Star Trek: Beyond a Fandom

I don’t know the exact moment I feel in love with Star Trek because I was so young then. My earliest Star Trek memory was when I was about five years old and my older brother dressed up for Halloween as Commander Riker, complete with fake beard. My mother was a fan of TNG so she started us early. While my friends at school had crushes on boy bands and teenage actors, I grew up in love with Captain Picard and Lt. Worf.

When I was a kid, I don’t think I realized the impact that Star Trek would have on my life or the way I view the world. I don’t think I realized how remarkable Roddenberry’s world truly was. I slowly collected all the films on VHS tape and watched every episode of TNG refunds I could find. When they began releasing TNG on DVD, I begged and begged. For Christmas, my mom got me the first season. Along with my own TV and DVD player so I wouldn’t monopolize the living room TV. I saved up so I could by more DVDs but it was a slow process.

I was excited and nervous when the reboot was announced. What if they didn’t do it justice? What if they took this thing I loved and made it terrible? Luckily, that’s not what happened. It was the perfect reboot–accessible to old fans and newcomers. It paid tribute to all that came before it and found a way to have it’s own original story.

So let’s get to the point. What is it that makes Star Trek so great? The single greatest thing about Gene Roddenberry’s vision of diversity and unity. It was no accident that he filled the bridge with a crew from different races and backgrounds. It wasn’t an accident that there was a black woman on the bridge. By today’s standards, there are plenty of things in the original series that would seem less than progressive, but for it’s day, it was ground-breaking. Even Whoopi Goldberg has stated before that it was seeing Nichelle Nichols as Uhura that inspired her and, in turn, Leslie Jones recently told Whoopi Goldberg that seeing her on TV inspired her in the same manner.

For decades, Star Trek has shown us a world of peace among all human races, and alien races as well. It showed humanity united. It showed us strong women, including an amazing, female captain. Star Trek is a world where women can do anything men can and still be feminine. After all this time there was still one boundary that Star Trek hadn’t crossed–one realm of acceptance we hadn’t yet seen–but Star Trek: Beyond has finally broken that boundary and given us a gay character.

As you may have heard, in the newest installment of the Star Trek saga, we discover that Sulu is gay. The internet was abuzz over the revelation, particularly because George Takei surprised us all by speaking out against the decision. Simon Pegg, who co-wrote the film, disagreed with Takei, saying:

Our Trek is an alternate timeline with alternate details. Whatever magic ingredient determines our sexuality was different for Sulu in our timeline. I like this idea because it suggests that in a hypothetical multiverse, across an infinite matrix of alternate realities, we are all LGBT somewhere.

Read the full article here.

I left the theater of the most recent film and immediately wanted to watch it again, and likely will before it leaves theaters. We have teh same crew that we’ve always loved, plus a new character: a strong, female character who totally kicks ass.

Despite all the joy I felt as I watched the next adventure in a franchise I love so dearly, the whole experience was bittersweet. Since the last film, we’ve lost two members of our beloved crew: Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin. I found myself in years each time Chekov was on screen. It seemed to me that Chekove had more screen time than I remember him having before–in fact, much of the crew got a chance to shine in this film rather than the focus being solely on the beloved trio of Kirk, Bones, and Spock. The film ended with our favorite monologue, voiced by all members of the bridge crew, now with the changes that were made for the TNG monologue. After beautiful shots of space at the beginning of the credits, there is a sweet and sad dedication:

In loving memory of Lenoard Nimoy.

For Anton

If you’ve made it this far, I thank you for indulging my post-movie ramblings. I suppose what I’m trying to say here is that for me, Beyond has beautifully expressed what I think Star Trek is all about. Repeatedly there is discussion between the villain and Uhura about the federation’s sense of unity. Uhura calls it a strength and the villain calls it a weakness, trying to use the crew’s loyalty to each other against them. It seems to me that in our world today, we could use more of the loyalty and unity that the federation holds so dear. A sentiment that Scotty sums up perfectly:

You can’t break a stick in a bundle.

Live Long and Prosper, dear readers.

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