Kelly surprised me last night with season two of the original series of Star Trek. Dramatic Captain... Kirk pauses for... all!
Kitchy bad-yet-entertaining acting aside, the gift got me thinking about what keeps me coming back to Star Trek again and again after all these years. I think that one of the factors is that the Star Trek universe has an essential optimism about humanity that I find very attractive, yet this optimism isn’t presented in a cheesy fashion (at least, not all of the time). No, the Star Trek universe recognizes the weaknesses of humankind, and even, to a point, celebrates them. Think of how Spock’s cold logic is played off of Kirk’s passion for his duty, or McCoy’s sentimentalism. I’m also reminded of an episode where the Enterprise was invaded by aliens and Scotty dispatched one of them via a drinking contest. Especially when contrasted with the other “grim” science fiction dystopias out there (Blade Runner, Matrix, etc.), this uplifting world view is really distinguishes Star Trek.
Interestingly, this same thing could be said of everyone’s favorite horror writer, Stephen King. I don’t have the time to go into details, but think of all of King’s flawed protagonists (Stuttering Bill’s speech in It being my favorite example) and how these flaws turn out to be one of their biggest strengths against the darkness with which they are contfronted.
Live long and prosper!