Category Archives: Star Trek

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.

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

 

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Planet X Puts Simon Pegg On Trial For Crimes Against The SF Community

(Note: This is a work of fiction. However, real people with real quotes have been inserted into this work of fiction. This is also an inaccurate example of a trial. I’ve tried my best to be as close to real life as possible, but this is a mock trial on another planet. And you know what they say: “when in Rome, do as the Romans”. If your reading this and your an expert on the criminal justice system, any and all corrections are welcome.)

All rise. The Court of Planet X is now in session. Judge John W. Campbell presiding. Please be seated. Calling the case of the people of Planet X versus self-proclaimed geek, Simon John Beckingham Pegg.

Me: Your Honor. Geeks and nerds of the jury. The defendant has been charged with the crimes of haughtiness, rudeness to his peers and disrespect to his elders regarding beloved sci-fi franchises. Four incidents of this disreputable behavior will be used as evidence.

Exhibit A: A Constant Nagging Criticism of George Lucas and the Star Wars Prequels.

The defendant has always let it be known that he has a boiling disdain for George Lucas’ 1999-2005 trilogy. He has spewed bile about it in interviews over and over again. Take this quote for instance:

And I think if anyone can pull Star Wars out of the mire its J.J. He’ll bring the fun back. Lucas seemed to misread what made the first ones great, and concentrate on things that people didn’t really care about, or willfully ignore the things that people cared about. Whereas J.J. embraced them all. We’re going to see the Millennium Falcon again. We’re going to see those characters again. All the things we see about the first three, we will see again.

Or there’s this one:

They’re a monumental misunderstanding of what the first three films are about. It’s an exercise in utter infanticide, like George Lucas killing his kid.

Yet many fans disagree with Pegg’s views. And his response leads to…

Exhibit B: Bully Those That Like The Star Wars Prequels.

This is what Mr. Pegg had to say about those fans. First is this little gem from his show Spaced:

Note: He plays character named Tim and he’s shouting at a little boy for liking “The Phantom Menace”

“You are so blind! You so do not understand! You weren’t there at the beginning. You don’t know how good it was! How important! This is it for you! People like you make me sick!…take your pocket money AND GET OUT!

[little boy runs out crying]

“What a prick.”

He didn’t stop there, he said nasty things about prequel fans out of character too:

I don’t really have any respect for anyone who thinks those films are good. They’re not.

Now that we’ve seen evidence related to Star Warriors let’s move on to the other fans Pegg has offended – the Trekkies.

Exhibit C: Outright Rudeness Toward Star Trek Fans.

Star Trek Into Darkness, the sequel to 2009’s Star Trek reboot was released in 2013. It has an 86% at Rotten Tomatoes and made 467.4 million at the box office. But looks can deceive. At a Star Trek convention in Las Vegas, Into Darkness was voted worst the worst Star Trek movie of all time. Pegg did not take kindly to the news. Here’s his kind, thoughtful response:

You know what…it absolutely isn’t the worst Star Trek movie. It’s asinine, you know. It’s ridiculous. And frustrating as well, because a lot of hard work and love went into that movie, and all JJ wanted to do was make a film that people enjoyed. So to be subject to that level of sort of, like, crass, fucking ire, I just say, fuck you.

But then his criticism of Star Trek fans shifted to sci-fi fans in general.

Exhibit D: Accusing SF of Dumbing Us Down

Obviously I’m very much a self-confessed fan of science fiction and genre cinema. But part of me looks at society as it is now and just thinks we’ve been infantilized by our own taste. Now we’re essentially all consuming very childish things – comic books, superheroes…Adults are watching this stuff and taking it seriously!

And, not surprisingly, geeks did not take kindly to his words because he blamed everyone but himself.

Judge: The prosecution may call its first witness.

The People call the first witness, Israel Sanchez.

Clerk: Please stand. Raise your right hand. Do you promise that the testimony you shall give in the case before this court shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God?

Sanchez: I do.

Clerk: You may be seated.

Me: Where do you work, Dr. Sanchez?

Sanchez: I work at the National Museum of Natural Sciences in Madrid.

Me: And what is your occupation, Dr. Sanchez?

Sanchez: I am a biologist.

Me: Can you tell us about the fossilized remains of this animal you discovered, Xenokeryx amidalae?

Sanchez: In central Spain, we discovered an amazingly preserved giraffe relative that lived between 23 million and 5 million years ago. Its physical characteristics included a short neck, two ossicones and a cranial, T-shaped appendage.

Me: And why did you name it, Xenokeryx amidalae?

Sanchez: If you remember the Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace film, when Padme Amidala is queen of her home planet Naboo, she shows off several complicated dresses and hairstyles. Well, one of the hairstyles from a scene in Coruscant is strikingly similar to the occipital appendage of Xenokeryx. Yes, I am a fan of Star Wars.

Me: And how does it make you feel to know that actor Simon Pegg has no respect for you?

Sanchez: I think it’s unfortunate, though I don’t think I’ve ever heard of him.

Me: Members of the court. I’d like to take this moment to name other famous fans of the Star Wars prequels: Robert Kirkman, comic book writer and creator of The Walking Dead. Joey Fatone, singer, dancer and former member of *Nsync. Actress Jaime King. Even more important are scientists like Nate Lo, who discovered bacteria in mitochondria and named it Midichloria mitochondrii. And last, but not least, astronauts Scott Kelly, Kjell Lindgren, Sergei Volkov, Oleg Kononenko, Kimiya Yui and Mikhail Kornienko, who posed as jedi for their Expedition 45 portrait and watched Revenge of the Sith in space. These are the true geeks who, inspired by science fiction, the very genre Pegg says is “infantilizing us”, spend their lives studying the world around us and using their findings to help society better understand our world. And because their tastes are different from Pegg, he has no respect for them. Thank you, Dr. Sanchez.

Judge: The witness is excused. The prosecution may call the next witness.

The People call George Takei.

Clerk: Please stand. Raise your right hand. Do you promise that the testimony you shall give in the case before this court shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?

Takei: I do.

Clerk: You may be seated.

Me: Mr. Takei, tell us your occupation and work history.

Takei: I am a 61-year veteran actor and activist. I played Enterprise helmsman Sulu on Star Trek.

Me: Mr. Takei, can you tell us about the week of July 4, 2015?

Takei: I was informed by John Cho, the actor who plays a younger version of my Star Trek character – that it would be revealed that Sulu would have a husband and a young daughter – as a form of inclusion and as a nod to me as a gay man. This decision was made by Simon, who wrote the screenplay and Justin Lin, the director.

Me: And what was your reaction to the news, Mr. Takei?

Takei:

I’m delighted that there’s a gay character. Unfortunately it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.

Me: So what did you suggest to them?

Takei: I told them to…

Be imaginative and create a character who has a history of being gay, rather than Sulu, who had been straight all this time, suddenly revealed as being closeted.

This movie is going to be coming out on the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, the 50th anniversary of paying tribute to Gene Roddenberry, the man whose vision…carried us through half a century. Honor him and create a new character.

Me: And did they respect your wishes?

Takei: I thought so at first. But they didn’t.

Me: What was Mr. Pegg’s response?

Takei: He said that he respectfully disagrees with me and that if he created a new gay character, it would be tokenism because audiences would just see that character as “the gay character”.

Me: And what did he say about Mr. Gene Roddenberry?

Takei: He said…

The viewing audience weren’t open-minded enough at the time and it must have forced Roddenberry to modulate his innovation. His mantra was always ‘infinite diversity in infinite combinations’. If he could have explored Sulu’s sexuality with George, he no doubt would have.

Me: Your Honor. Members of the jury. I did not use Mr. Takei’s predicament as Exhibit E, because I felt it was better to hear the victim tell his story in his own words. And it’s this recent incident that convinces me that Mr. Pegg should be found guilty.

Here he is, once again, declaring that he knows the franchises he claims to love better than the creators that spent, hours, days, months and years imagining, writing, outlining and fighting for their work to be released to the public. Franchises that he had nothing to do with in the first place. He was a consultant on The Force Awakens, despite the irrefutable fact that he was only 7 years old when A New Hope was released and had no involvement whatsoever with the making of the original trilogy. They already hired Lawrence Kasdan, the co-screenwriter for The Empire Strikes Back to write the script. Because of this, The Force Awakens lacked creativity and originality. It was nothing more than big budget fan fiction with no heart and no soul. And now Pegg is using his delusions of grandeur against not only against Mr. Takei, a legend and icon among many, but the late Mr. Gene Roddenberry, by assuming he knows Roddenberry – a man he has never met – better than Takei, a man whose worked closely with Roddenberry for 23 years. And Pegg is now in charge of the screenplay for the 13th Trek film, Star Trek Beyond. Why? This man wasn’t even conceived when the very first Star Trek series premiered on September 8, 1966. Now, with him at the helm, so to speak, his decision to turn an established straight character, gay, is not only lazy, it’s inconsistent with Trek mythology. Since these contemporary films are prequels, it would be awkward to show Sulu with a family, and then watch the Original Series and wonder why he never brings them up in casual conversation. For gay fans of Star Trek, it would look as if Sulu went back into the closet. It would make Kirk’s aside about not knowing that Sulu had time to start a family in Star Trek Generations, all the more perplexing. I will close my arguments by pointing out that making Sulu gay as a tribute to Mr. Takei is undermining Mr. Takei’s work as an actor, a job that requires you pretend you’re something other than yourself for the sake of suspending audiences’ beliefs for an hour or two. That his sexuality is the only thing that defines him despite the fact that the roles he took as a Japanese American man broke barriers.

Judge: Will the jury foreperson please stand? Has the jury reached a unanimous verdict?

Foreperson: Yes. The jury finds the defendant…guilty.

Judge: Thank you jury. Ladies and Gentlemen. Due to the amounting evidence against Mr. Pegg, I think we can’t afford to wait another day to give the defendant his punishment.

From this day, forward, Mr. Pegg, you will be stripped of any film making duties, be it screenplays, producing, directing, editing and creative consultant. You will be restricted to acting and acting in other’s films only. However, you will be suspended for one year from film roles to spend the next two years, with worker’s compensation, reading and studying the works and history of science fiction. You will be given all the major classics of SF, from Asimov to Zelazny, to complete while wearing a different Star Wars prequel t-shirt everyday.

Court dismissed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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