Star Trek is The Greatest Sci-Fi Franchise of All Time & It Changed My Life

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By the end of the 1990s, I had left home to attend an out-of-state college, and my media consumption shifted dramatically. I fell out of “Star Trek” by necessity. It wasn’t until several years later that I gathered the wherewithal — and collected the DVDs — to catch up. “Star Trek” ran hot and cold (some of those “Voyager” episodes were rough), but it was always careful to abide by its principles. Weirdly, the franchise’s radical optimism couldn’t survive the bleak, warmongering post-9/11 world. A series about diplomacy, reaching out to enemies, de-escalating conflicts, and non-weapons-oriented solutions wasn’t welcome in the age of George W. Bush. 

When J.J. Abrams’ 2009 “Star Trek” reboot film came out, the franchise was altered to be one of the usual action flicks that “Trek” previously eschewed. It appealed to a mass audience. Conversations began as to what constituted “real Trek,” leading directly into additional conversations about gatekeeping, fandom, and franchise evolution. Is “Star Trek” for nerds, or can it appeal to — for lack of a better term — jocks? 

Conversations between Trekkies in the 1990s were impassioned, but rarely caustic (at least in my experience). In 2009, however, notions of fan toxicity were more openly acknowledged among pop obsessives, and people became angrier about their obsessions. All of a sudden, I was an “old school” Trekkie. 

I was 31 and okay being “old school.” After all, decades had passed since “Next Generation,” a series that responded to Ronald Reagan and flourished during the 1990s. Why shouldn’t it adjust again? I didn’t like the franchise’s actioned-up response to 9/11, but I was still happy to have debates as to what “Star Trek” meant and what modern action films communicated. 

“Trek” taught me to negotiate … about “Trek.”

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