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Old February 20 2014, 05:39 PM   #1
Warped9
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Is Star Trek still inspirational?

Over the years there have been countless stories of evryday folks as well as more than a few well known people who've said something in Star Trek (TOS) inspired them to become engineers, scientists, doctors or some other profession or even just helped them somehow in their personal lives.

Did this continue with each subsequent version of Trek?

Several years ago I was cohosting a panel at Toronto Trek called Women In Command that discussed the strong female characters in science fiction on television and film. After the panelists shared their views we opened it up for those in the audience to share their favourites and why. I recall one woman explaining how she found VOY's Janeway and 7 of 9 inspirational.

Now I freely admit I don't have much regard for VOY as a series, but I couldn't argue with this woman's take on it because I could see what she was saying in terms of character.


And so the question is open: is Star Trek still inspirational?
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Old February 20 2014, 06:00 PM   #2
HaventGotALife
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Re: Is Star Trek still inspirational?

I don't think it's inspired me like it did in TNG and TOS. I think DS9 was a treatise on "Man is his circumstances." A happens, he will make an immoral judgment. There weren't too many characters that overcame their circumstances and not be permanently damaged. And that was good drama, great characterization, but not inspirational.

I never got anything from Enterprise (outside the main title sequence) or Voyager that said to me more than "we want to make money." I can think of 100 reasons why Janeway wasn't inspirational to me. She needed to be the strongest character written in the show, possibly in all of Star Trek, and it would've worked. But as it is, I would much rather watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer, than Voyager.
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Old February 20 2014, 06:41 PM   #3
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Re: Is Star Trek still inspirational?

I say it's definitely still inspirational. At least for me, it's not necessarily any of the characters but the overall concept that's inspiring. The idea that we make it off Earth without killing each other and star exploring the galaxy, along with all of the technological innovations to make that possible, that's what I love about Trek. It's a positive vision of the future that seems to be lacking in most sci-fi these days.

And I am an aerospace engineer at least partly due to Trek.
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Old February 20 2014, 06:48 PM   #4
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Re: Is Star Trek still inspirational?

I'd say it is, but only if you think things (including people) will be better in the future than they are today. Otherwise, it's a target for ridicule and claims of being unrealistic.
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Old February 20 2014, 06:49 PM   #5
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Re: Is Star Trek still inspirational?

Didn't Martin Cooper of Motorola say he was inspired by the Star Trek communicator to create a mobile phone in 1973?

Trek's element of optimism isn't a predictor, but rather an idea that does run counter to much of SF that tends to be cynical. It might be silly to some, but that doesn't mean it can't be inspirational to others.
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Old February 20 2014, 06:59 PM   #6
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Re: Is Star Trek still inspirational?

The shows? yes.

I always found them to be an inspiration, a way of telling us that no matter how bleak, things can and will get better if we hang in there. Remember- in the ST universe, we had a massive earthwide genocidal war -after toying with eugenics-, followed by World War III, THEN we had the Atomic Horror and the obliteration of almost all the world's organized governments... yet Star Trek tells us that, out of all that, we managed to overcome it and create something unified and wonderful.

On the other hand-

The movies? No, at least not the last batch. They kind forgot the whole "stick to the message thing" while they were busy making special effects. "This isn't your father's Star Trek" was the tagline for those movies, and it shows.
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Old February 20 2014, 06:59 PM   #7
F. King Daniel
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Re: Is Star Trek still inspirational?

Sure Trek is still an inspiration to some, but it'll never be as much so as the original was. We have so much of Trek's "futuristic" tech today and have gone beyond in several respects (a communicator without text messaging and database access? Touchscreens that make the most of the technology?) that what was once a bold vision of the future has become a slightly goofy comic-book world.
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Old February 20 2014, 07:28 PM   #8
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Re: Is Star Trek still inspirational?

Well, to be fair King Daniel, by this point in Star Trek canon, our society should have basically wiped itself nearly out via the eugenics wars and we'd only have about another decade before World War III went and finished the job.

That's the one thing that I think people kind of don't mention when they talk about the difference between the "Trek Universe" and our own- over there human progress basically twisted itself around then stalled while everyone blew each other up, so the PC revolution didn't really HAPPEN, so to speak. They were so busy fighting Kahn and each other that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates really never got around to making the home PC. Interface technology was basically militarily stagnated until we began to climb out of our hole, so it doesn't surprise me that it would be vastly different (and in some ways inferior) to our own society, where the wars never happened and Earth's governments didn't collapse.

As an aside- yes, yes, I remember Voyager's time travel episodes. No, I don't have any explanation as to how the areas that SHOULD have been engulfed in chaotic wars were peaceful places where mohawked teenagers roller-skated. Voyager I think just kind of pretended like the Eugenics wars never happened, which raises even more questions.
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Old February 20 2014, 08:23 PM   #9
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Re: Is Star Trek still inspirational?

Warped9 wrote: View Post
Didn't Martin Cooper of Motorola say he was inspired by the Star Trek communicator to create a mobile phone in 1973?

Trek's element of optimism isn't a predictor, but rather an idea that does run counter to much of SF that tends to be cynical. It might be silly to some, but that doesn't mean it can't be inspirational to others.

Apparently the name iPad was inspired by the PADDs used on TNG so there is that.

It depends on what you mean by subesquent Trek. I think that there is alot that is inspirational about most of the TV series.

Even First Contact has something of an inspirational end. However, after First Contact, things went terribly off the rails.

The reboot films are not inspirational AT ALL. They are just adventure movies made by a man that has admitted that he thought that Star Trek was always too cerebral for his tastes.
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Old February 20 2014, 08:45 PM   #10
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Re: Is Star Trek still inspirational?

I liked the idea posited in Trek '09 that a slacker and late bloomer, if motivated and guided well enough, could become Kirk. In that sense, while it's obvious that Kirk will be great in any timeline, the guy essentially had his most formative developmental years ripped away from him, and he still managed to work his way through school. Now the execution could've been handled differently sure, but moreso than many other movies in the series, it was Kirk's story. The inclusion of Spock Prime has been criticized as extraneous, especially for a reboot, but between the Kelvin and Nimoy, I felt that a significant secondary theme was one of legacy and potential. This is how it starts, this is how we live up to it, and, with work, this is how it can look like. One thing many reboots have in common is potential, but here we see it kind of hopeful, a little comedic, but something to look forward to. It ended pretty optimistically, which can't often be said about many action/sci-fi movies these days.

Now XII tried to make the movie about responsibility, consequence, the gravity of leadership, and the power of friendship, but I feel like much of the movie itself just drowned out those messages. We get lip service, we get the acts and the narrative beats, but they just don't seem to blend together, and then those themes have to compete with the Klingons, Khan, and Section 31, almost tangentially or coincidentally coming together at times despite the evenly-timed explosions. And then ending the movie on a somber note kind of seemed pointless considering all that.
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Old February 20 2014, 09:02 PM   #11
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Re: Is Star Trek still inspirational?

Cyke101 wrote: View Post
I liked the idea posited in Trek '09 that a slacker and late bloomer, if motivated and guided well enough, could become Kirk. In that sense, while it's obvious that Kirk will be great in any timeline, the guy essentially had his most formative developmental years ripped away from him, and he still managed to work his way through school. Now the execution could've been handled differently sure, but moreso than many other movies in the series, it was Kirk's story. The inclusion of Spock Prime has been criticized as extraneous, especially for a reboot, but between the Kelvin and Nimoy, I felt that a significant secondary theme was one of legacy and potential. This is how it starts, this is how we live up to it, and, with work, this is how it can look like. One thing many reboots have in common is potential, but here we see it kind of hopeful, a little comedic, but something to look forward to. It ended pretty optimistically, which can't often be said about many action/sci-fi movies these days.

Now XII tried to make the movie about responsibility, consequence, the gravity of leadership, and the power of friendship, but I feel like much of the movie itself just drowned out those messages. We get lip service, we get the acts and the narrative beats, but they just don't seem to blend together, and then those themes have to compete with the Klingons, Khan, and Section 31, almost tangentially or coincidentally coming together at times despite the evenly-timed explosions. And then ending the movie on a somber note kind of seemed pointless considering all that.
The probelm that I have with the message you suggested for ST 09 is that the movie also seems to imply that greatness is inherited instead of really earned. Thus Kirk gets to be Kirk because of his father. The film does not really even show Pike mentoring Kirk. In fact JTK in the film is NOT a good student or even a competent officer. He's just someone who is given EXTRAORDINARY lattitude to break rules consequence free and hope that everything turns out ok in the end.

I had the same probelm with Enterprise where is was heavily implied that the only reason that a CLEARLY in expereiced Archer was given command of the NX-01 was because his father designed the damn thing and died before it was finished. That was a TERRIBLE message and it undermined the character right from the start.
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Old February 20 2014, 09:22 PM   #12
Jonas Grumby
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Re: Is Star Trek still inspirational?

Was the original Star Trek extraordinarily inspirational? I don't doubt that some found it an inspiration to pursue careers in engineering or science, but is that really any more remarkable than someone being inspired by Jack Webb to become a police officer or by Ben Casey to become a doctor?

Many of Star Trek's stories were inspirational--stories of individuals overcoming adversity or evil or their own weaknesses--but those kind of stories were hardly limited only to Star Trek.

Now, lest that sound like I'm bashing TOS, just let me say that I much prefer the original Star Trek to any of the spinoffs or reboots. It was my favorite show growing up and, based on how often I rewatch it, it apparently still is! I just think fans tend to glorify the show a bit above what it actually merits.

But that, too, is something hardly limited to Trek.
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Old February 20 2014, 09:35 PM   #13
Warped9
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Re: Is Star Trek still inspirational?

Jonas Grumby wrote: View Post
Was the original Star Trek extraordinarily inspirational? I don't doubt that some found it an inspiration to pursue careers in engineering or science, but is that really any more remarkable than someone being inspired by Jack Webb to become a police officer or by Ben Casey to become a doctor?

Many of Star Trek's stories were inspirational--stories of individuals overcoming adversity or evil or their own weaknesses--but those kind of stories were hardly limited only to Star Trek.
True, but you rarely hear anyone talk of being inspired by those other shows. Star Trek came out at a time when there was a lot of uncertainty in society and it basically said (amongst other things) that humanity could persevere and reach a better future.

So the question follows if subsequent Treks managed to be inspirational in that manner as well as others. Or did it become just another sci-fi among many?
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Old February 20 2014, 09:46 PM   #14
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Re: Is Star Trek still inspirational?

I find myself inspired by certain characters. Worf is the most obvious choice in that category, for me at least.

The storylines themselves, however, aren't particularly inspirational, which i think is a testament to how nuanced the show is.
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Old February 20 2014, 09:52 PM   #15
Jonas Grumby
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Re: Is Star Trek still inspirational?

Warped9 wrote: View Post
True, but you rarely hear anyone talk of being inspired by those other shows.
We probably would if we hung out at forums devoted to those shows as much as we hang out here.

(Then again, that fact that those other forums seem for the most part not even to exist says something, too. )
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