Without getting into depressing (and obvious) specifics, I’ve been thinking about fascism lately—specifically the concept of “utopian fascism”. As is often the case when grappling with such issues, I turned to science fiction for a guide. Fortunately, there is a fictional government perfectly suited to explore the question “can democracy and universal prosperity ever be successfully combined with fascism?”: Star Trek’s Federation.
The Federation’s exact political structure is sometimes difficult to pin down, but it seems to be a combination of a democratic interplanetary parliament, a massive military alliance, and a totalitarian bureaucracy.
This isn’t what it looks like.
Now don’t panic! This isn’t going to be super depressing nor is it going to be about space Nazis (unless you count the above-pictured episode TOS episode “Patterns of Force”). When I talk about fascism, I’m talking about the philosophical concept as it dates back to Rome, not the actual horrific reality of modern-day fascism. I am not about to ruin all of our moods by writing some anti-Starfleet propaganda… at least, not too much of it. What I will do is take a look at how the Federation is utopian, how it’s fascist, how (and if) the two can be combined, and what that all says about our vision of a perfect government.
Hello, dear readers. It feels strange to be back in the driver’s (poster’s?) seat after a month away, but I am glad that the reason for my return is Star Trek Beyond.
Despite its flaws, I dearly loved the first Star Trek reboot film. It wasn’t particularly Star Trek-y, and it was full of weird nonsense science, but it had heart. Then they made Star Trek Into Darkness, which, well… the nicest thing I can say about that was they could only go up from there. (I actually had to go back and reread reviews of STID to remember what happened besides like, sexist racist garbage.) The first trailer for Star Trek Beyond didn’t really reassure me that the people behind the movie knew anything about the franchise, but I figured maybe it would at least be a return to the original: a space action movie that accidentally had Star Trek characters as its cast. Instead I am delighted to report that the actual movie was probably the Star Trek-iest thing Hollywood has gotten close to in quite some time.
Major spoilers for Star Trek Beyond after the jump.
For a long time, I thought Star Trek: The Next Generation was the end-all and be-all of all Star Trek reboots. Sure, it’s a bit campy at times, but who doesn’t love Captain Jean-Luc Picard saving the day with his wits and idealism? I grew up watching the show. But now that I’m older and marginally wiser, I see re-runs of TNG and I cringe a bit. Sure, Picard is as intrepid as ever, but many of the primary female characters are shoehorned into tired stereotypes. The moment you start googling TNG, you open a Pandora’s Box of sexism from the whole production crew. It seems like despite whatever other role they play, women in Star Trek are first and foremost sex objects. This even bleeds into today’s film reboot of Enterprise,where a sexy female co-star strips down to her sexy underwear in both of the movies. For a show about a wagon train to the stars, set in an idealistic post-scarcity future that was revolutionary in so many other ways, it’s deeply disappointing. And then I started watching Deep Space Nine, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that DS9does a much better job with its female characters.
Spoilers for Seasons 1 and 2 of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine after the jump.
We here at Lady Geek Girl and Friends love to celebrate love on Valentine’s Day – and that means all kinds of love. While our post earlier today showcased our favorite canon and fanon romantic ships for the year, in this post we’re going to look at some of our favorite relationships between family members, as voted on by the whole LGG&F crew.
Look, I try to be flexible. Things change, I can change, new things can come to be. I love Star Trek, but that thing is now nearing its 50th anniversary. Star Trek can change, too—spinning through many incarnations, hopping between mediums, swapping out cast members, and stepping on and off the Enterprise, the franchise has always committed to flexibility.
I don’t think that’s a trailer for an awful movie. It could really be a lot of fun, with the dirtbikes and the Beastie Boys and the whole spacey Justin Lin action-comedy thing it’s doing. But that ain’t Star Trek, cats and kittens. Not without a little more; there’s a major piece missing still.
While Star Trek and Star Wars still reign supreme when it comes to science fiction, I have noticed that in the past couple of years, there has been a different sort of trend happening in sci-fi. Usually what we get in sci-fi media is the story of plucky humans traveling the universe and beating all the odds. Though humans are usually not ignorant when it comes to science and space travel, there are usually alien species that are much older and significantly more advanced. Many oldersci-fi stories are hopeful humanistic stories about how we are able to overcome some sort of problem despite our lesser tech, or by showing how human resourcefulness and good old-fashioned spunk make us major players in the universe despite not being as advanced as some of the older races.
We have always been fascinated with the idea that we are not alone in the universe; that there is some alien presence out there older than us, maybe watching us. We aren’t certain, but we’re confident that one day we will run into them. But as our technology advances more and more, people look up in the sky and wonder why we haven’t encountered an alien presence or why we haven’t at least seen evidence of them through our most advanced telescopes. While this hasn’t stopped people from believing in aliens, this had led to two interesting theories: that either we are alone in the universe, or maybe we’re the more advanced race. For some reason, when we are left with these theories, science fiction starts to become a little less hopeful and a little more bleak in its outlook toward humanity.
Here’s the funny thing about Star Trek: for a show about the future, its most beloved installments were made in the distant past. Next Generation has been off the air for twenty years, and most of its run is closer in time to the lo-fi 60’s original than the present day. Yes, J.J. Abrams has been mucking about in the canon lately, but that guy doesn’t get it. It’s all lens flares and space battles, rather than the space-procedural we all loved.
So, how do you fill the gap? Fanfiction? Yes, please. Speculation about a TV reboot? Definitely! But there’s something even better:
Ladies, gentlemen, and the fine folk of all other genders, I give to you: STAR TREK NOVELTY TWITTER.