To kick off this new monthly topic (as part of the new Monday rotor), I thought we’d have a look at the king of sci-fi shows.
Inspired by such varied sources as ‘Wagon Train’ (late 50’s tv western series), Napoleonic wars navy based book/ tv/ radio/ film series ‘Horatio Hornblower’ and ‘Gulliver’s Travels’, the original series only lasted three series and three years, but since it’s first showing in 1966, Star Trek has become a cultural phenomenon, the most widely recognised sci-fi series in history (sorry Star Wars fans). It spawned 12 movies, 5 spin off series (animated, next gen, deep space nine, voyager and enterprise), games, toys, novels and comics. There are two prop exhibits that travel the world as museum attractions and for 10 years between 1998 and 2008 there was a Trek themed attraction at the Las vegas Hilton- Star Trek- The Experience. You can’t go to a comic convention without bumping into at least a million federation officers, a Vulcan or five and an army of Klingons. My computer didn’t even ask to spell check those two, yet it does if I do Dalek or Mon Calimari or Sith. But yet, Star Trek is still considered a cult show, and that is something that has always confused me.
When you think of a cult, you think of small pseudo-religions or mid-70’s micro budget comedies, something with a small audience. Star Trek is way beyond that, so why is it still considered a cult.
Maybe it is the geeky image that still clings to Trekkies. Having a Klingon dictionary probably doesn’t help. When someone says Trekkie you usually think geek unfortunately. I personally would put this down to dedication to the show, the other criteria as to how a cult is judged. Really, no other show has such dedicated fans. With all the collectables available for Star Trek, you can see how such dedication can be ensured. And people, especially TV executives, realised this very quickly. Which neatly brings me onto the next reason for Star Treks geek cult image. As sickening as it may be, most people now-a-days get their perception of the world from TV, and TV is a caricature of a stereotype from a group of TV executives perception of real life. It’s not going to be hugely accurate. Which is why on every TV show there is a super nerd who loves comics and collects Star Trek memorabilia and has the posters of the enterprise on his wall (and it is always HIS, female Trekkies seem to be a very rare breed in TV land, almost deserving of going on the endangered species list). So is bred the image of a socially inept, spotty teen who goes to comics conventions and does the Spock hand V, and people believe it. Therefore they don’t really want to associate with that sort of image, so they either steer clear of Star Trek or hide the fact that they like it in fear of being ridiculed. And lo, cult status is lumped on the most successful sic-fi franchise of all time.
When we next come back around to this topic, I’ll be looking further at Sci-fi fandom, but in a more broad spectrum that focuses on Conventions and Collections. If you have any ideas for me on that topic or for future subjects for any of the new topics (What Were They Thinking, Sci-Fi Corner, Under-Rated Characters, Screen Spotlight) either PM me on the forums or reply here.
Live long and prosper.