That’s the kind of spicy headline that brings in clicks, I hear.
I have a complicated relationship with Star Trek. I enjoy it. I watch it upon occasion. I recognize the quality of it’s early works. I cannot stand its fandom. I have often said that I refused to get that deep into Star Trek not because I didn’t like it but because I didn’t want to have conversations with nerds about it. Because there’s no fandom that’s nerdier than Trekkies. Because Star Trek was a TV show, there’s lots of content to absorb, lots of nuance to discuss, and the point of conversation between Trekkies always seems to be about who can remember the most episode titles fastest. It’s deeply boring.
Also, the central utopian-aspirational premise of Star Trek always seemed self-contradictory at best, horseshit at worst. Economics are magic in Star Trek, especially Next Generation, but there are still Star Empires knocking the hell out of each other. Romulans and Klingons and Cardassians all have basically the same tech-level as the Federation, yet for some reason all feel they have things to fight over. It seems oddly forced.
That’s why I loved it when First Contact (The Next Generation movies are all dumb and boring, stipulated) calls out Picard’s “Ahab hunting his whale” mentality vis-a-vis the Borg. And I say that as someone who thinks genociding the Borg is a completely rational thing to do (You cannot negotiate with an existential threat. Duh). But popping the “we have solved the human condition” bubble was too great not to relish.
On a larger note: The Borg make a great Prime Enemy in Star Trek, not least because their apocalyptic nature, but because their implicit critique of the Federation, which is also a Star Empire bent on expansion, benevolently renamed “exploration”. If the Borg is 1984, the Federation is Brave New World. It acknowledges individuality, and pays you to forego it, indignantly protesting that it is not doing that.
All of this is mere prologue to establish my familiarity, although not expertise, with mainstream Star Trek Canon. I am familiar with the original series, with Next Gen. I’ve seen most of the movies. I’ve seen a bit of Deep Space Nine. I’ve never touched anything else. I’ve never heard anything about Voyager or Enterprise that made me care. You couldn’t pay me to sit through Discovery or Picard.
The reason for this is that the people currently making these shows, as with Star Wars or any other freshly remade/rebooted IP (is there a grosser term in our lexicon than “intellectual property”?) do not care anything about it. They are not telling stories in an established universe. They are exploiting it. This is product, with no art. This should all be very obvious.
Who is so programmed, so fully identifying with the product they enjoy, as to be excited by an elderly man in a T-Shirt announcing the return of his character? Who expected this to not be crap?
Apparently the guys at Red Letter Media did, by which I chiefly mean Mike and Rich. They are both true-blue Trekkies, as I have written about before. And they Cannot. Let it. Go.
This is the latest “Star Trek Picard” video. There are several of them, and a good few on Discovery. It’s exhausting even to contemplate. They had nothing good to say about the first season of Picard. Why did they come back for more? Am I meant to find misery this entertaining?
This is why I am down on fandom now. Fandom has become addiction, and entertainers just dealers selling us another hit. It’s dopamine manipulation all the way down, with the kind of ham-handed preaching about Current Events that 11-year-olds can grasp as a mixer. It’s garbage. It’s fentanyl.
And we know this going in. Star Trek stopped being Star Trek in 2009 when J.J. Abrams put it in a tilt-a-whirl. Since then it’s been “Star TrekTM: A Community Event, Copyright CBSPlease For The Love of Spock Don’t Cancel Your CBS All-Access Subscription“. No one has any reason to believe they’re suddenly going to make the kind of program that Trekkies like. Trekkies don’t have to like it, they have to watch it. And they’re going to because they can’t stop being Trekkies.
Turn it off. If Selena Gomez can do it, so can you.