No one reading this blog is going to be shocked to find out that I’m something of a Star Trek fan and have been since I was about six or seven. Some have termed my enjoyment of the show obsessive. Let me elaborate on that. Star Trek wasn’t on the air in Montgomery, Alabama when my family lived there (around 1976) but I found out that the television station where my father worked as the program manager owed the syndication rights. Upset that my own father wouldn’t put the show on the air I went door-to-door throughout the neighborhood collecting signatures on a petition demanding that my dad bend to the will of people and put Kirk, Spock and McCoy back on television where they belonged. My father caved under the pressure of the organizing campaign and the Enterprise once again took off at warp speed. The only problem: he put the show on during what must have been the 11 o’clock or midnight time slot – well after my bedtime. I had been foiled by the man.
But Star Trek lived on and I kept watching and my dad even took me to see the first Star Trek movie in 1979. Other Star Trek films and television series came and went and I grew to love them all. As a young kid in South Carolina and Alabama I took notice that an African-American woman was not just a character but an officer on the bridge. The idea of a future where Russians and Asians worked alongside Americans and Europeans intrigued me. Gene Rodenberry, the show’s creator, wanted viewers to envision a future where humans set aside their differences for the common good and set out in space to find new worlds and new civilizations. In time, even the enemy Klingons would become allies with Earth and all the various planets that made up the United Federation of Planets, an intergalactic United Nations.
The show hasn’t appeared in television series form for several years (it was time for a break). But director J.J. Abrams has brought Star Trek back to life in a new film that my wife and I, along with several friends, went to see tonight. It was brilliant, exciting and even emotional at times as we watched an entirely new cast take on iconic roles (though Leonard Nimoy – a man my father once interviewed for a news program – made a significant cameo appearance).
Movies, like literature, art and music, are meant to inspire us, challenge us, and provide us mirrors of our own existence. Star Trek has done all that. The franchise has also provided reason for hope in the face of great difficulties. “I don’t believe in the no-win scenario,” Capt. Kirk says. Neither do I. Even though this incarnation of Star Trek has a tragic plot line the writers, director and excellent actors leave you with a sense that in the end – with all hands on deck – the future can always have the potential of being better than the past. We can solve our problems if we set aside our differences. Star Trek has been around for 40+ years now and this new film will surely be remembered as one of the high points of the series.