People call the Star Wars Fandom toxic. Have you trudged through the Star Trek Fandom lately?
The Star Trek universe now attracts people with the mentality of children. Try debating any of the new shows in contrast to any of the older shows. I openly admit I’m not a fan of newer Star Trek. I’m not one of those people that’s juvenile enough to call it Nu Star Trek or Nu Trek. That’s just asinine. I just feel it is far from the quality of anything starting with TOS all the way to Enterprise.
I have debated with individuals in the past about which was the better Star Trek show or the merits of this one or that one. Some debates got rather heated and quite passionate but, in the end, figuratively we shook hands with each other and parted as friends. Now individuals will cut you out if you do not see things your day.
The recent appearance of Stacey Abrams in the Discovery Season 4 is a prime example of how juvenile things have become. Just try to have a mature discussion about it. It is impossible. And to me it is a bizarre shift from what Star Trek once was. Dispassionate debate or discussion has gone away.
My stance in this is that Abrams presence is essentially an endorsement of a particular candidate. To the best of my knowledge Abrams is once again running for governor and this endorsement (they cast her as the President of Earth which is great way to allude that they feel she is worthy of higher office) and this endorsement is something Star Trek has not done before.
And then there is the recent casting of a new actor to play the legendary Capt. Kirk. This is another example of what I mean about when it comes to the juvenile people that Star Trek attracts now. Critiquing casting or the inclusion of a character does not make an individual butthurt. Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean you are butthurt. It just means you don’t think it is or will be good depending on the timeframe. We can’t discuss any more Star Trek as fans. We are extremely polarized.
And try discussing Picard. That can get ugly fast. Insults will fly and the discussion becomes personal quickly rather than about the show regardless of the series. What went wrong? Or was it always like this and social media brought it out into the open for all to see?
I remember when TNG came out. There were people who had never watched Star Trek before (and many of them I can say anecdotally still have not taken in TOS) who praised it as a brilliant show and superior to the original series. How could you know that if you never saw TOS? Captain Picard was the best captain ever! In my humble opinion TOS was and still is the best of the shows and Kirk was and still is the best of the captains. Picard in TNG was not bad, but nobody is better than Kirk. I had a back-and-forth over these issues often but in the end everybody got along.
DS9 came out and I praised it as a superior spin off to TNG-at least by the end of season two/beginning of season three and Sisko as better than Picard. I felt then and still do feel that it did many of the Star Trek concepts better than TNG did. It was different but it was still Star Trek at its core. I’ve argued in support of this for years but still moved on as friends with others.
That is not possible these days. Star Trek today is very polarizing. You can’t critique a show or the stories or anything without some snide comment or some accusation. You’re sexist or homophobic or misogynistic or just plain dumb for not seeing the brilliance of a show like Discovery or Picard or Lower Decks or Prodigy. Say that the storytelling is lazy and give reasons why and the individual gets upset.
This does nothing to win over the other side and only polarizes both groups further. More so they strike back and each side becomes more and more divided. This strikes me as the antithesis of Star Trek. “Believe as I do or you are terrible” does not feel like it belongs in the Star Trek universe. If you truly believe so and so is bad but you both like Star Trek, then you have a place to start to change that person for the better but people would rather rage.
Star Trek at one point could bring people together. Speaking anecdotally, I have bonded with bikers and lawyers and firemen and more over Star Trek. It was something individuals from very different walks of life could come together over. Now it’s not. It’s as divisive and as petty as modern pop-culture is.
Both sides are to blame in this. But more to blame are the creative minds who put the failure to appeal to fans on the fans. It is not the fault of the individual for not liking something. It’s the fault of the creator for not making something that appeals to the individual. The viewer is not obligated to like something but rather the creator is obligated to make something that could be liked by the viewer. That’s not to say they must appeal to every person that puts eyes on the content but if they don’t appeal to that person that in the end is the fault of those making the content.
It seems in Star Trek we have cast and crew and fans alike blaming the fans which contributes to the divisiveness in the fan culture which attracts the children to the fan culture. Some people like to watch the world burn and some of those like science fiction. Star Trek now is a two for one sale on that! The people in charge of the show need to do a little bit of leadership and be mature. You don’t have to do as the critics say but at least listen to them and treat them with respect. Many of these are people who have been invested in the Star Trek universe since they first watched the first series or maybe TNG or something that predates what is being done now. You the creative mind are not the authority just because you are currently involved. There are other voices.
We also have stars involved that purposely stoke the fires of division and forget that the message of this fictional was that we all can come together. In Star Trek we get beyond that which divides us and come one.
In the end this juvenile bickering that populates Star Trek can only be stopped not only by those behind Star Trek reaching for higher ideals and being mature and appealing to better nature but the fans as well. Sadly until that day comes I cannot call myself a fan. This is a toxic culture that Is as terrible as and fandom out there. It is far too hateful and spiteful and I do not need that.