Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

The Source of American Mythology.

It’s hard for a guy in his sixties who often poohpoohs the kinds of movies that show up for the masses as latent garbage to admit it, but I sat in a theater surrounded by teenagers watching STAR TREK this weekend. My wife wasn’t interested and had work to do at school, so I went alone, which I rarely do.

And I got a kick out of it.

Driving home, I started thinking about the story that was originally developed by Gene Roddenberry when I was in my early twenties and going to Northwestern (where our theatre history studies started with the development of drama in Greek Mythology)  and it has gone through many television and film iterations, each adding or filling out more story parts.

So, two hundred years from now when some theatre history student is perusing mythic drama that draws from the now religious repetition of the relationships of Spock and Kirk, Romulans and Klingons, Earth and the planets where no man has gone before, will that student remember that this was not lost reality which has become part of our culture by belief through repetition?

And will there be atheists who are challenged by the masses because they don’t believe that Spock actually ever existed?

Under The LobsterScope


  1. anna shane

    and my younger male cousin was a fan, but I never watched so never got the point.  By the time my son was five he was a big fan.  He went to the first movie and he stood up in awe when the names came on the screen, before the film even started.  Now new teens like Spock, which makes sense to me. It’s the pull between the rational and the silly, as old as time.  Who even remembers Dr. Spock.  

  2. Neither of us are trekkie style fans and went along through absence of any alternative. Both of us were surprised how inventive this ‘reboot’ of the genre was, and how by using singularities and the multiverse theory, they managed to get over some big Hollywood franchise problems.

    But can I just say one thing? The great thing about Star Trek, which I watched avidly on its first runs here as a kid, is that it wasn’t just an American myth.

    Unlike every other US TV show I watched (from Bonanza to Batman) it was explicitly international in scope. Starfleet wasn’t Apollo, representing some kind of cold war race, but represented the human race. This is particularly picked up in the movie with the Japanese, Scottish, and Russian protagonists.

    Star Trek turned racism and nationalism on its head, and explicitly debunked its malign side with ‘dual heritage’ Spock, and the Klingon/Romulan fantasies of power.

    And of course there was Uhuru, the first proper role for an African American woman on TV, and the first interracial kiss.

    So while I love America, I think the US is at its most American when it celebrates its international heritage, and universal values. That’s why US shows and movies sell so well abroad – because they’re the opposite of natioanalist and parochial.

    There is no such thing as a no win situation.

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