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Star Trek Fans

The crew of the Starship Enterprise, then and now.
The crew of the Starship Enterprise, then and now.

With a New Star Trek Origin Film Opening Fans Talk About the Original Series' Appeal

Fans of the original Star Trek series discuss the show's enduring popularity and message.

"Space the final frontier..."

So Barack Obama is a fan of Star Trek. That seems fitting. Fellow Trekker Aaron Mac Farland just wishes that George Bush had been one too.

AARON MacFARLAND: "If George W. Bush had been a devotee of Star Trek and understood and learned any of the messages I don't think there's any way he would have conducted himself in the way that he has."

MacFarland typifies Star Trek fans in the sense that the show is more than just entertainment - it represents a philosophy of life, and provides a moral compass. For comic book artist Jim Lee, it was about leadership and humanity.

JIM LEE: "Despite all the technology it's a person who sits in the captain's chair who has to make the decision and he's very human and I'm embarrassed to say but a lot of things I hold very firmly in my personal beliefs came from that show."

James T. Kirk: "I spent my whole life training for decision just like that one..."

As a kid, Lee watched the show for the action and absorbed show creator Gene Roddenberry's ideas without even realizing it. The show served up futuristic technology but what David Glanzer appreciated were the things that remained the same.

DAVID GLANZER: "Even though it was set centuries into the future human fears and human emotions and prejudices still existed and that made it more accessible."

To Glanzer, Captain Kirk was a great leader not because he was perfect but rather because he was flawed.

DAVID GLANZER: "He was a good guy but he made mistakes, and he was human."

James T. Kirk: "Leave any bigotry in your quarters there's no room for it on the bridge."

It's that humanity that fans embrace, even if characters were blue skinned or had pointy ears. In terms of leadership, Roddenberry provided the show with something akin to a holy trinity says Jim Lee.

JIM LEE: "McCoy being this very emotional character, and then you have Spock being this voice of reason and logic and Kirk a man of passion and desire as well as fierce leader."

James T. Kirk: "Give up your hate you are welcome to live with us..."

RAMIE TATEISHI: "The things that struck me most about watching Star Trek as a kid was the sense of teamwork and the spirit of adventure."

That's Ramie Tateishi. He sometimes uses Star Trek in his classes at UCSD. He calls the show a "cultural allegory" that reflected issues of war and race that were pertinent to America in the mid-to late sixties and that still resonate today. Gene Roddenberry's innovative show also inspired such diverse things as the exploration of space and the development of the cell phone says David Glanzer.

DAVID GLANZER: "It is not lost on me when I flip my cell phone open to talk that there's a little piece of Kirk in me."

It's that fan connection to the show that makes the new Star Trek movie so anticipated. Will it respect that fan base and the spirit of the original series? Or will it venture off into a new frontier. Word is that it spins an alternate universe where essentially anything is possible and where a younger cast can hopefully inspire a new generation of consumer Trekkies.

Christoper Pike: "Enlist in Starfleet... if you are half the man your father was the fleet can use you..."

Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto as the new and younger Kirk and Spock in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek
Paramount Pictures
Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto as the new and younger Kirk and Spock in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek

At the WonderCon panel for the film, director J.J. Abrams confessed coming to the project not as a fan of the original series (although he said he now wishes he had become a fan earlier). But he designated producer Roberto Orci as the "Trekker" on the film's creative team. So Orci delivered this message to the Star Trek brethren.

ROBERTO ORCI: "I think everyone here deeply respects and admires and was inspired by what Trek was and this movie is in the unique situation in that it's both a prequel but a sequel all of Trek that proceeded this movie is necessary within canon for this movie to have happened if you're a fan. So if you're a fan your knowledge of Star Trek will be rewarded and if you're not you are going to learn why we were all inspired by it.

Or as Captain Kirk said in every show...

Jame T. Kirk: "To boldly go where no man has gone before..."

NOTE: These Days will rebroadcast a special segment about the influence of Star Trek on May 12.

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