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It’s Star Trek Day! Let’s Celebrate!
September 8, 1966 is the date when the first U.S. broadcast of a science fiction series that’s become a pillar of our culture occurred. Starting a few years back, 9/8 became the day when fans of the franchise celebrate its influence on our lives, our culture, and our technology.
In case you haven’t figured it out from mentions in my writings over the years, I am a devoted fan. So today, I’m not writing about politics and scandals.
It doesn’t matter what flavor is offered –live action broadcast, animated, or big screen–I’ll happily watch. I’m not an extremist – I don’t care if an alien is portrayed the same way every time– though the show is dear to my heart for the optimism and range of ideas it conveys.
The concept of a western-type TV show set in the stars wasn’t very popular with studio executives at NBC and Desilu, the studio that produced it. The first pilot was ridiculously expensive, an indicator of long term production costs, and the few critics that were aware of the show thought it was ridiculous.
Lucille Ball, who’d taken over Desilu after a 1960 divorce, is said to have originally thought Star Trek was to be about a group of traveling USO performers during WWII. Having learned the true nature of the show and seen the first pilot, she financed a (very rare) second pilot, and put her considerable influence behind getting it aired.
She was sold on show creator Gene Roddenberry’s, ex-US Air Force pilot-turned-beat cop-turned TV producer, idea of stories about alien worlds being used to address real issues on our own planet. The prospect of a series crafted to do well in reruns (as I Love Lucy had) was was exactly what Ms. Ball was looking for..
Rodenberry was a visionary and is today revered among Trek fans. The concept of humanity evolving beyond its many faults was the foundation of his story telling. His shows were ahead of their time in their diversity, and are credited with inspiring a generation to aspire for greater things in life.
According to his wife, Roddenberry thought of himself as a communist, a subversive using his tales to undermine the prejudices and inequality of society. He believed that art should involve discussions of morality and politics.
His talents included foiling the NBC censors, who seemed more concerned about women in lead roles, and plunging necklines than the morality plays (along with negative allegories about religion) embedded in each episode.
Looking back at the early days of the show, the instigators of plot crises leading up to the shows’ lessons all-too-often were portrayed as evil or dangerous alien creatures and not included in the happily ever after life for marginalized,
When it comes to his personal behavior, bigoted asshole is a fair descriptor.
Roddenberry’s misogyny and conduct on set toward women has been the subject of much discussion by ex-writers, who tell of expletives and a general dislike of females.
Roddenberry’s sexism and antisemitism in real life manifested themselves in unsubtle ways in character portrayal . The Ferengi species portrayed in the Next Generation series greed and facial features are thought by some scholars to be rooted in negative stereotypes.
Star Trek has gone on to encompass eight live-action series, thirteen feature films, three animated series, a myriad of novels, video games and tons of merchandise. It’s a profitable brand with an almost cult-like following.
There is at least one more series –Starfleet Academy– in development and one movie –Section 31–green lit by Paramount+. Whether or not these stories make it may well depend on the outcome of the writer’s and screen actor guild strike.
Fans of the show, generally known as Trekkies, are detail obsessed. There are two future timelines to be considered and even a spoken language (Klingon). Whenever people speak of the future of humanity, both socially and technologically, the franchise is at the top of the list of influences. And, of course, there are factions, primarily centered on whether a particu;lar manifestation of the franchise is true to the cause.
The live action series have grown in sophistication over the years, and the episodes aired in the revival since 2017 have ventured into territory where none went before, including making fun of themselves. This year’s season of Strange New Worlds even featured a show done in the form of a Broadway musical. Tough guy Klingons doing a riff on Nsync was simply hilarious.
Celebrating Star Trek Day
Seven of Nine: Adult Adolescence and Transitioning in Star Trek Saturday, September 9, 4pm, at the main branch of the San Diego Public Library.(Registration encouraged) .In celebration of Star Trek Day, UCSD doctoral scholar Nicoletta Vangelisti explores the connections between Seven of Nine’s struggle after her separation from the Borg to find her place within Starfleet and Federation society and ideology and her own journey of transition at the age of 40. Both stories center the role of mothers, labor, emotions, and self-discovery.
San Diego’s in-person event sponsored by Paramount+ is already booked–though you can sign up for stand by seats: AMC Mission Valley 20 IMAX, 7pm (Warning. You’re giving up a boatload of personal information for the right to be notified by email if somebody else doesn’t want their tickets)
Paramount+, not wanting to miss out on the celebration (or the profits the fan base generates) has an online show celebrating past and future episodes. The Star Trek Day special will be available to watch for free globally on:
In the U.S., the special will be available to stream on:
Pluto TV (Paramount+ Picks, STAR TREK, More STAR TREK and Pluto TV Sci-Fi channels)
The special will also air on select local CBS affiliates, Comedy Central, Paramount Network, Pop TV, Fave TV and Smithsonian.com.
Pro-tip– if you look at the bottom of the screen during the special there are links to complete episodes and trailers for future shows.
Also, for the first time since before re-runs, two episodes of Star Trek will be on broadcast TV.
Strange News Worlds: 8pm tonight on KFMB-TV 8.
Friday News Link-o-rama
Bike advocates see big loopholes in San Diego's 'Complete Streets' policy Via Andrew Bowen at KPBS. (Talk is cheap)
San Diego's latest plan to streamline and standardize the installation of bike and pedestrian infrastructure got a lukewarm reception Wednesday as mobility advocates raised concerns that the policy has too many loopholes.
The city's draft "Complete Streets" policy is meant to guide how the city designs new streets or redesigns existing ones. Most streets were built with engineering standards that prioritize the speed and convenience of driving, with pedestrian and bike safety a mere afterthought.
But the mayor and City Council have adopted ambitious goals to end all traffic deaths by 2025 and cut the city's greenhouse gas emissions — most of which come from cars — to the equivalent of zero by 2035. Those goals depend on a dramatic transformation of city streets to serve the needs of all road users, not just motorists.
Republicans look to rebrand abortion as 'pro-life' stops working for them Via Laura Clauson at Daily Kos
Republicans are finally trying to do something about the unpopularity of their abortion policies: They’re talking about using a new word to describe their position. Internal Republican polling reportedly finds that voters are turning against “pro-life” positions, so Republicans are in search of a substitute. Their realization of how much trouble they’re in even has them trying to pretend they don’t want to ban abortion, at the same time as Republican-controlled states are taking their bans to more and more extreme places.