Cultural Indictment: The New Star Trek

I’ve been a lifelong science fiction fan, especially so of the Star Trek franchise. As a kid, I was drawn to the stories and to the ability to use reason to guide humanity past difficulties and solve complex problems (though I could not put such words to it as a child). As an adult, I more clearly see the philosophy embedded within Star Trek, especially so in The Original Series and The Next Generation incarnations.

Theologian Stanley Grenz testified to the philosophy in Trek many years ago. The opening chapter of his book, A Primer on Postmodernism, examines the shift from modern philosophy to postmodern philosophy as seen in TOS and TNG. That chapter is required reading in my intro to philosophy courses that I teach and it is coupled with an readings from Descartes and different postmodern thinkers (Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard) through the lens of James K.A. Smith (Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism?). My students are also required to watch specific episodes to exemplify how philosophy is depicted in popular culture and are able to see the shift in focus.

Whether you like Trek or not is besides the point. The point is that Trek has largely been written with a degree of sophistication and has a message within it. Sadly, Trek struggled in the late 90s and early 2000s and was ultimately canceled until a “rebooted” film in 2009 from J.J. Abrams. Now, I like Abrams’ film and television (see LOST and Super 8) and usually his shows do come with a degree of intelligence in them. However, Abrams admits he was not a Trek fan and recently went on record saying that Trek is “too philosophical” for him. From a monetary standpoint, production studios want to make money. Lots of it. To do so, you have to produce a film that society wants to see, give them “sexiness” and action, dimwitted humor and the occasional callback. This is the new Trek.

Now, I enjoyed the first Abrams movie. I was more repulsed by the second film as it recreates and rehashes many famous and monumental scenes from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which is, arguably, one of the best science fiction films ever created. If viewed completely independent and in ignorance to the original Trek, one could easily enjoy these films. They are fun. But there is more to unpack.

Both movies are a cultural indictment.

Star Trek used to be about enlightenment, progress, collaboration, and intelligence.

Now, Star Trek is about fun and games.

And sex.

And action.

And prolonged adolescence.

And non-stop, fast-paced cuts which nauseate the viewer (well, at least this one).

The Abrams Trek is a far cry from Trek of old. This should sadden us. Not necessarily because what was special about Trek is now gone, but for where we are as a culture. We’ve lost the ability to think. Things in the new Trek are painfully and blatantly obvious. A big, black ship called “Vengeance” is needed to express danger. Does it need to be so obvious? Carol Marcus, a central figure in Star Trek II, is included in this new adaptation. Where she was an important part of TWOK, here she has little purpose except to take her clothes off. This again, makes me wonder where we are. Are we still in the times where men need a near-naked woman to get a high? Or are we really in times where women are viewed more than objects? Roddenberry would be, I think, livid by that scene.

Further, the characters in the new Trek are caricatures of their original selves. This is most evident in Kirk, Spock, and Scotty. Yes, Kirk was always slick with women and he was no stranger to bending the rules. He pl

A classic poster from Star Trek: The Original Series. It exhibits what Trek is about: exploration, community, and discovery

A classic poster from Star Trek: The Original Series. It exhibits what Trek is about: exploration, community, and discovery

ayed by his own rules. But, Shatner’s Kirk was always charismatic with a seat belt. He respected and cared for the lives of his crew, and of the women he interacted with. We now have depicted a sex-crazed Kirk having a Ménage à trois, who recklessly and carelessly risks his crew. Now, yes, this could be attributed to the fact that we are seeing a younger Kirk and to Abrams and Co. credit, Kirk does seem to grow a bit. But he is not the model by which people aspire to be like. He is somewhat repulsing.

Cue Spock. I like Zachary Quinto’s depiction overall. I think he embodies Spock in a way that resembles Nimoy so well. However, some of the writing is dimwitted. Spock is always logical. But his logic in these new films often makes him look silly or down right stupid. In many ways, he seems more like Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, someone who is bright yet oblivious to normality. It makes logic and reasoning look foolish. This is truly an indictment of our culture, making intelligence look laughable.

A revamped, obviously action-oriented Star Trek.

A revamped, obviously action-oriented Star Trek.

Then comes Scotty. Thank God Scotty had more important things to do in the new film. The casting of the silly Simon Pegg as Scotty was a mistake from the onset. Not only is he not Scottish (and his fake accent is obviously transparent), but he turns Scotty into a joke, the ship’s comedian. This Scotty does not at all feel like the original as portrayed by James Doohan. And I know each new cast member is not supposed to exactly replicate what came before. However, what the new Trek has managed to do is make hyperbolic the subtleties of what make these character unique. Why is this bad, you may ask? Well, again, it speaks volumes to the way we seem to devolved as a culture. We cannot any longer recognize subtle humor, character traits, and idiosyncrasies that make characters who they are. Rather, we have to portray them as if written in the script “MAKE THE AUDIENCE LAUGH HERE.”

Even the promotional materials for Into Darkness (A title which I find utterly revolting) evoke the new mindset behind the film. The characters are running, holding weapons. There is grim, broken buildings and an Enterprise seemingly falling to its destruction. In the film, there is a scene where Kirk orders Spock and Uhura to “go out shooting.” What a far cry from the classic episodes where using any force, especially of the lethal methods, was considered a last resort.

This film is often shallow, uninspired, and a derivative of the greatness that once came before. The new action-oriented conflict between Kirk and “Khan” pales in comparison to the once greatness that existed between those two characters. We have exchanged depth for painfully obvious discourse, and much worse, our intelligence for simplistic complacency and mediocrity.

If the Star Trek of old told us what we could accomplish as members of the human species, then the new Star Trek testifies to how far we can fall, and how quickly that can occur.

To the real final frontier I return.

127 responses to “Cultural Indictment: The New Star Trek

  1. Though I never shared Roddenberry’s philosophy of humanity, I still loved the shows (mostly TOS and STNG). Star Trek started to explore darker material once Gene Roddenberry died. This last incarnation explored nothing at all. Exploited, maybe… I, too, was quite disappointed.

    • Thank you for pointing that out. Trek did start getting “darker” upon Roddenberry’s death. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had darker themes, especially amongst the Dominion War seasons. Yet still, despite the change in tone, there was substance – ethical dilemmas to work out. Captain Sisko’s monologue in “The Pale Moonlight” is simply superb. That clip, amongst other Star Trek philosophical clips, can be found in the Star Trek & Philosophy page of this site.

  2. This is honestly why I began to get very nervous once mainstream culture started trying to embrace the superficial aspects of nerd culture. They come in, they say “hey, this can be so cool if we just take away everything that makes it special, unique, and important.”

    People like identifying themselves as nerdy now because it makes them feel smart. The tragedy is that they’re ruining what was a perfectly good subculture and making it even more difficult for those of us that appreciated it for what it was, to have anything to enjoy. I wish they would just go back to watching their Honey Booboo bullshit and leave science fiction and fantasy alone.

    • As of just a few short months ago, I would not have known what Honey Booboo is. I now, sadly, do. And bullshit is the only apt term for such nonsensical entertainment.

    • I completely agree. This is definitely why I was nervous and now cringe as mainstream culture embraces geekdom. It’s downright scary to think that what may happen in the next decade. We can only hope they do go back to watching reality t.v. and leave things we appreciate alone.
      – Britney

    • I can appreciate a sense of ownership (and the subsequent feelings of betrayal) that this discussion invokes. But, can you not see that you err as much as popular culture by taking an elitist point of view? I’m not attacking; I’ll be the first to admit I’m guilty of elitism as well. And it’s not to say that Honey Booboo isn’t tripe. Because it is. That we can all agree on. But not asking why such tripe is popular and banishing those unworthy of the sophistication of true trekkies is a disservice to the philosophical ideal of progress. I think the fundamental task is not getting the mainstream to keep its hands off our stuff, but to get them to a point where they can appreciate the underpinnings as much as those of us who’ve been here longer.

  3. I’m more a Sith Lord and a Whovian than a Trekkie, but I do agree with you that the new Star Trek films leave something to be desired, especillay the whole conflict with Khan. That guy seemed less like the main villain than Admiral Marcus did.
    You have to admit though, there’s no sixties racism to keep Uhura from being a fully developed character in a interracial (inter-species?) relationship with Spock, something that would’ve been unthinkable years ago.

  4. As a fan of LOST, I was a bit disappointed in Damon Lindelofs tacky and contrived dialogue. Maybe his style of screenwriting philosophy is lost in the transition from TV to film? A great article though, really interesting stuff!

    • I would agree. Though, in fairness to Mr. Lindelof, he was one of three writers on the new film (Bob Orci and Alex Kurtzman also wrote). It might be hard to decipher who wrote what. But, I’ve heard the same thing about his script for Prometheus, but I cannot account for that film as I’ve not seen it.

  5. You are so right! Chris Pine lacks Shatner’s charisma and the new Kirk seems like an egomaniac. Most of the actors seem to be doing poor imitations of the original cast members and I completely concur that Pegg is awful and miscast as Scotty.

  6. Unfortunately to appeal to the widest demographic the producers of this lates installmnet have dumbed down a lot of what made Star Trek great. However, TNG had a lot of problems writing for its female characters, with Crusher (who I believe had the most potential out of all the characters) being written out of season 2 and Yar leaving before season 1 even ended. Troi’s was the counselor in revealing clothing. Same with Seven of Nine on Voyager who was brought in to replace Kes. Also of note is that no Start Trek series or movie has ever featured a homosexual character. Star Trek still has a long way to go to keep pace with the 21st Century let alone the 23rd.

    • Interestingly though, I spotted what appeared to be a transgender character on the bridge in several scenes in the new film.

  7. I agree with the somber diagnosis of the culture, especially since the failings you identify in Into Darkness show up in many other places. I would love to read two more posts, though. First, how you think we arrived here? And second, do you have any thoughts as to what should be done about it–if anything can be done?

    My apologies if you have covered either of those topics in prior posts, as I am new to your blog!

    • Great questions. On how we’ve arrived here, that is a loaded question. But, I will attribute some blame towards our technologically driven culture. While tech provides much, it does seem to remove responsibility, work-ethic, active thought and reflection from our culture. I’ve written more on this elsewhere here on the blog.

      Had I known that WordPress.com was going to feature this piece, I probably would have spent more time articulating the larger cultural paradigm shifts. I am working on a follow up piece.

      Many thanks for your comments,
      MDS

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  9. I wasn’t alive for either the first or second generation of star trek. yet, i am a fan of the movies and have sat down and watched the second gen of tv episodes. I think the main reason trek was so popular is because of the philosophy behind it. I know that my intro to Philosophy professor spent a week purely on the subject. Great post!

  10. After the disappointment of the first movie in this reboot, I just cannot bring myself to see Into Darkness. You hit the nail on the head with each and every point you made.

  11. Kirk was not sex-crazed in the 60’s? HE did have his standards, I guess., such as, as was said on 2 1/2 men, the women had to have working girl parts.

    I liked both the new movies. Yes, there was some philospohy in the first two seasons, but the third was pretty much an alien-of-the-week show. TNG was more cerebral, but it did not have Kirk, so comparisons are futile and if one tries to make them, they will be assimilated.

    Kirk, in this second prequel, was growing into the Kirk of the first series. We go to see it.

    I do appreciate your take on it though.

  12. I agree with your analysis that the new films are not like the original Star Trek. I think they are, on the whole, good films, but that does not mean they’re following in the philosophy of original Trek.

    “In the film, there is a scene where Kirk orders Spock and Uhura to “go out shooting.” ” This is true, and it’s not a good thing. However, it should be noted that Uhura questioned this: “You brought me here because I speak Klingon. So let me speak Klingon.” I thought it was powerful that she chose to try negotiation. I think more of that is necessary and should be a feature of future films, however.

    While my dad is a big Star Trek fan and I was brought up knowing of it, until recently I’d only seen two of the original films, and none of TOS or TNG (but I’ve just borrowed the entirety of TOS from a friend, so I know what I’ll be doing for the next month or so…). I think that has influenced how I viewed the newer films — I know that people who are more securely within the ‘fandom’ for the original Trek have reacted more negatively. While flawed, however, I think they do serve a purpose to bring new fans, as I know a lot of people who started with the 2009 reboot and have since watched a lot of the original stuff. Anything that brings people in is a good thing, isn’t it?

    (The Les Miserables fandom have coped remarkably well with the influx of fans of the musical film, who didn’t even know it was based on a book … though it can be infuriating at times.)

    • “Anything that brings people in is a good thing, isn’t it?”

      Meh. Often the easiest, cheapest, fastest way to get the masses into anything is to aim for the lowest common denominator. Chuck in as much artificial colors and preservatives, fake everything, fat, sugar, salt, and starch, and cover it all in a thick coating of orange, plastic “cheez” and watch people stampede toward it.

  13. I actually enjoyed the film BUT this is coming from a girl who hasn’t seen the original series. So basically my opinion is shot from there haha I really do appreciate where you’re coming from though, when it comes back around to where our culture is going. I think Kirk is a bit too charismatic and definitely a womanizer, which are two things I wish they would tone down quite a bit. I’m in love with Zachary Quinto’s portrayal of Spock so I can’t go there but I do see where you’re coming from!
    It was enjoyable to read a different outlook on the movies and I’m glad I found this post.

  14. The loss of intelligence in Trek-dom does create a deep seated sense of loss. Trek used to call attention to social issues without seeming to do so overtly. People watched Trek, talked about the issues, and stepped up to make a difference. Sadly, that mentality has been lost, replaced with 2nd grade intelligence, humor, and social skills.

  15. I read that Abrams wanted to establish a new continuity for the 23rd century “Star Trek,” which would explain the different vision of his movies. That sounded like a copout to me.

  16. Agreed with many of your points after seeing the movie and like your writing! Some of the scenes are headache inducing and there are many rehashed portions of other movies and tv series (I can’t decide if I actually like the rehashing for nostalgia sake). Must point out though that James Doohan wasn’t Scottish either. He was Canadian and the child of Irish immigrants. But agree with your take that James Doohan “did” Scotty better!

  17. I find it interesting that people in love with post-modernism can’t see the rejection of it, when culturally it’s staring back at them. You can be stuck in that world if you want. For someone who teaches philosophy one would hope you might have a larger scope of humanity. As for evolving as a society or de-volving as you put it, you fall in to the trap that you think there is a pinnacle or peak that we are evolving too. Evolution in biology and culturally this does not happen, we simply change and adapt based on our environments. The reason TNG style philosophy isn’t working anymore culturally isn’t because we’re “worse” it’s because it’s no longer valid, it no longer is out culture’s philosophy. And thank goodness.
    What Roddenberry (as he wanted TNG to fully represent his vision of humanity’s future) painted our future as human’s as so boring, robotic and lacking of any humanity, that the one robot on the ship had the most humanity of all of them combined. I’m not sure human’s are actually so destined to shed it’s passionate and irresponsible side. As human’s this will always be a part of us, no matter how many refuse to believe so. The original series dealt with this much better, with Kirk and Spock being the to extremes of human and robotic non-passionate beings.
    Does the new star trek have a philosophy? Sure it does, but because you don’t like it, you probably won’t see it, or claim it’s relevant. Now was it well done? Debatable. It was made to be a fun movie, but it’s much more character based then philosophical based like all the old star trek’s were like in the past. And that says a lot about our culture as well, we are much more individualistic then we were in the ’60’s to 2000.

    • Many thanks for your comment. I’d like to address a few issues briefly. You open with people in “love” with postmodernism. I’m not sure if you are lumping me in with that crowd, but on the chance you might be, I can say that I am not a huge advocate of its major movements, though I am sympathetic to some of its claims (despite massive shortcomings).

      You are right in that I think there is a pinnacle of humanity that I think we should try and achieve, but it is probably not one which you would think. I classify myself and my thought as existentialist, which, is hard to define as it seems to constantly be shifting focus on different things. Despite that, I think the pinnacle to reach is a healthy “self”, a concept which I discuss in other posts on this blog. So, I’m not necessarily endorsing the modernist perspective on life either. Simply put, when I engage with the philosophy of Star Trek (of old), I present and teach the material as is, that being modern elements in TOS and postmodern elements in TNG. Both, however, I think inspire the viewer to think critically. Thus, whether the certain philosophy is “valid” anymore is a separate category. I do not endorse either philosophy of TOS or TNG in this piece. Rather, I say that there is depth behind the writing. I think that is something lacking in the newer films.

      Best wishes,
      MDS

      • Okay I get what you’re saying now. However I disagree with there being any depth, it is actually subtle which you say it wasn’t being. The old star treks dwelled on this, as its theme, these new ones don’t. These new ones are much more of a hero’s journey than a wide philosophical statement, where each character has to make decisions and live with their consequences. Lessons that our current culture needs more of, and unlike most blockbusters show quite well I find.

        I just think comparing them is leading you astray in thinking that there isn’t any depth to the movie (as far as big budget tent-pole films can be – this is made for this generation, whereas we have the previous, what gets us thinking is different than young people in today’s world.

      • Donlak makes some very good points here. While your article is interesting and nicely reasoned, it seems to boil down to this: The new “Star Trek” is different from the old “Star Trek,” and therefore our society is devolving. It seems to me that many of the things you don’t like (the nods to classic “Star Trek” scenes of the past) are actually meant for longtime fans. New viewers, after all, will not “get” them. Kirk isn’t as mature as he was in the series, but — as you note — this was very likely intentional. He was always meant as an emotional foil to Spock, and this is exaggerated in these movies. While he is a bit of a cad, Kirk is not beyond redemption and he does, ultimately, place the lives of his crew members above all else. What he represents is blind, unchecked emotion while Spock represents blind logic.

        The new movies do have philosophy. Some of it adheres directly to ideas expressed in the old series:
        * The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
        * Adhering to blind logic and forsaking emotion is as much a mistake as caving to one’s emotions without thinking.
        * Diplomacy is always preferred over military action. (Despite what you say, many characters argue against blind aggression, and they are the ones who are ultimately successful. Note that Khan and Admiral Marcus – the real villain of the story — are the most militaristic characters and they are defeated. Kirk begins with militaristic tendencies, but his crew slowly sways him to more diplomatic actions)

        The new film also takes philosophical stances that are less prevalent in previous incarnations. And this is a good thing… After all, one can always re-watch the old shows if he/she has no interest in new ideas.
        * The power structures we believe in can be more dangerous than our perceived enemies. (This may well have been addressed in the original series, but I don’t recall a good example off hand)
        * Real leaders embrace the skills of those who support them rather than blindly sticking to ideals (This idea was certainly present in the earlier series, but it is really prevalent here)

        As Donlak says, there are ideas and depth in the new movies. It seems that you have chosen not to embrace these things because the presentation is different than what you are comfortable with.

  18. I have enjoyed all of the Star Trek incarnations, for different reasons. And I don’t blindly like all of them (let’s face it, silliness, bad writing and bad acting abound in much of the Star Trek universe). However, rarely does a film make me angry enough to walk out, but I nearly walked out of “Into Darkness.” Ignore even that it is a Star Trek film – as it stands on it’s own it’s a crap film. Loud, dumb, insulting, designed to appeal to 12 year old boys. Nothing wrong with that necessarily (I loved that type of film when I was 12!), but I have no interest in that type of movie anymore. It was “Fast and Furious” set in space.

  19. As an original series (TOS) adherent (who watched the original series when it was still only a few years old) I feel your pain. The following observations may or may not alleviate the angry acid reflux. You already know all this but bear with me.

    TOS was written and aired with perfect timing. Historically, it occurred right when we needed something like it to back up and give face and form to radically new social and political attitudes. The Abrams flick is none of that, only another diversion of action and sex in a long line of such cinematic diversions. It’s not breaking any new ground, except maybe ticket sales.

    TOS had some really good writers who wanted to deal with adult topics. The philosophy and ethics are pretty advanced for its time and the whole thing was aired with adults in mind. Abrams is targeting the current movie audience of teens and twentysomethings (who these days are mentally and emotionally technically still teens). And most of those teens are male, so in-your-face sex is gonna be a given.

    TOS was original. I cannot stress this enough. Nothing of it’s ilk had ever been done before. It’s mere existence was titillating. Abrams has merely taken the memory of it and spread it over the top of a modern sci-fi action movie like so much Star Trek flavored frosting. The end result is not satisfying, just mental junk food. Of course, the young ‘uns won’t know this but neither do they care. They microwave the meals we used to have to make from scratch.

    My advice as a TOS die hard is not to fight it but not to compare it, either. Just let each one be what it is. This generation can’t hear you. You’d have to somehow surgically download your entire historical experience since the 1960s into their young minds to even have an intelligent conversation with them about the old and the new Captain Kirk. And they’ll just roll their eyes and look back down at their smartphones if you try.

    If you want some real fun read the autobiographies/biographies of Shatner, Nimoy, and Nimoy’s son. Now, THAT’S titillating.

    • I would love to leave it as is, but as an educator, I cannot. Many of this generation cannot hear this, but a few can. I myself, am not “old.” I am only in my mid-twenties and can see the drastic shifts. Granted I grew up with Trek and think philosophically, but I’ve had some success in showing this type of presentation to my students. That is, I think, the benefit of film. It engages students at their level, then we begin to slowly unpack.

      Thanks for your comments,
      MDS

  20. I’m an avid fan of Sci-Fi and epic, sweeping Westerns (and space IS the Final Frontier), but I’ve never really gotten into Star Trek. I attribute that to the fact that it was my mother’s favorite show before she died, and somehow it makes me just a bit sad to watch it.

    And yet I went to the new film yesterday and, although I admit I enjoyed it as a piece of holiday weekend fluff, I definitely see what you’re talking about and agree with your comments on the “dumbing down” of culture (pop or otherwise). You’ve made me want to watch the Wrath of Khan.

    As an aside, I was and still am a huge, huge LOST fan. I’m going to stick up for my beloved Damon Lindelof and agree with a previous commenter who said that perhaps he excels in TV in a way that he just can’t in film. A six-year television show like LOST certainly benefits from having the time to flesh characters and plot-lines out in meaningful ways. And it’s definitely worth noting that those who hated LOST often complained that it was “too philosophical” and that it didn’t “explain” itself. Interesting, that, particularly given your commentary here.

    • I agree in that LOST was truly a great show. It suffered at times (beginning of season 3 particularly), though it was quite deep. Many of its characters were named after or inspired by philosophers (Locke, Hume, Rousseau, Lewis) and its story integrated philosophical elements throughout.

  21. I enjoyed your argument until you felt the need to describe Simon Pegg, a skilled comedian and writer, as dimwitted. You can make a critique of his interpretation and portrayal of Scotty without denigrating the actor, and it demeans what is an intelligent and articulate blog post.

    • I apologize for this. By dimwitted, I meant “silly.” I did not intentionally mean to criticize Pegg in this manner. I’ve adjusted the language here.

      Best,
      MDS

      • Thank you for understanding my intention and not twisting it into meaning anything else. I thought your post was well-written and well-thought.

  22. Hearing “Space, the final frontier…” at the end actually made me cringe. Nothing was accomplished toward seeking out new life and new civilizations. finding strange new worlds or going where no one has gone before, boldly or otherwise. Notice how many times “new” is used in this well known speech? When I heard a bunch of teen age girls giggling helplessly at Dr. McCoy’s “I’m a doctor not a…” insert and no one else, I knew that a horrible turn had veen taken. The second week’s box office reflects popular opinion, thankfully. BTW that was the weakest delivery of said speech I’ve ever heard.

  23. BTW there was nothing “philosophical” about Lost. Mere teasing and innuendo followed by character acceptance of whatever follows over a period of six years means that nobody knew where the thing was going.

    • I completely disagree, Lost examined the values at the core of humanity, and tested our perception of reality. Not only is it inspirational but makes us re-examine everything it is to be human.

  24. I grew up watching the original series and was exceptionally happy with the New Gen shows; the newer movies do seem to trivialize themes that gave me hope as a teen growing up in the Cold War. I thought the character “Q” was a terrific addition in the newer shows, I liked the examination of where mankind “had been” that mirrored some of the more unpleasant places we are actually going.

    It does seem that everything becomes about big explosions and trim thighs and money making in movies these days.

  25. You’ve put why I can’t seem to like the new movies into words. Before, there was always a plot and a puzzle to solve or an obstacle to overcome. You could think along with the characters and get to know them. They were friends who cared about each other before anyone made a sacrifice for someone else. There were lessons and people learned them. Now it’s all fights and explosions with some humor. I wonder if and how Kirk will ever learn to follow the rules.

  26. I loved the movie when I watched and I did notice the “Spock to Sheldon Copper relation”, but once reading this I do see how things are done so differently. The dumbing down did seem common for the movie and his was different compared to the original Star Trek but I don’t think it was bad. It was fun and entertaining to watch though it was very different yes.

  27. I love Star Trek..all of them, and a few of the spin-offs too…I enjoyed the first Abram’s film (and many of his other productions, excluding Super 8 *sorry*)…but..I have to confess, when I sat back and ran through it again in my head, I didn’t care for this second one too much…I’ve read that he’s to a big Star Wars fan, so I’m expecting a much better experience whenever that one makes it to general audiences :~)

  28. Oh my, someone else who agrees with my thought process on this new genre of Star Trek. It does seem to be all about fun, games, and yes-even sex. Wow, your speaking to my language!

  29. Learned to love rye a few years ago when I moved from Alabama (bourbon country) to Ontario. I too was skeptical at first.

  30. Yea I’m disappointed too where Star Trek is heading these days from where it was during Gene Roddenberry’s days. It reminds me what happened to the James Bond franchise. It is a shame that this happened though. The Trek philosophy was supposed to be one of hope for humanity to improve one self and be a fair and equal just society that has gained great knowledge of the health sciences and of the physical universe. Instead look at what we get. The same old drudgery of what todays society really thinks what we can accomplish, not much from where we are today. In the movie they are showing the same old disrespect for female coworkers in their working environment on or off duty and just a general showing of the darker side humanity’s character which Star Trek wasn’t supposed to be about. Star Trek is supposed to be about the best of humanity. Hopefully audiences will one day start demanding less action and more substance for our brain to ponder on instead.

  31. I’ve been a fan of Star Trek since the series began on TV in the mid 1960’s. I still remember the gasps at the multicultural crew, an event in TV that pushed the envelope until it almost burst. The “kiss” between Uhura and Kirk in the original series would have been on par with trying to broadcast the live execution of someone being disemboweled on TV today. You might get away with a few seconds of footage. For the same reason that the genie on “I Dream of Jeannie” couldn’t show her navel on TV, Roddenberry was limited to the amount of skin, sex and savagery he was able to show at the time. It leaves me with no doubt that the only reason he didn’t have near-naked women in the original series was that he couldn’t. :-)

    • Ha, we authors often have to promote our work, but always fend off that “shame.” My academic advisor of past always told me that if you think your work is good, get as many people to read it as possible. I enjoyed your perspective. Thanks for sharing and I encourage others to read it as well!

  32. I couldn’t agree with you more. Unfortunately, this trend of putting money before the characters and stories of Star Trek started before Abrams. The only reason it’s a little more upsetting and noticeable is because he does have a good track of combining storytelling with action in a good way with such shows as Lost, Alias, and Fringe.

  33. Thanks for putting this up. It’s exactly what I was trying to explain to someone the other day. Star Trek was always about more than just flying about the place shooting stuff and it’s sad the Kirk had been reduced to a lucky idiot.

  34. Ignoring my many Trek-based complaints, I had many movie and story related complaints.

    Every scene more or less became a melodramatic event that “OMG they might die or something bad will happen”, except you know the good guys are practically impervious thanks to the shoddy script-writing, and this cycle repeated over and over and over again.

    Story-writers create an absurd frequency of externally generated conflicts to make up for an absence of internal conflict, better known as a character conflict/flaw that usually results in character growth or character deterioration. Sometimes this constant bombardment of external problems can work, but rarely. It’s typically a terrible formula and a common fall back for poor script-writers.

    Star Trek: Into Darkness was, in my opinion, poorly scripted, poorly dialogued, and wholly unprovocative. Many characters have been reduced to stereo-types and jokes. When I add my Trek-based complaints to my movie-based complaints, I find myself disgusted with this latest installment. I enjoyed the first Abram’s Trek movie, but this one outright offended me.

    Twenty years from now when the special effects and flashy features age, wither, and die, I don’t think there will be anything worthwhile left of Star Trek: Into Darkness worth calling a corpse.

  35. Nicely written! I’m so glad I’m not the only one who moans the demise of the philosophical aspects of Star Trek. The new movies are good action movies, if you like that genre, and nothing more. No subtle humor, no intelligence, nothing that makes you think. I totally agree with you that they mirror our society. Sadly, most movies are like that these days (and I’m in my twenties as well, so I wouldn’t call myself that old either ;-))

    @floridaborne
    I always thought that TOS did have a lot of women who threw themselves at Kirk, and they did have short skirts. ;-) However, Rodenberry wanted to give women bigger and more important roles, only the studio wouldn’t let him. He actually wanted to make his wife first officer of the ship, but the studio said an alien (Spock) and a women would be too much for the audience. What I think is sad is that the new movies again put women in minor roles and reduce them to objects. I thought we’d gotten over that with Janeway.

    @Donlak
    I’m curious: What is the philosophy you see in the new movies? Having to make decisions and having to live with them is not news, and there are a lot of “old” episodes that deal with precisely that. Only they manage to deal with dozens of other topics at the same time. I grew up with TNG and though people sometimes call me a bit idealistic, I think the moral values they transmitted are great. I don’t see a new generation growing up with the values promoted in the new movies (into which I would strongly include Nemesis, which was the beginning of the end where content was concerned). Or rather, I do see it. And it scares the hell out of me.

  36. It seems that you are decrying the lack of human depth in the characters. Isn’t this the evolution that is expoused by the technogeeks and transhumanists. Less humanity and more tech. The superficial tweets of humanity is all that this ADD culture can handle. Thank you public education!

  37. I appreciate your viewpoint, and it’s a very analytical and thought-provoking article, but I disagree. The original series is from a different era, a different time when people were fixed on getting to the moon and there was increasing popularity for the genre kick-started by HG Wells. I think the new films are still driven by core philosophical values but the vehicle for their delivery has adapted with time. Now it is accessible for those who before saw it as “over their heads”. Personally, being a die-hard fan of Star Trek Voyager, Star Wars etc, and being a writer of science fiction, I’m thrilled that this genre is being exposed to all society for what it is: pure, undiluted wonder, adventure, and an environment where the values at the core of humanity are tested. Into Darkness was an exceptionally innovative twist on the Wrath of Khan, and for example, the scene where Kirk was the one to die allowed us to see his irreplaceable value in Spock’s eyes, and how, as Shatner said, Spock is truly the most human person he ever met! JJ Abrams work is inspirational and pioneering.
    If anything, it will encourage more and more people to watch the original series.

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  39. “…it speaks volumes to the way we seem to devolved as a culture. We cannot any longer recognize subtle humor, character traits, and idiosyncrasies that make characters who they are.”

    About ten years ago, I observed in a similar context that the current interpretation of “subtle” seems to be a dry t-shirt rather than a wet one, although either will have GET IT HERE written on it. One of the few things about post-modernism I can get behind is the ability to retreat into the preserved pop-culture of previous generations; we may not attend to the old ways, but at least there are examples to refer to if the error is eventually realized.

  40. Good thoughts. I think they’re generally accurate, most particularly in terms of the film being manufactured in order to be a hit. Pine is no Shatner, like you say, and his Kirk is more of a hothead and certainly less of a role model. I like the sense of fun infused into the movie, though, even though it can be justifiably criticized as in your post.

  41. The only actor that seems to have nailed his character is Karl Urban as “bones” and he gets the least screen time! (i have only seen the 1st film BTW!)

  42. What you are seeing is occurring not just in Star Trek – the virus has permeated American Culture. Your awakening to it is reassuring. Keep your eyes open and your heart in the right place.

  43. I absolutely agree with you. This second film especially was an impressively upsetting let down. The entire thing was predictable to a disturbing level (even if you hadn’t seen the original Wrath of Khan film). Moreover, female characters, it’s clear now, only exist in this world to be beanpole thin and take their clothes off at random points. If we’re in this incredibly progressive and improved futuristic world, how is it that misogyny was able to persist with such terrific force? Really, Abrams, the skirts needed to be that short and the dialogue that trite?

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  45. Thanks for the thoughtful review. I’ve yet to see this Abrams sequel with this newer, younger Enterprise crew… and you’ve so perfectly put your finger on exactly the misgivings I’ve had after having seen the first movie. If I were to put words to my misgivings, it would be that maybe, just maybe, these aren’t the Star Trek boys (and girls) I was looking for. It feels a bit like the Abrams Star Wars franchise audience is being duped, in much the way Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars could pass by security stormtroopers with a wave of the hand and “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” Sigh.

  46. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! I’m going to be a dissenting voice here. I’m a big SF fan both reading and viewing. I grew up on TOS and still adore TNG. I entered into a little “Trek Fatigue” by the middle of DS9 and the beginning of Voyager.

    I didn’t really like the initial reboot film. I thought it was glitzy but sort of empty — and using the “lazy screenwriters” time travel tropes made it unnecessarily contrived with big logistical plot holes. So I wasn’t really jazzed for this film.

    And you know what? I LIKED this movie. I enjoyed it. I thought that all the actors seemed more comfortable in their roles than in the first film. As for caricatures — have you watched the films IV, V, and VI? The road to caricatures of those characters was paved 20 years ago.

    I really thought this film was a love-letter to STII. I think the writers DL + Abrams’ FRINGE & ALIAS world-builders wanted to tap into the things everyone loved about that movie and tap into it again. Like every big-budget film these days there were more FX than necessary (but still WAY better than the travesty of Jackson’s Hobbit), but I liked the way it hung together. I didn’t see it as a rip-off, I saw it as an homage. Perfect? Far from it — but I liked it. It reminded me of Super8 — good, not great.

    Afterwards, we came home and watched Wrath of Khan — and I tried to watch it with an objective eye — and that’s some pretty campy stuff. Yes, the end still got me. Montalban and his big-plastic chest. The drumbeat of Kirk-you’re-old. We LOVED those guys because we’d spent more than a decade watching them in syndication. We knew them inside and out. I STILL tear up with the Kirk-Spock plexiglass death scene. Was Kirk’s death less meaningful because they brought him back in 15 minutes of film time rather than the two hours they took for Spock? I don’t really think so.

    Can you tell we talked about this a lot?

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  49. I refuse to watch any of the new so called Star Treck movies not only do I think they are media hype they do not correlate with the original concept. This is highly annoying. Good blog.

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  51. I was weaned on the original series. I finally got past my ‘loyalty issues’ and fell in love with TNG, too. I have seen both new movies, and while you make valid points, I still enjoyed seeing my beloved franchise come back to life. :)

  52. I read this post first word to last, even if I am running late for work. I’ve been insanely curious to see what original Star Trek fans had to say about the new movies. I was introduced as a child to Star Trek, but I never really ever sat down and watched them. Growing up, Sci-Fi was certainly appealing, but yet again I never really dove into it.

    I’ve watched maybe one or two episodes of the original Star Trek, and believe me I cannot remember them. I’ve now seen both the movies, and I enjoyed them. It draws me into the world of Star Trek even though I’ve never gone back to watch it. These new movies, no matter how shallow and mainstream they were edited to be, draws in those who never had the chance to watch the originals.

    I’ll be honest, I want more of the Star Trek world. I now very much want to go back and watch all of the originals. So while they might not have depicted Star Trek well, they did so enough to create new fans. New fans that might not just settle for the movies. I.E.: Myself. That’s not so bad, am I right?

    – Britney

  53. I think part of the issue is most iterations of Star Trek have been in television format, where more time can be taken for philisophical exploration, and a smaller format is needed. While some films successfully balance philosophical questions with action, it’s a difficult balance to make, and easier within the realm of television.

  54. Excellent points from a true Star Trek fan. But you have hit on my feelings about Science Fiction in general. When I was a kid, in clucing Star Trek, SF involved an unlimited future, space travel, time travel anything was possible. Even post apocalyptic Planet of the Apes had us in space first.
    Now? We get kids killing each other in the Hunger Games, or sparkling vampires. We’ve lost hope and gotten dumber….

  55. Reblogged this on the tao of jaklumen and commented:
    Escapism, or reflective introspection?
    One could argue the Abrams reboot of Star Trek is the former, while the original material is the latter. If the Onion satirized it right, the mainstream isn’t really ready for a thoughtful look back at our society and would rather just escape it for a while.

    Give it time, I say. Films are our way of storytelling now, and we’ll all come back to carefully examine our way of life, yet tell an entertaining story at the same time. This is why I write about the Monomyth…

  56. Thank you for a very well thought out piece. Abrams isn’t a bad person, he’s just not a great one. People like Gene Roddenberry are a product of their time, and the time has changed tremendously over the past 50 years. You can no more blame a person for that than you can blame a person for aging and ultimately passing on. Again, thank you for thinking; please continue the good work.

  57. While I appreciate them reviving the series, I am a little tired of them rehashing/remaking the previous series. There is a rich storyline to enhance upon and it cheapens it by rewriting it. Besides, Ricardo Montalbán can never be topped…..

  58. Thanks for putting so many of my thoughts about this disaster into words. I’ve said since I saw Into Darkness, that the writing team managed to squander the blank check opportunity they wrote for themselves in the first reboot. They turned the second movie into a humiliating parody of one of the best Trek movies to date. If one is completely unfamiliar with The Wrath of Khan, it could pass, I guess, but they had the opportunity to do anything and everything, and instead they chose a cheap parallel. It’s almost as if the director took his opportunity as “not a fan due to ST being too philosophical” to besmirch what most ST fans really respected about the series. Opening with so many teasers, such as including Carol Marcus, presented great opportunities, but all they managed to do was create a reason for her to get out of her clothes.

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  60. Reblogged this on Tangible Aftertaste and commented:
    I have been thinking of a way to pass my thoughts of this new movie without adding my own bias.
    Well, this guy did. Thanks MICHAELDSTARK…
    Here is a well written description of the new Star Trek Movie; Into Dumbness.. Oops! Into Darkness I meant.
    It WAS a great movie IF, you were not familiar with the Star Trek History.
    I am really glad I did NOT pay to see it!

  61. I’m not a Trekkie but my father is and he hasn’t been raving about the latest films. He used to talk about how the old star trek he grew up on was great in lessons and how it inspired future technology as well. Not a peep from him about these movies lol

  62. I’ve loved Trek for 25 years and love what Abrams has done. So with that, can I point out James Doohan wasn’t Scottish and his accent could rival Christopher Lambert’s for authenticity.

    I think you’re looking at the old Trek through rose tinted nostalgia. Scotty always was the comic relief, in my mind at least. What about in The Final Frontier when the ship has been hijacked, the crew brainwashed, Kirk and Spock are desperately formulating a plan to take back the Enterprise and Scotty mutters ”I know this ship like the back of my hand” and promply walks into an overhead pipe knocking himself clean out. Pegg echos this in the new film after getting back on a battle damaged Enterprise, ”I’m off the ship for one day!”. Scotty was always the light relief in times of tension.

    Overall I’d have liked if we’d had new adventures in the Trek universe with Captain April or Pike rather than bringing back Kirk and Co but ultimately if you are a real Trek fan you can see that Abrams really tried to do a good job. A lot of his work with Trek along with his writer has delved deep into the expanded universe and tried to give us a Trek with the ability of hindsight. So we get Sulu the helmsman straight off the bat rather than a physicist. We have Chekov on board in its first mission, (making right Kahn’s line form TWOK). We are getting things as they should have been. Spock fights Kahn instead of Kirk as in the original series that made no sense when Kahn is a super human. It is the little things. But everyone, that doesn’t like the new Trek, is missing them completely.

  63. I’m 13. I understand all you have said, as I looked around as the world around me has changed for the worse. It pains me to see what is being made of Star Trek. It also pains me to see the kind of content that people actively seek out. The new Star Trek just doesn’t have what the previous ones did.

  64. As opposed to your article, I loved Simon Pegg as Scotty. Thought he stole it! Was way too funny, I wanted to see more of Scotty! Loved him! Same with the new Spock. Loved the humor and the character both! Loved this modern Star Trek. Just wished they could have left out the gratuitous Kirk in bed, with two. And the gratuitous depiction of the new science officer in her skivvies. Very insulting. It all made Kirk who was otherwise a cool character, seemed sex obsessed, and weak.

  65. Although Deacon you are right, it does make sense for Spock to fight Khan. Humorous parts are thrown in throughout both kinds of Star Trek

  66. Great post I am curious and was wondering if you reply and tell me (or maybe you could do a follow up post), what episodes you use and what points you make with each of the episodes that you cite to your philosophy class?

    • In the assignment itself, they watch TOS, “The Savage Curtain,” and TNG “Measure of a Man.” The dialog and concepts depicted in these episodes embody the desires of the modern and postmodern philosophy as spelled out in the Grenz text I mentioned.

  67. I agree that Star Trek is not what it used to be and part of the philosophical interweavings that made it Star Trek died with Roddenberry. However, I think some points in here are, well, harsher than the reality. For example, I’m not sure Roddenberry would be livid by Carol Marcus stripping down to her skivvies. TOS shows a LOT of skin. I think Roddenberry liked women, in real life and on the set. He liked them to have dialogue, he liked them to have personality, he liked them to have short skirts and long legs… I don’t think he was averse at all to women being portrayed sexually, and frequently. At least, TOS and TNG seem to be totally on board with it. I also think a fair amount of plotlines in the series were devoted to sex. Or at least sexuality. Star Trek has always pushed the boundaries.

    I agree that Spock is more like Sheldon Cooper and less wise than Spock should be/was portrayed by Leonard Nimoy. I would go farther than that, because I don’t really like how he’s portrayed at all, but I’m just going to keep my New Spock rage to myself. I definitely agree that Abrams’ version is not the philosophical intrigue that the series was (up until Berman got a hold of it…)

  68. Thank you so much for this. If I had been by myself at this movie I would have walked out. I was disgusted and believe it or not, I felt betrayed. Wrath of Khan is still one of my favourite movies so I will not even begin to spew what I thought of Abrams handling and dismantling of everything that is “Khan”.
    When Captain Pike was killed in the manner that he was killed…well it was at that point that I wanted to leave. Anyone who knows Star Trek knows how pivotel the story of Pike/Spock and Kirk is to the character development of both Kirk and Spock.. So again, thank-you. I have sent your blog to a few friends with the subject line “so there!”

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  70. I agree with your comments regarding the need for modern Trek audiences to require more of an action film in order for it to make $. Unfortunately, the science fiction suffers as a consequence. Not to say we need to repeat the awful boredom of the first Trek film but there can be a happy medium. You can have an action packed story and a good Sci Fi story in the same plot line, and I think that was lacking in this version. The plot was so predictable as were the chase and fight scenes… Was I the only one who figured out well in advance how Kirk would be regenerated? It was so obvious as to be annoying. And why did the writers have to copy the death of Spock, using Kirk this time? Too many illusions to the previous films ruin the effect. And then there were the implausible and needless stupidities of the storyline… Why (and how) would Kahn replace the warheads of the photon torpedoes with his genetically altered kind in cryogenic freeze and then somehow keep the warheads within the torpedoes so they could be rearmed by the sexy Carol Marcus? Why would there be that much excess payload in these torpedoes in the first place? Kahn was supposed to be the designer, but even in the distant future, there is no ONE designer of a complex weapons system, and you’d think the Lockheed Martin/General Dynamics/Northrup Grumman conglomerate in the 25th century would notice something weird about these crazy torpedoes. With respect to how Abrams and Co. killed the original Scotty, you failed to mention the young Scottie’s impish sidekick. He was the Jar Jar Binks of these new prequels, but you have to appreciate the way he does not blabber as Binks did.

  71. There is some very interesting points here, I completely agree with the point that Scotty has turned into a clown, with a daft sidekick to boot. With all of the negative aspects of Into Darkness that you have pointed out, the greatest positive has to be that Sar Trek has become popular again. Many people are openly talking about the movie, which never happened unless you were with a group of trekkies, and I have seen, and hope it happens even more as time goes on, that on the back of watching Star Trek (2009) and Into Darkness, non-trekkies are revisting the classic seris, TNG, DS9 VOY and even ENT….now that can only be a good thing right?

    http://www.startrekblog.wordpress.com

  72. Thanks for the great read. Your class sounds extremely interesting with required reading involving Star Trek!! I had tried to enroll in a sociology class was being offered at my community college that focused on the Star Trek aspect. It was probably the only way I could stomach a sociology class; I’m not a huge believer in that science. But anyway, I think I’ll pick up a copy of A Primer on Postmodernism, ya know, for some light reading… =-)
    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!!

  73. I’ve read a few reviews of “Into Darkness”, some positive and some from those who disliked it. But when I read those reviews similar to this I find myself wondering, Did I see the same movie as this person? What movie did they watch?

    It’s interesting how people can watch the very same thing yet come away with wholly different impressions.

  74. Nailed it. The US is turning into an audience that doesn’t want to think. Action, sex, violence, and shifting images constantly.

    What happened to the morality and the more positive ideas of the future that Roddenberry espoused? AND the importance of respecting women (even though he didn’t live it necessarily) and cultural backgrounds?

    The longer the connection to the original Star Treks (TOS/TNG and to some extent DS9, not so much the other two) and the better the understanding of who Roddenberry was and how his image of ST fit into our history, culture and the genre of SciFi, the less likely people are to like this film.

    I teach a course called “Enduring Humanity: What it Means to Be Human through the Lens of Star Trek”–and this is something we explore. The students dislike ST:TNG at first, then they realize it’s deeper than just violence, sex, and quick-paced action. They see and understand the moral dilemma and what Roddenberry was trying to do with the story.

    They get it. And they’re 17-19 years old. But it takes training. And like you said, audiences don’t want to think any more.

    • I find blanket statements like “audiences don’t want to think anymore” troubling. In reality, it seems what you are saying is, “modern audiences don’t react to things exactly as my generation did, and that is bad.” I am middle-aged, but I interact with many young people, and find them — as a whole — quite bright and thoughtful.

      Remember that when we were young, our parents found many of the entertainments that we indulged in immature, vulgar, stupid, etc. Go back another generation and the same was largely true. Remember that Elvis and the Beatles were the scourge of the Earth according to some. Now, they are viewed as luminaries.

      The fact is, times change and we can adjust our lens or we can lament the fact that they are changing.

      Don’t get me wrong. I am not a fan of many things taking place in the world today. But I also believe that most of our current problems were caused by our older and supposedly wiser generations. We have CEOs who espouse “old-school, conservative” values while taking multi-million dollar salaries and paying employees subsistence wages. We have politicians who have sold out constituents for career advancement. And we have a media that is largely controlled by profit-mongering folks who could care less about their industry’s role in preserving our democratic values. Note that most of the people who have allowed this to happen are among the older generation — the one that (supposedly) liked to think when going to the movies. If that’s what thinking does for you, I’ll take the sex, violence and rapid scene shifts.

      I hope it’s obvious that I don’t actually believe entertainment has much to do with any of the above problems. It’s just an example. People like to attribute societal downfall to things like entertainment, but entertainment is both a reflection of societal values and an influence on those values. And, thankfully, there are all sorts of different values espoused.

      It seems silly to say that today’s entertainment isn’t thoughtful when there are many examples (particularly on TV) of programming that is far more thoughtful than anything produced by past generations. Think about shows like “The Wire,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Following,” etc., etc. Are these really dimwitted shows that indicate that audiences don’t want to think? Does the fact that a musical version of a Victor Hugo novel made nearly $150 million and won three Oscars really indicated that society is crumbling?

      It seems obvious to me that it is not. What is happening is times are changing. We can accept that and do our best to find our place in the new world or we can become the grumpy old folks who get left behind and argue that nothing will ever be as good as it used to be… an argument that is often self-fulfilling.

  75. Reblogged this on An Unexpected Journey and commented:
    This is a pretty interesting take on the new Star Trek and how popular media is reflective of our society in general.

    The trend toward not a distaste for intellectual capacity that, over time, could evolve to an abhorrence, is one that’s evident not only in the items that Mr. Stark posted about relating to the new Star Trek movie, but also in the quality of lyrics in modern popular music (which I’d caution against confusing for pop music, as a genre, which hasn’t really ever been known for lyrical depth).

    It’s worth a read and consideration, in my opinion.

  76. There are two problems with the current cycle of Trek movies. One is that the movies aren’t really very good. They rehash old elements of Trek with modern mutliplex hits and do it badly. Into Darkness could easily have been an Iron Man film if you swapped the Klingon planet and Jupiter for Afghanistan and Iraq.
    The other issue is the ‘philosophy’ of Star Trek. Trekkies are assigning a greatness and a depth to Old Trek that never really was there. There isn’t a pan-human global set of values behind the old series, rather a show that was marketed to contemporary Cold War American values – except it was expedient not to discuss things like Vietnam. In fairness, few shows of the era would have been any different but fans choose the celebrate the values of 60’s Trek while no one suggests that the ‘philosophy’ of Bonanza is great.

  77. You said of Simon Pegg “Not only is he not Scottish…” Two things:
    1) James Doohan: Canadian
    2) Simon Pegg: British, BUT Simon Pegg’s wife: Scottish, so his accent is likely closer to an actual Scottish accent than Doohan’s.

    And how come Pegg’s accent got you, but Carol Marcus’s accent didn’t? She had a North American English accent in Wrath of Khan. Now, she’s got a British one, despite having a father with a North American English accent?

    You also said Carol Marcus was reduced to taking her clothes off and that was a step backwards. However, it’s at most a step sideways, because TOS and TNG had tons of bikini girls, not to mention Seven of Nine and T’Pol. The writer apologized for the gratuitousness of the scene, as well.

    Don’t get me wrong. This Star Trek was kind of, uh, noncerebral to be sure. It even had some scenes ripped off from Avengers at the end.

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  80. There is a lot of truth in what you say but anytime a cult classic becomes popular and is therefore rebranded (Brand being the true word as it becomes nothing more than a Mcmovie) and is remade with a huge budget, you are going to get studio executives who will go over the script with a red pen and cut out anything that is too mature for a twelve year old too enjoy. This of course results in a movie that loses all the heart and soul it had in the original show, which had managed to do what all to few cult shows and movies do which is to cross barriers. Can anyone think of a movie this was done with that lived up to the original movie or show.

  81. The Christopher Nolan Batman films are superior not only to all previous screen adaptations but to most other films in the superhero genre. Also, the Coen Brothers’ remake of “True Grit” is arguably better than the original. “21 Jump Street” was entirely different than the TV show, yet great. Michael Mann’s “Miami Vice” movie was arguably better than the series. Some of the “Mission Impossible” films are on par with or better than the series. “The Muppet Show” was as good or better than much of the series. Not all of these would qualify as “cult” shows — and there will be plenty of people who disagree with me — but I think it can be done. Of course, I think the new “Star Trek” is plenty good as well. In fact, I think the point of a remake should be to distance it from the original project. Just as with music, if your sole goal is to imitate the original, your art is proven worthless before it’s finished. The original exists, and people can enjoy it for what it is. A remake should offer something new. Just my two cents. :-)

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  83. Excellent post. I largely agree with your analysis. One small point. About Carol Marcus’ character, you say:

    “Where she was an important part of TWOK, here she has little purpose except to take her clothes off. This again, makes me wonder where we are. Are we still in the times where men need a near-naked woman to get a high? Or are we really in times where women are viewed more than objects? Roddenberry would be, I think, livid by that scene.”

    Actually, Roddenberry doesn’t deserve that much credit. Indeed, there’s a lot of revisionism with respect to Star Trek’s ‘progressive’ view of women. As philosopher Roderick Long writes about the original Star Trek pilot ‘The Cage':

    “Although the show suffers from the stereotypes of its era of origin, special blame still has to be laid at the feet of Gene Roddenberry in particular. In his notes for ‘The Cage,’ Roddenberry specifies that Yeoman Colt has ‘a strip-queen figure even a uniform cannot hide'; that Roddenberry, like the Bourbons, learned nothing and forgot nothing, is shown by his notes for TNG over two decades later, informing his actors and directors (who happily seem to have ignored him) that, e.g., ‘Beverly Crusher’s natural walk resembles that of a striptease queen.'”

    So Roddenberry seems to have been a dirty old man and probably wouldn’t object to Alice Eve taking off her clothes. But in general, your point is well taken. Carol Marcus was an actual character in TWOK, whereas she’s reduced to sex appeal in the most recent iteration.

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  85. Is it ok if I like both of the new movies because we all need to get with the times and if you don’t like it, Tough! Trekkers: the worlds most ungrateful fanbase

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