Saturday, December 07, 2013

Time travel may change me, but I can't change time travel.

This has been a year where a lot of my online presence (which I typically really enjoy) has been oriented toward Star Trek.  (How's that different…shush.)  I have an ongoing fan fic on Tumblr for those days when I get five extra minutes to write.  I vociferously defended various aspects of the film "Star Trek Into Darkness."  I've chatted with friends about various series, films, and books set in the Trek universe(s).  

While doing this, I've realized that my view point on a few things has changed since I did my last generalized overview of my Trek fandom.  Age and perspective change things.  Primarily, I looked at the way a lot of Trek fans generally reacted to STID, or ST: Enterprise, or fill in the blank and realized I was contributing to the crowd saying negative things as if they were facts and not opinions.  I was criticizing fans of some Treks for even having the audacity to like those Treks like it was important that everyone saw the franchise the same way I did.  

Honestly, I realize now, that's bullshit.

I do think Trek, like a great literary work, goes beyond its original purpose of entertainment to provide food for thought and societal commentary.  That's a good thing.  Somewhere along the line I got more concerned with whether or not the Voyager could carry all those shuttlecraft, or how big the Defiant really was, or when the Romulans first developed cloaking devices than whether or not I was being entertained with good characters and stories.  Sure, I appreciate consistency in collected large scale narratives, but in the end the fact the Delta Flyer would not fit in the shuttle bay on Voyager wasn't really the problem I had with Voyager, it was the characters.  

But I also had friends, people whom I enjoyed talking Trek with that really liked Voyager, and those characters spoke to them.  Why the hell was I begrudging that? Why was I, of all people, telling people they shouldn't like Star Trek?

Maybe I only had this epiphany because I ended up on the other side of the argument a couple of times.  I, in the end, really enjoyed Enterprise, in spite of its continuity errors.  I liked those characters, I loved the look of the show, and though there are bummer episodes, I really liked the overall plotlines and when it was good it was very good.  It reminded me of another show that to be honest was occasionally really, really bad but in the end was more than the sum of its parts.

Star Trek.  Not the genre, the show, normally now referred to as "TOS" or "The Original Series."  This is going to sound harsh to some fellow Trekkies: It isn't perfect.  Also, a lot of what you remember about it wasn't actually in the show.  It is however fucking wonderful.  It deserves to be celebrated and receiving sequels fifty years later.  But it never let the need to have a moral get in the way of a kick ass SF yarn.  In fact, it usually erred toward the kick-ass.  As much as it showed societal progress in the next 300 years (or 200, or 700, or 500 depending on the episode) it didn't shy away from humanity's weaknesses either, and in the end its main goal, the reason d'ĂȘtre for the show was to entertain.  Even when that meant deciding a matriarchal society should figure out how equal rights for men work through "cuddling."

Here's what TOS did and did right, and perhaps some of the follow on series (and certainly fans) have forgotten.  Story diversity.  Some TOS episodes were just plain comedy.  Some were action adventure.  Some were tragedies.  Some where honestly trippy fantasy ignoring science altogether.  And that was OK, because the characters held it all together.  The tech was as capable, or incapable, or as magic-like as the writer wanted.  There's no scientific explanation for a transporter splitting Kirk into good Kirk and bad Kirk.  There's no attempt to reconcile the fact there's a time portal on Forever World.  Completely human-like robots?  Yep.  Living rocks.  No issues.

Spock's Brain.

Story diversity.  What that means is when DS9 wants to show a war, OK, let's see how that plays in the Trek universe.  When Voyager wants to come home instead of go further, well fine.  When JJ Abrams wants to do quick cuts and fast action to tell his story, OK.  Do it.  If I don't like it, I won't watch that one, but neither should I begrudge those who do, or differentiate between the titles "Trekker " or "Trekkie" to determine who are REAL fans.  Who the hell am I to tell you what you should or should not be a fan of?  I will be happy to tell you why I didn't like certain interpretations, or why I do like others; I have no reason to tell you are right or wrong in your opinions because in the end we both like Star Trek, and that's cool.  

Voyager's your favorite?  Let's discuss why.  Maybe you can't point out something I missed.

You only like the Abrams films?  Let's discuss why, and maybe I can find you some old stuff to enhance how much you like them.

You don't like Enterprise?  Let's discuss why the things you dislike work for me, and maybe you can look in a new light.

We're fans.  We should be helping that thing we love grow, and by the great bird, there's 800 hours of Trek out there, surely there's a little something for everyone.  There's some problems out there with any particular show.  Everyone should measure for themselves how those problems and the positive balance, and as I have seen online, promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate.

In the end anything that keeps Trek alive is a good thing, even if I don't like the size of their shuttle bay.