I’m a Trekker and a Catholic. I will speak about Trek at the drop of a bathlet.
I know what I like and it’s tiresome to be told that I shouldn’t like something just because Gene Roddenberry was a selfish, drug-using, philandering atheist. Though Trek sported an anti-capitalist message, Roddenberry was a craven pursuer of lucre and fame even to the point of cheating writers and producers, Sandy Courage and Gene Coon, out of their own fair shares.
Very few writers could withstand Roddenberry’s presence because of his legendary abrasive attitude, manipulativeness, selfishness and temper. According to his assistant, Ande Richardson, Roddenberry was a “freaky-deaky dude,” and a “sexist … who disregarded women.” But despite the fact that I find Rodenberry’s personal life to be morally abhorrent, repellant and typical of a narcissistic atheist, I’m not one to judge. I believe that he created something memorable and artistic. I will pray for his soul but his character has never made me give up on Trek.
One might ask how I can separate the two. One might be surprised at my answer. When I get together with like-minded Trekkers, we never discuss the “feelings” screen characters portray. Instead, we try to stump each other with Trek trivia. We ponder the existence of life on other planets and postulate what form that life would take. We wonder if tribbles would make good pets — and thus, they’d be no tribble at all. We contemplate what would be the Earth vegetable equivalent to plomeek soup and what sandwiches would go well with Romulan ale. We tell jokes about Klingons that only other sci-fi aficionados would grok. We never discuss the “feelings” or professed “identity” of any character or actor playing said characters.
Which brings us to Trek’s newest iteration, Star Trek: Discovery. Premiering in 2017, Discovery is the seventh Star Trek series. All Trek is great even when it’s bad but Discovery is so bad it’s irredeemable. It’s faddish and therefore has neither moral nor intellectual integrity. Rather than being countercultural, Discovery totes the liberal party line. It’s preachy, whereas earlier Trek permutations gave “food for thought” set within a framework (as best they could) of logic and rational thought. Discovery is vindictively and presumptuously narcissistic. It presumes that they have worked out the moral and intellectual implications of their policies and “morality” but the writers never want to show their work.
Discovery has more homosexual, bisexual and transsexual characters than you can shake a phaser at, and they threaten to add even more. They are overrepresented and their characterizations take up a great deal of screen time. At one point, the Mirror Terran Empress Philippa Georgiou (portrayed by Michelle Yeoh) — a particularly vile, repellent and treacherous character —once lambasted another character for not being “pansexual” instead of gay. And worse than that, every character is convinced that their raison d’êtreis to indulge each and every one of their feelings instead of putting their emotions aside in order to fight aliens.
The show is an inept lark redolent with every misandrist fantasy trope imaginable, all devoid of even a semblance of science. Male characters barely have any screentime and when they do, they portray betas obsessed with their “feelings.” Now, if I understand intersectionalist theory, I’m not allowed to enjoy the show because I don’t see myself “represented” on it. It’s simply not entertaining. Its primary purpose is to strike a blow against something — I suspect good taste, good writing, good acting, logic and common sense.
This is the show where every willowy, wispy woman can wrassle with wascally trained assassins well outside their weight class and come out the winner. Kirk at least could be counted upon for a well-placed judo chop every now and again and Spock always had his handy Vulcan Nerve Pinch in a pinch. Discovery exists in a universe where the patriarchy is dead and replaced by a matriarchy obsessed with the feelings of every living creature in the known universe. But, instead of the Age of Aquarius utopia that enlightened matriarchs promised to usher in, these women are still up to slaughtering aliens with an élan that I would label as disturbing. Nothing has changed in the matriarchy of the future except for gender roles and sexuality and, of course, the de rigeur atheism.
In Gene Roddenberry’s Original Star Trek (TOS), the Enterprise had a chapel which had hosted at least five marriages and several funerals. His Star Trek: The Next Generation’s crew celebrated Christmas on board the Enterprise-D. Discovery, on the other hand, has a cold, empty feel because the characters are living in a godless universe, not at all curious about the vast cosmic wonders circling around them and never once asking, “How did all of this get here in the first place?”
I like science fiction but have no patience for unthinking, feminist, Harlequin space-fantasy novels. Interestingly, the lack of God and the contempt for religion coupled with “creative” sexualities in general is startling on Discovery. I’m reminded of Ven. Fulton Sheen’s oft-quoted quote:
A popular God-is-dead book in the United States argues that homosexuality will become normal in a humanistic society where there is no restriction of morals which come from religion. St. Paul declared homosexuality and atheism were related to one another as effect to cause.
A television program that promotes homosexuality, secularism, scientism, atheism and utopia. It wouldn’t be the first time anyone ever accused Fulton Sheen — or the Catholic Church, for that matter — of prescience.
Trek isn’t a brilliant and creative idea because of all of alien latex masks, ray guns and exploding planets. Rather, as all good science fiction does, it reflects our present society and the nature of humanity. Discovery is bad science fiction because it doesn’t reflect anything except for illiberal liberalism. The actors flagrantly abuse the audience’s forbearance to withstand their unrepressed emotions expressed in what Tina Fey’s 30 Rock character Liz Lemon called “talking like this” — a distracting, whispery, gravely growl meant to convey both sincerity and conviction and ultimately delivering neither.
They come off as self-absorbed lovers softly exchanging platitudes even when discussing the newest alien threat to the ship. It’s annoying and pretentious and that’s why I believe James Tiberius Kirk to be the superior captain. No matter what the nature of the mission, Kirk was eager to train the ship’s phasers on any given planet and blast its citizenry into the next dimension and I welcomed it every week.
My viewership these days is now perfunctory and an exercise in patience rather than admiration of an artistic ideal. I’ve watched the show dutifully as I’ve watched every other Trek-related show but now, my patience and its artistry has ebbed away completely. I don’t watch Trek for the romance or the airing of the next sexually immoral grievance. I want to see aliens in weird latex masks shooting each other with ray guns and watch planets explode. I’m tired of the gender-bending, the preaching and lauding of atheism, the narcissistic contempt for any opinion other than the wokest of woke. It’s a wokist nightmare from which I fear I might not wake. It’s time to eject Discovery out of the nearest airlock.
I didn’t leave Trek — Trek left me. As a Catholic, I’m required to love people, not television programs. It’s time for me to hang up my Spock ears and my all-access backstage pass for Trek conventions. Even 3D chess doesn’t excite me as it used to.
The irony of Roddenberry’s original Star Trek, which showed itself particularly in The Next Generation, was Roddenberry’s progressive belief that humankind could be perfected. It is illogical to assume that human nature can be engineered out of human beings. But humans can choose to rise above their baser instincts.
And as far as Roddenberry’s creation vs. real-life Roddenberry, it is also illogical to expect perfection from human beings.