Star Wars vs. Star Trek, Lucas vs. Roddenberry. The ultimate nerd battle. When I was about 3 years old the local television station would put on Star Trek Next Generation and then Seasame Street before my bed time. When I was 6 I first saw the original Star Wars trilogy and had to keep watching for the next one because at the end of every movie, as my dad said, a secret would be reviled and I couldn’t wait to see what it was. For the longest time I would pick Star Wars, the space battle, good vs. evil. Everything is laid out in black and white. Literally, Darth Vader wears black Luke wears white. Their light sabers are opposite colors. There isn’t a lot of grey area in Star Wars and as a kid that’s exactly what you’re looking for.
Star Trek lives in the grey. Social issues are where they thrive. It was an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise that made me really start to understand what rape and AIDS were. I watched the episode Stigma when I was 12, so although we learned about it in school and I saw things about it in other places on the media or in the news but it was seeing in a context like that, that made it click. After the episode I talked about what it all meant with my dad. It was a relatively non-painful awkward way to have these lofty complicated topics brought up and then we could talk about them. As a kid, it was still too heavy but as an adult I really appreciate it and the complexity of it. Deep Space 9 was amazing at dealing with social issues, although my favorite episode will probably always the Magnificent Ferengi, but the episodes that take place partly in the 1950s where you don’t know if Deep Space 9 is real on in the head of the author. I thing that it’s just so fascinating but until I was in my 20’s it was just too much and not really my thing. That’s what’s missing from the new Star Trek movies for me. But at the same time I can’t imagine a social issues J.J. Abrams movie. As he has stated in the past this is Star Trek for the non-Trekkie.