Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek has accompanied many people’s journey through life. Launched in 1966, Star Trek – The original series was followed by four sequels (Star Trek: The Animated Series, Star Trek – The next generation, Star Trek – Deep Space Nine and Star Trek – Voyager) and a prequel, Star Trek – Enterprise.
Now this is not going to be an article about the history of Star Trek. This is both a homage to an epic world as well as a reminder how almost scaringly relevant a lot of the themes of Star Trek still are.
One of my all time favourite episodes of Star Trek – The next generation is “The Drumhead” (Season 4, Episode 21), first on TV in April 1991. Captain Jean Luc Picard speaks the following words:
“You know, there are some words I’ve known since I was a schoolboy. “With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably.” Those words were uttered by Judge Aaron Satie as wisdom and warning. The first time any man’s freedom is trodden on, we’re all damaged.”
Words, that are more than relevant in the year 2015 – more than 20 years later. Our world is racked by fear of the unfamiliar, shaken by the revelations of whistleblowers. An Orwellian world, with organisations watching the citiziens of many countries. The inviolability of the mail has been proved to be non existent any longer. The first freedoms -have- been denied. Not only in the United States – we are talking most – if not all – so called “first world countries” here.
Generally Star Trek shows a vision of how our world could be, mingled with the everyday struggles of the era the episodes and movies were created in.
On the one hand “Star Trek – The original series” -was- a milestone for women’s rights, for acceptance of interracial love, for women in leading positions, on the other hand – as my colleague Peter pointed out in his great article “A Trek through gender inequality” women wear ridiculously short skirts and serve tea.
“Star Trek” plays in a post capitalistic world without any money, however our grasp of that concept is so meagre that Deep Space 9 had to reintroduce a capitalistic system.
In my eyes, it is exactly that making Star Trek that good – the not-so-perfect utopia that is created with each episode and movie.
That – and of course the awesome technical designs and ideas. I mean really – how cool was that motorola cell phone looking like a communicator from the NCC1701? What would smartphones be without the touchscreens from “The next generation”? Those ultra-cool medical gears? Awesome! And of course sliding doors just wouldn’t be the same without “The original series” – where an offstage guy operated “sliding doors” before they really were invented.