Friday, May 15, 2009

Thoughts on Star Trek

*The following post contains spoilers for the new Star Trek movie*

When I first heard about the new Star Trek movie, I was ambivalent. Most of my Star Trek experience is with the Next Generation crew, and a healthy helping of Voyager. I had little to no attachment to Kirk and friends, which is probably why it took me a week to go and see it. The only reason I saw it at all was because countless people including Wil Wheaton, sang it's praises. So today I went to see it. At first glance it was an exciting film with plenty of Trekkie indulging catch phrases, cool action, and even a compelling story with interesting characters. But the more I thought about it, the more I came to realize a very important, very terrifying possibility:

This film has the potential to destroy the decades of Star Trek canon that generations of fans have come to love.

Before the film came out, many people complained about the time travel aspect of the plot, arguing that the science fiction trope had reached the point of cliché. Maybe I haven't experienced enough science fiction to be tired of it, but I have no problems with time travel, and entered the film with high expectations. But then after walking out of the film, and comparing the events of the film to my knowledge of the events of the Star Trek world, I realized that Vulcan was never destroyed, and Spock never lost his mother. One of the most important aspects of a time travel plot is the point at which the "correct" reality is restored. This never happened. I have no problem with alternate realities, but they deserve only fleeting attention.

This movie will not be the last, it is doing very well in the box office, and there is every reason to believe that there will be a sequel, maybe even two. It is even conceivable that a new TV series will be created. But these potential movies, and series will be based on the alternate reality created by the latest Star Trek Movie.

The Star Trek canon consists of over 600 episodes, and 10 movies. All of that has been thrown out the window. That world, those stories, those people are being abadoned as a relic of the past. This epic canon is being replaced with one that will probably bear little resemblance to Gene Roddenberry's original vision. Star Trek is a story about culture, equality, and exploration. Those core values have no appeal to today's producers of TV and movies, and will likely have no place in this alternate timeline.

Ever since TNG, there has been conflict between those wishing to stay true to Gene Roddenberry's original vision, and stories, and those wishing to follow rating trends by leaping headfirst into the popularity contest modern media has become. It seems as if the latter party has finally won. All Trekkies should bow their heads, shed a tear, and mourn the loss of our beloved world.


Anonymous said...

...and you know what - it's a movie, a story, something created for the entertainment & enjoyment of an get to choose whether you like it, and you can choose to like it for being bold enough to go in it's own direction, and to allow its creators to have their own take on its dramatic development without having to be forced into the constraints of something that already exists.

The beauty of science fiction, and in particular, time travel, is that it doesn't exist, and it can therefore make & break its own rules.

It doesn't have to offend anyone by moving away from the canon - you can take those 600 episodes & 10 movies, and enjoy them on their own merits. They remain intact (and great, and worthwhile), despite the new movie.

You've only been sold out if you choose to take that opinion. Or you can choose to love the new movie for itself, in the knowledge that it might, in future installments, do just what Gene intended (which included a wish, by the way, to have a young, new fresh team take it on, and make it bigger than he ever could...)

Be thankful that enough people care about it, to have it continue, and enjoy it for what it is...

Faldwin said...

There is definitely a possibility that this new canon will be good, I just don't think it is very likely.

But regardless of whether the new canon will be any good I find it saddening that the original canon is being abandoned.