Treknobabble is a continuing series of columns written by uber-Trekkie Reed Farrington in anticipation of the upcoming J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie.
So I was all set to write a really short Treknobabble with the title “Star Trek Haiku.” I like variety. I like gimmicks. I like being original. Though, on a whim, I entered the search words “Star Trek Haiku” and I found sites where people had already written Star Trek haikus! If you want to see haiku plot synopses of Original Series’ episodes, check out this link.
And then while I was reading the Star Trek fiction companion, Star Trek: Voyages of Imagination, I was reminded about a topic that I wanted to address. The novelist Carmen Carter described how she had neither been following any of Star Trek’s franchise shows nor had she even given Star Trek much conscious thought lately, but she admitted that the show had affected her indelibly in her deep friendships, her partner, and her philosophical outlook. Also she had a basement stuffed full of action figures.
I have always wondered why Star Trek still holds a deep fascination for me. I’m wondering that if I had gotten married and had kids, would I have imposed my predilection for Star Trek on my family, possibly at the risk of ruining my marriage? (I’ve always thought that the woman I marry would not like Star Trek, possibly because I’ve never met a female Trekkie to whom I’ve been attracted. I wonder if I’m shallow?)
Or would I have let Star Trek fade into the background as the concerns of the “real world” imposed its grip on me? My older brother enjoyed Star Trek. He bought a Star Trek: The Motion Picture poster for me when the movie first came out. He had also bought the novelization which I assume he had read and which he later gave me. And as I’ve mentioned in a previous Treknobabble, he did introduce me to the Original Series when it was first televised. But he has nothing of Star Trek in his home, and treats Star Trek as just a television show he used to watch. (Oh, and he does realize that he has a Star Trek obsessed little brother.) I think my brother represents the normal person who has watched and appreciated Star Trek.
So why do I have this abnormal obsession with Star Trek? Part of the problem might have to do with the collector mentality I possess. If I had been born ten years later, I may have been more into Star Wars collecting. But I’m somewhat of a realist, so I don’t think I would have tried to buy every Star Wars figure. At least with Star Trek, comparatively, it’s easier to collect “everything.” Thank your deity of choice, I haven’t gotten sucked into the world of eBay.
To provide a similar example of the appeal of going to a toy store and finding a Star Trek item you don’t have, let me mention something that Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings‘ director for you non-geeks) says on a DVD documentary called “The Sci-Fi Boys.” He collects the now defunct magazine “Famous Makers of Filmland.” There are a few issues that he doesn’t have. And he realizes that he could probably do a search on eBay and fill the holes in his collection. But he doesn’t! Basically, the joy in collecting is not the “having” part. It’s the “finding.”
I didn’t have many toys growing up. There’s a point in every boy’s life when he stops looking at and playing with toys. This point is initiated by the parent with the admonishment, “You’re too old for that.” I was the kid who probably played with his G.I. Joe a little bit later in age than you’re supposed to. But I’m a slow learner and eventually did give up playing with G.I. Joe. (I never saw the Mego Star Trek figures when I was a kid.)
When I had spending money in high school, I collected the respectable Star Trek stuff like magazines and books. When the merchandise started coming out for The Motion Picture, I basically ignored it. I had no compulsion in getting any of it.
My Star Trek toy collecting didn’t begin until after I graduated from university, got a job, and then a house of my own. With the freedom of being on my own in adulthood, I got interested in collecting toys. The rationale was that my Star Trek toy collection was an investment. I invested in what I liked. Also, as an older adult in a toy store, it looks more natural because the adult could be looking at toys for his kids. In my mind, it’s strange to see a person in his late teens or early twenties in a toy store. He should be out cruising for girls.
I graduated from universty a year before Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) debuted. I suppose TNG was a major factor in reigniting my compassion for Star Trek. A female co-worker filled a void in my life at the time, but that relationship was bound to go nowhere, so I guess I had TNG to comfort me. Galoob introduced a line of TNG toys, so I started collecting with these. And then Playmates started issuing a wide array of merchandise. There was no turning back.
Eventually, I had a Star Trek “room” in my house cluttered and completely filled with Star Trek stuff. The room is supposed to be a baby nursery. It even has a mural of teddy bears and stars on one wall. Besides my mom and relatives and acquaintances of friends, no female has ever set eyes on that room. Oh, I’m not including any female who may have seen the room from the Star Wars vs. Star Trek segment that Film Junk did. In any case, I came to attribute my lack of success with woman with this room. So I began packing up the stuff in this room in large storage containers. But I started running out of space in the house to store the containers. So I left the room partially filled. And I’ve slowly been accumulating even more Star Trek junk that’s been placed in this room.
I realize that I’m not alone in my “affliction.” (I hope people aren’t going to comment about how being addicted to Star Trek is so less serious than all the other problems people have in the world. I know this.) I cringed when I saw Trekkies and Trekkies 2. People tell me they found these movies funny, but for me, they hit too close to home.
I like to say that I’m a “closet Trekkie,” because I would rather not be associated with a show that has such a negative stigma attached to it by the non-geek population. Even though I work in an environment where people are allowed to adorn their cubicles with action figures, sports-related memorabilia, or what have you, I’ve chosen to keep my cubicle area blank. But people have gradually come to know my love of Star Trek anyway. After all, it’s kind of hard to keep your love hidden.
I couldn’t care less if no one else appreciated Star Trek, but I guess that’s a reflection of my lack of concern for people. I suppose if I was a religious fundamentalist, I wouldn’t try to convert people. Rather I’d let them all burn in hell. I do have to admit that when I find out an “important” person or celebrity likes Star Trek, then I feel better about myself for liking Star Trek.
It sort of bothers me to think that some corporation owns Star Trek and stands to profit from my love of it. But even with religion, people contribute to a church with collections during the services and all this money is used to further the cause of the church. So I guess we need to sustain the corporation in order for the corporation to make more product for us.
It is sort of strange that with all the mass appeal that Star Trek has gained, I still feel like I’m the only person who really appreciates it. And that if I stop paying attention to it, it will fade away. I guess this is what religious people must feel when they think they have a special relationship with God. I do think Star Trek is my religion. It has a belief system that I totally agree with. Respect for all life-forms. Non-interference. I do think that we need to get off this planet, not only for the survival of the human race as Stephen Hawking believes, but in order to understand more about our place in the universe. Blah, blah. Despite what Shatner says, Star Trek is not just a television show.
So maybe I should be happy and accept Star Trek as a part of my life. I don’t know what would be able to make me lose faith in it now. I guess we all need something to believe in.