Saturday, May 18, 2013

War, huh, Trek!

(In case you didn't get the title, it's a play on Edwin Star's hit single. Now you know and can rest easy. You're welcome.)

Today I went to go see the newest Star Trek film - Star Trek: Into the Darkness. DON'T WORRY! No details of the movie will be mentioned. I won't even tell you what color shirt Captain Kirk is wearing even though it's common knowledge! I think...Anyways, NO SPOILERS! Keep reading!

I know barely anything about Star Trek and my knowledge basically just stems from celebrity news and whatever was in the first movie that JJ Abrams was responsible for. To be honest, I know more about Star Wars than Star Trek just because I was exposed to the Star Wars franchise a lot more than Star Trek. It could be a blend of both living in Taiwan for most of my childhood and not appreciating science fiction that I wasn't exposed to Star Trek as much as I was to Star Wars...That is, until I met Ali, my friend who is both an expert in science fiction and the human psyche (Follow his blog Brain Knows Better for interesting and very insightful articles that takes a look at science fiction and psychological science.) He was able to answer any questions I had about character references and back-stories on people mentioned in the movie.

But this isn't about Ali (sorry, buddy...). This is about my takeaway from knowing what I know now of Star Trek and Star Wars. Again, I am not an expert on Star anything. Not even Star Search. So this is just an outsiders insight into why I believe Star Trek is a lot better than Star Wars and how I've been cheated out of a world that it might be too late for me to belong to.

First and foremost, the premise of Star Trek is a lot more positive and uplifting than Star Wars. Star Trek is about exploring space, plain and simple, while Star Wars is basically about defeating evil and a very messed up family-dynamic (I'm looking at you, Mr & Mrs Vader).  Although both are for the greater good (Star Trek = keeping peace and betterment of humanity, Star Wars = defeating evil and obtaining peace), Star Wars is clouded more by personal agendas and you can't really focus on the greater good. For instance, in the 2009 Star Trek movie, Kirk relieved Spock of captain duties because he's emotionally compromised from Nero destroying his home planet. Star Wars is all about personal agenda. I'm pretty sure Skywalker wanted to kill Vader because Vader killed (spoiler alert!) Obi Wan and not because Luke is part of the Rebel Alliance. Star Wars there's so much pressure to succeed, because who wants to be governed by a robed man who is in real need of a beauty sleep, while Star Trek is literally just "Hey guys, here's the mission. What can we do?"

Clearly there's no rest for the wicked...

Secondly, the characters are just so much more likable in Star Trek. You have a whiz kid, a pilot with a background in fencing, a trigger happy Captain, an advanced life form who is a walking calculator and wikipedia rolled into one (with pointy ears),  a sexy translator, a disgruntled doctor, AND a smart mouthed engineer on the enterprise. On Star Wars you have a princess, a human smuggler, and an armed man with daddy issues. REALLY? like REALLY! A human smuggler is what we're all reduced to relying on? At least Star Trek they are highly trained professionals. (No, Luke, a month in a swamp with Yoda does not earn you a degree. Fancy skills but no diploma hanging on your walls. In Asian world, no diploma = no love.)

Thirdly, Star Trek is so much more relatable than Star Wars. There's someone for anyone on the enterprise. You like sexy girls? You got Uhura. You like humor? Bones/Scotty/Kirk? Take your pick! You like common sense and logic? Spock! I mean, I don't think I can relate to a princess...or a human smuggler...I think I could relate to Luke just because I used to sport a similar hairstyle but that's like the only thing we have in common. Although, mine looked more like Spock's than Skywalkers...So Star Trek has Star Wars beat in that contest as well...

See what I mean?
I've always had lukewarm feelings when it comes to science fiction. It never seemed appealing to me but I think most of those feelings are based off of my experience with Star Wars because that was arguably the only thing big sci-fi thing I am familiar with. I think if I was exposed to Star Trek earlier I'd probably be into science fiction a lot more. For all I know, I could've been a Trekkie who goes to Comic Con wearing Vulcan ears and learning Klingon...But now I'm afraid its too late. There's just too much Star Trek episodes, films, etc to catch up on and I've already been jaded by pop culture on the antics of William Shatner to take him seriously as the Captain. Not to mention, now that George Takei is out of the closet, I would just find that episode where they go into an alternate reality and the alternate Sulu hits on Uhura to be creepy. Also, just the fact that Takei is not on friendly terms with Shatner would destroy belief I have of them being a happy family exploring deep space. I just know too much now to unlearn it and see Star Trek with fresh eyes from the beginning..

Which is also why I'm very thankful of JJ Abrams and of Ali. JJ Abram gave Star Trek a new life of it's own that I can happily follow without any background knowledge. It's like he gave me a new land to explore and Ali is the anthropologist who knows the history and culture of this final frontier.

Again, you can follow Ali's blog - Brain Knows Better. It's worth a read and I enjoy it even with science fiction not being my forte and not just because I know him in real life.


  1. I have a huge crush on Benedict Cumberbatch from his role in Sherlock. This movie just brought it to a whole new level.

  2. Probably not intentional, but "lukewarm" pun!

  3. I fell in love with Star Trek because I could see myself in the universe. Star Wars by comparison was a far more scary place.

    If you're interested in exploring more of the final frontier, here's a beginner's guide to the Star Trek universe:

    Live long and prosper.