Star Trek Sans Politics
I’ve got a new essay on Religion Dispatches that I did up in a sleepless tizzy after seeing the new Star Trek movie. I had a great time going with my old Star Trek convention buddy Mat to the Lincoln Center IMAX on opening week. Nothing can quite compete with the thrill of seeing those starships shooting around on the screen with green-blooded Vulcans inside. But, as a person whose metaphysics, cosmology, and anthropology is due probably more to Star Trek than anything else, I was disappointed in the worldview it had on offer.
Am I asking too much? It is, after all, just a sci-fi show. Not really. At least in retrospect, 1991’s The Undiscovered Country was a political masterpiece for the end of the Cold War—a tale of reconciliation between two long-warring societies, of old warriors learning to overcome their hatreds. Or the sometimes cheesy Voyage Home from 1986, in which the villain turned out to be a benevolent force of nature bearing an environmentalist message. Or even William Shatner’s The Final Frontier, which made a somewhat bumbling, but partly effective, try at taking on God. Another recent Slate article, as well, pointed to the poignant portrayal of torture in a latter-day The Next Generation episode. The latest aspires to none of these things, at least none that I can tell. Admittedly, I have learned, these films get deeper with age.
Maybe I was too hard on it, but maybe not. You decide!
tags: becoming, friendship, politics, science fiction, utopia