced right in the middle of the Cold War, at the beginning of the jump into space, and before we ever set foot on the moon. The result- a Utopian Society that effortlessly cruises around in space, helping people and doing their best not to get involved. With womanizing. And cultural bias. It worked at the time, but it looks really, really tired today. Each successive Star Trek has also been a product of its time, to some degree. Look at The Next Generation. Again, it started during the Cold War, when technology was really starting to get some wind behind it. The Klingons had stopped being the bad guys. Instead we had the BORG- showing what happens when Technology runs amok.

Then there was Voyager. A woman captain. Betrayal, schisms and... well, I don't know. I never watched it. I'm sure there is some cultural message in there somewhere. And Deep Space 9, which is also a big blank to me. Sorry. If this was a paper, I'd have to hit the library or something.

But now we have this. I guess I'm excited for the untapped potential this film hints at. They didn't really address any deep questions the way Battlestar Galactica did, but maybe they will. Looking around, we have global warming, globalization, fear of pandemic, rampant poverty, corrupt government, a deep and abiding distrust of the media, the gay rights issues, unending wars and a host of other fodder for this franchise to sieze ahold of and use.

And that is what Science Fiction is about, really. It's a small look forward to reflect on who and what we are today, and the consequenses of what our choices today might be. I hope the folks behind the new Star Trek remember that and use it to their advantage.

I wonder how actual Trek fans feel about it, though?

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