"Trek and the Issues"
I think this is a pretty foolish Defamer post:
Remember when sci-fi movies were about blowing up aliens and attacking Godzilla? Those days are gone, my friend. Thanks to Battlestar Galactica and District 9, the genre now exists to please the intelligentsia. The latest victim, the Star Trek sequel. […]
Just as Battlestar used a bunch of humans wandering through space to tell a story about the Iraq war and religion and D9 shed a new light on apartheid, racism, and awesome alien space suits, Star Trek now wants in on the contemporary allegory racket. We must say that is pretty rad. We love to blow shit up, but when you blow shit up with purpose, you get the thrill of blowing shit up, but don’t have the residual guilt of watching something totally idiotic. The way aliens heads explode when you run over them with a warthog in Halo can be like, a metaphor for the way people’s head explode when they are run over by a tank in the Middle East. Or something like that.
The idea that the Trek franchise needed to rip off the idea of “issues” oriented science fiction from BSG borders on the absurd. Taking on the issues has always been a core element. Original Series episodes like “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” about a planet torn apart by race hatred between people who are white on the left and black on the right and people who are black on the left and white on the right are all a good deal more heavy-handed and didactic than anything you’ll find in these more modern episodes. And yet part of the genius of Gene Roddenberry’s quasi-utopian vision is precisely that it attempts to offer us a plausible vision of a better tomorrow in order to better illustrate the issues of today.
And, obviously, Star Trek IV is about environmental degradation, Star Trek VI is about the end of the Cold War and a lot of the basic premises of TNG are about the end of the Cold War. The idea of the Federation itself is an embrace of semi-pacifism and world federalism, and the various shows are chock-a-block with critiques of capitalism and advocacy of democratic socialism.