Thursday, September 08, 2016

Keep On Trekkin'

I could not possibly let today pass without wishing a happy 50th Anniversary to Star Trek. Who would ever have predicted, back in the day, that a show that had trouble even staying on the air for three years would still be something we'd be talking about half a century later? Let alone that it would have such a tremendous influence on science fiction, on pop culture, on millions of people, and even on real-world technology?

I sometimes like to describe myself, only half-jokingly, as a lapsed Trekkie. There was a point -- OK, it was pretty much the entirety of my teens -- when Star Trek, with its humanist philosophy and its much-discussed optimistic view of the future, served me pretty effectively in place of a religion. These days, Trek and I have drifted apart a little bit. I've found myself disappointed with some of the later entries in the franchise, eventually giving up entirely on both Voyager and Enterprise. And I can see problems with the original series that weren't remotely obvious to me as a youngster, from the disturbing implications of Kirk's interpretation of the Prime Directive as something that only applies to societies he approves of, to its unexamined 1960s sexism.

And yet. And yet, I still maintain a deep, abiding, nostalgic affection for Kirk and company, and (in a somewhat different way) for their Next Generation descendants. Not to mention a strong appreciation for the tragically under-rated Deep Space 9, which, despite a rough first season and the occasional plot or character misstep, was and remains a damned good show.

I may not think about Star Trek obsessively the way I did when I was, oh, thirteen. And I'm pretty sure I've forgotten more Trek trivia than even Gene Roddenberry ever knew. But the swelling notes of that classic theme song can still stir my heart, and the role Trek had in shaping my life really cannot be underestimated. I feel like I should feel embarrassed by that, somehow. But I'm not. If nothing else, I'll always love Star Trek for giving me Mr. Spock as someone a lonely little nerdy kid to look up to and adopt as a role model, as he was for so many nerdy little kids like me.

Live long and prosper, Trek. Not that you need the encouragement from me. Whatever I might think about all the twists and turns you've taken over the years, you seem to be managing that just fine.

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