Star Trek and the Echo Chamber of ‘fandom.’

I came across an announcement that Star Trek: Picard had been renewed for a season 2 already. Attached to that article was this comment:

And, well… sigh. Talk about wishful thinking. This is right up there with NeoCon talking points. This is the kind of viewer who is so ensconced in his echo chamber that he has no idea what’s going on outside.

First of all, that’s not how the TV industry works. If a show is greenlit for a season 2, it begins work months before the airdate. In this case, the show is set to begin filming season 2 in March 2020, which means that the writing staff, art production staff, SFX people, etc. are already working, even if only in the planning stages. It is already a significant financial risk, because now if they cancel season 2, it means they paid a bunch of people for a project that went nowhere, wasting money.

More importantly… On what planet is Star Trek Discovery a “flop”? The show has been widely praised. Ratings are solid. The show has won several awards, and not just in the usual Sci-Fi categories of costume and makeup. Yes, it has the usual haters who are upset about gay people in Star Trek, or black women as main characters, and there are a few others who don’t hate those things but who think the show is sub-standard for whatever reason. But as far as I can tell, the vast majority of fans have welcomed the show, and enjoy it.

Star Trek: Beyond did underperform in the box office, but it did well among critics, so I’m not sure the box office is all that meaningful. Yeah, I know, the Box Office take is considered super important, but to me a good movie that didn’t do amazingly at the box office is not the same as a flop. Movies underperform for lots of reasons; quality is only one possible measure, and not always the most important. Beyond premiered in a summer crowded with “geek movies,” and it still did pretty well, especially compared to most of the other Trek movies.

But what really gets on my nerves is this phrase, “what sounds like the complete abandonment of Roddenberry’s optimistic future.”

What?

No, really… what? Has this person even watched STD or the STP trailers? For that matter, have they ever watched any Star Trek?

Yes, Roddenberry’s future is an optimistic one, but it’s also one drenched in blood and horror. Look, we’ll set aside anything made after Roddenberry died and look only at the stuff he was part of. The United Federation of Planets, even in Gene Roddenberry’s original writing, came out of a period of death and destruction. Earth alone suffered under the Eugenics Wars, then World War 3, then the Earth/Romulan War. The Vulcans went through a period of savage warfare that nearly destroyed them. TOS opens only a decade or so after a period of open war between the Federation and the Klingons. And even in Roddenberry’s scripts, there is acknowledgment of the failures of the Federation.

Star Trek: Discovery’s entire first season is about the Federation losing its way in a time of war, and how it fights its way back to the ideals upon which it was founded. Hell, the main character is convicted of a crime because she gave up on those ideals, and spends the entire season reclaiming and redeeming herself.

In Season 2, the show is very much back in the optimistic vein of Roddenberryesque optimism. I am left to conclude that the commenter above didn’t watch the whole show.

STP is positioned in much the same way. We know Picard resigned from Starfleet, seemingly disgusted with the direction in which Starfleet was moving, and the show looks like it’s going to be about his fight for those ideals. So, how was Roddenberry’s optimism “abandoned?”

It wasn’t. It’s still there, but this isn’t 1966, and we can’t just show a perfect future with no struggle. So we’ll see the fight for the future that must happen if we’re to make it better than the past. Let’s watch Picard fight for the future we want. Let’s watch Burnham fight for the future she’s lost.

I bet we’re going to enjoy the hell out of that ride.

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