Monday’s PJ Lifestyle Pop Culture Debates! writing prompt was: “Star Trek, Star Wars, Both, or Neither?”
I had my list of “7 New Year’s Resolutions for 2014 I Invite You to Burgle From Me Bilbo-Style” in mind when starting this discussion. I still appreciate Star Trek and Star Wars, but nowhere near to the level I did as a child and teenager. The all-consuming, quasi-religious experience of fandom in both franchises is what I had in mind when writing my third resolution:
Why is it today if someone goes home after work and spends 2 hours watching TV we think of them as normal but if they spend 2 hours studying the Bible, praying, and meditating we regard them as a kook?
The term that I’ve come up with for the religion that I used to practice without even knowing it: pop culture polytheism. For so much of my life I devoted myself to the details of TV shows, movies, books, and all manner of pop culture and political celebrities. No more. Today in America fascination with culture isn’t just a hobby — it’s an all-encompassing obsession. I’m done with it. Our popular culture needs to be mocked and trashed much more and with greater intensity. There’s nothing in it that’s sacred.
What happened? Why don’t I appreciate Star Wars and Star Trek to the degree I once did? And which installment of the franchises now has more respect from me at 30 than it did at 13?
I used to fall asleep to the scene in “Empire Strikes Back” where Luke meets Yoda for the first time. After moving to Indiana in fifth grade my fandom in Star Wars would form one of the cornerstones of friendship with my best friend, an ever loyal, perpetually trustworthy soul who would someday stand as the Best Man at my wedding. Likewise with “Star Trek,” scenes and lines are like flashbacks to a more innocent time when a shared understanding of the universe’s strange languages and speculations could enable endless debate and shared adventure.
But as I grew older I made the mistake of thinking too damn much for my own good. I can’t really enjoy most of George Lucas’s and Gene Roddenberry’s universes as I once did. As I’ve grown up I’ve lost respect for the morality and philosophies underlying each set of fantasies. My friend Walter Hudson has written commentaries on each series’ flaws. Nutshell: “Star Wars” is built on the Jedi Morality as an Eastern Buddhist Warrior monk, “Star Trek” is an intergalactic United Nations. Neither shows nor films delve deeply into serious questions of evil save for one exception: Deep Space Nine.
Since my religious, ideological and philosophical shift in recent years, my appreciation for the third “Star Trek” show has grown the most. I think I’ll try to pick apart why a bit more in future list posts on THIS, the the best of the Star Treks and what would be the best science fiction show until the new version of “Battlestar Galactica” which I suppose also deserves some re-watching and blogging… -DMS
Walter Hudson’s pieces referenced above can be found here and here.
images via pinterest and instagram