After reading Madeleine Albright’s book about her pin collection, and spending the rest of the day on Thursday photographing a few of my pins to post here in the next few weeks, I thought I would share a couple of my favorites. Favorites come and go, and they’re not all here, but these…these are special.
Warning for minor spoilers from both last season and shows that have already aired this season.
As I look at my Christmas gifts, and my recent birthday gifts before that, I am struck, but not terribly surprised by how much relates to the variety of fandoms and pop culture things I am involved in. Many of these things have stayed with me since my teen years, to the point that I no longer participate, but they still hold an important place in my heart. The one example that comes to mind was my getting a new messenger bag: ThinkGeek’s Bag of Holding. It’s so glorious that I’ll be writing a separate review of it. My son was a little annoyed that I would be getting it – it was a little expensive, but with the thirty percent discount that was offered, it was well worth it. He was still a little annoyed and exclaimed, “You don’t even like Dungeons & Dragons!” I think I may have snorted. I was momentarily speechless.
I don’t like Dungeons & Dragons?! Do you even know me?! I had been playing Dungeons & Dragons since high school. In our school cafeteria, we would use the half-pint milk container as a six-sided die. Every weekend in college, we’d get together in the blue room to play. Dave, our DM (dungeon master) would not let us have any alcohol. We got stupid. We were probably the only group on a Saturday night not drunk. We would play all weekend, talking time only to sleep before the next night’s game.
I met my college roommate in a study hall through a conversation about character sheets.
My oldest son used my original books when he and his friends played Dungeons & Dragons.
Not a fan?! Harumph!
Glancing at The Walking Dead trivia box, the Hufflepuff necklace, the Supernatural zipper bag, the Star Trek 50th anniversary gold ornament with sound, I saw just how many fandom things there are, and I also realized how difficult it was to get some of them.
Thursday’s milestone birthday of the beginnings of Star Trek reminds me of the influence pop culture has on all our lives. Star Trek simultaneously showed us the future as well as holding a mirror up to ourselves and our society of the time. I’m not sure that was recognized as much at that time. Like many things, we don’t realize its value until it’s gone. Another lesson of Star Trek is to aim high and keep trying. The pilot was rejected as too cerebral, and they came back as cowboys in space while keeping its special-ness. Star Trek: The Motion Picture was a not-very-good-movie, but they forged ahead and the second one is remembered by everyone, reuniting the original guest star Ricardo Montalban as Khan Noonian Singh. The original show was cancelled after seventy-nine episodes, but has been and continues to be well-loved on the convention circuit and in movies, spawning spin-offs, fan fiction, and is known for its very cerebral fans.
In the reboot/non-reboot, Kelvin timeline, the first thing that fans said were how well the new cast held up visually and in temperament to the original cast. I recently saw Star Trek Beyond without knowing it was co-written by Simon Pegg and I loved the references to original moments of Star Trek from McCoy’s claims to be a doctor to the subtle looks between him and Mr. Spock and the underlying respect each has for the other despite McCoy reaching past his unconscious bias of the green-blooded, unemotional Vulcan, something prevalent [racial bias] in the world of the 1960s, sadly as much as it is today. Star Trek speaks a universal language that we understand regardless of our native spoken language.
The final frontier.
These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise;
It’s five year mission:
To explore strange new worlds,
To seek out new life and new civilizations,
To boldly go…
Where no man has gone before.
These iconic words from Gene Roddenberry, brought to life by William Shatner have withstood the test of time.
Fifty years ago today, Star Trek began what would be its fifty-year and ongoing mission. Roddenberry’s vision for the future is still some way off, but I just saw a video on the realities of transparent aluminum, most of us use communicators in some fashion or another, and having a Black woman superior to us in the workplace is more common than 1966, although we could do better.
In 1966, it was somewhat controversial to have such a mixed race crew, let alone the actors who played them. While Jim Kirk was born in Iowa, Williams Shatner hails from Canada. He is still a Canadian citizen, and not a naturalized American. He, Leonard Nimoy, and Walter Koenig are all Jewish. Sulu and George Takei are Japanese. Nichelle Nichols was a Black woman. She and Shatner hold the first for an interracial kiss on television. Pavel Checkov’s character was a breakthrough especially during the space race of the 50s and the 60s. The idea of working with the Russians was nearly impossible to imagine then. And of course, Jimmy Doohan’s Scotty gave homage to the many Scotsmen and women who led the industrial revolution and got the engines running.
Even in today’s Kelvin timeline, not reboot (according to Mike and Denise Okuda), there is an homage given to the original cast as well as bringing the story into the 21st century for us moviegoers.
I’ve watched every iteration of Star Trek including reading the comic books, every new series (Deep Space Nine is my favorite after the original series), every movie, every animation. Wasn’t there a Star Trek meets Scooby Doo or am I imagining that? Somewhere in the depths of my basement boxes is a photojournal of Trouble with Tribbles that I had once memorized. I learned Klingon as a young adult, and went to conventions so long ago that there were no charges for photos or autographs.
Reflecting on 50 years of science fiction, watching it intersect with science fact, sitting in the captain’s chair at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, and forging our own new worlds through our own inspiration to write and world-build.
Star Trek is many things to many people. I have been a fan my whole life, and will continue to be into the next half century and beyond.
Happy Birthday, Star Trek!
And many more to come.
The stories yet to be told are out there, and I for one, can’t wait.