Enough With The ‘Star Trek’ Vs. ‘Star Wars’ Debates

Star Trek is turning 50, which means lots of new goodies for fans to consume with their wallets – among them collectors’ issues from your local magazine rack. Among these issues, expect to find, once again, the perennial Star Trek vs. Star Wars articles as to which franchise is better. Eyeroll please.

When I was a teenager, I was a Star Wars fan first and foremost. I had never seen any episodes of Star Trek, whether it was the Original Series, the Next Generation, Deep Space Nine or Voyager. There were no TV stations playing the Original Series at the time (not even the then popular TV Land was airing the show regularly). Yet the no. 1 question I would get from people after learning that I loved Star Wars was “do you like Star Trek?” For years – even after I had become acquainted with the show – I had no clue there was supposed to be a “rivalry” between fans of both franchises. I ‘m convinced there isn’t and it’s all a pointless ploy by the media to create divisions and since it isn’t working, they won’t give up.

So to beat them at their own game, I’m going to tell you what both franchises have in common and why they both made our society all the richer for it (no, I will not point out the differences because they’re too obvious).

1. They Premiered In Double Digit Years.

Star Trek made it’s debut in 1966. Ten years later, in 1977, Star Wars: A New Hope  made its debut in theaters across the US. September 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. May 2017 will mark the 40th anniversary of Star Wars. Lord, time flies!

2. Both Had Something To Say

Gene [Roddenberry] envisioned a future where humanity had overcome their fears and prejudices and were willing to use science and exploration to their advantage. George [Lucas] envisioned an epic space adventure story using age-old mythological tropes. Both franchises are morality plays that dealt with topical and age-old issues: racism, oppression, good and evil, the importance of loyalty, the need for teamwork, why we should be forgiving, why we should look for the good in others, and so forth. They also broke ground in representation: Star Trek was the first major sf show to depict a diverse crew – that included a technically savvy black woman, an Asian helmsman and a Russian at the time of the Cold War, who weren’t ethnic stereotypes –  regularly, while Star Wars broke ground by introducing cinema’s first action heroine, challenging traditional male stereotypes with its main character and introducing a black character in a position of power – 28 years before the US would vote in a black president. I would also like to add that The Phantom Menace brought us, for the first time in cinematic history, a queen who wasn’t evil.

Here’s another point: both had potential to be even more groundbreaking, had circumstances not gotten in the way: the Enterprise‘s second in command would’ve been a woman, Obi-Wan Kenobi would’ve played by Toshiro Mifune, etc. But either way, both franchises changed people’s lives.

But the average viewer/moviegoer wasn’t the only person to be inspired by these stories…

3. Both Have Inspired Scientists 

I KNOW what you’re going to say! Star Trek is sci-fi, Star Wars is space fantasy, so you can’t even put the two in the same camp. Try telling that to the many scientists who’ve been inspired by both franchises. While Star Trek is the more obvious of the two – check out the charming documentary How William Shatner Changed the World for more information – Star Wars, believe it or not, has also inspired scientists to “stretch out with their feelings” when it comes to their scientific endeavors, be it space travel, biology, or prosthetics. Here’s a list of scientists (and scientific discoveries) inspired by that galaxy far, far away:

Holly GriffithThe Crew of Expedition 45Israel SanchezJonathan ArmbrusterKelly B. Miller and Quentin D. WheelerNate Lo

Here’s another documentary to watch: Star Wars Tech.

4. Both Produced An Expansive Tie-In Novel Collection

Curious as to what happened to the the crew of  the MirrorEnterprise after the events of “Mirror, Mirror”? Want to know more about the birth and life of Khan Noonien Singh before he was introduced in “Space Seed”? Want to learn more about Vulcan philosophy or Klingon rituals? Star Trek has produced, so far, over 200 tie-in novels written by talented authors, who fill in the blanks left open by the shows and movies that answers many a fan’s burning questions. From 1977 to 2014 the Star Wars Expanded Universe answered questions regarding how the myriads of characters in that galaxy far, far away got involved in the situations presented in the movies: who was Darth Plagueis the Wise? Why do the Sith follow the Rule of Two? How did Luke rebuild the Jedi Order? What happened to the survivors of Order 66? After April of 2014, a new canon novel timeline was introduced which included the novelization of an unfinished story arc from the canceled Clone Wars TV series. Whether you prefer the EU or the CU is up for debate. Because of the successful sales of Trek and Wars books, other franchises, from the X-Files to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, have also released tie-in novels furthering the adventures of their characters, albeit with less success.

Let’s also give a shout-out to all the comics, reference books and magazines published since ’66 and ’77.

5. Both Have Given Us Well-Written And Thought-Provoking Cartoons

If you were alive in 1973, were you under the impression that cartoons were silly, humorous entertainment strictly for kids and nothing more? Star Trek: The Animated Series shot that notion into a black hole with its intelligent, thought-provoking storylines, its continuation of groundbreaking moments (such as when Uhura briefly became captain of the Enterprise) lack of cutesy talking animal characters and its toned-downed humor. And because of that, the show won the franchise its first Emmy and paved the way for more serious, adult-oriented shows like Batman: The Animated Series. And if you ask me, Star Trek: TAS deserves more love.

In 2003 and 2008, Lucasfilm released two TV series that explored the war only hinted at in A New Hope and Attack of the Clones. The 2003 Star Wars: Clone Wars used minimal dialogue to portray the earliest battles of the Clone Wars and introduced a new, scary villain (and also netted the franchise its first Emmy) while the 2oo8 Clone Wars gave us more details, a deeper philosophical insight into the Force, more ambiguous moral conundrums and a new iconic female character. That series also won an Emmy (eventually) and was Cartoon Network’s most watched show.

6. Lots And Lots of Merchandise

…And counting. Could sports or music memorabilia ever compete with a fan’s extensive Star Trek or Star Wars collection? That depends on who you ask. Start with Marc Bell or Steve Sansweet (warning: your mind will be blown or you may covet these collections).

So let’s follow George Takei’s advice and stop this silly rivalry. Remember only a Sith deals in absolutes.

4cbd869b447b2ed7d64b3f742cf7aae2

You can also buy this shirt over at Society 6 in any size you want!

 

Advertisements

6 Comments

Filed under fandom, Star Trek, Star Wars

6 responses to “Enough With The ‘Star Trek’ Vs. ‘Star Wars’ Debates

  1. I always had fun arguing with Trekkies. But I notice how the Trek fanbase seems to be the most……..zealous. Star Wars fans will argue for a couple posts then leave. Other fans of other science fiction do the same. Trek fans are the only ones I know of who will pull every switch, find every fault, and try to always hammer at you no matter what if you debate them. Double if you’re a Star Wars fan.

    I’ve talked with fans of other science fiction; Mass Effect, Starcraft, Halo, Gundam, Transformers, Warhammer 40K, and most of them handle their debates well. They don’t balk when I introduce Expanded Universe content into the debate; they actually welcome it. In fact, a 40K fan said to me that Star Wars vessels can match against Imperium vessels based on the figures on the Attack of the Clones Incredible Cross Sections alone. They welcome Star Wars Expanded Universe content and count it in the debate. Trekkies, on the other hand, will fight tooth and nail to exclude EU content and will talk a lot about what is canon and what isn’t; while forgetting the fact that the Expanded Universe was canon in the time of Lucas, hence why Disney actually had to release a statement to DE-CANONIZE it. And they will take every measure to demonize Star Wars and its fans.

    I always find that the Trekkies who argue about tech specs are the most obnoxious of all, while the ones who debate morality are a far more enlightened breed. I’d debate with them about the morality of the Prime Directive, and they handle themselves well. They’re the kind of Trekkie that I can share a beer with and talk about big things like philosophy, morality, or politics. They’re the kind of Trekkie that can give you a good afternoon discussing such big topics. But it’s trying to find a balance between the two.

    Like

  2. I don’t necessarily love Star Trek, but I respect it for being one of the first mainstream science fiction shows, and I can even say I genuinely liked the Original Series Trek. The Next Gen and everything after? Not that much. Their positions on anti-theism and the Prime Directive kinda irk me in those shows. Especially when the original starship captain wasn’t such a stick in the mud concerning that blasted protocol.

    The Prime Directive was made as something for Kirk to stamp on. It’s something for them to say “Captain, if you save these people, you’ll be breaking the rules” only for Kirk to say “Damn the rules! Saving lives is more important!” It was something to show that Kirk had character. That he had balls, and he wasn’t afraid to use them to save lives and do what needs to be done. Which is why their legalistic approach to the Prime Directive in later shows irked me. They get into moral quandaries about whether or not to save people or intervene because of it, whereareas a captain like Kirk who had common sense would just say “screw the rules, do what’s right!” The logic behind the Directive is also skewered: just because there’s some instances of more advanced races screwing over less advanced ones, doesn’t mean that contact between advanced races and primitives should be cut off. Yes, Western Imperialism had its share of faults, but without it, people all across the world wouldn’t have cars, medicine, toilets, computers, and many things they take for granted every day.

    Another position I don’t agree with is their shift in religion; whereareas TOS had a more pro-religion approach, TNG seemed to have a viewpoint that skewers towards atheism, recognizing races that have outgrown spirituality and religion as “more enlightened”. Picard gets angry at the fact that one race tried to see him and his crew as gods, so they tried to disprove the notion of divinity instead of just saying that there may be gods out there, but not them. I think the biggest symbol of gods being idiots on the show would be Q: an impulsive, arrogant, child-like creature whose only important attribute is his power. Without it, he’d be a coward, simpering and begging for mercy. He gets more insufferable as the shows go on, with things like him telling Janeway in Voyager that his “biological clock is ticking”. Even when he acts logical, TNG’s heroes had to shove in their independence from gods by having Picard tell Q that mankind doesn’t need guides like Q, likening men to angels and gods. That of course, causes the Borg to show up. Well done, Jean-Luc. You just doomed many lives because of your pride.

    Like

  3. Speaking of Jean-Luc Picard, he’s a character that I am conflicted on. On the one hand, I like the idea of a gentleman-scholar being a captain; a sort of Eighteenth-Century diplomat and soldier being the captain of the Enterprise; it made much more sense to put such a man as captain of the Federation flagship and as the voice of the Federation in interstellar affairs, rather than some space cowboy who’s likely to do things his way. It would make sense that the people who would look over Kirk’s history would see that they needed a change of pace, and then placed a man with eloquence and diplomacy as his two foremost skills as the captain of the most well-known Federation starship. I liked the idea behind the concept and character of Picard. What I didn’t like was what spewed forth from his mouth time to time: dogmatism on the point of the Prime Directive, (which he breaks whenever HE feels fit to do, but he doesn’t let others break it on their own accord) excessive pride about humanity, and his legalistic approach to treaties and laws like the Prime Directive.

    I remember one part where a relative of Worf’s saved lives against the Prime Directive, and Picard got angry at that. Another is an instance revolving around a cloaking device, developed secretly by a Feddie captain against the statutes of a treaty they signed with a recurring enemy. The cloaking device not only masked ships, but allowed it to phase through matter; such an advance would have won them wars against the Borg or any other threat! But Picard ratted the guy out just because it broke a treaty. Even though the enemy they had would just go to war with them in the future anyways! Picard destroyed a means to end wars against many enemies and save lives just to protect a sham treaty that would just get broken within a few months.

    It felt to me that Star Trek kept doubling down on its own philosophy as the shows went on. Aside from DS9 that sought to break Roddenberry’s paradigm, TNG and VOY seemed to double down on Gene’s ideas instead of deconstructing them; while Lucas, on the other hand, sought to have a deconstruction of his own works. Both the Prequels and the Expanded Universe sought to have a deconstruction of the good vs. evil conflict that was prevalent in the Original Trilogy. Knights of the Old Republic and its sequels deconstructed the formula of the Original Trilogy, and even the Prequels showed how wars aren’t necessarily white and black: the Jedi can be flawed, despite being good. The Sith may be evil, but others serving them may have legitimate points as to why they’re doing what they’re doing. SWTOR even created a chance where you can be a GOOD Sith, despite becoming the Emperor’s personal hit man or a member of the Dark Council ruling the Sith Empire.

    Hence why when some people accuse Star Wars as being one-dimensional and lacking nuance, yet they point to Star Trek and say it has nuance, I get irked because what I see actually proves the opposite: the Prequels and Expanded Universe created nuance and deconstructed the universe of the Original Trilogy, while TNG and VOY seemed to double down on what Rodenberry laid out. Lucas sought to deconstruct and give nuance, Roddenberry sought to double down and make his ideas undeniably true in his series. Even when they made little sense in the context of the events of the series.

    Supporting my final thoughts about this topic, here’s a video done by SF Debris showing how the adherence to the Prime Directive is quite damaging and ignorant, relying on authority and ignorance instead of the common sense that probably engendered the Prime Directive in the first place:

    Like

    • I’ve often heard that Gene Roddenberry was weary of religion, so I’m not surprised at ST’s stance on religion and spirtuality. Personally I prefer TOS, TAS and TNG because Roddenberry was involved in their creative processes. After his death, ST just fell apart to me. Now it seems as if the franchise doesn’t know how to go forward. I’m not even excited about this new series premiering next year. What I love about both Roddenberry and Lucas is their willingness to introduce new concepts, characters, settings and ideas into their creations which is what kept them fresh – something I fear Disney and Paramount don’t understand.

      Like

    • Very interesting video by the way. Food for thought. I think the Prime Directive is not as black and white as we want it to be. It’s a good idea to stay out of “other people’s business” but that doesn’t mean we can’t spread ideas to change people’s minds. It also makes a good case against evolution.

      Like

Leave a Reply

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