Oh no, Star Trek. Oh no.
The official Star Trek website sells all sorts of silly and fun merchandise from the latest show in the storied franchise, Discovery. There’s everything from a standee of everyone’s favorite funghi fun-guy to a kooky Lt. Saru coffee mug because mornings, am I right??? Hell, there even used to be a DISCO branded t-shirt just like the ones on the show, that I actually own because like Cadet Tilly I too would like to one day command a starship (and occasionally, you know, work out in a shirt that says DISCO). That’s all good and fun Star Trek stuff.
The latest addition to the store, however is... well, less fun. Because it’s a Trumpian nod to one of Discovery’s worst twists: a hat emblazoned with the words Make the Empire Glorious Again.
Sure, it’s in a nice shade of Discovery blue rather than the, err, classic Trump Red, but out of context, it’s a pretty egregious nod to the infamous headwear of the US president’s most loyal fans on the far right. In context to Star Trek: Discovery, well...
...it’s just as bad. The phrase is actually a quote from one of the main characters, Jason Isaacs’ Gabriel Lorca—a man who for most of Star Trek: Discovery’s first season is the morally gray Starfleet captain of the titular ship. That is, before the back half of the season revealed he’s actually a double agent from the Mirror Universe, Star Trek’s alternate reality where humanity dominates the galaxy as the horrifying fascist Terran Empire. Lorca, it turns out, rebelled against the current Emperor, mainly because she wasn’t enough of an evil asshole, telling his gathered crew mid-mutiny that once he deposes her, he will be the one to, well... make the Empire Glorious Again.
It’s an awful line, not only because it’s a nod to the real-world politics of the Trump presidency, one that wouldn’t know the meaning of subtlety if subtlety had come along and barraged it with a full complement of photon torpedoes. But because it also represents a “twist” where one of Discovery’s most fascinating characters, who up until this reveal had questioned the establishments of Starfleet and Star Trek at large, is turned into an almost comical villain, Trump references and all, making any point he had up until this point in the show completely moot.... something the show did a lot of.
And now that moment is rendered on a hat. One with a reference to awful, real-world politics so thinly veiled it blurs the line between an unsubtle nod and an actual espousal of those politics, from a franchise that has long proudly stood on the principles of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.
It’s also a hat that costs $27, which is almost as mindbogglingly dumb. Who in either universe thought this was a good idea?