20 February 2016
Scotty, Beam Me Up
Not only have I always been an avid reader, but the world of science-fiction, or literature of the future, has always fascinated me. Chiefly, the concepts of advanced technology within stories of far-off worlds and impossible encounters have always tickled the part of my brain that prefers to imagine how the world around me could change and evolve in the coming future. Something that has always resonated with me, though, is that the themes that this sect of literature creates is almost always a commentary on our own present space in time. The conscious, or unconscious, desires and anxieties of contemporary culture can, most of the time, explain the idealized projections of the future we create.
When Star Trek first hit the airwaves in 1966, an entire half-century ago, it featured themes of a futuristic, Utopian society, as well as an unprecedented representation of racial equality. While the show’s popularity did not entirely take off until it reached syndication in 1969, it became increasingly apparent that television audiences were hungry to see a mixed race cast of characters and appreciated the fact that the first African-American officer appeared in a recurring role. Keeping in mind that Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech was delivered in 1963 and Dr. King was assassinated in 1968, there is an incredible amount to be said for the contradiction and division of the American people’s views on race in that decade. The way in which a television program can make such a statement in a time of volatile race relations is astounding to me, and it is something that I would like to examine further in the texts presented in this course.