Permission To Speak Freely: A Star Trek VS Star Wars Debate
Permission To Speak Freely:
A Star Trek VS Star Wars Debate
By: Elicia Sanchez
Recently in the near past, the movie making branch of the Disney Corporation announced they plan to create a series of sequels to add to the much beloved (and let’s be honest, beleaguered) Star Wars franchise. Before the internet could fully let that information sink into its brain, Disney then announced the films would be helmed by nerd favorite, television turned movie director and Stephen Spielberg impressionist, J.J. Abrams. While many Star Wars fans found this news to be thrilling (at least that’s the impression Facebook gave me), the announcement left another brand of fan reeling. As most people know, Abrams is currently knee deep in the reboot of the Star Trek original series film franchise, a so-far, so-good effort that has left Trekkies and all fan types wanting more. Now, the pressing question is, will Abrams abandon our Enterprise crew for a shot at what is basically the nerd Holy Grail? Since the release of the prequels, the Star Wars franchise has practically become the nerd equivalent of Excalibur, patiently waiting for a hero of legend to come along, release it from its prison and finally reawaken its power (okay, maybe that metaphor is a bit dramatic and the use of the term “nerd equivalent” when referencing Arthurian legend is redundant, but you get the gist). Maybe for Abrams, the chances at becoming geek legend are there, but why abandon a highly profitable science fiction universe with a broad base of eager money-spending fans for a cheap, but well-paying shot at glory? Or did I just answer my own question? Thus we’ve come to the real heart of the problem, for its moments like this in science fiction fandom that rehash what has long been a battle between the universes. The legendary, possibly pointless debate that has spanned decades, caused countless controversies, broken marriages, ended friendships and most likely cost a few lives along the way…its Star Trek vs. Star Wars.
First and foremost, I should probably mention that at my warp core (sorry), I’m a Trekkie. I grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, had the pee-chees, some of the action figures, quoted Captain Picard endlessly to kids on the playground, occasionally wore one of my banana hair clips over my glasses around in public to, you know, look exactly like Geordi La Forge and last year, became legally married to a person in a wedding in which we fought with Klingon bat’leths instead of slow dancing together. Yes, these are obviously all reasons I’m really cool and have always maintained a butt load of friends, but essentially what I’m trying to get across here is that I have practically suffered for Star Trek because I’ve always loved it that much. That being said, I also love Star Wars, specifically like many, the first three films. I was born in 1982, so I missed out on all the cinematic fervor of seeing the movies for the first time on the big screen, but I did watch the tapes several times growing up, rode the Disneyland ride as much as financially possible, saw all three of the re-releases in the theatre and can’t count how many times I shouted “Luke, I am your father” into the moving blade of a floor fan. Also, I’m clearly not alone (except maybe on the fan thing), since millions of Star Trek fans like Star Wars and vice versa. At the surface, we both seem to have so much in common. Love of science fiction and planetary exploration, the want/need of futuristic weapons, the appreciation of good melodramatic intro music, a possible personal lack of social skills, I mean, we’re practically half way to being the best of friends! Yet, throughout my life, I’ve encountered endless moments of hostility from die-hard Star Wars fans about my perceived terrible Trekkie life of LIES.
As a recent “adult” example of this animosity, a few years ago, I was attending Emerald City Comic-Con and since it was a formal occasion, I obviously chose to wear my Star Fleet Uniform (see above statement about being cool). At some point, my friends and I were waiting in line to take a picture in front of a backdrop of a zombie apocalypse (because, duh) and we were suddenly cut in line by a group of guys wearing Star Wars t-shirts. Luckily, before blood was shed, the elder statesmen of the group realized this mistake and said, “Oh, I’m so sorry. You guys go ahead,” pointing towards the front of the line. In that instant, I thought to myself, wow, the cease fire has truly happened and I’m not only witnessing it, I am actually a part of this historic mome…then, before I could finish this thought in my head, he added, “Even though you guys have a stupid Trekkie with you,” in a creepy, weirdly maniacal tone. He laughed. His friends high-fived. I flipped them off.
Okay, guys, what exactly is the problem here? Why do so many Star Wars fans I’ve encountered throughout my life have such massive beef with my love of Star Trek and insist I can’t love both? Well, I DO love both universes, but for different reasons because, I don’t know, THEY’RE ENTIRELY DIFFERENT. Sure they are both in space and have ‘Star’ in the title. That is literally the truth so I can’t take that away from you. Also, they are both huge nerd empires that span movies, television, conventions, cartoons, action figures, birthday cakes, video games, theme park rides, cereal boxes and erotic fan fiction. Yet, the differences in the two are sort of immense. Star Wars is your basic story of good and evil, the sins of the father, the triumph of the oppressed, the chosen one (aka Jesus) who has come to free the enslaved. Also, Harrison Ford. There is adventure, romance and action. It’s your classic swashbuckling adventure. Also, Harrison Ford. Star Trek is about the advancement of technology, interpersonal relationships, freedom of exploration, the unification of different species and the constant desire to expand our knowledge of the unknown. Also, William Riker’s beard. They each carry a similar message of the triumph of the human (or not human) spirit, while taking very different paths to get there. Also, William Riker’s beard.
Listen, Star Wars-is-better-than-Star Trek nerds, I know you guys love your spaghetti western/bible story in space and in the last couple decades, the thing you love has hurt your heart. I get it, even though I don’t have to hate my childhood hero Gene Rodenberry because for all of the possible Star Trek missteps (Deep Space Nine, Enterprise, most of TNG movies) he was already dead, but I hear ya. So, if you still insist on continually comparing your children’s movies filled with racist caricatures to sophisticated and seriously good science fiction, all I can say to you is, good luck with that second coming you keep hoping for and feel free to keep looking towards the past. Meanwhile, I think I’ll stick with facing the future and continuing to enjoy watching what I love manage to still boldly going where no one has gone before for decades and decades to come.
About the Author: With jokes about Star Trek and a name no one can fully pronounce, Elicia Sanchez has been balancing meager paychecks between comic books and happy hour while performing stand-up in the Seattle area and surrounding cities since 2010. She has performed at Seattle’s Crypticon, the Bumbershoot Music and Art Festival, the Bridgetown Comedy Festival and has opened for famed comedians Duncan Trussell (Drunk History) and Hari Kondabolu (Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell). She is a writer/member of Seattle comedy group, Children of the Atom with whom she produces two comedy shows (Level Up! and Dork Wars: The Ultimate Nerd Debate) and hosts a monthly live podcast show with filmmakers Travis Vogt and Kevin Clarke called The Enematic Cinematic: LIVES. Elicia currently resides in Seattle, WA where when not performing, she splits her time between fearing werewolves, watching creepy forensic crime shows and dusting her action figures. Check out her Blog, Yo Heart Frijoles, and her comedy group, Children of the Atom, and of course The Enematic Cinematic Blog/Podcast.