Star Trek IS Political, and That’s the Way I Like It

James T Kirk

The 2016 US Presidential race has already devolved into something of a circus, and while I generally stay out of politics on this blog a recent article about one of the potential candidates caught my eye. Republican Senator Ted Cruz, a conservative, recently did an interview with New York Times magazine where he talked about his preference for Han Solo and Spider-man, but what really stood out was what he had to say about Star Trek. Cruz has mentioned being a Star Trek fan before, and it wasn’t a surprise to hear him say he prefers Kirk to Picard, but he went on to make some very incorrect claims about Star Trek that came to the attention of none other than Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner. But before we get to Shatner’s response, here’s what Cruz had to say:

You’re also a fan of ‘‘Star Trek.’’ Do you prefer Captain Kirk or Captain Picard? Absolutely James Tiberius Kirk.

Well, that goes with being a Kirk person. It does indeed. Let me do a little psychoanalysis. If you look at ‘‘Star Trek: The Next Generation,’’ it basically split James T. Kirk into two people. Picard was Kirk’s rational side, and William Riker was his passionate side. I prefer a complete captain. To be effective, you need both heart and mind.

I thought your critique might go in a different direction, because ‘‘Next Generation’’ is more touchy-feely in its politics than the original. No doubt. The original ‘‘Star Trek’’ was grittier. Kirk is working class; Picard is an aristocrat. Kirk is a passionate fighter for justice; Picard is a cerebral philosopher. The original ‘‘Star Trek’’ pressed for racial equality, which was one of its best characteristics, but it did so without sermonizing.

Do you have a suspicion about whether Kirk would be a Democrat or a Republican? I think it is quite likely that Kirk is a Republican and Picard is a Democrat.

Although Cruz is certainly welcome to prefer Kirk to Picard, there are several things very wrong with his assessment of Star Trek. Continue reading

Analysis: Star Trek Into Darkness

This is my analysis of Star Trek Into Darkness.  Click here to read my spoiler-free review of the film.

I’ve documented my dislike for 2009’s Star Trek in a couple of places.  But to understand my more in-depth opinions on Star Trek Into Darkness I feel like I should summarize my general feelings about this “reboot;” feelings which carry over into this new film.  The gist of it is this: I wish that they had not chosen to use the time travel/alternate universe story telling device.

They really had three options if they wanted to do a story based on a young Kirk and his crew.  The first option was to simply do a prequel film, set within the timeline and beholden to everything we’d already seen in the various incarnations of Star Trek.  I can completely understand why they chose not to do this.  It would be very restrictive, with 10 films and 28 seasons of television that their prequels would have to respect and fit into.  It would be a chore simply to ensure accuracy, much less to write an enjoyable film within those rules.  And while many fans would surely have loved to see the Kirk that we love in Starfleet Academy, it’s probably for the best that they chose not to go this route.

The best option, in my opinion, would have been to opt for a complete reboot. Continue reading

Friday Favorites: Favorite Idea – Star Trek: First Contact

Welcome to “Friday Favorites” which highlight some of my favorite movie-related things.  It could be a favorite character or casting choice, a favorite song or score, a favorite scene, line of dialogue, shot or simply a moment.  Anything is possible (costumes, sets, etc) and I’d love to hear your suggestions.  Note: Just because something appears here does not make it my absolute #1 favorite thing in that category, but it is simply “one of my favorites”.

Today is an important milestone in Star Trek lore; it is exactly 50 years before First Contact, the day on which humans will meet aliens for the first time.  So in honor of today’s significance (and inspired by my recent trip to one of the film’s locations), this Friday Favorite comes from Star Trek: First Contact, the film that shows us how those events will transpire, according to the Star Trek canon. Continue reading