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Andrew O’Hehir has a great piece at Salon called, “Why the Original Star Trek Still Matters.” O’Hehir writes that Trek became a potent cultural force because of its “its narrative ambition, its talky, theatrical density, its high-minded moral tone, and its nerdy philosophizing.”

Moreover, having been a Trekkie youth in the seventies, he claims a kind of intellectual, counter-culture cool for others like himself: they were “prima facie, not interested in Donny Osmond or ‘Happy Days,’ had conceivably read a book not required by teachers, and furthermore could plausibly have access to decent weed.” Weed!

Deleted scene from Mirror, Mirror.*

Deleted scene from Mirror, Mirror.*

Of course, he is right. But I am biased and have to confess to a solidarity with Trekkies and appreciation for their long history. I was moved when I heard Whoopi Goldberg say how much the character of Uhuru meant to her as a child in the sixties. She told her family, “I just saw a black woman on television; and she ain’t no maid!” And when Nichelle Nichols wanted to leave the show after the first season, no less than Martin Luther King, Jr. asked her to stay on, as she was a role model for the black community. After forty-three years of Star Trek, there are many stories like this, examples of community and inspiration, from fundraising for charities by fan groups around the globe to the badass lyrics written by Trek bands like No Kill:

Trekking through space
Chasing some Gorn
Fucking with the Federation
A battle is born.
Taken from our ships
Our savage nature calls
Human pitted against Gorn
Who’s got the bigger balls?

GORN!
Can’t kill Kirk
GORN!
Green fucking jerk!
GORN!
No can do!
GORN!
Fuck you!

Who has bigger balls?

Who has bigger balls?

To many people, Star Trek offers what O’Hehir calls “a tiny oasis of imaginative escape.” Maybe this has been all the more welcome to the nerdy egghead types, or the people who didn’t fit in very well, had shitty social skills, or didn’t look as great as everyone else. And this, I think, is why Spock and his later incarnations, Data and Seven of Nine, have been an enduring force in the Trekverse.

Where House has taken certain aspects of the Sherlock Holmes character–his drug use, detachment, and misanthropy–Trek has refigured Holmes’s rationality in a different way. Spock’s leads him to be completely free of that ugly species of prejudgment that we all cannot help but engage in when we first meet someone and assess them based on speech, number or whiteness of teeth, skin, clothing, shoes, likelihood of being a serial killer, imagined intelligence, coolness, hair frizziness, nail length, pants tentness, ankle thickness, cell-phone shininess, age, size, sexual orientation, political leanings, mole placement, and so on, ad infinitum. That extraordinary quality, that we rarely see in real life outside of people like Gandhi or the Dalai Lama, is a large part of what Trek envisions for the advancement of humankind.

And that’s why I grok Spock, and that’s why I am an unabashed Trekkie. Live long and prosper.

* I shamelessly stole this idea from Glark’s Star War Farts series.

Androids remember.

Androids remember.

cat redshirt

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