Star Trek, Star Wars, Both, or Neither?

In partnership with the new fiction publishing platform Liberty Island, PJ Lifestyle is going to begin promoting and co-hosting a series of debates and discussions about popular culture. The goal is to figure out what works and what doesn’t so that in the future we can promote and create better fiction and culture of our own. These are public brainstorming sessions for writers and culture advocates interested in developing a more vibrant popular culture. You’re invited to submit your answers to any of these questions — or a related one of your own! — that interests you:

A) in the comments

B) Via email to PJ Lifestyle editor Dave Swindle.

C) at your blog, then let us know in the comments or via email. 

The most interesting answers may be linked, crossposted, or published at PJ Lifestyle. 

In one sense the future of the Star Wars and Star Trek franchises is bright with Star War Episode VII in production and the third of the new Star Trek rebooted films aiming for 2016.

But those still watching these shows and movies now are not necessarily the same people — or children — who first fell in love with them during their original incarnations.

Are Star Wars and Star Trek both genuinely great franchises? Or are they both overrated, their shortcomings overlooked or rationalized away? Is it time to give up on them both? Do grown ups move on from watching Spock and Boba Fett? Kathy Shaidle would say as much:

Kathy Shaidle: 5 Reasons Star Wars Actually Sucks

What are some reasons that Star Wars is better than Star Trek? What qualities in Gene Roddenberry made Star Trek superior to the thinking (or lack thereof) of George Lucas’s Star Wars? Or is it unreasonable to compare them? Are they just different genres? Which direction is better for aspiring writers to pursue?

What lessons are to be learned from Star Wars and Star Trek for how to build a successful science fiction franchise? Where and when have the franchises gone off the rails? Are their coming new films and TV shows steps in the right direction? Or is J.J. Abrams making a mess of two cornerstones of geek culture?

Walter Hudson: 7 Ways to Reboot Star Trek With a New TV Show

Do you agree with Lewis Beale a CNN today who explains “How ‘Star Wars’ ruined sci-fi” in CNN today:

I say this as someone who has been a devoted sci-fi reader since childhood. I was so blown away by the first “Star Wars” film when I saw it in 1977, I went back two more times the same week to wallow in its space age fantasy. But here’s the thing: George Lucas’ creation, basically a blown-up Flash Gordon adventure with better special effects, has left all too many people thinking science fiction is some computer graphics-laden space opera/western filled with shootouts, territorial disputes, evil patriarchs and trusty mounts (like the Millennium Falcon).

“Star Wars” has corrupted people’s notion of a literary genre full of ideas, turning it into a Saturday afternoon serial. And that’s more than a shame — it’s an obscenity.

Science fiction is in fact one of the most creative literary genres around. The best of sci-fi is filled with meditations on what’s “out there,” what makes us human, how technology is used and how it is changing us. It takes up issues of race, sexuality and quite literally everything else under the sun. It is essentially about ideas, not action, and that’s the problem, as far as Hollywood is concerned.

What pop culture questions do you want to debate and discuss? Leave your suggestions for upcoming Pop Culture debates also.

*Updated, Tuesday May 6, 2014: David Churchill Barrow of Liberty Island writes:

Star Trek is a reasonable and optimistic extrapolation into the future of the developments noted in my series Stops Along the Road to Our Well-Ordered Liberty at my blog at LIBERTY ISLANDStar Wars is a glitzy, gizmo/special effects-ridden extrapolation of a 1940s comic book.

Here are links to the six parts of Churchill Barrow’s series.