Monday, October 13, 2008

Star Trek can never equal Star Wars

I'm sure anyone who reads this blog probably reads both digg.com and io9.com so maybe you already saw the 5 Ways To Make Star Trek More Like Star Wars pitch. And as a general SciFi fan I was, at first, intrigued. I love Star Wars, in fact, those films and the subsequent Ewok Adventure film are some of my earliest and fondest memories. And sure, the epic battles between good & evil, the classic lines, loveable little alien creatures, the whole bit is what makes this series what it is today. Star Trek, for me, has a completely different appeal. I am an idealist. I am a socialist. I see the "dulling" evolution of society and humans as Eden. Before I go any further let me just say that I know this article is all in good fun, but it does bring up some good points.

One of my roommates is banned from watching Star Trek with me. He constantly nit-picks the scientific impossibility of a lot of their stories and adventures. He is apparently incapable of suspending disbelief and enjoying the show. HOWEVER, he is a HUGE Star Wars fan. We've watched IV, V, and VI at least twice in the past two months and there is not one peep about, what the io9 article points out, how "George Lucas ignored scientific fact that said that there was no sound in the vacuum of space". It's really infuriating to have to constantly defend Star Trek against this naysayer and then see him completely satisfied with the Star Wars gaffes.

This is what I think that article was getting at. That people want the most dramatic story possible, whether or not it means obeying the laws of physics. And that's just fine.

But I want to get back to the point made about having flawed heroes. You might say that we see Starfleet officers becoming increasingly educated, open minded, rational as a sign of them becoming more dull. But to say that would mean also to say that they have no internal struggles which is very far from the truth. In fact, I feel like I relate more to Major Kira or Captain Picard based on their humanity and internal struggles more so than I can relate with Han Solo's gambling problems. Our Star Trek heroes deal with a great amount of personal loss and many times their victories are bitter-sweet. And that's precisely what you expect in a world constantly having to accommodate for/to new and (extremely) different cultures and phenomena. You're not always going to win. You're not always going to be happy with the outcome. But it's the cost/benefit analysis, weighing out the options in an intellectual and moral way that is so inspiring and often heartbreaking. Star Wars, also, had these same conflicts. As does Battlestar Galactica. As do most worthwhile dramas. The action is fun and all, but the real kicker is the emotional loss. You can rebuild a city, establish new treaties, be diplomatic. But you'll never get your dead lover back, you'll constantly deal with guilt. And this is what it means to progress in the Star Trek universe. Why do you think the Vulcans are so awesome? They have their emotions and ethics on lock-down. (Not that from a psychiatrist's point of view that that's the healthiest of lifestyles, but it sure makes decision making a sinch.)

I'll leave the other points in the article for others to discuss. I think it's obvious that the new movie will cater to demands of gamers, as most movies have (Harry Potter, anyone?). Nor do I really think a metal bikini will make or break the sexual appeal of the movie (Uhura was already hot, are you kidding me?). J.J. Abrams is a very smart man who clearly understands how to make his projects appealing on practically ever possible level. Whether or not he decides to incorporate some of these "Star Wars" features he will, undoubtedly, craft an extraordinary film with an equally extraordinary story. And, who knows?, he might just show us the dirty under belly of the Star Trek universe.
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