The Stars in question here being Wars and Trek.
Has there been no greater fandom rivalry than this? Any two franchises that people are ostensibly forced to pick a side on? Any others that a layperson could start an international incident by confusing the two?
Well, you know what I’m going to say on the subject. Like whatever you want and forget what anyone else says (feel free to replace “forget” with anything stronger that I can’t type here because this is a family website).
I know a number of people who love both equally and passionately. I’m not one of them; I prefer Star Wars by a country mile and am far better versed in the minutia of the Saga, but I do still very much like and appreciate Star Trek. I haven’t seen everything under the Trek label, but I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed a good 99.9% of what I have seen (and I didn’t even dislike “Insurrection,” I just found it slightly dull). The Next Generation was a staple of my early childhood (though I don’t remember a lot of specifics, so I’d like to watch them again).
So I’m going to repeat a bit of advice I’ve given before. If you were confused by I-III, or didn’t like them when you first saw them, watch them again.
And now worlds are colliding. JJ Abrams brought a new and interesting spin to Star Trek and now is set to do the same for Star Wars. Though, frankly, I hope it’s not the same interesting spin since that style wouldn’t work for Wars the way I’d argue it does for Trek.
Honestly, aside from taking place in an interstellar society and having a penchant for a certain level of melodrama, the franchises couldn’t be more different. As I and many of my contemporaries have said, Star Wars is a fairy tale. Despite its futuristic aesthetic, it explicitly takes place “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” With its fantastical creatures and the magic and mystery of the Force, it’s really high fantasy in the trappings of a Space Opera.
Trek, on the other hand, has always been more hard science fiction. There are fantastical elements from time to time, but there has always been at least an attempt to explain it scientifically. Trek is much less Tolkien and far more Jules Verne. It can be just as philosophical and romantic as Star Wars (romance in this case meaning “of, characterized by, or suggestive of an idealized view of reality”), but generally presents itself as more cerebral as opposed to Star Wars’ often more emotional face.
And that’s really the appeal of Trek. While Star Wars shows us intense and unique truths of what we really are, Star Trek shows us what we could be, what we’d like to be. Star Wars focuses on the human, interpersonal story, while Star Trek wants us to explore the unknown final frontier to satiate that human spirit.
Put simply, Star Trek is knowledge and Star Wars is wisdom. Both are important to have, and a deficit of one or the other can lead one into trouble. So if you’re one of those people who think you have to choose one or the other, give both an honest shot. You’ll probably still have your preferences, but you can at least broaden your appreciation of art. So to you all I say: Live long, prosper, and may the Force be with you.
Dedicated to the memory of Leonard Nimoy.
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