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Star Trek Writers Are Taking Starship Enterprise Where It’s Never Been Before – Wake Up Politics


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There is no more typical American narrative universe than Star Trek.

Since its inception in 1966, the franchise has had myriad iterations on the big and small screen, essentially invented sci-fi convention, and charmed audiences of all generations. But in two recent episodes, the writers crossed a line where no Star Trek has gone before. That is to say, they became directly involved in partisan politics.

‘STAR TREK’ DAY CELEBRATES THE SHOW’S 55TH ANNIVERSARY

LOS ANGELES – NOV 22: William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk in STAR TREK episode ‘Plato’s Stepchildren’. Original airdate November 22, 1968. Season 3, episode 10. Image is a screenshot. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

The first egregious example of a campaign trail, on Star Trek Discovery, was an appearance by current and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams as president of the Federation of Planets. The second was a strange plot in the new show’s pilot, Strange New Worlds, in which the Capitol Riot of 2020 is depicted and blamed for starting a second American Civil War and the destruction of the planet. To put it more succinctly, Orange man bad.

To be fair, since the original 1960s series, Star Trek has always gone deep into cultural and societal issues. He’s always been credited with various castings, tackling issues like saving the whales (remember that?), and mirroring American and global foreign policy.

All of this should live long and prosper, but these two recent incidents go far beyond that. This is not advocacy, this is pure partisan politics.

It’s part of a larger galaxy of problems, as we saw recently with Star Wars owner Disney going to fight with Florida Governor Rod DeSantis. The central confusion here is the difference between showing broad support for things like basic civil rights and openly advocating for a political party’s responses to secure them.

So, for example, almost everyone supports “the right to vote”, but that’s not the same as supporting Stacey Abrams. Almost everyone condemns the Capitol Riot and political violence, but it’s not the same thing and blame a single event on one side of the spectrum.

Ultimately, the problem here is that this type of political cue is alienating to fans who aren’t part of the Democratic Party’s political tribe. As a fan myself it didn’t make me turn off the shows but it’s shocking and also breaks the narrative charm of fantasy and sci-fi which is why people tune in first place.

It sounds like the writers and creators of the new Star Trek lineup of shows, which also includes “Picard,” don’t think just writing a good TV show is a big enough job. Like so many American companies, they think they have to save the country and the planet while they do it. Leave saving the planet for the fictional Starship Enterprise.

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The irony is that the three new Star Trek live-action shows are pretty progressive in their cast diversity. And despite hysterical worries about a backlash never actually happening, everyone is on board as long as the story and acting are good.

Artists can, always have, and should use their work to reflect their culture and society, and even to advocate for issues on the agenda. What they shouldn’t do is run the equivalent of a 30-second Democratic Party political ad in the middle of a space adventure.

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What America today lacks perhaps more than anything is a shared set of strong stories that help explain our world. Even our entertainment is awash with bitter partisanship. This leaves too few places for Americans to reflect on their lives and their communities outside of the context of red versus blue.

Star Trek is one of the few entertainment brands whose popularity, reach and reach are a shared story. But to do that, its creators must choose that universality over cheap, predictable, partisan political points.

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