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Why it's a good thing that we read political meanings into Star Trek

Illustration for article titled Why its a good thing that we read political meanings into Star Trek

Author Mark Dery recently published a review of coffee table book Star Trek: The Original Series 365, a gorgeous collection of stills from the series. He explains why it's a good thing that people read political meanings into Star Trek.


Dery discusses the race politics of the show and Gene Roddenberry's commitment to "smuggling in" political subtext to his western in space. Even when the series was a little bit clueless, it was still the kind of story that left room for us to project our hopes for the future onto it.

Writes Dery:

Sure, the show's gender politics are strictly 20th century: Every episode seems to feature leering laugh lines at the expense of a cute young Yeoman Whatever in a skin-tight top and butt-twitcher skirt. And the Federation must have taken a giant leap backward for mankind by reviving Don't Ask, Don't Tell, since the original series included no openly gay characters. (Nor has any Star Trek spinoff series or movie, shamefully.)

But knowing those things, like knowing that the Enterprise's automatic sliding doors were manually operated by stagehands, doesn't make the exchange between Spock and Dr. Miranda Jones, in the 1968 episode in which Spock introduces the concept of IDIC ("Is There in Truth No Beauty?"), any less inspiring, in its excruciatingly earnest way:

Dr. Miranda Jones: The glory of creation is in its infinite diversity.

Spock: And the way our differences combine to create meaning and beauty.

In those lines, fans heard a deep-space ping of hope, not only for people of color but for LGBT fans watching the show in the pre-Stonewall years — a message from the future that It Gets Better.

To the non-Trekkie quibbling that such fans are reading things into this throwaway show, freighting Roddenberry's rickety "Wagon Train to the stars" with semiotic baggage it was never meant to carry, well, of course they are. All the best readings are "read into."


Read the rest of this awesome article over at Las Vegas City Life

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