‘It is the struggle itself that is most important. We must strive to be more than we are. It does not matter that we will not reach our ultimate goal. The effort itself yields its own reward.’
― Gene Roddenberry
‘To boldly go…Where no MAN has gone before’
Those words meant something to me as a young Montrealer, enthralled by our most favored citizen—the man ‘les Américains’ called Kirk. And so on the eve of a new ‘Trek’ in 1987, when those words were mysteriously changed—’MAN’ becoming ‘ONE’—something was lost. And that ‘something’ signified the death knell of an American franchise. One that had been synonymous with a positive, unparalleled vision for our future.
To be fair, the Rise and Fall of Star Trek didn’t begin with The Next Generation. In fact, the previous year’s lame (yet enjoyable) ‘Voyage Home’ with its ‘save the whales’ bullshit was a clear indication that ‘Federation Space’ had already been invaded. The phantom menace? No. Just an early version of the Borg, masquerading as another Hollywood ’cause-célèbre’. And what better form of vacuous virtue-signaling could Paramount’s writers invent than an attack on the technology, science and utopian dreams that made Star Trek (and their jobs) possible.
Yep. Man was back to being a blight on Rousseau’s state of nature. Oh, those poor baby whales. And Hollywood’s penchant for pandering was just getting started. Yet Roddenberry’s original Trek had never been held hostage to PC-sensibilities. In fact, it fought against them. And won.
By hook or by crook, Roddenberry made clear that the plan for his future did not include dividing or defining MAN by way of tribe, race, gender or ethnicity. Nor did he allow the progenitors of interest group warfare to infect his plots or creative vision. Rather, Roddenberry pushed hard for the realization of Martin Luther King’s ‘dream’ in a physical albeit fictional reality—a federation where men would be judged by the content of their character, actions and values. And once that was (instantly) established, he focused on more important things—like PLOT. Something the writers of Star Trek’s newest glossy-yet-useless incarnation might want to take note of.
And so what went wrong? Why did Star Trek replace its 5-year mission with a permanent apology-tour? Why did we end up with a string of uninspired failures—Voyager, DS9, Enterprise and finally, Discovery along with the ultra-violent (yet still PC) souless remakes of the original?
A certain Vulcan might say that America had changed. And Roddenberry had not.
Not enough at least. His Star Trek had been embedded with a ‘Liberalism’ of the ‘Classical’ type and a ‘Humanism’ of the ‘Enlightenment’ variety. Plus more than a dash of Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke and Ayn Rand. A far cry from today’s ‘Regressive Left’ and Social Justice ‘Soup-de-Jour’. And then there was that heavy infusion of JFK’s optimism for America’s future amongst the stars…and our former President’s evident hostility to Marxist tyranny, whose sentiments were loudly echoed by Roddenberry.
Unfortunately for Gene, ‘Liberalism’ had been hijacked, redefined years earlier by Croly, Rawls and Marcuse. But it would be the latter gentleman’s influence along with the success of his Post-Modernist disciples that would destroy the idealism of Trek, along with a population that once aspired to it. Utopia was about to become Dystopia. And Hollywood would lead the way.
DAYS ‘GORN’ BY
But before all was lost, we did have a Next Generation to deal with. One that blasted off to a mildly stifled, confused and contrived start. Where was that ambitious vision of the future? Where were those red…er, green-blooded heroic American (Canadian) men? Where were the femme fatales in their appropriately inappropriate outfits? Where were the bizarre, imaginative aliens and the mysteries of the universe and the addictive Amok-Time-track and the space-hippies and the poor red-shirts and the ill-tempered lizard-men?
It also didn’t escape me that my favorite alpha-male egoiste bastard had been replaced by an old bitter British dude. With a giant egg-head. And an effeminate nemesis built out of Gazoo & Trelane‘s spare parts.
Of course, I would grow to adore Captain Kojak and his fracking flute (and ‘Q’ too), as much as I tried not to.
Roddenberry is to blame, of course. He had an awesome gift. A truly unique ability. No matter what constraints Hollywood studios placed upon him (and there were many), and despite his notorious conflicts with collaborators, and within himself…he would invariably craft timeless adventures and endearing characters, set in a future that we wanted to live in. That I needed to live in. Particularly one that included an Orion slave girl and a cage (so say we all).
And much like Star Trek itself—the most popular syndicated program on TV, 17 years after its cancellation—Roddenberry was a survivor. He maneuvered around the PC-Police of the 80’s just as he got around the network censors 20 years earlier—by confusing the shit out of them. He gave them the superficial exterior that they had asked for BUT he controlled the interiors—the narrative, so to speak. He also played hardball, even with his friends. And many still can’t forgive that aspect of his personality, including those whose careers he made. But then whenever he walked off the ship—it had a tendency to crash. And it just keeps on crashing without him.
I suppose that Shatner and crew were often annoyed that Roddenberry simply didn’t need Kirk and Spock to recreate his ‘Gunsmoke in Space’ dynamic. Just as Takei continues to bitch at Shatner for much the same reason. They were all expendable but Roddenberry was not. And like any great artist, he was also not limited by the challenges of getting his vision to the screen. He would find a way or make one. And why not? The vanguard of ALL Roddenberry artistic work was that individualistic, ballsy All-AMERICAN spirit—his spirit, in fact—that managed to break on through to the other side. After all, he understood that mankind needed its heroes. He was one himself—fighting the Japanese over the South Pacific in his own Enterprise (a B-17), including eighty-nine successful combat missions for which he was heavily decorated.
Roddenberry built archetypes based on his own aspirations. He was Kirk. He was Spock. He was McCoy. And in later years, Roddenberry’s Picard was all three. The refined and integrated Renaissance man. As Leon Battista Alberti said, ‘a man who could do all things if he will’. And Roddenberry did. Whether you liked it or not.
Nevertheless, something was indeed different. Something was missing. And The Next Generation marked the beginning of the end just as that inconvenient word ‘MAN’ was excised in grand Stalinist-style.
Too many chefs? Yes. Maybe. More like the quality of the food. A course correction if you will. A culture in steep fracking decline.
Roddenberry’s idealism was almost completely extinguished by the time he was finally able to helm his Starship again. This was the new world of Critical Theory, not Classical Liberalism. And it was about to get a lot worse. The Borg were banging at the gates (ArtiFa?). And mainstream audiences simply weren’t hungry for a utopian visions of the future. Smart Hollywood execs knew this. They had been weaned on 20+ years of Post Modernist anti-American, anti-Western gobbledygook bullshit. This was delivered intravenously via Government-sponsored education, the idiot box and a media intent on a financial return—whatever the negative effects on their audience or culture at large.
AND THE CHILDREN SHALL LEAD
So it’s not a surprise that just a few years later, Star Trek would be de-constructed, ripped apart and viewed through the extra-special SJW-3D-lense of the new millennium. Yes. The white-male-privileged anti-inclusive misogynistic Kirk and the similarly constructed man who created him…well, This Shit’s Got to Go, no? Justice for all those who were negatively affected by Roddenberry’s inherently white-supremacist vision of the future. To think, a so-called cisgendered white-male Captain of a Starship who slept with…um…straight-ish multicolored interracial females without acknowledging his own privilege and inherent domination? And sometimes he killed them! Like Bond but in space and without the witty send-off. Talk about sexual-harassment in the workplace.
Maniacal little shits from ‘And the Children Shall Lead’, TOS—Season 3, Episode 4
Or we could just speak the truth.
Star Trek was great because it showed us as what we could, should and ought to be. Romanticism in action. Heroic Idealism realized in concrete form. Purposeful, brilliant, beautiful human beings (plus one Vulcan) doing incredible and close to impossible things. ‘Things’ that I wanted to try, tribbles excluded.
Roddenberry injected mankind into to an idealistic future of endless, wondrous possibilities. And he was a child of a Liberalism that was not intertwined with totalitarianism of the intellectual or the physical. Rather, Roddenberry stated repeatedly through the voices of his characters that he would NOT submit to Gods, Men or Kings. And that’s really what it all comes down to. He broke chains. And the retarded children of his generation’s generation don’t much like that idea. They want the chains. ‘Put them back!’, they scream. And it’s no shock that the knives have now come out for Roddenberry. Judas is writing the biography after all. (was that too harsh Bill?) And off we go into a bright red Maoist sunset.
Although, Hollywood is trying its best to appease its children along with their Gods of Social Justice. And so Star Trek continues its endless mission…to apologize. A lot. And when it’s not apologizing, it’s pandering to the base, violent instincts of a mentally infantile audience that it helped create.
Now, how would one go about apologizing for the galaxy’s most notorious straight-white-male womanizer? Well…would you care for a black captain perhaps? No? A female captain. A male nurse? A transgendered alien! A gay hologram? A native-American terrorist? A half-latino, half-Klingon she-warrior…who is very much in touch with her feminine…um, masculine side? No? How about a really big CG explosion which kills said white-male-womanizer’s Daddy? Yes. That’s the trick!
In fact, Discovery’s openly gay couple seems like a step-backwards. I mean, the fools can do better than that, can’t they? Let’s have some real diversity! Like Spock getting a black, semi-Vulcan adopted half-sister—with a man’s name. Oh wait. We have one of those. Perhaps she could transition to a non-binary star-system or something.
Alrighty then. You get the fracking point, right kids?
How about a little BEFORE and AFTER to make things clear? ‘There is No Comparison’—why I quite agree.
These new and repeated attempts at Star Trek fail for three reasons. First, the original vision and visionary is gone. The keys to the kingdom now rest with those whose views are not connected to Roddenberry’s romanticism but rather a Marcusian nihilism. Their chosen creative expression is a ‘Discovery’ of dystopia, not utopia—’Into Darkness’, so to speak. Second, the world has changed. Hollywood has a very small audience for the ‘aspirational’ and ‘inspirational’ although no time like the present to turn the ship around. But they won’t. They like their new course direction. It’s why they have power. They’re selling opioids for the mind. Third, the audience is out for blood. Literally and figuratively. And one of these days, they will have it in the flesh. For the moment, they can be appeased with as much ‘Flying Spaghetti Marxist’ crap as their masters (and slaves) can throw at them.
And so, with my sincere, deepest apologies to Alex Kurtzman and Akiva Goldsman and David Semel and Gretchen Berg and Heather Kadin (and F-U too Scott Collura), I’m not on board for this ride. And neither was Gene. As such, I’ll just stick to the original flavor. Often imitated but never equaled.
I would say, ‘Live Long and Prosper’ but an Objectivist, er, I mean, a ‘Vulcan’ (right) never lies. So I’ll just wait to see you cancelled or assimilated, whatever comes first.