Star Trek, The Original Series (TOS): A Necessary Social Commentary, Part 1
I think that the recent reboot of Star Trek has pissed me off. It kind of implies to me that the old franchise was done incorrectly, that somehow the old should be invalidated by a newer vision, that what is new is necessarily better. Admittedly, that could be just me becoming an old curmudgeon. However, I don’t believe that Star Trek (TOS) gets enough credit from the next generation. (Pun intended.)
Netflix is a beautiful thing. I started re-watching the show a while ago, but I’ve deliberately NOT binged this show. I wanted to take my time with it despite the fact that I have several favorite episodes. (I’ve watched some of these episodes so often that I can recite dialogue word for word.) I was deliberate in order to appreciate the subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle social commentaries. The more I watched, the more it seems to increase my estimation of not only what the show accomplished, but also on how it attempted to change the dialogue of the prevailing thoughts of the time period.
Now, if only I could convince my children as to how important this show was. The problem lies in the fact that my children and students seem to disdain and dismiss Star Trek for its garish costumes, cheesy dialogue, obviously fake sets, and dated special effects. They don’t understand how technologically cutting edge the effects were for the time period. Real science fiction writers worked on the show. Writers such as Robert Bloch, DC Fontana, Theodore Sturgeon, and Harlan Ellison are among some of the published writers that worked on the show. As a consequence, I don’t understand the lack of awe reflected from the new generation when approaching the series. Don’t they understand how important Star Trek was to the cultural milieu of the late 60s and early 70s?
The following will be my attempt to communicate the importance of Star Trek as a vehicle for change and why it remains a social, cultural phenomenon. I don’t intend for it to be boring, so pedantic details will be excluded, and it’s my hope to educate in such a way as to be entertaining. Since I intend for this discourse to be episodic, I’m sure there will be questions and comments, which I encourage. I also expect disagreement, which is fine, but be respectful, please. Also, I’m completely aware that there are whole libraries of social commentaries devoted to Star Trek and its impact on culture. I’m not trying to rehash what others have said although I probably will, understand that this is what I believe: good, bad, or indifferent.
I would propose an axiom, and then I will demonstrate it to be true via several examples.
Axiom: Star Trek is the most influential Science Fiction television program in history!
- It has influenced technology in various ways.
- It has influenced societal mores regarding racial equality.
- It has influenced societal mores regarding gender and self-determination
- It has influenced concepts of militarism and peace.