How Star Trek Fans Ruined the Star Wars Fan Base

This one is likely to cause a reaction.

Let me be clear about one thing before I begin. I am a Star Trek fan. I Grok Spock. I went to opening night of the reboot, too. Kirk, Picard, Sisko…I even like Archer. Not Janeway, though. Never Janeway.

To be fair, I didn’t really become a Star Trek fan until much later than Star Wars; with the latter I was three when I watched it for the first time, and there you go. Star Trek had a lot of ground to make up after that.

Largely, I’d have to say that I started getting interested in Star Trek when Star Wars hit a dry spell in the late 1980s. There was nothing new to come there for a good long while, and at the time we thought it was all done for good and for ever.

In the mid-1990s, Star Trek was in the first wheezing coughs of the death throes for its initial incarnation. The body was sick and we all saw the symptoms. We stayed by its side, an old friend we wanted to support especially in the difficult times. We’d had so many good times in the past, what would it say about us to leave in the hour of despair?

Deep Space 9, while a superior effort in terms of story, felt different. It was a symptom of the schism forming behind the scenes among the production and writing teams. It’s no wonder that Ron Moore eventually left to develop the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica; in retrospect his fingerprints are all over Deep Space 9. But to be fair, it was a sign that the venerable Star Trek franchise was changing. DS9 was the tipping point where it would lead to better or worse.

Voyager was a complete dud, except among the most die-hard fans, which is why it lost me. It’s not that the captain was a woman, it’s that her character was weak. It’s not that the cast was forcibly diversified, it’s that they weren’t the best characters for the situations. They were so desperate to try to get people back they hired Jeri Ryan to slink through the stories in skin-tight outfits and try to replace the Spock-like “emotionless” character trying to learn how to be human. I will admit that worked for me for a couple of episodes, but it was never what Star Trek was supposed to be. It was supposed to be “above” using sex to sell (though I’m sure the Klingon sisters from the Next Generation did something for…someone…whom I have yet to meet).

The Next Generation movies were fairly weak. Instead of Kirk, Spock and McCoy, three characters we knew and loved and trusted, to lead us through allegory both subtle and ham-handed. By the time they got their act together and put together an interesting premise (Nemesis), it was too late. At the time, I overlooked a lot of flaws because I was such a fan of the show. If the movies had been two hour episodes, I’d stand by them (excluding Insurrection still), but the ensemble cast mentality doesn’t translate well to film format: there are too many characters with individual arcs for any truly effective plotlines to develop. Basically, by pandering to the fans to make sure everyone’s “favorite character” got “enough screentime” they took a wrecking ball to the driving idea behind a film, which is that every element should serve the main arc.

Good ensemble cast film: American Graffiti. Bad: Next Generation Films.

In short, we all knew that Star Trek was a shade of its former self.

But I’m getting ahead of myself on this whole thing. The overall point is that in the 1990s, things were very bleak for Star Trek fans. They were a bunch of OCD fanatics with nothing to be fanatic about. Even Babylon 5 went away.

So where did they turn? Star Wars. And being a bunch of good-natured people, we opened our doors.

At first, it seemed like a logical leap. Star Trek was a landmark sci-fi show, Star Wars the bastard child of Flash Gordon and Leigh Brackett. If not brothers, they were at least cousins. Recognizing the differences one could be a fan of both — as I and plenty of others are.

Unfortunately, our good nature was our downfall. Like opening the gates to the Ostrogoths and Visigoths, Trekkies (I will never call you Trekkers) toppled our Roman paradise with their dark, oppressive ways.

Before the 1990s Trekkie infiltration, I remember how we used to be. We were care-free, fun and while obsessive could poke fun at the imperfections of the films. Part of it was the overwhelming elixir of nostalgia; it’s hard to be harsh about something you associate with childhood. Ask any former female fan of New Kids on the Block: there will always be a special place in your heart where you acknowledge the shortcomings but relish the innocent times of which it reminds you.

However, Trekkies aren’t satisfied with simply liking something. No, they have to love it the way a stalker loves a Hollywood celebrity. It’s the type of love that requires restraining orders. This mind-set is infectious, and spreads quickly.

Before their insidious infection of our beloved host, we didn’t care that a parsec was really a measure of distance and not time. It didn’t matter. In fact, you could see that the scene plays out that Solo is a con artist, thinks he has a couple of rubes on the line for an easy payday and starts spinning a yarn. Obi-Wan’s face tells it all, as he leans back with a smirk that says, “How full of s*** can one man be?”

But no, that Star Trek mentality had to come in and obsess about the proper definition of a parsec being a unit of distance, not time. So much so that the “expanded universe” literature (a trilogy of books – naturally – about Han Solo’s past) had to explain how the run was through a nest of Black Holes causing space/time to warp. I thought it was a cute explanation, but was it really that necessary?

No, it’s a holdover from the mind-set that gave us technical manuals for spaceships that explained how Warp Drive and transporters supposedly worked. Such manuals were supposed proof of how attainable Star Trek technology would be, regardless of the mountain of bologna on which it was built.

Doubt that? Then tell me where we’ll find Dilythium Crystals or exactly WTF a millicochrane is, or how a “Heisenberg Compensator” can really adjust for the changing nature of atoms during transport of a living being. Oh, you mean it’s just some made up crap to sate those who can’t be satisfied with make-believe? Do tell.

And now we have manuals for the Star Wars technology as well. Although we shouldn’t. Because most of that stuff isn’t even close to being possible. So let’s just roll out “hyperdimensional travel” (which Star Trek later stole, by the way, in the Lore/Borg episodes) instead of just “ship needs to go fast.”

And yes, I blame Trekkies. Not fans of Star Trek, mind you, but Trekkies. We let you guys come into our sandbox, then you peed all over it and complain that the sandbox isn’t clean anymore.

So, in short, I’m glad that Star Trek got a reboot (though there were plenty of Trekkies dissatisfied with it, up to and including that “only Captain Kirk should say Space the Final Frontier”). At the very least, you jokers can go back from whence you came and let the rest of us alone.

I’ll see you in the theatre, of course. But let’s promise to keep an empty seat between us.

About these ads

13 comments

  1. Frylock Bodine · August 25, 2010

    As a Star Trek fan (who, BTW, agrees 100% with your like/dislike of the various series), I love the idea of finding the consistency throughout. It’s a puzzle just begging to be solved, so I love it. However, Star Trek is something that Star Wars was never intended to be. Star Trek was a statement to the real world humans: We’re going to be okay.

    Paraphrasing Roddenberry, aliens didn’t build the pyramids; we did, and we could because we’re resourceful and smart. (Of course, working slavery into our social structure helped, too, but that doesn’t take away from the technological achievement.) We have our faluts, and Star Trek pointed them out, but only to help us understand ourselves better, and to show us that there’s no reason to think we’re necessarily on the path to self-destruction. We can work with these faults because our strengths can be so great.

    Star Wars, on the other hand, was never meant to be taken so seriously. Lucas said that he created the Force in order to get kids to think about religion, but as far as I know, that’s the only aspect of the series that isn’t purely entertainment. Star Wars was a fun, dramatic story intended to entertain you. I doubt any sociologists were consulted in the making of those films.

    Those who wish to mix the two should do so with the understanding that they are apples and oranges. The presence of advanced technology doesn’t make them clones of one another.

    Huh, huh. I said, “clones.”

    • kesseljunkie · August 25, 2010

      Hear, hear, good sir!

      And of course we agree on our likes and dislikes. All this extra intelligence burned the hair off the top of our heads.

      • Frylock Bodine · August 25, 2010

        Now, if only I had a brain in my ass . . .

        • kesseljunkie · August 25, 2010

          …you’d then have the excuse you need to keep talking out of it. [rimshot]

  2. Tyler · August 25, 2010

    Ah….you miss the most important question of all. Who would win, Vader or Kirk? Would Kirk’s judo chops disable Vader? What say you?

    • Frylock Bodine · August 25, 2010

      Your question is inaccurate. Kirk’s chops (aka, sudos) were clearly Hapkido-based.

      • kesseljunkie · August 25, 2010

        Please. Kirk’s toupee is lightsaber-proof. I think that the only one that can destroy it is God. Since the toupee is what, in fact, keeps him alive, so long as Vader can’t destroy *it*, Vader can’t destroy *him*.

        Game, set and match. However, I cannot tell you how the toupee is powered or how its propulsion systems work.

  3. Tony · August 25, 2010

    I agree with you and Frylock both, in everything except the likes/dislikes of the specifics of Trek (“Nemesis” was nothing more than a bad bit of fanfiction turned into a movie).

    Like you, I was/am a Star Wars fan first. I have never been one of those Trek fans who demanded explanations for everything, despite what you might think (the whole Death Star discussion was rattling your cage more than anything else, and, as you indicated, pointing out the inconsistencies in the movies. But that is an entire different conversation for another time, and possibly over a beer. Seriously, I’m planning a quick trip on Saturday. Give me a call. It’s be great to catch up).

    There’s an inconsistency to the story-telling in Star Wars, at least as far as the “need” to explain the whys and wherefores (not to mention attempts to justify the behavior of the good guys. I’m sorry. I don’t care what the “Special Edition” says, Han shot first, and Greedo never pulled a trigger).

    Where Trek evolves (for good or ill) because it is an on-going story, the core story in Star Wars seems to change from one moment to the next. It seems that the Star Wars story stagnates, and every once in a while, Lucas tosses a pebble in, causes some ripples, and allows the stagnation to return.

    But what do I know? I’m just a techno-babble-needing “Trekkie”.

    • Frylock Bodine · August 25, 2010

      “Nemesis: The Search for Data” was badass, except for the storyline theft, but no one cared by then.

    • kesseljunkie · August 25, 2010

      I disagree about the core story stagnating in Star Wars, so much as the beginning and end points are there. The thing to do is fill in the gaps between them.

      Star Trek is open ended because it’s episodic in nature like any other TV show, so there’s no unifying story so much as a theme/concept.

      Star Wars is the story of the Skywalkers, anything else is window dressing.

      I suspect the “inconsistency ” in Star Wars for you is that like many other fans, you had accepted things like the Zahn books as sacrosanct, and so when Lucas ignored them for the prequels, you did not — as I did — accept and rejoice in it. I still do. But if Spaarti cylinders are your thing they’ve found a way to explain that away too (cleverly serving the real story at that).

      As for Han shooting at the same time as Greedo…meh. Doesn’t really bother me. As for the Death Star propulsion, like I said, you never see the back of the thing, and no sane person cares. Disprove that one with your vaunted principles of Kohlinar!

      Oh, and that whole reboot explanation for the new Trek not replacing the old, so they can keep milking both storylines in the books? Oi. Really? :-)

      • Tony · August 25, 2010

        I gave up on Trek books a while ago. It got to be as bad a mish-mosh as the “Vong War” books for Star Wars.

        • kesseljunkie · August 25, 2010

          Oh, yeah. After a brief rehab from the Bantam books, the post-Jedi stuff is out of control. They really need to rethink that whole thing and reinvent it. Time travel reset or something.

          I understand Spock is available… :-p

  4. Pingback: How Deep Is Your Love? (Part the Second) « kessel korner

kessel komments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s