The One with a Little Bit of Everything
Upcoming business – listener email – listener voicemail – a snippet of an interview – this episode has… a little bit of everything.
Tags: interview, listener email, listener voicemail, supplemental
The Original CBS/Columbia Series VHS cover art
John, I don’t see how your generalized reasoning about all-inclusiveness holds up. To a point, inclusiveness makes sense, but what if a nominally “Star Trek” movie were to be made which, not only didn’t share the essential and core attributes of TV Trek and the TOS movies (at their best), but was actually antithetical to their artistic values and sensibilities? There’s a strong case to be made that STID (and ST09) are “Star Trek” in name only and hence, it really doesn’t make sense to lump someone who appreciates only STID and no other “Star Trek” in with people who appreciate a substantial portion of all Trek TV and movies. It’s hard to imagine people who only like STID having a non-awkward conversation about Trek with people who appreciate TOS, TNG, DS9, etc.
Bottom line, I don’t go around telling people they’re not “real” Trek fans, but, I mean…gimme a break. If someone likes only STID and nothing else, then they’re a fan of comic-book/action movies, not of Star Trek.
Hi Cygnus – I do, sincerely, appreciate your response, and with all respect, I disagree. Here’s how I look at it:
So how do you propose to deal with this? Should there be a test for people coming to a convention to see exactly how many episodes of Star Trek or how many movies they’ve seen? If someone has only seen Deep Space Nine (which some people say is the “lest” Trek-like of the series), then do they get sent to a different room? What about age? Is there a sliding scale or a hard cut off if somone is really young and had only seen one of the more recent movies then expresses interest in other series? Do we take their word for it? And what about people who have seen episodes within a series that we on Mission Log have determined may not really have a message that fits with the big “Star Trek” picture? Are they given a pass or are they on hold until we can determine that they have watched other episodes that are more Trek-like?
You say you don’t go around telling people they’re not “real” Trek fans but then you follow up by telling a certain segment that they are not.
To me, the price of admission is simply expressing interest. This isn’t a college entrance exam, a job interview or a religion. It’s fandom.
I see it as a binary proposition: either we say that we are inclusive, or we are not. There’s not a halfway or hair-splitting argument to be made here. I’m certainly not going to put myself in the position of gatekeeper to size up everyone at the door and act like a bouncer to decide who comes in and who doesn’t.
All that said, while there are many stylistic choices I have vehemently disagreed with regarding the last couple of movies, there are arguments to be made about how much of a “Star Trek” message shows up in both. We’ll get to that discussion in 2026.
John, thanks for your response. I have simple answers to your questions. Should there be a “Trek” test for admission to a Trek convention? No, that’s silly. Even people who haven’t seen any Trek at all can go to a convention. But, is a person who likes only STID and no other Trek a Trek fan? To me, that person is no more and no less a Trek fan than a person who hasn’t seen any Trek, because STID is so lacking in the essential components of Trek that substantively it is scarcely related to pre-BR Trek. Another way of looking at it is that Trek conventions are for Trek fans, for people who are fans of only BR Trek, and for people who aren’t Trek fans but are interested. See, all-inclusive.
I’m not proposing any kind of policy for conventions or anything; it’s just an issue of principle. I don’t go around telling people that they aren’t Trek fans, but neither do I go around saying that if people like anything with a “Star Trek” label on it, then that means that they know what Trek is about. If you like STID and no other Trek, then you don’t know what Trek is really about, because STID simply doesn’t contain that information, those values and sensibilities. Just as Star Wars doesn’t convey the ideas, values and sensibilities of Trek. Star Wars conveys other things. STID conveys other things.
What’s the cut-off, what about DS9, and how to deal with being either all-inclusive vs. not-inclusive? I wouldn’t propose a strictly defined cutoff, but liking only the least Trek-like episode or movie with a “Star Trek” label on it and no other episode/movie with a “Star Trek” label on it seems like it shouldn’t make the cutoff.
I agree that DS9 is the most unique of all the Trek series, but it can be demonstrated that in its 7 seasons DS9 did live up to the artistic values and sensibilities set forth in TOS. DS9 was a show with substance that thoughtfully examined moral, sociological, political, psychological, interpersonal and other ideas. That qualifies it as Trek.
I’d deal with the inclusivity issue by simply not talking about it. I just wouldn’t raise the issue. Anybody can come to a Trek convention, but if someone who likes only STID and no other Trek starts telling you all about what “Star Trek” means, then I would not refer to that person as a “Star Trek fan.” I’d say they’re a fan of STID.
And if it’s got to be a binary choice for you—either all-inclusive or not at all inclusive—then that means that people who’ve never seen ANY Trek are Trek fans. People who, if they had their druthers, would turn Trek permanently into, for example, a slasher movie genre, or a fantasy or vampire genre, or to hasten the reductio ad absurdum here, an “adult movie” genre. Or any other thing—they’re all Trek fans, if it’s all-or-nothing. If everything is Trek, then nothing is Trek. If everyone is a Trek fan, then no one is a Trek fan, because “Trek fan” is rendered meaningless by the inclusion of everyone. When you stand for everything, you stand for nothing.
“When you stand for…” See? This is what I mean. This isn’t a political statement or a test or a religion.
This is fandom.
All it takes for someone to be a Star Trek fan is for them to say they like Star Trek.
If you personally would like to argue all those merits and get into the minutiae of what episodes, what series and what movies pass your personal test, then so be it. I have little time or interest in sizing people up like that.
There are plenty of Star Trek fans who love to categorize and compartmentalize what they feel is “the one true Trek” or at least what fits into their definitions. I’m sure they can debate the issue until the next both anniversary rolls around then then the next 50 after that.
Our show is about, episode by episode, the morals/meanings/messages contained in individual episodes and movies. If fans want to discuss those morals/meanings/messages with me (us), then I’m more than willing to have that conversation. As for setting up arbitrary rules about who passes the litmus test for “true” fandom? I have no interest.
Well, John, that’s fair enough. But, just on your point about it being only “fandom”…
It is fandom. But, it’s fandom of an art/entertainment form which has included and championed, if not a “code” of artistic values (in addition to its more general values of Secular Humanism), certainly a grouping of artistic values and sensibilities since its inception (TOS).
Among those values is that Star Trek was meant to be a show that valued thoughtful substance in entertainment, and hence you are able to do this podcast in which you analyze the morals/messages/meanings in Trek. Do you think that your podcast would be possible in anything resembling its current form if your subject matter were, say, The Transformers?
So, why should I care to point out the difference between “Trek fans” and people who will be just as satisfied if Trek continues to go the way of The Transformers permanently? I care about that for precisely the same reason that I care about the morals/messages/meanings that you are discussing in your podcasts. If “Trek fans” as a group becomes associated with substance-less movies like The Transformers (and, for the most part, STID), then the Trek of GR will have officially died; and worse, its name will live on representing a set of artistic values and sensibilities that is significantly antithetical to those set forth in TOS.
The BR Trek movies have been overtly marketed to “not fans,” as JJ Abrams (under direction from Paramount) has said several times in interviews promoting both ST09 and STID. If this marketing strategy (and creative content approach) continues, the day will come when there are so many fans of “NuTrek” calling themselves “Trek fans” that the term “Trek fan” will take on a substantially different (and significantly antithetical) set of implications and represent a very different type of consumer/hobbyist/fan than the fans of that “thinking-person’s show” from the late 1960s that has so greatly influenced Western culture with its thoughtful exploration of ideas.
So, while it is, on the surface, fandom that we are talking about, that fandom has carried deeper consequences over the decades since TOS than just merch and visual titillation for 2 hours. If merch and visual titillation are all that remain going forward, then “Star Trek” going forward will be a changeling assuming the identity of a dead thing from the past. And if I tell people that I am a “Trek fan,” they will get a much different impression of, if not my own values and sensibilities, certainly the values and sensibilities that I appreciate in art/entertainment.
Consider the term “Shakespearean actor.” That term imparts certain artistic implications. Imagine if half of Shakespeare’s plays had been written by a creditor of his who acquired the rights to Shakespeare’s trademark, and changed the fundamental form of “Shakespeare” plays into something rather antithetical to the works penned by the real William Shakespeare. Today, the term “Shakespearean actor” would, at a minimum, an ambiguous (and dubious) term. And, I suspect that not as many actors would take pride in calling themselves “Shakespearean,” were that the case. Would the issue then be just about being “fans” of Shakespeare plays as a binary choice, all-or-nothing? I say no—there are deeper considerations.
Dude – I got nothing else. If you like to express your fandom by examining who belongs in the club and who doesn’t, then more power to you. Like I said, it’s just a thing I have no interest in pursuing.
As for ST09 and STID – we’ll get there. We really will. And we’ll talk about the morals/meanings/messages contained therein. Are there messages? Do they work alongside the rest of Trek? We’ll see.
Regarding the content of TAS “Yesteryear” showing up in ENT “The Forge,” that doesn’t imply TAS to be canon. What we can conclude therefrom is that TAS came up with some good ideas that were then taken for ues in later Trek, but this doesn’t necessarily make TAS canon. A Trek comic book or a work of fan/Indie Trek might likewise be subsequently borrowed from by canonical Trek, but neither would this practice necessarily make Trek comic books and fan fiction canon. GR didn’t seem to regard TAS as canon, and to me it plays more like a children’s show than Trek in general does — 50ft Spock and so forth. Yes, one might find some “mature” themes in children’s shows, but by and large their target audience is children, as it was for TAS, and hence it’s fundamentally a different genre than typical Trek. Not necessarily because TAS is a cartoon is it a different genre, but because the writing style is more akin to that of a children’s show.
I still haven’t gotten past Ken’s answer to the question “Is TAS Canon ?” @ 1st – I found myself in total agreement w/ him when he said the idea of “canon” was stupid when TAS was made ( because they were not trying to fit it into any existing ” continuum.” – Heck TMP was years off – and they never knew @ the time TAS was produced “If” anyone would ever be able to make any more Star Trek ever again.
So -yeah. Is it Canon? “Canonish!” Great answer.
Then John ask “the real (better) question” – Is it Star Trek?
To which Ken’s then gives his Best answer to any question ever !
According to Ken – Not Only is TAS “Star Trek”, It’s also –
“More Star Trek than a lot of episodes of Star Trek.” Well, then OK!
Now- as I’m sitting here pondering ” Just How is that possible?”
– My jaw then drops to the floor ( & that’s a long fall!) when in the next line Ken proclaims -“I don’t think that there is an episode of TAS that I’d wouldn’t rather watch than “Catspaw.” Followed by John’s “Oh hell yes” statement !That “Catspaw” is so practically NOT Star Trek . That TAS is more Star Trek than “Catspaw.” Seriously !!
Have Ken and John been replaced by Dr. Dolenz’s evil robot doppelgängers ? You’ve got 2B kidding me. Holy 50ft Spocks !
Where’s a Transmuter when you need one?
Late to the show. Just catching up, but enjoying it. Wanted to make an observation about the bumper sticker suggested on this supplemental. “Vulcans do it Logically”. I am thinking that it would be more accurate : “Vulcans do it Illogically”. or maybe ” IT’s the only thing Vulcan’s DON’T do Logically”.
That got me to thinking about the logic of Vulcan’s keeping all that emotion pent up for 7 years and then letting it all hang out. Letting the pressure off every once in a while. That led me to think about (yes I have ADD) the cultures who have had a similar idea about letting off steam once in a while to enable people to keep it pent up most of the time. Mardi Gras. Some celebrations of Christmas in history. Scottish (and separately Iroquois) celebration of New Years Day. Pranks on Halloween. Bacchanals of Roman/Greek culture. the Pondo Festival of South Africa described in The Golden Bough.
That brought me back to Star Trek TOS and The Return of the Archons.
Anyway, looking forward to hearing the rest of the podcasts. Ken and Ray, Live long and prosper. At least live long enough to cover all the episodes and movies. That should take a while.